The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) Division of Community Development promotes affordable housing by providing technical and planning assistance to Florida's communities.
Comprehensive Plan Requirements for Affordable Housing
Each local comprehensive plan must include a housing element that consists of principles, guidelines, standards, and strategies for the creation and preservation of affordable housing. These requirements, contained in section 163.3177(6)(f), Florida Statutes, address the following:
- The provision of housing for all current and anticipated future residents of the jurisdiction.
- Distribution of housing for a range of incomes and types, including mobile homes and manufactured homes.
- The elimination of substandard dwelling conditions, and the structural improvement of existing housing.
- Adequate sites for future housing, including affordable workforce housing, housing for low-income, very low-income, and moderate-income families, mobile homes, and group home facilities and foster care facilities, with supporting infrastructure and public facilities.
- Relocation housing, identification of historically significant housing, and other housing for purposes of conservation, rehabilitation, or replacement.
- The formulation of housing implementation programs.
- The identification of specific programs and actions to partner with private and nonprofit sectors to address housing needs in the jurisdiction, streamline the permitting process, and minimize costs and delays for affordable housing.
- Creation or preservation of affordable housing to minimize the need for additional local services and avoid the concentration of affordable housing units only in specific areas of the jurisdiction.
Local governments are encouraged to:
- Include provisions in the housing element that specifically address affordable housing for persons 60 years of age or older, and
- Use job training, job creation, and economic solutions to address a portion of their affordable housing concerns.
Examples of Comprehensive Plan Housing Elements
The Housing Elements adopted by the local governments listed below contain examples of housing goals, objectives and policies.
- Orange County, Florida - Comprehensive Plan 2010 - 2030: Orange County's Housing Element emphasizes the provision of affordable housing within the context of neighborhood preservation and redevelopment.
- Tallahassee-Leon County Joint Housing Element Goals, Objectives, and Policies: This element includes the maintenance of a local affordable housing trust fund, inclusionary housing, coordination with volunteer and not-for-profit organizations, and the provision of special needs housing.
- Indian River County 2030 Comprehensive Plan - Housing Element: Indian River County's Housing Element emphasizes measurability, monitoring, and evaluation.
- City of St. Petersburg Comprehensive Plan - Housing Element: St. Petersburg's Housing Element contains objectives and policies that target very low income households and the homeless population.
DEO Programs that Promote Affordable Housing
DEO has a diverse set of programs, described below, to help Florida's communities achieve their affordable housing goals.
- Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program: This is a competitive grant program administered by the Bureau of Community Revitalization within the Division of Community Development that awards funds to eligible cities, counties, towns, and villages. The Program awards sub-grants in four categories: Economic Development, Neighborhood Revitalization, Housing Rehabilitation, and Commercial Revitalization. For additional information, please contact Roger Doherty by email at email@example.com or by telephone at (850) 717-8417.
- Weatherization Assistance Program: The mission of the Weatherization Assistance Program is to reduce the monthly energy burden on low-income households by improving the energy efficiency of the home. Each year, DEO provides grant funds to community action agencies, local governments, and non-profit entities to provide specific program services for low-income families of Florida. For additional information, please contact Debbie Smiley by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (850) 717-8456.
- Community Contribution Tax Credit Program: The Community Contribution Tax Credit Program provides a financial incentive (50 percent tax credit or sales tax refund) to encourage Florida businesses to make donations toward community development and housing projects for low-income persons. For more information, please contact Burt Von Hoff by email at email@example.com or by telephone at 850-717-8974.
- Brownfield Loan Guarantee: The Brownfield Loan Guarantee Program provides a loan guarantee for redevelopment projects in brownfield areas. The loan guarantee applies to 50 percent of the primary lender's loan. If the project is for affordable housing, the loan guaranty applies to 75 percent of the primary lender's loan. The guarantee is for lenders licensed to operate in Florida. For additional information, please contact Marianne Arbulu by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (850) 717-8519.
Affordable Housing Best Practices
In addition to meeting the requirements of section 163.3177(6)(f), Florida Statutes, it is recommended that local governments consider the following "best practices" when planning for the affordable housing needs of their communities:
- Identify the land requirements for the total estimated housing need, through the long-term planning period.
