Commitment to reallocate affordable housing money to environmental projects head to governor’s table

Commitment to reallocate affordable housing money to environmental projects head to governor’s table

Polsky also says permanently redirecting dollars that had been earmarked for affordable housing could backfire if there’s another housing crisis. “Supply and demand. There is not enough supply of general housing, and with real estate prices going up and up, that just means that even the lowest level of housing has gone up and so every time we have more money in doc stamps means we have more need for affordable housing at the lower levels,” Polsky says. “We’re not going to be able to use all the money that the housing fund has because now we’re required to put it towards other projects. And those projects are worthy, but I believe that there are other areas where we can take that money from,” Polsky says.

“There’s the constant sweeping of the affordable trust fund that we’ve had every year, I think since its inception, and there’s such a huge need for it. It’s like the one issue that every single one of our districts can agree upon,” Polsky says. Some of the money currently allocated for affordable housing will permanently go toward the new Resilient Florida Trust Fund to help communities combat the impacts of sea level rise and flooding. It will also support a wastewater grant program. Lawmakers are planning to give those programs about $111 million each. But not everyone is on board with the plan. Senate Democrats have raised concerns about the proposal. Sen. Tina Polsky (D-Boca Raton) is one of them.

Polsky says she appreciates the bump in money to affordable housing compared to what lawmakers had originally pitched this year. But she says the proposed $200 million is not enough. “In the appropriations committee, there was some robust discussion about this bill and the distributions and concerns about the funding levels, specifically on the affordable housing piece. So, what the amendment does is it changes the distribution in this way,” Albritton says.

“We are putting this dollar amount as the minimum that this trust fund can receive, and by doing that is to say that if more money does come our way, it can be added. But us as a state legislature are saying no more can this be swept, and this is the minimum amount that it will be set as,” Tomkow says. Senate President Wilton Simpson has cheered the move, saying the documentary stamp tax’s new distributions will ensure a steady stream of funding in three key areas of infrastructure—affordable housing, wastewater, and mitigation of sea-level rise. The proposal is now heading to the governor’s desk. Sponsor of the House bill Rep. Josie Tomkow (R-Auburndale) points out that lawmakers could put more money into affordable housing programs. She says the proposed $200 million are just a minimum.

“Could we use American Rescue Plan money to fulfill the same goal of this legislation? Do we have to use money out of the affordable housing trust funds?” During a discussion on the House version of the bill, Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando) asked if lawmakers could use federal dollars from COVID-19 aid to fund those environmental projects:

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