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As housing prices soar, Titusville City Council is considering how to provide federal funds to local agencies to help families struggling to make ends meet and keep a roof over their homes. head.
At a city council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 18, members heard how federal government money has been spent over the past year on housing issues affecting Titusville residents.
Different agencies have also pitched their case for a slice of the $1.4 million pie as part of the annual process for disbursing these funds.
Federal money is used to keep “declining neighborhoods from further deterioration” by providing rehabilitation and technical assistance; promoting affordable housing for Titusville residents; stimulate interest in neighborhood preservation; and prevent homelessness.
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Titusville currently has a total of $1,424,351 to spend on housing programs from the federal grant, which includes $716,072 in leftover money from last year.
Past programs funded with the money last year include nonprofits such as Aging Matters, the Women’s Center and Victory Kids Sports. It was also used to improve and resurface streets in Titusville, according to Terrie Franklin, director of Neighborhood Services for the City of Titusville.
The largest expenditures under the program were $326,409 for affordable rental housing; $164,989 for housing rehabilitation; and $319,597 for COVID-19 emergency housing assistance.
Franklin also recounted what the city was able to do with the funds the previous year as an example of how the money can be used in the future.
Titusville was able to rehabilitate three homes, provide down payment assistance to two families, provide social services to nearly 2,000 people, improve eight roads, and help nearly 60 people pay emergency rent, utilities, and mortgages.
City council members expressed concern that so few families had been helped find housing, but Franklin said homes had to cost less than $200,000 to qualify for the program.
Members praised the spending for how it alleviated some of the housing problems in Titusville, but many worried that more and more people might struggle to rent or especially own a home.
The concerns came as home prices in Brevard County and the country continued to outpace wage growth. The median home price in Florida is now $237,900, according to credit agency Experian. This marks an increase of $105,500 since 2000.
Meanwhile, Pew Research studies have shown that growth in real wages – or inflation-adjusted wages – has largely stagnated over the past 40 years, meaning that even with higher wages, those same incomes have maintained a similar level of purchasing power for decades.
This has put pressure on federal and local governments who are able to help fewer people into homes.
Very few homes, Franklin said, are available for less than $200,000 and those that often require expensive repairs, making the barrier to entry even higher for first-time homebuyers and newcomers. low income families.
“It’s so crazy. I don’t understand how people can afford to buy a house,” Vice Mayor Robert Jordan said.
Mayor Dan Diesel said he continues to see Titusville residents become homeless or underhoused due to barriers to entry in the housing market.
“It’s not just here. It’s everywhere. There’s a housing problem and it’s really overpriced,” Diesel said. “I see people who have been teaching for 20 years…have a hard time getting into a house.”
The Titusville City Council will meet again to vote on how to disburse the funds in the coming months.
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