What Is the “Live Local Act”?
Florida’s affordable housing crisis has recently taken center stage with the passing of new legislation. The state’s “Live Local Act” (Chapter 2023-17, L.O.F.) was recently approved by the Governor and has been in effect since July 1st,2023. As a comprehensive piece of legislation designed to make significant changes and additions to affordable housing programs and policies at both the state and local levels, below are the main takeaways and the impact it will make in the affordable housing space.
Empowering the FHFC
This landmark legislation touches on various aspects of affordable housing, with a primary emphasis on the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC). This public-private entity administers two of the state’s most critical affordable housing programs:
- the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) program
- and the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program
The legislation provides substantial appropriations for these programs, injecting $252 million from the Local Government Housing Trust Fund into the SHIP program and $109 million from the State Housing Trust Fund into the SAIL program for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. Additionally, a $100 million allocation from the General Revenue Fund is designated to create a competitive loan program to counter inflation-related cost increases for FHFC-approved multifamily projects that have not yet commenced construction. Any unallocated funds as of December 1, 2023, will also be allocated as additional SAIL funding.
Recognizing the importance of homeownership as a crucial measure to address housing stability, the “Live Local Act” establishes the Florida Hometown Hero down payment assistance program. This initiative is designed to assist first-time homebuyers with incomes at or below 150 percent of the area median income (AMI) who are employed by Florida-based employers. The program is bolstered by a $100 million appropriation from the General Revenue Fund, offering significant financial support to aspiring homeowners.
Additional Funding and Resources for FHFC Include:
- Up to $5,000 in a refund for sales tax paid on any building materials used to construct affordable housing units.
- Adds requirements to its annual legislative budget request.
- The creation of a tax donation program that would allow corporate taxpayers to direct specific tax payments, up to $100 million annually, to the FHFC’s SAIL program.
- Of these funds, up to $25 million can be given to loans for the construction of large-scale projects of significant regional impact.
- Two members of the FHFC Board of Directors will be added with one appointed by the leader of each chamber of the Legislature.
- Allow the FHFC to invest in affordable housing developments for those in and/or aging out of foster care.
State-Level Resources, Local Government Initiatives, and Ad Valorem Property Tax Exemptions
The legislation takes a comprehensive approach, not only focusing on the FHFC but also addressing state-level resources and local government initiatives. It revises the State Housing Strategy to align with current best practices and goals, fostering efficient resource allocation. Furthermore, it mandates the analysis of state nonconservation lands to determine if they could be more appropriately transferred to local governments for affordable housing purposes, optimizing land utilization. In a significant move, the legislation expands Job Growth Grant Fund eligibility to include public infrastructure projects that support affordable housing, encouraging economic growth and development in the sector. The Community Contribution Tax Credit Program for affordable housing also receives a boost, with the annual tax credits increasing from $14.5 million to $25 million, incentivizing private sector contributions to affordable housing initiatives.
Empowering Streamlined Housing Development
In an effort to expedite the construction of affordable housing in areas that need it the most, the “Live Local Act” preempts local governments’ requirements related to zoning, density, and height under certain circumstances, facilitating more efficient construction processes. It also removes the local government’s authority to approve affordable housing on residential parcels by bypassing state and local laws, ensuring a consistent regulatory framework for all developments. Moreover, it preemptively removes the possibility of local governments imposing rent control under emergency circumstances, further eliminating potential barriers to affordable housing growth.
Local governments are also held accountable through the legislation, with requirements to update and electronically publish inventories of publicly owned properties suitable for affordable housing development. Technical assistance from the FHFC is provided to facilitate the use or lease of county or municipal property for affordable housing purposes. The bill further mandates local governments to establish public written policies outlining procedures for expediting building permits and development orders for affordable housing projects, promoting efficiency and transparency. Specifically relating to the Keys area, this act will exempt the Department of Economic Opportunity’s 1,300 affordable housing units constructed by the 2018 Keys Workforce Housing Initiative from evacuation time requirements that are applied in Monroe County.
Lastly, the “Live Local Act” introduces three ad valorem property tax exemptions, which will apply to the 2024 tax roll. These exemptions incentivize affordable housing development, including exemptions for land owned by nonprofit entities leased for at least 99 years for affordable housing, rent-restricted units within newly constructed or substantially rehabilitated developments for low-income households, and the authorization for counties and municipalities to offer additional ad valorem tax exemptions to property owners dedicating units for affordable housing.
How Moran Consultants Can Help
With the increased volume of affordable housing construction comes an increased need for construction risk mitigation and due diligence. Programs like the “Live Local Act” can greatly benefit from the expertise of professionals like Moran Consultants. Through diligent oversight, Moran Consultants can help identify and mitigate potential risks, ensuring that projects stay on track and within budget. This level of scrutiny and expertise is essential in safeguarding the success of these new initiatives. As Florida continues its mission to make housing more accessible and affordable, collaboration with experienced consultants becomes a crucial element in the equation. Give us a call at 866-545-3350 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help safeguard your next affordable housing investment.