There’s good news for affordable housing advocates, brought about by Florida legislators.
The House and Senate have agreed to fully fund the Sadowski Fund, which uses money collected from doc stamp taxes on real estate transactions, to finance affordable housing in Florida, to the tune of $370 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
And, the Florida House and Senate have agreed, according to FloridaPolitics.com, not to sweep money from the fund to allocate to other general fund projects, as has been the case over the past decade. Lawmakers have chosen to sweep just over $2 billion in Sadowski funds.
In past years it went toward recovery efforts during the recession, Hurricane Michael recovery and funding the response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. For example, in 2019-20 $200 million of the $334.6 million collected were swept, according to the Committee on Infrastructure and Security. The fund was created in 1992-93; 2006-07 was the last budget in which it wasn’t swept from.
Senate budget chair Rob Bradley and House appropriations chair Travis Cummings issued statements that they’ve agreed not to sweep the affordable housing trust funds this year – so cross your fingers it happens, as budget talks will continue likely through Friday., Gov. Ron DeSantis has asked for $25 million in allocations for a response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Just like in 2018, a group of legislators filed bills to keep the funds from being swept away, but they failed to make the floor in either chamber.
Local jurisdictions receive funds from two major programs funded by the Sadowski Trust: the State Housing Initiatives Program (SHIP) and the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) Program. They provide things like deposit assistance for new apartment leases, rehabilitation and emergency repairs, acquisition of property for affordable housing, matching dollars for state and federal grants, and low-interest or zero percent interest loans for affordable housing developments.
City of Kissimmee Deputy City Manager Desiree Matthews, who works with the city’s affordable housing partners, called the action in Tallahassee great news, as cuts in previous years have impacted the city in many ways.
“From year to year, it is difficult to plan and program funds because we never know exactly how much will be received until the final award is provided with the final budget,” Matthews said. “While we do have an action plan that outlines where the city will spend the funds, cuts have made programming those funds very difficult.”
She shared, as examples of previous years, the city received about $100,000, but full funding would have been closer to $800,000.
“The full funding of Sadowski means tremendous increases not only for Kissimmee but also for the Osceola County and the region,” Matthews said. “This impact will be tremendous in moving the needle on poverty and will aid in the development and/or enhancement of programs designed to meet the needs of affordable housing, housing related activities, and homelessness prevention in Kissimmee; all which equate to family stability and an improved quality of life. Full funding could mean everything for those struggling to meet the demands of everyday life, so this is a great step in the right direction.”