Volusia County Council accepts affordable housing plan.
Written by Kristen Schmutz
Belden Communications News
Volusia County is facing an affordable housing crisis, like many communities throughout the country that links back to the growing disparity between low wages and high housing costs.
Councilmembers have affirmed Volusia County's commitment to tackling the issue by unanimously accepting a comprehensive and detailed five-year plan compiled by staff with findings from three affinity groups on Tuesday.
According to a release, the affinity groups, led by members of the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, are comprised of thirty-two members who focused on community land trusts, funding, and land development regulations over the past several months.
County Chair Jeff Brower called the affordable housing plan a working document and call to action.
The plan presented to the County Council outlined ten key strategies for success:
- Create a community land trust, a nonprofit organization that separates a housing unit from the land it is built on to transfer the title to the dwelling without selling the land.
- Maximize existing funding streams for the highest and best use to preserve and create new affordable housing capacity
- Create an environment supportive of new affordable housing development through effective communication and collaboration.
- Actively support new state and federal funding to create new affordable housing capacity.
- Create an affordable housing trust fund
- Modify the County’s comprehensive plan to include an affordable housing review team to decrease the time and expense of building affordable housing.
- Modify the County’s comprehensive plan to include an affordable housing zoning overlay to encourage affordable housing development in identified geographic areas.
- Modify the County’s comprehensive plan to include options for fee waivers, deferrals, and density bonuses for affordable housing projects.
- Create an affordable housing ordinance and modify the comprehensive plan that delineates the supports available to developers of affordable housing.
- Allow for reasonable administrative modification to zoning requirements for affordable housing projects.
“Knowing that there is no one solution for providing affordable housing, this plan represents a toolbox of strategies to build more affordable housing opportunities for the citizens of Volusia County,” said Anne Evans, Chair of the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee.
According to the Shimberg Center for Housing Studies at the University of Florida, there are 10,615 renter households earning 30% or less of the area median income, with only 4,865 units that would be affordable to them. Meaning, that households in Volusia County need more housing than there are affordable housing units available in the area.
“It matters that we be very thoughtful about the dollars, identifying every opportunity. Quite a bit of funds have been identified to put toward these efforts. I am proud of the work the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, staff, and the community have done. Everyone came together to make this happen. I am grateful for it,” said County Council Vice Chair Barb Girtman.
County staff will move forward with implementing the affordable housing plan, and the County Council will review and discuss specific items as needed.
For more information, view the affordable housing plan at www.volusia.org/ahi.