A $711 million affordable housing package designed to address Florida’s affordable housing crisis was met with disapproval and ire by housing activists on Wednesday — they said the measure’s provision to ban local governments from enacting rent controls won’t help alleviate the problem.
The ‘Live Local Act’ (SB 102) sponsored by Miami Republican Alexis Calatayud, proposes a multitude of strategies to address the state’s affordable housing situation, but the portion that forbids rent control under all circumstances irked many citizens and advocates who spoke about the proposal at the Senate Community Affairs meeting.
The measure was passed unanimously by the bipartisan committee, despite the criticism.
“This is the future trajectory for what we believe is appropriate for Floridians and what is going to focus on providing successful, attainable, affordable units,” Calatayud told the committee. “The future of Florida in providing accessible, affordable units to our workforce is not rent control, the future is this constellation of policies that is forward looking and can prove to be some of the most innovative housing policy in the country.”
Rental prices have soared in Florida’s biggest metro areas over the past two years, and public officials and citizens in those regions say that it’s another factor in making the state more expensive to live in.
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Eileen Higgins praised the legislative proposal, saying that it includes much of what Miami-Dade has already done to address the issue. She says that the county has moved their workforce housing program to 140% of Area Median Income (AMI) to keep middle-class workers like nurses and police officers in the area and encouraged the bill sponsor to do the same in the legislation. Currently the bill defines ‘affordable’ as income up to 120% of AMI, or approximately $94,000 for a family of four.
However, several other citizens who testified said that the AMI in the bill should be lowered to make more people with lower-incomes eligible.
“People who make 80% and less of AMI also are part of the workforce and also have the highest need for affordable housing units,” said Letitia Harmon, with the group Florida Rising.
Several speakers blasted the removal of allowing local governments to ban rent control measures.
“Nearly half of all renters in Jacksonville are cost burdened because of their rent, meaning that they pay over 40% of their income on rent alone,” said Kyle Mitchell, a veteran. “This isn’t happening because we’re running low on homes. It’s happening because greedy corporations and real estate investors are buying them all up and turning them into rentals.”
Jane West, the policy and planning director of the group 1000 Friends of Florida, said her group wasn’t advocating one way or another for rent control, but in the case of an emergency such as a hurricane, “those local leaders should have the discretion to do what their constituents want.”
While debates took place in several Florida cities last year for city councils and/or county commissions to put rent stabilization measure on the ballot, the only local government to do so last year was Orange County. The measure ultimately passed with 59% support, but it has not been implemented as real estate industry groups are legally challenging it.
“We represent 80,000 union members in Orange County,” said Rich Templin, director of politics and public policy with the Florida AFL-CIO. “These are people who have collective bargaining agreements. They go to work every day. Sometimes, two or three shifts a day. Sometimes two or three different jobs a day. They cannot find housing. And this is something that has to happen immediately. Which is why the county commission worked with stakeholders across the community, to get this to the ballot.”
But Central Florida Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur placed blamed on the Orange County government for its lack of affordable housing.
“Orange County only lets large scale land use transmittal twice a year, whereas 65 other counties do it every day. Why is it that we’re artificially constraining development in Orange County, vs. everywhere else?” he asked.
Brodeur added that the answer to correcting the housing problem – at least in Orange County – was relatively simply, saying that once the housing supply goes up “all those profit margins that everybody is raging against is going to come right back down to market levels. And we’re going to have plenty of supply, and it’s going to be market rate.”
The committee passed the bill unanimously, though South Florida Democrat Lori Berman said she continued to have concerns about removing the rent control portion of the bill.
The bill now moves to the Appropriations Committee in the Senate. The full House and Senate must approve the measure, and Gov. Ron DeSantis would have to sign it.
–Mitch Perry, Florida Phoenix
Dennis C Rathsam says
With the price of construction materials, the highest in my life time, how can you build affortable homes? Prices of vacant lots have tripled, Inflation has reared its ugly head, more & more families struggling just to eat. Things have gone south,since Biden was ellected president. Without help from the goverment, without a plan, we will never see homes everyone can afford.
Dennis, Trump didn’t do a good job. Biden is a much better President than Trump during his four year term. Things are getting better. The insurrection o Trump was President. A very picture for the world to see. A lot of the people who didn’t think for themselves are going to prison. The good thing is most of them are white, I just love it. When a white man go to prison it just make my day. On his worst day Biden is better than Trump on Trump,s best day.
With rent control, housing stock generally declines in livability. Money for repairs is less in rent controlled housing. It’s compounded by inflation and other rising costs. A better solution to rent control is rent subsidy from the local/state/government — if low income housing is important let some of the burden be shared by the government. That leaves the landowners with the solvency to keep the facilities in good shape. Rent control often does not.
Agree. I’m a landlord of a duplex. I rent one side out. I am raising the rent because I can’t maintain the building because of inflation and home owners insurance in Florida. I’m a senior citizen. I have to do this.
Joe D says
I fully agree! As a retiree, I bought a Flagler retirement home, but the Pandemic blew up my retirement plans of relocating, so ( since I couldn’t afford the first home AND the retired house). I had to rent out the Flagler house until I can make the final move. WELL, so far with the $500 per year in increasing property taxes AND the PROPERTY INSURANCE went from $2600 to $4300 ( and RISING)! And since my insurance carrier is LEAVING the state as of June, I have NO idea what my new insurance costs will be!!! That combined with the repairs…. I have YET to have any income produced by the property…..it’s still a losing investment ( which I can afford to do temporarily while I sell my out of state home and transition to Flagler full time)
Not ALL landlords are Corporations or greedy investment companies! Many are “MOM and POP” 1-3 unit landlords!
However, if I WAS looking to actually PRODUCE income ( which is what investments are SUPPOSED to do) I would have to add at least $300/ month to my current rental charge, to just break even and have a 2-4% return on my money
The definition of AFFORDABLE housing needs to be redefined from LUXURY expectations currently in the rental market
RENT CONTROL would probably cause my temporary RENTAL home to go into FORECLOSURE….there has to be another was to achieve affordable housing for ALL!
Affordable housing is just open policy for drug lords and crackheads. Why would you want to put this in your town?
Flagler County Long-Timer says
It’s about housing affordability for homeownership and rents for everyone, not just really low income people. Single people earning $50,000 per year are having a difficult time finding rentals in Flagler County (and elsewhere) right now.
There would be less drug lords and people addicted to drugs (including crack) if people and migrate up the latter and secure decent, affordably priced housing, whether that be rentals or home ownership opportunities.
The conversation isn’t about what you think it is, I’m afraid. It’s not about building multi-family subsidized housing in your back yard, even though subsidized housing is oftentimes necessary within the full-repertoire of housing options in a larger community setting (economically speaking).
I an a senior citizen in Duval County. I am going up on rent on one side of a duplex I own. This is the 1st raise in 2 years. I can’t afford to maintain the property on what I am being paid now. With inflation and the replacement of Central heat and air conditioning, I have no choice.