Housing News Network, November 2020

Vol. 36, No. 3

Post-Conference Journal

Inside this Journal, we provide a wrap up of the 2020 virtual affordable housing conference, including the Housing is Healthcare: Public Policy Plenary, Celebration of Sadowski Success, CRA Panel, and Bankers Can be Your Best Partners. We will explain why the Coronavirus Relief Funds cannot replace SHIP, as well as identiying and addressing racial equity in the housing crisis response system. Learn about how local elected officials strengthen the Affordable Housing Advisory Committees and about investing in housing resilience.

 

From the CEO

Florida’s economy has been devasted by the coronavirus health crisis. With the help of an enormous amount of federal CARES funding for rent and mortgage foreclosure assistance and the Governor’s moratoria, Florida’s renters and homeowners were spared a devasting blow of evictions and foreclosures. But without SHIP funding, Florida’s housing production is falling, and Florida’s economy is suffering.

In the 2020 session, the Florida Legislature appropriated all the SHIP funding for SHIP, not a penny was swept. This is what the Governor proposed in his 2020 budget and this was the year when the House agreed with the Senate to do just that- use all the SHIP funds for the SHIP program. It was a great victory for Florida. But before the Governor could sign the budget into law, COVID hit. And in looking for $1 billion in line items to veto, the Governor struck SHIP.

It was an understandable move, as the state needed to immediately address the employment crisis caused by COVID that meant renters would not have job earnings to pay rent and homeowners would not have job earnings to make mortgage payments. SHIP offices throughout the state would have to administer millions in federal CARES funding in addition to CRF funds which the Governor made available to help the rent and mortgage crisis. The SHIP offices rose to the occasion with aplomb, deploying millions of federal dollars in only a matter of months. This is a great testament to the strength of the human infrastructure and competence of the SHIP offices. But CARES Act and CRF funding can only be used for COVID19 hardships. These federal funds could not take the place of SHIP funds needed to address the housing crisis that existed before COVID-19 and continues to exist now.

The good news is that $225 million in SHIP funds that were vetoed from the 2020 budget did not get swept. It could not be swept because it is trust fund money and it takes the legislature to move that money. That means those funds are just sitting in Tallahassee – waiting to go somewhere. The $225 million in SHIP funds are crucial for Florida’s economic recovery from COVID. This money could be putting people to work in every county in the state.

$225 million of SHIP equates to more than 10,000 homes sold, built, or repaired; more than 36,000 jobs created, and more than $5.3 billion In total positive economic impact.

In the event a special session is held prior to the start of the regular 2021 session in March, we will have an opportunity for the re-appropriation of these SHIP funds for housing. That is an opportunity that we must seize for the sake of Florida’s economy and to respond to the pent-up demand for new construction, rehabilitation and retrofit of existing housing.

If there is no special session, these monies will not be appropriated until the 2021 budget bill passes. Full appropriation of the Sadowski Trust Funds in the 2021 session will likely be over $620 million. It will be unfortunate if there is a missed opportunity to put Florida back to work with the full appropriation of 2020 funds, as projects have stalled for lack of funding all over the state. But the state will be so starved for housing production and preservation funds that the full appropriation of over $620 million in 2021 will be a welcome relief.

Apartments are full. Home prices are high. Mortgage interest rates are low. We need to shore up the existing inventory of homes that need to be hardened, repaired, and retrofitted for low- income homeowners and vulnerable populations. We need to $225 million of provide financial assistance for renters SHIP equates to who could become homeowners more than 10,000 paying less in mortgage payments than in rent with the help of down payment and closing cost assistance. homes sold, built, or repaired; more SHIP is the program that does these than 36,000 jobs things. Helping Florida’s construction created, and more industry, helping Florida’s businesses, than $5.3 billion and helping the millions of Floridians In total positive who need safe and secure homes. economic impact.

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