With two and a half weeks to go in the 2021 Legislative Session, the Florida Realtors are stepping up their lobbying efforts relating to SB 2512 and the distribution of funds from Documentary stamp taxes collected on all real estate transactions to help with Florida's affordable housing funding.
Senate Bill 2512 was passed by the Legislature last week, and the bill has now entered into reconciliation and where legislators from both chambers still have the opportunity to change the final allocation for Affordable Housing.
As it now stands, the bill allocates $200 million dollars for housing programs in the fiscal year 2021/22- up from the initial $141 million figure that was designated in an earlier version of the bill.
Florida Realtors have expressed opposition to what they describe as "permanent" cuts towards affordable housing, but as Rep. Josie Tomkow (R-Polk City) has previously noted, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund has averaged about $160 million per year over the past five years.
Governor Ron DeSantis has gone on record as being strongly supportive of "fully funding" Affordable Housing, and is expected to facilitate negotiations that could increase the final amount earmarked for Affordable Housing in advance of his signature of the bill.
"We remain ardent supporters of Florida's affordable housing trust funds, and as REALTORS we see the first-hand need for down payment and closing cost assistance. We are encouraged by the increase to affordable housing funding in the latest amendment and will continue to advocate for a greater portion of these funds to be used for housing purposes." - Stated the Florida Realtors Assoc.
SB 2512 also designates approximately $200 million for environmental flooding protection and wastewater management projects that will immediately address septic leaks and algae bloom problems in different parts of the state.
As we previously mentioned, lawmakers had been looking for places to pull cash out to help balance the state budget, which has been facing a $2 billion COVID-related deficit, so it was somewhat understandable that they would need to dip into trust funds like the Sadowski fund.