| Resilient Florida Program Funding|
|On Thursday, the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Tomkow (R-Polk City), approved PCB ANR 21-01, a bill that redistributes funding from Documentary Stamp revenues. The bill reallocates two-thirds of the revenue that would annually go towards the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and uses it to fund the Resilient Florida Program and a wastewater grant program. In Florida, over 120,000 properties are currently at risk from frequent tidal flooding; local governments and local climate compacts are developing solutions that include protecting sewage systems, raising roads, and improving stormwater infrastructure. |
The bill directs two-thirds of the $423.2 million in Documentary Stamp tax revenues intended for affordable housing (this year) to the new Resilience Trust Fund and the Wastewater Grants Program; only the remaining one-third of this amount is intended for affordable housing. Regrettably, the Legislature has a long history of sweeping funding from Affordable Housing to fund other priorities. While this bill will take two-thirds of the annual Documentary Stamp revenues intended for affordable housing each year, it also includes provisions to preserve the remaining funds for affordable housing from being swept in the future.
Affordable housing and resilience in the face of climate change are both urgent needs for Florida communities, and sadly, many of the low income Floridians most dependent upon affordable housing programs are also disproportionately bearing the impacts of climate change. Ultimately, Florida’s long-term resilience requires complementary, rather than competing, housing and climate planning. We are hopeful that House and Senate leadership, along with Governor DeSantis, may be able to apply federal aid – the $10 billion in stimulus funding coming to Florida – to meet both these needs, ensuring communities receive the help they need and support Floridians with rental and mortgage assistance.
Providing funding for resilience or housing, instead of resilience and housing, may exacerbate both problems and cost more in the long run. Protecting our communities, businesses, and wildlife against the impacts of climate change is inarguably important. Pitting that goal against affordable housing shortchanges us all.