By Eileen Zaffiro-Kean, The Daytona Beach News-Journal

There’s no question Daytona Beach needs more affordable housing, and lots of it.

The city’s median annual income is $44,500, about $15,000 lower than Port Orange, Ormond Beach, Deltona and Palm Coast. For Daytona Beach’s renters, who live in more than half of the city’s housing, it’s even worse: $34,000.

Daytona Beach’s housing stock is also old. About 71% of the city’s housing is more than 40 years old, and almost 30% is at least 50 years old.

Daytona Beach city commissioners have vowed to do what they can to spark affordable housing development.

As commissioners work toward a plan to get hundreds – maybe even thousands – of affordable housing units created in the coming years, a community meeting was held at City Hall Wednesday night to hear what residents have to say about the issue.

More than a dozen residents shared their views, and several of them said they want the city to start charging linkage fees on new development and putting the money into an affordable housing trust fund.

For the past few years the local FAITH organization, an activist coalition of 30 Volusia County houses of worship, has been urging both city and county officials to charge linkage fees and start an affordable housing trust fund. FAITH reaffirmed that priority at the group’s annual action assembly Monday night.

If Daytona Beach decides to try linkage fees, the city could raise millions of dollars every year.

How can affordable housing be financed?

Daytona Beach city commissioners are considering charging linkage fees when new development creates a demand for labor, but construction workers and people who will work at the new business or apartment complex can’t afford local housing.

The fees can be collected from commercial development as well as market-rate residential development and placed in a trust that’s tapped to pay for construction and maintenance of affordable housing.

A consultant the city hired, Strategic Planning Group, has recommended various linkage fees for different types of development ranging from $1.23 per square foot for new hotels to $23.35 per square foot for new office space. The city could choose rates lower than those suggested by the consultant.