News

Editorial: State budget surplus means no need to raid housing trust funds

Florida Senate and House conferees will begin budget negotiations in earnest next week. Surprisingly, among the things to be reconciled is a huge gap in the amount of the documentary stamp tax each chamber has earmarked for affordable housing.

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State Must Rebuild Housing Funds

The Florida Senate’s budget appropriates all of the housing trust fund money generated by the documentary stamp projected for fiscal year 2014-15 to Florida’s housing programs. WhatThe Florida Legislature is no longer burdened by a state budget deficit. In the Florida Senate, leadership has restored the state and local affordable housing trust funds to normal operation, returning to local government their share of the local government trust funds through the State Housing Initiatives Partnership program. Now we need the House to do the same.s needed now is for the Florida House to do the same.

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Viewpoint: House should support state housing money

The Florida Senate’s budget appropriates all of the housing trust fund money generated by the documentary stamp projected for fiscal year 2014-15 to Florida’s housing programs. What’s needed now is for the Florida House to do the same.

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"Last Call" via WMNF-FM: Need for Florida Lawmakers to Use Housing Trust Funds for Housing

Click here to listen to WMNF-FM's "Last Call" segment featuring Jaimie Ross on the need for Florida Lawmakers to use housing trust funds solely for housing. 

Florida's housing programs need ample state funding

The Florida Senate's budget appropriates all of the housing trust fund monies generated by the documentary stamp projected for fiscal year 2014-15 to Florida's housing programs.

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Florida's housing programs need all trust-fund revenue

Last week, the National Low Income Housing Coalition released its Out of Reach report, a national report card on the housing wage — how much a family needs to earn to afford the fair-market rent in a given jurisdiction. For the Orlando area, the housing wage is $18.90. Unfortunately, that does not reflect the wages earned by the vast majority of the work force of a tourist-based economy, as well as the fixed income that constrains Florida's elderly and disabled populations in finding a safe and suitable place to live.

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Tuesday's letters: Withholding health care hurts everyone

With the Florida Legislature no longer burdened by a budget deficit, the Senate leadership voted to restore state and local affordable housing trust funds to normal operation. This would return to local governments their share of the funds through the State Housing Initiatives Partnership program, or SHIP

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Opinion roundup: Protect trust fund revenue

Florida’s leaders have gotten in the bad habit of sweeping trust fund revenues into the state’s general fund.

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Affordable housing cut in House budget that's big on transportation, public safety

The House released details on its $11.5 billion budget on transportation, tourism and economic development on Tuesday, and it’s heavy on spending for road projects, public safety and cultural projects, but skimpy on spending for affordable housing.

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House budget would sweep affordable housing funds

Despite pressure from low-income housing advocates, the construction industry and business lobbies like the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the House transportation and economic development budget proposal released Tuesday would sweep $136.8 million in affordable housing trust fund money into general revenue funds

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Florida Homelessness: Reliable Funding Needed

Florida has tens of thousands of homeless people but no dedicated state funding source for programs that help them stabilize and improve their lives. State lawmakers — meeting for their annual 60-day session in Tallahassee — should change that picture for the better.

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An assessment of the governor's budget

As government programs go, the state’s trust fund for affordable housing works.

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Lawmakers must help homeless: Editorial

People for decades have flocked to Florida. Many envision opportunity along streets of gold, warmed by eternal sunshine. Yet, gobsmacked by the global economic crash and the plodding recovery, rising numbers of Floridians have learned, sadly, life on Florida's streets hardly is golden.

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Dedicate funding for homeless

Florida has tens of thousands of homeless people but no dedicated state funding source for programs that help them stabilize and improve their lives. State lawmakers -- meeting for their annual session in Tallahassee -- should change that picture for the better.

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Editorial: Put SHIP money back where it belongs

As our state legislators return to Tallahassee and hash out partisan politics — hopefully better than their brethren in Washington, D.C. — here’s an idea whose time has come ... and gone ... and needs to come again.

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Editorial: Legislature in Session

Florida's annual legislative session gets underway today, an occasion that fills many lawmakers with anticipation and many of their constituents with trepidation.

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Editorial: Fingers Crossed

The recent report by the LeRoy Collins Institute on Florida’s future minced no words: The Sunshine State is near the bottom of the barrel on a wide range of issues affecting Floridians’ daily lives. Whether it’s public transit, housing, education, the tax and pension systems, employment, access to healthcare — chances are Florida is doing badly.

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Realtors, homebuilders call on lawmakers not to raid affordable housing trust fund

Groups representing homeless advocates, realtors, homebuilders, federal housing program administrators and other organizations banded together Tuesday to push legislators not to sweep the affordable housing trust fund this year. 

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Housing Not So Affordable

In 1992 state lawmakers raised the doc stamp tax on real estate transactions from 60 to 70 cents on every 100 dollars. The cash was to be used for affordable housing. But when the great recession hit, lawmakers started using the money for everything but housing. Advocates say it’s now time for the state to fulfill its promise.

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Housing affordability gap is growing

The American dream of home ownership has become drastically less affordable for many working families in Southwest Florida, new figures show.

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Legislature should stop taking from proven housing program

The State Housing Incentives Partnership program (SHIP) is Florida’s nationally acclaimed model for using a dedicated revenue source to effectively and efficiently meet community housing needs.

It has a proven track record for performance, transparency and accountability. Unfortunately, it also has a record of being swept into general revenue when the state faces a budget deficit.

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Guest column: Jamie Ross: IN CELEBRATION OF SHIP: PERFORMANCE, TRANSPARENCY, AND ACCOUNTABILITY

The State Housing Incentives Partnership program (SHIP) is Florida’s nationally acclaimed model for using a dedicated revenue source to effectively and efficiently meet community housing needs

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EDITORIAL: Protect affordable housing program

You would think the governor and state lawmakers would be falling all over themselves to protect a state program that creates jobs, boosts local economies and provides housing for Floridians who would otherwise be left out of the American dream of home ownership.

