news

Editorials:

Protect Florida’s valuable housing, coastline and orange industry

February 13, 2018  | The Florida Times-Union Jacksonville

Gov. Rick Scott rode to election success in Florida with this mantra: Jobs, jobs, jobs.

And the Florida Legislature generally followed his lead. The results have been clear — Florida’s economy has outpaced the nation in many respects.

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Senate gets it on housing needs

February 5, 2018  | Ocala Star Banner

Budget recommendations emerging in the Florida Legislature suggest the Senate wants to restore public trust in the state’s housing trust funds.

The Senate has proposed spending all of the $322 million available in the funds on housing, according to figures distributed by affordable-housing advocates. The Senate’s stance is a commendable recognition of the pressing statewide need for affordable housing, including here in Marion County.

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Don’t starve affordable housing, higher education and conservation in the state budget

February 2, 2018  | Orlando Sentinel

Looking only at the bottom lines in the two budget blueprints unveiled recently by the Florida Senate and House, it might appear the two chambers are almost in sync. The Senate would spend $87.3 billion in the fiscal year that begins July 1, and the House would spend $87.2 billion — a gap of about a tenth of 1 percent.

But on closer examination, there are significant differences in the dueling budget proposals, including in three critical areas. And the better approach in all three comes from the upper chamber.

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A bill long overdue, and likely DOA

January 31, 2018  | The St. Augustine Record

If you were looking for legislation this session that deserves to be passed by every ethical and moral standard — but won’t be — consider Senate Bill 874 and House Bill 191.

This is the one-two punch — a bipartisan effort to simply force the legislature to make good on its own action back in 1992.

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State Senate shows concern for housing

January 31, 2018  | Herald-Tribune

Budget recommendations emerging in the Florida Legislature suggest the Senate wants to restore public trust in the state’s housing trust funds.

The state Senate has proposed spending all of the $322 million available in the funds on housing, according to figures distributed by affordable-housing advocates. The Senate’s stance is a commendable recognition of the pressing statewide need for affordable housing.

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Naples election, state session top week in government

January 29, 2018  | Naples Daily News

The campaign for three Naples City Council seats enters its final week and the Florida Legislature inches toward the halfway point of the 2018 session with House and Senate budgets now in hand to reconcile.

Those are highlights of the week ahead in government, with most local elected boards in Southwest Florida not scheduled to meet.

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House, Senate draw battle lines on state budget

January 26, 2018  | Orlando Sentinel

TALLAHASSEE – The House and Senate released initial budget plans Friday with more funding for K-12 schools, cuts to hospitals and major differences in spending on higher education and affordable housing.

Both chambers are close in their bottom-line numbers — the Senate’s plan is $87.3 billion, and the House’s $87.2 billion. But they will have to bridge major gaps to prevent an impasse.

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OUR VIEW: The dark side of housing surge

January 20, 2018  | Daytona Beach News-Journal

Far too many local workers must spend nearly half their earnings (or more) just to keep roofs over their heads.

Volusia County’s robust and growing housing market offers plenty of reasons to celebrate: Thousands of homeowners are watching the value of their biggest investment accelerate. Construction workers, plumbers and electricians are claiming good wages to build new homes in splashy new developments like Latitude Margaritaville. Those homes are likely to be snapped up by people fleeing the harsh winter and higher property costs of northern climes. And the new residents will draw more retail, offices and other business to Volusia County, increasing the area’s job base.

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Protect housing trust funds

January 18, 2018  | Ocala Star Banner

From the “there shouldn’t have to be a law but history shows there is a need for one” file: A Republican state senator and a Democratic representative in the Florida House have filed legislation intended to prevent the Legislature and governor from raiding affordable-housing trust funds.

For decades, the Legislature and multiple governors have plundered trust-fund revenue like a band of pirates — shortchanging affordable housing and undermining the intent of the law that created the funds.

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Pass law to protect housing trust funds

January 18, 2018  | Sarasota Herald-Tribune

From the “there shouldn’t have to be a law but history shows there is a need for one” file: A Republican state senator and a Democratic representative in the Florida House have filed legislation intended to prevent the Legislature and governor from raiding affordable-housing trust funds.

For decades, the Legislature and multiple governors have plundered trust-fund revenue like a band of pirates — shortchanging affordable housing and undermining the intent of the law that created the funds.

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Pass law to protect housing trust funds

January 18, 2018  | News-Journal Online

From the “there shouldn’t have to be a law but history shows there is a need for one” file: A Republican state senator and a Democratic representative in the Florida House have filed legislation intended to prevent the Legislature and governor from raiding affordable-housing trust funds.

For decades, the Legislature and multiple governors have plundered trust-fund revenue like a band of pirates — shortchanging affordable housing and undermining the intent of the law that created the funds.

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A guide to a successful 2018 legislative session

January 7, 2017  | Naples Daily News

The Florida Legislature’s 2018 session begins Tuesday with a warehouse of bills from which to choose and an $87.4 billion budget proposed by Gov. Rick Scott to refine.

The 60-day session starts early this year because 2018 is an election year for the 120 House seats and half of the state’s 40 senators. Lawmakers must separate legislative work from electioneering.

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As Florida legislators prepare to convene for their 2018 session, here are 10 of our policy priorities for them

January 5, 2017  | Orlando Sentinel

Florida legislators will convene for their annual 60-day session against the backdrop of a pivotal election year. But politics are not a good excuse for senators and representatives to avoid the hard choices they must make to tackle the state’s biggest challenges. Here are 10 areas where we’re urging legislators to act — or in one case, hold the line against further incursions.

