The April 24 editorial, Restore Affordable-Housing Funds, promoted the William Sadowski Affordable Housing Act and encouraged the Florida Legislature to avoid raiding the Sadowski Trust Fund dedicated to housing help for some of Florida’s poorest families.
Habitat for Humanity of Florida has for years supported funding for the Sadowski Act. Our organization, with 58 local affiliates in Florida, has long been a member of the Sadowski Coalition and advocated for the use of the trust fund monies for their intended purposes.
The editorial also mentioned funds Florida will receive from the national mortgage settlement. Habitat’s proposed uses for mortgage settlement funds vary from other uses, including those of the State Housing Initiative Program known as SHIP. Settlement dollars appropriated will be leveraged with other donations to maximize the state’s return on investment of these dollars.
The Habitat program instills pride of ownership because it is a “hand up, not a handout.” We require family members to volunteer — called sweat equity — as they help build and finish their own homes or volunteer in other ways. They also undergo homeownership-preparedness training.
For those who cannot otherwise afford to own a home we provide a zero-percent interest mortgage, so they pay for their own homes. The mortgage payments are recycled to build more homes, which further leverages the dollars invested. And homeowners rarely continue to need government assistance, so these dollars are freed up for others.
Habitat homes create jobs by employing tradesmen and subcontractors and, once completed, generate local property-tax revenue. Our affiliates in Florida have built or rehabbed 15,000 homes so far, contributing approximately $8 million in local tax revenue.
Habitat for Humanity will put settlement funds to good use by rehabbing existing housing or through the demolition and replacement of blighted housing across the state.
Barbara Inman, president/CEO, acting executive director, Habitat Florida