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North Port housing summit amplifies need for attainable housing

Francesco Abbruzzino, The Uncensored Report, LLC


City of North Port, FL – On June 22, City staff and dignitaries, regional developers and builders, and local business owners came together in the Wellen Park area of North Port for one purpose – find a way forward with housing attainability.


“This is not a one and done conversation,” City Manager Jerome Fletcher said. “It takes a variety of partners to solve a variety of problems.”


The City partnered with Wellen Park to host the summit at their Welcome Center.


“Wellen Park is pleased to partner with the City of North Port to provide a venue for the community to collaborate on workforce housing needs in our region,” Wellen Park President Rick Severence said. “We look forward to exploring resourceful, cooperative ideas and providing input toward potential solutions that will benefit the city, as well as the growing demand we’re seeing within Wellen Park’s commercial district.”



Developers including Neal Communities and Atlantic Housing Foundation were in attendance, along with local businesses including King Plastics. City staff from Planning, Economic Development, and the City Manager’s Office were also in attendance, along with Vice Mayor Barbara Langdon.


According to the Sarasota County Economic Development Corporation, 21.6 percent of Sarasota County businesses see affordable housing as their biggest workforce concern. The City’s Neighborhood Development Services Department (NDS) and the Economic Development Division are working as we speak to better streamline services and increase communication.
Changes are already being made. Within the last few months, NDS implemented concurrent reviews. This allows all parties to review the documents in the same timeframe, “saving applicants up to eight months in the review process,” NDS Director Alaina Ray estimated.


Other solutions presented included incentives, impact fee credits for affordable housing developers, density bonuses based on floor-area-ratio (FAR), and expedited city processes to prevent additional development expenses. There are a few outstanding obstacles, including transportation needs and employment gaps. These obstacles will be addressed by the City, alongside further development of the solutions and policies.


Providing housing which is affordable to those who want to come work in the City is a great need. Workforce and Affordable housing exist within the same “Attainable” housing conversation. Attainable housing will help residents live more comfortably and avoid being rent-burdened. Currently, half of all Sarasota County residents are considered rent-burdened, meaning they pay at least 30 percent of their income on rent alone.
A word repeated throughout the roundtable discussion was “partnership.” Local businesses are looking for employees, and developers want to provide space for them to live in. The City’s job is to help make the process as streamlined as possible for all involved.
This is just the beginning of the conversation. There are plans to reach out to the community to gauge what is needed. Housing Attainability is a priority for the City, and we will continue to work with our community partners to make it a reality.


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