Preserve Sadowski Fund for building affordable housing | Opinion

The statewide Sadowski Fund, which is supposed to be steered toward affordable housing, has been raided for years by Florida lawmakers. But this year Habitat for Humanity and other housing advocates are optimistic lawmakers will preserve it. (File photo)

Our Broward representatives in Tallahassee are united in their resolve to preserve Florida’s affordable housing trust fund, the Sadowski Fund, which has been raided by lawmakers since 2002 for other purposes.

We are thankful for their leadership and are cautiously optimistic that raiding of the fund stops now. Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Senate have held that Sadowski Funds be preserved for affordable housing in their budget recommendations. May they prevail.

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The Sadwoski Fund accomplishes a number of things. It provides dollars for home repair so that low-income residents whose homes have been affected by Florida’s heat, wind and heavy rain can remain in their homes safely. Our aging and special needs populations can get help with retrofitting.

And, homeownership programs like Habitat for Humanity’s can secure down payment assistance for families whose earnings fall just short of what is needed for a zero-interest mortgage with monthly mortgage payments kept to 30 percent of income.

This can mean the difference between being able to purchase a forever home or being forced to move one’s family year after year, in a nomadic hunt for affordable rent — with no hope of escape.

The Sadowski Fund also provides funds to rehabilitate and build apartments for vulnerable populations. When the state directs our fair share of affordable housing dollars to Broward, it will supercharge our economy.

If Broward receives the full funding of $22 million in 2019-2020, (up from about $2 million when raids took place) we can expect an economic impact of $300 million, with 996 homes built or preserved and more than 2,100 jobs created, according to Rep. Chip LaMarca’s State & Local Housing Trust Fund Local Impact Report.

At Habitat Broward, we serve households in dire need of affordable housing after having lived in crowded and unsafe conditions while serving as our bank tellers, pre-school teachers and grocery clerks. Homeownership represents stability, a place for their family to grow and an investment they can pass on to their children. Plus, it is proven to boost education, health and safety outcomes.

Looking ahead, land is also a critical part of the solution. We urge our cities and the county to set aside more land for affordable housing and green space. In the midst of our luxury-housing building boom, let us remember that many thousands of residents still struggle to keep a roof overhead. They, too, deserve a decent place to live.

A huge thumbs up to our Broward delegation, our governor, Congress and local municipal and county leaders, who have the power to make it happen.

Nancy Robin, CEO & Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of Broward.

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Lee Fry