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Pasco County Explores New Affordable Housing Solutions

WESLEY CHAPEL, FL - Pasco County officials are taking steps to address the affordable housing crisis with a series of innovative proposals discussed at the County Commission's affordable housing workshop on May 21. The county is exploring various options to increase the availability of affordable housing and meet the needs of its residents.

One of the primary ideas presented was the legalization of accessory dwelling units, also known as backyard homes or granny flats. These units would allow homeowners to build additional living spaces on their properties, providing more affordable housing options within existing neighborhoods.

In addition to accessory dwelling units, the commissioners considered increasing density in single-family neighborhoods by introducing duplexes, triplexes, and quadraplexes. This approach could help create more housing units without requiring new land development. Another proposal involved requiring developers to provide or fund affordable housing when seeking new development approvals.

The workshop also highlighted the need for the redevelopment of older communities, particularly in West Pasco. Expanding public rental or home-buying assistance programs was another topic of discussion, aiming to support those who struggle with the high cost of housing.

Affordable housing is defined as costing no more than 30% of an individual's monthly income. For the average median income in Pasco County, which is $63,187, affordable rent would be around $1,579 per month. However, many frontline workers, including starting school teachers and medical assistants, earn significantly less and can only afford rentals of $1,263 or less. This makes finding affordable rentals or buying a home challenging for many residents.

The county's director of community development emphasized the impact of the housing crisis on county staff, noting that 43% of county employees can only afford to spend $1,337 on housing costs, equivalent to the rent for a one-bedroom apartment in New Port Richey. This underscores the urgent need for affordable housing solutions that benefit not only the general public but also county employees.

The county currently offers a range of affordable housing programs through a combination of federal and local funding, as well as partnerships with agencies and non-profits. There are also 838 new affordable housing units expected to become available soon. However, officials acknowledged that these efforts, while significant, are not enough to meet the growing demand.

One immediate solution proposed by the Chief Assistant County Attorney involves allowing accessory dwelling units in more areas outside of master-planned developments. This change could be implemented relatively quickly, within the next six months. Commissioners expressed support for this idea.

Other long-term solutions, such as building more multifamily residences in single-family neighborhoods and requiring future developments to include affordable housing or contribute to a housing fund, were also discussed. Redevelopment of aging neighborhoods, particularly in West Pasco, was highlighted as a potential area for significant improvement due to existing infrastructure.

Pasco County's Economic Growth Director stressed the importance of these efforts, noting that an additional 100,000 workers will be needed in the coming years for already approved projects. This demand further emphasizes the need for expanded affordable housing options.

County staff have been tasked with continuing to develop these plans and will provide updates on their progress. For more details on local news and updates, visit Wesley Chapel Community or follow our social media pages on FacebookX, and Instagram.

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