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Community Voices: Making affordable housing a reality

Mike Sutton



The compact will bring the 25 local governments together to find solutions to the lack of affordable housing options in Pinellas County.

Welcome to the Catalyst’s Community Voices platform. We’ve curated community leaders and thinkers from all parts of our great city to speak on issues that affect us all. Visit our Community Voices page for more details.

Public-nonprofit partnerships (PNPs) have become an increasingly important tool in the development of affordable housing. These partnerships bring together the resources and expertise of the public and nonprofit sectors to address the complex challenges of creating and maintaining affordable housing.

One of the main benefits of PNPs is that they allow for the sharing of risk and resources between the public and nonprofit sectors. The government can provide funding and other incentives to nonprofit organizations, while nonprofit organizations can bring their expertise in community engagement, financing, and affordable housing development to the table.

This allows for the leveraging of both public and nonprofit resources to create more affordable housing than either sector could do alone.

Another key benefit of PNPs is that they can help to attract nonprofit investment to affordable housing. The nonprofit sector is often better equipped to raise the capital needed for housing development, and PNPs can provide nonprofit organizations with the assurance that their investment will be supported by the government.

This can make it more attractive for nonprofit organizations to invest in affordable housing, which can help to increase the overall supply of affordable housing.

An added important advantage of public-nonprofit partnerships (PNPs) is that nonprofit organizations often have the expertise to provide additional or wrap-around services to residents. These services can include job training programs, financial literacy classes, and health and social services. These services can help residents to improve their economic stability, which in turn can help them to maintain their housing.

Additionally, nonprofits are often deeply rooted in the communities they serve, and they have a good understanding of the specific needs of the residents. This can help to ensure that the housing and services being provided meet the specific needs of the community.

PNPs also give the government more control over the development and affordability of affordable housing, particularly in terms of ensuring that the housing is accessible to low-income families and that the housing is of a high quality. PNPs can include agreements that require nonprofit organizations to set aside a certain percentage of units for low-income families, or that mandate that the housing be built to certain standards. This can ensure that the housing being developed is truly affordable and that it will meet the needs of low-income families.

PNPs can also help to streamline the development process, which can lead to faster and more efficient construction of affordable housing. PNPs can help to reduce bureaucracy and red tape by bringing the public and nonprofit sectors together to work towards a common goal. This can help to speed up the development process, which can make it easier to get affordable housing built quickly.

One of the challenges of PNPs is finding the right balance between the needs of the public and nonprofit sectors. PNPs can be complex and difficult to negotiate, and it can be hard to find agreements that are beneficial for both sides. Additionally, the government must be careful to ensure that PNPs are not used to shift the financial burden of affordable housing development onto the nonprofit sector.

Despite these challenges, PNPs have proven to be an effective tool for creating and maintaining affordable housing. By bringing together the resources and expertise of the public and nonprofit sectors, PNPs can help to increase the overall supply of affordable housing, attract nonprofit investment, and ensure that the housing is accessible to low-income families and of a high quality. As the need for affordable housing continues to grow, PNPs will likely play an increasingly important role in the development of affordable housing.

By combining the expertise of nonprofit organizations with the resources of the government, PNPs can provide comprehensive solutions to the complex challenges of affordable housing. This can help to improve the lives of residents by not only providing them with a safe and decent place to live, but also with the services and support they need to improve their overall well-being.

This holistic approach can help to break the cycle of poverty and create more sustainable communities.

Mike Sutton is President and CEO ofHabitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties.

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  1. Avatar

    Rita Sewell

    March 9, 2023at5:33 pm

    Since the health care industry is such a force in the Tampa Bay Area, has there been any conversation regarding their contribution to affordable housing/workforce housing for their employees. I would image the new nurse/ MD with a great deal of debt might appreciate HCA, Adventist or BayCare’s investment in local housing. Perhaps if they joined together some great work could be done. The ancillary staff of housekeeping, dietary and front office staff also would benefit.

  2. Avatar


    March 9, 2023at6:53 pm

    Mike, I’ve admired you from afar. I know of no one in Tampa Bay who has done as much as you and Habitat to actually help the very low income people here–the “little” people. God’s going to really bless you for it. Some day I’d like to meet you and share ideas on increasing the supply of affordable housing–especially in So. St. Pete CR1, CR2 and CR4 areas. These are the areas where I believe the most can be done in the shortest time and with the least money to provide Affordable Housing. 9,617 more lots were made available by the City exclusively for “affordable” ADU’s. No land cost. No taxes. And the elimination of at least $50,000 in non-essential building materials and labor costs if the ADU’s are built with Steel SIPs [from a Workshop to make them] run by a nonprofit 501 c 3. I envision such a workshop within a nonprofit. Such a nonprofit workshop can produce 10 ADU’s a DAY–providing them at half the cost, in half the time and with half the GHG’s. The homeowners of the ADU’s would gain supplemental income and increase the value of their property. The City tax revenues without any cost of extra infrastructure, renters would have new very affordable housing near where they work and low energy bills and our planet the reduction of 2.25 metric tons of GHG per year per house. Traditional wood frame housing has become too expensive however, taking too long to build, creating too much construction waste that goes to landfills and isn’t that energy efficient. It only takes 25 actual workdays for a 3 person work crew to put up and finish out an ADU built with Steel SIPs. The construction crews I envision are made up of 1 Veteran and 3 apprentices from our local tech schools–doing meaningful work–building “something that matters” for the communities they live in. Interested in learning more? Give me a ring. This is my passion. My dream. I just don’t have the funding to breath financial life into it. Meanwhile, I cheer you on and ask God to give you abundant blessings–here and later on. Some day He’ll say to you, Welcome Mike, “you did it for Me.”

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