By Jeffrey M. Fagan
Orlando REALTOR® magazine, Spring 2019
Dateline – March 18, 2019. As I write my message for this issue of Orlando REALTOR®, a coterie of Orlando REALTORS® (yours truly included) are on the road toward Tallahassee for our annual Great American REALTOR® Days. We’ll be learning about the REALTOR® position on this year’s priority issues, then head out en masse to educate our legislators using the REALTOR® voice.
At every possible opportunity, I plan to applaud Gov. DeSantis for including full funding for the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund in his initial budget, and to appeal to legislators to join the effort and end the decades-long reapportionment of trust fund monies to other projects.
The need for Sadowski funds to stay within the housing realm is great, throughout our state and in Central Florida in particular (Orlando has unfortunately been identified as the worst city in the nation for housing affordability by the National Low Income Housing Coalition). Many first-time buyers need assistance due to lower wages, higher housing costs, and higher debt load. Rental assistance is critical due to accelerated rental rate appreciation that is outpacing wage growth.
I believe that local municipalities need to examine reducing fees, streamline permitting processes, and come up with creative approaches to increasing auxiliary housing units. So with that I am incredibly pleased to announce ORRA Vice President of Government and Foundation Relations Frankie Elliott has been appointed to serve on Orange County’s new Housing For All Task Force. This is a very important entity, and it’s worthy to note that ORRA has been offered a place among the Orlando business, governmental, and nonprofit leaders who sit on the task force.
The goal of the Housing for All Task Force is to promote a transparent system that encourages community engagement. It will also educate and inform local residents, and will ultimately provide practical and lasting short and long-term solutions to the affordable housing crisis in Orange County.
The effort aims to take the prior work from Orange County’s 2018 Regional Affordable Housing Initiative, analyze the recommendations, and put them into action. The task force will also re-examine the current state of housing with specific focus on the needs of Orange County residents and the necessary partnerships of developers, nonprofits, financial institutions, and jurisdictions to help sustain and accommodate the county’s growing population.
By this fall, the task force intends to release a final action plan that includes proposals for code and policy changes as well as incentives to support a greater diversity of housing products in Orange County. It is an honor for ORRA to have a role in an initiative that I believe is destined to have a positive impact on our community and our profession.
ORRA President Jeffrey M. Fagan, Watson Realty Corp, can be reached at email@example.com.