Budget conference: Pinellas and Pasco county affordable homeownership program lands $3M

The program allows homeowners to purchase their homes from Habitat for Humanity with a 30-year, 0% interest mortgage. Buyers never pay more than 30% of their income on housing through the program.

A program aimed at addressing the lack of access to affordable homeownership in Pinellas and Pasco counties is in line to receive $3 million in the 2024-25 fiscal year budget after the House and Senate agreed on identical funding requests for the program, according to the latest budget offers from the Infrastructure and Tourism/Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations committee.

Sen. Ed Hooper and Rep. Kim Berfield both filed appropriations requests seeking $3 million to “support the development of three subdivisions, infrastructure for residential infill projects and land acquisition.” The funding would support 105 affordable homes across the two counties, as well as infrastructure, architectural services, civil engineering and other costs to develop the homes.

The funding would benefit Habitat for Humanity projects, which sell homes at no profit. Its programs include a 32-class educational curriculum to educate prospective and new homeowners on ways to be successful homeowners, including on budgeting and maintenance, and “is predicated on the principle of a hand-up and not a hand-out.” The idea is to ensure homeowners are not only able to get in their homes, but stay in them.

The program allows homeowners to purchase their homes from Habitat for Humanity with a 30-year, 0% interest mortgage. Buyers never pay more than 30% of their income on housing through the program.

Habitat for Humanity facilitates all aspects of the program, including selecting contractors, subcontractors and supervision of work. It also ensures homes are occupied by income-qualified homeowners.

Need has been broadly established, including in a June 2022 “Rental Market Study” from the University of Florida’s Shimberg Center cited in Berfield’s request, which notes that there is a nearly 30,000 affordable unit deficit in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area, which includes both Pinellas and Pasco counties, as well as Hillsborough.

The $3 million appropriation would be used to pay for things like engineering, water, sanitary sewer, other utility, roadway and pedestrian pathway costs, as well as infrastructure costs for residential infill units. It would also offset property acquisition costs set at $40,000 per lot for 25 lots.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].

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