Advocates tell lawmakers not to “sweep” affordable housing funds to offset budget

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Affordable housing trust funds should not be part of a plan to balance the state’s budget, says a coalition of nonprofit and industry and groups.

The Sadowski Housing Coalition, with members including the Florida Coalition for the Homeless, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and others, held a press conference Tuesday to say the Legislature should spend the money for housing rather than “sweeping” it into a larger spending plan.

“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” says Florida Housing Coalition leader Jaimie Ross.

Gov. Rick Scott recommends $142.3 million from the Local Government Housing Trust Fund to help offset his budget proposal of nearly $74.2 billion, claiming that money from a Florida mortgage settlement with five leading banks currently covers housing needs.

Advocates could not elaborate on how to make up funding if it was totally dedicated to housing. Sen. Bill Montford also could not list any specific recommendations on balancing the budget without “sweeping.”

“But (if) you give a little time, I can do that,” Montford told reporters.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.