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This was a press release sent on April 25, 2022 by Chloe Kessock in the Office of Congressman Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg).

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Representatives Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) recently introduced H.R.7532, the Securing Access to Financing for Exterior Repairs (SAFER) in Condos Act. The bill will make it easier for condo owners to afford special assessments assigned by their HOAs or Condo Associations by expanding access to two loan programs guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help cover the cost of special assessments for structural and safety related repairs, keeping Florida families safe, healthy, and in their homes.

“As Floridians remain focused on safety and structural integrity of their condominiums, more and more owners are facing unaffordable special assessments. When associations have to make critical repairs to keep residents safe, the special assessments that fund the repairs can be a significant financial burden, especially for seniors on fixed incomes and working Floridians,” said Rep. Crist. “Our bill, the SAFER in Condos Act, would build on a home improvement program under FHA to provide an affordable financing option so seniors and families can stay in their condo safely and avoid another preventable disaster.”

“While we still mourn all those we lost in Surfside, the harsh reality is that untold numbers of aging condos just like Champlain Towers South may face similar structural safety problems. In the months and years ahead, countless Florida residents may be living in an unfolding tragedy – and not even know about it, or have the tools to stop it,” said Rep. Wasserman Schultz. “This legislation that Congressman Charlie Crist is leading will take meaningful steps to help prevent that from ever happening again by helping make it easier for condo owners to afford special assessments when costly structural and safety repairs arise.”

“Since the tragic condominium collapse in Surfside, Fla., CAI has worked closely with state and federal lawmakers to introduce critical legislation that supports condominium safety for the millions of people who call these communities home,” says Thomas M. Skiba, CAE, CAI’s chief executive officer. “We are pleased that Reps. Crist and Wasserman Shultz have introduced this impactful legislation that helps us honor the memories of the 98 people who lost their lives last June and will help prevent another tragedy. We’re hopeful that the bill moves forward expeditiously.”

Background on the SAFER In Condos ACT

As condo buildings age and deteriorate, the need for costly structural and safety repairs arise. These unexpected fees in the form of special assessments can place significant financial strain on condo owners, particularly seniors and those on fixed incomes. In the wake of the Surfside condo collapse, it was revealed that the Champlain Towers South condo association had approved a $15 million special assessment on its owners to cover the cost of repairs as required under the county’s recertification process.12  The SAFER in Condos Act would expand the allowable uses of two U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development programs to cover special assessments. More specifically, the legislation:

  • Amends the 203(k) program to allow loans to be used on special assessments for structural repairs.
  • Expands the Title I Property Improvement Loans program to insure private lenders against losses when lending to individual condo owners or condo associations for special assessments. Additionally, the legislation increases the maximum insured loan amount to $55,000, to be adjusted with inflation.
  • Streamlines the process of applying for these loans so that individual homeowners and condo associations can more easily apply for, and obtain, assistance.

Immediately following the collapse, Crist called for a full investigation into the Surfside tragedy. Additionally, as members of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Reps. Crist and Wasserman Schultz (D – FL) secure funding and report language for NIST to investigate building collapses like the one that occurred at Surfside. Crist also successfully secured inclusion of his amendment authorizing a study of the Surfside condo collapse in the House-passed America COMPETES Act.

This was a press release sent on April 25, 2022 by Chloe Kessock in the Office of Congressman Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg).