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Will a new shared office space work in the post-COVID-19 era? Edward “Ned” Murray, an urban planner and an associate director at Florida International University’s Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center, isn’t so sure. He pointed out that shared office spaces were not doing well even before the COVID-19 pandemic, since it’s more economical for private contractors and freelancers – a major market for shared office spaces – to simply turn their homes into offices.
“We still don’t have the positive economic indicators that will slow down the moving out of the county in terms of wages and jobs, and especially in terms of housing,” said Maria Ilcheva, Assistant Director of Planning and Operations for the Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University. “That’s what’s primarily driving prices up: There is higher demand, but the higher demand is not being driven by local conditions.”
Florida International University recently announced that researchers have created a tool that tracks South Florida’s recovery from the pandemic. The researchers at the Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center created the monthly COVID Economic Recovery Index, tracking tri-county indicators in health, housing and the economy and comparing them to state and national statistics.
“The impact of COVID-19 on our region is unprecedented,” said Ned Murray, associate director of the Jorge M. Pérez FIU Metropolitan Center. “We hope to quantify the impact of the pandemic through this index and guide policymakers in their decisions during the economic recovery.”
“COVID has underscored long-standing inequalities in our system—the differentials in death rates, and more recently, vaccination rates, between minority and white populations are real,” says Howard Frank, professor and chair of public policy and administration and director of the Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center. “These are issues our students need to understand and be aware of.”
The Jorge M. Pérez FIU Metropolitan Center recently released a policy brief entitled “Racial Equity and Inclusion: From Words to Action” that offers suggestions on how to make Miami-Dade a more equitable place. “A just community begins with an equitable economy where the path to prosperity is clear to the eyes of Black Americans,” wrote the study’s co-authors Ned Murray and Nika Zyryanova.
Nika Zyryanova is a researcher with Florida International University’s Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center. Zyryanova said high rents and low paying jobs in metropolitan areas of South Florida has caused many people to move to more affordable places in the state over the course of the pandemic.
The increases to Miami-Dade's already notoriously high cost of living come while the county is still trying to resuscitate itself after a pandemic-induced economic lull that has left many residents still unemployed. The rising prices are part of a decades-long arc of local real estate madness and are likely to have serious consequences in the coming months and years, according to Ned Murray, associate director of Florida International University's Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center.
"We’ve never been the center of the state but we’ve been the center of attention. So now the center of the state will become the center of attention,” said Dr. Maria Ilcheva, the assistant director of Florida International University’s Metropolitan Center - which was part of the local census committee.
"Where we teach financial literacy is just as important as what we teach. We need to invest in education for youths in underserved communities to develop this skill set." - Dr. Joanne Li, dean, professor of finance and Ryder Eminent Scholar Chair at Florida International University College of Business and a member of the CNBC Financial Wellness Council.
The pandemic made in-person follow-ups more difficult, said Maria Ilcheva, an expert in data analytics and behavioral research at the Metropolitan Center at Florida International University who was a researcher on reports on Census outreach efforts in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. It was difficult to find and train those workers and get them into the field during the pandemic. Still, Ilcheva said, the Census Bureau was largely successful in collecting information “in the context of the pan
While Miami remains without an affordable housing masterplan, cheap housing continues to disappear, a devastating situation in a municipality where the median household income is $39,000 a year. Edward “Ned” Murray, associate director of the Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center, said the rising cost of living is making it impossible for Miamians to stay in Miami. “That,” he said, “is why so many workers have migrated out of Miami.”
Just 18% of households in Palm Beach County can afford the median price of a home, according to an assessment by the Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University. The numbers are even bleaker to the south, where about 15% of Broward County households and 9% of Miami-Dade County can afford the median home price.
FIU researcher Nika Zyryanova said before COVID-19, a quarter of a million renter households were cost-burdened, meaning they were spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing and 90 percent of renters were making less than of $35,000 dollars a year. “Renter assisted need far exceeds what is available,” Zyryanova said. “With that type of income you really can’t afford to live in Miami-Dade.”
FIU researcher Nika Zyryanova said before COVID-19, a quarter of a million renter households were cost-burdened, meaning they were spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing and 90 percent of renters were making less than of $35,000 dollars a year.
Edward “Ned” Murray, associate director of the Jose M. Pérez Metropolitan Center, said hedge funds and corporations aren’t just purchasing apartment buildings and condos. They’re also buying single-family homes. The end result is that purchasing a home is beyond the reach of the average Miami-Dade resident. “Every month there is a contract signing for a home that is 30% above the asking price,” Murray said.
Developed with researchers at FIU’s Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center, the Broward County Equity Initiative for the Urban League of Broward County and Hollywood-based Hispanic Unity of Florida will recommended actions for the county based on its findings.
This all concerns Ned Murray, the director of the Metropolitan Center at Florida International University in Miami-Dade County. He and other experts are worried about the evictions that landlords have already filed in Miami-Dade courts. “These renters many of which work in our service sector economy just don’t have the money to pay their rent or their past rent so we are going to have an avalanche of evictions,” Murray said.
“Affordable home ownership programs are just as important as affordable rental programs,” said Ned Murray, associate director of Florida International University’s Pérez Metropolitan Center, “though the need in Miami is greater for affordable rental housing.”
