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Sen. Hutson Files Bill That Would Waive Impact Fees On Affordable housing

Village on Wiley in Jacksonville is a multifamily permanent supportive housing development owned by Ability Housing and financed by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

A bill that would prevent local governments from charging affordable housing developers impact fees is moving forward in the Florida Senate.

St. Johns County Republican State Senator Travis Hutson introduced the bill last month to address the state’s affordable housing shortage. He said some communities are having a crisis.

“When you look at it as a crisis, you’ve gotta chip away at how can you made these things expedited, these housing projects expedited, but how can you keep the fees as low as possible, so that people will want to construct and build them,” he said.

Related: Jacksonville Has An Affordable Housing Shortage

A 2017 report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition found Jacksonville has an affordable housing deficit of more than 36,000 units.

According to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, a statewide organization created by the Florida Legislature to provide housing support for those with lower incomes. Jacksonville currently doesn’t provide impact fee waivers for affordable housing.

Related: Affordable Housing In Brooklyn Could Fight Effects of Gentrification

Currently, waivers or deferrals of impact fees are decided at the local level. Hutson said some cities are already offering fee waivers for affordable housing developers, but many are not.

“So I basically said let’s just make it really plain and clear that these guys are exempted from impact fees, just the affordable housing,and they won’t have to pay that,” he said.

Hutson said the League of Cities, a league that represents more than 400 cities, might put up some resistance. But he believes the bill get support from legislators.

“I think we have to realize if you’re putting fees on affordable housing, it’s just going to increase the price and therefore it will never be affordable,” Hutson said. “So it’s something I want to talk to them about and I think we can find common ground.”  

Pensacola Republican Debbie Mayfield is cosponsoring the Senate bill.

Abukar Adan is a former WJCT reporter who left the station for other pursuits in August 2019.