Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) introduced on Thursday an $800 million affordable-housing bill designed to tackle soaring rents by providing incentives to the private sector, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The sweeping, 93-page bill — called the Live Local Act of 2023 — would ease local regulatory laws by requiring municipalities and counties to approve multifamily and mixed-housing units in commercial areas, provided 40 percent of the housing is set aside for families whose incomes are up to 120 percent of the area’s median income, the outlet reported.
The bill also provides multiple tax incentives to developers who designate units as affordable.
For example, owners of properties with at least 70 units that were built or remodeled within the previous five years would receive a tax incentive if they set aside apartments for low- to mid-income residents, according to the outlet.
Another provision allows counties and municipalities to offer a local tax exemption to developments with at least 50 apartments with 20 percent of the units dedicated to affordable housing, the Commercial Observer reported.
The bill would also prohibit local governments from instituting rent control, according to multiple outlets.
Florida rents have increased over 20 percent from 2020 to 2021, and rose even more through most of last year, according to the Sentinel.
Many residents who are employed in the hospitality industry — on which Florida relies heavily — were priced out of their local markets due to the significant rent increases, the Commercial Observer reported.
“We have great respect for the dignity of work. We know that a lower commute means a higher quality of life,” bill sponsor Sen. Alexis Calatayud, a Republican representing southern Miami, said, according to the outlet.
While Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis provided tentative support for the bill, some Florida Democrats and housing advocates decried the proposal as a giveaway to developers and landlords.
“Senate Republicans’ solution to the housing crisis is a state mandate banning local rent stabilization measures and too many developer handouts to count,” Ida Eskamani, a Central Florida affordable housing advocate, posted on Twitter, the Sentinel reported. “I’m not seeing any pro-consumer policies like tenant protections and stopping private equity monopolies.”