Gov. DeSantis signs measure to boost affordable housing

desantis, ron - in front of an american flag
'There’s really now good financial incentives to increase the supply of housing.'

Flanked by police officers, politicians and Realtors, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 102, a package of provisions aimed at getting developers to build more affordable housing units as a way to stem the tide of rising rents across the state.

“There’s really now good financial incentives to increase the supply of housing,” DeSantis said shortly after signing the legislation at an event in Naples.

The bill was a top priority for Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican, who worked on the language with developers, housing advocates, local government officials and others throughout the past year.

“We believe that from Day 1 there will be a big impact on the lack of housing for our citizens,” Passidomo said.

It passed unanimously in the Senate and only received six “no” votes in the House. Much of the bill was highly praised by Democrats and Republicans, but Democrats expressed frustration with one provision that prohibits cities and counties from enacting rent control ordinances. Orange County voters approved such an ordinance last year, which led to a court battle before DeSantis signed the measure.

Renters throughout the state have sought relief as prices have soared in recent years. A Florida TaxWatch report found rents increased 36% from 2020 to 2022, and the median rent was $1,266 at the start of 2021 before rising 29% over that year, to $1,635.

Passidomo and DeSantis said one of the aims of the bill was to allow middle- and lower-class workers to live closer to their job. The hike in rents and home prices has pushed workers to find housing far away from their workplace, they said.

Under the new law, local governments must approve multifamily housing developments in areas zoned for commercial or mixed-use if the development includes 40% of its units for affordable housing, defined as offering rents that are within 30% of the local median income. The developments, though, would be required to stick to a city’s comprehensive plan, with the exception of density and height restrictions.

Developments built in the last five years with 70 units or more will be eligible for a property tax exemption if they offer rents at least 10% below the local market rate. Cities and counties will also be able to offer property tax exemptions to developments with at least 50 units that set aside 20% for affordable housing.

Moreover, the new law provides $711 million for affordable housing programs.

The Hometown Heroes program was created last year to provide low-cost loans to veterans, military members, police officers, firefighters and other professions to help with down payments and closing costs for a home. The $100 million it received this year is being renewed again, and the program is expanded to apply to all first-time homebuyers and the loan amount is increased from $25,000 to $35,000.

There’s also $259 million for the State Apartment Incentive Loan program (SAIL) and $252 million for the State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP), the state’s two main affordable housing programs.

Gray Rohrer


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