NAPLES, Fla. — As more Floridians struggle to pay rent, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill aimed at increasing access to affordable housing across the state.
The governor held a news conference Wednesday in Naples to sign Senate Bill 102 — otherwise known as the "Live Local Act" — into law.
The goal of the legislation is "to be able to help Floridians live in the communities where they work," according to DeSantis.
“Being able to have folks who are teachers, police officers, firefighters, all these important things. You can’t do it if they have to drive an hour, an hour and a half get to get to work every day," the governor said. "We want people to be able to live in the community where they’re working."
SB 102 aims to accomplish this by easing restrictions on affordable housing projects and giving tax exemptions to developers and landlords who offer rental units below the market rate.
The law will also secure millions of dollars in funding for several state programs that aim to provide affordable housing solutions.
According to DeSantis, $711 million will go toward projects through the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, including:
- $100 million for the Hometown Heroes Program, which provides down payment and closing cost assistance to people like law enforcement officers, firefighters, educators, healthcare professionals, childcare employees, and active military or veterans
- $259 million for the State Apartment Incentive Loan, which provides low-interest loans to affordable housing developers
- $252 million for the State Housing Initiatives Partnership, which provides funding for local governments to produce and preserve multi-family housing
The governor also said $100 million will go toward programs that "alleviate inflation-related cost increases for previously approved projects."
“This is a huge, huge issue. Projects that were agreed to a couple years ago, the cost has just gone up dramatically," DeSantis said. "In this situation, the reality is it’s just much more expensive to get a lot of materials than it was just a couple years ago."
An element of the legislation that has drawn pushback from critics is the ban on rent control.
At a Senate panel meeting discussing the bill earlier this year, Rich Templin from the Florida AFL-CIO explained that Florida law already forbids local rent control measures except in the case of an “existing housing emergency," Florida Politics reports. This legislation will eliminate that narrow allowance entirely.
Supporters of the legislation, including bill sponsor Miami Republican Sen. Alexis Caltayud, said the answer to rising housing prices is “providing accessible, affordable units to (Florida’s) workforce, not rent control," Florida Politics reports.