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Jaimie Ross: SHIP will prosper if we protect its funding

The State Housing Incentives Partnership program (SHIP) is Florida’s nationally acclaimed model for using a dedicated revenue source to effectively and efficiently meet community housing needs.

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Paul Flemming: Dishonest budgeting in sweeps season

This is what it’s come to. Merely pointing it out hasn’t worked. Pleading and cajoling failed. Shaming and excoriating has proved fruitless. I am reduced to reverse psychology.

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Guest column: State should fund affordable housing fund

The State Housing Incentives Partnership program (SHIP) is Florida’s nationally acclaimed model for using a dedicated revenue source to effectively and efficiently meet community housing needs.

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Editorial: Stop trust fund raids

Imagine this: In working out your family budget, you pledge one August to set aside $10 a week expressly to help buy new school clothes for the kids each year.

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Our Opinion: No More Sweeps

Imagine this: In working out your family budget, you pledge one August to set aside $10 a week expressly to help buy new school clothes for the kids each year.

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St. Pete gives initial OK for low-cost housing for vets

 A 97-unit apartment complex that will offer low-cost housing for military veterans got initial approval from the city this week, one of only a few affordable housing projects to gain traction in recent years.

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Editorial: Affordable housing help

Whether the economy is good or bad, the need for affordable housing never goes away. The country — and Marion County in particular — learned that lesson painfully over the past decade. No one should forget it now that the economy is slowly recovering.

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Lawmakers to take mini-bus tour of low-income housing in Pinellas

For three months, advocates for low-income housing have contacted bay area lawmakers asking them to join a two-hour mini-tour of housing projects that received state money.

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Home prices unfriendly to working families

Owning a home in Southwest Florida has become less affordable for working families than at any time since the depths of the Great Recession, new figures show.

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County honors SHIP director

Gadsden County’s State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP) director Phyllis Moore received an award at last week’s county commission meeting from the Florida Housing Coalition (FHC) as an Outstanding SHIP Administrator.

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Lawmakers to take mini-bus tour of low-income housing in Pinellas

CLEARWATER — For three months, advocates for low-income housing have contacted bay area lawmakers asking them to join a two-hour mini-tour of housing projects that received state money.

The advocates asked lawmakers about their availability, called their offices and mailed formal invitations. They scheduled two tour options: one on Tuesday in North Pinellas and another on Wednesday in south Pinellas.

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BoCC honors service, ponders poverty

At the Nov. 5 meeting of the Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC), Jaime Ross, President of the Florida Housing Coalition (FHC), presented Quincy’s Phyllis Moore with an award, honoring her work with the State Housing Initiative Partnership Program (SHIP). 

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EDITORIAL: Housing that's affordable

Whether the economy is good or bad, the need for affordable housing never goes away. The country -- and Southwest Florida in particular -- learned that lesson painfully over the past decade. No one should forget it now that the economy is slowly recovering.

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State of Florida 'SHIP' Program

OKALOOSA COUNTY   --  It sounds almost too good to be true. A program that helps people pay for home repairs, or even down payments. It's called "SHIP", or State Housing Initiatives Partnership. Laura Hussey "Nikki Smalls doesn't have a lot of time to enjoy this beautiful back porch. She works full time, supporting her three kids and her elderly mother. 

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In Celebration of SHIP: Performance, Transparency, and Accountability

The State Housing Incentives Partnership program (SHIP) is Florida’s nationally-admired model for using a dedicated revenue source to effectively and efficiently meet local housing needs.  It has a proven track record for performance, transparency and accountability, and is the subject of appropriations in the upcoming legislative session.

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Amendment could provide billions for conservation

It's a battle over Florida green: the state's unspoiled landscapes, threatened species, springs, rivers -- and a mammoth amount of tax dollars.

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Sorting out Florida's surplus

Economic recovery and increases in key tax revenues are helping Florida build a budget surplus, so state legislators and Gov. Rick Scott are looking for taxes and fees to reduce or eliminate.

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Perspective: The tax-cut bandwagon

After years of belt-tightening that saw Florida lawmakers slash funding for state services and repeatedly renege on legislative commitments made in earlier sessions, the state is projecting a surplus of $850 million for 2014-2015 budget. Great news — especially for anyone in elected office dealing with sagging poll numbers and running for another term.

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Miami Herald Editorial: Spend Florida's expected budget surplus wisely

After years of belt-tightening that saw Florida lawmakers slash funding for state services and repeatedly renege on legislative commitments made in earlier sessions, the state is projecting a surplus of $850 million for 2014-2015 budget. Great news — especially for anyone in elected office dealing with sagging poll numbers and running for another term.

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SHIP funds available for housing assistance

Suwannee River Economic Council (SREC) Director of Housing and Transportation Matt Pearson recently spoke about the State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) and some changes in state requirements this year.

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Editorial: The tax-cut bandwagon

After years of belt-tightening that saw Florida lawmakers slash funding for state services and repeatedly renege on legislative commitments made in earlier sessions, the state is projecting a surplus of $850 million for 2014-2015 budget. Great news — especially for anyone in elected office dealing with sagging poll numbers and running for another term.

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Pasco Community Development division wins state award for affordable housing program

Pasco County's Community Development Division was among several programs across the state that received 2013 State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program Awards for its efforts to provide affordable housing.

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Housing assistance taken from Palm Beach County to help balance state budget

Opening the blinds to her backyard is still a novelty for Tamia Jones. She would not have moved into the West Palm Beach home without financial assistance from Palm Beach County.

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Indiantown Non Profit Housing director Donna Carman honored

The Sadowski Housing Coalition congratulated this year’s Housing Leadership Award recipient Donna Carman, executive director of Indiantown Non Profit Housing, Inc. (INPHI), which was announced during the opening plenary for the Florida Housing Coalition’s (FHC) 26th Annual Statewide Affordable Housing Conference in Orlando.

