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Week Of Action Calls For More Federal Money For Affordable Housing

Patrick Farrell
Miami Herald
A view from a one-bedroom unit in Brickell View Terrace on Wednesday, February 1, 2017, Miami’s first mixed-income housing development.";

Finding affordable housing in South Florida is challenging-- that’s no news to those who live here.

Saturday kicked off a national “week of action” to call on the federal government to increase the number of tax credits to affordable housing developers.

“The week of action will hopefully focus some attention on our nation’s affordable housing crisis,” said Matthew Rieger, is President and CEO of the Miami-based Housing Trust Group. “South Florida, it’s actually worse than [much of] the rest of the country. “

In South Florida, roughly two-thirds of households are cost burdened, which means they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

This week of action comes amidst proposed budget cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Ben Carson, who visited South Florida after president Donald Trump released his proposed budget cutting roughly $6 million from HUD’s budget, constantly reiterated the point that the future of affordable housing is through public-private partnerships.

While there is bi-partisan support for increasing the allocation of Low Income Housing Tax Credits, one of the programs most widely used by the private sector to build affordable housing, many HUD grants also go to these kinds of public/private developments.

Rieger also points to a Florida funding source in the state called the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which has collected funds from the Documentary Stamp Tax on real estate transactions since 1992.

But for a decade, money from those funds has been siphoned off to pay for other things, to the tune of $1.3 billion.

“That loss in funding has created the problem that we’re in now, which is that there is a severe lack of affordable housing,” said Rieger.

The week of action is encouraging community members and people affiliated with affordable housing programs to meet with or call their elected officials.