Housing News Network, March 2018

Vol. 34, No. 1

From the Editor

Would be an apt description for what’s been happening in housing policy over the past six months. Congress came very close to cutting almost 40% of our affordable housing stock with the House proposal to eliminate private activity bonds. With Senate leadership and a great deal of help from intelligent advocacy from the Association of Local Housing Finance Authority Executive Director, Mark Hendrickson, PABs were saved. This was a massive success.
We are hoping for another success in the 2018 legislative session in Tallahassee.

On the heels of celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Sadowski Act, we saw a bipartisan effort in the Senate and the House, led respectively by Republican Senator Kathleen Passidomo and Democratic Representative Sean Shaw to stop the sweeps of the housing trust funds. Just hours before the press conference, Governor Scott released his budget recommending the largest appropriation for housing since the beginning of his term in office. All this is bolstered by the recommendations of the Affordable Housing Workgroup established by the Florida Legislature in 2017. The list of recommendations issued by the Affordable Housing Workgroup begins with the recommendation that all the Sadowski state and local housing trust funds should be used only for affordable housing. And of course, Florida was hit by Hurricane Irma, causing a severe loss of affordable housing in several highly impacted areas such as the Florida Keys,

Collier, Hendry, and Duval County. Historically, the Florida Legislature has seen fit to use monies that otherwise would have gone into the “rainy day fund” to assist with housing recovery. When you add up:

  1. Bipartisan bills to stop the sweeps; plus
  2. The highest appropriation recommendation by Governor since taking office; plus
  3. A recommendation to the Legislature from the Affordable Housing Workgroup to use all housing funds for housing; plus
  4. Florida’s housing need exacerbated by Hurricane Irma and the influx of Americans from Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria, it seems to be a reasonable expectation that 2018 will be a banner year for funding Florida’s superb affordable housing programs.

We are often reminded of the excellence of Florida’s housing programs—and natural disasters such as hurricanes serve to underscore that excellence. As with the spate of hurricanes Florida suffered in 2004 and 2005, we again see how the infrastructure created by the SHIP program is integral to Florida’s successful response at the local level. In this edition of the Journal, we have articles on all these topics, as well as a recap of our statewide annual conference, which (for the first time in 30 years) had to be rescheduled due to a hurricane.

I am deeply grateful to the Florida Housing Coalition Staff, Board, Members, and Partners for Better Housing. You make it all happen.