Florida lawmakers raid $100M from affordable housing for program that doesn't exist
Orlando Sentinel, April 3, 2022, Jeffrey Schweers
In the midst of a statewide housing crisis, the Florida Legislature swept $100 million out of a nationally respected affordable housing rental assistance program for low-income families into a home-buying program that exists in name only.
Affordable housing advocates say the Legislature broke a promise made only a year ago that it would never again raid the Sadowski Affordable Housing Act fund, created in 1992 as a dedicated source of revenue to finance affordable housing programs.
Renters are overpaying by 18% in South Florida, study shows
South Florida Sun Sentinel, March 23, 2022, Amber Randall
Rents have risen so much in South Florida that renters are now overpaying by more than 18%, according to a newly released index.
Researchers at three Florida colleges – Florida Atlantic University, Florida Gulf Coast University and Longwood University – analyzed rents since 2014 and used this data to predict where rent prices should be for renters. They then compared that number to today’s current rents. From there, they calculated the percentage difference to see how much renters are overpaying in rent.
Based on what past leasing histories suggest, South Floridians are paying 18.98% more than they should be, researchers found.
Florida will issue $676M in mortgage assistance
South Florida Sun Sentinel, February 17, 2022, Ron Hurtibise
There’s good news and bad news for Florida homeowners who fell behind on their mortgage payments because of the pandemic.
The good news is the U.S. Treasury Department on Feb. 9 approved Florida’s plan to distribute $676 million in federal homeowner assistance funding included in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan enacted in March 2021. Florida submitted its plan for approval as required six months ago, on Aug. 20.
The not-so-good news: Florida’s program is being administered by the Department of Economic Opportunity — the same agency that runs the state’s troubled unemployment system — and the agency has not yet announced when or how it will begin accepting applications.
Florida receives another $740 million for rental assistance. Here's how you can apply.
Orlando Sentinel, February 3, 2022, Kate Santich
Florida has received an additional $740.4 million from the federal government for its emergency rental assistance program, OUR Florida, state officials announced Thursday.
To qualify for the program, renters must be low income or unemployed and be behind on rent or utility payments ---or at risk of falling behind. They also must have had a loss of income or other financial hardship during the last year.
Full PDF article...
Relief or ‘poor tax’? Companies offer an alternative to apartment security deposits for Florida renters.
Orlando Sentinel, January 20, 2022, Skyler Swisher
As rents skyrocket, startup companies are touting what they consider to be a helpful solution to hefty security deposits pricing Floridians out of apartments. Instead of forking over an upfront security deposit, tenants can agree to pay a monthly fee — typically about $25.
But there’s a catch: The money isn’t refundable at the end of the lease like a traditional security deposit, and renters are still on the hook for damage beyond ordinary wear and tear. State lawmakers are considering legislation that would create regulations for such agreements that offer security deposit insurance instead of a traditional lump-sum deposit.
But advocates for Florida tenants have concerns. They say the proposed regulations lack important safeguards to protect renters from predatory practices.
Amid state’s affordable housing crisis, DeSantis proposes highest spending in a decade
Miami Herald, December 9, 2021, Mary Ellen Klas
The panel of academics and housing professionals assembled before the Florida Senate committee last week delivered a unified message: Florida is in the throes of an affordable housing crisis and more money is needed to keep the economy humming.
Fueled by taxes on soaring real estate values, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday found $144 million more than he had last year in the state account and proposed $355 million in affordable housing initiatives as part of his $99.7 billion budget proposal.
If legislators approve, it will mean the state would spend more than the $209 million they dedicated to workforce and low-income housing this budget year. And it could mean the largest amount spent on the issue in more than a decade.
Realtors change course on plans for affordable housing amendment
News Service of Florida, September 8, 2021, Jim Saunders
Realtors are halting an effort to pass a constitutional amendment to ensure funding for affordable housing, saying they will work with legislative leaders to create a program to help people such as nurses, police officers and firefighters buy homes.
