Housing News Network, March 2006

Vol. 22, No. 1

From the Editor

Affordable housing has moved front and center for the 2006 Legislative Session. In addition to the movement for full funding and repeal of the cap, lawmakers from both parties have filed a variety of affordable housing bills.

More than twenty housing bills were filed by the start of the legislative session, in both houses and by both parties. Housing initiatives range from serving the extremely low income to housing for teachers and others earning up to 150 percent of area median income.

What’s in a Name?

“Affordable housing” has given way to “workforce housing” and similar terms such as “attainable housing” or “community housing.” So what does this change in terminology mean? Is workforce housing something different or apart from affordable housing?

Some say no. They readily acknowledge that lesser-educated or unskilled, low-income people often work two and three jobs, and are clearly members of the workforce. But is “workforce housing” code for affordable housing to serve the needs of the low-paid professional, a person who actually earns quite a bit more money than the average Floridian? Of course, low-paid professionals are currently served by affordable housing, both in our local SHIP programs and our tax credit developments.

But the combination of reduced housing appropriations and the hyper-appreciation in housing prices over the last three years leaves low-paid professionals, who traditionally expect to be homeowners, finding it almost impossible to realize homeownership. That’s especially true in high-cost parts of the state: along the coast and in south Florida.