Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco freezes aid for rehabbing homes

Pasco County froze aid for rehabbing homes this week over fears Florida lawmakers will raid affordable housing money to help fill a budget hole.

A Florida Housing Finance Corp. official sent a message to officials across the state that money for affordable housing in the State Housing Initiatives Partnership would be frozen until after the Legislature finishes its special session slated for Jan. 5 to 17.

"While we hope this will not occur, it is even possible that all SHIP funding that has not been distributed will be swept by the Legislature," wrote administrator Rob Dearduff on Monday, urging that officials operate as though no more money would come.

So Pasco community development manager George Romagnoli stopped the county's programs, including foreclosure prevention and paying tax bills. The county faced losing $1.9-million, half of the state money its relies on to help residents. For example, that means 50 applications for loans to repair homes are on ice, though 25 projects remain ongoing, Romagnoli said.

"They hold back that money, and we can't keep on," he said.

However, state Sen. Mike Fasano, chairman of a committee that oversees housing spending, said lawmakers have not targeted the housing money, which is set aside in a trust fund. Gov. Charlie Crist's budget-cutting proposal Tuesday didn't include taking any money from the trust fund.

"I will tell you the Senate has no interest in sweeping the dollars out of the trust fund," said Fasano, R-New Port Richey, a top deputy to Senate President Jeff Atwater.

Steve Auger, executive director of Florida Housing, said the agency intended to make sure local officials understood money is tight.

The agency planned to deliver $161-million statewide in 2008-09 to counties and cities for affordable housing, sending money every three months.

The next allotment was supposed to be sent out the first week of January, and it might still go out depending on what lawmakers decide, he said.

While he and other housing advocates remain wary of a potential reduction, nothing more than a possible 10 percent cut across state government has been floated.

"The intention wasn't to create firestorm," Auger said of the e-mail to officials.

Not that one ignited in Pinellas County, which is slated to receive $4.5-million. Cheryl Reed, the assistant director of community development, said the county's affordable housing program was prepared for any freeze because it doesn't spend money until it has it.

Romagnoli said Pasco should be in good financial shape too. Its promised loans are nearly the same as dollars on hand. It also can rely on repayments to provide money for more lending, although it would take a lot to keep the programs operating if money stops flowing.

Any decision would not affect a new source of money to help stanch foreclosures in Pasco. The county will still receive $19.5-million from Congress, and federal officials in federal housing agency's regional office in Jacksonville have signed off on those funds, Romagnoli said.

David DeCamp can be reached at or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6232.


$1.9M Money the county risks losing that it relies on to help residents with issues such as foreclosure prevention.

50 Applications for loans to repair homes that are on now on hold.

25 County projects that remain ongoing.

Pasco freezes aid for rehabbing homes 12/24/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 24, 2008 6:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Deputies: Dade City man admitted to pouring hot water on 2-year-old


    A Dade City man was arrested after he admitted he poured scalding water on a 2-year-old, deputies said.

    Jonathan Lee Howard, 26, of Dade City, was arrrested after deputies say he  admitted to pouring scalding water on a 2-year-old. [Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Who took a knee? How each NFL team responded to Donald Trump's tweets about anthem protests


    NFL players, coaches and owners across the league reacted in various ways on Sunday to remarks from President Donald Trump speaking about NFL players who have protested during the national anthem.

    Members of the Oakland Raiders kneel during the playing of the National Anthem before an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. [Alex Brandon | Associated Press]
  3. St. Petersburg City Council candidates set to speak tonight


    ST. PETERSBURG — City Council elections are in full swing and on Monday night voters can hear from the six candidates at a forum being held at City Hall.

  4. East Lake alum George Campbell starting to click at Florida State


    When receiver Auden Tate (Wharton High) went down with a shoulder injury for Florida State on Saturday, the Seminoles' offense took a major hit. Quarterback James Blackman was 16-of-22 for 190 yards before Tate's injury and 6-of-16 for 88 after it.

  5. This Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake is ready for breakfast, dessert or your next party


    This week, food critic Laura Reiley offers thoughts on the Bundt cake, and why it and other retro desserts are making a comeback. Read that story here.

    Lemon Blueberry Coconut Bundt Cake. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.