The decision, announced Tuesday night, came after the group Florida Realtors and the National Association of Realtors contributed at least $13 million to a political committee spearheading the effort to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the 2022 ballot.
The committee, Floridians for Housing, had spent about $2.75 million as of July 31 as it worked to collect the 891,589 petition signatures needed to get on the ballot. The state Division of Elections had received 64,937 signatures for the initiative as of Tuesday.
Florida Realtors launch ballot initiative to restore affordable-housing trust fund, but with changes
Orlando Sentinel, June 18, 2021, Caroline Glenn
After lawmakers voted to permanently divert half of the state’s affordable housing trust fund to other projects, the Florida Realtors Association is pushing back and spearheading a constitutional amendment that would restore the fund — but with a few changes.
The proposed amendment would make it so money from the Sadowski trust fund can only be spent “to address affordable housing access and availability,” effectively reversing a law that Gov. Ron DeSantis just signed that allows lawmakers to redirect half of the fund to combating sea level rise and upgrading wastewater infrastructure.
To get the measure on the 2022 ballot, the association must collect at least 891,589 petition signatures by Dec. 31 and get approval from the state Supreme Court. To pass, it would need 60% of voters’ support.
Florida Trend, June 15, 2021, News Service of Florida
After years of battles about lawmakers using affordable housing money for other purposes, the organization Florida Realtors is backing a proposed constitutional amendment that would dedicate tax dollars for housing programs.
The Florida Department of State on Friday gave initial approval to the proposal by a political committee known as Floridians for Housing. Florida Realtors has provided $5 million to the political committee since March 31, finance reports show.
CDC eviction moratorium remains in effect, after feds appealed judge’s ruling to overturn it
Orlando Sentinel, May 6, 2021, Caroline Glenn
The CDC’s national eviction moratorium remains in effect, after the U.S. Department of Justice appealed a federal judge’s ruling calling it illegal.
Late Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich of Washington, D.C., agreed to put her ruling on hold until at least May 12. Friedrich emphasized the delay was granted to give landlord groups and the federal government time to file legal papers for the appeal process, not based on the merits of the Justice Department’s argument.
What renters need to know
Housing attorneys advised tenants whose landlords file eviction cases to immediately file the paperwork that invokes the CDC moratorium.
Tenants must sign and submit a special document to the court attesting that they can’t afford to pay rent because of a loss of income or medical expenses. They must also attest they have tried to get government assistance and attempted to pay a portion of the rent, and that if they were evicted, they would either become homeless or have to move in with friends or family.
Republicans’ infrastructure plan comes under fire for splitting affordable housing fund
Florida Politics, March 25, 2021, Renzo Downey
Democrats say the bill effectively codifies the near-annual housing fund raid.
Lawmakers have unveiled a proposed bill detailing legislative leaders’ plan to split affordable housing dollars into housing, combating rising sea levels and wastewater grants.
Under the new deal, the Legislature is only putting forward a combined $141.1 million for the State Apartment Incentive Loan Program, known as SAIL, and the State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program, known as SHIP.
One third of documentary stamp tax dollars will go toward the “Always Ready: Flooding and Sea Level Rise Agenda” House Speaker Chris Sprowls announced last month. The plan would dedicate $100 million annually, beginning in the 2022-23 fiscal year, to create a Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan. It would also create a flood risk assessment and grant program.
Another portion would go toward the Wastewater Grant Program, which Governor DeSantis signed into law last year, within the Department of Environmental Protection. That program to help communities across Florida implement wastewater infrastructure programs is one of Senate President Wilton Simpson’s priorities.
The final third of the plan would keep funding in the affordable housing realm with the added provision that those funds cannot be swept into general revenue.
Two New Reports Detail Pandemic’s Effect on Housing Needs Nationwide and in Florida
News release, March 18, 2021, The Florida Housing Coalition
The national housing crisis and Florida’s housing crisis have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic -- induced by a loss of employment and an unusually high priced housing market for both homeownership and rentals. Many low-income households were already struggling to afford their rent even before COVID-19 devastated so many throughout the state.
