North Port commissioners to discuss alternative homes to ease affordable housing crunch

NORTH PORT – The North Port City Commission will discuss options ranging from more homes for developers to allowing construction of tiny homes and houses made from shipping containers at a Monday morning workshop on promoting creation of more affordable housing.

Jon Thaxton, Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s senior vice president for community investment, will start the workshop with a presentation on the need to foster the development of affordable workforce housing.

Then the commission will discuss a 55-page city staff report on housing affordability that will cover everything from income levels of North Port residents and housing costs, as well as state and federal programs. Commissioners will also consider what direction to give their staff on concepts they should explore.

The North Port City Commission will discuss options to foster the development of affordable housing at a workshop Monday in City Hall.
The North Port City Commission will discuss options to foster the development of affordable housing at a workshop Monday in City Hall.

Previously: Rises in median income means complications for affordable housing

And: Sarasota County to consider lowering impact fees to combat affordable housing crisis

Related: Nonprofit plans to build 288 affordable apartments in North Port

North Port Neighborhood Development Services Director Alaina Ray stressed that the commission will not make any final decisions at the workshop.

“It simply is asking them if they would like us to develop some potential policies or proposals to bring to them in the future,” Ray said.

The presentation, using Zillow and as sources, pegs the average home price in North Port at $372,599 and, while the average apartment rent ranges are $1,547 for a studio, $1,751 for a one-bedroom, $2,265 for a two-bedroom and $2,425 for a three-bedroom apartment.

Home sale prices in North Port have increased more than 60% since 2020 and more than 95% in the last five years.

Part of the Monday presentation will cover alternative housing – specifically tiny homes, shipping container homes, and accessory dwelling units.

The commission will also discuss incentives to encourage developers to include affordable units as part of their otherwise market-rate communities.

City staff will ask for the commission to indicate whether there’s a consensus to pursue tiny homes, container homes, cottage cluster development; inclusionary zoning and accompanying incentives to offset any revenue loss for developers and establishment of a city land bank policy for lots to be used for affordable housing.

Ray said that among the options to foster the development of affordable homes, allowing for the creation of tiny homes, container homes and accessory dwelling units could be pursued most quickly.

Staff could have policies ready for public hearing and a possible decision by the commission in about six months – or by the end of the calendar year, Ray said.

It could take a year to create other policies, she added.

“Tiny housing and container homes are the big buzzwords right now, they would be some of the easier things to implement,” Ray said.

An accessory dwelling unit program would be even easier, she added, since it could be modeled after ones in Sarasota County and the city of Sarasota.

The commission meets at 9 a.m. Monday in Room 244 at North Port City Hall, 4970 City Hall Blvd.

Other discussion items include a policy for leases for city-owned facilities and the possible prohibition of gas-powered watercraft on non-tidal waterways.

Earle Kimel primarily covers south Sarasota County for the Herald-Tribune and can be reached at Support local journalism with a digital subscription to the Herald-Tribune.

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: North Port to discuss tiny homes and shipping container homes