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SRQ DAILY Mar 18, 2023

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"The key to workforce housing is market-based, matching the supply with the demand. We must consider all policy decisions that increase the demand for service workforce housing."

- Mark Pritchett, Gulf Coast Community Foundation

[Gulf Coast]  Top Five Wins for Workforce Housing
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

A lack of workforce housing is a national issue and deeply impacts our Gulf Coast region. At Gulf Coast Community Foundation, we have heard the call for help from residents, nonprofit organizations, and business leaders. 

For years, we have been working behind the scenes on a systemic solution to reduce the imbalance between the demand for and available supply of workforce housing. Our community has built many workforce housing units over the past few decades, but with the large-scale creation of market-rate units, demand overwhelms new supply efforts. 

The key to workforce housing is market-based, matching the supply with the demand. We must consider all policy decisions that increase the demand for service workforce housing.

The good news is there are some recent, local workforce housing wins I want to share with you today.

  1. We have a Blueprint for Workforce Housing Action Plan that Gulf Coast co-commissioned with the City and County of Sarasota Government. It provides tested, feasible solutions. We are making forward progress on some of these best practice strategies, including using government surplus lands for accessible, quality workforce housing. 
  2. Together with some of our generous donors, Gulf Coast Community Foundation funded the development of a 10-unit apartment complex for veterans in the City of Sarasota on land provided by the city. Alongside the City of Sarasota, Office of Housing and Community Development, and St. Vincent de Paul CARES, we are building permanent workforce housing, owned and managed by a nonprofit agency providing safe housing for veterans in need.
  3. 3.     The Sarasota Herald-Tribune noted Sarasota County recently approved tiered impact fees for developers building workforce housing. This is a big step forward in incentivizing the market to build workforce housing, and we thank the Sarasota County Commission for this important step.
  4. Jon Thaxton, Gulf Coast’s senior vice president of community leadership, serves on Sarasota County’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. The committee’s report is a guide that can be implemented now. One of the most important recommendations from the advisory committee is the adoption of an inclusionary zoning code that requires developers to build workforce housing units to meet the demand created by the new market-rate housing they are creating. 
  5. The community successfully supported the allocation of $25 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds that could catalyze the creation of over 700 units of workforce housing. Those projects are in motion, including the two developments mentioned below.

Community & Assisted Supported Living, a nonprofit partner who provides safe, affordable and supportive housing for adults with developmental differences and mental health diagnoses, proposed a new development in northern Sarasota County. The project is moving forward with federal, state and county support. 

Family Promise of South Sarasota County is a strong and innovative nonprofit partner of Gulf Coast. They have stepped up to meet the needs of residents in southern Sarasota County. Gulf Coast awarded $400,000 to FPSSC for 12 Parkside Cottages in Venice for families at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Collaboration with housing developers and using surplus government-owned land creates public-private partnership that works. 

Gulf Coast identified the critical need for workforce housing in 2017, and it was the top priority in the 2019 and 2021 Gulf Coast Regional Scans which are conducted periodically with stakeholder input. 

The first step in solving this social issue is acknowledging the problem. Many sectors are now working together to address the need for additional housing for all income levels. It will take significant and consistent effort to remedy the imbalance of housing stock available so that the supply meets the demand. Celebrating wins helps us to reinforce what is working and build momentum, to achieve more together. 

Mark Pritchett is President and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

Photo courtesy Gulf Coast Community Foundation: Family Promise of South Sarasota County’s Parkside Cottages in Venice for families at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

[Argus]  Comprehensive Affordable Housing Policies include tax and fee restraint
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

Lack of available affordable or attainable housing is a complaint that is widespread from employees to employers. In recent years, it has begun to include middle income retirees as they get pushed out of rentals due to the increase in rents due to increased market demand. Locally, this has been exacerbated by the demand from Hurricane Ian and the COVID migration from northern states. Local governments are now feeling the pinch as well; they can’t fill positions because prospective hires can’t find housing.

Affordable housing is a market issue, so you can’t outright control it. You can incentivize it and encourage it with land use tools and deregulation of costly rules that automatically increase the cost of building. We see a focus on this aspect locally. We applaud local governments for taking these steps to try to tackle the issue, but it must be done in conjunction with government fiscal self-control.

In the upcoming year, the public will need to pay close attention to government fees and encourage government to exercise self-restraint, or even offset fee increases with lower millage rates to make the impact financially neutral on our residents.

The reality is a fee increase is no different than a tax increase in terms of effects. You will even hear the words “user fees” used, making it seem as though the fees are not universally paid by every property owner, when in reality they are. Think about solid waste fees or fire fees as examples. Fees should not be increased without examining the effects of those increases on vulnerable populations, who are already struggling to stay in their homes.

The economics of fees impact affordable housing. Landlords will pass those fee increases on to renters, homeowners will directly absorb the fees, and governments may claim that they have not raised the millage rate.

Some governments have backed themselves into corners with fee increases. These governments spent time-limited, one-time federal money on recurring expenditures that will make it extremely difficult to offset fee increases with millage rate reductions. Basically, the items are budgeted with no plan as to how to fund the item after the federal dollars run out.

