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Democratic state lawmakers urging Florida Gov. DeSantis to address rent relief in upcoming special session


Click the video player above for your WPBF 25 News To GoAs rent prices throughout Florida get higher every day, some Democratic state lawmakers are urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to take action to help bring the cost of rent back down.State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D- 47) as well as 27 other Democratic members of the state legislature are urging DeSantis to address relief for renters during the upcoming special session less than four weeks from now.”There is no place to go,” said Sharon Tate of West Palm Beach. “No place to go.”Tate says her rent went up nearly 50% last year, and now she’s facing the possibility of moving out of South Florida if she can’t find an affordable place to live. “Our legislative branch has to do something,” Tate said.Eskamani and 27 other Democratic state lawmakers agree with Tate’s sentiments. They sent this letter to DeSantis’ office on Thursday.The letter expresses support for the upcoming session’s goal of lowering property and homeowner insurance rates, but the Democratic lawmakers who signed it say steps need to be taken to prevent rent price gauging, release more federal dollars for rental assistance, and give renters more notice regarding rent price increases. The letter not only calls for new proposals to be brought before the state legislature, but for 11 bills that did not pass to be reconsidered. “Because rent is ballooning so much, our longtime Floridian residents, from young families to seniors, they’re the ones feeling the pressure right now and we need to put policies in place to make sure that they can still call Florida home,” Eskamani said. “This is just the perfect opportunity. We’re going to be talking about homeowner issues with property insurance, there is absolutely no reason why we can’t expand the special session to include rental issues.”Eskamani says the state’s federally-funded rental assistance program is experiencing significant delays, which needs to be addressed. She also says this program only provides rental relief for people who’ve been impacted directly by the COVID-19 pandemic, which restricts who can receive rental assistance. She says, for this reason, more federal dollars which could be used for rental help that are currently located in a rainy day fund need to be made available to Floridians.Stay informed: Local coverage from WPBF 25 News”Our goal is for this special session to not just be on property insurance, which we know is a serious concern that trickles down to renters and of course impacts homeowners, but rent has been skyrocketing and does not get any attention from the governor and that needs to change,” Eskamani said. “We need some price gouging protections. There is a serious concern that prices are being raised, not because of inflation or not because of an actual increase in expenses, but they’re going beyond that point. The fact that, especially in South Florida, we’ve seen rent go upwards of 57%, tells me that this is more than just inflation.“I really do think giving folks that supplemental support, at least in the interim, so that we can try to help folks find higher-paying jobs to meet with the increase of rent would be a really important policy choice that would reduce eviction, prevent homelessness and allow Floridians to stay Floridians.”It’s clear to me (DeSantis) has the power to expand a special session when he wants to, the question is will he do it for an actual issue that Floridians are facing, or does he only do that for his own political ambition?” WPBF 25 News did hear from some Republican lawmakers who indicate there is not bipartisan support for this request. Follow us on social: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram”My personal opinion is that rent control will never work,” said State Rep. John Snyder (R- 82). “It lowers the quality and in many ways, we know it extremely limits the incentive to increase the supply and that is really the problem we have here.”Folks are having a difficult time finding affordable places to live. It is difficult, but that is where I believe the answer is to responsibly increase supply and address what the root causes of these cost increases are, and that is property insurance.”My hope is that when we head to special session on May 23, we can bring real reform to the rising costs of property insurance to provide true relief to 22 million Floridians.””What we really have to change the conversation to is how do we incentivize and encourage responsible development?“Just yesterday, I was at the groundbreaking for the first time in over 40 years, a multi-unit complex broke sound in Hobe Sound, Florida and so as we continue to find creative ways to address this problem, I know that there is exciting development happening out in Indiantown and throughout the Treasure Coast and so that is really the question we need to be asking ourselves — ‘How do we do this the right way?'””Incentivize the workforce housing opportunities to developers and really get at the root of this, which is an extremely limited supply in a very in-demand market.”State Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R- 32) also opposes the letter.“It describes a number of bills that they put forth that they think are going to actually help in this housing crisis we have and I just disagree,” Sabatini said. “I think those sort of interventions have shown to not work. In fact, most of them have been tried in places like California and New York with different interventions from the government, to try to artificially decrease the cost of living and all that does is create more scarcity. What we need is less taxes, less stringent building code and let’s be honest, with the increased demand on Florida with people moving in from out of state, I don’t think that there is very much you can do to stop the demand from going up. The demand is going to keep going up. As long as other states are being run into the ground by liberal policies, people are going to seek refuge in Florida. That is just the way it is.“You can make it easier for people to live by helping the working class and the middle class with their housing costs. I’m open to that idea, but the bills that are listed in that letter, I don’t think they have that type of effect. They just want all types of caps and new rules, which will just increase scarcity.”DeSantis’ office responded to WPBF 25 News’ request for comment, saying in part: This letter does not seem to contain a concrete proposal that would result in impactful legislation. Renters throughout Florida, and in other states as well, are seeing costs increase, in some cases dramatically. We can all agree that this is a challenge, but the solution is not as simple as the letter implies. The Governor has consistently recommended full funding for the State of Florida’s affordable housing programs since his first year in office, and he is appreciative of the Legislature’s decision to appropriate a significant amount towards affordable housing in the 2022-2023 General Appropriations Act. This year, the state funding for affordable housing totals almost $363 million, which includes $25 million in the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity budget. In total, over the last four years, Governor DeSantis has recommended over $1.5 billion for affordable housing funding, and secured over $1 billion for affordable housing funding. This is roughly the same amount of funds appropriated for affordable housing over the preceding eight fiscal years combined, and nearly 40% higher than was appropriated in the four fiscal years preceding that. In terms of utilizing federal aid: the federal Emergency Rental Assistance award to the State of Florida totaled $1.6 billion. There is approximately $59.8 million remaining to be obligated for this program. The federal Homeowner’s Assistance Fund to the State of Florida totaled $608 million. The governor’s successful policies in the State of Florida have attracted new residents from across the country, making property in Florida increasingly valuable. This positive externality of successful state government will naturally come with new challenges, like increasing rent costs. As Governor DeSantis said at a recent press conference in Hialeah, there’s only one sure way to bring down the rents in a sustainable manner without adverse consequences that outweigh benefits: build more housing. He encouraged local governments to consider if housing construction and development in their jurisdictions is hindered by unnecessary red tape, and if so, to streamline the process. Around the country: National coverage from WPBF 25 News