- Complete inventories of housing for underserved and very low-income populations, including rental developments using government subsidies, licensed group homes, and mobile home parks.
- Compare local housing characteristics with county and regional housing characteristics, analyze the area housing market and identify opportunities for affordable housing construction and/or redevelopment.
- Monitor housing construction activity.
- Analyze the housing need which can be met by the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, and the potential for collaboration among these groups.
- Include comprehensive plan policies for:
- The creation and/or preservation of affordable housing for households with special housing needs, including commercial fishing and farm worker housing, elder housing, and housing for the homeless;
- Locating affordable housing near public transportation that provides access to employment centers and shopping;
- The use of public and private funding sources for the construction and maintenance of affordable housing;
- Energy efficient housing design and construction;
- Creating a jobs-to-housing balance;
- Encouraging economic development through housing construction, housing preservation, and supporting infrastructure; and
- Integrating affordable housing, mixed-use development, and multi-modal transportation.
Statutory Incentives to Promote Affordable Housing
Fee Waivers and Concurrency for Affordable Housing
Section 163.3180(5)(f)6., Florida Statutes, allows local governments that elect to retain transportation concurrency in their comprehensive plans to reduce impact fees or local access fees to promote affordable or workforce housing.
Affordable Housing Density Bonuses
Section 420.615, Florida Statutes states that "[a] local government may provide density bonus incentives pursuant to the provisions of this section to any landowner who voluntarily donates fee simple interest in real property to the local government for the purpose of assisting the local government in providing affordable housing. Donated real property must be determined by the local government to be appropriate for use as affordable housing and must be subject to deed restrictions to ensure that the property will be used for affordable housing."
Section 420.615(5), Florida Statutes, requires that, as part of the approval process, the local government adopt a comprehensive plan amendment for the receiving land that incorporates the density bonus. The statute further provides that the plan amendment shall be adopted in the manner required for small-scale amendments under section 163.3187, Florida Statutes.
Adoption of Affordable Housing Incentive Strategies
Section 420.9076(1), Florida Statutes, provides in part that each county or eligible municipality participating in the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Program must amend its housing assistance plan to include local housing incentive strategies as defined in section 420.9071(16), Florida Statutes. Section 420.9071, Florida Statutes, defines local housing incentive strategies as:
local regulatory reform or incentive programs to encourage or facilitate affordable housing production, which include at a minimum, assurance that permits as defined in section 163.3164, Florida Statutes, for affordable housing projects are expedited to a greater degree than other projects; an ongoing process for review of local policies, ordinances, regulations, and plan provisions that increase the cost of housing prior to their adoption; and a schedule for implementing the incentive strategies. Local housing incentive strategies may also include other regulatory reforms, such as those enumerated in section 420.9076, Florida Statutes, or those recommended by the affordable housing advisory committee in its triennial evaluation of the implementation of affordable housing incentives, and adopted by the local governing body.
Regulatory reforms enumerated in section 420.9076, Florida Statutes, for affordable housing development include expediting the processing of approvals, revising impact fees, allowing flexible densities, reserving infrastructure capacity, allowing affordable accessory units in residential areas, reduction of parking and setback requirements, flexible lot configuration including zero lot line configurations, modifying street requirements, preparing a printed inventory of locally owned public lands suitable for affordable housing, and support of development near transportation hubs and major employment centers and mixed-use developments.
Accessory Dwelling Units
Section 163.31771, Florida Statutes, encourages local governments facing a shortage of affordable rental housing within their jurisdictions to adopt ordinances to permit construction of accessory dwelling units in single-family residential areas in order to increase the availability of affordable rental units. Section 163.31771(1), Florida Statutes, defines accessory dwelling unit as "an ancillary or secondary living unit, that has a separate kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area, existing within the same structure, or on the same lot, as the primary unit."
Section 163.31771(4), Florida Statutes, provides that "If the local government adopts an ordinance under this section, an application for a building permit to construct an accessory dwelling unit must include an affidavit from the applicant which attests that the unit will be rented at an affordable rate to an extremely-low-income, very-low-income, low-income, or moderate-income person or persons."
