Housing News Network, July 2010

Vol. 26, No. 2

From the Editor

On behalf of the board and staff of the Florida Housing Coalition, I extend our appreciation to our members who worked so valiantly on the Sadowski Education Effort for the 2010 legislative session. The Sadowski Education Effort resulted in:

  • Local government resolutions adopted across the state, calling upon the legislature to repeal the cap on the Sadowski state and local housing trust funds and fund Florida’s housing programs.
  • Meetings between the entire Sadowski Coalition and key leadership in the House and Senate.
  • Individual constituent visits with their legislators in district offices.
  • Excellent editorials throughout the state and in every major media market.

Most importantly, the Sadowski Education Effort saw the omnibus affordable housing bill, featuring repeal of the cap, pass unanimously through every committee in the House and Senate and on the floor of the House. Unfortunately, an unrelated amendment attached to the bill on the floor of the Senate in the final hours of session ultimately brought its demise in messages.

It’s easy to feel like throwing in the towel. But now is not the time. Our housing champion, Representative Gary Aubuchon, is fervent in his resolve to repeal the cap on the state and local housing trust funds in 2011. At the Florida Housing Coalition conference in September, we will have the opportunity to share ideas and strategies for repealing the cap and funding Florida’s housing programs in 2011.

Prior to the regular 2010 session, the Governor called a special session on transportation. Florida stood to lose billions in federal transit investment, if we failed to make a state investment in transit. Representative Gary Aubuchon was the point person in the House for the transportation bill, which provided badly needed funding for existing transit and puts Florida on the path for a comprehensive rail system, creating jobs, and connecting our major urban areas.

The Florida Housing Coalition is honored to have Representative Aubuchon moderate the public policy plenary addressing the connection between transportation and affordable housing at our conference in September. With transportation costs nearing 20% of a family’s income, we must not lose the opportunity to in-corporate affordable housing into the transit oriented development which is Florida’s future. As housing advocates, we learned some time ago that energy efficiency is a critical component of the affordability equation. It is time to add transportation to that equation and promote the smart growth development that will support housing accessible to employment opportunities.

The conversation about the connection between transportation, housing, and the environment will continue on day two of the conference, when conference keynote, HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims takes the podium at lunch. Secretary Sims is long-time smart growth advocate and heads up the HUD Sustainable Communities Initiative, an interagency partnership between HUD, DOT, and EPA.

Federal stimulus funding that filled the gaps for tax credit developments, foreclosure recovery, neighborhood stabilization, energy, and job creation has been saving Florida’s housing market and providing Floridian’s with employment (see article by Governor Crist on following page). But the federal stimulus is temporary and no one knows better than the membership of the Florida Housing Coalition that we must restore our landmark Sadowski Act, providing a dedicated and reliable source of funding for our state and local housing programs. The plan for moving forward will be the topic of discussion at several forums at the statewide conference, including the SHIP caucus on September 20 and the SHIP roundtable on September 22.

Caucus time at the Florida Housing Coalition conference provides a formal networking opportunity for members with similar organizational interests, such as the caucus for Habitat for Humanity and the caucus for foreclosure counselors. During this time, we will also bring in experts for other caucuses with broader appeal, such as the caucus on fundraising for nonprofits.

The Florida Housing Coalition, in collaboration with 1000 Friends of Florida, launched the Florida Community Land Trust Institute in 2000. This year, we are launching the Florida Nonprofit Housing Advocates Network at the conference. The initial meeting will be held in conjunction with the CLT Institute on Tuesday, September 21 at 5:15p.m. The purpose of the Florida Nonprofit Housing Advocates Network is to advocate for issues that promote our goal of increasing the capacity of nonprofits to develop and preserve affordable housing and to ensure that there is at least one community based organization in every community. We look forward to your participation.