Letter: We All Must Work Together To Solve Workforce Housing Issue

In Ron Bukley’s June 9 article “RPB Council Discusses County’s Workforce Housing Shortage,” it was reported that members of the Royal Palm Beach Village Council expressed concern over Palm Beach County’s Workforce Housing Program (WHP).

The WHP is an effort to increase the workforce housing stock available to our middle-income workers, such as teachers, police officers and other young professionals, who may otherwise be priced out of a home. The program, which applies to unincorporated Palm Beach County, requires the development of price-capped workforce housing units in new residential developments with 10 or more homes. It allows several ways for developers to provide their required units. These include constructing on-site, constructing off-site, buying-out of the program or donating land.

Off-site construction of required workforce units can take place in unincorporated or incorporated Palm Beach County. The ability to provide units within municipalities was an important provision supported by industry, since this option allows a broader range of locations to seek and produce workforce housing.

To date, this option has not been utilized, but the county is aware of developers who have investigated utilizing this provision. It is important to note, however, that a municipality alone has the authority to approve development within its boundaries. The WHP does not interfere with this process. Should a developer wish to satisfy its workforce housing requirement in a development that a municipality denies, the developer would have to satisfy it through one of the other options or through a different project altogether.

Being such a complex problem, it will take us all coming together to solve the workforce housing shortage. The WHP is an important tool to help residents, but I recognize that it needs tweaking to ensure that it is accomplishing its goal.

At Palm Beach County’s Housing Summit on May 31, there was tremendous turnout and enthusiasm, and I look forward to building on this momentum by collaborating with our municipalities on new ideas and initiatives.

Vice Mayor Melissa McKinlay, Palm Beach County Commission, District 6