(Foresight, Fall 1997)
By Jaimie Ross, Affordable Housing Director
Affordable Housing and Growth Management in Florida
While Florida’s dedicated revenue source of over $120 million a year for affordable housing draws the most attention, Florida is also a recognized leader in planning for affordable housing. When Florida adopted its landmark growth management legislation in the 1980s, affordable housing was an integral component. It was required that local comprehensive plans include housing elements based on meaningful data and analysis. These elements revealed the overwhelming magnitude of affordable housing needs in this state. This evidence of need, and the realization that there was no funding, helped lay the foundation for the passage of the William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Act and its dedicated funding in 1992.Planning for affordable housing in Florida has a long history. Housing is addressed at every level of Florida’s growth management process, beginning with Florida’s State Comprehensive Plan (FS 187), adopted in 1985. It has “Housing” as its fifth goal, stating:
The public and private sectors shall increase the affordability and availability of housing for low-income and moderate-income persons, including citizens in rural areas, while at the same time encouraging self-sufficiency of the individual and assuring environmental and structural quality and cost-effective operations.
Every regional planning council (FS 186) also adopts a regional strategic plan that addresses housing. The Local Comprehensive Planning and Land Development Regulation Act (FS 163, Part II) requires each community to incorporate a housing element in their local comprehensive plan, including:
Standards, plans and principles for the provision of housing for all current and anticipated future residents, the elimination of substandard dwelling units, and the structural and aesthetic improvement of existing housing.
It specifically states that concentrations of affordable housing shall be avoided, and provides for the development of housing programs. It calls for the element to be based on data and analysis of housing needs, and requires that state and federal housing plans be consistent with the adopted housing element.As with other components of the growth management legislation, the meat of the requirements for the Housing Element is found in the Administrative Rule Requirements in 9J-5, Florida Administrative Code. It outlines specific requirements regarding data collection, housing analysis, and the development of local goals, objectives, and policies.The dedicated funding provided under the Sadowski Act provides the means to help accomplish the goals, objectives, and policies of the local comprehensive plans.
The Affordable Housing Study Commission
Nearly every major change in housing programs in the state since the 1980s have emanated from the Affordable Housing Study Commission—a “blue ribbon” study commission first established by Governor Bob Graham. The Commission is appointed by the Governor, and staffed by the Department of Community Affairs. Since 1992, 1000 Friends of Florida has had a seat on the commission. The Affordable Housing Study Commission meets approximately once a month around the state and takes testimony from the public at each meeting. The Affordable Housing Study Commission, pursuant to Florida Statutes, produces a report annually to be presented to the Governor, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House. The topics of study presently under consideration are: a comprehensive housing policy for the state of Florida; Florida’s response to changes at the federal level; and a response to the NIMBY (“Not In My Back Yard”) problem.