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Governor Ron DeSantis Wants To Keep Lawmakers From Sweeping Affordable Housing Fund

A house under construction
Nick Ares

Affordable housing advocates are pleased to hear Governor Ron DeSantis is proposing to dedicate all of the William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund to affordable housing in his budget proposal.

Over the years, state lawmakers have tapped into housing funds created to provide revenue for affordable and workforce housing and reallocated millions of dollars to other state spending ventures.

In 2018 the state legislature passed a House proposed sweep of $185 million from the Sadowski Housing Fund and left $109 million for the state's affordable housing programs.

Jaimie Ross President and CEO of the Florida Housing Coalition says DeSantis’s proposal is “a huge leg up for advocates.” Ross believes DeSantis’s proposal could change a ten year tradition of housing trust fund sweeping.

“What governor DeSantis has done is said wait a second this isn’t right. This isn’t good for Florida we should be using all the housing trust fund monies for housing now that proposal is what is sent to the legislature," she said.

Ross is hopeful DeSantis’s change in priority can help sway the legislature to keep housing trust fund money in the hands of affordable housing programs like SHIP and SAIL, two housing programs that offer incentives and funding to promote and protect affordable homeownership and multi-family housing for low income families.

Currently there is a waiting list of about 220 people waiting for affordable housing assistance. Shington Lamy, Director of Leon County’s Office of Human Services and Community Partnerships, says the biggest issue his programs face is the availability of high quality affordable homes.

“In a recent study it showed that we will need about 8,500 affordable homes over the next five years. So it’s very important that we be able to address those through our programs and through our partnerships here in the community.”

Leon County’s primary source of funding is through the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and Lamy says if the legislature decides not to sweep funds it will have a positive impact.

“This current year we received $167,000 and that was it. Where it had not been swept we would’ve gotten over a million. I mean that right there would’ve been so important that would’ve been several more roofs we could’ve fixed, more windows we could’ve replaced, more sceptic tanks we could’ve done had we the full allotment that was due to the county. So his proposal to fully fund the trust fund and not sweep it is a huge win and were excited about that and hope the legislature will do the same.”

In recent years, the House has taken a similar position to the Governor's. Advocates are hopeful DeSantis's leadership will result in legislation that keeps housing trust funds in the hands of affordable housing programs.