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The Keys need workforce housing for its economic survival

January 2, 2017  | Miami Herald

If Monroe County doesn’t help build housing that restaurant servers, fast-food workers, hotel staffers and supermarket managers, to say nothing of cashiers can afford, it tourism-based foundation will crumble.

After Hurricane Irma swept through the Lower Keys in September — and swept up homes and boats and mobile homes in its path — service workers left Florida’s southernmost county in droves. Given their salaries, their housing options were tenuous to begin with. After Hurricane Irma, those options were wiped out. That means jobs have been slow to return, and much of the Keys’ economic base remains in peril.

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Amid influx of new residents to Central Florida, urgent action needed to expand supply of affordable housing

December 24, 2017  |  Orlando Sentinel

Metro Orlando was ranked as one of the nation’s hardest places to find affordable housing before Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico three months ago, and tens of thousands of residents started leaving the island for Central Florida. Many are now living temporarily with family or friends, but are understandably impatient to move into their own homes. As economist Hank Fishkind said in a recent installment of his weekly interview series on 90.7 WMFE radio, “We already have a huge housing problem that’s about to get dramatically worse.”

It’s more critical than ever for leaders at all levels to act with urgency to ease the region’s acute shortage of affordable housing. Fortunately for them, there is no shortage of ideas.

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Duval and the state see surge of homeless children in schools

December 13, 2017  |  Florida Times-Union

The Duval County Public School system is educating a large number of children in poverty.

They bring massive numbers of stresses to the classroom, living in broken homes in crime-infested neighborhoods, the victims of multiple traumas. Now add a further complication. There are more homeless children in the school system than most of us realized.

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Keep bonds to fund affordable housing

December 13, 2017  |  Herald-Tribune

Speaker of the U.S. House Paul Ryan’s office on Tuesday released a not-so-cute play on ”’Twas the night before Christmas” on the eve of a conference committee’s meeting on the enormous tax bill.

In ”‘Twas the night before ‘Taxmas,’” Ryan touted the benefits of the bill but, given the House version’s effects on affordable housing nationwide, the speaker is better cast as the Grinch or Scrooge rather than as jolly old Saint Nick.

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Irma fortifies need to stop raiding affordable housing trust funds

December 12, 2017  |  Naples Daily News

If Hurricane Irma hasn’t underscored to Florida lawmakers the need to keep the state’s affordable housing trust funds whole, we’re not sure what will.

The Sept. 10 hurricane that created havoc in virtually every county on Florida’s peninsula is expected to dominate issues during the 2018 legislative session. Irma left considerable housing across the state uninhabitable or damaged. After the late November application deadline, the Federal Emergency Management Agency reported its disaster assistance teams had visited 273,000 homes in Florida and spoken with more than 175,000 residents.

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Stop lawmakers’ raids on affordable-housing funds

December 5, 2017  |  The Palm Beach Post

Years ago, a far more enlightened leadership in Tallahassee created the William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Funds, which uses doc stamp surcharges on real estate transactions to leverage federal and private funds to help develop more affordable housing in Florida.

Today, housing costs are at a crisis point. Yet Gov. Rick Scott and many state lawmakers seem determined to contribute to the problem by diverting millions of dollars from the housing trust funds to other spending priorities, like legislative pet projects and business tax cuts.

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Don’t scrap tax credits for affordable housing

November 28, 2017  |  Florida Times Union

Public-private partnership — it’s a phrase synonymous with good government. The federal government encourages these with “tax expenditures,” giving various kinds of tax breaks to private businesses that are pursuing public purposes.

An outstanding version of this comes with housing. The private market often has difficulty justifying housing for low-income or workforce families. Giving investors various kinds of tax breaks helps to make these projects viable for investors, and it frees the government from doing all the work.

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Puerto Rican coalition calls for full recovery funding and debt relief

November 20, 2017  |  Florida Politics

A national coalition of Puerto Rican groups with heavy representation in Central Florida urged in Orlando Monday for Congress to offer full relief funding for the hurricane-ravaged island and for Florida and federal relief for evacuee housing in the Sunshine State.

Joined at Acacia’s El Centro Borinqueño by U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, and Orlando Democrat, and state Rep. John Cortes, a Kissimmee Democrat, Power4PuertoRico criticized federal relief efforts as inadequate and worse, given that still more than half the island is without electricity, water remains a critical shortage, many hospitals are operating on generators, and schools remain closed.

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Federal policies fuel affordable housing

November 20, 2017  |  Herald-Tribune

The Sarasota-Manatee region and large parts of the United States have an ongoing affordable-housing crisis that severely strains the budgets of low-income individuals and families and stifles economic development as businesses struggle to attract and retain qualified employees who can afford the cost of living.

So, it would be counterproductive for Congress to approve changes in the tax code that undermine successful strategies for building affordable housing.

Yet the U.S. House of Representatives’ version of a tax bill would do just that.

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Response: Why affordable housing is faltering

November 20, 2017  |  Orlando Sentinel

The Cato Institute is regurgitating the same old myths against the housing tax-credit program and private activity bonds. Echoed from Cato’s own “academic research,” its analyst opposes any federal housing program that encourages affordable housing through federal subsidies (“The sky will not be falling under tax plan in U.S. House,” Vanessa Brown Calder, Orlando Sentinel, Friday).

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A bigger deal on adult homelessness

November 17, 2017  |  Herald-Tribune

Seven months ago, following four years of false starts and acrimony, the Sarasota city and county commissions separately but unanimously approved a 36-page report — complete with locally specific recommendations — on chronic adult homelessness.

