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Affordable housing programs in Cape take hit

By Staff | Aug 11, 2009

During a difficult budget process, state legislators deemed affordable housing programs as too expensive, sweeping millions of dollars from local programs in addition to a cap already in place.
For Cape Coral, funding for its State Housing Initiatives Partnership has almost been completely decimated.
“The cap and the sweeping of the funds from this trust resulted in a reduction of 89.6 percent for fiscal year 2010,” Amy Yearsley, SHIP coordinator for Cape Coral, told council members Monday during a workshop meeting.
The $165,516 that remains is dedicated to a new state program, the Florida Homebuyer Opportunity Program, designed to augment the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit contained in the federal stimulus package.
Under FHOP, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral, qualified first-time homebuyers can receive their tax credit upfront from the state instead of waiting for their federal tax return as set forth in the stimulus plan.
Cape Coral City Council members discussed a resolution to provide the necessary revisions to their SHIP program to accommodate the FHOP and decreased funds.
Council also considered a resolution urging state legislators to eliminate the cap on SHIP in 2010.
According to city documents, the revisions will mean the “elimination of funding for the homeownership, owner-occupied rehabilitation, down payment and senior rental strategies due to the reduction in funding.”
Cape Coral City Manager Terry Stewart said the resolution calling on state legislators to act will not set any precedents.
“You’ve supported similar resolutions in the past. It would not be a departure of what you have done in the past,” he said.
Council members were nonplussed with the reduction in state funding.
“89.6 percent certainly is a significant decrease,” Mayor Jim Burch said.
Council members are slated to vote on both resolutions Monday.