Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Jaimie Ross: Use Florida housing dollars for housing

Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature have the ability to create nearly 9,000 jobs and $900 million in economic impact in Fiscal Year 2012-13, by appropriating the state and local housing trust fund money for housing, rather than sweeping those funds dedicated to housing into general revenue.
The faster Florida’s housing market recovers the faster Florida’s economy recovers. Using housing trust fund dollars to move the foreclosed housing stock and rehabilitate abandoned homes would put workers who are now unemployed or underemployed back to work repairing and refurbishing existing housing stock. Investing in Florida’s existing real estate market will stabilize property values for the entire community; support the businesses that supply construction related materials, and all of Florida’s businesses that rely upon consumers having money to buy goods.

Florida is highly dependent on sales taxes for revenue. When housing funds are used for housing, sales revenues increase. This means that when housing trust fund dollars are used for housing, it reduces the state budget deficit. State and local housing trust fund money can also be used for down payment and closing cost assistance to help potential homeowners access fixed rate mortgages at historically low interest rates. SHIP programs provide homebuyer counseling and ensure that homeowners are using only long-term fixed rate mortgages. The SHIP program has a proven track record of providing homeownership only to those families who are financially ready, willing, and able to benefit from homeownership. The SHIP program has withstood the test of time and compliance monitoring. It can boast flexibility and accountability.

On behalf of the 24 statewide organizations that comprise the Sadowski Coalition, from business and industry groups to low income advocates, I urge Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature to put Florida’s housing dollars into Florida’s housing programs to create jobs, stabilize the real estate market, and help reduce state budget deficits.

Jaimie Ross is facilitator of the Sadowski Coalition, a collection of 24 nonpartisan statewide organizations, ranging from business and industry groups such as AIF and the Florida Chamber of Commerce to special needs and low income advocates such as Florida AARP, Florida United Way, the Florida Housing Coalition and the Florida Coalition for the Homeless, as well as faith-based organizations such as Habitat for Humanity of Florida and Florida Catholic Conference, demonstrating a uniquely diverse breadth of support across the State of Florida.

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