When a child discovers how easy it is to snatch a cookie from the jar on a kitchen counter, there is usually no end to satisfying their sweet tooth.
The Florida Legislature, specifically the House, is no different.
Despite a statewide affordable housing crisis, the House budget for the coming fiscal year once again relies on raiding Sadowski funds to balance its budget. According to Florida Phoenix, the House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations wants to steal up to $240 million from those trust funds for other projects.
For the record, the William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Act was established in 1992. Its promise was to use money derived from doc stamps initiated on every property transaction in Florida to help fund affordable housing projects. It says that 70% of all funds from doc stamps should go to the Local Government Housing Trust Fund for the State Housing Initiatives Partnership. That money is to be used by local governments to build multifamily housing and help low to moderate income families afford housing.
Right now those funds are desperately needed in all areas of the state. And, while the Miami/Fort Lauderdale and Tampa areas are hard hit, Sarasota and Charlotte counties are also badly in need of more affordable housing, especially in light of the planned growth and the building boom going on right now.
Gov. Ron DeSantis pledged to utilize all the Sadowski funds this year. How he will address the House plan to do otherwise will be interesting. The Legislature has made raiding the Sadowski piggy bank a habit — siphoning $2 billion over the last two decades.
Last year we reported statistics that showed that a full-time hourly worker, making minimum wage of $8.46 an hour would have to work 108 hours a week to afford a modest two-bedroom dwelling. To follow accepted guidelines of using no more than 30 percent of your income for rent or mortgage payments, the average worker would have to be paid $22.86 in Florida to afford housing.
In 2019-2020, legislators raided $125 million from the Sadowski fund and dropped it into the general fund to balance the budget.
The money they take each year would make a difference.
For example, if lawmakers had left the Sadowski fund untouched last year, Charlotte County would have received $2.1 million to build much-needed multi-family housing. What did we get instead? How about $360,000.
Sarasota was robbed too. Sarasota County should have received $5 million based on its donations into doc stamps but instead received only $654,000 from the Sadowski trust.
Both counties are growing rapidly. Housing for construction workers, teachers, government and school employees is badly needed. Rents are going up and so are prices on real estate. Legislators need to bow to Gov. DeSantis’ wishes and keep their hands off Sadowski funds.
An editorial from the Charlotte Sun.