ORLANDO, FL - Funding for affordable housing programs, regulation of apartment maintenance workers, and potential expansion of protected classes of citizens are among the topics the Florida Apartment Association (FAA) plans to address with legislators prior to the opening of the 2015 legislative session. FAA representatives plan to meet with legislators at the organization’s annual Legislative Days conference Feb. 17 and 18.
Supporting Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund
“This year, more than ever, the FAA considers continued funding of the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund an important priority,” said Glenn Evers, chairman of FAA’s Government Affairs Council and Legislative Committee. Already over the past few years, he explained, funds have been redirected into the general fund instead of going toward loans to renovate and retrofit apartment communities for Florida’s elderly, disabled, and other vulnerable populations, for example. “Then in November, Florida voters approved an amendment to the state constitution allocating a portion of document stamp taxes to land and water conservation. In order to protect affordable housing programs, they need the full allocation of the Sadowski Trust Fund money.”
FAA recently became one of the 30 diverse organizations that make up the Sadowski Coalition, which estimates that putting the estimated $245.33 million in the state and local housing trust funds in fiscal year 2015-16 into Florida’s housing programs will create 24,820 jobs and $2.5 billion in positive economic impact in Florida.
Supporting Expansion of Scope of Work Performed by Maintenance Workers
Under Florida State Law (Unlicensed Maintenance), apartment maintenance workers are prohibited from performing many basic repairs. FAA proposes that law be revised to permit workers holding a Certificate for Apartment Maintenance Technicians (CAMT) to perform these types of repairs. The certification program includes more than 90 hours of coursework and is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a private nonprofit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system.
“The maintenance work we’re talking about includes repairs many homeowners do themselves — or hire a handyman to perform,” explained Courtney Barnard, FAA’s government affairs director. “Allowing trained and certified apartment maintenance workers to carry out these repairs means the work can get done faster and more cost-effectively. That’s a win-win for owners and residents alike.”
Opposing the Creation of Additional Protected Classes
Federal and state fair housing laws prohibit discrimination based on factors such as race, color, religion, national origin, gender, and disability. The FAA fully supports compliance with these laws, and offers members educational programs and other resources.
The FAA is concerned that adding certain protected classes, such as people with criminal records, could pose liability and safety issues.
“Residents want to feel safe in their homes, and of course apartment community owners must take steps to protect their communities,” Barnard said. “Background checks — including arrest records and criminal convictions — are important tools to do just that.”
The FAA will pursue an academic study of insurance liability issues to assess what steps can be taken to create a more affordable insurance market for apartment communities. The results of the study will help FAA prepare for legislative efforts in 2016 and beyond.