Florida Legislature Approves Affordable Housing ‘Live Local Act’
After two years of soaring rents, the Florida legislature passed a sweeping affordable housing bill with $711 million to fund development programs, incentives for development and bans on rent controls.
The House voted almost unanimously, 103 to 6, to pass the bill, called the “Live Local Act,” on Friday. The vote came after the Senate approved the legislation earlier this month. The bill will now move to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who’s expected to sign it into law.
“Floridians are ready to live local and to spend less time commuting and more time raising their families in the heart of the communities they serve,” Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, who had spearheaded the bill, said in a statement.
The act would exempt developments constructed in the last five years from property taxes for each unit targeted at low- and middle-income families, if the property has at least 70 units that offer rents at least 10 percent below market rate. Another provision would allow municipalities and counties to spare property taxes for owners who allocate units for those earning 50 percent or less of the area median income.
The bill requires local governments to approve multifamily developments in areas zoned for commercial or mixed uses if at least 40 percent of units are designated as affordable housing.
The legislation would also provide $711 million for affordable housing programs, including $252 million for the longstanding State Housing Initiatives Partnership, $150 million annually to the State Apartment Incentive Loan) and $100 million for the Hometown Heroes program.
Critics have taken issue with bans on municipalities’ ability to institute rent controls and measures that hamper local municipalities’ ability to reject some developments. “In Orange County, rents are out of control. My concern would be who gets to decide where it is built and how it is built,” Rita Harris, a Democratic state House member from Orange County, whose constituents voted in favor of rent controls last year, told Florida Politics.
Julia Echikson can be reached at email@example.com.