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Affordable Housing in Fla. Gets Boost Through New Law

The new law – a Florida Realtors’ priority during the 2020 session of the Florida Legislature – expands zoning for affordable-housing sites along with other changes.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 1339 into law this week, creating new tools for local governments to use as they work to ease Florida’s affordable housing crisis.

The new law, which was a 2020 Florida Realtors legislative priority, contains a number of provisions designed to increase local flexibility, accountability and training for affordable housing projects.

“While our state might have an affordable housing crisis, it’s our communities and local governments that will eventually solve it,” says Cheryl Lambert, Florida Realtors 2020 president-elect, broker-owner of Only Way Realty Citrus in Inverness and an advocate for affordable housing. “By easing zoning restrictions on where affordable housing projects can be built and requiring local officials who oversee and approve these projects to meet more often, we are giving them new tools to tackle the problem.”

One of the most impactful aspects of the new law is that local governments can approve the development of affordable housing on any parcel zoned for residential, commercial or industrial use. Prior to this law, zoning restrictions limited where these projects could be built, often delaying their construction, and, in some cases, canceling them altogether.

The new law also establishes workshops for local elected officials serving on affordable housing committees. The workshops will provide increased accountability by ensuring that the committees meet more often to review and amend their affordable housing plans.

In addition, the new law also authorizes local governments to create a linkage fee to fund affordable housing, requires certain State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Program data to be provided to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, and creates new opportunities to create affordable housing options for people who have mental health issues, substance abuse problems, survivors of domestic violence and people aging out of foster care.

“This is a great law and we are so excited we were able to help get it over the finish line,” Lambert says.

The new law will take effect July 1, 2020.

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