Changing Perspectives & Changing Lives: Habitat’s Advocacy Commitment
Our affiliate is making a further commitment and investment advocating for the advancement of affordable homeownership. We are excited to share that Sean King, formally the Director of Community Relations, will transition to a new role as Director of Government Relations and Advocacy. Along with President and CEO Mike Sutton, Sean will help lead advocacy efforts surrounding the advancement of affordable housing initiatives that align with our community based mission and goals.
We will provide monthly advocacy updates via our blog and Inside Scoop e-newsletter, design a dedicated advocacy webpage to better educate and advocate for housing policies (details coming soon), provide various calls to action to involve supporters in our advocacy efforts, have new opportunities to engage with our organization and continue to be a local, state and national voice for affordable homeownership. If you would like to get involved or learn more, please email Sean King at email@example.com.
COVID-19 Mortgage Assistance Advocacy
Understanding the need to help ensure stability and economic viability for low to moderate income homeowners during the COVID-19 pandemic, Habitat’s CEO Mike Sutton sent a letter to all local municipalities who manage either State or Federal affordable housing funds, advocating for the creation of mortgage assistance programs. Local governments have been responsive and have allocated funding to both mortgage and rental assistance programs. If you need assistance please contact either 2-1-1 in either Pinellas or Pasco Counties.
City of Largo – Affordable Housing Comprehensive Development Code
Habitat has been working with the City of Largo to expand ‘set-aside’ requirements for designated ‘Affordable Housing Development’ (AHD). The current code restricts AHDs not located within specific/designated areas of the City to a maximum ratio of 30% affordable and 70% market-rate per development. The current code dates back to the early 1990s and is not flexible enough to meet today’s community needs. As housing pricing have continued to rise, unfortunately many wages have not kept pace. According to Zillow the median single family home price for March 2020 in Largo is $245,000, a 6.2% increase over the past year. Unfortunately, we have not seen a similar 6.2% increase in wages.
Habitat firmly supports mix-income developments and believes this code amendment allows for very prescriptive ratios and criteria, with Commission oversight. We believe this amendment is a step in the right direction to help increase the supply of attainable housing for our family, friends and neighbors. Lastly we would like to thank the City of Largo for their willingness to work on this issue and advance affordable homeownership opportunity for their citizens.
In March we happily reported that for the first time in over 13 years the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund was fully funded by the Florida Legislature. This meant over $300 million for affordable housing throughout the State for FY20-21 and almost $14 million specifically for Pinellas and Pasco Counties. However, due to the economic uncertainty that COVID-19 has levied on the State budget, Governor DeSantis vetoed the funding.
Yet, all is not lost. Governor DeSantis did allocate $250 million of federal COVID-19 funding be utilized to for affordable housing in the form of rental and mortgage assistance. Additionally, while the funding was vetoed, it has not yet been ‘swept’ for other budgetary holes, as in past years. We fully anticipate a budget conference / special session in the fall, where advocating #StopTheSweep will be paramount. We will continue to keep you informed and provide future advocacy opportunities.
If you would like to know more about any of the above topics and/or support our advocacy initiatives, please email Sean King at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 727-536-4755 ext. 404.