‘DeLand needs workforce housing,’ says task force | New

Members of a DeLand task force brought the topic of worker housing to the City Council with a central message: more needs to be done to ensure DeLandites can afford housing.

The task force is made up of city staff, members of the local nonprofit Mid-Florida Housing Partnership, and other volunteers. The group meets on an irregular schedule.

Solomon Greene, a DeLand real estate agent and task force member, presented data to the City Board at a workshop on April 26.

The numbers, Greene said, are not great.

“This is data that we compiled before COVID, and it got worse,” he said.

According to pre-pandemic data, 50 percent of DeLand residents are considered burdened by the cost of housing.

Across the city, costs are on the rise and housing options are on the decline.

“As of today, throughout the town of DeLand, there are [are] 67 homes on the market, ”Greene said. “The median price for these homes is $ 309,000. We hit an all-time high for the fewest homes available and an all-time high for median home selling price. “

As costs increased, fears abounded at the workshop that DeLand was not doing enough to house the people who already live here.

“We don’t accept those who put us here,” said city commissioner Jessica Davis. “I just want to make sure we find a way… we have to be creative.”

What can the municipal commission do?

Mike Holmes, Director of Planning for DeLand and also a member of the task force, offered some ideas for creating more affordable housing in DeLand.

One possible solution: be creative with what housing looks like.

DeLand’s own planning and zoning regulations have led to developments after developments that are pretty much alike: single-family homes on 40-foot-wide lots.

Holmes and the task force suggested that the City Commission consider new approaches, ranging from tiny houses to rehabilitating existing properties, like empty offices above downtown DeLand stores.

Cobb Cole’s attorney, Mark Watts, another member of the task force, said being especially creative with solutions to the labor and housing shortage would require more flexible zoning codes.

The city of Sanford, Watts explained, has a special exception for urban infill. When developers want to build on vacant land already surrounded by development, or on land already developed, the city will consider exceptions to its zoning guidelines.

Go ahead, take the first step

But, to really solve the city’s labor housing shortage, Watts told city commissioners, there are no quick fixes. Watts’ message to the Commissioners was to take the first step, intimidating as the larger problem may seem.

“It won’t be one of those solutions, it will be all of these solutions and figuring out how to put them all together,” he said. “Let’s take action on some of these issues. I think the problem gets worse if you don’t put some of these things into action. “

DeLandite and general contractor Ken Goldberg urged commissioners to review existing regulations.

“We use government language, things like housing for the workforce, affordable housing; really what we’re looking for are housing opportunities, and let’s face it, rooms are for human beings, and people need to go where people need to go, ”Goldberg said. “… Let’s face it, the Euclidean zoning of the 1960s has its roots in the exclusion, the exclusion of lower economic classes and racial minorities. Plain and simple, that’s why it was created, and we all know it.

As City Commissioner Chris Cloudman pointed out, the Golden Girls – characters on a TV show about four unrelated women living under one roof to save on living expenses – couldn’t live in DeLand.

Under the current rules, only two unrelated people are allowed to live together.

Some policies, like this one, may simply be outdated, task force members acknowledged.

Examples of regulations that may need to be changed:

  • policies demanding who can live together

  • by-law prohibiting the construction of secondary suites on the same land as an existing house

  • the requirement that a single-family home have a garage.

City commissioners have been receptive to ideas, especially relaxing the boundaries of accessory housing units – like mother-in-law’s apartments, coachwork, etc. – and relaxation of redevelopment bylaws in accordance with City of Sanford policy.

The city itself may need to get involved to provide enough affordable housing

With so many hurdles preventing developers from building affordable housing, DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar has said – including impact fees and market demand – that he wants to consider the city doing something she wants. -even.

As Apgar nears the end of his final term as Mayor of DeLand – he has said he has no plans to run in 2022 – he is keen to help community members no matter what. their age or their economic situation, to enjoy life in a place of their life. clean.

“Over the past 18 months, I would like to see a direction and a solution. From my perspective and from what I know, it will take an investment from the city to get there. It will not happen because of the efforts of the private sector, ”said Apgar. “I hope we can all roll up our sleeves, get creative and find ways to make this happen in a way that makes sense to the community and everyone.”

THE NUMBERS DON’T LY – Data on DeLand housing is shown above. These data were presented as part of a presentation by a task force aimed at addressing the city’s lack of affordable housing. The task force is made up of city staff, as well as locals from a variety of backgrounds.

The market will not provide solutions anytime soon

If something doesn’t change, the problem may get worse.

“Prices will not moderate until enough new homes are built to meet demand, prices for building materials drop significantly, or demand drops due to a slowdown in the number of people moving to the building. are moving to the area, ”Solomon Greene told The Beacon. “Unfortunately for high-cost families, neither of these scenarios seems likely for the foreseeable future.”

Regulatory changes are already underway

DeLand’s director of community development, Rick Werbiskis, told The Beacon that city staff have started drafting changes to the city’s secondary secondary standards and are reviewing the standards for multi-family housing in the downtown area. town of DeLand.

Proposed changes to these policies, as well as changes to infill and redevelopment standards, will likely be submitted to the Municipal Commission in the coming months.

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