Recent polling published by the Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign indicates 76% of voters are likely to vote for a candidate that has a detailed plan for making housing more affordable. We hope that you will take this opportunity to review the questionnaires.
2020 Pinellas Board of County Commission
Name: Charlie Justice
Candidate for Office: Pinellas County Commission, District 3
How would you characterize the housing needs in your district, for both renters and for homeowners?
We see a growing non-market rate inventory in Pinellas especially in the highly desired St. Pete downtown area. We have a lack of family housing stock. Especially inventory that fits into the category of affordable for our average wage earners. This will ebb and flow some with traditional supply/demand metrics. But the traditional starter home is existing less and less.
According to the most recent data from Zillow the median price of homes currently listed in Pinellas County is $289,900 while the median price of homes that sold was $243,000. Opportunities for affordable homeownership still present challenges for many working families. What will you do to expand access to affordable homeownership for working families?
We must continue to do what we have been doing and then some. We have partnered with organizations like Brighter Community, Rebuilding Tampa Bay Together and Habitat for Humanity to create paths to securing home ownership and maintaining that home. Accelerating these partnerships will help the goal of family safety and stability.
Availability of Affordable Housing
According to the University of Florida Shimberg Center for Housing Studies, within our regional MSA which encompasses both Pinellas and Pasco counties there are only 53 available affordable housing units for every 100 households under 60% AMI. What investments or policy would you champion to address the growing gap between what citizens can afford and housing costs?
We must address both sides of this equation. We will continue to support our Land Assembly fund in order to partner with developers to create a guaranteed inventory of affordable units. We will continue to partner with Habitat and other organizations to create a path to homeownership.
We must also cultive and recruit better paying jobs for our residents. We love our service industry but wages are not keeping up. We need to expand our high tech manufacturing industry here to create good paying occupation opportunities.
Racial Disparities in Homeownership
In Pinellas County there is a 31.6% gap between White (69.1%) and African America/Black (37.5%) homeownership rates, which is higher than both the State gap of 24.% and national gap of 28%. How will you reduce the racial homeownership disparities in households of color?
We should ensure that all the types of answers mentioned previously are available in every geographic area of Pinellas County. And we must work intentionally to communicate opportunities to every demograhic part of our community as well. That means press releases and advertisements to non daily news and making available in english and other languages.
We cannot meet our growing housing needs without additional resources. What do you believe can be done to provide additional resources for affordable housing and how will you work towards meeting those goals?
We must keep the commitment of the Penny for Pinellas 10 year plan which will allocate millions for our land assembly fund. We must utilize the Economic Development portion to better partner with developers to increase inventory. We must hold state leaders accountable for the funding (or lack of funding) of the Sadowski Trust Fund for housing. We must also take advantage of every opportunity to seek collaboration at the regional, state and federal level when it comes to grants and similar opportunities. When I was Chair, we allocated an unexpected $1-million from the BP Settlement to further these goals.
The availability of affordable land continues to remain a challenge. What role can local government(s) play to help mitigate raising land costs?
The Pinellas County Commission has committed a portion of the next ten years Penny for Pinellas to the land assembly fund in order to help mitigate that portion for our housing partners. We also must look to use our Economic Development tools to enhance potential partnerships with private employers and developers.
Specific to Housing
Any additional information pertaining to affordable housing you would like the voters to know?
We want to ensure great housing inventory and array of choices for every income level in Pinellas. We want our public servants, our first responders, our teachers and our health care professionals to be proud to call Pinellas home. I believe that our current Commission shares these goals.
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