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RELEASE: Sadowski Housing Coalition Congratulates 2013 SHIP Award Recipients at Florida Housing Coalition Annual Conference

The Sadowski Housing Coalition today congratulated the recipients of the 2013 State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP) Awards, which were announced at the Florida Housing Coalition’s 26th Annual Statewide Affordable Housing Conference in Orlando, Fla. 

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Jacksonville special needs housing wins statewide honor

Ability Housing of Northeast Florida and Jacksonville's housing program recently received a state award for their efforts to provide housing for special needs residents.

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RELEASE: Florida Housing Coalition Honors Senator Nancy Detert for Advocacy & Leadership Efforts on Behalf of Foster Care Children in Florida

The Sadowski Housing Coalition today congratulated State Senator Nancy Detert (R-Venice) on receiving the Housing Award from the Florida Housing Coalition (FHC) for her legislative advocacy and leadership efforts on behalf of foster care children in Florida with the filing and passage of the 2013 “Nancy C. Detert Common Sense and Compassion Independent Living Act.” Senator Detert was honored during today’s lunch session at the 26th Annual Statewide Affordable Housing Conference in Orlando, Fla. 

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Detert honored for her work on behalf of foster children

State Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, was honored today by the Florida Housing Coalition for her work on behalf of foster children.


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RELEASE: Longtime Director of Indiantown Non Profit Housing, Inc., Donna Carman, Receives Housing Leadership Award from Florida Housing Coalition

Tallahassee, Fla.  – The Sadowski Housing Coalition today congratulated this year’s Housing Leadership Award recipient Donna Carman, executive director of Indiantown Non Profit Housing, Inc., (INPHI) which was announced this morning during the opening plenary for the Florida Housing Coalition’s (FHC) 26th Annual Statewide Affordable Housing Conference in Orlando, Fla. Carman has served as director of INPHI since 1996, and in this capacity has lead the organization’s efforts to provide a wide range of services to low and middle income families and individuals in Martin County, as well as weatherization assistance in the Broward, Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie County areas. 

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Housing becoming unaffordable for many

Workers in many of Southwest Florida's most prominent occupations are now dedicating more of their paychecks toward housing than they can financially afford, a new study concludes.

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South Florida home pricing jumps more than 13 percent in July

South Florida home prices in July increased by more than 13 percent in each of the region’s three counties.

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Housing cost worries reappear

The concern was summed up in a recent quarterly survey of business executives by Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers. In the comment section of the survey, an undisclosed executive says the flip side to rising residential home prices is the ability to attract and retain employees. 

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Banks report more than 120,000 Floridians helped

A national report issued Thursday maintains that more than 120,000 Floridians have received billions in aid so far from five major banks.

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Organization builds homes for low-income families

Many struggle to pay for housing, but one local organization is making it easier for low-income families to own their own home.

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State grant to provide housing aid

For one 30-day period in 2007, more than 1,300 people clamored to claim a spot for affordable housing with the Tallahassee Housing Authority — they’ve been waiting ever since.

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Florida leads U.S. in foreclosures for 3rd straight month

Foreclosures continue to dog Florida, but the outlook appears to be brightening, experts say. The Sunshine State posted the nation's highest foreclosure rate in July for the third consecutive month, according to a report from the RealtyTrac listing firm. One in every 328 Florida homes was in some stage of foreclosure, more than three times the national average.

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Lieberman set to lead state builders in 2013-14

Building on a life-long commitment to providing safe and affordable housing, Ron Lieberman of Lecanto is set to become the 61st president of the Florida Home Builders Association (FHBA) this fall.

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In homeowner's joy, a glimpse at Habitat's impact

The Deneus family made their final mortgage payment this month, just 17 years after submitting their initial application for housing though Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County.

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HabiJax revitalizing the New Town area of Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville and JPMorgan Chase & Co. partnered to continue restoration efforts for New Town, the area just west of downtown Jacksonville.

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More residential support needed for adults with autism

From diagnosis and therapies, to job placement and residential options, parents of autistic children are often faced with difficult decisions. Approximately 80 percent of adults with autism up to 30 years old live at home for one reason - there is not enough affordable housing available, both the physical space and the appropriate supports," Lisa Goring, vice president of family services at Autism Speaks, said.

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Housing market tough on Habitat for Humanity

Southwest Florida's resurgent housing market, which is now at its best level in a decade -- has created a slew of problems for Habitat for Humanity.
With prices rising to post recession heights and the inventory of real estate for sale thinning, the area's flagship affordable housing charity is finding it tough to locate vacant lots on which to build homes.

Sen. Jack Latvala plans to push state for homeless funding in 2014

Every year when their grants expire, homeless aid groups across Florida scramble to apply for new ones, hoping to piece together enough funding keep their doors open.
That "hodgepodge" system of funding nonprofits and homeless shelters is not working, according to state Sen. Jack Latvala, who is planning to propose changes next year. Lawmakers need to create an "organized approach," he said, and not leave it entirely up to individual counties and cities to decide whether to spend taxpayer money to help the homeless.

Lee and Charlotte counties receive $321,960 to provide rental assistance

The U.S. Department of Housing Urban Development recently presented the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Myers with $321,960 in supportive housing assistance to help chronically homeless military veterans and their families in Lee and Charlotte counties find a permanent place to call home.

Manatee, Sarasota counties help make Florida third in number of homeless people

The 17th annual Florida Neighborhoods Conference gathered residents from different counties in the Sunshine State to discuss the issue of homelessness.
The presentation was coordinated by Suncoast Partnership To End Homelessness, the Orange County Office of Mental Health and Homeless Issues Division, and Florida's Neighborhood Rehabilitation Program.

Big lenders bidding to keep homes

As home prices in the region climb and inventory dries up, the nation's largest mortgage lenders are gambling on the future of the housing recovery, a Herald-Tribune analysis shows.

Housing market recovering in NE Florida

A return to health of the lower end of the housing market in St. Johns County is adding to consumer confidence and to the overall economy. But those same increases in home values could also keep some middle-class families from getting into the market.

Guest opinion: Florida budget still short for housing needs

Florida lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1852, appropriating $200 million from the National Mortgage Settlement funds, which were originally intended to prevent homeowners from falling into foreclosure. Gov. Scott signed the bill into law early this month.

