City officials want to put dollars in action when it comes to the growing crisis over affordable housing in Bradenton and are looking to federal and state funding programs to help address the issue.
Last month, Planning and Community Development Director Catherine Hartley said the city can help address affordable housing. She is proposing changes in the city’s codes to make affordable housing development easier. She also wants funding programs like the State Housing Initiatives Partnership program and the Community Redevelopment Block Grants to better target the issue.
Funding for these programs were lacking through the Great Recession, but municipalities are starting to see them increase again. In SHIP funding alone, the city received about $345,000 this year. Hartley is working on the city’s new three-year SHIP funding plan and wants those those dollars better focused on city needs.
“We have a few months to put the plan together, but we need to start thinking about who is our real target,” Hartley said. “Is it the seniors, is it the homeless or low income or is it the rehabilitation of our existing stock of housing, or are we talking about rental assistance? Granted, this is just the SHIP program, but it will carry over to CDBG because we have a five-year plan for that as well.”
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We do have an affordability issue.
Vicki White, housing and community development manager
Vicki White, housing and community development manager, said officials must first understand what affordable housing means. Guidelines in grant programs define affordable housing as someone not spending more than 30 percent of their gross income on rent or mortgage payments.
For someone making about $21,000 a year, that means finding a place to live for $522 a month. For someone making about $52,000 a year, it means no more than $1,300 for rent or mortgage per month.
“A solid waste worker making $11.46 an hour could afford $590 a month or afford a home that costs under $73,000,” White said. “I could only find one home in city listings that was $74,000 and it’s a 740-square-foot house built in the 1930s. We do have an affordability issue.”
We are asking ourselves if in the past, have we really been meeting the needs of the community?
Carl Callahan, city administrator
Carl Callahan, city administrator, said the goal is to coordinate programs like SHIP and CDGB, as well as the community redevelopment agencies, “So that they all work together to accomplish something desirable. We are asking ourselves if in the past, have we really been meeting the needs of the community?”
Ward 3 City Councilman Patrick Roff said he would support a more targeted effort on home ownership programs.
“When you have these rental houses go through the conversion to home ownership, that’s when the change takes place because of the pride of home ownership compared to these rental properties that are not cared for in the highest quality,” Roff said.
Mayor Wayne Poston wants more information on housing availability that already exists.
“We need that inventory of housing,” he said. “We’ve talked about it, but we have never done it and now would be a good time to do that.”