PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Attainable housing will be the number one focus for incoming Pensacola mayor D.C. Reeves, he said during a press conference on Monday.

“How can we tell employees to come live in beautiful Pensacola when they don’t have a place to live?” Reeves said. “I think the wholistic approach to economic development because of the nationwide issue in attainable housing, people are starting to look at attainable housing not as something different than economic development, but they go hand in hand.”

Reeves said the city does have a hand in making sure housing is attainable for its residents.

“It’s important to point out that supply, period, is part of attainable housing and we do play a role in that,” Reeves said. “If someone comes to us to build 200 units, whether they’re attainable or market rate, both of those things positively impact our ability to have people live here affordably. We play a significant role in that process. Whether it’s zoning, permitting, looking at things in the land development code, that would allow us to thicken our neighborhoods and provide more housing opportunity.”

Taking over as mayor, Reeves said he has the good problem of people wanting to move to Pensacola.

“We have demand, and not every community can say that,” Reeves said. “There are mayors across this country who are coming up with every outside the box idea they could about how do they get their young people to stay here. Through the efforts of the city, city administration and private development, we have made this a desirable place to be. It’s a two-part process of trying to attract people to want to move here. All of those economic development things will not happen, will be stunted completely if we don’t have the ability to house people.”

After talking with Chuck Marohn, founder and president of Strong Towns, about Pensacola’s housing issue, Marohn said if a large corporation came into downtown Pensacola, the city would not be ready to house its employees.

“He said if a 2,000-employee corporation wanted to move to downtown Pensacola, we would not be ready on the housing side,” Reeves said. “I want us to get urgent and get out in front of that demand. Data shows that we aren’t building enough, period. It’s a two-pronged process. One, how do we build supply, period, any kind of supply. Second, are those tactical approaches on workforce housing at a certain AMI.”

The conversation about attainable housing started after outgoing Pensacola mayor Grover Robinson announced Baptist Hospital will be applying for two awards to bring more than 100 units of housing to the area. That item will be brought to city council during their December meeting.

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