Jaimie Ross: Lawmakers' raid on housing trust funds hurt state, people

By the close of the 2013 Legislative Session, Florida lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1852, legislation that appropriated approximately $200 million in Attorney General mortgage settlement funds.  The Attorney General is to be commended for her leadership role in obtaining the bank settlement and moreover, for her insistence that the discretionary portion of the settlement funds was to be used only for housing related purposes. The Legislature is to be commended for using a portion of those funds for the State Apartment Incentive Loan Program (SAIL) and State Housing Initiative Partnership Program (SHIP). 

Jaimie Ross: A missed chance to boost housing

 Near the close of this past legislative session, Florida lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1852, appropriating approximately $200 million in attorney general mortgage settlement funds.

Jaimie Ross: Legislature missed chance to help with housing needs

By the close of the 2013 legislative session, Florida lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1852, that appropriated approximately $200 million in Attorney General mortgage settlement funds.  The Attorney General is to be commended for her leadership role in obtaining the bank settlement and moreover, for her insistence that the discretionary portion of the settlement funds was to be used only for housing related purposes. The Legislature is to be commended for using a portion of those funds for the State Apartment Incentive Loan Program and State Housing Initiative Partnership Program.

Jaimie Ross: Legislature takes 'trust' out of housing trusts

By the close of the 2013 legislative session, Florida lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1852, legislation that appropriated approximately $200 million in attorney general mortgage settlement funds. The attorney general is to be commended for her leadership role in obtaining the bank settlement and, moreover, for her insistence that the discretionary portion of the settlement funds be used only for housing related purposes. The Legislature is to be commended for using a portion of those funds for the State Apartment Incentive Loan Program (SAIL) and State Housing Initiative Partnership Program (SHIP).

EDITORIAL: Affordable Housing: Workers Need Homes Too

Real estate bubbles come and go, but the community will always need affordable housing. There is never enough in a below-average-wage economy such as ours — so we should never give up on efforts to encourage a sustainable supply.

Critics: Fla. mortgage settlement misspent

South Orlando homeowner Francisco Molina said Gov. Rick Scott's decision Tuesday to spend mortgage settlement fees on new dorms, courts and the homeless misses the mark to help foreclosure victims.

EDITORIAL: Affordable housing -- again

Real estate bubbles come and go, but the community will always need affordable housing. There is never enough in a below-average-wage economy such as ours -- so we should never give up on efforts to encourage a sustainable supply.

Affordable housing again in short supply

When Mike Beller moved to Sarasota three years ago, he didn't expect apartment hunting to be such an arduous chore.

'No' to Budgeting Through the Constitution

Want a blatant example of fuzzy math? It's right here with ringing clarity in the outlandish proposed constitutional amendment known as Florida's Land and Legacy.

Working together: Habitat and Sadowski

The April 24 editorial, Restore Affordable-Housing Funds, promoted the William Sadowski Affordable Housing Act and encouraged the Florida Legislature to avoid raiding the Sadowski Trust Fund dedicated to housing help for some of Florida’s poorest families.

Habitat for Humanity of Florida has for years supported funding for the Sadowski Act. Our organization, with 58 local affiliates in Florida, has long been a member of the Sadowski Coalition and advocated for the use of the trust fund monies for their intended purposes.


Florida legislature set to approve $200M mortgage settlement spending plan

Florida lawmakers are poised on Tuesday to approve a bill that spells out how the state will spend $200 million received from a landmark settlement with five of the nation’s largest lenders.

The settlement was announced more than a year ago, but it took months for the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature and Attorney General Pam Bondi to reach agreement over who would have the final say over how the money would be spent.


Lawmakers approve $200 million bank settlement

More than a year after reaching a major settlement with some of the nation's leading lenders, Florida is finally spelling out how $200 million of that money will be spent.

The Florida Legislature on Tuesday sent to Gov. Rick Scott a measure that spreads money from everything from domestic violence shelters to affordable housing programs and Habitat for Humanity.


Lawmakers approve $200 million bank settlement

More than a year after reaching a major settlement with some of the nation's leading lenders, Florida is finally spelling out how $200 million of that money will be spent.

The Florida Legislature on Tuesday sent to Gov. Rick Scott a measure that spreads money from everything from domestic violence shelters to affordable housing programs and Habitat for Humanity.

Perspective: Restore affordable-housing funds

We’ve seen this sleight of hand before. Two decades ago, state legislators used money from the Florida Lottery to supplant education funding — not, as they had promised, to supplement it.

EDITORIAL: Restore Affordable Housing Funds

We’ve seen this sleight of hand before. Two decades ago, state legislators used money from the Florida Lottery to supplant education funding — not, as they had promised, to supplement it.

Despite tax-fattened coffers, lawmakers still raid housing fund

TALLAHASSEE – Despite a cash-flush budget that has policymakers considering a grab-bag of corporate and stadium incentives, Florida lawmakers are still raiding a fund created two decades ago to help provide low-income housing.

EDITORIAL: Keeping the trust

When you make a promise, keep it — especially when it involves taxpayers’ money. This simple rule is one legislators conveniently forget when they balance the state budget by dipping into trust funds that were set up for other purposes. Like azaleas blooming on the Capitol grounds, it’s one of Tallahassee’s enduring spring rituals — but not so pretty.

EDITORIAL: Trust fund distrust: Give more public scrutiny to big-dollar 'sweeps'

When you make a promise, keep it -- especially when it involves taxpayers' money. This simple rule is one legislators conveniently forget when they balance the state budget by dipping into trust funds that were set up for other purposes. Like azaleas blooming on the Capitol grounds, it's one of Tallahassee's enduring spring rituals -- but not so pretty.

