- Florida’s House Ways & Means Committee approved the “Live Local Act” (HB 627), a bill aimed at addressing the state’s affordable housing crisis, which is now heading to the House floor.
- The $711 million bill includes incentives for affordable housing investments, pre-emptions of local-government rules, and funding for various housing programs.
- The Florida Senate unanimously passed a similar bill (SB 102) and a bill (SB 106) to link a statewide trail network to a wildlife corridor.
The Florida House Ways & Means Committee has approved the “Live Local Act” (HB 627), a bill aimed at addressing the state’s affordable housing crisis. The measure, which has a $711 million price tag, will now head to the House floor for a vote. The Florida Senate had unanimously passed a similar bill (SB 102) on March 8.
The “Live Local Act” seeks to incentivize investment in affordable housing in a strategic way to avoid boom and bust cycles in the development cycle that discourage future investments. One of the major problems it aims to solve is helping Floridians live in the same community where they work. In many areas, the cost of living is so high that many public service jobs, including firefighters, and teachers, can’t afford to live in the communities they serve. The problem is not new, but inflation and the rising cost of living has especially driven up the cost of housing across the nation.
“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,” House sponsor Demi Busatta Cabrera, R-Coral Gables, said.
But included in its many provisions, the bill would also pre-empt local-government rules on zoning, density, and building heights in certain circumstances. It would also create tax exemptions for developments that set aside at least 70 units for affordable housing, speed permits and development orders for affordable housing projects, and bar local rent controls.
Democrats have vocally opposed the rent-control prohibition and local government pre-emption, but they acknowledge the need to address the housing shortage. “Do I like preemptions? I absolutely do not,” said Rep. Dianne Hart, D-Tampa. “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.”
The “Live Local Act” would allocate funds for several programs, including $252 million for the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program, $150 million a year to the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) program, and an additional $100 million for the Hometown Heroes program, which helps teachers, health-care workers, and police officers buy homes.
Senate President Kathleen Passidomo has made affordable housing a priority. Wasting no time, the Senate passed the bill on the second day of the 60-day legislative session.