(Bloomberg) -- Miami-Dade County is seeking $2.5 billion to cope with one of the worst housing crises in the US.

Mayor Daniella Levine Cava will propose the new, property tax-backed debt package to voters later this year, she said. The largest portion of the money — about $800 million — will go to a fund that will finance affordable housing projects, while the rest will be used to improve the county’s infrastructure, including parks, sewage and roads.

“Cost of development is extremely high because land is so limited,” Cava said in an interview. While details of the bond proposal, set to be put on the ballot in November, are still being worked out, Cava said the “$800 million will go very fast.”

Cava, who’s seeking re-election in November, faces a housing crisis that keeps getting worse. 

Home prices in the Miami area have surged 82% over the past five years, thanks to steady inflow of wealthy newcomers, squeezing out those that can’t afford it. Miami-Dade county’s population has remained relatively stable since 2020, while traffic congestion soared and the percentage of people rent-burdened is among the highest in the nation.

Miami isn’t alone in tapping bond markets to alleviate housing issues. Cities across the US have grappled with how to boost affordable housing as home prices have gone up. Telluride, a wealthy ski resort destination in Colorado, borrowed $31.8 million to pay for so-called workforce housing, same as vacation hot-spots like Nantucket and other towns on Cape Cod. On a larger scale, New York City sold $700 million of social bonds last year to help pay for affordable housing.

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The Miami-Dade mayor’s housing plan is to prioritize projects that increase urban density, while also using county land for “massive property redevelopment,” she said.


“We are looking at county properties that are not utilized to maximum efficiency that could be redeveloped,” she said, citing government buildings and public housing projects.

Miami-Dade sold bonds in July, issuing $172 million to finance various capital projects including $52 million for recreation and cultural facilities and $50 million to replace police radios, according to offering documents. Yields on that offering ranged from 2.67% to 3.89%, pricing data compiled by Bloomberg shows.

If the $2.5 billion debt package is approved by voters, the money will also address other major constraints plaguing Miami. The city is one of the the only major urban centers in the US that relies heavily on septic tanks and Cava said about 11,000 septic systems were identified as “most compromised” and in need of repair. 

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The money will also help with road infrastructure, parks and preserving environmentally endangered lands that act as a buffer for the Everglades. But the $2.5 billion won’t be used in mass transit solutions, she said.

“Transportation is not what we will propose to address in the bond and the reason for that is the public would not support it,” she said.

--With assistance from Danielle Moran and Alex Tanzi.

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