Barriers to policy
The policy under discussion is the Senior Rental Assistance Pilot Program amended by Miami-Dade County in February 2020. The barriers to the policy are connected with internal and external issues. As for external factors, one of the barriers is property availability that imposes a surplus demand with insufficient supply due to which people with low income fail to afford comfortable housing. This issue is closely related to another obstacle, which is the rent increase. It forces senior citizens of unincorporated areas of Miami to minimize their expenditures on needs other than housing (Miami-Dade County, 2020). Fixed and low income of senior citizens is incompatible in comparison to rental prices that increase disproportionately, leaving this population on the verge of choosing between nutrition, medication, and housing.
As for internal factors, the funding resources might be obstructive due to the limits of senior residents that can be assisted by means of the program. As it is stated in the document, “the expenditure of any funds for the Program will be subject to subsequent approvals of this Board,” meaning that there is a reasonable part of funds ready to be allocated from the county budget (Miami-Dade County, 2020, p. 1). In addition, since the discussed policy is a pilot program, it is designed to provide assistance to a limited population. However, in case of its successful implementation might contribute to a larger scale initiative.
Policy Position and Legislative Goal
The policy’s position addresses the obstacles and prioritizes the needs of the population that is most impacted by them. More specifically, senior citizens aged 62 and older whose income is “significantly lower than the area median income … for Miami-Dade County” (Miami-Dade County, 2020, p. 2). The rapid rent increase adversely impacts the housing affordability rate for this population. Therefore, the policy position is to provide financial assistance to all eligible seniors of Miami-Dade County to minimize these harmful effects.
The provisions of the program state that within the period of 12 months, $100 per month payments will be forwarded to seniors whose household income constitutes 40 percent of area median income or less, possess no more than $5,000 savings in bank accounts, are not receivers of other rent subsidies, and spend more than 50 percent of their monthly incomes for rent (Miami-Dade County, 2020). Furthermore, the program is designed as a set of locally controlled registration and monitoring interventions. It allows for ensuring quick and flexible applicants’ placement procedures, with “less paperwork and fewer barriers for applicants when compared to the federal programs” (Miami-Dade County, 2020, p.2). Thus, the policy designed by Miami-Dade County provides rental assistance to the populations that urgently need it.
The legislative goal of the Senior Rental Assistance Pilot Program is to provide effective and timely financial support to vulnerable populations that suffer from rent increase. Since the housing market forces have an adverse impact of extremely low- and very low-income citizens, especially seniors, this pilot program aims at providing immediate payments for all eligible applicants. It identifies the most effective and flexible ways of applying for assistance to ensure that the vast majority of the target population receives the support they need. On a broader scale, this program seeks to expend the terms of assistance and budgeting to address the expenditure needs of citizens living in subsidized housing.
Miami-Dade County. (2020). Senior rental assistance pilot program. Miami-Dade Legislative Item File Number: 193120.