State Government

How Florida got housing right

Former Scott aide explains why single-family home construction Sunshine State is through the roof

Photo credit FGA.org

By Guy Page

Since the pandemic began, Florida’s anti-lockdown and pro-freedom policies have contributed to a wave of new residents. For the fifth consecutive year, Florida was ranked first in the nation for net in-migration, former Vermonter and now Florida resident Hayden Dublois writes in a June 15 analysis. Nearly 1,000 people move to Florida every day—with tax-and-spend states sending the most residents to the Sunshine State.

But, where will these people live?

Unlike so many other states – including Vermont – Florida has risen to the challenge by building new homes. New, single-family home construction in Florida is literally “through the roof,” writes the former aide to Gov. Phil Scott. 

Hayden Dublois

Before joining the Foundation for Government Accountability, where he’s now Data & Analytics Director, Hayden Dublois served as the Constituent Services Manager & Policy Analyst for Gov. Scott. In this role, the Middlebury College grad conducted policy analysis for the Governor and managed the Governor’s constituent services office. He now lives on Marco Island in Florida.

Florida’s new-construction success story is undeniable – more than double the national rate. 

“Statewide, more than 213,000 building permits for housing units were issued in Florida in 2021—an astonishing 30 percent increase over 2020. That is close to double the national average growth rate in new authorized housing units. This is in no small part driven by the construction of new single-family homes, which are through the roof,” Dublois writes.

Dublois’ analysis of the Florida new home construction success story that might be good reading for Vermont housing and government officials. In short, Dublois finds, the new law puts government regulators in the hotseat. Failure to review a permit on time means loss of permitting fee revenue. 

It seems that revenue – and the threat of losing it – is a language that housing development regulators understand. 

Under legislation passed in 2021 and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida’s cities and counties have a set number of days to review building permit applications, Dublois writes. To enforce minimum timeframes, Florida now requires localities to incrementally refund fees if permits are not addressed in a timely manner. Localities must refund 10 percent of the application fee for every business day until the application is processed. This includes permit applications for the construction of new single-family homes.

Here in Vermont, it is the developers and property owners who are fined per diem by regulators when they are slow to follow the government’s rules. 

In Florida, the same swift stick is applied to the slow-moving bottoms of the regulators themselves. 

Fining tardy regulators certainly is the road less taken. But it does seem to have made the difference. 

Fast Track for Success: How Florida Has Streamlined Its Permitting Processes To Cut Red Tape And Expand Housing is published on the FGA website. It is the source of much of the material published above.

Categories: State Government

4 replies »

  1. One of many reasons we are selling our VT home and becoming full time Floridians. VT has become so obsessed with over regulating so many aspects of life like free trade, land ownership, education funding, etc. Florida, on the other hand, does it right. We’re out.

  2. Hold the phone there Hayden. Many reports coming out of Florida this week speak of stalled construction due to supply chain issues. They are running out of materials, cannot get materials, and projects sitting idle or going well past projected completion dates. Many Floridians are being priced out of rental units as some are doubling, even triple in Dade County and Broward County. Many complaints of traffic issues with all the new arrivals. The influx of new Floridians is stressing the infrastructure and creating problems that cannot be easily or quickly fixed due to inflation, seizing credit lines, and supply issues. Vermont has more vacant property than any other State apparently. Vermont will not fix that problem. Yet, some non-profits will ensnare unsuspecting BIPOC folks to jump on that hamster wheel to nowhere with $25,000 downpayments and no interest. All forgiven. Welcome to the Banana Republic.

  3. Florida is about the worst example one could use to try to address Vermont’s housing problems. Be careful what you wish for. Especially when it comes to drinking water. If you want to be like Florida, by all means move to Florida. Enjoy the cockroaches, giant spiders, alligators, scorpions, hurricanes, heat, humidity and endless traffic.

  4. I’ll have to agree with Anette, what’s next? Billboards, tracts of cookie cutter “McMansions”, more insane “growth”, malls, and “big box” stores? Florida’s a nice place to visit, IN WINTER maybe, like the Keys & Everglades, but you can keep the rest..No thanks..If you miss traffic & crime, just spend a weekend in Mass. or NYC..

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