Housing News Network, January 2008

Vol. 24, No. 1

From the Editor

The cap on the Affordable housing trust funds went into effect in July, 2007. That means that the distribution of monies collected from the revenue dedicated to affordable housing from the Sadowski Act is now limited to a maximum of $244 million per year. But in the 2008 legislative session, over $596 million is available for appropriation out of the state and local housing trust funds. This is because for several years the monies distributed into the trust funds was not allowed to be spent—a total of $348.8 million. That means the question for the 2008 Legislature is whether to spend those housing monies now and if so, on what.

Why spend all the monies in the state and local housing trust funds on housing?

The monies in the trust funds are there because they were collected and distributed into the trust funds for the express purpose of providing affordable housing. Those philosophically committed to ensuring that taxes imposed for a particular purpose should be spent only for that purpose would find this enough rationale for spending the monies in the trust funds on housing. But adherence to that philosophy is not necessary to conclude that all the monies in the housing trust funds should be spent on housing. The more compelling reason at this particular point in Florida’s history is the economy. Spending all $596 million of this money on housing would give Florida’s economy a $6.2 billion boost.

Housing is Florida’s Economic Engine.

Florida is in an economic downturn. And there is no end to this downturn in the immediate future. We need to stimulate the economy. There is no better way to stimulate the economy than to invest money in the housing industry.

  • State Housing Dollars Leverage Private Sector Investment: For every $1 million of state funding for housing over $6.05 million of housing is built and/or sold. That means that the appropriation of the $596 million in the trust funds on housing would yield 39,005 units.
  • State Housing Dollars to Bring in Free Federal Money: Without sufficient state housing dollars, our private sector developers are unable to access free federal tax credits- leaving millions of dollars to be used by other states at Florida’s expense.
  • Multiplier Effect: For every million dollars of state funding, $10.36 million of economic activity is generated by housing construction. That means that with an appropriation of $596 million, Florida could generate $6.2 billion in economic activity.
  • Job Creation: For every every million dollars of state funding, 106 jobs are created—that means that with an appropriation of $596 million we can expect 63,000 jobs to be created.
  • Sales Tax Revenue: For every every million dollars of state funding for housing $98,711 of sales tax revenue flows to the state directly from purchase of building material and supplies. With an appropriation of $596 million that would generate $58.8 million in sales taxes for Florida.

Economic Impact of Sadowski Act, White Paper analysis performed by: Mark Hendrickson, the Hendrickson Company.

The Mortgage Foreclosure Crisis and Florida’s Affordable Housing Programs.

The foreclosure crisis in Florida provides further evidence of the value in investing in Florida’s affordable housing
programs. Florida has been hard hit by foreclosures due to the subprime lending crisis. Borrowers who are losing their
homes because they took out adjustable rate mortgages without the ability to make the payments upon reset (without selling or refinancing), are typically not the buyers in Florida’s affordable housing programs. Florida’s homeownership programs using SHIP or mortgage revenue bonds, receive home buyer counseling and are put into fixed rate long-term mortgages. If they are not qualified for a prime loan they go through credit repair programs until they are ready to become homeowners. ( See article on page 14 )

Much of the housing stock being foreclosed is beyond the purchase price of low income buyers. But there are some good opportunities due to the downturn in the market to purchase land and homes at reduced prices for the benefit of Florida’s low income population. This is yet another reason for the Florida Legislature to appropriate all the monies in the state and local housing trust funds for housing.

2008 Provides a One Time Opportunity.

We have a one time opportunity in 2008 to stimulate the economy with housing money. Because of the cap on the trust funds, we will never again have anything close to $596 million to invest in housing—at most we will have $244 million (with negligible annual increases). That means none of Florida’s programs like CWHIP, or the Preservation Loan Program to assist the extremely low income (See article on page 5) will have the opportunity to be funded.

It is not fiscally responsible to use housing dollars to fill the various gaps in the budget for programs that could not possibly boost Florida’s economy the way housing would. Investing housing dollars in housing provides an immediate
return to the state in increased documentary stamp taxes, in addition to the ripple effect of creating employment for the construction industry and all the other businesses related to the production and sale of affordable housing.

There is no “excess” of Sadowski trust fund monies.

Proponents of balancing the budget by raiding Florida’s housing trust funds assert that there is an “excess” of housing trust fund monies—“cash that has just been accumulating year after year”—implying that somehow this money was not needed or spent on affordable housing as it could or should have been. The fact is that all the monies in the housing trust funds could and would have been spent on affordable housing if the legislature had appropriated those monies. There has been an intentional withholding of the Sadowski monies to the detriment of our economy, our workforce, and our most vulnerable populations, including the elderly, veterans, and people with special needs.

The cap of the Sadowski Act trust funds will already sweep approximately $183.6 million dollars for fiscal year ’07-’08 and ’08-‘09 from housing programs to general revenue. The Florida Legislature needs to think well about financial investment in our state’s economy and use the balance of housing trust fund monies for housing.