Housing bill teed up in Florida Senate

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A "For Rent" sign is displayed along a neighborhood street (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

A $711 million proposal intended to make housing more affordable for working Floridians is ready to quickly go before the state Senate after the legislative session starts March 7.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved the wide-ranging bill (SB 102), a priority of Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples.

Called the “Live Local Act,” the bill includes providing incentives for private investment in affordable housing.

It also would encourage mixed-use development in struggling commercial areas, preempt local-government rules on density and building heights in certain circumstances and bar local rent controls.

“This is a departure from the status quo,” said Sen. Alexis Calatayud, a Miami Republican sponsoring the bill. “That’s why we’re spending the time through this deliberative process to have conversations and refine the policy as best as we can. … I think the best part of this policy is how intentional we are on solving the housing crisis.”

Passidomo’s office said the full Senate is expected to take up the measure during the first week of the legislative session.

Critics of the bill have argued that it should not bar local rent controls.

Former Democratic state Sen. Dwight Bullard also contended the measure could ease restrictions and allow development near Superfund sites “without the environmental oversight that is necessary to make sure that those particular sites do not have carcinogens or are harmful to the potential tenants.”

The bill would provide funding for a series of programs, including $252 million for the longstanding State Housing Initiatives Partnership, or SHIP, program and an additional $100 million for the Hometown Heroes program, which is designed to help teachers, health-care workers and police officers buy homes.

The state budget for the current year includes $362.7 million for affordable housing. A similar bill (HB 627) is pending in the House.

©2023 The News Service of Florida

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