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Homeownership Assistance Grows Closer

Governor Ron DeSantis signs the Florida “The Live Local Act” into law on March 29th, 2023

The Live Local Act, signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, is set to inject $711 million into affordable housing programs while offering significant tax breaks to developers. The law, which was passed by the Florida House of Representatives and signed by DeSantis on Wednesday, not only designates funds for affordable housing but also overrides local governments’ zoning requirements for affordable housing in commercial or mixed-use areas. The law also prohibits local municipalities from enforcing rent control except during housing emergencies.

Developers of affordable housing and mixed-use projects are expected to benefit from the new law. Attorney Keith Poliakoff of Government Law Group, based in Fort Lauderdale, said that the legislation “takes a lot of the handcuffs off” affordable housing developers. Under the new law, local governments must allow multifamily or mixed-use residential projects that reserve at least 40% of the residential component for affordable housing for a minimum of 30 years. For projects that allocate at least 65% of the square footage to residential use, a county cannot limit the height of the proposed development below what is currently allowed within one mile of the planned project.

According to attorneys, the $711 million in funding could also help address the funding gaps that have delayed affordable housing projects across the state. The need for affordable housing has reached record levels as South Florida became one of the least affordable housing markets in the country last year, with rising home prices and rents attributed in part to the influx of people from other states during the pandemic.

(per TheRealDeal) The funding breaks down to: 

$259 million for the state’s SAIL (State Apartment Incentive Loan) program, which provides low interest loans to workforce housing projects 

$252 million for the SHIP (State Housing Initiatives Program), to incentivize local governments to partner with developers preserving or building new housing. Florida Housing and Finance Corporation administers SAIL and SHIP funds.

$100 million in non-recurring funds for FHFC to put into a competitive loan program that developers could tap to cover inflation-related cost increases for FHFC-approved multifamily developments that haven’t broken ground yet.

$100 million for the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program. The homeownership assistance program, which was created last year, allows some buyers to finance home purchases with no-interest loans to reduce their down payment and closing costs. The law would codify the program and expand eligibility to more people, according to the Senate’s analysis. Those buyers include people in law enforcement, military, first responders and teachers. 

The Live Local Act also increases the amount of tax credits available through the Community Contribution Tax Credit Program for affordable housing to $25 million annually, from $14.5 million. And it provides up to a $5,000 sales tax refund for building materials used to construct affordable housing units that were funded by FHFC.

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