By TaMaryn Waters, Tallahassee Democrat

Blueprint tax dollars won’t be used to address Tallahassee’s affordable housing crisis despite efforts more than two years in the making by the Capital Area Justice Ministry.

The group, representing more than 4,000 congregation members, a mix of Christianity, Judaism, Unitarian Universalist and Quakers and others, failed to get enough support for a substantial amendment to Blueprint’s list of voter-approved projects.

Robert Deyle, who chairs CAJM’s Affordable Housing Committee, said the group is slated to meet this week to discuss reoccurring funding options aimed at putting a dent in the affordable housing squeeze gripping the capital city. He said the issue requires local government intervention, noting more than 16,000 Leon County residents make less than 50% of the area median income and are considered “severely housing burdened.”

“I think we’ve really succeeded in raising it up to the point where it can’t be ignored any longer,” said Deyle, when asked if the group’s efforts were in vain. “The trick is to find somebody in leadership who’s willing to actually do something about it.”

On Feb. 29, Blueprint board members, made up of county and city commissioners, wrestled with and ultimately decided to initiate the arduous amendment process, though it looked doomed from the start without a clear supermajority.

On May 16, the Intergovernmental Agency Board had its second and final public hearing to consider including a process amendment to include land acquisition for an affordable rental housing program.

While a supermajority of county commissioners (five votes) were in favor of an amendment change, the measure needs a supermajority (four votes) on the city side, too. Mayor John Dailey and Commissioner Dianne Williams Cox voted against an amendment process and City Commissioner Curtis Richardson didn’t attend the meeting due to a family conflict.

Five of the seven county commissioners voted for the substantial amendment: Commissioners Carolyn Cummings, Nick Maddox, Rick Minor, David O’Keefe and Bill Proctor. City Commissioners Jeremy Matlow and Jack Porter voted for the amendment as well.

County Commissioner Brian Welch didn’t support the motion to create an amendment change, adding he didn’t want to give the community “false hope.”

“It’s irresponsible for us as policymakers to say, ‘Oh, we’re going to add a project, and we have no ability to fund it without changing projects that have already been approved by voters,'” Welch said. “It creates a precedent that is a very slippery slope.”

Yet, Welch acknowledged CAJM’s efforts and gave the group credit for bringing the issue “right to the surface” and said there’s a renewed interest to address the affordable housing in a meaningful way.

City Commissioner Jack Porter didn’t mince words or her disappointment on the board direction not to support an amendment process. She said CAJM was “being jerked around” and contends there’s funding available if the board wanted to pursue it.

“I’m fully aware, as we all are, that voters voted on projects. If there was nothing for us to do, then why are we here?” Porter asked. “I believe we are here to respond when there are issues that call on us to respond, and I believe this is one of those issues.”

View the original story here.