TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — For the ongoing housing crisis in Florida, intended to be solved by proposals to create affordable, workforce housing across the state, one area may be left out.
Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) has set meeting affordable housing needs for Floridians as her top priority. Miami Sen. Alexis Calatayud (R) introduced the “Live Local Act” for 2023’s legislative session to address those affordability concerns for workers and other residents.
However, a bill filed Wednesday could block the Florida Keys as a place for affordable housing construction, even with the Monroe County government saying it’s one of the biggest issues in the area.
The legislation was filed by a Monroe County lawmaker, Jim Mooney (R-Monroe). House Bill 1293 explicitly references the Florida Keys Protection Act as reason to stop affordable housing construction in what are called “areas of critical state concern.”
The statute for that designation only refers to the Florida Keys.
According to the Monroe County government, high land values, limited geography and environmental features, plus a “tourism economy with a prevalence of lower-paying, service-sector employment, and a housing supply limited by the controlled Rate of Growth Ordinance (ROGO)” all contribute to the challenge of lacking affordable or workforce housing in the area.
Due to its designation as an area of critical state concern, Monroe County officials say “the state limits growth in Monroe County.”
County-level data on affordable housing units and income qualifications show the income limits to qualify for affordable rentals. Very low-income and low-income qualifications are set at 50% of the area median income or 80%, respectively.
To qualify for affordable housing in Monroe County, single individuals have to make below the median income. For residents in the area, the “very low-income” level is $35,900 per year, while the low income level is $57,400.
According to the county, households of married couples or domestic partners, very low means $54,667 and low is $87,467 per year. More members in a household means higher yearly requirements, but either way, monthly maximum rent rates are set between $898 for an efficiency unit to $1,154 for a two-bedroom, when it comes to very low-income households.
Low-income households range at a minimum of $1,435 for an efficiency unit to $1,845 for a two-bedroom.
As written, the bill makes it so areas named as critical state concerns in the past five years are ineligible for affordable housing construction. That provision of the bill is written to expire in July 2028.