Following today’s meeting with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Dr. Ben Carson, Governor Rick Scott announced the approval to distribute $616 million to local communities for Florida’s long-term recovery efforts from last year’s hurricane season. [Read more…] about $616 Million for Affordable Housing and Business Assistance Approved for Florida
Representative Bob Cortes today announced that he has filed House Bill 987, which will promote greater availability of affordable housing options in Florida. The bill will enact several state and local government policy changes to streamline the permitting process required for projects to get off the ground, waive impact fees, and provide additional land for housing construction.
“It should not be difficult for hardworking Florida families to find and keep a roof over their heads,” said Cortes. “With Florida continuing to grow, and especially with so many new residents from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands relocating here, the need for affordable housing in Florida has never been greater.”
In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Cortes has been at the forefront of several proactive policy moves the state has made to facilitate the transition of thousands of new residents from Puerto Rico. HB 987 incorporates several of the recommendations made by the Affordable Housing Workgroup created by the Legislature during the 2017 session. The work group voted on these recommendations earlier this month.
“Even before the hurricanes, we were facing a shortage of affordable housing,” said Cortes. “This bill provides long-term, effective solutions to address this need.”
Senator Passidomo & Representative Shaw Join
to Stop Sweeps of State and Local Housing Trust
With representatives from the 30 diverse statewide organizations that make up the Sadowski Coalition joining her in front of the Florida Senate Chamber doors in the State Capitol in Tallahassee, State Senator Kathleen Passidomo today announced she has filed bipartisan affordable housing legislation. This legislation, Senate Bill 874, would prohibit the sweep of the State and Local Housing Trust Fund. State Representative Sean Shaw is the sponsor of the House companion bill, House Bill 191.
Senator Passidomo was joined by Representative Shaw and Senate and House Co-sponsors, as well as Sadowski Coalition Facilitator Jaimie Ross and representatives from the Sadowski Coalition, including Danielle Scoggins, senior public policy representative for the Florida Realtors.
“I’m honored to announce today that I have filed legislation, Senate Bill 874, to stop the sweeps of the State and Local Housing Trust Fund,” said Senator Passidomo. “With this legislation, this much-needed funding can become a certainty, and we can begin to use all of our available housing resources toward solving our affordable housing problem. Florida’s state and local housing trust fund programs are national models – they work, but only to the degree that they are funded.”
Governor Rick Scott’s budget proposal, released today, showed a significant reduction in sweeps of Florida’s state and local housing trust funds. The Governor’s ’17-18 budget proposed a $224M sweep, while the ’18-19 budget proposes a much lower $91.8M sweep, affirming the Governor’s commitment to affordable housing in the wake of a disastrous hurricane season.
“…we are on the right track. And hopefully, SB 874 and HB 191 can bring us that much closer to the end goal of using all affordable housing trust fund monies toward their intended purpose – affordable housing,” said Senator Passidomo.
“I filed HB 191 in the House before our housing needs were exacerbated by Hurricane Irma and the displacement of our fellow Americans by Hurricane Maria,” said Representative Shaw. “Florida is proud to open our arms to our fellow Americans from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands who need refuge or intend to establish a new residence here. We must have more housing opportunities to make that happen, and it is time we stop the sweeping of affordable housing trust fund monies.”
“This year marks 25 years since the Sadowski Act became law with bipartisan support in Florida,” said Jaimie Ross, president and CEO of the Florida Housing Coalition, and facilitator of the Sadowski Coalition. “This landmark legislation was intended to create a source of funding for affordable housing that could be relied upon. There were no sweeps of the housing trust funds during the first 10 years. We need to bring back that norm. This legislation is intended to do that. The timing could not be better.”
“Florida Realtors has been a proud supporter of the state and local government housing trust funds from the very beginning because our members understand that every community relies on dependable and accessible housing options to stay vibrant and healthy,” said Carrie O’Rourke, vice president of public policy for Florida Realtors, which is a member of the Sadowski Coalition. “We applaud Senator Passidomo and Representative Shaw for being leaders on this important issue and for calling attention to one of the biggest hurdles facing the continued economic prosperity of our state. Only by working together can we solve Florida’s affordable housing problem.”
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) has filed legislation aimed at making more affordable housing available for evacuees of Hurricane Maria.
The legislation Nelson filed Thursday would, among other things, provide additional funding for HUD’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. The voucher program makes market-rate housing more affordable for low-income evacuees by capping rental rates at no more than 30 percent of an individual’s income.
“We have tens of thousands of evacuees here in Florida who are struggling to find an affordable place to live,” Nelson said. “This bill will help make more affordable housing available in the communities that need it the most.”
To qualify, evacuees must earn less than 50 percent of the area’s median income. Evacuees in the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area, for example, who earn less than $29,200 per year would be eligible for the program.
Once approved, voucher holders are able to select a unit from the private market. But instead of having to pay that units full market price, which many cannot afford, voucher holders pay only 30 percent of their adjusted income towards rent and utilities, and the federal government pays any remaining balance directly to the property owner.
The bill has already received endorsements from several local officials, including: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Osceola County Commissioner Fred Hawkins and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava.
The measure now heads to the Senate Finance committee for consideration.
A copy of the bill is available here.