Miami Firms Dangle Housing Incentives To Lure New Workers

December 4, 2007

When University of miami officials were recruiting Ricardo Hall from North Carolina, they made sure he got the message: Be prepared for the high cost of living.

“They didn’t want me to find out on my own, so it would be less sticker shock,” said the new dean of students, who had been at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. Talking about it didn’t make it any less painful. The Coral Gables house the family is renting is costing three times more than the mortgage on its former two-story, three-bedroom home on almost an acre. The transition has been made smoother, though, by a new university program that will share the burden of a new mortgage.

With home, insurance and property tax costs soaring, local employers are beginning to ofer housing assistance to recruit and retain midlevel professionals, such as nurses at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale. Others such as the miami-Dade County School Board recently approved a program to ofer reduced public transit prices as an employee benefit. One Broward County business owner is even lobbying to change the federal tax code.

“Definitely, it is a key issue,” said Frank Nero, chief executive oficer of the Beacon Council, miami-Dade County’s economic development agency. “We’re not as competitive as we once were. It has an overall impact on our ability to recruit.”

Some firms have responded with higher salary ofers to lure new workers. Others are trying more innovative approaches. Local workforce housing developer mFm Construction Corp. is partnering with the city of miami and private companies like Bank of America and the Discovery Channel to provide their workers with a first chance at mFm’s condo projects, which include the River Grand near Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

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