Florida legislature is considering a bill on affordable housing

Affordable Housing Bill – Real estate property – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Kristi Blokhin

The best place for Inez Camacho to unwind is on the front porch of her new apartment, where she can water her plants while listening to her wind chime.

Poinciana Crossing, her new structure, is roughly a mile south of Fort Lauderdale’s downtown area.

It’s one of many recently constructed, reasonably priced housing complexes in Broward.

Camacho was about to leave South Florida just nine months prior. The rent on her old apartment in Kendall had increased, making it more difficult for her to make ends meet.

“I didn’t see this happening. I looked at other parts of Florida and they weren’t affordable anymore,” she says. 

Every month, Camacho pays $1,400, which is hard to find in Broward, where rents can approach $3,000 a month.

“We are the least affordable county in the state and one of the least affordable counties in the nation,” says Walter Duke.  

Duke, a former mayor of Dania Beach and a real estate appraiser, is the chair of the Fort Lauderdale Alliance’s affordable housing pillar and serves on the Broward Workshop Housing Subcommittee.

He described the issue as follows:

He claims that 50 percent of the labor force lives at 60 percent of the median wage, meaning that they can afford rent of roughly $1,200 per month. However, when rent is $3,000 per month, there is a $1,800 shortage that the typical worker cannot make up.

“400,000 people moved here last year. If they can’t find housing they will find other places to work.”

This session in Tallahassee, state lawmakers are close to approving an affordable housing package that has been supported by Miami Republican Senator Alexis Calatayud and Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo.

The highlights of the bill are:

  • Housing costs won’t exceed 30 percent of someone’s pay
  • Converting existing buildings into affordable housing 
  • Relaxing rules on density and height 
  • Offering tax breaks for developers

The proposal to forbid rent control is the most divisive.

Duke views the legislation favorably, “It’s fun to see both sides of the aisle work together.”

Duke claims that even with all the affordable home construction, turning the ship around will take time. According to him, it will take ten years.

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