Comprehensive Plan Helps Hillsborough County Navigate Affordable Housing Policy

HILLSBOROUGH CO., FL – Benesch’s recent evaluation of Hillsborough County’s affordable housing density bonus policies will help facilitate the construction of affordable and workforce housing. Benesch’s Community Planning Team recommended specific comprehensive plan policies and land development code amendments that re-tooled its density bonus program to increase the household eligibility to 120% of area median income and increase the number of bonus units in proximity to transit.


Several methods, including best practice review, affordable housing developer interviews and market research, were used to develop the report. Using the findings from reviews of affordable housing density bonus policies and interviews with the staff of several peer local governments, Benesch was able to determine best practices for Hillsborough County to consider. Developer interviews provided insight into specific needs of these builders—particularly the timing and locational requirements of funding sources.

Market research revealed that to simply close the existing affordable housing gap, over 3,500 affordable units per year will need to be constructed by 2025 in the county. Relying only on traditional affordable housing developments financed through the Florida Housing Finance Corporation programs makes closing the gap unrealistic.

“Using a pro-forma-based approach, we tested various regulations and scenarios in order to recommend specific policies,” said Team Manager Catherine Hartley. “For instance, we discovered that reducing parking can save hundreds of thousands of dollars—in both land and construction costs.”

Benesch made additional recommendations for closing the gap and supporting the county’s overarching goal of developing more transit-supportive development.

“I’m extremely proud of this project and look forward to helping other local governments navigate and implement effective affordable housing policy,” said Hartley.