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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sen. Jack Latvala plans to push state for homeless funding in 2014



Every year when their grants expire, homeless aid groups across Florida scramble to apply for new ones, hoping to piece together enough funding keep their doors open.

That "hodgepodge" system of funding nonprofits and homeless shelters is not working, according to state Sen. Jack Latvala, who is planning to propose changes next year. Lawmakers need to create an "organized approach," he said, and not leave it entirely up to individual counties and cities to decide whether to spend taxpayer money to help the homeless.

"It needs to be addressed as a statewide situation and there needs to be some kind of stable funding source and I'm going to be working on that next year," he said.

Latvala, R-Clearwater, said he is only beginning to explore where he might get the money and how much would be needed.

One source he is eyeing is the documentary stamp tax, which gives the state a small cut of every real estate transaction and promissory note in Florida. For years, money from the tax was set aside to pay for affordable housing for people making less than the state's median income. But after the economy collapsed, lawmakers raided the fund, using its millions to fill holes in the state's budget.

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[Last modified: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 2:11pm]


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