From the Field: Florida Advocates Fight for Full Utilization of Housing Resources

Advocates in Florida are working to ensure legislative action to fully utilize housing resources. The State Senate took a significant step on February 7, voting to utilize all funds from the state and local housing trust funds for housing. In recent years, resources from the state and local housing trust funds have been diverted to non-housing programs.  Florida Housing Coalition, an NLIHC state partner, has worked to mobilize support for a full disbursement of trust fund dollars for housing. Conference negotiations will now take place between the Senate and the House; lawmakers in the House have so far neglected to respond to constituents’ call to use all the housing trust funds for housing.

Florida’s state and local housing trust funds started receiving a dedicated revenue source in 1992 thanks to the advocacy efforts of the Sadowski Coalition, a nonpartisan collection of more than 30 diverse statewide organizations, including the Florida Housing Coalition. The housing trust funds receive revenue from a document stamp tax, which is paid on all real estate transactions throughout the state. The state housing trust fund resources are used for the preservation and development of rental housing for the most vulnerable renters. The local housing trust fund monies can be used more flexibly to meet a continuum of housing needs.

The need for affordable housing in Florida is great. Florida has the third highest homeless population in the nation, and close to a million low income Florida households are severely housing cost-burdened, spending more than half of their incomes on their housing. Advocates urged legislators this year to fully allocate the $322 million in the housing trust funds to housing endeavors.

 “We are extremely grateful to leadership in the Florida Senate and urge them to stay resolute in their position during conference negotiations with the House,” said Florida Housing Coalition CEO Jaimie Ross. “We are urging the Florida House to listen to the millions of Floridians who are represented by the 30 statewide organizations from business groups such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce, industry groups such as the Florida Realtors, advocates for the elderly such as Florida AARP, and faith-based organizations such as Volunteers of America Florida.  The Sadowski Coalition is comprised of millions of Floridians from all walks of life with one message - use the housing trust funds solely for housing.”

For more information, contact Jaimie Ross at: ross@flhousing.org