MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — More than 500 people of faith gathered at the Harvest United Methodist Church in Lakewood Ranch to demand action from county leaders to create affordable housing in Manatee County.
More than 15 congregations were in attendance standing in solidarity with a faith-based organization called STREAM which stands for ‘Stronger Together Reaching Equality Across Manatee’.
This was the 2nd Annual Nehemiah Action which addresses critical community issues.
“Housing has always been a problem and it seems it has been more so lately with the current state of the economy,” said Johncyna McRae. “Prices are up, housing prices are up.”
Johncyna McCrae was born and raised in Manatee County. She’s growing weary of the steep housing costs and worried the crisis is driving out essential workers.
“The firemen, the teachers, the nurses, they can’t afford to live, work, and play in their community,” said McRae.
The Manatee County Board of Commissioners was invited to the event, but Commissioner George Kruse was the only one who was in attendance for the conversation.
He answered the crowds’ demand to see 1,000 affordable housing units over the next year.
“We can easily hit that number because we’re already hitting it,” said Kruse.
Kruse pointed to the Live Local Act that was recently signed into law. It appropriates $711 million for affordable housing for state workers and creates property tax exemptions for housing developers.
Kruse is optimistic about the affordable housing units that will transpire by easing restrictions for developers to build more units in struggling commercial areas.
“It’s a benefit to businesses that have a hard time attracting and retaining employees,” said Kruse. “Now they have some excess commercial land, and they can work with developers to build housing for their employees.”