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Coalition News Service - April 13, 2006

The Truth About Last Year's Cuts
in Florida's Affordable Housing Programs

The Florida Housing Coalition is spearheading efforts to restore full funding for the State of Florida's Sidowski  Affordable Housing Act and to repeal of the cap on that program that was imposed last year by the legislature

The Coalition has destroyed two myths.  Consider the following:

Myth #1: fully funding the affordable housing programs is somehow just throwing money at the problem, without real solutions;

In Reality: Florida's state and local housing programs funded from the Sadowski Act monies were scrutinized by a House Select Committee appointed by the Speaker in 2003.  The Report of the House Select Committee on Affordable Housing makes clear that our state and local housing trust fund programs are creative, flexible, and efficient-- highly leveraging pubic dollars to produce housing throughout the state serving the target populations.  Since the time of the Select Committee Report, the real estate market has soared and we now have public private partnerships throughout the state addressing the problem with a variety of tools, including community land trusts and employer assisted housing programs.  But housing subsidy is indeed key to making any housing program a success-- and without the full appropriation of our dedicated revenue source for affordable housing, we can not implement these creative tools and ultimately it is our economy that will suffer.  The housing trust fund monies are not a bandaid, they are the lynchpin in a highly successful program of producing affordable housing through an infrastructure of creative programs, highly leveraged funds, quality development, and accountability.

Myth #2: the total amount in the trust funds was never actually intended for affordable housing. The Coalition offers the following:
In Reality: the monies dedicated to the state and local housing trust funds are twenty cents per every one hundred dollars of purchase price collected at the time of recording a deed in the county public records.  The twenty cents are derived from the ten cent increase in doc stamps which went into effect in 1992 and another ten cents of doc stamps that was targeted to general revenue in 1992, but was shifted to housing beginning in 1995. It is important to note that the doc stamp had been increased in the late 1980's specifically to fund the State Infrastructure Trust Fund, from which housing was to be funded. When the State Infrastructure Trust Fund was eliminated, those funds were shifted to general revenue, with the understanding that housing would be funded from that source.

Of course, housing funding declined each year when forced to compete with education and other general revenue issues. As a result, the Sidowski Act recognized the need not only to increase the doc stamp, but to recapture the doc stamp increase that had been levied for infrastructure purposes including housing. This is why the full 20 cents was dedicated to the state and local housing trust funds-- not just the ten cent increase.

Additionally, it was purposeful that housing funding was tied to the doc stamp, because there is a direct nexus between the higher collection of doc stamps as real estate prices rise, and the need for trust fund dollars to close the gap between what the Floridian’s can afford and the cost of housing.  The full 20 cents that have been dedicated to housing are clearly needed at this time, as Florida faces its greatest housing crisis ever-- due to soaring housing costs and relatively flat increases in family income.

The state and local housing trust funds have been scrutinized by the Florida Legislature and have proved an unequivocal success for creativity, flexibility, leveraging, and efficiency.  It is now commonly acknowledged that Florida is in a housing crisis and that we can no longer afford further diversion of our state and local housing trust fund dollars—this is the year we must have full appropriation and repeal of the cap so that Florida’s families and Florida’s economy can thrive.