Gainesville commission finalizes housing code change, approves loan

Commissioner Ed Book speaks at a June 18 Gainesville special meeting.
Commissioner Ed Book speaks at a June 18 Gainesville special meeting.
Photo by Seth Johnson

The Gainesville City Commission finalized a change to the development code to ease restrictions on single-room occupancy residents and approved a $460,000 loan to an affordable housing project.  

The single room occupancy change passed unanimously on Thursday, confirming an earlier vote in June. The changes will ease restrictions on this type of residence, like dorms and hostels, and staff hope it will lead to more housing options.  

The changes are as follows eliminate distance requirements from public transit, SROs or laundry facilities. An onsite management office is also no longer required.  

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The City Commission selected Hope @ Debra Heights as the recipient of a $460,000 loan. The funds will come from the ConnectFree program, stopped by the Gainesville Regional Utilities Authority earlier this year.  

The funding will serve as a local government match and make the project eligible for low-income housing tax credits from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. 

City staff said if the project fails to get the state funds, then the $460,000 loan will remain with the city. But if the state funds come through, then the project will continue with development. The state should decide by September.  

Catholic Charities is developing the project, and the City Commission has already approved a zoning change for the site. The development will be off NE Second Street and include a rectory, convent, missionary house and chapel along with the affordable development.  

The developer said in May that with state funds, the units will be affordable at 80% of the area median income. Even without the state funds, the project would need to keep at least 25% of the units affordable at that level.  

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The Catholic Charities is all about funding the illegal immigrants. The Pope should pay for it, not me.