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Florida Realtors backs affordable housing ballot proposal

The proposed constitutional amendment would dedicate 25 percent of revenues from a documentary-stamp tax to affordable housing programs.
The Renaissance at West River, 1545 W. Main St, on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 in Tampa. The Renaissance at West River is the first apartment complex to be completed in the West River urban renewal project. The six-story, 160-unit complex is a part of Tampa's commitment to provide 10,000 affordable housing units by 2027.
The Renaissance at West River, 1545 W. Main St, on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 in Tampa. The Renaissance at West River is the first apartment complex to be completed in the West River urban renewal project. The six-story, 160-unit complex is a part of Tampa's commitment to provide 10,000 affordable housing units by 2027. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jun. 15
Updated Jun. 15

After years of battles about lawmakers using affordable housing money for other purposes, the organization Florida Realtors is backing a proposed constitutional amendment that would dedicate tax dollars for housing programs.

The Florida Department of State on Friday gave initial approval to the proposal by a political committee known as Floridians for Housing. Florida Realtors has provided $5 million to the political committee since March 31, finance reports show.

The proposed constitutional amendment would dedicate 25 percent of revenues from a documentary-stamp tax to affordable housing programs.

Related: Florida lawmakers look to cut affordable housing money again

“Funds may be expended only to address affordable housing access and availability, including funding of programs addressing new construction, down payment and closing cost assistance, rehabilitation and financing for affordable housing development,” a ballot summary of the proposal says.

Realtors and other housing advocates have been frustrated for years by legislative moves to divert money from an affordable housing trust fund to other purposes. Money flows into that trust fund from a documentary-stamp tax collected on such things as real estate transactions.

To get on the 2022 ballot, backers of the proposed constitutional amendment would have to submit 891,589 valid petition signatures by Feb. 1 and get approval of the proposed ballot wording from the Florida Supreme Court.

Related: St. Petersburg activists call for affordable housing