Housing News Network, December 2011

Vol. 27, No. 3

From the Editor

The Florida Housing Coalition is advocating for the appropriation of housing trust fund monies to housing programs. While the Florida legislature acknowledges the excellence in Florida’s programs, such as SHIP and SAIL, the issue of appropriation for the majority in legislative leadership comes down to whether there is a budget deficit. If there is a budget deficit, the money in the housing trust funds is likely to be swept into general revenue.The Sadowski Coalition and the membership of the Florida Housing Coalition have been doing their level best to explain that when housing trust fund monies are used for housing that investment helps us out of the ongoing deficit. Florida is highly dependent upon sales tax revenue. Putting housing trust fund money into housing would raise sales tax revenue as the unemployed go back to work in the construction industry, buying materials to refurbish homes and having their own money to buy goods and services. This is in addition to the sales revenues generated by the buyers of the refurbished homes who purchase appliances and furnishings. Whether these truths will make a difference is hard to say. The current environment in Tallahassee is one of cutting taxes and spending rather than raising revenue, closing tax loopholes and making strategic investments.

The Florida Housing Coalition brought together a panel of national and state experts at the statewide conference to discuss whether affordable housing was still needed and which fiscal policies are most and least effective in raising revenue.

Nationally recognized expert, Nick Johnson, Vice President for State and Fiscal Policy with the D.C. Center on Budget and Policies Priorities, made clear that cutting corporate taxes was not the way to create jobs in low tax states such as Florida.

Rather than despairing over the funds we have lost, let’s celebrate the stellar accomplishments of Florida’s affordable housing programs and keep up the fight for funding:

* This fall, Sage Development, in Tampa had a ribbon cutting for Metro 510 and Vista 400, affordable apartments for the workforce, built in connection with the preservation of an historic black church building. Metro 510 and Vista 400 created nearly 2,000 jobs. See page 27.

* In Sarasota, Florida Housing Coalition board member, Don Hadsell, used federal and state resources to redevelop foreclosed and dilapidated apartments and create vibrant mixed use developments that are now a catalyst for new businesses and the revitalization and preservation of a section of town that has long suffered significant disinvestment. See page 12.

* In Tallahassee, a partnership between local government, the Housing Authority, and nonprofit housing providers used federal stimulus funds to turn a dilapidated and abandoned building into Home Front Apartments-53 homes for homeless veterans. See page 10.

Working on behalf of those in need has never been an easy road- it took us five years to repeal the cap on the trust funds, but with the help of our Sadowski Coalition partners like the Florida Realtors and Home Builders, we did it. The Sadowski Coalition is meeting with elected officials in Tallahassee, and Florida Housing Coalition members and their partners are meeting with legislators in their district offices.

The 2012 session begins in January. So, please keep speaking up for the Sadowski state and local housing trust fund appropriations for Fiscal Year 2012-13, celebrate our successes, and never give up. See www.sadowskicoalition.com.