The joint endorsement was, we wrote at the time, a big deal. Now, the city and county — aided significantly by community-based organizations — are on the verge of a bigger deal.

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Don’t gut U.S. housing help for young families and the elderly

November 16, 2017  |  Orlando Sentinel

One of the most successful housing programs in the United States is also one of the lesser-known ones. Tax-exempt bonds are used by state and local governments to finance loans to moderate-income first-time homebuyers and loans to developers who build or renovate apartments that are rented to working families and the elderly.

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Life might be good, but many struggle

September 10, 2017  |  Herald-Tribune

A recently released citizen opinion survey underscores one reason that Sarasota County has been — at least in the pre-Hurricane Irma era — an attractive place to live and visit: Ninety-seven percent of the respondents rated the overall quality of life as excellent or good.

The 27th annual survey, supervised by the University of South Florida, gave high marks to Sarasota County and its assets, as well as to county leaders. Those assessments were made even as respondents cited “taxes” as the second-most important issue facing the county and, for the third year in a row, ranked “population growth/new development” as the most important.

Three years ago, “population growth/new development” replaced “economy/jobs” as the most-cited issue, a sign that the real estate and construction sectors have overcome the Great Recession and its aftermath — a crisis of such magnitude that the growth and development became a non-factor. From 2008 to 2013, “economy/jobs” was the most urgent challenge cited by respondents.

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Affordable housing: Florida’s quiet crisis

May 20, 2017  |  Sun Sentinel

As housing costs rise and incomes stagnate, the nagging shortage of affordable housing is fast becoming a crisis. The lack of apartments and homes available to Americans of low to moderate income is a nationwide problem, but South Florida feels it more acutely than all but a few metro areas.

Hardest hit are the homeless and borderline poor who pose multi-layered challenges to policymakers. But lack of affordability — housing within reach of solidly middle class families — presents a problem of another sort entirely.

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Long state legislative session came up short

May 13, 2017  |  Naples Daily News

The long and short of the 2017 legislative session is that it went long and came up short for Southwest Florida. Let’s count 10 ways:

1. The session spilled over a weekend to Monday to finish an $83 billion spending package. Legislative leaders chose secretive final negotiations that prompted Gov. Rick Scott to say, “I have no earthly idea what’s in this budget.” Citizens — not to mention the state’s chief executive — should expect transparency on the budget. Approving a budget was one of two must-do matters for the tardy 2017 Legislature.

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Legislature should stop raiding affordable housing money

April 19, 2017  |  Tampa Bay Times

Rents are soaring across Florida and the Tampa Bay area, hitting low-income households the hardest. The state has a dedicated fund to develop affordable workforce housing, but leaders in Tallahassee treat it like a piggy bank and raid it at will. The Legislature will be challenged to balance the state budget on lean revenues, but it should recognize the housing shortage as an urgent need that can’t be ignored.

The William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund is supported by documentary stamp taxes on real estate sales. The money, some $292 million this year alone, is supposed to be used to leverage private and federal funding to support state and local housing programs. But lawmakers have skimmed millions from the fund every year since the recession and redirected the money.

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As U.S. axes affordable housing, Florida dare not raid trust fund

April 4, 2017  |  Sun Sentinel

It’s the best of times and — at least in one critical respect — the worst of times for South Florida’s economy. The region has seen strong job growth. But a chronic shortage of affordable housing in the tri-county area has been deepening.

In a study released this month by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area ranked tenth from the bottom in the supply of affordable housing for extremely low-income residents.

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South Florida Affordable Housing Situation Getting Worse

March 29, 2017  |  Orlando Sentinel

It’s the best of times and — at least in one critical respect — the worst of times for Central Florida’s economy. The region has seen strong job growth; it led the state over the past year. But a chronic shortage of affordable housing in Metro Orlando has been deepening.

In a study released this month by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake counties ranked third from the bottom in the nation among metropolitan areas for its supply of housing affordable for extremely low-income residents. The coalition found that Metro Orlando’s housing shortage for that group was twice as bad as the national average.

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Affordable housing should be priority

March 26, 2017  |  Gainesville Sun

As Gainesville grows, our community must do more to keep housing affordable while protecting natural resources and the quality of life here.

Further sprawl strains resources as well as our battered and crowded roads. Policies that encourage compact development around Gainesville’s job centers offer the promise of a more walkable and vibrant community.

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Don’t Raid the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Yet Again

March 15, 2017  |  Bradenton Herald

The lack of affordable and workforce housing is not a Bradenton dilemma. It’s not a Palmetto hardship. It’s not a Manatee County predicament. Just about everywhere in Florida it is a political question. Nobody has come up with a solution.

The Sunshine State has a meritorious partial answer, if only it is allowed to work. The Sadowski Act, passed into law in 1992, pumps money into affordable housing programs statewide through the documentary stamp tax paid on real estate transactions. But those dollars are basically stolen by Tallahassee politicians more interested in funding their goals — by explaining the money was needed to balance the state budget.

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Raiding the Housing Trust Fund

March 3, 2017  |  WFLA

As lawmakers gear up for the legislative session, they get one simple request: use the state’s housing trust fund to actually pay for housing.

Carrie O’Rourke with Florida Realtors says the Sunshine State already has a great program for affordable housing

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Gov. Rick Scott must stop raiding housing trust funds

February 22, 2017 | Sun Sentinel

Gov. Rick Scott has been in a pitched political battle with Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran over the fate of the state’s economic development and tourism marketing agencies. Last week Scott said House members who voted to eliminate Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida “didn’t care about jobs.” Hasn’t the governor heard the old warning about throwing stones from glass houses?

