Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Housing Trust out of Funding

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Housing Trust out of Funding

Article excerpt

SARASOTA COUNTY: Started amid boom, program has been dependent on grants

SARASOTA COUNTY

As residents struggle to find affordable housing in the county, one of the tools they may have used to get a good deal could soon be defunct.

Over the past decade, local governments and Habitat for Humanity have channeled roughly $3 million of federal funds into a Community Housing Trust with hopes that it would build a permanent assortment of affordable homes.

Now the housing trust has run out of funding and is trying to figure out a way to soldier on.

The program was created in 2005 to help low and moderate-income Sarasota County residents when real estate prices were sky high.

It was supposed to last in perpetuity but was done in by its inability to secure operating funds outside of government grants.

On Wednesday, county commissioners discussed what to do with the properties that the trust would leave behind. But after that debate, trust members met with county staff and decided they were going to take some more time to search for another trust in the state that could replace them.

If the housing trust is able to find another group to step in and manage its operations, the county would need to be sure that it is viable, Commissioner Christine Robinson said.

Affordable housing is "a piece of the puzzle" for Sarasota County's workforce to grow, Robinson said. As businesses look at moving to Sarasota they need to know employees will have a place to live.

Countywide, people are struggling to find reasonably priced homes. Local foundations and agencies, like the Salvation Army, have begun subsidizing rents and helping families and individuals search for places they can afford.

Changing the model

The Community Housing Trust filled a certain niche. It helped residents, including a Sheriff's Office employee, teacher, bank teller and hospital employee, Executive Director Tanya Lukowiak said. …

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