EDITORIAL: Renew commitment to affordable housing

For four years, Florida lawmakers unwilling to have broader discussions about raising revenue have used the same excuse to undercut the state's longtime commitment to affordable housing: Cash-strapped state budgets required them to raid affordable housing programs to cover other general government needs. Now it's a habit Republican leaders apparently aren't willing to break — and the House is even hiding behind the ill-gotten gains of the nation's biggest banks to do so. With the state's finances improved, it's time to restore Florida's commitment to affordable housing.

EDITORIAL: Struggling homeowners stiffed by Florida Legislature

Florida's Legislature is once again planning to violate the public trust by raiding the trust fund established to create more affordable housing, diverting $200 million to such priorities as teacher pay raises and health care. At the same time, lawmakers plan to spend $200 million from the state's share of a national mortgage settlement over bank foreclosure and mortgage abuses on things other than aid to struggling homeowners -- its intended purpose.

Jaimie Ross: Florida Legislature must use housing trust funds for housing

This year, the Legislature faces no budget deficit and a recovering economy that has generated an estimated $200 million in Sadowski state and local housing trust funds ($53.40 million for state programs, like SAIL, and $151.41 million for SHIP), as well as an Attorney General settlement that has brought $200 million in bank settlement funds to be appropriated for housing-related activities.

Guest Editorial: Stop diverting the state’s housing fund

Heading into the 2013 legislative session, things were looking good. No budget deficit and a recovering economy that has generated an estimated $200 million in Sadowski state and local housing trust funds, as well as an attorney-general settlement that has generated an additional $200 million in bank settlement funds to be appropriated for housing related activities.

Jaimie Ross: No excuses for raids on housing trust funds

Halfway through the 2013 legislative session, things are looking good. No budget deficit, and a recovering economy that has generated an estimated $200 million in Sadowski state and local housing trust funds ($53.4 million for state programs such as SAIL, and $151.41 million for SHIP), as well as an attorney general settlement that has generated an additional $200 million in bank settlement funds to be appropriated for housing-related activities.

House and Senate split on affordable housing money

Looks like House Republicans are alone in completely stripping a trust fund set aside for helping homeowners hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis.

EDITORIAL: Stop pilfering from fund for affordable housing

For the past four years, Florida lawmakers have raided money from a state trust fund for affordable housing to help close budget deficits. They can't use that excuse in this legislative session; state economists are now projecting a budget surplus next year of more than $1 billion.

Hands off Sadowski Fund

OUR OPINION: Legislators should not divert money from designated accounts
By The Miami Herald Editorial

For the first time in years, economic forecasters believe Florida might have a surplus instead of a deficit as it prepares its annual budget, so the time is ripe for lawmakers to end the dishonest practice of diverting funds from specific accounts for use in general revenue.

EDITORIAL: Time for Legislature to Invest in Florida

When legislators convene in Tallahassee on Tuesday, they’ll face the unusual challenge of dealing with a projected surplus in revenue, according to Gov. Rick Scott, instead of another one of the annual deficits that have wreaked havoc on education, environmental protection and a broad array of services in Florida.

EDITORIAL: Sadowski housing trust fund should be spent as law outlines

The William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Act is one of those altruistic government programs that serves multiple purposes. Primarily designed to as a dedicated funding source to create more affordable housing for vulnerable and needy Floridians, the 1992 act also provides jobs in the housing industry.

Pam Bondi: Foreclosure victim relief available

Florida was one of the hardest hit states when the real estate bubble burst, sending thousands of homes into foreclosure and creating backlogs in the court system. My office, along with the Department of Justice, 48 other attorneys general, and the District of Columbia, investigated five of the nation's largest mortgage servicers, Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, for allegations of foreclosure-related misconduct.

A quartet of economists optimistic about Tampa Bay area's future

Snowbirds aren't the only ones flocking to Tampa Bay this time of year.

Gov. Scott asks for money for housing program

Gov. Rick Scott has requested $50 million under his 2013-14 budget plan for a popular affordable housing program that has gone unfunded for several years.

Trickle Down Foreclosure Settlement - Faucet is On

“Real relief for real people,” that is Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s slogan for distributing funds from the $25 Billion National Foreclosure Settlement with the five largest banks.  

Eyeing Re-Election, Scott Ends Austerity: $4 Billion Extra Spending in $74.2 Billion Budget

Gov. Rick Scott’s $74.2 billion budget proposal unveiled Thursday is the largest in the state’s history and includes a $4 billion spending increase that targets constituencies Scott hopes to win back as he seeks re-election in 2014, among them teachers, environmentalists and what state workers will remain on the payroll.

RELEASE: Sadowski Coalition Commends Governor Scott for Taking Lead on Funding for Housing

Tallahassee, Fla. – The Sadowski Housing Coalition commends Governor Rick Scott today for recommending $50 million to fund the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program in his recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2013-14.

Scott Follows Thru on Budget Promises, More Giveaways

 As promised, Gov. Rick Scott’s $74.2 billion budget request includes millions in tax breaks for manufacturers and more to help state economic developers to entice companies to relocate or expand in the state.

More housing help could be on the way

 Florida Gov. Rick Scott today requested $50 million under his 2013-14 budget plan for a popular affordable housing program that has gone unfunded for several years.If approved by Florida Legislature, the earmark would help find housing for an estimated 4,000 recession-battered Sunshine State families through the State Housing Initiatives Partnership, according to program administrator Florida Housing Finance Corp.

Florida to get $8.6 million in 'robo-signing' settlement

Florida will get an $8.6 million share of a national settlement with a loan-processing company over so-called "robo-signing" and other improper mortgage foreclosure practices.

Financial assistance available for homeowners affected by housing crisis

An $8 billion effort to compensate Floridians who were caught up in the mortgage fraud that enveloped the country has only reached about half of those affected by crisis, state officials said last week.

Mortgage help on the way for Floridians

Florida is preparing to hand out $35 million in mortgage assistance to Florida home buyers as a result of the national mortgage settlement.

Formerly homeless Jacksonville man now works for affordable housing nonprofit

When Micheal Cochran heads downtown at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday to begin the annual count of Northeast Florida's homeless, he will meet people who live on the streets, under bridges and in vehicles. And he will remember when he was one of them.

