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County, city form Affordable Housing Advisory Committee

The interlocal agreement was approved in Tuesday's County Commission meeting.

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  • | 11:15 a.m. April 13, 2022
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The Sarasota County Commission approved a recommendation by Planning and Development Services Director Matthew Osterhoudt to create a joint Affordable Housing Advisory Committee with the city to provide insight and suggestions on housing issues in the area.

The city and county had already worked together on housing issues during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Now that the joint Affordable Housing Advisory Committee has been approved, meetings within it have been scheduled to begin in May and a report is anticipated by the end of the year.

“Florida Statute requires local governments that receive State Housing Initiatives Partnership program funds to create an affordable housing advisory committee,” read the proposal’s cover memo. “For the purpose of submitting a report to the local governing body triennially that includes recommendations on local housing incentive strategies.”

The AHAC will have two goals, according to the proposal. AHAC will provide communication to the County Commission on needs regarding housing, and will also create a range of affordable housing options for a variety of citizens and lifestyles.

The approval also filled two vacancies for which the Planning and Development Department recruited. Two individuals with experience and expertise in affordable housing were hired on a three-year term.

Duties and strategies for AHAC to use were established in February 2018. County Commissioner Nancy Detert was appointed to the committee in 2020, while the original county committee was formed in 2008.

AHAC has been required to include representatives with various experiences. A list, including someone from the residential home building industry, banking industry, a for-profit and not-for-profit provider of affordable housing and a real estate professional was provided for those interested in being in the committee.

“The purpose of AHAC is to recommend initiatives and incentives to encourage and/or facilitate affordable housing in Sarasota in accordance with the provisions of the SHIP Act,” read the approved Interlocal Agreement.

The State Housing Initiatives Partnership was a state statute that has required counties and municipalities to operate together in order to receive state funds for housing. AHAC became active when the proposal was approved on Tuesday.

Teamwork between the county and the city in the ERAP was an accomplishment noted by City Commissioners in last week’s staff evaluation. ERAP began in May 2021 and has since disbursed $7.3 million in rental and utility assistance.

The program has assisted 754 households and has continued to assist more. Since the program had income and citizenship requirements, processing applications was a challenge that required the two bodies to work together.

While the creation of AHAC has adhered to state statutes, ERAP involved the use of federal funds through the American Rescue Plan Act.