The city of Bradenton is trying to focus crucial state and federal dollars on local affordable housing programs, but it’s not easy to estimate funding when dollars continue to diminish.
The city is moving forward with outlining goals for the next three years regarding State Housing Initiative Partnership programs. The SHIP funds are typically directed toward down payment assistance, housing rehabilitation assistance, housing reconstruction, eviction protection, multifamily rental construction and disaster strategies.
According to a breakdown of Florida cities by the Sadowski Housing Coalition, the city of Bradenton should receive $535,538 in the next budget cycle to put toward those programs. It hasn’t even been close with the city receiving $77,000 last year. If the Florida House has its way, the amount would be $75,000 when the state finalizes a budget in June.
The Florida Senate is recommending the city receive $200,000. The William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund was enacted in 1992, collecting revenues through documentary stamp taxes on real estate transactions. That tax generated $292.37 million this year. Seventy percent of the funds are supposed to go to local SHIP programs while 30 percent is earmarked for the Florida Housing Finance Corp.
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However, the Legislature has continued to raid the Sadowski funds, and this year is no different. The Florida Senate wants $130 million of the fund to be placed into the state’s general fund, and the Florida House wants a bigger piece of the pie, asking that $248 million of it be taken. The Sadowski Housing Coalition calculates that if all of the dollars are used in the way the trust fund was intended, it would create 27,800 jobs with a $3.78 billion economic impact this year alone.
“If we get $75,000, what can we really do with it? We’ll have to revisit these goals,” said Vicki White, housing and community development manager.
The assistance programs are not “giveaways,” White said. “People have to be able to sustain themselves once the money is given,” and are typically low-to-zero interest loans. Housing rehabilitation grants and loans have become a priority after reviewing the city’s current housing stock in December. The study showed that half of the city’s housing stock was built prior to 1980, and many homes are much older.
To compound the problem for local funding opportunities to improve homes, and thus increase the tax base, President Donald Trump is targeting a $6 billion reduction in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s budget. More than $3 billion of the targeted cut would come in the elimination of the Community Development Block Grant funding, which ties into similar programs with SHIP.
CDGB dollars go even further, however. Last year, the city received $384,353 in CDGB funding and through a public process gave $150,000 to Habitat for Humanity to purchase land for new homes. Economic Development Director Carl Callahan said there may come a time in the very near future, “Where we just won’t have that funding anymore.”
Commissioner Harold Byrd said it may get to the point, “Where we can’t accomplish any of these strategies.”