City and County commissions approve annual housing initiatives plan

Largest portion of the funds from the state — $500,000 — will go toward special needs housing/permanent supportive housing

The City Commission lsits in session. File photo
The City Commission sits in session. File photo

The Florida Legislature has made an extra $500,000 available for the next year for the State Housing Initiatives Program (SHIP) that the City and County of Sarasota jointly administer, Don Hadsell, director of the Office of Housing and Community Development, told the City Commission on June 6.

The Legislature had an option of providing $1 million in funds for that program, he added, “but we’re thankful for what we get.”

The 2016 allocation for the city and county is $2,483,546, Hadsell explained in a memo to the city board.

The money comes from a tax on documentary stamps on all real estate transactions, the memo notes. Thirty percent of the proceeds go to the Florida Housing Finance Corp. (FHFC), while the remainder generally is provided to local governments through SHIP, the memo adds.

Because the City and County of Sarasota entered into an interlocal agreement in 1998 to jointly apply for and receive SHIP funds, both local government bodies were asked this week to approve the Sarasota Local Housing Assistance Plan that will utilize the money. Both commission votes were unanimous. The County Commission addressed the matter during its regular meeting on June 7 in Venice.

When he appeared before the City Commission on June 6, Hadsell explained that during the development of the 2017-21 Consolidated Plan for the city and county — which the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be asked to approve later this year — the steering committee comprising staff from the city and county, as well as the Cities of North Port and Venice, made the following recommendations for the use of the latest SHIP funds:

  • $1,000,824 for housing rehabilitation, which provides 0-percent interest rate loans for lower-income families to repair dwellings in which they live. The money should help about 50 families, the memo says.
Vice Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie. File photo
Vice Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie. File photo

When Vice Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie asked whether that number was higher than it had been in the past, Hadsell responded that his office has been helping about 100 families each year, utilizing other federal grant funds in conjunction with the SHIP money.

  • $650,000 for the Housing Partnership Program, which provides 0-percent interest loans to nonprofit agencies, such as Habitat for Humanity, to create new owner-occupied housing. This money should lead to six new housing units, the memo notes.
  • $500,000 for special needs housing/permanent supportive housing. The staff committee recommended this money be distributed to nonprofit organizations to use in expanding housing for disabled residents, the memo adds. By leveraging the funds to apply for further assistance through the Florida Housing Finance Corp. (FHFC), the memo continues, an additional 60 to 100 units of affordable rental housing could be created. However, the memo explains, “FHFC funding is very competitive.”
  • $350,000 for rental housing development, with $250,000 slated for the Venice Housing Authority and the remainder to private developers, to enable them “to apply for housing funded by the FHFC.” The potential exists for an extra 60 to 100 affordable housing units to be created through this means, the memo says.
  • $35,000 for rapid re-housing, a pilot program created to assist chronically homeless individuals in obtaining housing. About seven individuals will receive this form of assistance, the memo notes.
  • $364,176 for administration of the SHIP program “in conformance with state law,” the memo explains.

When City Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie asked about the amount set aside for that purpose, Hadsell replied that among their responsibilities, his staff members have to submit annual reports, certify that people who apply for assistance are eligible because of their incomes, pay for title inspections and home inspections, and monitor construction and payments to contractors.