Push to restore funding to affordable housing programs

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Real estate agent Fredrick Fletcher knows firsthand how much extra cash can help. He received $10,000 from the Sadowski Trust Funds' "SHIP" program. 

Foreclosure rate in Florida leads the nation

 Florida posted the nation's highest foreclosure rate in 2012, but the crisis that began six years ago appears to be winding down "comfortably past the peak," the RealtyTrac listing firm says.

State Makes Final Push To Locate Homeowners for Piece of Federal Mortgage Settlement

 TALLAHASSEE | Time is running out for tens of thousands of Floridians who may be eligible for claim payments as part of a national settlement with five major lenders.

Editorial: Should Florida do a foreclosure favor for lenders?

 Five years after the housing market crash saw thousands of Floridians lose their homes — fraudulently, in many cases — state legislators are poised to consider yet another bill designed to expedite foreclosures through the court system, where cases often languish for more than a year.

Santa Rosa legislators meet with constituents

A few concerned Santa Rosa County residents turned out tonight to tell their representatives in the state Legislature what they think is important for them to focus on in the 2013 session.

Florida keeps top foreclosure ranking

Florida maintained its leading spot nationally for foreclosure activity last month with a filing rate more than twice the national average.

Data show Florida’s housing market still healing slowly

 New data on home foreclosures and negative home equity illustrate that Florida’s battered housing market is continuing to inch toward recovery but remains far from healthy.

EDITORIAL: Keeping housing funds in order

An agreement between Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and lawmakers should ensure the bulk of the state's mortgage settlement goes to deserving Floridians.

EDITORIAL: Bondi struck bad deal on $200 million from mortgage fraud settlement

Attorney General Pam Bondi assured Floridians that $300 million from a national mortgage settlement would go to distressed homeowners. She can’t keep that promise, though, because she’s given the Florida Legislature control over most of the money.

Holding up housing help for Florida

An agreement between Attorney General Pam Bondi and the state's incoming legislative leaders over how to spend hundreds of millions of dollars from a national settlement over foreclosure abuses is too vague and too late. Bondi has been rightfully pushing to get the money spent quickly on help to homeowners facing foreclosure, but state lawmakers have been standing in the way. What they have finally agreed upon would delay most of the help until well into next year without specifically designating how the money would be spent. The agreement appears to be more concerned with the prerogatives of the Legislature than the interests of Florida's struggling families.

Editorial: Good deal on fraud settlement

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and legislative leaders have tentatively settled a dispute over how to distribute $334 million from the state's mortgage-fraud settlement. Good for them and, if the Legislature keeps its end of the deal, good for Florida.

Pam Bondi reaches deal over $300 million foreclosure settlement

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Friday she has reached a deal with the state lawmakers over how to use $300 million in foreclosure settlement money that has sat dormant since April as top officials have haggled over who had authority to spend the cash.

Deal on $300 million foreclosure settlement

TALLAHASSEE (AP) - After a months-long feud, Florida's attorney general and the state Legislature reached a deal Friday intended to clear the way for more than $300 million in mortgage settlement money to finally start flowing to those affected by the foreclosure crisis.

Florida AG and lawmakers commit $260M bank settlement to help homeowners

 Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has come to an agreement with the leaders of the Florida Legislature to use $260 million of the national mortgage settlement from big banks for homeowner relief in the state.
Bondi’s office helped secure $8.4 billion as part of the $25 billion settlement between 49 state attorneys general and the largest mortgage servicers. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), Citigroup (NYSE: C) and Ally Financial/GMAC (NYSE: ALLY) were accused of filing foreclosure lawsuits with faulty information.

Fla. AG reaches deal over $300 million settlement

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is signing off on a deal with the GOP-controlled Legislature over $300 million intended to help homeowners.

Why Florida is Sitting on $300 Million Meant to Help Homeowners

Florida has the highest percentage of home loans in foreclosure in the country. So why is more than $300 million that could help homeowners sitting unused?

Attorney General Pam Bondi, lawmakers haggle over millions in foreclosure cash

Florida is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the number of homes in foreclosures and the number of people on the verge of losing their homes.

Lawmakers shouldn't raid the settlement fund

Given Tallahassee's chronic budget shortfalls and lawmakers' love of found money, it's no wonder some of them are casting covetous eyes on the $334 million pot of gold that Florida received as its share of a $25 billion settlement with mortgage banks. 

EDITORIAL: Hands off the money

Given Tallahasee’s chronic budget shortfalls and lawmakers’ love of found money, it’s no wonder some of them are casting covetous eyes on the $334 million pot of gold that Florida received as its share of a $25 billion settlement with mortgage banks.

Cautious optimism over Fla. foreclosure deal funds

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Six months after the announcement of a 49-state settlement with lenders over mortgage foreclosure abuses, Florida still hasn't done anything with its share, but a homeowner advocate said Thursday she was "cautiously optimistic." 

Homes still out of reach

The American Dream is elusive for some, despite lower home prices in many markets.
Though median home prices fell since 2011 in the majority of markets, home ownership still was not within reach for one-third of the 74 occupations studied, according to a report to be released today by the Center for Housing Policy.

LETTER TO EDITOR: Housing fund should help all

Thanks to The Miami Herald for supporting the Sadowski Trust Fund, Florida’s affordable housing fund that is the envy of other states, but has been woefully underfunded in recent years. Thanks to Attorney General Pam Bondi for seeking public input on how best to allocate Florida’s portion of the national mortgage settlement. 

Last day to tell state how to spend giant mortgage settlement

Florida is now sitting on about $300 million in mortgage-settlement funds, and everyone from real-estate agents to victimized homeowners has been advising state Attorney General Pam Bondi on how to spend it. 

EDITORIAL: Florida's $300-million housing bounty

Advocates of affordable housing in Florida, listen up: You have a chance to weigh in on how the state uses $300 million to ease the pain of the foreclosure crisis, but you must act quickly. 