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Create jobs by restoring state funding for affordable housing: Where We Stand

February 17, 2017 | Orlando Sentinel

Gov. Rick Scott has been in a pitched political battle with Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran over the fate of the state’s economic development and tourism marketing agencies. Last week Scott said House members who voted to eliminate Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida “didn’t care about jobs.” Hasn’t the governor heard the old warning about throwing stones from glass houses?

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Successful fund for affordable housing deserves support

January 16, 2017 | Florida Times Union

One of Florida’s most successful programs for producing jobs and addressing the housing shortage must beg for funds. What makes this story so troubling is that there is money set aside for this program, called the Sadowski Fund. But like other trust funds in the state, money often is swept into the general fund in the governor’s budget and by legislative leaders in the budgeting process.

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Op-Eds & Letters to the Editor:

Art Stockwell: Increase availability of affordable housing

Februry 15, 2018 | The Gainesville Sun

The Gainesville For All housing team made recommendations aimed at improving the quality, quantity and availability of affordable housing in Alachua County.

Develop a Community Land Trust affordable housing home ownership program: A Community Land Trust is a nonprofit corporation that builds affordable single-family homes, town homes and condominiums on land that it owns. It sells the houses to buyers who quality for affordable housing, but the nonprofit keeps the land the houses are on.

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End the historic sweep of critical affordable housing dollars | Opinion

January 30, 2018 | Sun Sentinel

For many of us, owning a home of our own is the American Dream. Historically, homeownership has been the path to economic security and upward mobility, particularly for low-income and minority families. The American Dream is being shattered, however, by rising home prices, low wages and broken promises by the Florida Legislature, which has failed to fully fund the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund.

The benefits of homeownership are numerous. Compared to renters of the same age, race and income, children of homeowners perform better in school and graduate from high school and college in greater numbers. Homeownership results in better health, reduced crime and increased civic engagement.

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Affordable housing unattainable in Florida | Opinion

January 2, 2018 | Sun Sentinel

Florida is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis. Unfortunately, our governor and state lawmakers are only making matters worse. Our state leaders continue to engage in a rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul money grab that has contributed to a shortage of affordable housing across Florida.

Don’t be confused about the definition of affordable housing. It’s not strictly housing for poor people. If you spend more than 30 percent of your income on rent or for a mortgage, your housing is unaffordable.

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Tax plan may limit access to housing

November 9, 2017 | Miami Herald

The tax reform plan being considered in Congress would harm affordable-housing efforts in Florida and make it harder to repair and rebuild many homes damaged by Hurricane Irma. Congress must act immediately to address this problem.

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Low wages, high rent: Orlando has a problem

April 18, 2017 | Orlando Sentinel

Orlando will soon have a new community down near Disney — the Four Seasons Private Residences — where home prices start around $5 million. Bully for all our new neighbors … and the $24,514 in homeowner’s association fees they’ll pay each year.

Ironically, though, many of the people who already live here — the ones who work full-time in the tourist industry that attracts the Four Seasons folks — can’t afford homes of their own

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News Articles:

Legislators say affordable housing trust fund sweeps are hurting Puerto Ricans

February 20, 2018  | Politico

TALLAHASSEE — Hispanic legislators on Tuesday called on the state to provide affordable housing for Hurricane Maria evacuees from Puerto Rico and end sweeps of an affordable housing trust fund.There’s an urgent need to end the Tallahassee money grab, as several community leaders make clear in outtakes here from the latest Central Florida 100.

The governor’s office said earlier this month 367,000 people had arrived in Florida from Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria struck the island in September, knocking out power to most of the population while damaging homes, roads and businesses.

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End money grab that crimps affordable housing

February 18, 2018  | Orlando Sentinel

The Florida Legislature can reverse a long trend of budget hijinks keeping many workers from affordable housing — and it’s not strictly housing for poor people. If you spend more than 30 percent of your income on rent or for a mortgage, your housing is unaffordable.

There’s an urgent need to end the Tallahassee money grab, as several community leaders make clear in outtakes here from the latest Central Florida 100.

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House OKs affordable housing bill, eliminate impact fees and rekindles developer fight

February 13, 2018  | Politico

TALLAHASSEE — Sweeping affordable housing legislation proposed after Hurricane Irma devastated the industry was loaded up with a series of amendments on Tuesday that could help win support and stir controversy.

The biggest change was an amendment that removed a five-year ban on local governments collecting so-called mobility and impact fees tied to the construction of affordable housing. Developers pay those fees to local governments to help them fund infrastructure and transportation changes needed to help with growth.

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Advocates Say Puerto Rican Crisis Is Reason To Take Affordable Housing Seriously

February 12, 2018  | WFSU

Amidst the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s devastating effects on Puerto Rico, Florida lawmakers believe the State has been inactive when tackling the issue of Puerto Rican refugees. This has opened the floodgates for an issue Florida has been dealing with for years.

The aftermath of Hurricane Irma and Maria has created an immigration crisis in Florida.

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House, Senate pass $87B budgets, setting stage for budget negotiations

February 8, 2018  | Politico

TALLAHASSEE — The House and Senate both passed their proposed spending plans Thursday, setting the stage for final budget negotiations at the legislative session’s midpoint.
The two budget plans are roughly $100 million apart, a far smaller gap than in recent years. On the Senate side, the $87.2 billion proposed spending plan was quickly given final passage with little debate, but Democrats in the House teed-off on a host of proposals buried in their $87.1 billion proposed budget.

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Florida House and Senate pass similar-sized budgets, but fights are ahead

February 8, 2018  | Tampa Bay Times

Both sides are philosophically opposed about how to fund schools, hospitals and affordable housing.

