AFFORDABLE HOUSING HAMPERED BY STATE GOVERNMENT by Roxanne Escobales10/27/06
When gubernatorial candidates Jim Davis and Charlie Crist met for their first televised debate this week, one of the most talked about issues that faces the state after property insurance was property tax. At a conference of housing industry experts this morning in Tampa, Republican Charlie Cristâ€™s proposed tax policies were pooh-poohed.
Pinellas County Commissioner and speaker at todayâ€™s Attainable Housing conference Susan Latvala is also the president of the Florida Association of Counties.
Cities and counties use revenue from property taxes to fund affordable housing schemes, which are vital to maintaining a workforce.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Tom Scott heads the Affordable Housing Task Force
For instance, St Petersburg incentivizes housing for police officers with loans that are forgiven after five yearsâ€™ service in the force. The city offers similar programs for teachers to live and work in the inner city midtown area.
On the stage with Pinellas County Commissioner Latvala was vice chair of the St Petersburg city council and president of the Florida League of Cities, Rene Flowers. She too took issue with something Charlie Cristâ€™s said during his debate with Jim Davis. .
A front-page article in the St Petersburg Times Friday morning reported how the combination of high property taxes and inflated insurance costs are driving residents out of the state.
If you live in Hillsborough Coutny and you make 32 thousand dollars or less, more than likely youâ€™re paying more than you can afford on housing. Commissioner Tom Scott:
Hillsborough needs almost four thousand more affordable homes each year than what itâ€™s got. At this time itâ€™s looking how best to create one-thousand of these each year.
Pinellas has created an affordable housing trust fund as well as a land trust. A third option and the topic of todayâ€™s conference is inclusionary zoning. That means requiring new construction to offer a certain amount of housing for those on low to moderate incomes.
St Petersburg city council vice chair Rene Flowers
And then thereâ€™s the question of the state housing trust, the Sadowsky Act Fund, which holds almost a billion dollars collected from stamp fees levied on real estate transactions. Yet in 2005 the state legislature capped spending from the Sadowsky fund to around a quarter of a million dollars.
President of the Florida Association of Counties Susan Latvala remains hopeful that the incoming legislators after the November election will lift the spending limit on Sadowski funds.
St Petersburgâ€™s Rene Flowers says Sadowski act funds and the other measures talked about at the conference can help her most average of constituents.
Most new jobs in Hillsborough County start at 29-thousand dollars a year or less. In the Bay area, the price of homes have increased by more than 200 percent over the past 12 years. During that time, incomes have increased by less than 50 percent.