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New Florida Law Helps Homeless Get Into Housing And Pay The Rent

Gov. Rick Scott at a ceremonial signing of legislation in Orlando. Photo: Catherine Welch

Gov. Rick Scott was in Orlando Friday for a ceremonial bill signing that will help the homeless. It gives local governments funding to spend on rental assistance.

Local governments would be able to use up to 25 percent of the revenue generated by tax document stamps in real estate transactions. The money can be used toward security deposits, rent and utility deposits. Before, the tax revenue could only be used for homeownership.

This will give the county more tools to help the homeless, said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. “This certainly frees up and allows us to make broader choices about how we spend the state support that we get,” said Jacobs.

It also requires agencies to measure the program’s impact. And Central Florida Commission on Homelessness CEO Andrae Bailey likes that. “We’ve got to hold ourselves accountable to results. And the only real results that matter are getting people off the streets and into housing,” said Bailey. “This bill pushes us and holds us accountable to do that in the Sunshine State.”

Bailey said this new law pushes Florida down the path of housing first. The commission has been implementing the housing first model, which stabilized homeless residents into housing and then addressing their employment and health needs.

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About Catherine Welch

Catherine Welch