Housing Not So Affordable

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. In 1992 state lawmakers raised the d.o.c. 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.

Ten cents of the tax on every 100 dollars of real estate sold is supposed to be used for affordable housing. This year there is almost three hundred million in the trust fund. Yet, on the eve of the legislative session, there are recommendations that none of it be spent on housing.

Jaimie Ross is with the Sadowski Housing Coalition. "We have over nine hundred thousand families who are very low income, who are spending more than half of that income on their housing."

A coalition of bankers, builders, the Chamber and others think that spending the money on housing would create more than 27 thousand jobs.

Rob Lieberman is with Florida Homebuilders. "We buy lumber, concrete and other supplies from local businesses.."

The problem began growing when the great recession hit and lawmakers spent about 80 percent of the money elsewhere.

Ross, "We're asking that the money that has been statutorily dedicated for housing be used for housing in a year when we have plenty of money to do so."

In addition to helping the poor, the program is also designed to help teachers, fire fighters and police from being priced out of the housing market.

70 percent of the spending is decided locally by sustainable housing groups in every county. In rural Gadsden County, Phyllis Moore is the S.H.I.P. director. She says the waiting list grows longer every day. "I just have to put people on a waiting list to even make application."

In Gadsden County alone, more than 200 people have been put on a waiting list since 2011.

Since its inception, the program has spent more than three billion on housing.

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