By Jeffrey M. Fagan/2019 President, Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association
Yet again, the Florida Legislature is poised to raid the Affordable Housing Trust Funds.
Recently we learned that Central Florida – which ranks as worst in the nation for affordable rental housing – will receive literally no housing assistance money according to the spending plan put forth Tuesday by the Florida House. While we fully support sending housing assistance money to the Panhandle as proposed, REALTORS® believe that Central Florida’s economic development is contingent on the funding of programs that increase the availability and affordability of housing for our workforce.
Further, we learned that the House is proposing to provide only $123 million from the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund to actual housing programs. The fund’s remaining $208 million would be diverted, yet again, to non-housing line items. In the past 10 years, nearly $2 billion has been siphoned out of the trust fund.
We strongly support the Florida Senate’s and Gov. DeSantis’ proposed spending of the full amount in the Sadowski fund on housing. We laud the Senate’s priorities and strongly encourage efforts to maintain full funding throughout the budget negotiation process.
The Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund is funded through doc stamp fees paid when a home changes ownership. REALTORS® supported the creation of this fee for the specific purpose of funding housing programs, a need that is reaching a critical point throughout the state and a crisis level here in Central Florida.
Money in the Sadowski fund — all of it —simply MUST go toward addressing our dire housing situation. It is time to put the trust back in the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
About the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund
The Sadowski Act passed in 1992, creating a dedicated revenue source to fund Florida’s affordable housing programs and fund the Catalyst Program for Training and Technical Assistance.
Doc stamp tax paid on all real estate transactions was increased in 1992. Those monies were dedicated to the state and local housing trust funds. 70% of monies went to the Local Government Housing Trust Fund for the SHIP program which funds housing programs in all 67 counties and larger cities while 30% of monies to the State Housing Trust Fund for Florida Housing Finance Corporation went to programs such as the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) program.
More than 911,000 very low-income Floridians pay more than 50% of their income on housing and are one missed paycheck away from homelessness. Florida has the third largest homeless population in the nation.