Affordable Housing Fund At Risk
In the fourth week of the 2020 Florida Legislative Session, House and Senate appropriations committees approved their budget proposals. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved 69 amendments in SPB 2500. Although the Senate and House proposals have a difference of $1.4 billion, one of the most glaring differences between the two concerns the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The Senate has proposed to keep the Sadowski Trust intact at $387 million while the House has proposed to utilize $147 million for affordable housing and to sweep the remaining funds into General Revenue.
The Sadowski Act was passed in 1992, which increased the doc stamp tax paid on all real estate transactions and placed these in a dedicated state and local housing trust fund. However, in just the last 15 years, almost $2.2 billion has been swept from the affordable housing trust fund to round out the budget. This sweep happens to many state trust funds as a tactic to provide support to areas of Florida that have been impacted by disaster or in a year where General Revenue is low. In recent years, the media, advocacy groups, and the private sector have heavily emphasized the rising cost of living and shortage of affordable housing which burdens Florida families. In Broward County alone, just 12.7% of households are able to afford the average-priced home of $360,000. In Florida, 46% of families are considered to be living below the ALICE threshold. The 2016 Household Survival Budget emphasizes that a family of four needs to make at least $27.58 per hour to afford housing that costs $848 per month.
SB 306-State Funds by Senator Mayfield (R-Brevard, Indian River) was heard on Monday in the Senate Infrastructure and Security Subcommittee. It passed unanimously. This bill exempts the State Housing Trust Fund from allowing the legislature to sweep unappropriated funds into General Revenue. If it moves forward, it will be heard next in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development.
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