By Ryan Lynch – Staff Writer, Orlando Business Journal
A state affordable housing trust fund — normally raided by Florida lawmakers every year for other uses — this year appears to be headed for its intended purpose, which would mean opportunities for local projects.
The Florida House and Senate both agreed to place $370 million toward the affordable housing Sadowski Trust Fund in their proposed state budget. After the budget is finalized and approved by the Legislature, it then would go to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his approval.
If the fund is not raided by state lawmakers this year, it could fund up to $43.32 million worth of local affordable housing projects, which would have a major economic impact in Central Florida.
“Restoring the Sadowski Trust funds to normal operations, where the monies dedicated to affordable housing are appropriated for affordable housing, is in Florida’s best interest,” Jaimie Ross, facilitator of the Sadowski Coalition and president and CEO of the Florida Housing Coalition, said in a prepared statement. “In just this year, full appropriation will mean more than 30,000 jobs and more than $4.4 billion in positive economic impact.”
As proposed, several Central Florida counties and cities stand to gain funding.
That’s vital for metro Orlando, which currently is ranked as the worst in the nation for available affordable housing, according to Washington D.C.-based National Low Income Housing Coalition. The area has just 13 affordable, available rental homes for every 100 extremely low-income renter households, according to the coalition.
Central Florida could receive a large share from the State Housing Initiatives Partnership program (SHIP), which incentivizes local government to make partnerships that create or preserve affordable housing. Previous recommendations by the Sadowski Coalition called for $245 million for the SHIP program, which would have looked like this in Central Florida for 2020-2021:
- Orange: $16.15 million (includes $3.4 million for Orlando)
- Osceola: $4.21 million (includes $865,300 for Kissimmee)
- Lake: $4.11 million
- Seminole: $5.54 million
- Volusia: $6.35 million (includes $792,374 for Daytona Beach and $1.09 million for Deltona)
- Brevard: $6.98 million (includes $230,462 for Cocoa, $981,907 for Melbourne, for $1.35 million Palm Bay and $567,774 for Titusville)
The SHIP portion of the Sadowski, currently proposed at about $225 million, is subject to approval of the final budget by the governor. Local funding amounts could see changes as the budget is finalized.
Planning for more
The maintenance of the Sadowski Trust Fund comes as places like Orange County have approved plans that include investment into affordable housing, along with zoning changes to allow more tightly packed housing units.
While zoning measures help, having dedicated funding to fight the problem is key, Shannon Nazworth, CEO of Jacksonville-based Ability Housing, previously told Orlando Business Journal. “In the end, all those things are going to help, but they are going to have to dedicate resources. There have been communities like Los Angeles that have gotten permission from their populous to do a bond issue to develop affordable housing and meet the need, and if Orange County were to do that, I think the return on investment would be demonstrative.”
The Orange County Commission approved its plan, which includes the creation of a $160 million affordable housing fund, as well as the goal of creating or preserving 30,300 units of affordable and attainable housing over a decade. In addition, Seminole County is working on a plan that will go before the county commission and include short- and long-term goals.