Community associations institute (CAI) supports new federal legislation to improve condo safety
April 25, 2022 — Falls Church, Va. — Community Associations Institute (CAI) applauds U.S. Representatives Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) for introducing the Securing Access to Financing for Exterior Repairs (SAFER) in Condos Act, legislation that will make it easier for condominium owners to afford special assessments for structural and safety repairs. Owners would be able to obtain low-interest loans to fund repairs through two programs guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“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."
According to the Foundation for Community Association Research, more than 74 million Americans live and work in community associations, commonly referred to as condominiums, homeowners associations, and housing cooperatives. Since the June 24 collapse of Champlain Towers South condominium, CAI has been working on behalf of our 43,000 members with local, state, and federal lawmakers as well as housing stakeholders nationwide to develop common sense initiatives for condominium safety. In October, after months of research and input from members, CAI recommended changes to laws and best practices for the community association housing model that may help both communities and legislators better address building safety, building maintenance and structural integrity, and reserve studies and funding. The research and recommendations can be found in CAI's Condominium Safety Public Policy Report.
Immediately following the collapse, Crist called for a full investigation into the tragedy. In addition, as members of the influential House Appropriations Committee, Reps. Crist and Wasserman Schultz secured funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology to investigate building collapses like the one that occurred in Surfside. Crist also successfully secured inclusion of his amendment authorizing a study of the Surfside collapse in the House of Representative-passed America COMPETES Act.
“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," says Rep. Crist. “Our bill, the SAFER in Condos Act, would build on a home improvement program under the Federal Housing Administration 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," says Rep. Wasserman Shultz. “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."
Background on the SAFER in Condos Act
As condominium buildings age and deteriorate, the need for costly structural and safety repairs rises. 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, Fla., condo collapse, it was revealed that the Champlain Towers South condo association had approved a $15 million special assessment to cover the cost of repairs as required under Miami-Dade County's building recertification process. 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:
>>Download CAI's Condominium Safety Public Policy Report.
About Community Associations Institute Since 1973, Community Associations Institute (CAI) has been the leading provider of resources and information for homeowners, volunteer board leaders, professional managers, and business professionals in the more than 355,000 homeowners associations, condominiums, and housing cooperatives in the United States and millions of communities worldwide. With more than 43,000 members, CAI works in partnership with 36 legislative action committees and 63 affiliated chapters within the U.S., Canada, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates as well as with housing leaders in several other countries, including Australia, Spain, and the United Kingdom. A global nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization, CAI is the foremost authority in community association management, governance, education, and advocacy. Our mission is to inspire professionalism, effective leadership, and responsible citizenship—ideals reflected in community associations that are preferred places to call home. Visit us at www.caionline.org, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook @CAISocial.
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