Florida Apartment Industry Offers Solutions to Housing Affordability Crisis

ORLANDO, FLA. (STL.News) – Most developers of apartment communities would be willing to build affordable housing under the right conditions, according to a research report just released by the Florida Apartment Association and the Apartment Association of Greater Orlando. The report — called the Housing Affordability Toolkit — is based on a survey of market rate and affordable apartment developers and sheds light on what local governments can do to increase the supply of affordable housing. The report reveals top incentives to drive development are reduced or eliminated impact fees, non-ad valorem property tax discounts, and density bonuses.

“Municipalities all across the state are facing unprecedented housing affordability challenges and the apartment industry is taking a proactive role to be part of the solution,” said Amanda Gill, government affairs director for the Florida Apartment Association. “We created the Housing Affordability Toolkit, which presents research-based solutions to assist local governments in stimulating the development of affordable housing.”

A critical component of any development is financial viability, said Bonnie Smetzer, president of the Florida Apartment Association and partner and executive vice president with JMG Realty Inc.

“All developers want to build and have the properties filled,” Smetzer said. “But they’re not building affordable housing because they can’t get the financing and equity.” Local governments can partner with developers by offering the right incentives to overcome the financial challenges and fill gaps in the rental housing market, she added.

Multifamily construction projects require substantial planning and capital investments before a new development is considered viable, the report points out. Would-be investors and lenders conduct significant due diligence to ascertain the level of risk and potential rate of return on their investment. That potential return is considerably reduced when rents are restricted, making affordable multifamily projects even more difficult to finance.

In addition to the burden of regulatory costs, Smetzer noted, construction costs have risen considerably in recent years, in part because more stringent building codes were enacted in response to devastating hurricanes.

Population growth, job growth, and the recognized benefits of apartment living have all created high demand for apartments. To date, as the report states, Florida is not meeting the projected housing need. The report makes recommendations for addressing the resulting housing crisis, noting the importance of the cooperation of housing developers and leaders at all levels of government. Those recommendations include increasing the supply of rental units, streamlining permitting and inspection processes, and implementing incentive programs that will drive the development of affordable housing.

“We hope that this valuable information will actually move the needle and advance the dialogue between our organizations and local government on how to address this important policy issue,” said Chip Tatum, CEO, Apartment Association of Greater Orlando.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA APARTMENT ASSOCIATION

The Florida Apartment Association (FAA) is a federation of associations representing and advocating the interests of the Florida multifamily rental housing industry.

FAA represents more than three-quarters (80%) of apartment homes in Florida — more than 700,000 units — and nearly three-quarters (74%) of all apartment communities in Florida. Since 1971, FAA has worked to ensure high property management standards and resident satisfaction and safety in Florida, and provides advocacy, professional development, and networking opportunities for its members.

As a federation, FAA serves as an umbrella organization linking 10 independent local associations, including the Apartment Association of Greater Orlando.

ABOUT THE APARTMENT ASSOCIATION OF GREATER ORLANDO

The Apartment Association of Greater Orlando (AAGO) is a trade association representing more than 730 apartment communities consisting of more than 190,000 apartment homes, as well as apartment owners, managers, developers, suppliers, and thousands of industry professionals in Orange, Osceola, Lake, Seminole, and Volusia Counties. AAGO is dedicated to promoting and advancing the needs of the apartment industry in Central Florida.