Housing Advisors Worry Local Governments Aren't Meeting Demand For Rental Units

Nov 29, 2017

Housing officials are worried local governments are under-utilizing money that could fund affordable rentals. The state’s demand for rental units hasn’t slowed since before the Great Recession. But according to state housing officials, most local governments aren’t using available public money to build affordable rentals. 

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The program in question is the state housing initiatives partnership program or SHIP, which is designed to primarily support homeownership. But market watchers worry local governments aren't adequately using the program to catch up with residents' needs. 

Jack Humberg says that’s because lawmakers are taking the funds meant for affordable housing, and using them on other projects. He leads the Boley Centers, a support organization for people with disabilities, and he sits on an advisory committee for the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

“If the housing trust fund dollars were all allocated for housing…affordable housing in Florida, we might not be having this conversation,” he said.

He's referring to the Sadowski Housing Trust fund, which lawmakers routinely "sweep" into general revenue projects. He says what’s left isn’t enough for municipalities to effectively build rentals. 

“I suspect that that’s because what they’re getting isn’t enough to impact the rental market in their community, so they use it for…rehab and home ownership issues,” Humburg said.

According to a University of Florida analysis, the cost burden is largely falling on low income renters, 69% of whom spend more than 40% of their income on rent. Housing is generally considered affordable if it costs 30% of a resident’s income or less.