Developers working on housing projects in Manatee County will get a financial break, if they include affordable housing.
Manatee County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a new program that will provide financial incentives and impact fee relief to encourage developers to include affordable housing in their projects, whether be for home ownership or rental units.
Geri Lopez, Manatee County redevelopment and economic opportunity director said the new program will be aggressively marketed to developers so, “Developers and landowners can come in and talk to us to see how they can take advantage of it.”
The lack of affordable housing in Manatee County is making it difficult for larger companies to attract a work force in need of lower cost of living opportunities. Within the county, 36 percent of renter households are “cost burdened,” meaning more than 40 percent of their income goes directly to housing.
Michael Gallen, vice president of public policy and small business for the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, said his discussions with manufacturing businesses tell the tale.
“They are having a hard time recruiting because of the affordable housing issue, so this program is something we will all continue to support,” Gallen said.
The incentive program could allow developers to keep up to $500,000 in regulatory fees per project if they develop affordable housing units within the Urban Service Area, which is in unincorporated Manatee County. Lopez said the incentives would target housing with 1,700 square feet of living space or less and have a total value of no more than $176,000.
I’m very excited about this program because it addresses home ownership and renters. It’s a very broad-based program.
Diana Shoemaker, executive director of Manatee County Habitat for Humanity
Diana Shoemaker, executive director of Manatee County Habitat for Humanity, said the program will be instrumental for new Habitat projects. As a member of the county’s affordable housing committee, Shoemaker said, “We have for several months looked at the comp plan and it kept coming back to incentives, incentives and incentives.”
Shoemaker announced that Habitat has signed a contract in Samoset for a 15-home community and the incentive program will save Habitat $200,000 in impact fees.
“That may not sound like a lot of money for the typical developer, but it’s a huge amount from our perspective,” she said. “I’m very excited about this program because it addresses home ownership and renters. It’s a very broad-based program.”
Tim Polk, of Urban Planning Solutions, said the program is something a lot of people and agencies have been striving to accomplish for a long time.
“This program is a breakthrough and will get developers over that financial hump,” Polk said. “It’s an important tool in the toolbox to make these deals work.”