Housing News Network, August 2017

Vol. 33, No. 2

From the Editor

The Florida Housing Coalition’s statewide annual conference held in September 2017, brings two important new opportunities for housing advocates in Florida to the same venue. The first is a Gubernatorial Forum which will take place during the conference and the second is the FHFC Affordable Housing Workgroup meeting, open to the public, which will take place immediately following the conclusion of the conference on September 13th.

Housing is not a partisan issue. Housing is an economic issue. The 30 statewide organizations that comprise the Sadowski Coalition includes among its most active organizations, the Florida Realtors, the Florida Home Builders Association, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and Association of Industries in Florida. Florida will have a new Governor on January 1, 2018. What does that mean for the Sadowski state and local housing trust funds? It could be the difference between a continuation of sweeps and getting back to full appropriation of SHIP.

Here’s why. The Florida House historically uses the Governor’s budget to set its appropriation of the Sadowski Trust Funds. Fortunately, the Senate’s position has been to use most, if not all, the housing trust funds for housing- no sweep. But it has been a heavy lift to reach a compromise with the House to stop a massive sweep. In 2017, for example, the Governor’s budget put $44 million from the Sadowski Trust Funds toward housing. That was a recommendation to sweep $224 million. So, how do affordable housing advocates have more success in the future? One way, is with a budget from the Governor’s office that recommends to the legislature that all the state and local housing trust funds be used for housing. Future success also requires sharing the importance of affordable housing through education and success stories with all members of the legislature.

While we are celebrating the 25-year anniversary of the Sadowski Act, our celebration is tempered by the fact that over the last 15 years we have seen over $1.9 billion of Sadowski Housing Trust Fund monies appropriated by the legislature for other purposes, when they could have been effectively used through the SHIP and SAIL programs to help Floridians in need of safe homes in suitable living environments. The Florida Housing Coalition is pleased to provide a Forum at our 2017 conference to provide an opportunity to bring this issue to the attention of all the candidates running for Governor in 2018 and to ask each candidate whether their budget will put all the housing trust fund monies into Florida’s housing programs. We will also have workshops about effective meetings with legislators and will showcase success stories from around the state.

A workgroup to study affordable housing in a very broad manner was included in the 2017 Implementing Bill. It calls for the FHFC to staff an Affordable Housing Workgroup to meet from September through December, with a report to be delivered to the Governor, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House, by January 1, 2018. This report may impact the way we will fund and otherwise address the development of affordable housing in Florida going forward.

There isn’t a newspaper, a city, or a county commission in this state, that hasn’t been talking about the housing crisis in their community. At the 2017 conference we will provide education about best practices and share success stories for providing affordable housing. Undoubtedly, at the top of the list will be to use all the state and local housing trust funds solely for housing. It is time to return to full appropriation of the state and local housing trust funds for affordable housing, now and forever.