ORLANDO, Fla. — The Florida House voted 78-38 Thursday to pass SB 2512, a revised version of a House bill that would permanently redirect part of the state’s Sadowski trust funds away from their original purpose: funding affordable housing programs.

What You Need To Know

  • Bill shifts part of affordable housing trust fund elsewhere 

  • Sadowski fund was created to use real estate taxes to fund local affordable housing initiatives

  • Money would be redirected for sea level rise and improving wastewater systems

  • FLORIDA GOVERNMENT GUIDE: Latest News, Contact Your Representatives and More

The bill, originally spearheaded by House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson, would allocate money in the Sadowski funds to two different environmental initiatives, which address sea-level rise and grants to improve wastewater systems.  

Originally, the bill called for the money to be split evenly between all three purposes. The bill that passed Thursday allocates about $60 million more to affordable housing than the original version did.

Democrats and housing advocates initially referred to the bill as the “largest ever sweep” of the Sadowski Fund, which has historically been raided by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle during the budget process.

“This is not a sweep. We are directing these funds to critical issues that our state is facing at this time,” said Rep. Josie Tomkow (R-District 39) during a March 25 debate of an earlier version of the bill in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.

Now that the bill has passed both chambers, the next step is for it to become an “enrolled bill,” which the governor will sign in order for it to become law.

The Sadowski Fund was created in 1992 by the Florida Legislature as a permanent way to address affordable housing.

Taxes from real estate document processing on property sales are supposed to go to the Sadowski Fund, and the money is given to county programs for things like first-time homeownership assistance programs and rehabilitation of existing homes. 

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation says there is currently $248,803,239.45 in the Sadowski Fund, with more than $8.7 million for use in the current fiscal year.

Affordable housing is a huge issue in Florida. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, about 70% of Florida low-income households are cost-burdened, meaning more than 30% of their income is spent on housing and utilities.

Molly Duerig is a Report for America corps member who is covering affordable housing for Spectrum News 13. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.