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Thursday, June 3, 2021

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis halves money for affordable housing fund

Posted By and on Thu, Jun 3, 2021 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge Florida will have even less money available for affordable housing programs in the upcoming year. - ADOBE
  • Adobe
  • Florida will have even less money available for affordable housing programs in the upcoming year.

Along with signing a $100 billion budget for the upcoming year, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday approved 10 other measures, including a bill that will revamp funding for affordable housing.

DeSantis’ office announced the additional bill signings Wednesday evening without comment. Most of the bills drew relatively little debate during the legislative session that ended April 30, but DeSantis received requests to veto the bill dealing with affordable housing money (SB 2512).

The measure will change the way the state divvies up more than $400 million in documentary-stamp tax dollars that in the past have been targeted toward what is known as the Sadowski Trust Fund for affordable housing. The bill will direct $200 million to affordable housing, with remaining money split between sewage-treatment projects and efforts to combat sea-level rise.

The move comes at a crisis moment for affordable housing in Florida. Recent studies have found that Central Floridians are more rent-burdened, relatively, than notoriously high-cost metros like San Francisco. The average single adult in Orlando doesn't make enough to cover their monthly bills and an exploding housing market hasn't made things any easier. Orange and Osceola counties have been slower to recover from the unemployment spike that occurred at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and DeSantis opted to end the distribution of enhanced unemployment benefits from the federal government early. The cruel move is a cudgel to force unemployed Floridians back into those same low-wage jobs that weren't covering costs prior to the pandemic.

Among the other bills signed Wednesday was a measure (HB 5011) that will terminate an endowment fund named after former Gov. Lawton Chiles. The fund was created in 1999 at the urging of then-Gov. Jeb Bush and included proceeds from a landmark legal settlement between the state and tobacco companies. The fund was aimed at providing perpetual support for health-care programs and biomedical research. But lawmakers decided this year to fold the endowment money into the state’s budget stabilization fund, which is a reserve.

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