Housing News Network, January 2011

Vol. 27, No. 1

From the Editor

In Florida, affordable housing advocates come in all shapes and sizes. As evidenced by the expansion and strength of the Sadowski Coalition, running the gambit from advocates for the neediest, such as the Florida Coalition for the Homeless and Florida Supportive Housing Coalition to advocates for business interests such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida, we are nothing short of the utmost diverse constituency. Whether motivated by faith based principles, social justice and equity, or an interest in building a better economy, the fact is that more housing in Florida means more jobs in Florida, and more jobs in Florida means a better economy.

Florida’s Sadowski Act trust fund programs provide stable affordable homes—homes that put first time homebuyers into housing only after receiving homebuyer counseling that readies them for fixed rate low interest long term loans—loans that would only end up in foreclosure due to job loss. SHIP administrators in Florida and the conventional lenders that provide first loans for SHIP houses have much to be proud of.

But there wasn’t enough SHIP money to provide homeownership to every low income buyer in Florida who wanted to buy a home, so Florida has many homes in foreclosure where low income homebuyers relied on the private mortgage market’s creative loan products, such as adjustable rate mortgages that were unsustainable without a continuing real estate boom, or on predatory loan makers’ products that were never intended to be sustainable even in a boom market.

Florida’s affordable housing market today is in need of SHIP program funds to help Florida’s low income home buyers with down payment and closing cost assistance to purchase homes on the market that are being rehabilitated with Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds. SHIP funds are also needed to help preserve affordable housing homeownership and rental properties. The most critical need is to preserve properties that are providing shelter to Florida’s most vulnerable citizens, veterans, people with disabilities, and the frail elderly. Every time Florida’s Sadowski trust fund monies are used to help preserve affordable housing properties, we are keeping Florida’s most vulnerable populations from institutionalization or homelessness and we are creating much needed jobs.

The projected documentary stamp collection for FY 2011-12,(the amount that will be available for appropriation during this upcoming legislative session) is $192,700,000. If the Florida Legislature appropriates these monies for Florida’s affordable housing programs, it will mean the creation of nearly 15,000 jobs in Florida and will have an economic impact of over $1.4 billion dollars. Florida’s low income families are suffering and so is Florida’s construction industry, and all the businesses that do business when every type of house, whether single family detached or multifamily rental is rehabilitated and when roofs are repaired, floors are installed, energy retrofits are made, and appliances are purchased.

The Florida Legislature is being urged to appropriate the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund money in accordance with its dedicated purposes – to be used for construction related activities that house Floridians. The constituency urging this appropriation is the Sadowski Coalition, the largest most diverse coalition of interests ever amassed in the state of Florida. A group of 26 statewide organizations, that would find no other issue to agree upon, speaks with one voice when it says: it is time to stop using Florida’s Housing trust fund monies for anything other than Florida’s housing programs. Housing = Jobs.