SHIP Housing Assistance for Individuals with Special Needs

What is SHIP? 

The State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program is available broadly across Florida—each county and large city receives funding. This money is locally controlled; each jurisdiction determines how to use its annual allocation of funds to address local housing needs.  The funds are from the Sadowski State and Local Housing Trust Funds created by the William A. Sadowski Affordable Housing Act in 1992.  The funds are from a dedicated revenue source generated by documentary stamp surcharges on real estate transactions.  Each county and city of a certain size receives an allocation based upon population. The funds are administered by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.  Technical Assistance is provided by the Florida Housing Coalition. The information below explains more about the program and how to request assistance. 

Are SHIP funds available to assist individuals with special needs? 

Yes.  The Florida Legislature has appropriated $100 Million for the 2014/15 SHIP allocation.  Twenty percent of these funds must be used to assist individuals with special needs.  First priority must be given to individuals with a developmental disability.    

How is special needs defined in this legislation? 

Each local government must use a minimum of 20 percent of its allocation to serve persons with special needs as defined in section 420.0004, Florida Statutes.  The first priority must be to assist homeowners with Developmental Disabilities (DD) as defined in section 393.063, Florida Statutes, with an emphasis on home modifications, including technological enhancements and devices, which will allow homeowners to remain independent in their own homes and maintain their homeownership. 

When ranking which SHIP applicants will receive assistance first, homeowners with DD receive top priority.  Second priority is granted to households in which a developmentally disabled adult or child is living with family members. This will be followed by other applicants who pass the definition of special needs found in Section 420.0004 of the Florida Statutes: 

Persons with Special Needs: 

* An adult person requiring independent living services in order to maintain housing or develop independent living skills and who has a disabling condition 420.0004(7) FL Statutes  

* A young adult formerly in foster care who is eligible for services under s. 409.1451(5); 

* A survivor of domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28; or  

* A person receiving benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program or from veterans’ disability benefits. 

Furthermore, disabling condition is referenced related to persons requiring independent living services: 

Disabling Condition is defined in Section 420.0004(7) of the Florida Statutes: 

Disabling condition means a diagnosable substance abuse disorder, serious mental illness, developmental disability, or chronic physical illness or disability, or the cooccurrence of two or more of these conditions, and a determination that the condition is:  

(a)Expected to be of long-continued and indefinite duration; and 

(b)Not expected to impair the ability of the person with special needs to live independently with appropriate supports.

How can SHIP funds help persons with special needs with affordable housing? 

SHIP funds are fairly flexible but each community decides how to use them in their Local Housing Assistance Plan.  The most common uses are: 

* Purchase Assistance.  SHIP funds can be used to pay the down payment, closing costs and principal reduction for income eligible buyers for new or existing homes.  In some cases the funds can be used for acquisition and rehabilitation costs.  The buyers must be qualified for a first mortgage and receive training in homeownership responsibilities. 

* Home Repair.  SHIP funds can be used by homeowners to repair their home to make it more livable as well as accessible. 

* Rental deposits.  SHIP can be used to pay the security and utility deposits to help with move in costs for low income renters. 

* Rental housing development. SHIP can be used by rental housing providers to pay for a portion of the development costs for building or rehabilitating affordable rental units.  These units will be rented to low income households at affordable rents.   

How do you apply for SHIP assistance? 

Each community has a specific plan for the use of SHIP dollars.  Contact the SHIP office in your community to find out what type of assistance is available and how to apply.  See below for link to SHIP contacts.  

What if the local SHIP office does not have the type of assistance needed? 

Before each city or county receives new SHIP funding, the local government must certify what new or existing approved strategies in its Local Housing Assistance Plan (LHAP) will be employed to meet the special needs requirement.  Contact your local SHIP offices now to help SHIP staff consider how to best assist special needs applicants.   

SHIP contacts are listed at the following link:

For more information, contact the Florida Housing Coalition at or call 800-877-4548 or visit   

Also, visit order a copy or download “Housing In Florida, A Resource Guide for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities.”  Scroll down to “Service Coordination”.