Florida Gov. DeSantis approves $711 million affordable housing package

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A historic $711 million will go towards affordable housing in Florida under a bill signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis Wednesday.

The availability of affordable housing can have a major impact on a person’s life.

Tamia Young, who we spoke with back in November, told us she was able to pull herself out of homelessness after qualifying for an affordable housing unit here in Jacksonville

“I get to have a shelter for my kids and a stable place to live and be able to afford it,” said Young.

Now, more Floridians may be afforded similar opportunities thanks to the new state law.

The “Live Local Act” includes $100 million to bolster the state’s Hometown Heroes program, which provides down payment assistance for veterans, military members, first responders, teachers, nurses and more.

There’s also roughly $250 million allocated to both the SHIP and SAIL programs, which directly fund new housing projects and work to create agreements between builders and local governments to incentivize affordable housing development.

Additionally, there’s $100 million for a loan program to help offset inflation costs for projects already underway.

“Prices are going to go up when there’s inflation, which has happened, but also when the demand exceeds supply and so, you now have incentives to bring more housing stock into the market,” said Governor DeSantis.

State Representative Angie Nixon (D-Jacksonville) was one of just six state lawmakers to vote no on the measure.

While she believes the new law will help reduce housing costs in the long term, she argued by preempting local governments’ limited ability to impose rent control measures, a tool to tackle housing costs in the short term will be off the table.

“As many of us know, rent is just too darn high, and folks have been going up on rent even like outside of inflationary costs,” said Nixon.

Nixon also disagreed with provisions in the new law that override some local zoning controls and building codes.

“Though it is good in some areas, it really is bad as it relates to allowing people to build the types of communities they want in their areas,” said Nixon.

But Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, who helped craft the legislation, argued the new law comes up with creative housing solutions for hardworking Floridians.

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

Some of the elements of the new law will take effect immediately, like the inflation loan program, but the bulk of the package officially kicks in on July 1.

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