Florida Realtors®, the state's largest professional trade association, has launched a comprehensive education and advocacy effort centered on the urgent need to allocate the maximum amount of funding available in the State and Local Government Housing Trust Funds for affordable housing projects.
The effort is a result of recent legislative proposals that would permanently reduce the amount of funding available for affordable housing by more than 66%. House Bill 5401, and its Senate companion, SPB 2512, would divert two-thirds of the funding available in the housing trust funds for use in environmental infrastructure projects, leaving only a third available for the state's considerable affordable housing needs.
"Nearly 30 years ago, Realtors® worked with members of the Legislature to place a new tax on our industry that would help create a dedicated funding source for Florida's growing affordable housing needs," says Cheryl Lambert, 2021 president of Florida Realtors and broker-owner with Only Way Realty Citrus in Inverness. "We did this because we saw the escalating problem and we wanted to be part of the solution. The issue has only intensified as our population has grown, and diverting hundreds of millions of dollars away from these critical programs will make the situation worse."
Monies for the housing trust funds come from a portion of the documentary stamp taxes charged on every real estate transaction. In 1992, Realtors advocated for this tax – 10 cents per $100 of value – with the expectation that all funds collected went to housing programs. However, for more than a decade, the Legislature has diverted all or a large portion of those funds each year to other budget priorities.
"Hard-working Floridians like teachers, firefighters, nurses and other essential workers consistently rely on these funds to secure stable housing and achieve the American dream of homeownership," says Lambert. "Permanently reducing the amount of funds available to help them, especially given the turbulent times we find ourselves in, only hurts those who have been helping us the most during this unprecedented pandemic."
As part of the newly launched effort, Florida Realtors will reach out to members to educate them on the importance of Florida's affordable housing trust funds and ask for their help in urging lawmakers to vote NO on HB 5401 and SPB 2512.
For more information on the campaign, visit affordablehousingfl.org.
Florida Realtors® serves as the voice for real estate in Florida. It provides programs, services, continuing education, research and legislative representation to about 200,000 members in 51 boards/associations. Florida Realtors® Media Center website is available at floridarealtors.org/newsroom.