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Unlocking state funds for affordable housing is the right move, CEOs said

CEOs were asked: Gov. DeSantis has proposed unlocking more state funds for affordable housing. What do you think is the best way to encourage more affordable housing construction in South Florida?
CEOs were asked: Gov. DeSantis has proposed unlocking more state funds for affordable housing. What do you think is the best way to encourage more affordable housing construction in South Florida? Getty Images/iStockphoto


As a board director for the City of Miami Housing Authority and Commercial Loan Committee, and advisory board member for Miami Dade Affordable Housing, this topic is most near and dear to me. I firmly believe there should be participating interaction between the banks and the latter two organizations. All banks must meet certain Community Reinvestment Act lending and investments. Together with Neighborhood Lending Partners, the State of Florida Bankers Consortium can increase resources for workforce and low/moderate rental housing. We have recommended to Gov. DeSantis that a tri-commission be established with all three organizations to help uplift housing for those who need it the most. We also would like to see renovation and rehabilitation funding added to this proposed program. Instead of new construction, there are many older facilities that can be renovated faster than new builds and with lesser amounts of monies required to keep them in service.

Jim Angleton, CEO for Aegis FinServ Corp.


Safe, affordable housing is one of the basic social determinants of health. Addressing affordable housing requires a multitude of approaches, including funding to close financial gaps, public economic incentives, inclusionary housing policies, and public, private and philanthropic partnerships. But it is important that a community-wide view be taken that factors in the various types of housing needed, be it for working families, seniors or the chronically homeless.

Wael Barsoum, M.D., CEO and president of Cleveland Clinic Florida


Home ownership is a cornerstone of the American dream. Local housing trust funds can make the difference between home ownership or not for people looking to qualify for affordable housing. This is particularly true in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, where housing prices are higher than the national average. The funds collected by the state for affordable housing should be dedicated solely to that purpose.

Agostinho Alfonso Macedo, president and CEO of Ocean Bank


We have an affordable housing crisis in South Florida. The lack of affordable housing, coupled with low wages, puts a burden on working families, causing them to make difficult trade-offs in order to meet basic needs. Statewide, 36 percent of households pay more than the recommended 30 percent of monthly income for housing, with 20 percent spending more than half their incomes on housing. Solving this crisis will require a variety of solutions, including the state legislature limiting use of Sadowski Trust Funds for their intended purpose, stronger public-private partnerships to incentivize affordable developments, targeted building in high needs areas, regulatory set-asides, and exploring innovative and alternative housing options.

Chelsea Wilkerson, CEO of Girl Scouts Tropical Florida


That’s a tough question with many layers involved. The simplest, although in no way simple answer, would be to mandate that every builder/developer must include at least one unit of affordable housing in the construction plans based on the size of the project. Through a lottery with strict guidelines, a waiting list of people within the proper income guidelines could bid on those units. Otherwise, set land aside, delegated for affordable housing and create a bidding war (with incentives from state funds) among building developers.

Dorcas L. Wilcox, CEO of Miami Bridge Youth & Family Services


The 2018 Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) report released by United Way of Florida shows 46 percent of Florida’s 3,480,886 households could not afford basic needs, such as housing. Even more, these families spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing. One way to encourage affordable housing is to ensure the consequences of not having affordable housing are understood. First, the stability of a family can become increasingly fragile when, due to housing costs, they cannot afford childcare, transportation, daily meals, utilities, and healthcare. Second, when housing is unaffordable, the likelihood of homelessness increases. There are well over 2,000 homeless individuals in Broward County, some of whom are veterans, some of whom are children. Third, when people spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing, they have a decrease in their local purchasing power which could otherwise positively impact job creation and tax revenues. Finally, we have long understood the challenges that employers have with employee attraction and retention simply because employees cannot afford to live close to their place of employment.

