Governor Ron DeSantis’ proposed state budget would fully fund Florida’s two affordable housing programs. He is recommending that all $387 million be used for housing needs.
The Florida Legislature created the affordable housing programs in 1992 by raising the documentary stamp tax on real estate transactions.
The money is supposed to be split between two programs, but it often gets sent elsewhere.
“In recent history here in Florida, the legislature has diverted at least some of the money that is supposed to flow into the housing trust funds,” says Trey Price, Executive Director of the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. “They divert some of that money usually back into general revenue which funds everything else.”
The Housing Initiative Partnership Program (SHIP) allocates money to local governments for homeownership initiatives and home repairs. The Apartment Incentive Loan Program (SAIL) offers financing for multi-family rental apartment developments. Full funding for the next fiscal year means $119.8 million for SAIL and $267.2 million for SHIP.
As Florida lawmakers craft a state budget every year, they decide whether to give these housing programs the money that was earmarked for them. Price says the funding hinges on legislative priorities.
“They can pass a law as part of the budget to take away some of the money and put it elsewhere,” Price says, which means a new fight for the money each year. “The good news is that the governor is on our side. That definitely helps.”
The governor draws up his budget wish list, then the Florida House and Senate craft their own versions. The chambers have to reconcile their differences to create one budget they can present to the governor. The governor can sign the budget as it is or exercise line item veto power over spending he doesn’t like.
If the legislature chooses to fund only half of what’s needed for the housing programs, Price says that means less down payment assistance, fewer emergency repairs, and less financing of multi-family rental housing. “We’ll see more folks who are paying 50 percent, 60 percent of their total income to rent, and then we also end up seeing more folks having long commutes.”