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 State Candidate Questionnaire
Name: Jennifer Webb
Candidate for Office: State House District 69
How would you characterize the housing needs in your district, for both renters and for homeowners?
My district like much of Pinellas County has various housing needs. We need single family housing for young families starting out. We also need affordable condos for seniors, especially those wanting to transition from single family homes into condos. We need housing that our hardworking neighbors can afford, housing below $250,000, and condos with affordable rent.
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?
I will fight for fully funding the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund as I have done for the past two years. I will also continue to support the efforts of organizations like Habitat for Humanity that leverage sweat equity of family’s needing homes of their own. And, I will continue to be a champion for expanding affordable housing stock and increasing the capacity of our infrastructure so we do not damage our waterways and environment.
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?
Through my work on the Commerce Committee, I have worked in a bi-partisan effort to reduce red tape and the time it takes to build housing stock. I also support incentivizing developing attainable housing. And, developing mixed use dwellings with store fronts on the bottom floor and housing on the second stories for the more dense downtown sections of my cities.
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?
Per the Urban Institute: (1) Quantify how preservation, rehabilitation and construction of affordable housing, as well as access to small-dollar mortgages could improve black homeownership rate. (2) Help more renters become homebuyers by analyzing how income is calculated in mortgage underwriting, stabilizing/broadening the reach of down payment assistance and low-down payment lending programs, and exploring how using rental payment history could support mortgage eligibility for households currently renting. (3) Strengthen leveraging of Sadowski funds, CDFI, and HFA financing. (4) Study how homeowners can use programs to navigate all economic cycles, including mortgage serving and safe home equity lending products.
Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund
The Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund is funded through an incremental increase in doc stamps to provide a dedicated source of revenue for affordable housing. In recent years the fund has generated over $300 million in revenue annually. Unfortunately, Trust Fund is often ‘swept’ to fill other budget holes or needs within the State. How would you work with the Appropriations Chair and/or leadership to ensure funds are appropriated for their original intent?
I am proud of our success in advocating for full funding of Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund last year. Unfortunately, the Governor swept this fund. For the coming two years (assuming continued economic cool down), we will need to tie development of affordable housing (1) creation of jobs, (2) the overall economic impact this fund produces statewide and within our specific county, and (3) family financial stability.
The availability of affordable land continues to remain a challenge. What role can local government(s) play to help mitigate raising land costs?
Land Banking and Land Trusts are innovative tools for communities can utilize to mitigate rising land costs and retain housing that is affordable not only today but well into the future.
Specific to Housing
Any additional information pertaining to affordable housing you would like the voters to know?
To learn more about our advocacy efforts, please click here.