WMFE is Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming on 90.7 FM and Classical Music on 90.7 HD2. Part of the community since 1965, WMFE focuses on providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

Florida’s Affordable Housing Fund Is Once Again Targeted By Lawmakers

The Graham at Gracepoint is an affordable housing complex in Tampa, serving a mix of formerly-homeless persons and seniors. Photo: DDA Development


The state has a dedicated trust fund meant to fund affordable housing projects but lawmakers have repeatedly diverted money from the program. This year looks like it will be no different.

Nearly 30 years ago, the Florida Legislature passed the Sadowski Affordable Housing Act which placed a surcharge on every real estate transaction in the state.

That money then gets split between each county and larger cities to fund local housing programs. This year, some lawmakers want to use some of the funds to pay for flooding mitigation and sewage upgrades.

But Jaimie Ross, President of the Florida Housing Coalition says the pandemic has only exacerbated the state’s affordable housing crunch.

“Right now, housing prices are extremely high, it’s a hot market,” she said. “Rentals are also high and there’s very little in the way of vacancies so it’s a particularly bad time to take so much funding away from the Sadowski programs because those programs are really focused on building and increasing the supply of housing.”

This year, Florida’s affordable housing trust fund has about $426 million but under a new legislative proposal, two thirds of the money would be used for the environmental projects.

The plan was recently announced by Senate President Wilton Simpson, and House Speaker Chris Sprowls of Palm Harbor. And unlike in previous years, the new proposal would make cuts to the Sadowski trust fund permanent.

Bowen Arnold is a housing developer with DDA Development in Tampa.

“A successful affordable housing project is one that’s adequately funded and that’s usually a combination of state and local resources and also private resources,” he said. “It needs to be all three. It’s impossible to build quality affordable housing today without the assistance of the state and or federal government because the cost of providing affordable housing is not dissimilar to the cost of providing market rate housing. Construction costs, impact fees and permitting fees are all the same. We always need some assistance from governments.”

It’s not unusual for legislators to try to divert money from the Sadowski trust into general revenue for other projects.

But housing advocates, including Jaimie Ross, may have an ally in Governor Ron DeSantis. His budget proposal fully funds the affordable housing trust.

“Governor DeSantis has been really wonderful since he took office in terms of housing,” she said. “He stopped the trend that we had experienced with Governor Scott of basically sweeping the trust funds. In the DeSantis budget, $423.3 million is proposed to be used for affordable housing in this fiscal year. If you look at the House and Senate bills that has been proposed, they would reduce that to $141 million. That is a drastic reduction.”


Get The 90.7 WMFE Newsletter

Your trusted news source for the latest Central Florida news, updates on special programs and more.

GET THE LATEST
Stay tuned in to our local news coverage: Listen to 90.7 WMFE on your FM or HD radio, the WMFE mobile app or your smart speaker — say “Alexa, play NPR” and you’ll be connected.

WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity

TOP