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Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo unveils plan to tackle affordable housing 'crisis'

'It is something that we have to address,' Passidomo says
Posted at 6:07 PM, Jan 26, 2023

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's Senate president thinks she has a plan to tackle the state's affordable housing crisis.

President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, unveiled a massive 93-page bill Thursday. It aims to spur private developers to create more affordable housing, ensuring Floridians can live near places they work.

"This is something that is a crisis in our state," Passidomo said during a morning news conference. "It has become a huge burden on our citizens and our residents. It is something that we have to address."

Passidomo's idea, called the Live Local Act, requires a more than $800 million appropriation. It bolsters funds for several current housing programs and adds a bunch of tax incentives, sunsetting after ten years. One in particular targets existing new constrictions, giving qualifying developments a 75% to 100% tax exemption for each low-cost unit offered.

"Those types of programs are not just five years down the pipeline," state Sen. Alexis Calatayud, R-Miami, who is sponsoring the bill, said. "It's, God willing, as soon as we pass this legislation, we begin enacting and implementing these processes."

There are also sales tax rebates on building materials and increased tax credits for businesses donating to local housing projects. Plus, the bill would free local governments to offer their own property tax exemptions for affordable housing.

Democrats, like state Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, had initial concerns.

"It's very much trickle-down economics," Eskamani said, "which doesn't always work."

Eskamani thinks the bill takes away power from counties and cities, like its elimination of rent control options. She believes it also has too few protections for tenants.

"I think it's ironic that the Senate president said this is a market-based solution," Eskamani said. "No, this is a corporate giveaway solution."

Even with heavy Democratic resistance, strong Republican support would likely be enough to make the Live Local Act happen. The House Speaker has already given words of support, saying in a statement:

"Florida workers need safe and affordable housing to provide for their families and get a step closer to realizing their version of the American dream. ‘Live Local’ is a bold vision to tackle home affordability and attainability for hardworking Floridians across our state," Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis also gave tentative support to the bill during a news conference in Miami on Thursday.

The legislation faces two committee hurdles in the Senate before reaching the floor. A duplicate bill in the House has yet to appear.