$9 Million in Affordable Housing Funds Coming to Lee and Hendry Counties
In a major win for affordable housing organizations, the Florida State Legislature is set to pass a budget that includes full funding of the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The budget provides $370 million for Florida’s statewide affordable housing programs, with more than $9 million earmarked for Lee and Hendry Counties.
The Sadowski Act, passed in 1991, created a statutory law that dedicates a portion of the doc stamp tax paid on all real estate transactions to an affordable housing specific trust fund. However, since the early 2000s, state legislators have raided the Sadowski Fund on an annual basis. Instead, using the monies to fill budgetary shortfalls in the general revenue fund.
In fiscal year 2019-2020, Lee County was scheduled to receive $8.5 million in affordable housing funds, but after the sweeps, the county received just $1 million in funding. With the issue of home affordability becoming a growing concern for many residents and stakeholders in Southwest Florida, the Sadowski Trust Fund was a top priority for affordable housing advocates.
“The takeaway from this legislative session is that advocacy works,” said Habitat for Humanity’s Public Advocacy Manager, Jake Burbach. “Our supporters sent over 270 emails advocating for fully funding Sadowski, and our team met with the entire Lee/Hendry County delegation both locally and in Tallahassee.”
Following the budget conference, House Appropriations Chair, Travis Cummings addressed the media. “I know you’ve covered this (Sadowski) a lot. We hear it not only from a lot of constituents but also members from a bi-partisan standpoint. I think it’s a big win this session.”
The Sadowski funds support the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program and the State Apartment Incentives Loan (SAIL) program. Habitat for Humanity uses SHIP funds to ensure mortgage affordability for the lowest-income families in our homeownership program and for retrofitting homes of seniors and individuals with special needs. The SAIL program offers low-interest loans on a competitive basis to affordable housing developers and is crucial to stimulating private sector investments in affordable housing.
A strong supporter of affordable housing, North Fort Myers Representative, Spencer Roach, was pleased with the decision to fully fund the Sadowski Trust Fund. “I represent rural Lee County—my district is one of two districts in the state that are entirely unincorporated, and the lack of affordable housing disproportionately impacts us. I applaud the House and Senate leadership for fully funding the Sadowski Trust Fund, and I will continue to advocate for solutions to our critical workforce housing shortage.”
In addition to expanding affordable housing options for hardworking families, research from the Florida Housing Coalition estimates that a full appropriation of the Sadowski Trust Fund will create 30,000 jobs and a $4.5 billion statewide economic impact.
Please join us in thanking the Florida Legislature for their support of Habitat for Humanity and affordable housing. To learn more about Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties’ advocacy work, visit habitat4humanity.org/advocacy.