Housing News Network, February 2009

Vol. 25, No. 1


4-What Happens to a Vision? The William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Act

6-Fund Housing in 2009

7-Scrap the Cap in 2009

8-Florida Loses $625 Million of Federal Funds from Failure to Fund Housing

10-But Hasn’t the Foreclosure Crisis Solved Florida’s need for Affordable Housing?

12-Economic Benefits of Sadowski Act

14-Florida’s Hurricane Housing Recovery Program (HHRP) Successes

16-If SHIP Is Not Funded. . . .

18-Growth Management and Affordable Housing

20-Building New Single Family Homes in Today’s Environment

22-Partnering with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs

24-Change Agents – From Charity to Impact

26-The Florida Housing Coalition Provides NSP Training and Technical Assistance

29-Code Enforcement Community Fights Back Against Abandoned Property Neglect

30-The Neighborhood Stabilization Program: Going Green in Acquisition and Housing Rehabilitation

32-SHIP Clips

34-Coalition News

From the Editor

The omnibus housing bill for 2009 (HB 161 and SB 1042) was amended onto growth management legislation (SB 360). An article about the growth management portion of SB 360 authored by Charles Pattison, executive director of 1000 Friends of Florida, is on page 12.

Enormous mortgage financing errors have been made in Florida – but not in affordable housing. We can take pride in knowing that homebuyers and renters living in the housing produced with Sadowski Act monies are not associated with toxic mortgages. The typical SHIP assisted homebuyer received pre and post purchase counseling and a fixed rate 30 year amortizing loan. If SHIP assisted homebuyers find themselves in foreclosure, the cause is likely to be job loss caused by the downturn in the construction industry or the recession in general.

Low- and moderate-income Floridians in foreclosure are those not fortunate enough to have been served by Florida’s SHIP or bond programs for first time homebuyers. They may have been families who were advised by the local SHIP office to join the homebuyer club to clean up their credit so that they could qualify for a conventional loan, but were enticed by the alternative of easy money. They may have been families who could have been served by their local SHIP program, but funding had run out.

This edition of the Journal speaks to the essential role that affordable housing plays in Florida’s economic recovery. A series of articles from the national, state, and local perspective makes the case that the wisest and most prudent action for Florida is to reap the economic benefits from funding affordable housing programs; stop the loss of millions in federal funds; and nourish the current housing infrastructure to ensure that we have the capacity to respond to natural disasters. This Journal also addresses the erroneous notion that the downturn in the housing market and the oversupply of housing from the foreclosure crisis resolves the affordable housing problem.

Florida’s Hurricane Housing Recovery, an article authored by the Shimberg Center, recounts the success of Florida’s recovery when a succession of devastating hurricanes pounded Florida. If a hurricane were to hit Florida now, we would have nothing close to the dollars needed to replicate that success. And if the SHIP program is not funded in the 2009 session, we will lose SHIP offices around the state, dismantling the infrastructure which we now have in place to respond to future disasters.

The majority of foreclosed housing stock is not within the affordable range for low and moderate income homebuyers. But with the help of the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), some of those that are in the affordable range will provide new homeownership opportunities for low and moderate income homebuyers, and other foreclosed houses and apartments will provide rental opportunities for very low and extremely low income Floridians. The articles on NSP: Going Green in Acquisition and Housing Rehabilitation, Florida Housing Coalition NSP Training; and Code Enforcement outline the Florida Housing Coalition’s wide-ranging work with foreclosure recovery.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Affordable Housing and Financial Stability Act just signed into law by President Obama, will provide considerable assistance to Florida in averting an even greater and imminent crisis of homelessness; the fallout of the “ponzi state” described in the much talked about New Yorker article by George Packer. But Florida can not rely on federal programs to fix our affordable housing crisis. Indeed, it is fundamental that we restore our state housing trust fund programs so that we can fully access the assistance that is now available from the federal government.

Although housing is by far the greatest economic engine in Florida, we must learn from the recession and the unsustainable model of a state economy based almost entirely on population growth and the housing construction needed to support that growth. Florida has intentionally decreased revenues through its tax repeals and exemptions for almost a decade. Adding insult to injury, cutting monies from affordable housing programs costs us billions. The $440 million diverted from affordable housing in Fiscal Year 2008-2009 ($250 during the 2008 session and another $190 million diverted in the 2009 special session) will result in the loss of $3.37 billion in economic activity/stimulus, 33,880 jobs, at a value of $2.03 billion of badly needed long-term quality affordable housing.

To accelerate its economic recovery and avert the imminent increase in homelessness caused by the recession, restoration of the Sadowski state and local housing trust funds is imperative: that means repealing the cap and appropriating the money dedicated for housing to housing.