Florida’s House and Senate both passed competing budgets on Thursday that, while not far apart on the money, are philosophically opposed about how to pay for schools, hospitals and affordable housing.

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Brewster Bevis: Affordable housing good for Florida business, economy

February 8, 2018  | Florida Politics

Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) was created to foster an economic climate in Florida conducive to the growth, development and welfare of industry, business and the people of the state, which is why we are proud to be one of the 30 statewide organizations that make up the Sadowski Coalition.

Fully funding our affordable housing programs is good for all Florida businesses and our economy. Affordable housing generates jobs in home construction, which is a major economic driver in the state. This industry also fosters growth in local businesses when they draw upon and use local resources.

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Lawmakers loot trust fund for affordable housing

February 6, 2018  | Orlando Sentinel

The Florida Legislature is cutting short its help for affordable housing, diverting tens of millions of dollars each year from a trust fund meant to aid such housing developments.

And without that help, experts say, building affordable housing in South Florida could be all but impossible.

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Lawmaker works to protect low-income housing funds

February 4, 2018  | Bay News 9

According to the Florida Housing Commission, more than one million Floridians spend more than half of their income on housing costs.

Democratic State Representative Sean Shaw says that is definitely the case in Tampa.

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Will there be another raid on affordable housing funds? Yes, say House Republicans.

February 3, 2018  | Tampa Bay Times

For the first time in 17 years, the Florida Senate proposes spending all of the money the state earmarks for affordable housing to build apartments and homes for families that spend more than half their income on housing. The House wants to put the money into other priorities.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria decimated housing stock in the Florida Keys, left hundreds homeless and brought thousands more to Florida from Puerto Rico, but those hoping to use the money the state has set aside to construct affordable housing are going to face a battle again this year. The Florida House says it’s not a priority.

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Will there be another raid on affordable housing funds? House says yes.

February 2, 2018  | Miami Herald

Hurricanes Irma and Maria decimated housing stock in the Florida Keys, left hundreds homeless and brought thousands more to Florida from Puerto Rico, but those hoping to use the money the state has set aside to construct affordable housing are going to face a battle again this year. The Florida House says it’s not a priority.

Anyone who purchases real estate in Florida pays a documentary stamp tax on the transaction, a portion of which is earmarked for trust funds to develop affordable housing. This year, the trust funds will collect about $322 million.

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Florida Facing Affordable Housing Crisis

February 2, 2018  |  WUSF

In the wake of natural disasters, stagnant wages and a growing separation of wealth, Florida is suffering from an affordable housing catastrophe and concern is growing statewide.

The Florida Legislature has been eroding the Sadowski Trust fund, which supports the state’s affordable housing initiatives, since 2002. The Sadowski Trust allocates 70 percent of its appropriated money to the SHIP program which provides money to local governments to create and preserve affordable housing. The other 30 percent goes to the State Housing Trust Fund.

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Florida Facing Affordable Housing Crisis

February 1, 2018  |  WFSU

In the wake of natural disasters, stagnant wages and a growing separation of wealth, Florida is suffering from an affordable housing catastrophe and concern is growing statewide.

The Florida Legislature has been eroding the Sadowski Trust fund, which supports the state’s affordable housing initiatives, since 2002. The Sadowski Trust allocates 70 percent of its appropriated money to the SHIP program which provides money to local governments to create and preserve affordable housing. The other 30 percent goes to the State Housing Trust Fund.

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Florida Facing Affordable Housing Crisis

February 1, 2018  |  WLRN

In the wake of natural disasters, stagnant wages and a growing separation of wealth, Florida is suffering from an affordable housing catastrophe and concern is growing statewide.

The Florida Legislature has been eroding the Sadowski Trust fund, which supports the state’s affordable housing initiatives, since 2002. The Sadowski Trust allocates 70 percent of its appropriated money to the SHIP program which provides money to local governments to create and preserve affordable housing. The other 30 percent goes to the State Housing Trust Fund.

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Connect with the Chamber: Workforce housing, training top priorities for Chamber

January 16, 2018  |  Naples Daily News

When Florida’s annual 60-day legislative session kicked off earlier this month, legislators made the trek to Tallahassee armed with a long to-do list.

But they aren’t the only ones hoping to accomplish much in a short amount of time. Members of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce leadership team are traveling to Tallahassee on Jan. 24 to advocate for several Chamber and community priorities, including increased workforce housing and workforce training opportunities, long-time issues of importance for the organization.

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Legislators see preventing raid of housing trust funds as session priority

January 16, 2018  |  Politico

TALLAHASSEE — As the need for affordable housing grows in the wake of Hurricane Irma, especially in the devastated Florida Keys, some lawmakers want to see an end to the practice of “sweeping” housing trust funds to boost other areas of the budget.

Legislation filed in the state Senate, FL SB874 (18R), would exempt state and local housing trust funds from being raided when lawmakers are building the state budget. Over the past five years, more than $660 million has been swept from housing trust funds to help balance the state budget.

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Rick Scott’s Puerto Rico roundtable reaches same concern as others: housing

January 4, 2018  |  Florida Politics

Having largely tackled many of the education and jobs challenges arising from the mass migration of Puerto Ricans seeking a place to live in Florida after Hurricane Maria largely shut down their lives on the island, state and local officials gathered in Orlando told Gov. Rick Scott that housing remains a major problem.

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Keys housing

January 4, 2018  |  Miami Herald

Re Jan. 2 article “Keys legislator asks for millions toward hurricane housing.” It seems that State Rep. Holly Raschein wants the state Legislature to allocate funds toward purchasing property for affordable housing.

