Faced with rising sea levels, water quality problems, and rising shortages of affordable housing, Florida’s legislative leadership has announced a proposal to deprive Peter of paying Paul to deal with the state’s biggest crisis. did.
Not so fast, Congressman.
Under a proposal approved by the House of Representatives on Thursday, Congress will eventually stop diversion of dollars from Florida’s 30-year-old affordable home trust fund. The result was a $ 2.3 billion loss that could have been used to build an affordable rental unit and help new homeowners with down payments and closure costs.
Affordable home advocates and the editorial board have been begging lawmakers for years to stop the raid on their money. This is especially important for Miami-Dade County, one of the most affordable locations in the United States. According to a survey commissioned by Miami Homes for All, the county currently needs 160,000 affordable rental units, which will need 210,000 by 2030.
But don’t be fooled.
In exchange for ending the sweep of funds, the bill will permanently split affordable homes in the short term by splitting the money of the trust fund created by real estate transaction tax revenues in two other programs. change.
One-third of the money will be used to mitigate the effects of rising sea levels. One-third goes to wastewater subsidy programs that pay for things like conversion from septic tanks to sewers. One-third is left in affordable homes, basically fixing a small amount dedicated for this purpose. This means a reduction of 24% to 6.8% of residential stamp duty revenue.
“All three issues are closely related,” said Congressman Josie Tomkow, who submitted the bill to the Commission. “I think we should praise ourselves by doing so.”
There is no doubt that rising sea levels and the removal of septic tanks that pollute former pristine waterways are important issues. But praise the legislators who are trying to convince us that they need to change one issue short in order to do their job (also known as addressing Florida’s greatest existential threat). Don’t expect that.
“This basically shows that we have only one fund to deal with multiple crises affecting the state’s community,” Miami Homes for All Executive Director Annie Road told the editorial board. Told.
Lawmakers justify the move, saying that the pandemic has hit the economy and that all these priorities are not well funded. I’m not sure if there is any truth. As the economy has recovered in recent months, the state may have an estimated $ 1 billion in revenue beyond expectations. Congressmen will meet next week to agree on a more up-to-date quote.
If addressing all three issues is really a priority, lawmakers will probably make it work by waiting for the economy to get back on track and giving companies further tax cuts as they plan. Let’s do it.
Tomkou and Republican leaders justify their move by saying that Florida receives about $ 542 million a year from the federal government, but that’s not necessarily a lot of cash for Florida. , According to Miami Homes for All. Proponents of the bill also want to point out the $ 1.4 billion Florida got from the federal COVID bailout bill, but that money is for emergency rental aid and for building a new home, Miami’s most urgent need. Absent.
The proposal continues to steal dollars from projects that lawmakers have been coveted to build homes for essential workers such as firefighters, teachers, and service workers, and lighten their backs to do the bare minimum. Provides an excuse to allow you to hit.
It permanently prevents the state from entering our heated real estate market by using documentary tax revenues to help those who can’t afford the rising home value of Florida.
I encourage you to tell lawmakers that this is a bad idea. To find out who they are, visit myfloridahouse.gov / FindYourRepresentative.
Tell them that this affordable housing “solution” only exacerbates the problem.