The Florida Realtors are calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis not to sign into law a bill that would permanently cut the amount of funding available for affordable housing programs in the state by 50 percent.
Known as the “Affordable Housing Trust Funds” the bill would cut housing programs by $200 million in the next fiscal year, with the remaining $223 million split between two environmental infrastructure programs. This would occur on a permanent basis moving forward and affordable housing programs would never receive more than 50 percent of what’s available in the housing trust funds.
The bill hasn’t been sent to DeSantis yet and the Florida Realtors are hoping it will be worked out as the House and Senate begin trying to hammer out the state budget. Opponents of the bill insist a 50 permanent cut makes little sense with the state’s population continuing to grow, home prices are rising and housing inventory remains low. Opponents also insist the cuts will make it more difficult for elderly individuals on fixed incomes, veterans and low-income families to find places to live. Opponents also note that state lawmakers are basing the amount of funding that should go to affordable housing on the actions of previous Legislatures.
“For more than a decade, the Florida Legislature has made it a practice to divert all or a portion of affordable housing funding away from housing programs, in fact, over the course of the existence of the program, Floridians have lost billions of dollars that should have gone towards housing,” said Christina Pappas, the incoming president of the Florida Realtors.
Pappas also pointed out that previous Legislatures have swept the housing trust funds by an average of 50 percent over the last five years. “That’s all that is needed for the programs,” said Pappas.
While Florida’s revenues have taken an economic hit from the current pandemic, the latest budget outlook shows some signs of improvement. Forecasts released two weeks ago indicate that the state has moved from a projected pandemic-related deficit of $2 billion for the 2021-2022 fiscal year $826 million. For the current fiscal year, economists are projecting that Florida will have a surplus of $3.5 billion.
Based on these recent budget forecasts, the Florida Realtors insist lawmakers have much more room to be creative with the budget, making a permanent 50 percent reduction of the housing trust funds unnecessary. With less than two weeks to go in the session, the Florida Realtors maintained there is still time to voice concerns to lawmakers and DeSantis about the permanent 50 percent cut to affordable housing funds.
Reach Ed Dean at firstname.lastname@example.org.