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Lawmakers Look for Solutions to Affordable Housing Crisis

December 1st, 2021 by Jake Stofan

Housing is considered affordable if it costs less than 30 percent of a household’s income, but nearly 900,000 Florida households are paying more than half of their monthly income on housing.

That’s one of many statistics portraying Florida’s growing affordable housing crisis state senators heard in a committee Wednesday morning.

“We are now one of the most unaffordable states in certain metropolitan areas and it’s growing,” said Dr. Edward Murray, Associate Director of the FIU Metropolitan Center.

Experts testified to a Senate committee the state is losing nearly ten thousand affordable housing units each year.

Meanwhile more expensive units are growing at a rapid rate.

“There’s really nothing quite like it in the country, where you have such an imbalance between supply and demand,” said Murray.

Part of the problem was blamed on out of state investors.

Also on residents who can afford more, choosing less expensive housing options.

“And so they’re effectively competing for units,” said William O’Dell, Director of the UF Shimberg Center for Housing Studies.

When asked for solutions, at O’Dell boiled it down to more cash.

“You’re going to have to spend more money on this issue,” said O’Dell.

One suggestion coming out of the meeting was for local governments to play a larger role in addressing the affordable housing crisis.

Committee Chair Jennifer Bradley said the state could do more to push local governments.

“We’re gonna have to start thinking outside the box and really encouraging, you know, finding some carrots and sticks with the local governments to make it happen,” said Senator Bradley.

And State Senator Travis Hutson added efficient using of state funds is also key.

“Take a look at what we can do with the dollars and how to make sure those dollars go best bang for the buck,” said Hutson.

Last year lawmakers committed $200 million towards affordable housing.

That’s more than in years prior, but about half of what would be considered full funding.

Lawmakers didn’t have any specifics as far as possible legislative solutions for the 2022 legislative session.

When they return in January they’ll have 60 days to get something through both chambers.

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