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Affordable housing increasingly available in Leon County, but there is more work to be done

Exterior of Tallahassee City Hall
Craig Moore
WFSU Public Media
Exterior of Tallahassee City Hall

More than 40,000 Leon County households spend more than 30% of their annual income on housing costs. Under current policies, progress is being made to improve the area’s affordable housing problem.

“We’re looking at triple the rate of additions to affordable housing and that’s because we’re talking about it,” said Abena Ojetayo, Director of Housing and Community Resilience for the City of Tallahassee.

“We’re being intentional and focused with policy, so any step we can make as a policy-making body to create the environment that’s favorable for this, I think is absolutely a good win.”

On Tuesday morning, Tallahassee City Commissioners and Leon County Commissioners held a joint workshop on affordable housing. Ojetayo, alongside Shington Lamy, Leon County Director of Human Services & Community Partnerships, presented a report to the commissions as part of the workshop.

During the presentation, Lamy talked about inclusionary housing policies. The goal of these policies is to increase socioeconomic diversity throughout the community by ensuring affordable housing for low-to-moderate-income households and incentivizing private developers through waivers and flexibility.

Both Leon County and the City of Tallahassee have inclusionary housing policies, but neither are heavily utilized. It was recommended that the Affordable Housing Advisory Committees (AHACs) for both the city and county move forward with uniform policies that strengthen the use of inclusionary housing.

The commissions voted unanimously to pursue increasing affordable housing availability through local ordinances and will begin drafting them soon. “The next step is direction for staff to draft these ordinances and bring it back to the commissions to formally adopt,” said Ojetayo, “We will continue to promote our programs, and we also are going to look for more partners to come to us and give us creative ideas of how we can solve all this together.”

“By no stretch of the imagination are we done,” said Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey at the conclusion of the workshop.

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Brett Rutherford is a reporter and news researcher at WFSU Pubic Media. From Riverview, Florida, he has earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Florida State University. During his time at Florida State, he was a reporter within the sports department at WVFS, the student-run on-campus radio station. In 2020, he served as Sports Director during his senior year and hosted the weekly talk show Tomahawk Talk.

Email Brett: brutherford2@fsu.edu