Florida House Votes Yes on Affordable Housing Bill, Despite Democrat Opposition

An affordable housing bill (HB 627 and SB 102), dubbed the “Live Local Act,” passed on the House floor on Friday, 103 yes and six no, despite a long road of Democrat opposition.

The free state of Florida is a place everyone wants to be. Hundreds of people have been moving to the state each day which has created a severe housing shortage and has driven up the market so much that many people are unable to live where they work. The question became, how are we going to get attainable housing? This transformational Republican priority bill answers that question. 

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With approval Friday from the Florida House, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo’s $711 million effort to make housing more attainable for working Floridians is now headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis for signature.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo made affordable housing a top priority for Florida for the 2023 legislative session.

A few years ago, no one would think of Republicans as the party to champion affordable and attainable housing. Still, the GOP has proven to Floridians that this issue touches everyone and that this is the party for the people. This bill provides attainable housing options for Floridians at every income level and stage of life. 

Many are wondering what this bill does. It expands statewide affordable housing funding by giving $252 million to the SHIP program and $259 million to the SAIL program (including $150 million in new recurring funds for the next ten years). Additionally, it gives $100 million to Florida’s Hometown Heroes program. 

Some are wondering whom this bill benefits. The House Majority Office has answers to this question and more.

This bill benefits “all Floridians because we all deserve attainable access to a home. It helps workers who want to live in the communities they serve, seniors, and others on a fixed income”. 

Corey Jones Island is an affordable housing development in Delray Beach, built by Stuart & Shelby. The homes are beautiful both inside and outside.
Inside a house at Corey Jones Isle in Delray Beach, built by Stuart & Shelby.

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According to the House Majority Office, the bill provides market-driven solutions using incentives to increase investment in affordable housing and prompts rent control under any circumstances. 

It balances a focus on increasing the number of workforce rental units shamble and expanding opportunities for home ownership.

It directs financial assistance to first-time homebuyers by expanding and making permanent the Hometown Hero Program.

Democrat State Representative Anna Eskamani, who is a party leader and a liberal activist, was opposed to the affordable housing bill. She voted no.
Democrat State Representative Anna Eskamani, who is a party leader and a liberal activist, was opposed to the affordable housing bill. She voted no. Click to Tweet

The Hometown Heroes Program is a homeownership assistance program that provides eligible purchasers zero-interest rate loans to reduce down payments and closing costs. The bill expands the program, currently only available to certain professions, to all residents employed full-time by a Florida-based employer whose family income does not exceed 150% of the state or local area median income, whichever is greater. The bill also increases the amount available per loan from $25,000 to $35,000 and expands what types of homes may be purchased using the program. 

During the committee stops that this bill passed through, Democrat committee members were vehemently opposed to this bill and accordingly voted against the bill. A few of their reasons included the state interfering with home rule, the fact that the legislation would preempt rent control laws, and the idea of developers getting special concessions to build new developments. 

Democrat Representative Rayner-Goolsby is a ranking member in the Florida House who voted no on the affordable housing bill.

Things changed when the bill made it to the House floor for a vote.  Most representatives voted in favor of this significant legislation. Five of the six opposed were Democrats, and two included their party’s leaders.  

The fact is that this bill preempts local rent control laws because rent control doesn’t help fix the supply/demand issue, which is the real problem Floridians are facing. It doesn’t do anything to help encourage more units to be built so people can live where they work. This bill targets that issue by incentivizing affordable units to be built to help low-and middle-income workers live in the communities they serve. Kudos to the GOP majority for helping the people of Florida. 

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