Housing News Network, December 2018

Vol. 34, No. 3

From the CEO

Governor-Elect DeSantis has the opportunity to distinguish himself and his administration as the one that gets it. He gets that every constituent group in Florida, from the Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Realtors, and Florida Home Builders, to the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, Florida United Way, Florida Volunteers of America, and Florida AARP all want the Sadowski state and local housing trust funds to be fully appropriated for Florida’s housing programs. No more sweeps. All 32 statewide organizations comprising the Sadowski Coalition and their many millions of collective members all agree.

The appropriation of Sadowski trust funds is the purview of the legislature, but the Governor’s proposed budget starts the process and has been particularly influential in the Florida House. Governor DeSantis can make a positive change with his influence. I can’t think of any other issue that has the potential for earning nothing but good-will from the electorate and from the media statewide. There is literally no constituency that opposes using the whole of the Sadowski funding solely for affordable housing.

Eight hundred housing professionals and advocates made the Florida Housing Coalition’s statewide annual conference a time for education infused by energy and enthusiasm. We owe a great debt of gratitude to our Partners for Better Housing and our entire statewide membership; without all of you, this annual event would be for naught. Without exception, the annual conference leads forward movement in housing policy. We have renewed the Coalition’s focus on preserving long term affordability in tax credit developments and are taking the movement forward with an emphasis on permanent affordability. The time is now. Florida’s GSEs are leading the way. Freddie Mac unveiled its CLT loan product (see page 8) and the Florida Housing Coalition has launched the first-in-the nation Community Land Trust Certification Program. With support from Wells Fargo Foundation, we have been able to stand-up CLTs across Florida and to build workforce housing in the Florida Keys, post Irma.

We are poised to help local governments in Florida make the best public investment they can using surplus land and housing financial resources to create housing that will be affordable for one family after another, in perpetuity. Neither the private nor the public sector can afford to lose the investment that is made in creating housing for Florida’s workforce. We have lost tens of thousands of affordable housing units, both rental and homeownership due to: (1) sweeps of the Sadowski trust funds by the Florida legislature; (2) expiration of land use agreements; and (3) devastation from hurricanes. The Florida Housing Coalition, through our Coalition’s professional team and our membership, is addressing all three.

As this post-conference edition of the Journal goes to print, the communities in the Panhandle are still reeling from Hurricane Michael. The devastation of hurricanes is particularly acute for low income and otherwise more vulnerable Floridians, such as those who were experiencing homelessness before the hurricane, those who are elderly and disabled, those living in older mobile homes, and those homeowners and renters living in homes that were neither built nor hardened to withstand hurricane forces. All now unable to find alternative housing. Long term disaster recovery is a core program for the Florida Housing Coalition. We are particularly grateful to our partners at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, and Fannie Mae, for supporting our disaster recovery work.

The Coalition has much to be grateful for in this season of giving Thanks. We have the luxury of being able to dedicate our lives to mission-based work, moving public policy forward for the good of the people we serve-Floridians in need of safe housing and the opportunity to thrive. I wish you all a joyous holiday season.

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