Florida study: $5 billion return on $423 million affordable housing investment
The Center Square, February 2, 2021, John Haughey
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposed $96.6 billion Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget recommendation fully funds affordable housing programs at $423.3 million, which a study released Tuesday maintains will generate $5 billion in economic benefits statewide. “An Economic Analysis of the Florida Housing Programs,” produced by the Regional Economic Consulting (REC) Group for the Sadowski Coalition, analyzed the economic impact of using affordable housing trust funds solely for affordable housing — a rarity in Florida until this year — and determined every $1 in housing trust funds spent on housing returns $1.40 in revenues for state and local government coffers.
Coastal affordable homes are most vulnerable to sea level rise, study says
South Florida Sun Sentinel, December 23, 2020, Jessica Meszaros
New research by the organization Climate Central shows that by mid-century, affordable homes in Florida will see eight times the amount of flooding compared to 2000, meaning some of the most vulnerable people across the state will be affected by sea level rise.
Scientists with Climate Central say that in 2000, there were about 110 affordable homes in Florida that were expected to flood every year, but the study concludes that figure will go up to nearly 1,000 by 2050.
Florida Sees Signals of a Climate-Driven Housing Crisis
New York Times, October 12, 2020, Christopher Flavelle
Home sales in areas most vulnerable to sea-level rise began falling around 2013, researchers found. Now, prices are following a similar downward path.
Families could be headed for disaster over unpaid rent during COVID-19
Sun Sentinel, July 31, 2020, Ron Hurtibise
Hundreds of thousands of out-of-work and underemployed tenants, unable to pay past-due rents, are in danger of being thrown to the streets in Florida — not today, not next week, but at some point soon when the state’s governor decides enough is enough.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ latest extension of the state’s eviction moratorium — this time to Sept. 1 — merely delays an inevitable day of reckoning, according to advocates for both renters and landlords.
When that comes, judges will begin signing stacks of eviction orders, sheriff’s deputies will begin serving notices to vacate, and an alarming number of families will be forcibly removed from their homes with nowhere else to go.
Landlords will see their investments go into default and get repossessed by lenders. Hedge funds will swoop in like vultures, scooping up properties for pennies on the dollar.
The only way to avoid this doomsday scenario, advocates say, is for Congress and the president to approve billions of dollars in assistance — not loans, but grants, much like the forgivable Payment Protection Program loans that have been made available for businesses that promised to keep employees on their payrolls through the first weeks of the shutdown.
Governor Approves 2020-21 State Budget
Florida Government News Releases, June 29, 2020, Staff
Today, the Governor signed HB 5001 – General Appropriations Act (“Budget”) – into law. The overall budget totals $92.2 billion, with over $1 billion in vetoes to supplant losses in revenue due to the COVID-19 health pandemic. The area of Affordable Housing received 2020-21 Fiscal Year funding as follows:
$225 million of the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) fund was vetoed. However, last week the Governor appropriated $250 million in CARES Act funding for rental and mortgage assistance for Florida families that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There will be two funding pools totaling up to $240 million and sets aside up to $10 million in expected operational costs for the program. Below is a summary of how funds are to be allocated:
Rental Assistance for Affordable Rental Housing Tenants
$120 million will provide short-term rental assistance for COVID-19 impacted households residing at multifamily rental properties in FHFC’s portfolio.
- FHFC will reimburse participating properties to subsidize eligible households’ rents for each impacted month.
- The rental assistance will be available to help pay a household’s rent for eligible months from July through December 2020.
- The household may be eligible for assistance to pay rent arrearages accrued during the months of April, May and June 2020.
Rent and Mortgage Assistance
A separate pool of $120 million will be released to counties based on a county’s reemployment assistance rate for the determined disbursement period. The allocation also includes $200,000 for technical assistance to local governments. These funds would be used for rental and homeowner assistance programs such as:
- New construction.
- Mortgage buydowns.
- Down payment.
- Closing cost assistance.
- Emergency repairs.
- Homeownership counseling for individuals impacted by COVID-19.
