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Florida governor candidate Nikki Fried announces plan to fix affordable housing crisis

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is a Democrat running for governor. This is her campaign’s first policy plan rollout.
Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried speaks during the Governor’s Luncheon on opening day of the Florida State Fair at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa on Feb. 10.
Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried speaks during the Governor’s Luncheon on opening day of the Florida State Fair at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa on Feb. 10. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Apr. 11|Updated Apr. 11

MIAMI — If elected governor, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried wants to declare a housing state of emergency. She promises to veto bills that divert money from the state’s Sadowski funds for affordable housing and create a planning task force to address affordability.

The proposals are part of a new affordable housing policy plan that Fried, a Democrat running for governor, announced on Monday in Miami as she launched a statewide tour focusing on Florida’s affordability and housing crisis. It is her first policy plan rollout as she campaigns for governor, and she is expected to make campaign stops in six Florida cities over the next two weeks.

The proposal calls for expanding homestead exemptions up to $100,000, offering other property tax exemptions for homeowners who only have one home and repealing a state law that prohibits local governments from imposing rent control. Fried says she also plans to convert empty hotels and motels to efficiency affordable housing.

“There is no denying that Florida faces an affordability crisis,” Fried said in a statement to the Miami Herald. “Our plan will be directed to help everyday Floridians, like a part-time retail worker, the police officer, the single mom, the retiree, or a nurse.”

If elected, Fried says she will also direct Florida’s attorney general to halt rent hikes and designate any spike over 10 percent as “price gouging.”

The rollout in South Florida follows an announcement from Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava to declare a local state of emergency over the housing crisis in the county, freeing up federal funds to pay for Miami-Dade’s emergency rental assistance program. Other Democratic lawmakers across the state, including Orlando Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Anna Eskamani, have called for Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare a state of emergency in Florida over affordable housing.

In a trend that predates the COVID-19 pandemic, rent prices in Miami-Dade have skyrocketed in the past year, driving middle-class residents out of the housing market.

Related: Rising rents squeezed these Tampa Bay seniors. They feared fighting back.

Fried — who is running against several Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and Miami state Sen. Annette Taddeo — is expected to be in Palm Beach on Tuesday, Tallahassee on Wednesday and Pensacola on Friday. She will be in Orlando, Tampa and St. Petersburg next week.

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