Some residents opposed to Section 8 vouchers being used for large homes in South Florida gated communities

Here is another side effect of the sluggish economy and housing market: some big homes in South Florida are being rented with Section 8 vouchers.

Housing advocates and the government view the turnabout as a win-win for homeowners and the poor, who have access to safer communities and better schools.

But some neighbors are aghast.

After a single mother and her nine children rented a house in the exclusive Isles neighborhood of Coral Springs, the homeowners association adopted an amendment to its governing documents stating: “No Section 8 or government leasing assistance is permitted.”

The association is threatening eviction.

Federal law does not expressly outlaw such bans. But the prohibition can’t be used as a pretext for other illegal acts, such as denying housing to people because of their race, gender, national origin, disability or number of children.

The Sun Sentinel examined federal housing subsidy data from housing authorities in Broward and Palm Beach counties and found 230 homes commanding rents of $2,000 or more, up to $3,375 a month, from Section 8 families. Typically, tenants pay about one-third of their income toward the rent and the government pays the rest.

Most of the homes were basic, modest-looking residences in unassuming neighborhoods. But about a dozen were far grander, upscale houses concentrated in Broward County’s western suburbs, including Coral Springs, Miramar and Cooper City, where one six-bedroom rental is worth $500,000.

I can’t say I’m surprised by the response of some of the gated community residents: they moved to these communities in part so they might never have to run into people with Section 8 vouchers. It doesn’t sound like this is widespread just yet but I can imagine the headline years later: racial and economic integration was achieved in South Florida through a terrible housing market that limited the ability of wealthier residents to keep out poorer residents.

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