Back in 1992, the Florida Realtors supported a new documentary stamp tax that would be used to help residents attain affordable housing.
The program, known as the State and Local Government Housing Trust Funds. has helped thousands of Floridians purchase a home and it helped attract teachers, firefighters and law enforcement officers to come to the Sunshine State to work.
Despite this, lawmakers in Tallahassee are working to permanently reduce the funds for housing programs by 66 percent.
Current proposals in the Florida Legislature–SB 2512 and HB 5401– would do just that by diverting all but one-third of the funds to other infrastructure projects.
“Now, amid a pandemic, with a booming population and rising home prices, Florida needs to be investing more into these programs, not permanently reducing them by 66 percent as the proposed legislation would do,” said Christina Pappas, the incoming president of the Florida Realtors.
The Florida Realtors, which has more than 200,000 members, insists these bills would be a devastating blow for teachers, firefighters, nurses and other essential workers and other residents throughout the state, including the elderly on fixed incomes.
The Florida Realtors noted that for more than a decade the Legislature has made a habit of using all or a portion of these trust funds each year to help balance the budget so that housing programs have not been fully funded for quite some time with 50 percent of the funds going to housing and 50 percent of it going to infrastructure projects.
Pappas and staff from the Florida Realtors told Florida Daily they knew it was going to be a tough budget year due to the pandemic and that some of the money would be used to fill budget gaps. They added they had no idea the Legislature was contemplating a permanent 50 percent reduction to the program–and they have concerns about that proposal.
“These programs are helping the very people who have been on the front lines of this pandemic and how we need to be there for them just like they have been there for us,” said Pappas.
“Teachers, firefighters, nurses, law enforcement officials – these are all hard-working Floridians, many of whom can’t find homes in their area that they can afford, and these housing programs are here to assist them,” the Florida Realtors noted.
Pappas said she was optimistic on a solution since the state will receive billions of federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden last month.
Reach Ed Dean at firstname.lastname@example.org.