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Affordable housing funds may take hit in Florida

Issue may be due to passing of environmental Amendment 1

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Affordable housing funds could be taking a hit this year and it could be because of environmental Amendment 1, but both sides say that isn't fair.

Amendment 1 advocates agreed that there is plenty of money in the tax pool to continue to fund affordable housing fully and provide money to the environmental programs.

Theo Anderson was down on his luck, inured and living with two children in a run down home before state housing assistance helped him get back on his feet.

"People need help because, you know, you never know when a hard time is going to come upon you," Anderson said.

Affordable housing advocates have had their pots dipped in to in the past. Business and faith groups, builders and the Florida Chamber stood with housing advocates to tell the Legislature that the money is better spent in its own program.

But the passage of environmental Amendment 1 could be changing that.

"We do feel that we're being pitted, the environmentalists and affordable housing advocates are being pitted against each other and that really isn't fair," said Jaimie Ross, of the Florida Housing Coalition.

Both the conservation amendment and the housing programs get money out of a state real estate tax. Amendment 1 will get 33 percent, housing has been receiving 16 percent.

Affordable housing advocates said there's no need to slash money because there's plenty to go around.

A legislative bill meant to pave the way for Amendment 1 would cut more than $100 million from the housing program. But with more than $2 billion available from the tax revenues, Mark Hendrickson said it doesn't make sense to cut anything.

"There's enough money within the doc stamp distributions to fund both fully," Hendrickson said. "It isn't an Amendment 1 versus housing, it's a how are doc stamps to be distributed."

The governor's budget also proposes cutting the housing money, taking it down from around $267 million to only $100 million.