New Advisory Board Will Study Housing Issues In Wellington

The Village of Wellington is currently seeking applicants for its new Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. This new, all-volunteer board will oversee the spending of a limited amount of state money, while also studying ways in which the village can help Wellington remain an affordable place to live.

Appointments to Wellington’s volunteer boards and committees are usually made in May following a municipal election. At its Tuesday, April 26 meeting, the Wellington Village Council agreed to postpone this year’s appointments to the Tuesday, June 14 meeting.

Most boards are set up with each council member having a seat or seats to fill with appointees of their choosing. This year’s appointments are likely to include mostly returning appointees, with a few new faces joining the volunteer ranks.

That is not the case with the new Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. Assistant Planning, Zoning & Building Director Michael O’Dell, the village’s point person overseeing the new committee, said that the panel will consist of as few as eight members to a maximum of 11 members, but they must meet specific criteria.

Per Florida Statutes, there must be representatives of at least six of the following areas: a banking or mortgage industry representative related to affordable housing, someone engaged in the labor of home building related to affordable housing, an advocate for low-income people related to affordable housing, a for-profit provider of affordable housing, a not-for-profit provider of affordable housing, a real estate professional with interest in affordable housing, a member of the local planning agency, a citizen who resides within Wellington, a representative of employers, a representative of essential services personnel and one elected member of the council.

However, as of the end of April, the village only had three applicants — a citizen volunteer, a representative of an affordable housing nonprofit and a real estate agent. That would become five once the council appoints one of its own members to the board and the village chooses a member of its local planning agency, in Wellington’s case, the Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board.

While most Wellington boards require all members to be residents of Wellington, that is not the case here. While being a Wellington resident is preferred, O’Dell said, it is more important to have the diversity of viewpoints called for in the statutes.

Notices about the new committee went out April 1, and people can still apply until at least the middle of May, O’Dell said.

While some Wellington committees meet every month and have to deal with a variety of issues, the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee has a more limited scope and workload.

“At minimum, they have to meet once a year,” O’Dell said. “It is a brand-new board, so my thought is there will be an initial meeting to give them direction and a second meeting as we move through this process to engage the residents in the grant funding we got from the state. A report needs to be put together at the last meeting. That report is due no later than Oct. 1, 2023. So, a minimum of at least two, possibly three meetings.”

Wellington is creating the board because it opted to accept a share of the state’s money earmarked toward affordable housing. Accepting the $414,125 required the creation of the board.

“The state statute says they are to review and foster Wellington’s affordable housing stock,” O’Dell said. “With the prices of everything going up, that is getting more difficult. We are just stepping into this goal.”

The limited amount of money does not allow Wellington to engage in any major construction projects. The state money will mostly be used to support existing residents. “Our plan that we sent to the state is to allocate 75 percent to homeowner rehabilitation with 20 percent to residents with special needs and a portion to try to help with emergency repairs,” O’Dell said.

The Affordable Housing Advisory Committee will review the expenditures to provide oversight and include that in its report to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. Beyond that, the board will also study the affordable housing issue in Wellington and look into ways the village can help. That will include community outreach and gathering feedback.

“We will work with them to develop these recommendations, which we would use to develop our affordable housing program,” O’Dell explained. “The purpose of the committee is to help us with our housing stock.”

This includes both owner-occupied units and rentals, and the prices for both have been going up rapidly over the past year.

“The primary goal of the committee is to preserve and foster Wellington’s affordable housing stock. We need to figure out what we have and start there,” O’Dell said.

According to the Florida Statutes, the committee will also be asked to recommend monetary and non-monetary incentives for affordable housing; review policies and procedures, ordinances, land development regulations and the comprehensive plan; and seek financial assistance through regulatory incentives to facilitate the private sector development of affordable housing.

Anyone interested in an appointment to the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee is welcome to contact O’Dell at (561) 753-2532 with questions.

Once ready to apply, applicants should submit an advisory board application. Applications are available at the Village Clerk’s Office, located at 12300 W. Forest Hill Blvd. and on the village’s web site at www.wellingtonfl.gov. For more info., call Village Clerk Chevelle D. Addie at (561) 791-4118 or Assistant Village Clerk Kelly Avery at (561) 791-4784.

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