Affordable housing is under attack in Florida
Op-ed by President Ellie Lambert
Greater Tampa REALTORS®
For many decades Florida citizens and Florida REALTORS® have stood together in steadfast respect and agreement regarding the critical importance of providing affordable housing for needy Florida families. In 1992, this historic partnership was formalized by the state legislature by the creation of the State Housing Initiative Program which created a dedicated trust fund for the sole purpose of supporting housing programs. Monies for the housing trust funds come from a portion of the documentary stamp taxes charged on every real estate transaction. For nearly 30 years, the State Housing Initiative Program has received $2.6 billion from the housing trust funds that has helped 217,000 households with down payment and closing cost assistance, among other housing programs.
Last week, Senate President Wilton Simpson and Speaker of the House Chris Sprawls moved to break this long-standing trust and the commitment to affordable housing that it represents. HB 5401 and SPB 2512 as presently drafted would permanently redirect two-thirds of the housing trust funds each year to sea level rise and wastewater infrastructure projects. These actions will break the sacred promise that the state of Florida made in 1992 to make affordable housing a permanent and sacred priority.
The idea of permanently redirecting two-thirds of the housing trust funds violates the sacred agreement made in 1992. These funds have provided Florida citizens with a critically need housing related assistance for families, children, senior citizens, disabled Floridians and pandemic first responders. If passed, these two measures would deny surviving essential workers, who for the last year have been our first and last line of defense, one less option to secure housing, be it down payment or rental assistance.
About Greater Tampa REALTORS®
As “Your Premier Real Estate Resource” in Tampa since 1911, Greater Tampa REALTORS® (GTR), represents over 13,000 members and is the largest Tampa Bay-based professional association of real estate brokers and sales associates conducting business throughout the Bay area. GTR represents REALTORS® who are involved in the following specialties: residential sales, commercial sales and investment, property management, and appraisals. The term “REALTOR®” is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and abides by its strict Code of Ethics.
Florida REALTORS® as individual professionals and as an organization are the trusted advisors and voice for millions of property owners who have paid into the housing trust funds. On their behalf, please know that REALTORS® appreciate the need to fund other priorities. However, we truly believe that affordable housing is a priority that must not fall prey to yet another contemporary political “cause of the day.” We respectfully suggest that while many things in our society are no longer sacred, affordable housing should be one of those investments in our citizens that stands the test of time. There is nothing more important to our culture and communities than homes.
I encourage you to visit https://affordablehousingfl.org/ TODAY to tell your elected leaders to honor the intended purpose of the trust funds and support affordable housing by voting “NO” on HB 5401 and SPB 2512! If you have any questions, please feel free to email GTR’s Director of Governmental Affairs Jacob Bruynell at email@example.com.