Commissioners Confirm Inventory of Public Land for Affordable Housing

Commissioners Confirm Inventory of Public Land for Affordable Housing

There has been a lot of talk about SB 102, the bill passed by the Florida Legislature earlier this year, also known as the Live Local Act. In St. Johns County there has also been some action.

The County Commission recently unanimously approved a resolution adopting the inventory list identifying county-owned property appropriate for use as affordable housing.

Describing the Live Local Act as “a comprehensive approach with the intent to create housing opportunities for workers where they work,” St. Johns County Health and Human Services Director Shawna Novak reviewed the key parts of SB102.

Novak said the bill invests $811 in several initiatives to increase the availability of affordable housing as well as offering down payment assistance programs, local infrastructure grants and tax benefits.

“Counties are required to prepare an inventory list the identifies all the property that is owned by the county that is appropriate for affordable housing,” Novak said. “The board (of county commissioners) is responsible required to hold a public hearing to review the inventory list and adopt a resolution.”

The adopted list fills nearly 11 pages of property listings of county-owned parcels.

Commissioner Krista Joseph asked how the county acquired the properties.

“Some of the lots were given to the county with deed restrictions to them, specifically for affordable housing,” Novak said.

During public comment on the resolution, resident Doris Taylor challenged the notion of affordable housing.

“That just describes what the price is going to be,” she said. “What it is is high-density housing. That means a whole lot more people and cars and children and need for fire houses and more stress on government resources, on the peoples’ resources.”

Bill Lazar, executive director at the St. Johns Housing Partnership, was more enthusiastic about the law.

“I think this is a great step,” he said. “The Live Local Act is sort of a big picture image without a lot of details. But it’s really challenging us to say we have an affordable housing crisis in Florida.”

Citing a need for infrastructure improvements to create more affordable housing Lazar said the programs available under the legislation give the county “a golden opportunity” to use affordable housing dollars to fill that need.

“We need you looking at these lots thinking like developers,” he said. “How can you turn these lots quickly into something that can serve our community.”