Governor Rick Scott (R) released his budget proposal on November 14 that would take $92 million away from the state affordable housing trust fund to help pay for $1.4 billion in investments for the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) for emergency preparedness, response, and recovery. These investments include $1.32 billion for disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation; $3.5 million for the Statewide Emergency Alert Notification System; $1.8 million for County Emergency Operations Center updates; $9.1 million for flood mitigation assistance programs; $6.7 million for the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program; and $3.0 million for hurricane shelter retrofits.
If the legislature agrees with the governor’s request, it will be the seventeenth time since 1992 that housing trust fund dollars have been diverted for other uses. A 2017 report by the Florida Housing Coalition indicates that the housing trust fund collected nearly $6 billion over 25 years, but that $2 billion was swept to the state’s general fund. Several state lawmakers have spoken out about the need to protect funds for affordable development, and Representative Sean Shaw of Tampa is sponsoring a bill to do so. Florida was facing an affordable housing crisis prior to Hurricane Irma, and funding for the trust fund helps address the growing need for affordable homes, especially for the lowest income households.