Housing News Network, December 2012

Vol. 28, No. 3

From the Editor

I never tire from hearing “that was the best conference ever!” And then I worry whether we can put together a conference at least that good next year. Yet somehow we always manage to do it, and 2012 was certainly no exception. The excitement generated from Judith Browne Dianis’ keynote about the current struggle and history of voting rights in the United States; Secretary Donovan’s keynote about the Obama Administration’s support for housing and community development; and Senator Pruitt’s keynote about breathing new life into Sadowski Coalition advocacy, was palpable. But the secret sauce for our success is our membership-all of you who attend, network, share your concerns, experiences, individual, and collective wisdom.

Now that the elections are over it is time for housing advocates (and that means everyone who is reading this journal) to make appointments with their newly elected or returning representatives in the house and senate. Legislators need to hear from constituents that you want them to support using the housing trust funds for housing when they come up to Tallahassee for the 2013 session. The legislative session begins March 5th. All meetings at the local level need to happen before that time.

Go to www.flsenate.gov and click on Find your State Legislators on the left side of the home page. You will be asked to put in your zip code to find the name and contact info for the legislators who represent you. You can access the House members from the Senate website.

If you don’t know anything about your elected official you can go to his or her website and get biographical info that will provide insight about priorities and personal background.

Think about who you know in the community that shares interests with the legislator. Gather together a group of people who may have things in common with your legislator and who are also housing advocates. It is easy to find housing advocates. Just look at the list of statewide organizations that are members of the Sadowski Coalition at www.sadowskicoalition.com and reach out to your local counterparts—faith-based groups, Realtors, business groups, etc. Keep the group small.

If you find someone in the group that knows the legislator, you may want that person to make the appointment, but that’s certainly not necessary; legislators are more than happy to meet with any and all of their constituents in the home/district office.

We have materials for you to use during your visit and a form for submitting the results from your visit.

Please contact me either before or after making your appointment. As facilitator of the Sadowski Housing Coalition, I am keeping a record of which legislators have and have not been contacted by constituents.

These are the weeks when legislators will be available to meet with you in their home/district offices:

  • December 10
  • December 17
  • January 2 (potential three-day work week)
  • January 28
  • February 25

Affordable housing is a cross-cutting strategy for implementation of the state’s five year strategic plan developed by the Department of Economic Opportunity. The estimated $175 million in state and local housing trust funds available for appropriation in the 2013 session, if used for housing (not swept into general revenue, as has happened the last four years) will generate over 13,000 jobs and over $1.3 billion in positive economic impact. See www.sadowskicoalition.com for a full set of materials on Sadowski funding. And PLEASE let me know when you will be meeting with your legislator. I can be reached at ross@flhousing.org or jross@1000fof.org or by phone directly 850-212-0587.

The Florida Housing Coalition relies on its staff and board to provide training and technical assistance expertise, and we rely upon our members to work locally to produce, preserve, and advocate for affordable housing. We appreciate all you do.