Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

There's money to help Florida's housing market, but lawmakers disagree on where to spend it

TALLAHASSEE — Florida's sputtering housing market has produced one silver lining: enough home sales to generate $98 million in tax revenue for an affordable housing account created to repair foreclosed homes and place more middle- and low-income families into houses.

But there's one problem: Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida House want to sweep the money into the general revenue fund to balance the state budget. On Thursday, the Senate voted to restore $29.6 million of the money into the affordable housing account.

Meanwhile, in another area of the budget, legislators are using $75 million from the general revenue fund for economic development.

It's a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, say affordable housing advocates. They are trying to persuade lawmakers to restore the cuts to the State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program, which offers housing assistance through local governments to people whose income is 80 percent of the median income.

"If the Legislature's priority is creating jobs, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better way than to keep this intact,'' said Jaimie Ross of the Sadowski Housing Coalition, an affordable housing advocacy organization. "Housing equals jobs."

If the money were left in the affordable housing trust fund, local community development groups say it could create 7,500 jobs for construction contractors to rehabilitate thousands of foreclosed homes, clean up the blighted property in hundreds of neighborhoods and provide mortgage assistance to low-income homeowners. The impact would be immediate, say community development officials.

Local governments in the Tampa Bay region could draw down more federal money and use it to occupy foreclosed homes, expand the affordable lending programs and enroll more new homeowners in the pre-purchase program, said Gregg Schwartz, president of the Tampa Bay Community Development Corp.

Pasco County could help several hundred homeowners on its waiting list, particularly those insured by Citizens Property Insurance, who need new roofs to keep their insurance, said George Romagnoli, community development manager for the county.

Rep. Mike Horner, R-Kissimmee, head of the House budget committee in charge of the housing trust fund, said that while the SHIP program "is a worthy program, there are difficult choices. In this real estate environment, do we spend money on education and health care or housing?''

Scott, who has recommended taking tax revenues raised for dozens of special programs from trust funds into the general budget, said Thursday that while he wants jobs, he is not persuaded that the housing trust fund is the best approach.

"We've got to make choices,'' he said. "My belief is what we're doing is allocating the money in the right places.."

Ross said the choice should be about jobs.

"All those folks that were doing new construction can now be doing rehab, drywall, roofs, whatever,'' she said. "They don't lose their house because they have a job."

Times/Herald staff writer Toluse Olorunnipa contributed to this report.

There's money to help Florida's housing market, but lawmakers disagree on where to spend it 02/23/12 [Last modified: Friday, February 24, 2012 8:40am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Algae bloom and fish kill confirmed in Old Tampa Bay

    Environment

    An algae bloom and fish kill have been confirmed in Old Tampa Bay from Safety Harbor to the south end of the Bayside Bridge.

  2. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's former IT worker, his wife indicted in bank fraud scheme

    State Roundup

    U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's former information technology aide and his wife have been indicted on bank fraud charges.

    U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, photographed in her Sunrise office. (Mike Stocker/Sun-Sentinel/TNS)
  3. Long before Trump hired (and fired) him, Steve Bannon was making deals and kindling political fires in Florida

    Blogs

    With Steve Bannon leaving the White House soon, we're re-posting this Leary-Smith look at Bannon's significant, if mysterious, Florida ties.

    Steve Bannon’s voter registration from August 2016 shows he moved from Miami to Nokomis in Sarasota County.
  4. Rick Baker won't recuse himself from city business with his current boss Bill Edwards

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — If Rick Baker is elected mayor, he said he will not recuse himself from any city business involving his current boss, businessman Bill Edwards.

    Rick Baker and Bill Edwards listen to NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson during a press conference at the Mahaffey Theater in 2013 announcing that Edwards was the team's new owner. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]


  5. Spooky Empire brings Spooky Day in the Parks to Disney World

    Blogs

    Foolish mortals, evil queens and hook-handed pirates finally get their own day this year at Walt Disney World.

    Spooky Day in the Parks comes to Disney World Sept. 22-24.