Affordable housing package heads to Florida House floor
TALLAHASSEE — A priority of Senate President Kathleen Passidomo to try to boost affordable housing is headed to the House floor.
The House Ways & Means Committee on Monday voted 19-2 to approve a measure (HB 627) dubbed the “Live Local Act,” which includes providing incentives for investment in affordable housing and seeking more mixed-use developments in struggling commercial areas.
“As our state continues to grow, we need to make sure Floridians can live close to good jobs, schools, hospitals and other critical centers for our communities that fit comfortably in their household budgets,” said House sponsor Demi Busatta Cabrera, R-Coral Gables.
The Senate on March 8 unanimously passed a similar bill (SB 102). As with the Senate version, the House proposal carries a $711 million price tag. Among other things, it would bar local rent control laws and pre-empt local-government rules on zoning, density and building heights in certain circumstances. It also would create tax exemptions for developments that set aside at least 70 units for affordable housing and speed up permits and development orders for affordable housing projects.
Democrats continued to express concerns about the rent-control prohibition and local government pre-emption. Orange County voters backed a rent control measure in November, but a judge prevented certification of the referendum.
“Do I like preemptions? I absolutely do not,” Rep. Dianne Hart, D-Tampa, said. “But I applaud the fact that President Passidomo has put together a bill that would make me vote for it, even though I don’t like some parts of it.”
Busatta Cabrera said the state has a housing shortage that needs to be addressed. “We don’t have enough apartments, enough homes available for those that need them,” Busatta Cabrera said. “The rent-control provision, that would not help fix our crisis.”
The bill would provide about $500 million for a series of programs, including $252 million for the longstanding State Housing Initiatives Partnership, or SHIP, program, $150 million a year to the State Apartment Incentive Loan, or SAIL, program, and an additional $100 million for the Hometown Heroes program, which is designed to help teachers, health-care workers and police officers buy homes.
The state budget for the current year includes $362.7 million for affordable housing.