Someone should remind her that there’s already a trust that funds affordable housing, the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund.

Unfortunately for all Floridians, especially those who are lower income and working class, for the past 10 years Republicans, who control the state House, Senate and governor’s mansion, have regularly appropriated funds from the trust — more than $1.3 billion!

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Central Florida lawmakers are frustrated over the lack of housing as Puerto Rican evacuees arrive in Orlando daily

January 3, 2018  |  Orlando Weekly

More than 100 days after Hurricane Maria’s apocalyptic winds tore through Puerto Rico leaving floods, collapsed houses and bodies in its wake, the island remains shrouded in darkness.

Half of the 3.4 million U.S. citizens in the American territory are living without power, three months after Maria made landfall on Sept. 20 and destroyed the island’s electrical grid – and many will likely remain that way until May, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In the most dire cases, no electricity means no access to clean drinking water, no schools, no jobs, no medicine – no hope that things will return to normal anytime soon. As Puerto Rico’s situation continues to deteriorate, hundreds of thousands of people have escaped to Florida for a respite from the despair.

Instead, they’ve fled headfirst into our state’s dreadful affordable housing crisis.

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Opinion: Thanks For Helping Century In Tornado Recovery Efforts

January 3, 2018  |  NorthEscambia.com

As 2018 begins, it is time to reflect back on the past two years as the Town of Century’s disaster recovery is on its way to completion. As a result of the February 15, 2016, EF-3 tornado that whipped through parts of the town, it is time to thank all the players who have contributed to the recovery process.

Immediately after the event, the American Red Cross was in Century serving food and water to  several neighborhoods. In addition, Escambia County Sheriff’s Department officers were on the job making sure everyone was safe and secure. Several church groups traveled to Century and contributed to the clean-up of neighborhoods and streets. I remember a group from Hillcrest Baptist Church clearing streets of trees and other vegetative debris as well as removing fallen trees from many rooftops.

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Puerto Rico evacuees to Florida need immediate, long-term housing, task force concludes

December 29, 2017  |  Florida Politics

Housing continues to be the toughest challenge and most likely  the biggest long-term challenge as Central Florida absorbs tens of thousands of people displaced from Puerto Rico because of Hurricane Maria, surmised a new task force formed by U.S. Rep. Darren Soto.

There still is no clear idea how many of the more than 260,000 people who’ve come from Puerto Rico to Florida in the past three months plan to stay, or where Yet several task force members said it is increasingly looking as if many if not most want to make Florida their permanent home.

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Lawmakers loot trust fund for affordable housing

December 22, 2017  | Orlando Sentinel

The Florida Legislature is cutting short its help for affordable housing, diverting tens of millions of dollars each year from a trust fund meant to aid such housing developments.

And without that help, experts say, building affordable housing in South Florida could be all but impossible.

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Lawmakers loot trust fund for affordable housing

December 22, 2017  |  Sun Sentinel

The Florida Legislature is cutting short its help for affordable housing, diverting tens of millions of dollars each year from a trust fund meant to aid such housing developments.

And without that help, experts say, building affordable housing in South Florida could be all but impossible.

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Gwen Graham’s plan for displaced Puerto Ricans: Housing, Spanish tests, Bright Futures, Medicaid

December 22, 2017  |  Florida Politics

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham released her plan Friday for assisting the tens of thousands of Puerto Rican families displaced to Florida because of devastation on their island from Hurricane Maria, including proposals ranging from affordable housing investments to Medicaid expansion.

Graham’s package of proposals includes a call for a statewide coordinator of assistance programs for a population of an unclear size that has surged into Florida in the past three months to what she calls “a crisis point,” and charges that Republican Gov. Rick Scott has provided “a complete lack of leadership.”

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Florida Gov. and House speaker reach deal over lottery

December 16, 2017  |  Tampa Bay Times

The administration of Gov. Rick Scott has reached a deal that should end a legal battle over the Florida Lottery.

The state’s lottery department agreed last week to change a massive new contract that had been challenged by House Speaker Richard Corcoran. A copy of the new agreement shows the state is dropping a proposal to significantly increase the number of automated ticket machines around the state.

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Governor candidates get feisty on Twitter

December 16, 2017  |  Tampa Bay Times

Andrew Gillum, Richard Corcoran, Adam Putnam and Gwen Graham all shared pointed criticisms of political opponents this week.

It’s strange. Twitter dot com is normally such a pleasant place.

But in the past week or so, half of the candidates for Florida governor have used the site to launch partisan broadsides against their political opponents.

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After Irma, affordable housing becomes endangered in Florida Keys

December 15, 2017  |  Tampa Bay Times

Alex Harris of the Miami Herald had a good story about the shortage of affordable housing in the Florida Keys that should get the attention of state lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott:

After Hurricane Irma swept through the Florida Keys, many residents were cautiously optimistic: Key West, the biggest tourist draw and economic engine, had survived with minimal damage.

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Commissioners want state affordable housing fund off-limits for non-housing projects

December 12, 2017  |  Bradenton Herald

Calling off the oft-called “raid” of a state trust fund for affordable housing is another legislative priority for Manatee County commissioners.

The board unanimously approved a resolution to ask the Affordable Housing Workgroup to recommend that the Florida Legislature use all of the funds allocated in the Sadowski Trust Fund solely for affordable housing, for which it was intended.

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It was hard to find cheap housing in the Keys before Irma. Now, there’s ‘nothing’

December 10, 2017  |  Bradenton Herald

After Hurricane Irma swept through the Florida Keys, many residents were cautiously optimistic: Key West, the biggest tourist draw and economic engine, had survived with minimal damage.

