Miami Using EB-5 Visa Program to Finance Affordable Housing Development

August 7, 2015 at 2:42 pm Leave a comment

The city of Miam, FL is taking a creative approach to addressing its shortage of affordable housing. They are tapping the EB-5 visa program to attract foreign development dollars:

The city will arrange for selected developments to be partially funded by a federal visa program known as EB-5, which grants green cards to foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in businesses or construction projects that create American jobs. The overwhelming majority of EB-5 investors are individuals from China eager to obtain U.S. residency…

Businesses seeking EB-5 funds typically contact middlemen—often lawyers—who run what are known as regional centers, which work with brokers in China and other countries to recruit investors, pool their investing dollars and funnel the money, often in the form of low-cost financing, to the businesses. The regional centers are paid a fee based on the amount of money they raise.

In the past year, Miami and a few other governments decided to create their own EB-5 regional centers, which allows them to select projects to help finance what would benefit the local community, charge a lower fee to the businesses and, in some cases, use the fees to supplement services such as police and firefighters…

Miami officials said they decided to start a regional center mainly to tackle its lack of affordable housing. According to an analysis prepared for The Wall Street Journal by the University of Florida’s Shimberg Center for Housing Studies, Miami-Dade County lost nearly 21,000 affordable apartments—or those that low- or medium-income people can rent without spending more than 40% of their income each month—from 2000 to 2012. In most cases, the buildings were torn down or converted to attract residents with higher incomes.

The city’s first development is actually an 83-story luxury tower, but they stated that it helped finance the creation of the regional center and that they expect many future projects to target affordable housing. In fact after getting wind of the program a veterans group and some members of the business community came out with a plan to build mixed use facility for veterans near the University of Miami hospital.

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Entry filed under: Affordable Housing, Financing, Government Affairs, Housing Trends, Regulatory Issues. Tags: , , , .

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