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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 sking@habitatpwp.org.

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.

Sadowski Funding 

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 sking@habitatpwp.org or call 727-536-4755 ext. 404.

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Please join us for a half-hour of networking, followed by a one-hour program to learn more about how Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties is addressing the problem of affordable housing in Pinellas and Pasco Counties. Hear from a Habitat homeowner about the impact that a safe and affordable home makes, and learn how you can help make homeownership a possibility for those in need in your community.

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Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties invites you to a roaring good time of 1920s inspired music, hors d’oeuvres, and cocktails while supporting the Habitat mission at our Prohibition Party presented by Crown Automotive. After the program, help keep the party going at our Speakeasy After-Party sponsored by the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Tampa onsite at the Vinoy in Fred’s Cellar. Tickets and sponsorships are on sale now!

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Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties hosted its 11th Annual Golfing Fore Habitat Partner Tournament on Monday, November 1st, 2021 at Copperhead Course at Innisbrook, A Salamander Golf & Spa Resort. More than $125,000 was raised from the event and all proceeds benefit Habitat Pinellas & West Pasco and affordable housing opportunities for individuals and families in our community.

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