Rollout of Salas Tool / Advocacy Sign-Up
At Habitat, we are committed to advocating for the advancement of affordable homeownership. We are excited to launch our advocacy efforts through a new platform: Salsa Engage. We invite you to take action as a partner in advocating for policy change alongside Habitat. Subscribe to Advocacy Alerts below to get started. Subscribe here.
City of Largo – Affordable Housing Comprehensive Development Code
In August we alerted you to our efforts with the City of Largo to expand ‘set-aside’ requirements for designated ‘Affordable Housing Developments’ (AHD), which would allow for a greater percentage of affordable housing units to be built in targeted areas within the City. We are happy to report the Comprehensive Development Code was passed unanimously on 2nd reading by Largo City Commission and is now officially adopted. The previous code restricted AHD’s not located within specific/designated areas of the City to a maximum ratio of 30% affordable and 70% market-rate per development. The updated code will now expand areas where AHDs can designate up to seventy (70) percent of the units as affordable and thirty (30) percent of the units as market-rate and additionally may exceed the maximum set-aside of seventy (70) percent if it meets other criteria and is approved by the City Commission. Expansion areas include; multimodal corridors, Special Area Plans and Community Development Block Grant Targeted Areas.
Habitat wants to publically thank Mayor Woody Brown, the entire City Commission as well as City Planning Staff for their support for affordable housing!
Homes for Pinellas – Virtual Summit Series
Beginning on October 9th, Pinellas County and Forward Pinellas (the planning council and metropolitan planning organization for the county) will hold the first of five sessions on “focused, productive conversations about how to create, improve and sustain homes that are affordable to our residents”. The final session will focus on the development and joint implementation of a community housing compact between local governments. This is a significant development for our community and cannot be understated. A countywide approach would provide more consistency between municipalities, streamlining approaches/processes and work towards reducing barriers. Additionally, local municipalities enhancing coordination could better align, various incentives, development regulations and fees, while coordinating a truly cohesive countywide plan. To attend see the registration link below!
Clearwater – Greenwood Neighborhood Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) Efforts
The Clearwater Urban Leadership Coalition a local nonprofit whose mission is to promote sustained economic growth in our community, develop business opportunities, preserve cultural history and aggrandize academic excellence, is leading an effort to create a Community Redevelopment Area in the North Greenwood Community. City of Clearwater staff have been working diligently with this community-led initiative and anticipates the CRA ‘finding of necessity’ (the first step in the process) will be going in front of the Clearwater City Council in October. Formation of a CRA could have a significant impact on the area, as a local example the South St. Petersburg CRA just passed a budget that will provide $4 million in funding for affordable housing initiatives within the CRA.
To find out more about what is a CRA, how it may impact an area and many more details, check out the Clearwater Urban Leadership Coalitions CRA Public Information Session Video
Habitat will continue to update you on the progress of this initiative and provide important dates and advocacy opportunities. Subscribe to our Advocacy Alerts to stay up to date and informed as well as learn about vital calls to action.
Speaking of CRA… Federal Reserve Community Reinvestment Act action
In 1977 Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act which was enacted to directly address redlining practices in banking. The legislation aimed to reduce discriminatory credit practices in low and moderate-income (LMI) neighborhoods by encouraging certain ‘insured depository institutions’ (aka banks), better meet the credit needs of the community.
Earlier this year the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) finalized separate CRA reforms, which if fully enacted will substantially impact how investments and lending in LMI communities are made. However, these reforms did not have the support of the Federal Reserve or FDIC, nor large community coalitions throughout the country, including Habitat for Humanity.
On September 21st the Federal Reserve unanimously approved an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR), in connection to proposed changes to the CRA. The ANPR is the first step of the rulemaking process and allows for 120 days of public comment.
In positive news, the Federal Reserve is setting up a split between the OCC rules and proposing separately evaluating retail and community development activities. The Fed is proposing, using loan counts, rather than dollar volume, to best capture the importance and responsiveness of smaller dollar loans. This would hopefully continue the priority for banks to provide mortgage lending services to LMI individuals/communities. Federal Reserve Chairmen Jerome Powell released a statement stressing that the ANPR “is an important step forward in laying a foundation for the [Fed, OCC, and FDIC] to build a shared, modernized CRA framework that has broad support.”
These rule changes are complicated and largely unknown to the public, however, could have sweeping consequences for millions of Americans, including our local communities. We will keep you updated and informed on actions as they occur.
Elected Officials Supporting Habitat
We would like to send a special thanks to State Senators Jeff Brandes & Darryl Rouson, State Representative Wengay Newton, State Representative-Elect Michele Rayner and St. Petersburg City Councilmembers Brandi Gabbard and Robert Blackmon for all attending dedications in September!
We thank all of the elected officials for their support of our mission and support for affordable homeownership in the community.