Florida’s $711M affordable housing bill becomes law

It aims to incentivize developers of affordable, workforce housing with tax breaks, zoning workarounds

Gov. Ron DeSantis
Gov. Ron DeSantis (Getty)


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed affordable housing legislation that will pump $711 million into housing programs and incentivize developers with major tax breaks. 

DeSantis signed Senate Bill 102, known as the Live Local Act, on Wednesday, days after the legislation passed in the Florida House of Representatives. In addition to setting aside funds for affordable housing, the law will supersede local governments’ zoning, density and height requirements for affordable housing in areas zoned for commercial or mixed-use development. It also strips local municipalities’ ability to enact rent control, which was previously only possible during a housing emergency. 

Developers of affordable housing and to a certain extent, those with mixed-use projects, will likely take advantage of the new law. Attorney Keith Poliakoff, of Fort Lauderdale-based Government Law Group, previously told The Real Deal that the legislation “takes a lot of the handcuffs off” of affordable housing developers. 

Local governments would be required to allow multifamily or mixed-use residential projects that set aside at least 40 percent of the residential component for affordable housing for a period of at least 30 years. For projects allocating at least 65 percent of the square footage to residential, a county would not be able to restrict the height of a proposed development below what’s currently allowed within one mile of the planned project.

The $711 million could also help fill funding gaps that have resulted in stalled projects across the state, at a time when the need for affordable housing has reached record highs, attorneys say. 

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South Florida became one of the least affordable housing markets in the country last year, following large gains in home prices and rents during the pandemic. That was in part fueled by the migration of people from out of state. 

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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.