Construction of Affordable Housing in the Florida Keys and City of Key West Areas of Critical State Concern
Section 163.3187(1)(d), Florida Statutes, allows small scale comprehensive plan amendments in the Florida Keys and City of Key West areas of critical state concern if "the project subject to the proposed amendment involves the construction of affordable housing units meeting the criteria of section 420.0004(3), Florida Statutes"
Sources of Housing Data and Reports
Local governments are required to base their principles, guidelines, standards, and strategies in for the creation and preservation of affordable housing in their comprehensive plans on the best available housing data and analysis applicable to their communities. The data and analysis must be taken from professionally accepted sources. However, a local government may use original data collected by the local government so long as the methodologies utilized in the data collection are professionally accepted.
The following are some examples of professionally accepted sources of housing and data reports:
Affordable Housing Funding Sources
Florida Housing Finance Corporation
The Florida Housing Finance Corporation administers federal and State of Florida resources to help finance the development of safe, decent affordable housing, both homeowner-housing and rental housing; and also assists first time homebuyers. The following are programs administered by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation:
Rental Multifamily Housing Programs
- State Apartment Incentive Loan Program - The program provides developers with low-interest loans as gap financing to leverage mortgage revenue bonds or Low Income Housing Tax Credit resources needed to construct or rehabilitate affordable rental units.
- Multifamily Mortgage Revenue Bonds - The program uses both taxable and tax-exempt bonds to provide below market rate loans to nonprofit and for-profit developers who set aside a certain percentage of their apartment units for low-income families.
- HOME Investment Partnerships Program - The program provides non-amortizing, low-interest rate loans to developers of affordable rental housing, particularly in more rural areas of the state.
- Low Income Housing Tax Credits - The program provides for-profit and nonprofit organizations with a dollar-for-dollar reduction in federal tax liability in exchange for the acquisition and substantial rehabilitation, substantial rehabilitation, or new construction of low and very low income rental housing units.
- Permanent Housing Initiative - The program enhances the ability of extremely low-income households with special needs to access and retain affordable rental housing in their communities, by offering incentives to developers who set aside a portion of their housing units for special needs households.
- Multifamily Energy Retrofit Program - The program is a revolving loan fund to finance energy retrofits for aging rental properties to save on energy costs.
- First Time Homebuyer Program - The program offers 30-year, fixed rate first mortgage loans for first time homebuyers who meet income, purchase price and other program criteria.
- Mortgage Credit Certificate Program - Under this program, homeowners can claim up to 50 percent of their paid mortgage interest each year as a tax credit on their federal income tax returns. The credit is capped at $2,000 annually and any remaining mortgage interest not included as part of the tax credit is still eligible for the home mortgage interest deduction on their federal tax returns. The tax credit is available for as long as the home is the taxpayer's primary residence. This increases the homebuyer's after-tax income and the ability to afford a home.
- Down Payment Assistance Program - The program provides assistance to qualified first time homebuyers for down payment and closing costs associated with purchasing a home.
- Homeownership Pool Program - The program provides developers, by way of an online system, the ability to reserve funds for eligible homebuyers to provide purchase assistance on a first-come, first-served basis. Funds are targeted to organizations participating in the United States Department of Agriculture's Self Help Program or Habitat for Humanity.
Other Florida Housing Finance Corporation Programs
- State Housing Initiatives Partnership - The program provides funds to local governments as an incentive to partnerships that produce and preserve affordable housing homeownership and multifamily rental housing. Funds are distributed on an entitlement basis to all 67 counties and 52 Community Development Block Grant entitlement cities in Florida.
- Predevelopment Loan Program - The program assists affordable housing developers with up to $750,000 in financing for predevelopment activities associated with the construction of affordable housing, such as rezoning, title searches, impact fees, and administrative costs.
- Affordable Housing Catalyst Program - The program provides community-based organizations and local governments with on-site and telephone technical assistance and training on affordable housing programs.
