TAMPA, Fla. — Rep. Dianne Hart’s phone has been ringing a lot lately, and when she answers, she hears a similar concern — over and over again.
Property insurance is skyrocketing, mortgage rates are going up, and Florida homeowners are being pushed to the brink of foreclosure.
“‘You keep helping renters. What about those of us who have mortgages?’” she said they ask her. “‘When are you all going to help us?’”
Saturday, Hart (D-Tampa) and several other state representatives will try to do just that. Hart is hosting an online forum that will guide struggling homeowners toward available help.
“I think that it’s our job to try to ensure that we get the message out,” Hart said.
Hart said the struggle many are facing is personal because her own property insurance climbed by $1,000 recently, which escalated her mortgage payment.
“So I feel the pain that many of my constituents are feeling right now,” she said.
Her Saturday forum tomorrow will consider solutions and resources that are already available, including the $676 million Florida Homeowner Assistance Fund, made possible because of funding from the federal American Rescue Plan.
“They will literally bring you out of foreclosure and catch up your mortgage,” Hart said. “You know, they will pay your property taxes for you.”
The virtual workshop is scheduled for Saturday, April 30 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. You can register at this Zoom link.
You can also watch it on live or after the fact on Facebook at this link.
Hart, meanwhile, hopes the state legislature can figure out a solution to the skyrocketing property insurance rates in the upcoming special session next month.
She also wants the legislature to do more to fix the housing crisis when it returns for the next full session in 2023.
“So, my hope is that next year, we will fully fund that Sadowski Housing Trust Fund, we will put more money into [the State Apartment Incentive Loan program], and we will allow multi-family units to be built around the entire state,” she said. “You know what the rents look like. People are being put outdoors every day. Courts are full of foreclosures and evictions. We have got to step up as a legislature.”
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