TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The White House announced new efforts on Monday to put affordable housing in reach for Americans searching for new homes. The programs, as described, would work to address a shortage of housing inventory across the country through new programs administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
HUD announced Tuesday that $10.3 billion had been allocated for housing fund grants – and millions of those dollars are heading for Tampa Bay as part of a new plan from the Biden administration.
Market data for the housing crisis is mixed, in terms of dates and inventory records. As of the end of the 2021 fiscal year, quarter four, 24% of inventory in Tampa was purchased by investors, according to data from real estate company Redfin. Nationally, investors accounted for 18% of homes purchased in the same timeframe.
Separately, the White House announcement referred to data from Moody’s Analytics, showing that as of March 2021, housing inventory in the U.S. was short 1.5 million homes. Moody’s data showed that Florida markets ranged from “adequately supplied” to “severely undersupplied” depending on location.
“Today’s rising housing costs are years in the making,” the White House said. “Fewer new homes were built in the decade following the Great Recession than in any decade since the 1960s – constraining housing supply and failing to keep pace with demand and household formation.” The White House said this problem only grew during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lack of supply and ongoing inflation is a key factor blamed for rising housing costs across the U.S., according to previously-reported data and analysis by Florida Atlantic University. The White House said rising costs and dropping inventory were among President Joe Biden’s top priorities to ease costs on consumers and tackle inflation. Still, like many economic policies to combat inflation, relief is unlikely to be immediate.
The programs announced by the Biden administration plan for years and not months. The president’s plan also includes prioritizing homeowners instead of institutions, with the White House referencing the increased rate of investor-purchased homes and how it has “resulted in fierce competition for starter homes and pushed many qualified potential homebuyers towards rentals.”
“President Biden is releasing a Housing Supply Action Plan to ease the burden of housing costs over time, by boosting the supply of quality housing in every community,” the White House announcement said Monday. “His plan includes legislative and administrative actions that will help close America’s housing supply shortfall in five years, starting with the creation and preservation of hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units in the next three years.”
Part of the newly announced housing affordability efforts build on existing programs, such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit or the HOME Investment Partnerships Program. Both HUD initiatives are intended to provide funding grants to communities and investors to create more housing availability, or provide residents with funds to get into new homes.
Additionally, the White House announced they’d be rewarding “jurisdictions that have reformed zoning and land-use policies” to make it easier to earn federal grants and speed up the process, “at scale” using what the administration called “higher scores.”
HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge said the new housing plan from the White House is a way to “close the housing supply gap” within five years and is expected to lower costs for prospective homeowners.
“The Housing Supply Action Plan is the latest step HUD, and the Biden-Harris Administration are taking to expand our nation’s supply of affordable housing,” Fudge said. “This plan will ease costs for families across the country and give communities the tools they need to make more affordable housing available to residents.”
The rezoning initiative for awarding grants may benefit Florida, if the state legislature’s recent efforts to free up real estate for housing construction is signed into law. Senate Bill 962, passed in both chambers of Florida’s Legislature, would let residential development proceed on non-residential parcels if affordable housing units are included.
The bipartisan legislation passed the chambers in March, but has not yet been sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign into law or veto. If it is signed into law by the governor, Florida could potentially be able to receive more priority for funding allocations to pay for housing construction, as would other states and local municipalities that choose to provide rezoning opportunities for residential opportunities, based on the Biden administration’s new housing directive.
In a May 17 announcement, HUD reported more than $10 billion would be released across various grant programs to address housing needs from Biden’s Housing Action Plan. HUD said millions of dollars from the different programs greenlit or reinforced by the new Housing Action Plan were coming to the Tampa Bay area. The different programs providing funding were the Community Development Block Grant, HOME, Emergency Solutions Grants, and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS.
Of the funding coming to the Tampa Bay area, Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk counties were receiving among the largest allocations from the different programs. The City of Tampa and Hillsborough County will receive the single largest amounts in awards for individual recipient, across the programs listed.
According to HUD, funding awards may not be as large for counties as shown in the list.
“The amounts also reflect approved grant reductions and include any reallocated funds for the CDBG and HOME programs,” HUD said. “Under the CDBG program, some metropolitan cities have a joint grant agreement with an urban county to administer their CDBG grant. The urban county amounts shown in the following table include the funds allocated to any joint metropolitan city.”
If Hillsborough County and Tampa are joined for administrative purposes, as they did for Emergency Rental Assistance Program needs, the amount listed for Hillsborough County would largely be made up of the funding awarded to Tampa directly.