Florida lawmakers redirect affordable housing funds

Year after year, Florida lawmakers have raided hundreds of millions from trust funds designed to develop more affordable housing. That practice needs to end, according to a group of the state’s leading political and policy voices.

In a new survey of the Florida Influencers, a clear majority (84 percent) said the next governor and Legislature must direct all the funds from those trusts into state and local programs to properly address Florida’s ongoing affordable housing crisis.

“The cost of living everywhere in Florida continues to price the workforce out of markets and out of living close to their workplace,” said Mike Fernandez, the chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners. “Funds earmarked for a specific purpose should not be hijacked by politics.”

Since the 2008 recession, the William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Funds have collected a total of around $2.2 billion from documentary stamp taxes on real estate transactions with the intention to create more low-income housing. But the Florida Legislature has directed nearly $1.5 billion of that toward other budget priorities over that period.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Florida offers just 26 available affordable housing units per 100 extremely low-income renter households, the sixth lowest rate in the country.

“Housing problems are multifaceted and should not be addressed in a singular way,” said Rebecca O’Hara, the deputy general counsel of the League of Cities in Tallahassee. “A good first step would be for the state to stop taking money out of the housing trust funds and diverting it to other uses. The uncertainties associated with what the Legislature may or may not do with these trust funds hampers coordinated and strategic planning.”

Ahead of the the November elections, the Florida Influencers are sharing their ideas on how to address policy concerns facing the state and responding to questions from readers of the Miami Herald, Bradenton Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Continue reading on The Miami Herald.


get updates