Operations Assistance for Special Needs Developments and Administrative Costs
- A one-time allocation of $2 million will be provided to assist with past and future costs related to additional staffing, security and supplies directly related to COVID-19 in serving special needs and homeless households residing in the supportive housing developments. The allocation will be based on each development’s total number of units.
- Additionally, $8 million will be provided in expected administrative costs, including credit underwriting, disbursement review and processing, compliance monitoring and technical assistance. Funds not used for administration, if any, would be added to Rental Assistance and/or Operations Assistance for Special Needs Developments.
Statement on veto of Sadowski housing trust funds
Member newsletter, June 29, 2020, Sadowski Affiliates
SHIP funding was vetoed from Florida budget, CARES Act funding directed to rental and mortgage assistance.
Sadowski Affiliates statement...
Governor Ron DeSantis Announces $250 Million for Affordable Housing Coronavirus Relief Initiative
Florida Government News Releases, June 25, 2020, Staff
Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced $250 million in CARES Act funding for rental and mortgage assistance for Florida families that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many families across our state have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 through no fault of their own,” said Governor DeSantis. “This initiative strives to provide financial assistance through multiple affordable housing programs to ensure these Floridians receive the support they need during this difficult time.”
“Florida Housing is grateful for the Governor’s strong support of housing and the programs proposed to give renters and homeowners impacted by COVID-19 the relief they desperately need,” said Florida Housing Finance Corporation Executive Director Trey Price. “The Governor and Florida Housing stand together in guaranteeing Florida households stay a priority, and ensuring families have the necessary assistance and tools in place to remain in their homes affordably during this public health emergency.”
The initiative includes two funding pools totaling up to $240 million and sets aside up to $10 million in expected operational costs for the program.
Florida Housing Unveils Redesigned Affordable Rental Housing Locator
Newsletter, April 30, 2020, Florida Housing
The Florida Housing Finance Corporation (Florida Housing) unveiled the redesign of the statewide online affordable rental housing locator called FloridaHousingSearch.org. The locator is part of Florida Housing’s ongoing effortto respond to affordable rental housing needs in general as well as during natural disasters. While there has been no change to the locator’s services it provides and it is still free, the new design is more user and mobile-friendly making it easier for affordable housing developments to list their vacancies and for consumers to find them.
Shimberg Center launches COVID-19 resource, data pages
News Highlights, April 10, 2020, UF Shimbert Center
Today the Shimberg Center launched two new Web pages with information about COVID-19 and housing in Florida. COVID-19: Workforce and Housing Indicators provides county-by-county data on housing cost burdens, older populations, children’s access to Internet and health insurance, worker counts in hard-hit service industries, and subsidized housing sites eligible for new tenant protections under the federal CARES Act. COVID-19 & Housing Resources describes the data and provides links to relevant news articles and housing resources from our partners. Check back frequently for updates to both pages, and send us suggestions or custom data requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sadowski funding is finally fully restored
Member newsletter, March 7, 2020, Sadowski Affiliates
The Florida House agreed to the Florida Senate’s budget position to use all affordable housing trust fund monies for affordable housing during the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year.
Sadowski Affiliates statement...
Florida 2020 Session - Week 3 Legislative Alert!
On Thursday, January 30th the House and Senate released their budget proposals for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020-2021. The House proposed a $91.37 billion budget while the Senate proposed $92.83 billion. The proposals are expected to be heard by their respective chambers on Wednesday, February 12th. Once the budgets are approved by their respective Chambers, the budget conference process will begin to reconcile the $1.46 billion difference. The House’s proposed budget can be found here and the Senate’s proposed budget can be found here.
The Senate proposed budget fully funds affordable housing, which concurs with the Governor’s Recommendations. However, the House proposed to fund a separate $25 million Hurricane Housing Recovery Program and sweep $240 million of affordable housing dollars. Below is the comparison between the budgets:
|State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL)||$48,000,000||$119,800,000|
|State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP)||$73,200,000||$267,200,000|
|Hurricane Housing Recovery Program ||$25,000,000||$0|