Many markets nationwide are feeling the same affordable housing crisis, due to regulatory costs, rising material prices, along with labor challenges. With the election period approaching, candidates are making affordable housing part of their campaign. This campaign in Orange County, Florida, outlines a truly collaborative approach.

In a news release issued by his campaign, Panepinto declared that he would push to commit $20 million per year for four years, enough to build 8,000-10,000 units, with a goal of funding 50 percent through existing county resources and 50 percent from private and nonprofit sectors. He said that some of the money could be offered in the form of low-interest loans, which would be repaid and would replenish the fund for future projects.

The key points of Panepinto’s plan include:

— Build a local “Housing Innovation Fund” to reduce private market rents and home purchases that would be a partnership funded through county, business, and philanthropic dollars and be used to offset land, impact, permitting, inspection, etc.

— Seek state approval to abate the first year of county property taxes for first-time homebuyers.

— Expand zoning flexibility for multigenerational homes.

— Streamline current permitting and inspection process that are driving builder (and county) costs that are passed on to the buyer/renter.

— Continue and seek to expand existing community land trust opportunities within the county to ensure the protection of affordable housing options in gentrifying communities.

— Continue to move forward with recommendations from outgoing Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ Regional Task Force on Affordable Housing.

— Continue to support the regional Housing First initiative to increase housing options for the chronically-homeless and at-risk, low-income families.

Panepinto said that the money would be controlled and raised locally, and the fund would support private and nonprofit innovation.

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