- Sen. Shevrin Jones introduced a bill proposal on Thursday that would establish a Task Force on Workforce Housing for Teachers and Expansion of Schools to help remedy rising housing costs for teachers
- The Task Force, created parallel to the Department of Economic Opportunity, would study issues related to the need for affordable housing by teachers as well as the need for additional classroom and instructional spaces
- The group would launch a series of inquiries into possible solutions like the feasibility of using surplus, state-owned land and buildings for workforce housing and classroom space
- Should the bill pass and the Task Force’s establishment go into effect, it would be required to submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by Feb. 1, 2024
Sen. Shevrin Jones filed a bill on Thursday that seeks to establish a Task Force on Workforce Housing for Teachers and Expansion of Schools to remedy the rising housing costs for educators across the state.
The Task Force, created parallel to the Department of Economic Opportunity, would study the proliferating issue of teachers struggling to afford housing prices in the communities they teach in, as well as the need for additional classrooms and instructional space.
Future endeavors listed within the bill’s language include an inquiry into the feasibility of using surplus, state-owned land and buildings as living or teaching areas, identifying the need and availability of grants for such spaces, and locating the regions of Florida that would benefit the most from such an initiative, among a series of additional objectives.
The bill’s text refers to workforce housing as lodging affordable to individuals or families whose total annual household income does not exceed 80 percent of the area median income, adjusted for household size.
“The Legislature finds that recent rapid increases in the median purchase price of homes and the cost of rental housing have far outpaced the income of teachers in this state, preventing essential teachers from living in the communities where they serve and thereby creating the need for innovative solutions for the provision of housing opportunities for teachers,” reads the bill. “The Legislature further finds that there is a need for additional classrooms and instructional space for children. To this end, the Legislature finds that the establishment of the Task Force on Workforce Housing for Teachers and Expansion of Schools is an appropriate measure to identify ways to fulfill this need in communities throughout the state.
Should the bill pass and the Task Force’s establishment go into effect, it would be required to submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by Feb. 1, 2024.
The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives would each appoint five members to the Task Force with the stipulation that none can be currently-serving members of the Legislature.
Laying out precise appointment guidelines, Jones’ bill mandates that the five selected Task Force appointees include one member of a board of county commissioners, one member of a governing body of a municipality, one member of a district school board, a developer, and a homebuilder.
Though Gov. Ron DeSantis would also be granted the power to appoint two members, one of the two would have to be an affordable housing advocate who has no current or past business relationship with any local government, district school board, developer, or homebuilder.
DeSantis would also choose one of his appointees to serve as Chair of the Task Force.
The makeup of the group would be rounded out with one member of the Senate who is appointed by the President of the Senate, one member of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Commissioner of Education or their designee, the Secretary of Environmental Protection or their designee, the Secretary of Economic Opportunity or their designee, and the Secretary of Management Services or their designee.
As a final regulation, the chair of the task force may request that representatives of appropriate federal agencies participate as ex officio, nonvoting members.