Local governments need to step back, take their time to consider all the potential fiscal impacts, and determine if a dollar they spend is a dollar contributing to the affordable housing crisis. In the next six months, governments will be getting to the meat of their budgets and having separate public hearings on fees. 

The Argus Foundation encourages local governments to examine every increase in spending against the cost to housing, it should be a part of every budget workshop and fee public hearing. The overall increase to property owners with both increases in property values and fees should be transparently examined if governments are serious about their stated priority of housing.

The time of excess spending has come to a close. We cannot rely on the unusual influx of Federal dollars going forward. It is time to seriously consider the ramifications of new taxes and fees in relation to their effects on affordable housing. We look forward to the affordable housing conversation being integrated into budget and fee discussions by local governments.

Christine Robinson is the executive director of The Argus Foundation. 

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: FST - A Place in the Sun - A Tribute to Stevie Wonder , November 16 – April 16, Varied

A Place in the Sun – A Tribute to Stevie Wonder, will begin playing in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret on November 16, 2022. The new music revue celebrates the legendary musician whose catalogue spans six decades and multiple musical genres, taking audiences through the beloved songbook of musical pioneer, Stevie Wonder. Created by Jason Cannon, Richard Hopkins, and Sarah Durham, this all-new Cabaret features such timeless hits as “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” “Isn’t She Lovely?,” and “Superstition.” Tickets are now on sale at FloridaStudioTheatre.org or at 941.366.9000.

[SOON]  THEATER: Asolo Repertory Theatre: Ken Ludwigs The Three Musketeers , January 11 – March 26, Varied

Adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas. Directed by Peter Amster. Harrowing adventure, bravery, and friendship take center stage in Ken Ludwig's THE THREE MUSKETEERS, a thrilling adaptation of the popular novel by Alexandre Dumas. One of the world’s most enduring comedies, this classic tells the tale of a daring young man who finds himself in the company of the world’s greatest swordsmen, as well as some of the world’s most dangerous men and women. Directed by Peter Amster, who most recently directed Asolo Rep’s smash hit Murder on the Orient Express in 2020, this play promises to be a fast-paced, witty, swashbuckling good time. All for one, and one for all! 

Asolo Repertory Theatre

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Towers of Tomorrow with LEGO Bricks at the Bishop , January 11 – March 18, During museum hours

Get inspired to create your own ‘towers of tomorrow’ with over 200,000 loose LEGO® bricks available in hands-on construction areas. Young and old will be limited only by their imagination as they add their creations to a steadily rising futuristic LEGO® metropolis inside the exhibition. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit bishopscience.org.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: She Engineers at the Bishop , January 24 – July 30, During museum hours

SHE ENGINEERS is a bilingual (English and Spanish) poster exhibition highlighting eight women in various engineering fields. In their own words, the women share their passion and what inspired them to become engineers. If we support a woman in STEM, then she can change the world.

[SOON]  THEATER: Network at Florida Studio Theatre , January 25 – March 19, Various times

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) is proud to present Network, a fast-paced drama following the downward spiral of Howard Beale, a longtime news anchor who has worked at a television network, UBS, for 25 years. When Beale learns that he is being fired for poor ratings and low viewership, he unravels live on air during his final broadcast. As a result, his show’s ratings soar, and Howard becomes the biggest thing on television. Seeing Howard as a new populist prophet, UBS decides to leverage Howard’s newfound popularity to boost its bottom line. Network begins playing January 25, 2023, in FST’s Gompertz Theatre. Single tickets to Network range from $25-39. Subscriptions and single tickets are on sale at FloridaStudioTheatre.org or at 941.366.9000.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens 2023 Jean & Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Tiffany: The Pursuit of Beauty in Nature , February 12 – June 26, During garden hours

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ 2023 Jean and Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Tiffany: The Pursuit of Beauty in Nature showcases the creativity and innovation of American artist and designer Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933). The first exhibition of its type to be presented in a botanical garden, the exhibition highlights the inspiring connection between Tiffany Studios and the natural world through unique horticultural displays in the Tropical Conservatory and the Gardens, accompanied by seminal examples of Tiffany’s work on view in the Museum of Botany and the Arts. To learn more, visit selby.org. Selby Gardens Downtown Sarasota campus, 1534 Mound St., Sarasota.

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Sarasota Jazz Festival , March 13 – March 18, Various times

The Jazz Club of Sarasota presents the Sarasota Jazz Festival. A variety of jazz styles will be on display for audiences. The event will feature four evenings of main stage performances, a jazz trolley tour, late night jam sessions and jazz films. Programs will be held at University Town Center/Nathan Benderson Park and the Burns Court Cinema. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit sarasotajazzfestival.com.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Green Weekend at The Bay Sarasota , March 17 – March 19, Various times

There’s no better place than The Bay to celebrate two important green holiday favorites: St. Patrick’s Day and Global Recycling Day. Green drink specials, a visit from Sunshine Composters, a lunchtime concert by Garage Men Band... and more! Various locations at The Bay park. thebaysarasota.org.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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