Affordable Housing Density Bonus

Hillsborough County | Hillsborough County, FL
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Hillsborough County is a fast-growing county in the Tampa Bay region. As the region grows, so does the demand for affordable housing. To address this, the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission partnered with Benesch to evaluate the County’s Affordable Housing Density Bonus and make recommendations based on best practices and market analysis to support the development of affordable housing in the unincorporated areas of the County.

Hillsborough County experienced 42% population growth from 2000 to 2019. Unincorporated Hillsborough County, in particular, has grown the most, with over 22% population growth from 2000 to 2019. There is a shortage of affordable units for those making 80% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI), with a current gap of 11,270 units needed, projected to triple over the next 20 years.

Other localities have more flexible requirements for density bonuses, such as increasing the income eligibility threshold up to 120% of AMI, increasing rent limits to 50% of monthly income, and granting bonuses to projects not receiving subsidies from the local government.

Providing greater bonuses may make this incentive more effective. Developers cited expedited permitting, re-zoning processes, and impact fees as other areas where a local government could greatly impact the ease of development of affordable housing. Funding agencies, such as Florida Housing, already have strict criteria for affordable housing locations (e.g., near transit), therefore additional criteria from the local government may be redundant and/or limiting.

Recommendations included increased income eligibility thresholds for affordable units, relaxed rent limits, increased density bonus allowances, the use of an administrative approval process and the use of new Florida Statute changes to waive up to 100% of impact fees for affordable developments.

Better utilization of the density bonus program was recommended as an incentive to increase the development of affordable housing, including increased potential for market-rate developers to consider incorporating income-restricted units.

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