But when the CDC program dies, barring a last-minute extension due to the new surge in COVID cases around the U.S., 188,000 “severely distressed” renters in Miami-Dade already paying more than half of their income on rent will be particularly vulnerable to eviction, according to Dr. Ned Murray, associate director of the Florida International University Metropolitan Center.
“Equity and inclusivity is a national issue,” said Maria Ilcheva, of the FIU Metropolitan Center. “With our assistance and in collaboration, we are trying to find local solutions to a national problem for Boynton Beach.”
No hard data shows newcomers are better positioned to afford higher rents than locals. Yet, while some out-of-staters are getting local jobs at income levels that have long lagged states like New York and California, it is likely not a majority, said Nika Zyryanova, research specialist at FIU’s Metropolitan Center.
“[COVID] was the great accelerator,” said Ned Murray, associate director of the Metropolitan Center at Florida International University. “Given all the indicators — job loss, labor force, and housing costs — it’s created a situation where people have had to get up and leave, even more so than what we were seeing before COVID.”
“Tech is really hurting Miami in terms of housing costs,” said Ned Murray, the director of the Florida International University Metropolitan Center. “We can’t talk about the economy without talking about housing, they’re so interrelated. ... What’s happening now is a hyper-level of gentrification. It’s unbelievable to see it happening so quickly.”
The first meeting on Thursday in Miramar drew about 50 people, said Maria Ilcheva, assistant director of planning and operations at FIU’s Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center, a research institute that provides policy solutions to organizations in South Florida.
None of this is a surprise to Maria Ilcheva, assistant director of planning and operations at Florida International University’s Metropolitan Center. “From 2010 to 2019, the 19% gap is the largest it has ever been in a decade in Miami-Dade,” Ilcheva said of the pay disparity between men and women. “Astounding, right?”
“We have a situation now where renters have no control of the market and they aren’t even players in the market,” said Edward Murray, associate director with the Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University.
“The wages that are being paid have little bearing on a worker’s ability to pay that monthly rent, “said Dr. Edward Murray, associate director with the Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University.
Murray said affordable housing has become so scarce that rents are rising in places like Homestead. What’s worse, the county’s economy still hasn’t recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent Metropolitan Center report showed that Miami-Dade lost 134,459 jobs between February 2020 and June 2021, the majority in the leisure and hospitality sectors.
The cost to rent in South Florida keeps going up. Here’s what some renters are giving up to make end
“This is not sustainable as renters paying in excess of 50% of their income on housing costs have very little quality-of-life,” said Dr. Ned Murray, associate director with the Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University.
“Certainly, the numbers don’t show it’s done anything to spur the state’s economic recovery,” said Ned Murray, the Associate Director of the Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University.
Broward has hired Florida International University to draw proposed new voting districts for the nine county commission seats, and is expected to pick one of the maps in December. The new boundaries will first take effect in the November 2022 election.
"On the mend" is how Howard Frank, director of Florida International University's Metropolitan Center, describes the South Florida economy a year and a half after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Local prospective buyers wind up competing against out-of-state investors for homes priced at or below the median sales price — $500,500 for houses and $335,000 for condos in Miami-Dade County. To purchase a half million dollar home, a household would need to make $167,000, said Ned Murray, associate director of the FIU Metropolitan Center — and only 5% of households in Miami reach that number, based on 2019 Census data.
In the meantime, South Florida runs the risk of eroding its middle class, the loss of which would cause drastic effects to the region’s economy. Emerging data indicates that high housing costs are impacting the work force in South Florida, according to Dr. Edward Murray, associate director of the Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University.
“Our competitive edge, which was always that Florida was affordable, is no longer the case,” Edward Murray, a housing expert at Florida International University’s Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center, told me.
Prior to the pandemic, more than half of the area’s households were cost burdened, paying more than the 30 percent of their income to keep a home and on related bills, according to Florida International University’s Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center.
Dr. Edward Murray, associate director of the Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University, noted that “there is a severe shortage which is driving up prices. Adding to the pressure is the fact that most South Florida households can’t afford to buy, so they have no choice to rent, thus adding to the demand.”
Despite an ever-growing Miami skyline, Professor Murray says the supply of apartments is not even close to meeting the demand. This is what really concerns him: in the past year, rental prices in South Florida have surged 30%. Wages, though, have only ticked up about 2%. Ned Murray: “The economic impact of that is significant.”
Commissioners hired Florida International University professors Dario Moreno and Maria Ilcheva, redistricting experts who hosted seven forums attended by an estimated 300 people. Afterward, they produced four map alternatives. FIU’s presence removed the self-dealing that tarnished redistricting in the past.
Most workers in Florida can’t afford to rent a typical two bedroom apartment, said Ned Murray, associate director of the Florida International University Metropolitan Center. A full-time worker would need to earn $24.43 an hour to pay the typical rent of $1,270 a month, but the median wage in Florida is $17.26 an hour, he said.
There are several theories as to why people have not flocked back to the workforce, and what it will take to bring workers back. "We know this labor force participation problem isn't going away overnight," said Frank. The number of people in South Florida considered part of the workforce remains below where it was before the pandemic started in 2020.