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State poised to raid housing fund again

Florida legislators have tentatively reached agreement on raiding more than $130 million available in the state affordable housing trust fund, according to the Florida Phoenix.

The move means that South Florida, the state’s most populous area, will get little return on the documentary stamp tax on real estate transactions in the region.

The reason why? There is $330 million available from doc stamp taxes in net year’s budget, the Phoenix reports. The legislature will take $130 million for unclear purposes, which leaves $200 million left. Of that, $115 million will go for housing in counties damaged by Hurricane Michael. Another $8 million will go for a housing project in Jacksonville. That leaves about $77 million for the Tampa Bay, South Florida, Orlando metro areas and other areas of the state where the affordability issue is most glaring.

This is the 11th year legislators have raided the funds.

SFBW reported on April 3 that Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Senate were backing measures that would stop the raiding of the Sadowski State and Local Housing Trust Funds, but the legislation was hitting a roadblock in the House.

The Miami Herald has previously reported that since 2008, lawmakers have swept roughly $1.3 billion from the statewide collected funds of $1.87 billion and moved them into the general fund.

Since 2010 Broward County has lost nearly $100 million in sweeps of Sadowski funds, said Sandra Veszi Einhorn, executive director at the Coordinating Council of Broward. “These are dollars we critically need to address the affordable housing crisis locally.”

The Sadowski Coalition—made up of 32 diverse statewide organizations, including industry and business groups; advocates for the elderly, veterans, homeless and special needs; and faith-based organizations—held a press conference on Feb. 26, calling on the Legislature to use all state and local housing trust fund monies for housing in fiscal year 2019-20.

The group also spotlight the Florida “Home Matters Report 2019,” which found nearly 922,000 very low-income households pay more than half their income on housing. Those households are housing instable – meaning temporary job loss, a broken car or a medical issue could mean eviction and the downward spiral to homelessness. Very low-income households include hardworking families, seniors and people with disabilities.

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