SHALIMAR, Fla. (WKRG) — The Board of Okaloosa County Commissioners received a staff update at the Dec. 6 meeting to discuss ways to improve affordable housing.

“A rapidly-growing and high-cost community, Okaloosa County is facing a shortage in attainable housing for its residents. As indicated by high prices and rents, there is an unmet demand for housing as supply has not kept up with demand. This is a growing problem that is projected to escalate in coming years due to anticipated growth in military missions stationed at the Eglin Reservation and the influx of new residents.”

Okaloosa County Agenda Item description

The staff said they are looking to create a County-wide Comprehensive Attainable Workforce Housing Strategic Plan. This ‘Scope of Work’ by the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee (AHAC) will develop the plan and ways to fund affordable housing projects in the county.

“We will also be working with our cities to gauge their participation in the planning effort as well as their willingness to partner with the county on funding that planning cost,” said county administrator Sheila Fitzgerald.

Staff said the plan will cost approximately $150,000.

Once a plan of action is approved by the board, advertising will begin in mid-Jan. A full plan is expected to be complete by Sept. or Oct. of 2023.

This comes after proposed legislation to receive funding for this project on a state level was vetoed by Gov. Ron DeSantis at the 2022 legislative session.

Current Affordable Housing projects:

Fitzgerald added that the staff is working with the financial advisor to use NSP funding to add 18 new units at the Palm Village apartment complex in Fort Walton Beach. Once a complete financial analysis is developed for those new units, the board can approve that construction to move forward.

Those plans will be presented to the board at a future meeting.

View the agenda item and watch the discussion online.