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  • Writer's pictureEd DiMarco MS, MA

Florida's Live Local Act: Impact on Affordable Housing in 2024

Florida's Live Local Act Affordable Housing in 2024

The Live Local Act: Overview

In a landmark move, the Florida legislature has enacted the "Live Local Act," officially known as CS/SB 102, ushering in a historic investment in the state's affordable housing. This comprehensive legislation, backed by over $711 million in funding, marks the most substantial housing investment in Florida's history. This article explores the multifaceted components of the Live Local Act and its implications for residents and the housing market.


Overview of Funding and Objectives

The Live Local Act focuses primarily on enhancing the capabilities of the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC), which administers major statewide affordable housing programs like the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) and the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP). For the fiscal year 2023-2024, substantial funds have been allocated to these programs:

  • $252 million in non-recurring funds from the Local Government Housing Trust Fund for the SHIP program.

  • $109 million in non-recurring funds from the State Housing Trust Fund for the SAIL program.

  • $100 million in non-recurring funds to address inflation-related costs in upcoming multifamily housing projects.


These appropriations signify a proactive approach to maintaining and expanding affordable housing availability in response to current economic pressures.


Strategic Fiscal Innovations: Taxes & Doc Stamps

The Act introduces several innovative financial strategies to bolster housing funding and efficiency:

  • Tax Donation Program: This new initiative allows corporate taxpayers to direct certain tax payments towards the FHFC, generating up to $100 million annually to support the SAIL program.

  • Sales Tax Refunds: Up to $5,000 in refunds for sales tax paid on building materials used in constructing affordable housing units.

  • Documentary Stamp Tax Exemptions: This measure provides additional funding to the SAIL program, focusing on urban infill projects and housing near military bases.


These measures are designed to leverage public-private partnerships to enhance the housing finance framework, making it more robust and responsive to the needs of Florida’s diverse population.


Enhancing FHFC’s Role and Expanding Housing Opportunities

The Act significantly expands the role of FHFC in the state's housing strategy:

  • Board Expansion: Two new members will join the FHFC Board of Directors, enhancing governance and oversight.

  • Investment in Diverse Housing Needs: The FHFC's ability to invest is broadened to include developments for people in or aging out of foster care, among other targeted groups.


Moreover, the Florida Hometown Hero program is set to empower first-time homebuyers with incomes at or below 150 percent of the area median income, providing $100 million for down payment assistance.


Local and State Housing Strategies for Florida

The Live Local Act mandates critical updates and strategic expansions in local and state housing policies:

  • Job Growth and Infrastructure: The Job Growth Grant Fund eligibility now includes public infrastructure projects that support housing, integrating economic development with housing needs.

  • Tax Credit Enhancements: Increases in the tax credits available for affordable housing projects through the Community Contribution Tax Credit Program from $14.5 million to $25 million annually.


These updates are aimed at aligning housing development with modern urban planning and economic strategies, ensuring that growth is both sustainable and equitable.


Conclusion: A New Era for Florida Housing

The enactment of the Live Local Act is a promising development for Florida, addressing critical issues in the housing sector through comprehensive legislative action. By funding significant projects and revising fiscal policies, Florida is setting a precedent for other states to follow in affordable housing reform. This Act not only facilitates the immediate construction and funding of housing projects but also lays the groundwork for long-term improvements in housing availability and affordability across the state.


The Live Local Act is a pivotal step towards meeting the housing needs of today’s Floridians while paving the way for future generations to thrive in sustainable and affordable homes.


FAQ: Florida's New Live Local Act (Cs/SB 102)


1. What is the Live Local Act?

The Live Local Act, officially known as CS/SB 102, is a piece of legislation passed by the Florida legislature to address affordable housing needs through substantial financial investments and policy adjustments. The act allocates over $711 million to various housing initiatives, marking the largest investment in housing in Florida's history.


2. How does the Live Local Act impact the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC)?

The Act significantly boosts the FHFC's capabilities by providing it with $252 million for the State Housing Initiatives Partnership program, $109 million for the State Apartment Incentive Loan program, and $100 million to address inflation-related costs in housing projects. These funds aim to enhance the FHFC's role in supporting affordable housing across the state.


3. What is the purpose of the tax donation program introduced by the Live Local Act?

The tax donation program allows corporate taxpayers to direct certain tax payments directly to the FHFC, supporting the State Apartment Incentive Loan program with up to $100 million annually. This initiative aims to increase private investment in public housing projects.


4. What benefits does the sales tax refund offer under the new act?

The Live Local Act provides up to a $5,000 refund on sales tax for building materials used to construct affordable housing units funded through the FHFC. This measure is designed to lower construction costs and encourage more housing development.


5. How has the SAIL program been enhanced by the Live Local Act?

The SAIL program receives significant financial support, including temporary exemptions from documentary stamp tax revenues, providing up to $150 million in recurring funding. This boost is aimed at specific projects like urban infill developments and housing near military bases.


6. What is the Hometown Hero down payment assistance program?

This program, established under the Live Local Act, allocates $100 million to help first-time homebuyers with incomes at or below 150% of the area median income. It assists these individuals with down payments, making homeownership more accessible.


7. How does the Live Local Act affect local government policies on affordable housing?

The Act preempts local government requirements on zoning, density, and height to streamline the development of affordable multifamily rental housing. It also removes the ability of local governments to impose rent control under emergency circumstances.


8. What changes does the Live Local Act make to the Community Contribution Tax Credit Program?

The amount of tax credits available for affordable housing projects through this program has been increased from $14.5 million to $25 million annually. This expansion aims to incentivize more community contributions to housing development.


9. How does the Live Local Act support public infrastructure projects?

The Act expands Job Growth Grant Fund eligibility to include public infrastructure projects that support housing, integrating economic development with housing needs and facilitating broader community benefits.


10. What new tax exemptions are introduced by the Live Local Act?

The Live Local Act introduces three new ad valorem property tax exemptions to support affordable housing. These include exemptions for land leased by nonprofits for housing and for rent-restricted units in new developments, as well as allowing local tax exemptions for landlords providing affordable units.


11. How does the Act impact housing for those in foster care?

The Act broadens the FHFC's ability to invest in housing specifically for individuals in or aging out of foster care, providing them with more stable and affordable housing options.


12. What technical assistance does the Act provide to local governments?

The FHFC is authorized to contract with the Florida Housing Coalition to offer technical assistance to local governments. This assistance is intended to help them more effectively use or lease municipal property for affordable housing.


13. What is the impact of the Act on the FHFC Board of Directors?

The Act adds two new members to the FHFC Board of Directors, appointed by the leaders of each chamber of the Legislature. This change is intended to improve governance and oversight of the corporation's activities.


14. How does the Act address Florida's housing strategy?

The State Housing Strategy is revised under the Act to align with current best practices and goals, ensuring that the state's housing policies are effective and responsive to changing needs.


15. What provisions does the Act make for the Keys Workforce Housing Initiative?

The Act reaffirms the 2018 Keys Workforce Housing Initiative, allowing the construction of up to 1,300 affordable housing units in the Keys area, exempt from the standard evacuation time requirements that apply in Monroe County. This provision supports the unique needs of the Keys community.


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