Housing News Network, March 2019

Vol. 35, No. 1

From the CEO

Governor DeSantis has earned the mantle of housing champion. Not since the passage of the William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Act have we had a Governor who has taken action so critically needed for affordable housing in Florida. That’s a bold statement. But it is deserved. On February 1st, Governor DeSantis published his budget which proposes using all the Sadowski State and Local Housing Trust fund monies solely for Florida’s housing programs; his budget doesn’t sweep a single penny for other purposes.

What is the significance of this? The Governor’s budget is a statement of his administration’s priorities; it is his message to the House and Senate detailing how the state should allocate revenue. And when the House and Senate share party affiliation with the Governor that message is that much more persuasive.

Governor DeSantis has distinguished himself as the first Governor in recent memory to get it: he gets that using the Sadowski Trust funds for housing is the right thing to do. It’s right for Florida’s lower paid workforce, first responders, service workers, and most vulnerable residents such as the elderly and persons with disabilities living on fixed incomes. It’s the right thing to do to end homelessness. It’s the right thing to do for our business community and for our economy. Governor DeSantis has earned our gratitude. The Florida Housing Coalition looks forward to presenting the Governor with the Housing Champion Award in recognition of his singular leadership in support of affordable housing.

The good news doesn’t stop there. Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley stated that “President Galvano and I agree with the Governor’s position on affordable housing…. We are pleased that the Governor proposes no sweeps” (reported by Florida Politics’ Danny McAuliffe February 1). Senate support for full funding does not come as a surprise. The Florida Senate has been supportive of full funding for the past several years. President Galvano received an award from the Florida Housing Coalition many years ago when he was serving in the House of Representatives and stood firmly in support of the Sadowski trust funds.

2019 is the time for House Leadership to follow the Governor’s lead. Stop the sweeps entirely. There is no rational reason to take housing trust fund monies for other purposes. And that includes hurricane recovery. The federal government appropriates the billions of dollars needed for hurricane relief. The Sadowski state and local housing trust funds are a dedicated revenue source to address Florida’s housing crisis, irrespective of natural disasters. Florida has the best housing programs in the nation, but they can only do their job if the funding is not swept.

On behalf of the Florida Housing Coalition, we heartily thank Governor DeSantis, Senate President Galvano, the entire Sadowski Coalition, and all housing professionals and advocates in Florida working hard to ensure that all Floridians have affordable homes in a safe living environment.