Click the video player above for your WPBF 25 News To Go

As rent prices throughout Florida get higher every day, some Democratic state lawmakers are urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to take action to help bring the cost of rent back down.

State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D- 47) as well as 27 other Democratic members of the state legislature are urging DeSantis to address relief for renters during the upcoming special session less than four weeks from now.

“There is no place to go,” said Sharon Tate of West Palm Beach. “No place to go.”

Tate says her rent went up nearly 50% last year, and now she’s facing the possibility of moving out of South Florida if she can’t find an affordable place to live.

“Our legislative branch has to do something,” Tate said.

Eskamani and 27 other Democratic state lawmakers agree with Tate’s sentiments. They sent this letter to DeSantis’ office on Thursday.

The letter expresses support for the upcoming session’s goal of lowering property and homeowner insurance rates, but the Democratic lawmakers who signed it say steps need to be taken to prevent rent price gauging, release more federal dollars for rental assistance, and give renters more notice regarding rent price increases.

The letter not only calls for new proposals to be brought before the state legislature, but for 11 bills that did not pass to be reconsidered.

“Because rent is ballooning so much, our longtime Floridian residents, from young families to seniors, they’re the ones feeling the pressure right now and we need to put policies in place to make sure that they can still call Florida home,” Eskamani said. “This is just the perfect opportunity. We’re going to be talking about homeowner issues with property insurance, there is absolutely no reason why we can’t expand the special session to include rental issues.”

Eskamani says the state’s federally-funded rental assistance program is experiencing significant delays, which needs to be addressed. She also says this program only provides rental relief for people who’ve been impacted directly by the COVID-19 pandemic, which restricts who can receive rental assistance. She says, for this reason, more federal dollars which could be used for rental help that are currently located in a rainy day fund need to be made available to Floridians.

Stay informed: Local coverage from WPBF 25 News

“Our goal is for this special session to not just be on property insurance, which we know is a serious concern that trickles down to renters and of course impacts homeowners, but rent has been skyrocketing and does not get any attention from the governor and that needs to change,” Eskamani said. “We need some price gouging protections. There is a serious concern that prices are being raised, not because of inflation or not because of an actual increase in expenses, but they’re going beyond that point. The fact that, especially in South Florida, we’ve seen rent go upwards of 57%, tells me that this is more than just inflation.

