Is Affordable Teacher Housing Really Coming?





Plantation Mayor Nick Sortal gets an “A” for effort. 

But he still may flunk his push for affordable housing for teachers. 


Nick Sortal





It’s too early to tell if Sortal will be successful. It’s just the wisp of an idea being floated by the mayor to anybody who will listen.

No one has approved it yet. No staff has signed off. No developer has committed to it.

And the School Board is already considering such housing on land now occupied by under-enrolled schools. Meetings are already taking place on the Board’s idea, which would put housing all over the county. 

So if a long journey begins with the first step, Sortal’s idea is at the half step stage. 

Here’s the mayor’s plan:

Sortal wants teacher housing on a long neglected vacant parcel owned by the School Board at Hiatus Road and West Broward Boulevard. 

The 13 acres would make a perfect place for affordable housing exclusively for teachers, he says. 

Well, yes. 





But it also would make a perfect site for a gated community with housing priced at what the market would bare.  

That’s exactly what Lennar wanted to place on the land two years ago, noting the new project would abut the tony Hawks Landing neighborhood.  

Lennar first proposed 111 townhomes. The idea hit a buzzsaw of complaints from Hawks Landing grandees. 

So Lennar changed the plan and proposed building less than 40 higher price single family homes. They even gave the development a name — Enclave of Plantation. 

That deal collapsed and Enclave never got built. There were few tears in the high-end homes of Hawks Landing.

Which leads to the question of how Plantation residents will react to a new “affordable housing” development next door? Traditionally home owners don’t want “affordable housing” near by, fearing it will bring down the value of their own homes. 

Sortal foresees the problem. 

He avoids using the term“affordable housing” calling his idea “teachers’ housing”.  Teachers are among the most trusted professionals, ranking just under doctors and nurses.

 (Journalists are trusted by 33 percent of those answering a Gallop poll, while 34 percent have low trust or no trust of them. Lawyer and members of Congress are trusted even less.) 

The housing would be owned by teachers and not be rentals, the mayor envisions.  

The plans as yet are too vaporous to say how teachers would be picked to live in the new homes. Or what the prices would be.  Or whether the housing will be single family, townhouses or a mix. 

Or perhaps most important, how many homes would be squeezed on the 13 acres to make them affordable.

If housing prices are low, the project would have to have higher density to make sense. That’s just economics. 

And increased density would presumably create more opposition from nearby homeowners. 

Three decades ago a developer proposed 296 units on that property, which is an indication of how many homes the land can potentially fit.   A lot!   

Since Plantation’s mayor has no real role in any future development, Sortal can only lobby for his idea with voters and the School Board, which owns the land.

And, of course, that’s another reason for teachers not to count on this housing anytime soon.

After four decades of watching the School Board as a journalist, parent and voter, I can assuredly write: The Board and its staff are the champions of sloth mixed with incompetence. 

This housing idea along with others will endlessly marinate in the black hole of school board bureaucracy. How long? Remember the $800 million in school improvements approved by voters a decade ago is still uncompleted. 

So teachers, don’t start packing yet.  

Sortal’s idea, no matter how worthy, needs a lot of time.  Today’s elementary students just might be graduating high school before the first teacher moves in.  


8 Responses to “Is Affordable Teacher Housing Really Coming?”

  1. anon says:

    Sortal should spend more time on Plantation crime, traffic and over development and less trying to get even more development built.

  2. Bill Rouse says:

    The over development which has resulted in more crime and traffic is the result of the prior mayors policies IMHO.
    Mayor Sotal is doing a bang up job with our Great City of Plantation.
    We support him 100%.

  3. Mo says:

    Mayor said he is waiting for developers to come up with an idea for the decrepit Broward Mall. He has it backward. Come up with some ideas that benefit our residents and then go find some developers to build them.

  4. Gloria says:

    what about allowing rental communities instead of building affordable apartments to be sold to the teachers, police, firemen etc.
    apartments could cost less and with the salaries will be a great opportunity to start owning a property

  5. Linda L. Perez says:

    Broward County public school teachers should receive a yearly COL raise, but we have to fight the school district for a raise every single year. Developing a lot filled with apartments or townhouses or even single family homes does not solve this problem for Broward teachers.

  6. Well Said says:

    Mr Nevins…..

    I, and perhaps many others, would be very keen to read your valued thoughts on the pending retirement of Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis.

    Thanks for all you do….


    Pembroke Pines has operated fairly well under Frank Ortis, who I have known for decades. First, I knew him as an activist in the Democratic Party. Then as an elected official.

    His deep experience, from a blue collar worker through one of the most notable politicians in Broward, helped every resident of Pembroke Pines. He understood the people of his city.

    The city now has an acclaimed charter school system. It has fine parks and community centers. It has premier shopping and restaurants. And a good cross section of housing. A great deal of the credit must go to Ortis.

    Which candidate should replace him? Voters will decide that one

  7. Roger Moore says:

    lease the land and take the money to boost salaries, no brainer

  8. Sam the Sham says:

    The Skool Bored, one of the largest landowners in the county, should build subsidized teacher housing on their own property if they really need it. God knows these part time employees who get three month vacations every year need a subsidy.