The hope was for a fast return to normal, and that’s largely what has happened in the city at Mile Marker Zero. Cruise ships are back, the annual keystone event, Fantasy Fest, was a hit, and swarms of visitors are gradually returning to critical mass for Mallory Square sunsets.

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Sizing up Chris King

December 6, 2017  |  Florida Politics

The Tampa Bay Times’ interviewed Winter Park businessman and gubernatorial candidate Chris King to see how he’s approaching the race against his daunting Democratic primary opponents, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham and former Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine.

The Times notes Tallahassee Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum as “once the buzziest candidate,” but “now has an FBI corruption looming over his City Hall and the aura of a dead man walking.”

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Hurricane proposal could clash with Rick Scott’s budget

December 4, 2017  |  Florida Politics

A proposal seeking to fund affordable housing programs in the wakes of Hurricanes Irma and Maria could be underfunded by Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed budget.

The policy recommendation, submitted by Altamonte Springs Republican state Rep. Bob Cortes, was mentioned in passing Monday at the House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness meeting. Cortes’ proposal was joined by 140 other recommendations heard at the meeting as part of the select group’s recommendation phase.

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House bill aimed to protect affordable housing, officials say

December 1, 2017  |  Osceola News-Gazette

In the last 25 years, nearly $2 billion in affordable housing trust funds have been diverted for other uses by Florida legislators, according to a Florida Housing Coalition report. Mary Downey, executive director of the Community Hope Center in Kissimmee, said she finds the practice “very worrisome.”

“There is obviously a shortage of affordable housing across Florida,” said Downey, whose organization works directly with homeless and low-income individuals in Osceola County. “The idea that money is intentionally being taken away from this year after year is disturbing.”

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Rangel: Becoming homeless is getting easier in Brevard County

November 22, 2017  |  Florida Today

Cynthia Watkins and her three daughters slept in her 2007 Mitsubishi Galant for nearly two months: Watkins curled up in the driver’s seat, her 12-year-old in the passenger’s seat and her 14 and 18 year olds huddled in the back.

Watkins ‘ journey into homelessness can be hard to understand for those on the outside and even she was caught off guard. She’s not a drug addict. She worked part-time at the Kennedy Space Center when she became homeless.

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Fla. lawmakers call to stop legislative sweeps of affordable housing funds

November 22, 2017  |  Spectrum News, News 13

As tens of thousands of low-income families displaced by this year’s hurricanes struggle to find affordable housing in Florida, a chorus of lawmakers are calling for an end to legislative sweeps of the state’s affordable housing trust fund.

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Ben Carson’s public housing plan would be crippled if the GOP’s tax bill passes

November 15, 2017  | ThinkProgress

HUD Secretary Carson has touted a program that would be severely restricted by the House’s tax bill.

The GOP’s tax bill would severely curtail its own administration’s plan to solve the country’s $49 billion backlog of public housing repairs. That estimate doesn’t include repairs related to damage from the recent hurricanes — repairs that could also face serious slowdowns if the House GOP’s plan passes.

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Affordable housing crisis? Governor’s budget diverts $92 million elsewhere.

November 14, 2017  | Miami Herald

As every Florida county struggles with an affordable housing problem, Gov. Rick Scott signaled Tuesday he is poised to engage again in the annual real estate bait and switch on taxpayers.

In the last budget proposal of his term, the governor wants to sweep money from the affordable housing trust funds and use $92 million of it for other priorities. If the Legislature agrees, it will be the 17th time since 1992 that millions of dollars intended to lower the cost of housing in Florida will be swept into the general revenue account to fund pet projects, other spending priorities and tax breaks.

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Lawmakers Want To Keep Affordable Housing Funds For Just That

November 14, 2017  |  WFSU

Florida lawmakers want to stop their colleagues from spending money meant for affordable housing on other projects. The move comes after Hurricane Irma battered and destroyed Floridians’ homes.

For years, the Legislature has been dipping into the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund. The money is meant to help with down payments and to incentivize affordable development. Instead lawmakers are sweeping hundreds of millions of dollars into general revenue, to make up for budget shortfalls. Republican Senator Kathleen Passidomo of Naples wants to stop that.

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Tax cut plan: Affordable housing could lose big in Republican proposals

November 14, 2017  |  TCPalm

America needs more affordable housing. That is a fact. How to fund that housing, however, has Republican tax writers in the House at odds with those in the Senate.

It all comes down to a type of tax-exempt bond that funds about half of all affordable housing development. The House tax reform bill eliminates the bond — the Senate bill retains it.

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Rent costs devouring household incomes

November 10, 2017  |  Herald-Tribune

55 percent of region’s tenants are ‘cost-burdened’

The good news in the residential real estate market is more and more homeowners are keeping up with their mortgage payments. The bad news is more and more tenants cannot afford to keep up with their rent payments.

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Lawmakers examine current state of Florida’s affordable housing fund

November 8, 2017  |  Spectrum News, Bay News

TALLAHASSEE – As tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria continue to stream into Florida, a key Senate panel spent Wednesday exploring whether the state’s affordable housing programs are being adequately funded.

The question is more than academic. While many storm-weary Puerto Ricans whose homes have been destroyed are moving in with family members on the mainland, thousands of others are in search of housing. With their finances unable to match the steep rents being charged in Florida’s largest cities, the evacuees are turning to the state for help.

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OUR VIEW, Close gap between rents and wages

November 5, 2017  |  The Daytona Beach News Journal

The causes for this imbalance are many.