“I really do think giving folks that supplemental support, at least in the interim, so that we can try to help folks find higher-paying jobs to meet with the increase of rent would be a really important policy choice that would reduce eviction, prevent homelessness and allow Floridians to stay Floridians.

“It’s clear to me (DeSantis) has the power to expand a special session when he wants to, the question is will he do it for an actual issue that Floridians are facing, or does he only do that for his own political ambition?”

WPBF 25 News did hear from some Republican lawmakers who indicate there is not bipartisan support for this request.

Follow us on social: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

“My personal opinion is that rent control will never work,” said State Rep. John Snyder (R- 82). “It lowers the quality and in many ways, we know it extremely limits the incentive to increase the supply and that is really the problem we have here.

“Folks are having a difficult time finding affordable places to live. It is difficult, but that is where I believe the answer is to responsibly increase supply and address what the root causes of these cost increases are, and that is property insurance.

“My hope is that when we head to special session on May 23, we can bring real reform to the rising costs of property insurance to provide true relief to 22 million Floridians.”

“What we really have to change the conversation to is how do we incentivize and encourage responsible development?

“Just yesterday, I was at the groundbreaking for the first time in over 40 years, a multi-unit complex broke sound in Hobe Sound, Florida and so as we continue to find creative ways to address this problem, I know that there is exciting development happening out in Indiantown and throughout the Treasure Coast and so that is really the question we need to be asking ourselves — ‘How do we do this the right way?'”

“Incentivize the workforce housing opportunities to developers and really get at the root of this, which is an extremely limited supply in a very in-demand market.”

State Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R- 32) also opposes the letter.

“It describes a number of bills that they put forth that they think are going to actually help in this housing crisis we have and I just disagree,” Sabatini said. “I think those sort of interventions have shown to not work. In fact, most of them have been tried in places like California and New York with different interventions from the government, to try to artificially decrease the cost of living and all that does is create more scarcity. What we need is less taxes, less stringent building code and let’s be honest, with the increased demand on Florida with people moving in from out of state, I don’t think that there is very much you can do to stop the demand from going up. The demand is going to keep going up. As long as other states are being run into the ground by liberal policies, people are going to seek refuge in Florida. That is just the way it is.

“You can make it easier for people to live by helping the working class and the middle class with their housing costs. I’m open to that idea, but the bills that are listed in that letter, I don’t think they have that type of effect. They just want all types of caps and new rules, which will just increase scarcity.”

DeSantis’ office responded to WPBF 25 News’ request for comment, saying in part:

This letter does not seem to contain a concrete proposal that would result in impactful legislation. Renters throughout Florida, and in other states as well, are seeing costs increase, in some cases dramatically. We can all agree that this is a challenge, but the solution is not as simple as the letter implies.

The Governor has consistently recommended full funding for the State of Florida’s affordable housing programs since his first year in office, and he is appreciative of the Legislature’s decision to appropriate a significant amount towards affordable housing in the 2022-2023 General Appropriations Act. This year, the state funding for affordable housing totals almost $363 million, which includes $25 million in the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity budget.

In total, over the last four years, Governor DeSantis has recommended over $1.5 billion for affordable housing funding, and secured over $1 billion for affordable housing funding. This is roughly the same amount of funds appropriated for affordable housing over the preceding eight fiscal years combined, and nearly 40% higher than was appropriated in the four fiscal years preceding that.

In terms of utilizing federal aid: the federal Emergency Rental Assistance award to the State of Florida totaled $1.6 billion. There is approximately $59.8 million remaining to be obligated for this program. The federal Homeowner’s Assistance Fund to the State of Florida totaled $608 million.

The governor’s successful policies in the State of Florida have attracted new residents from across the country, making property in Florida increasingly valuable. This positive externality of successful state government will naturally come with new challenges, like increasing rent costs.

As Governor DeSantis said at a recent press conference in Hialeah, there’s only one sure way to bring down the rents in a sustainable manner without adverse consequences that outweigh benefits: build more housing. He encouraged local governments to consider if housing construction and development in their jurisdictions is hindered by unnecessary red tape, and if so, to streamline the process.

Around the country: National coverage from WPBF 25 News





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