As the ‘dog days of summer’ are upon us, Habitat continues to move our mission forward to advance affordable homeownership within our service area. We continue to see progress on a multitude of housing/policy issues and are excited to be bringing you questionnaires from candidates running for local office. We commit to keep you informed on our work as well as affordable housing-related topics and look forward to your continued support!
This week Habitat sent all candidates running for both State Office and County Commission in Pinellas and West Pasco Counties a ‘candidate questionnaire’, regarding their agenda on affordable housing issues. The purpose of this questionnaire is to educate and inform the community on each candidate’s stance on the housing issues directly impacting them. 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. This questionnaire is not meant to serve as an endorsement of/for any particular candidate and/or political party. Each candidate’s response will be published verbatim on our website on October 9th, so please stay tuned.
Please help us ‘keep housing on the ballot’ by asking candidates to make affordable housing one of their priorities.
Pinellas Park Annexation – Tellor Estate
On August 27th, the City of Pinellas Park officially annexed Habitat’s planned 75 home subdivision into the City. We want to thank City Staff and City Council for their support. To date, we have completed 17 homes and are in the process of completing another 13 homes over the next 10 months. Infrastructure work has begun for phase two of the project, which will help get us to our goal. We look forward to our families becoming an asset to the community of Pinellas Park.
City of New Port Richey – Impact Fee Abetment
Habitat is currently in the process of redeveloping an area in West Pasco that has the potential to bring 50 + new single-family homes to what historically had become one of the highest areas for drug traffic and prostitution in the County. To assist in the redevelopment efforts, On July 15th Habitat CEO Mike Sutton sent a letter to Mayor Marlowe of the City of New Port Richey requesting abatement from the City of both water and sewer impact fees, which add significant costs to construction. On August 3rd, Habitat received a letter from City Manager Debbie Manns indicating that all water and sewer impact fees would be waived for new homes constructed by Habitat within the development beginning August 1st for potentially a 3 year period. We appreciate the efforts of City Manager Manns to expedite this request and City Council for their consideration.
City of St. Petersburg is making Housing a Legislative Priority
At the August 13th St. Petersburg City Council Legislative Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations Committee Meeting a discussion was held about the City Council’s 2021 State Legislative Priorities. Lead by committee Chair Brandi Gabbard, the committee debating championing multiple housing-related issues at the State level, making housing one of their top legislative priorities. Especially of note, is an proposed amendment to State law brought forth last legislative session by Councilmember Robert Blackmon that would essential allow for excess funding from building permits proceeds to be allow to be used for affordable housing. If passed it has the potential to add $10 million of local funding to St. Petersburg’s affordable housing trust fund.
Florida’s Budget Crunch
In August, the State of Florida’s Revenue Estimating Conference released its ‘Financial Outlook Statement’ that forecasts future revenues for the State. This forecast was highly anticipated as it “recognized pandemic-induced economic effects for Florida’s tourism-sensitive economy” and provided the first real revenue forecast taking the Covid pandemic into account. This forecast informs future budgets and budget discussions moving forward. Forecasted revenues were revised downward by $3.4 billion for FY 2020-2021 and by $2.0 billion for FY 2021-2022. Combined this leaves an estimated $5.4 billion in revenue shortfall over the next two years. Legislators will undoubtedly have difficult decisions to make in upcoming legislative sessions. However with record unemployment and the prospects of stagnating wage growth, now more than ever continued investments into affordable housing must be made. We will continue to keep you informed on any updates from Tallahassee and will provide opportunities to advocate for affordable housing.
Elected Officials Supporting Habitat
We’d like to send a special thank you to State Representative Wengay Newton, Pinellas County Commissioners Janet Long, Charlie Justice and Dave Eggers for participating in dedications throughout August.
We thank all of the elected officials for their support of our mission and support for affordable homeownership in the community