Florida

Florida Senate bill addresses affordable housing

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Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) unveiled an $800 million Affordable Housing Act Thursday aimed at managing rising rents through private sector stimulus, the Orlando Sentinel reported .

The sweeping, 93-page bill — dubbed the Live Local Act of 2023 — would ease local regulatory laws by requiring municipalities and counties to approve multifamily and mixed-use housing units in commercial areas, provided 40 percent of the housing is reserved for families whose Incomes are up to 120 percent of the region’s median income, the outlet reported.

The bill also offers several tax incentives for developers who designate units as affordable. For example, owners of properties with at least 70 units built or remodeled in the last five years would receive a tax incentive if they reserve homes for low- to middle-income residents, the outlet said.

Another provision allows counties and municipalities to offer local tax exemptions to settlements with at least 50 homes, with 20 percent of the units dedicated to affordable housing, the Commercial Observer reported.

According to several outlets, the bill would also ban local governments from imposing rent controls.

According to Sentinel, Florida rents have increased by over 20 percent from 2020 to 2021 and have increased even more over the past year.

Many residents employed in the hospitality industry — on which Florida relies heavily — have been pushed out of their local markets because of the significant rent increases, the Commercial Observer reported.

“We have great respect for the dignity of work. We know that less commuting means a better quality of life,” said law sponsor Sen. Alexis Calatayud, a Republican representing South Miami, according to the outlet.

While Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis tentatively backed the bill, some Florida Democrats and housing advocates condemned the proposal as a giveaway to developers and landlords.

“Senate Republicans’ solution to the housing crisis is a state mandate that bans actions to stabilize local rents and too many developer handouts to count,” Ida Eskamani, an advocate for affordable housing in central Florida, posted on Twitter, reported the Sentinel. “I don’t see any consumer-friendly measures like rent protection and stopping private equity monopolies.”

– Ted Shiner

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