Gregory Adam Haile, president of Broward College


The lack of affordable housing in South Florida has been a challenge for some time. While there needs to be more emphasis on finding solutions at the local, state and federal government levels, this is not a problem that can be solved by government alone. The private sector, including banks, need to step up to partner with government to provide solutions and capital for more affordable housing. That’s why we invest in funds that help develop more affordable housing, and recently created our own foundation to help working families achieve the American Dream of homeownership. With limited options, low-to-moderate income homebuyers struggle to compete with cash buyers and investors, who can close right away. Too often we see working families losing opportunities to cash buyers, so we created the CNB Housing Foundation to level the playing field. The foundation purchases homes from sellers quickly, holds the properties temporarily and sells them at the same cost to a low or moderate income buyers — allowing them the time and flexibility needed to secure financing and work through processes to obtain subsidies or resolve other issues.

Jorge Gonzalez, president and CEO, City National Bank


High rents make it difficult to hire a qualified workforce. Moreover, it’s difficult to keep good employees who have nothing left from their paycheck after half of it goes to rent and the other half on basic necessities. Gov. DeSantis has the right idea. All of the state and local housing trust fund money needs to be allocated for the rightful purpose. When funding for housing is available, developers will come to the table with civic leaders and planners to find solutions. Moreover, new construction will bring new jobs.

Louis Hernandez Jr., CEO, of Black Dragon Capital


I think Governor DeSantis is right to propose additional funding for affordable housing in Florida. And I support the governor’s efforts to preserve funds that have been set aside by previous legislation for affordable housing, including funds in the Sadowski Fund, to be restricted from use for alternate purposes. To sustain and grow our economy, we must have a ready, willing and able workforce.

Paul Singerman, co-chair of Berger Singerman


Governor DeSantis has been making a lot of good decisions since being in office. In regard to his actions regarding more funding for affordable housing programs, I am in favor of his position conditioned upon the state and the local governing agencies implementing strong and secure policies and procedures for receiving that money and then distributing those funds based upon strict guide lines. I think most intelligent thinking concurs with the premise that we need more affordable housing, but the community becomes disillusioned by the concept when they read and hear about all of the purported fraud and problems. Part of the issue with our affordable housing programs is that state policies and regulations don’t exactly match up with the federal regulations, which causes undue conflict and confusion for many qualified developers. Notwithstanding my concurs outlined above, yes, I agree with Gov. DeSantis’ actions to release more dollars into these programs.

James “Jimmy” Tate, co-owner and president of TKA-Evolution Apparel and of Tate Capital; co-founder of Tate Development Corp.


Gov. DeSantis’ proposal to unlock more state funds for affordable housing is much needed. This would be a much appreciated opportunity for the citizens of South Florida. In my professional capacity, I have seen first hand the need for affordable housing in South Florida and I have assisted many citizens to secure their own housing. According to the latest report, Floridians are spending more than 50 percent of their income on rent. The best way to encourage more affordable housing construction in South Florida is by making it available for all citizens, disbursing information to the public, and creating programs to transition from public housing or assistance to homeownership. Due to the demand for affordable housing, many properties see an influx of applicants and have to lottery available units based on a two or more year waiting list. Mass marketing is a tool that can be used to disburse information regarding new properties that meet the affordable housing criteria. This strategy can also be used to host information sessions, workshops, and seminars to prepare citizens with the proper information. These events can also be a tool to teach citizens how to transition from renting affordable housing to owning their own property. By doing so, it is creating a greater need for affordable housing rentals and available properties. Furthermore, I believe the best way to encourage more affordable housing construction in South Florida is by creating more diverse construction opportunities. Out-of-state contractors hold a large percentage of South Florida construction projects. By diversifying construction opportunities and awarding contracts to locals, South Florida is increasing its local per capita income. With local general and subcontractors winning more local contracts, it puts the citizens of South Florida to work at marginal pay rates to help them sustain their living in affordable housing and beyond.

Rashad D. Thomas, vice president of business connect and community outreach for the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee



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