Report: Florida should copy three affordable housing programs from other states

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(The Center Square) — The Florida Legislature’s research arm looked at what other states are doing for affordable housing and recommended that three of these programs be replicated in the Sunshine State.

The Office of Program Policy and Government Accountability released the first of three reviews into the effectiveness of innovative, affordable housing strategies implemented in other states. It also examined the potential to implement them in Florida.

According to estimates by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation and the University of Florida’s Shimberg Center for Housing Studies, millions of Sunshine State households have a low enough income level to qualify for federal housing programs.

The report notes that 56.7% of Florida’s homeowners and renters are cost-burdened, spending more than 30% of their annual gross income on housing.

An estimated 1.05 million Florida households had an annual gross income at or below $23,500 in 2021 and another 1.14 million households had an annual income between $23,501 and $39,150.

The report points out that while there are a significant number of renters and homeowners who are cost-burdened, Florida’s homeless rate was one of the lowest in the U.S. in 2022 and below the national average, with a rate of 12 for every 10,000 people.

Of the 1,046 housing programs reviewed by the research agency, there were 13 housing programs identified as innovative and implemented in other states that are not currently duplicated by any Florida or federal programs.

The vast majority of the programs involved community revitalization and homeownership, including zoning to help support these programs and stimulate development, however, only three of these innovative programs had a high potential to be implemented in Florida.

The programs were chosen because they complement existing programs and are allowable under existing programs. Currently, statutes encourage permitting accessory dwelling units in single-family residential areas, supporting a program similar to New York’s Plus One Accessory Dwelling Units Program.

OPPAGA also named Connecticut’s Incentive Housing Zone Program as something that could complement Florida’s State Housing Initiatives Partnership program, allowing local governments to designate specific areas to focus funding.

Illinois’ Healthy Housing, Healthy Communities Partnership Initiative also had a high potential for implementation, with the report noting that FHFC has been developing relationships with health care and mental health providers to research and implement best practices in healthcare and affordable housing strategies.

Other programs considered were California’s Foreclosure Intervention Housing Preservation Program, Delaware’s Strong Neighborhoods Housing Fund and Oregon’s Co-Location of Affordable Rental Housing and Early Care and Education.

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