Volusia County is experiencing a housing boom, with thousands of new homes being built or planned in new developments in Daytona Beach, Port Orange, New Smyrna Beach and elsewhere. Many of these residences will sell for more than $200,000. This is a sign of a growing economy that will attract new residents and expand the local tax base — and that developers are rushing to meet a rising demand.

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High rents, low wages leave Volusia-Flagler in housing bind

October 28, 2017  |  The Daytona Beach News Journal

Jodel White cashed her paycheck of $226 after long days of cleaning hotel rooms on the beachside at $8.75 an hour. After bills, new shoes and school uniforms for her two teenagers, she had $34 to her name until the next payday — two weeks later.

That money won’t pay the rest of the electricity deposit she owes or help with rent for the month. It barely covers any groceries for the 16-year-old, 250-pound son she refers to as an “eating machine.”

“It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul,” White said of choosing which bills to pay first as she sat on a hand-me-down couch in her small South Daytona apartment beside her partner and children’s father, Douglas Johnson, a disabled vet.

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New report highlights housing affordability issues in Jacksonville and across the country

July 8, 2017  |  The Florida Times Union

Children rushed Sylvetta Blandenburg as she stepped onto the playground at Oakland Terrace Apartments, a supportive housing development on Jacksonville’s Eastside.

She lives on the property with her five children in a four-bedroom apartment Blandenburg was lucky to find. The complex, through its developer Ability Housing, offers affordable units to fit a tenant’s needs and income level. Supervising the children for the summer complements her work at a local daycare.

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South Florida’s rental affordability crisis worst in the nation, Harvard report finds

June 18, 2017  |  Sun Sentinel

South Florida’s affordable rent crunch isn’t just bleak. It’s the worst in the country – again.

Nearly two of three renters in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties are devoting more than 30 percent of their incomes to housing costs, according to a report Friday from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

The analysis also reveals that more than a third of renters in the region — 304,200 households — are “severely burdened,” spending more than half of their incomes on housing.

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Bay-area residents desperate for affordable housing

May 2, 2017  |  Tampa Bay 10 News

The need for affordable housing in the Bay Area continues to get worse. Right now, more than 20,000 people are on the Tampa Housing Authority’s wait list.

Tamara Correa, her son, daughter, and grandson are running out of options. When 10 News met them, they were staying in a hotel thanks to a church donation.

“I’m very thankful for them that she did come out, bring us a check, so at least we don’t be you know, in the streets,” said Tamara Correa.

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Florida affordable housing funds likely to get shifted

April 28, 2017  |  Orlando Sentinel

Florida’s 25-year-old solution to affordable housing — funding down-payment assistance and subsidized rentals with real estate taxes — operates with half the money it had a decade ago, even as Floridians are further stretched to pay the rent.

When the housing market peaked in 2006, 95 percent of the real estate sales taxes designated for affordable housing were spent as directed by a 1992 state act. But that share has dropped to 67 percent, according to the Florida Housing Coalition — and the program’s revenues have dwindled by more half during the last 10 years, from $433 million to $200 million.

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There’s No Place Like Home (If You Can Afford It)

March 2017  |  Florida Policy Institute

The Florida State Legislature has almost $293 million available in the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund to invest in affordable housing for 2017-18. While the Legislature has been reluctant to fully utilize the available funds in the past, the funding fully supports the articulated goals of state policymaking leadership. The 2017 legislative session is the perfect time for lawmakers to commit to investing all the dedicated affordable housing funds for their intended purpose.

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Sadowski Coalition seeks full funding for affordable housing in state budget

March 2, 2017  |  SaintPetersBlog

Affordable housing advocates urged the Legislature Thursday to spend all of the state’s dedicated housing money for its intended purpose, saying that more than 910,000 Floridians pay more than half their income for shelter.

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Sadowski Coalition Marks A Somber 25th

March 2, 2017  |  WFSU

Advocates are marking a 25-year-old tragedy by urging lawmakers to remember the economic dividends of investing in affordable housing.

The Sadowski Coalition is asking lawmakers not to divert money from a $292 million trust fund that is supposed to help low-income people find homes and apartments.

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Florida affordable housing money in groups’ sights

March 2, 2017  |  Orlando Sentinel

A coalition of industry and nonprofit groups Thursday made what has become an annual case for state lawmakers to reject Gov. Rick Scott’s efforts to divert money from housing programs to balance the state budget.

The Sadowski Housing Coalition, with members ranging from the Florida Coalition for the Homeless to Habitat for Humanity, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Home Builders Association, held a news conference Thursday and called for lawmakers to allocate state and local housing trust-fund money to affordable housing programs.

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Press Releases:

Press Release: State Senator Passidomo Files Bipartisan Affordable Housing Legislation

November  14, 2017 | For Immediate Release

Tallahassee, Fla. – With representatives from the 30 diverse statewide organizations that make up the Sadowski Coalition joining her in front of the Florida Senate Chamber doors in the State Capitol in Tallahassee, State Senator Kathleen Passidomo today announced she has filed bipartisan affordable housing legislation.

This legislation, Senate Bill 874, would prohibit the sweep of the State and Local Housing Trust Fund. State Representative Sean Shaw is the sponsor of the House companion bill, House Bill 191.
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Press Release: Sadowski Coalition Calls on Florida Legislature to Use All State & Local Housing Trust Fund Monies for Housing

March 2, 2017 | For Immediate Release

The Sadowski Coalition – made up of 30 diverse statewide organizations, including industry and business groups; advocates for the elderly, veterans, homeless and special needs; and faith-based organizations – today gathered at a press conference to call on the Florida Legislature to use all state and local housing trust fund monies for housing in Fiscal Year 2017-18.
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