More than 40,000 affordable apartments across the state could have been lost if the amendment proposed during the 2022 legislative session had passed.
Could thousands of Floridians living in affordable apartments have been forced to move out of their homes?
A series of emails obtained from public agencies have revealed that during the 2022 legislative session, top aides to Gov. Ron DeSantis worked to help make it easier for developers to convert affordable housing units built with public subsidies “into higher-priced, market-rate apartments and condos,” according to Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents, a newsletter and podcast that examines the ways that business can influence and impact public policy across Florida.
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Records showed the proposed amendment was written by lobbyists from The Vestcor Companies, whose founder happens to be one of the biggest Republican donors in the state.
If approved, this move could have caused the loss of about 40,000 affordable apartments across the state, forcing thousands of working Floridians to move from their now pricey homes.
One email in particular, which was obtained from the Florida House of Representatives, shows that the governor’s office supported Vestcor’s proposal to amend the rules of the “qualified contract.”
This is a tactic developers of affordable housing projects sometimes use to bypass the rent-control restrictions they agreed to in exchange for tax breaks.
The company’s proposal was called out by advocates for affordable housing across Florida, forcing lawmakers to pass a milder version of the proposal.
At this time, the degree of DeSantis’ support of the bill is not known, as his office has refused to release public records that would offer a more detailed view of his involvement.
Since taking office, the governor has signed off on over $5.7 billion in corporate giveaways, which is more than six times what the state of Florida has spent on making housing affordable, reports Progress Florida.
“Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, Floridians should be able to afford to live in Florida. Period,” says Democrat Charlie Crist, who is running to unseat DeSantis. Crist added that if elected in November, he will work to expand and strengthen down payment assistance programs, as well as make rents more accessible for working Floridians.