Florida Realtors: Spend $100M of banks' settlement money on workforce housing

As a strong advocate for affordable housing, Florida Realtors urges Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to put the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund at the top of the state’s list to receive some of an expected $300-plus million due from the recent foreclosure legal settlement with five of the nation’s largest banks.




Realtors Suggest Housing Trusts for Mortgage Settlement Money

The Florida Realtors are the latest to chime in on how Attorney General Pam Bondi should spent $300 million, the state’s share of a national mortgage servicing settlement. 


EDITORIAL: Florida's $300-million housing bounty

Advocates of affordable housing in Florida, listen up: You have a chance to weigh in on how the state uses $300 million to ease the pain of the foreclosure crisis, but you must act quickly.

Mortgage Fraud: Suggest Settlement Ideas

Floridians now have an easy way to suggest constructive ways for their state to spend millions of dollars from the proceeds of a mortgage-fraud settlement. Florida was among the states that joined the federal government to sue the nation's five largest mortgage servicers, alleging foreclosure abuses and unacceptable nationwide mortgage-servicing practices. Florida's share of the $25 billion settlement is $8.4 billion. 

Florida Realtors®: Spend $100M of Banks' Settlement Money On Workforce Housing

ORLANDO, Fla., May 9, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- As a strong advocate for affordable housing, Florida Realtors® urges Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to put the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund at the top of the state's list to receive some of an expected $300-plus million due from the recent foreclosure legal settlement with five of the nation's largest banks.

Florida Realtors®: Spend $100M of Banks' Settlement Money On Workforce Housing

ORLANDO, Fla., May 9, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- As a strong advocate for affordable housing, Florida Realtors® urges Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to put the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund at the top of the state's list to receive some of an expected $300-plus million due from the recent foreclosure legal settlement with five of the nation's largest banks.

EDITORIAL: Florida’s $300-million housing bounty

Advocates of affordable housing in Florida, listen up: You have a chance to weigh in on how the state uses $300 million to ease the pain of the foreclosure crisis, but you must act quickly. 

Group wants foreclosure fraud settlement money for affordable housing programs

Lawmakers again swept document stamp tax funds this year that were supposed to go toward affordable housing programs, but a multi-state foreclosure fraud settlement has given groups supporting those programs new hope.

Florida Morning: Tough GOP v. GOP battles; Allied Vets: We don't need to open our books

FORECLOSURE FUND SETTLEMENT: Attorney General Pam Bondi has discretion on how to spend $300 million from a foreclosure fraud settlement, and the Sadowski Coalition wants her to spend at least one-third of it on affordable housing. Florida Current: http://bit.ly/JmR804

Tuesday Morning Reads: Presidential politics, housing and loans

* A coalition that advocates for affordable housing wants money from foreclosure settlements to go toward affordable housing programs, the Florida Current reports.

EDITORIAL: Salvation Army's plan would spare some families from homelessness

 The Salvation Army's idea to build affordable housing for families -- and put a small plug in the gaping hole of local residential options for low-income workers -- merits an open and honest community discussion. In the current market, apartment rents are out of reach for many with minimum-wage jobs and part-time employment. 

EDITORIAL: Legislative session creates a slew of messes

The Florida Legislature ended its 60-day session with nothing to help cash-strapped homeowners or college students or those struggling to get a job or to ensure safety for the frail elderly at state-licensed facilities. Yet legislators delivered plenty of indiscriminate business tax breaks. 

EDITORIAL: Missed opportunities

The Florida Legislature ended its 60-day session with nothing to help cash-strapped homeowners or college students or those struggling to get a job or to ensure safety for the frail elderly at state-licensed facilities. Yet legislators delivered plenty of indiscriminate business tax breaks.


2012 session summary: Real Estate and Growth Management

Expectations were low going into the session that any significant growth management legislation would pass. In 2011, the Legislature approved sweeping law changes in SB 1122 despite opposition from environmental groups. Those changes removed much of the state oversight of local land-use decisions. Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton and chairman of the Senate Committee on Community Affairs, said during the 2012 session he wanted to give cities and counties time to understand and adjust to the changes made last year. "They didn't do any real damage this time," said Charles Pattison, president of 1000 Friends of Florida environmental group.

Legislators hit hardest the pocketbooks of state workers, college students

TALLAHASSEE — After a year of incremental drops in the state's unemployment rate, Florida lawmakers came to the Capitol armed with promises to jump-start jobs, but they left handcuffed by the stubborn economy.

State needs to keep its trust funds

The state of Florida has long played a cynical game with its trust funds, turning the term on its head.

One example is the Sadowski fund, which is designed to make housing more affordable. It was perfectly designed to produce funds based on documentary stamp taxes. When prices are high, the taxes produce more revenue.

Despite drop in housing prices, affordability in Florida declines for 'working' households

Wake up and good morningIt feels wrong at firstHow can Florida -- where housing prices have dropped like a stone for years -- rank No. 2 behind pricey California as the state with the highest number of "working households" paying at least half of their income on housing costs? According to this new Center for Housing Policy survey, a third of Florida working households pay more than half their income on housing. 

State Rep. Hazelle Rogers: Why I oppose the new state budget.

 "It also drains the housing trust fund by $91 million. This concerns me because wages have stayed flat over the last decade while housing cost has increased by 51 percent. There is an affordable housing crisis in Broward County.  These funds housing assistance funds could assist in remedying this situation."                                                    

EDITORIAL: Use sales taxes for jobs, children

It’s time for state leaders to do something about online retailers, many of them out of state that fail to remit sales taxes on Internet purchases. 

Scott raided trust funds to help balance budget

As a businessman outsider, Rick Scott promised to ditch the old tricks politicians used when it came to passing the state budget. Part of that pledge was to balance the budget "without gimmicks, one-time revenues, borrowed funds, temporary funds, or tax increases." 

Florida Legislative Preview – 2012

Redistricting won't completely dominate the legislative landscape in January. A look at other issues percolating in the background and who wants what.  

Editorial: No more raids on housing funds

With the Legislature again facing a multibillion-dollar budget shortfall, Florida's affordable-housing trust funds will once more be at risk.

