St. Augustine, FL (PRWEB) March 21, 2014
Energy-efficient, healthy and accessible homes should be possible for anyone wanting to remain living in their home with reduced maintenance costs. However, it's easier said than done and that is the beauty of the Housing Trust Fund that supports State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) programs around the state. In 1992, the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund was created specifically to address affordable housing needs. For the first time, there was a dedicated stream of funding to sustain and create affordable, decent housing in Florida. Until 2008, those funds were used exclusively to address the myriad of issues and concerns in housing for Floridians who live below or at area median incomes.
Since 2008, Florida’s governors and Legislature felt it was necessary to “sweep” the trust fund to balance the state budget. Currently, the state is operating with a budget surplus of over $1 billion. This year there is over $280 million in the Trust Fund. Instead of returning that to local communities, the Governor has suggested the majority of those funds be used for other projects.
Today, Realtors from around the state are meeting with Legislators in Tallahassee as part of the Great American Realtor Day. One of their messages is to support full funding of the Trust Fund.
If the Trust Fund is fully funded, St. Johns County would receive an estimated $2.25 million in SHIP funds. There are over 200 local families waiting for help with home repairs. Jaime Ross, President, Florida Housing Coalition, estimates that if all funds were returned to the housing trust fund, more than 27,000 jobs would be created and $3.4 billion would be added to the overall state economy.
Reinvesting in existing housing benefits the entire community. The construction industry receives a powerful boost in jobs-increasing employment opportunities, neighborhoods are revitalized and affordable rental properties can be created for those who aren’t prepared to purchase their own homes. Financial planning and budget management workshops can be offered to learn how to manage limited resources properly.
The governor says he wants to put the money back in the hands of hard-working residents.
That’s exactly what SHIP does, in a very efficient manner all across the state,” states Bill Lazar, Executive Director of St. Johns Housing Partnership, the local entity providing housing services for St. Johns County. The organization focuses on fixing owner-occupied homes to make them accessible, energy-efficient, safe and affordable.
It is time to reinvest in the State Housing Initiative Partnership and quit sweeping the Housing Trust Fund in Florida.