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Florida Policy Institute's CEO says Live Local Act is a move forward, but not enough

Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

Affordable housing continues to be a top concern for many Floridians. The Live Local Act, which takes effect July 1, 2023 will invest 711 million dollars for housing projects and assistance. Florida Policy Institute CEO Sadaf Knight said it’s a step in the right direction, but more still needs to be done.

Listen to the full conversation in the player above.

Sadaf Knight is the CEO of the Florida Policy Institute.
Florida Policy Institute
Florida Policy Institute
Sadaf Knight is the CEO of the Florida Policy Institute.

Live local, but is it affordable?

The Live Local Act, which was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on March 29, will provide tax incentives for affordable housing projects and build on the Florida's current housing programs.

"But, it also has some concerning aspects of it as well, namely that it institutes a statewide ban on rent control measures," said Sadaf Knight.

Similar to the rent control measure Orange County residents voted on in 2022, Knight said the Live Local Act bans similar measures across the state.

"So moving forward, no municipality, county government, or local government will be able to enact a rent control law," she said. "And we wouldn't be able to see a similar law come on the ballot again for Orange County or any other county for that matter."

As lawmakers continue to address the issue of affordable housing, Knight said the Live Local Act is a step in the right direction, but more still needs to be done, like strengthening tenants' rights.

"Many groups are working on issues like evictions, making sure that doesn't stay on your record for a really long time and perhaps prohibit you from getting housing in the future" she said. "Other issues like the length of time that affordable housing remains affordable. Also looking at other issues like homelessness and unhoused people, and seeing that as a part of a holistic approach to ensuring that everybody in Florida has a safe place to live.

Residential Tenancies Bills

Two proposed bills moving through the Florida legislature, SB 1586 and HB 1417, would shift the regulation of residential tenancies and the landlord-tenant relationship from local control to the state.

Knight said that would make increasing tenant's rights difficult at the local level.

"Things like creating an Office of Tenant Services, like in Orange County, or making notice periods for rent increases more equitable for tenants. All of those things would not be allowed on if this law passed."

Both bills are still in committee.

Rent burden across Central Florida

Central Florida is a diverse region not only culturally, but economically too.

According to the Florida Policy Institute, the median average income in Central Florida is as low as $50,000 in Marion County to upwards of $70,000 in Seminole County.

Across every county in the region, Knight said residents spend more than 30% of their income towards rent.

"We have counties like Lake County where you have almost 40% of residents are cost burden, all the way up to Osceola County where you have over 60%."

Knight explains having more affordable housing available would help with the strain many household budgets.

"Especially here in Central Florida where we have a strong service economy and it's a very large region where people are having to live further and further out, just to afford a place to live and then that impacts transportation and all that. It would be very impactful here in central Florida to have additional affordable housing."

After a brief stint as Morning Edition Producer at The Public’s Radio in in Rhode Island, Talia Blake returned to WMFE, the station that grew her love for public radio. She graduated with a double-major in Broadcast Journalism and Psychology from the University of Central Florida (Go Knights!). While at UCF, she was an intern for WMFE’s public affairs show, Intersection. In her spare time, Talia is an avid foodie and enjoys working out.
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