Florida Revenue Shortfall: Stop Housing-Fund Raids

With the Legislature again facing a revenue shortfall for some $2 billion, Florida's affordable-housing trust funds will once more be at risk. 

Scott Needs to Put Housing Dollars Into Housing Projects

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature have the ability to create nearly 9,000 jobs and $900 million in economic impact in fiscal year 2012-2013, by appropriating the state and local housing trust fund money for housing, rather than sweeping those funds dedicated to housing into general revenue.

Paul Flemming: Trust Funds are Targets Again

The broom's smaller, but the sweeping goes on. Since 2008, the state has relied on $2.8 billion swept out of dedicated trust funds — money set aside by legislative act and theoretically reserved for specific purposes — to allow the state to balance its budget in lean times.

EDITORIAL: Stop Raids on Housing Funds

With the Legislature again facing a multibillion-dollar budget shortfall, Florida's affordable-housing trust funds will once more be at risk.

Use dedicated funds solely for housing

Gov. Scott and the Florida Legislature have the ability to create almost 9,000 jobs and $900 million in economic impact in fiscal year 2012-13, by appropriating the state and local housing trust fund money for housing, rather than sweeping those dedicated funds into general revenue.

Jaimie Ross: Use Florida housing dollars for housing

Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature have the ability to create nearly 9,000 jobs and $900 million in economic impact in Fiscal Year 2012-13, by appropriating the state and local housing trust fund money for housing, rather than sweeping those funds dedicated to housing into general revenue.

Homelessness and Hope

In a network news show last Sunday, "60 Minutes" presented viewers with "Hard Times Generation: Families living in cars," a real-life, heart-rending portrait of homelessness.

Our take on: Hands off housing

Almost 20 years ago, Florida legislators increased a tax on real-estate transactions to create a trust fund that would finance state and local affordable-housing initiatives. They did so at the urging of a coalition of business groups, local governments and advocates for the poor and elderly.

Stop raiding the housing trust fund

There’s a smattering of good news on unemployment. Florida’s jobless rate fell to 10.3 percent in October, its lowest rate in 28 months. Job growth is continuing, though slowly, with 94,000 jobs being created in the state in the last year, according to the state Department of Economic Opportunity.


Sadowski coalition looks to prevent affordable housing trust fund raid this year

The Sadowski Housing Coalition, an association of business groups, charities and advocacy groups for the poor and elderly, is hoping to prevent a fourth straight year of heavy raids on the Florida's affordable housing trust fund.

Advocates fear loss of state fund to help Jacksonville homebuyers Florida Times-Union

The Jacksonville Housing and Neighborhoods Department approved 26 Jacksonville residents last week to receive about $15,000 each in down payment assistance so they could qualify to purchase new or existing homes.

'Redeploy the money'

On April 7, the state Senate approved a bill that would maintain the document stamp tax funding the Sadowski trust, but would divert the money to the state's general fund. Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, chairman of the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development Appropriations, said the bill was introduced in response to a proposal by Gov. Rick Scott to eliminate the Sadowski trust fund.

Foreclosure assistance program taking claims

A $1 billion program aimed at helping homeowners avoid foreclosure kicked off Monday, though it is less ambitious than originally proposed.

Senate panel diverts low-cost housing funds

TALLAHASSEE -- A proposal that would permanently divert at least $194 million annually in real estate-related taxes from Florida's affordable housing program to general state spending won approval Friday from the Senate Budget Committee.

Senate Proposes to End Affordable Housing

A coalition of affordable housing advocates is urging the Senate to drop a proposal that would permanently redirect real estate transaction tax revenue from the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund to General Revenue.

Jaimie Ross: Use Florida housing trust funds to help rehabilitate foreclosed, abandoned homes

Contractors and subcontractors constitute a substantial number of those who are now unable to pay their mortgage or rent. But Florida has work for them to do. We have thousands of foreclosed and abandoned homes in need of rehabilitation; in need of all the skills they can provide.

Jobs and housing: Use housing trust funds as intended

Contractors and subcontractors constitute a substantial number of those who are now unable to pay their mortgage or rent. But Florida has work for them to do.

Use trust funds to rehabilitate foreclosed homes

Contractors and subcontractors constitute a substantial number of those who are now unable to pay their mortgage or rent. But Florida has work for them to do. We have thousands of foreclosed and abandoned homes in need of rehabilitation; in need of all the skills they can provide.

Ross: Let housing fund fulfill its purpose

Contractors and subcontractors constitute a substantial number of those now unable to pay their mortgage or rent. But Florida has work for them to do. We have thousands of foreclosed and abandoned homes that are in need of rehabilitation; in need of all the skills they can provide. And we have the money to put them to work: We have approximately $193 million in dedicated revenue from Florida's state and local housing trust funds in fiscal year 2011-2012. If the Legislature appropriates that money for its intended purposes, it will create nearly 15,000 jobs and more than $1.4 billion in economic activity.

Jaimie Ross: Affordable housing means Florida jobs

Contractors and subcontractors constitute a substantial number of those who are now unable to pay their mortgage or rent. But Florida has work for them to do. We have thousands of foreclosed and abandoned homes that are in need of rehabilitation; in need of all the skills they can provide. And we have the money to put them to work: We have approximately $193 million in dedicated revenue from Florida’s state and local housing trust funds in FY 2011-12. If the Legislature appropriates that money for its intended purposes, it will create nearly 15,000 jobs and more than $1.4 billion in economic activity. 

Florida tops list of decreasing affordable housing

In Florida, roughly 855,000 working households had a severe housing cost burden in 2009. This represents 33 percent of all working households, a significant increase from 30 percent since 2008, a new study reports.

No Promises to Pay Back Money Taken from Sadowski Fund

Senate budget chairman J.D. Alexander, who led negotiations with the House on the budget fix that includes taking $190 million from the Sadowski Trust Fund for affordable housing, ruled out on Wednesday the possibility of those funds being repaid with federal stimulus dollars.