If Manatee County strictly focuses on incentives such as added density, it does nothing for the county in encouraging development as it is similar to what other communities across the country are doing, according to an affordable housing developer.
But incentives such as an affordable housing fund, reduction of parking requirements and an affordable housing tax could help bring more affordable housing to the county, according to Andy Reasoner, with Royal Palm Terrace Apartments.
“The more I read there’s not solutions to this that aren’t painful. That don’t cost money,” said Reasoner, who is on the county’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. “At the end of the day, it is going to hurt somebody to spend the money to help make this happen. It won’t happen without more money. The money isn’t going to come from the state and federal governments.”
Tasked with reviewing the county’s codes for any barriers to developing affordable housing, Manatee County’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee brainstormed a series of suggestions of possible incentives that could be put in place to encourage affordable housing during Monday’s meeting.
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“I don’t expect anybody to build any affordable housing unless it makes business sense,” Commissioner Charles Smith said.
Reasoner added: “We got to find a funding source that I think everyone can participate in relatively painlessly. An affordable housing trust fund you have some serious money to be able to incentivize someone to come here.”
Manatee County must have something different than everybody else, said Denise Thomas, the county’s housing and community development coordinator.
“What we have in our menu is pretty much what is in other areas,” she said. “For most developers, it’s all about feasibility. It’s all about cost and what’s going to make sense to be worth their while.”
Currently, Manatee County is pretty dependent on state funding, which can’t solve all the problems, Thomas said.
“It needs to be a greater pot in order to be more creative in how we bring on affordable housing,” she said.
In 2017, the advisory committee will develop an Affordable Housing Advisory Committee report to present to the county commission for approval.
The more recommendations given to the commission the harder it will be for them to say what is being done currently is fine, Reasoner said.
“Because what we are doing now isn’t fine,” he said. “We need to give the board everything we possibly can.”