Once again, some Florida lawmakers are proposing to take the money that’s supposed to be set aside to beef up the state’s supply of affordable housing and use it for other things instead.
The Florida House of Representatives wants to take nearly 63 percent of the affordable housing funds for other state priorities. What’s left would go to Florida Panhandle counties most heavily impacted by Hurricane Michael last year.
It would mean major urban areas, like Miami-Dade County or the Tampa Bay region, would not receive any affordable housing funding in the new budget year, although housing costs remain a critical issue across the state.
“If you’re in Orlando, or if you’re in Jacksonville, or anywhere outside the hurricane-impacted counties, you will be getting zero (housing) funds,” said Jaimie Ross, president of the nonprofit Florida Housing Coalition, a group that lobbies for affordable housing funding.
The House Appropriations Committee will review the housing plan this week as part of the chamber’s $89.9 billion budget proposal for 2019-20.
In contrast, the Florida Senate’s budget proposal would leave the affordable housing funds intact at $332 million and distribute the majority of the money across the state, including $100 million for hurricane-impacted areas.
Ross said the housing coalition supports the Senate plan and is pleased that Gov. Ron DeSantis, who called for full funding of the affordable housing programs in his budget proposal, continues to advocate on its behalf.
“Although Florida has seen a rise in economic growth in recent years, the fact remains that many Floridians find it difficult to fund affordable homes within their budget,” DeSantis tweeted last week after talking to a gathering of Florida Realtors.
The affordable housing proposals will be voted out of the House and Senate budget committees this week, moving to each chamber’s floor next week. The differences in the plans will have to be worked out as part of the final state budget negotiations that will stretch into early May.