By Sammy R. Alzofon, Palm Beach CountyLWV Housing Issue Group

The 2018 session of the Florida Legislature closed last March 11. The session started with high hopes for additional housing funds.

A 2017 legislative mandate to study the state of housing in Florida returned its report last December, recommending full use of dollars available from the William E. Sadowski  Affordable Housing Trust Funds, which collects a dedicated source of revenue for housing from a portion of documentary stamp taxes on the transfer of real estate. A bill was introduced in both the House and the Senate that would, in the future, prevent the legislative sweep of these funds into the general budget. The Senate recommendation was for full funding.

The session closed with a very disappointing House budget appropriation of $123,630,000. The Senate budget allocated $322,100,000 (full funding) and the governor recommended $230,300,000. The total sweep into general funds is $182,000,000 for fiscal year 2018 / 2019.*

Historically, the first sweep in 2000 was a modest  $12,000,000. For the years 2000 through the 2017/18 budget cycle, a total of  $2,008,693,851 has been legislatively swept into either the Budget Stabilization Fund or the General Revenue Fund. This is, in part, how the budget is balanced each year.

What does this mean for availability of affordable housing today? I recommend two very recent publications for current numbers, both just released:

  1. National Low Income Housing Coalition’s The Gap: The affordable housing gap analysis reports numbers and numbers and numbers and none of them are comforting. Florida has 30 affordable and available housing units for each 100 households in need. http://nlihc.org/gap
  1. Home Matters Report 2018 from the Florida Housing Coalition.

QUICK FACTS: Florida still has an affordable housing crisis

  • 912,967 very low-income Florida households — which include hardworking families, seniors, and people with disabilities — pay more than 50% of their incomes for housing.
  • Florida has the third highest homeless population of any state in the nation, with 32,190 people living in homeless shelters and on the streets. This includes 2,817 veterans and 9,422 people in families with at least one child.
  • Low-wage jobs are prevalent in Florida’s economy. In many occupations, workers do not earn enough to rent a modest apartment or buy their first home. https://issuu.com/flhousing/docs/home_matters_report_2018_final_web

The future? With the close of the legislative session, the Florida Housing Coalition is forming a state-wide working group to discuss and form new strategies for affordable housing funding. We’ll be monitoring developments and continue to participate as League of Women Voters members on the current county-wide task force seeking solutions to the lack of affordable housing.

I can be reached at sammy.alzofon@gmail.com or (561) 800-8274.

* Final dollars can be seen at http://www.flhousing.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Sadowski-Trust-Fund-Webinar-2018-03-13-Final-Budget.pdf

Note: The Broward League has an affordable housing task force led by Bonnie Gross. If you’d like to join, contact Bonnie at bonnielgross@gmail.com.

In Broward, a provision to create a county affordable housing trust fund will be on the ballot in November. The League supports this, as it will create a way for governments, foundations and others to contribute money to affordable housing projects, rental subsidies or other programs.

 

 

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