Florida gubernatorial candidates focus on rising housing costs
Democratic gubernatorial candidates latched on to rising housing costs this week to draw a contrast with Gov. Ron DeSantis, who they say has focused on blaming President Joe Biden for inflation while taking a more laissez-faire approach to the state’s housing problems.
Democrat Nikki Fried embarked on a two-week tour about the housing issue, saying the next governor needs to work on lowering the cost of living.
"Inflation is 8.5%. We are seeing increases of rent at 35, 55, 60% in places of our state," Fried, the state agriculture commissioner, said Wednesday while outside the Florida Sun Estates mobile-home community in Tallahassee.
"That is not inflation. That is price gouging,” Fried continued. “And that is people taking advantage of a situation. And anything less than that is, once again, this governor trying to shift the burden of his responsibilities."
Fried said her platform will include a pledge to veto any legislation that would divert money from what are known as state “Sadowski” funds for housing programs. She also would create a task force to address affordable housing and ask the attorney general to target “predatory landlords” that increase rents above the rate of inflation.
Not to be outdone, Democratic candidate Charlie Crist, a congressman from Pinellas County, told the Palm Beach Post editorial board on Tuesday he would reach out to his Washington, D.C. connections, particularly within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“I've had the opportunity to meet some very good people, and a lot of them are serving this administration, who could be helpful to Florida — now," Crist said, according to the Palm Beach Post. "But this current governor is attacking this (Biden) administration. That's not how you help Floridians."
Crist in January released an “affordable Florida for All” plan that includes appointing a “housing czar” and directing the Public Service Commission to set ambitious energy conservation goals.
Meanwhile, the third prominent Democrat in the gubernatorial race, Sen. Annette Taddeo of Miami, took a shot Tuesday at DeSantis for the Office of Insurance Regulation allowing VYRD Insurance to enter the property insurance market at the end of 2021.
VYRD is a joint venture between the insurance firm Bolt and SiriusPoint Ltd., a specialty insurer and reinsurer. Taddeo took issue with SiriusPoint, as it’s backed by Shanghai-based China Minsheng Investment Group, saying in a news release that DeSantis “has consistently labeled ‘communist China’ as a country we don’t want to ‘be entangled with.’”
“Ironically, in Ron DeSantis’ ‘freest state in the country,’ the only new insurance company approved in Florida in years is funded by communist China,” Taddeo said, also referring to state investments linked to Russia.
“When he’s not investing $300 million of our money in Putin, DeSantis is serving up millions in massive rate hikes paid by Floridians to communist China. If he thinks that’s what ‘freedom’ looks like, there’s some prime coastal real estate in Venezuela I’m sure Maduro would like to sell him."