The City of Miami has initiated a novel solution to its affordable housing problem: Low Income Housing Benches.
The initiative marks the first time the City has publicly acknowledged that it is in the prongs of an affordable housing crisis, and that maybe it should do something about the every person in the city who cannot afford to live here, a reversal of the City’s longstanding plan of doing absolutely nothing but make it easier for developers to build more unaffordable luxury high-rises for Latin American investors.
At a press conference Monday, recently fired then rehired City Manager Daniel Alfonso announced the implementation of the “Low Income Bench Program,” an initiative the City Manager hopes will attract millennials who embrace the “tiny home movement” and want to live without bourgeois amenities like "bathrooms" or "shelter from the elements" to Miami. “These benches are great, and in fact, I plan to live on one after I’m fired from this job again,” said Mr. Alfonso shortly before being fired from his job again and then unfired about 20-minutes after that. “I can’t live with this uncertainty,” said a quivering Mr. Alfonso before retreating to a nearby bench for a nap.
“These versatile housing benches are located throughout the City and provide enough room for a comfortable sleep for one average sized person. The benches can also fit two malnourished children with plenty of room for their single mother to stand over them as she weeps,” said Janelle Goldrich of Miami’s Housing and Urban Development administration.
Ms. Goldrich claims the Low Income Benches program will cost taxpayers very little because the City can simply designate existing benches as a “Low Income Bench.”
The Plantain spoke to some Miami residents who have already signed up for the program, like 9th grade English teacher Steven Hill, who said his new bench home was “pretty convenient because there is one right outside of my school in the park. I just got to get there by five or Crazy Ernie takes it, and you don’t want to mess with him.”
Other residents have not responded to the programs so warmly: “I’m not an animal! I deserve to sleep inside somewhere, is that too much too ask?” said local delivery man and father of four Rupert Juarez. “I just want a place to live. You try looking your kids in the eye and telling them that they’re sleeping on a park bench the one weekend a month you have custody!”
While the program has some detractors, it is ironically being looked at as a model for developers who plan to install luxury bench units throughout the Brickell and downtown area. We spoke to Louis Nyman of Goldman Properties who says it plans on building 10,000 bench units throughout the City by 2018. The benches will start at $700 a month and will be painted by well-known street artists and come with amenities such as the ability to brag to your friends that you can afford to spend $700 a month on a park bench.