- Affordable Housing Locator (www.FloridaHousingSearch.org) - This is a free online affordable rental housing locator in Florida. It serves as a clearinghouse for affordable rental properties for people who earn up to 120 percent of area median income for their area of the state. The website is available in English and Spanish and can be translated into more than 30 additional languages.
- Foreclosure Prevention Programs
- Florida Hardest-Hit Fund Program - In 2010, the federal government announced funding to states with housing markets that have been hardest-hit with foreclosures, housing price declines, and unemployment. Florida has received about $1 billion. Florida currently has five programs for qualified homeowners:
- Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program
- Principal Balance of the First Mortgage Program
- Elderly Mortgage Assistance Program
- Mortgage Modification Enabling Pilot Program
- Foreclosure Counseling Program
Contact - Florida Housing Finance Corporation
For more information about the Florida Housing Finance Corporation and its programs, please visit www.FloridaHousing.org or call (850) 488-4197.
United States Department of Agriculture
- Housing for Individuals - The United States Department of Agriculture provides homeownership opportunities to citizens in rural areas, and provides home renovation and repair programs. The Department also provides financing to elderly, disabled, or low-income rural residents in multi-unit housing complexes to ensure that they are able to make rent payments. Available programs are:
- Single Family Housing Direct Home Loans
- Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program
- Multi-Family Housing Rental Assistance
- Housing Development Opportunities - The United States Department of Agriculture works with public and nonprofit organizations to provide housing developers with loans and grants to construct and renovate rural multi-family housing complexes. Eligible organizations include local and state governments, nonprofit groups, associations, nonprofit private corporations and cooperatives, and Native American groups. Available programs are:
- Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants
- Mutual Self-Help Housing Technical Assistance Grants
- Multi-Family Housing Direct Loans
- Farm Labor Housing Direct Loans and Grants
- Housing Preservation Grants
- Rural Housing Site Loans
- Lender Opportunities - The United States Department of Agriculture improves rural community economic health by working with private lenders to guarantee loans to borrowers for the construction of rural multi-family housing units and individual homes through the Multi-Family Housing Loan Guarantees program.
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development provides federal resources to states, local governments, and nonprofits to fund a wide variety of affordable housing activities such as housing development, rehabilitation, and homebuyer and rental assistance for income eligible persons or communities. Below is a list of some of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's housing programs:
- Capital Fund - The Capital Fund provides funds annually to public housing agencies for the development, financing, and modernization of public housing developments and for management improvements.
- Homeownership - A public housing authority may sell all, or a portion, of a public housing development to eligible residents or resident organizations for purposes of homeownership, provided that a Homeownership Plan has been submitted by the public housing authority to, and has been approved by, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- HOPE VI - The HOPE VI program provides grants and flexibility for the revitalization of the Nation's most distressed public housing developments by integrating programs to address the housing and social service needs of their residents.
- Housing Choice Vouchers (formerly Section 8) - The Housing Choice Vouchers Program allows qualified families to lease or purchase safe, decent, and affordable privately-owned rental housing.
- Mixed-Finance Public Housing - The Mixed-Finance Public Housing program allows the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to mix public, private, and non-profit funds to develop and operate housing developments. The new housing developments are built for residents with a wide range of incomes, and are designed to fit into the surrounding community.
- Moving to Work Demonstration Program - The Moving to Work Demonstration Program allows housing authorities to design and test ways to give incentives to families to become economically self-sufficient, achieve programmatic efficiencies, reduce costs, and increase housing choice for low-income households.
- Public Housing Operating Fund - The Public Housing Operating Fund provides operating subsidies to housing authorities to assist in funding the operation and maintenance expenses of their own dwellings. The subsidies are required to help maintain services and provide minimum operating reserves.
- Resident Opportunities and Self Sufficiency (ROSS)
and Neighborhood Networks (NN) - The ROSS program links services to public housing residents by providing grants for supportive services, resident empowerment activities, and activities to assist residents in becoming economically self-sufficient. The NN funding program provides grants to public housing authorities to establish, expand, and/or update community technology centers.
Find Your Local Public Housing Agency
To find your local public housing agency, please visit United States Department of Housing and Urban Development - Public Housing Agency Contact Information.