(The Center Square) — With the session only a few days old, the Florida Senate passed a bipartisan bill to address the issue of affordable housing
Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, held a news conference Thursday to talk about the "Live Local" affordable housing bill, joined by state Sen. Alexis Calatayud, R-Miami.
"It feels amazing to be part of bringing to the Florida Legislature, one of the most transformative housing packages in the country." Calatayud said.
Calatayud then thanked Passidomo for prioritizing the bill and making sure that it was the first on the agenda for the chamber.
"We worked hard to make sure it was bipartisan, we worked hard to make sure impact was the goal and impact was understood amongst the chamber and we hope to see that impact statewide very soon."
The "Live Local" affordable housing bill will allocate millions of dollars into state housing programs, provide tax incentives for developers to build affordable housing and will also encourage mixed-use developments.
According to the bill, cities and counties will not be able to pass independent rent control measures.
When asked what can be expected from this bill, Sen. Calatayud said that it will encourage more investment, particularly in South Florida for affordable housing.
Calatayud added that reducing "cumbersome" regulations will also encourage more developers to build. As for the outcome that is expected, Calatayud said that maximizing output by funding gaps in shovel-ready projects, will ensure that short term and long-term affordable housing stock gets built and offers more options.
Passidomo added that because there are so many new people moving to Florida, there will always be a housing issue and it may not always be affordable.
"The housing that is contemplated by this bill, runs the gamut from the current programs, the inclusion of the missing middle to capture additional eligible people, the expansion of the Hometown Hero program." Passidomo said.
"We are never going to be able to provide housing for everybody, but right now we are in a crisis. We’ve got to do something, particularly for the missing middle, the people that make too much to qualify for the current programs, and too little to actually afford a place to live." Passidomo added.
Passidomo also noted that there is a stigma around affordable housing, perpetuated by local governments being resistant to building them because they see those sorts of developments as "Section 8 housing or… a concrete block painted lime green, with graffiti all over it." Passidomo said.
"That rhetoric is not right, and I think the public are starting to demand local governments do something…People who actually work for local governments have nowhere to live, so I think the public will hold them accountable." Passidomo said.
Passidomo pointed out that elected officials who do not do anything to alleviate the situation, will pay for it at the ballot boxes when their constituents vote them out.