State Senator Randolph Bracy has an interesting plan to address Orange County’s housing crisis. One pillar of his three-point-plan would institute a tax on all real estate purchases from out-of-state buyers.
While Bracy has a voice in Tallahassee, the Ocoee representative is pushing this plan on a local level. He brought his pitch to a meeting of the Orange County commission earlier this month, calling for the county to levy the additional tax and stem the flood of investors buying up Orlando housing stock.
Investors accounted for around a quarter of all home purchases in the last two fiscal quarters. The problem was particularly pronounced in Orlando’s black neighborhoods. Bracy said that the tax can be put toward affordable housing initiatives. The plan would also provide grants for affordable housing development, push for the conversion of unused commercial space into housing and approving more high-density housing.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings was skeptical of local government’s ability to levy such a tax. Demings noted that the relationship between the state’s Republican leaders and the government of Orange County was particularly tense.
“In order to enable that to occur in Florida, it would take, likely, state legislative action,” he said. “Of course, going to Tallahassee these days can be a bit of a challenge for us.”
Demings also added that supposedly small government Republicans in Florida had overrun the local authority of counties and cities in a series of pandemic-era decisions.
“What we have seen over time is a steady erosion and diminishing of local authority to be able to make decisions, even in this housing space in terms of land development and the collection and assessment of impact fees,” he said.