Finding a house working-class people can afford in Florida has become just about impossible in many parts of the state, and the legislature is stepping in to help. State lawmakers have agreed on a half-billion dollar incentive package to encourage developers and communities to work together on the crisis.
Builder Dave Wamsley is proud of his high-ticket housing developments. But he’s also building homes for working-class people.
The challenge, he says, is finding enough places to build those homes. “Land has gotten so expensive that it’s almost impossible for us to offer quality housing that meets the budgets of most people.”
Developers say one big problem is county and city land use restrictions. Now state lawmakers are holding out the promise of hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives if local governments start working with developers on the housing crisis. Free up city-owned land for new neighborhoods, for example, and relax some of the density rules for how many homes per acre.
Senator Mike Bennett wants the state to play hardball with communities that have zoned affordable homes right out of the picture. “When you’ve got local zoning that says one house per 10 acres or one unit per five acres, how can you afford and have it affordable when you’ve got to buy five acres or 10 acres in order to build a home on it?”
For now, lawmakers plan to start with a handful of pilot projects around the state. At least the dream of homeownership would be within reach of some of Florida’s hardworking residents.