What Sarasota Does to Pursue Affordable Homes


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, September 11, 2019 – Significant steps are underway to provide more affordable housing for the workforce of Sarasota County. These initiatives, industry observers say, are critically important as the county’s population continues to grow and the local economy gains more steam.

One of the projects now well underway is under the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity Sarasota which has set 40 affordable homes at Hammock Place. This community is located north of 17th Street, just east of Beneva Road, across from Glen Oaks Manor and the Bobby Jones Golf Club.

This project’s acreage, its development and infrastructure are fully funded under a Habitat for Humanity Sarasota partnership with the developer Kolter Group and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Other supporters of the project include the Stock Signature Homes, as well as Lake Club residents and members of the Realtors Association of Manatee and Sarasota who volunteered their services to the site development of Hammock Place.

Market-rate Quality

The features of the residences set at Hammock Place are comparable with those of market-rate homes. This community too is gated and with a homeowners association that among others would implement deed restrictions. As is typical in planned residential developments, the HOA membership fee covers the cost of maintenance of the residences’ lawns and the community’s landscaping.

Habitat for Humanity Sarasota is raising $7 million for the entire Hammock Place project. It already has guaranteed funding for 11 of the community’s 40 homes, and four of these are expected to be completed this year.

Habitat, already instrumental in building and renovation of over 200 homes draws no profit from its home sales. This is made possible, because the residences get a zero-interest mortgage and volunteer labor and donations from individuals and organizations support Habitat’s endeavors. Notably, buyers of Habitat do actual work on the residences for purchase. They also undergo a screening process mainly based on household size and income.

Incentives via Zoning Policies

The factor of household income, meanwhile, has likewise been included in a new formula for enhancing home affordability at Sarasota’s Rosemary District. The city’s commissioners in August endorsed a revised plan that would increase zoning density in the district.

The measure seeks to provide incentives for providing affordable housing to residents earning less than 120% of the local median household income. In the new zoning guidelines, developers who allot 25 percent of their Rosemary housing projects to affordable units can get approval for as high as 100 units per acre. They can also build up to seven-story residential buildings if their projects include sufficient public open space.

Sarasota County’s policy makers are also currently looking into zoning overlays similar to that in the Rosemary District conducive to affordable Sarasota homes for sale. Legalization of tiny homes is another affordable housing option being considered.

The county is likewise now looking into opening surplus public lands to developers of affordable housing. This move is aimed at neutralizing the high cost of private land in Sarasota, a huge barrier to the development of residential communities within the income range of the county’s ordinary employees and workers.