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Tallahassee Commission To Get Affordable Housing, Orange Avenue Update

Tom Flanigan

Tallahassee Commissioners are going to get an update on several affordable housing initiatives in the works.  That comes as the area grapples with a rise in both rent and blight.

Interim City Manager Reese Goad says housing has been at the forefront of residents’ minds for a while.

“And maybe that's an issue trending in the United States. But we know our citizens are concerned about affordable housing, and that has lots of different definitions. Access to good, quality affordable housing," he said.

The City of Tallahassee has been exploring ways to increase affordable housing options. According to the rental tracker site, Apartment List, the average price for two bedrooms is $980. A single costs $780.  Furthermore, the city saw higher price increases than the national average. Goad says action is underway, but that the city needs partners.

“We understand there are organizations like the Tallahassee Housing Authority. How can we help them? We’re actively working to recruit a company—a national company to come in and build affordable housing, create a community of affordable housing that includes education. It’s a holistic approach.”

One of the biggest projects on the city’s list, involves a planned re-development of the Orange Avenue Apartment community. It stretches from Orange Avenue across to Magnolia. Initially designed to provide affordable housing, the structures have outlived their lifespan and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has a vision of creating a mixed-income community.

“We’re close to being approved on the plan," he said. "I think we’ll see a renaissance of new, affordable housing pop up in an important area of our city.”

Redevelopment of the Orange Avenue Community has been part of housing talks for a while. And Goad says there will be an update on where that project, and others, go from here.

“The city commission is tasked with identifying ideas like land trusts—whether we own land or have acquired parcels of land through code-enforcement activities. Can we make them back available to the community at low or no cost that encourages affordable housing activity?” he said.

The city has purchased several empty parcels and tore down abandoned and dilapidated houses in the Bond Neighborhood, located adjacent to Florida A&M University. City officials are eyeing additional state and federal support to create more income-based units. But ongoing sweeps of the state housing trust fund mean less money is available for those efforts.

The city commission will take up affordable housing next Wednesday, March 21st, at 1 p.m.