A Florida lawmaker is taking steps to ensure state money set aside for affordable housing is earmarked for that purpose.

  • FL lawmaker working to protect low-income housing funds
  • Rep. Sean Shaw proposed House Bill 191
  • Wants money earmarked for that purpose

According to the Florida Housing Commission, more than one million Floridians spend more than half of their income on housing costs. 

Democratic State Representative Sean Shaw says that is definitely the case in Tampa.

“As the cost of housing continues to rise across our state, families and working Floridians are finding it more and more difficult just to keep a roof over their heads each month,” said Shaw.

The state’s efforts to help secure affordable housing has been hampered because lawmakers diverted about a billion dollars away from programs designed for that effort. That’s why Shaw plans to introduce legislation to protect those funds from further raids.

“These programs like SHIP and SAIL are national models and the people of Florida expect the trust funds to be used for their intended purpose to fund these programs,” Shaw said.

In Hillsborough County, the average rent is about $1,000 a month which isn’t affordable to everyone.

“Most of our families can only afford to pay $700 - 800 a month, so the issue is affordable to whom,” said Cheryl Howell, Hillsborough County’s Affordable Housing Services Director.

Howell’s agency partners with both the non-profit and for profit  sector to address the lack of housing for low income people. This year, about 600 units of affordable housing are being developed across the county, but Howell says that’s hardly enough to address the growing need.

“One out of three families in the Bay Area pay more than 30 percent of their total gross income for rent or housing costs and one in five families pay more than 50 percent of their gross income for housing costs.”

House Bill 191 already faces an uphill battle in the legislature. Republican leadership says the money taken from the housing fund was needed for law enforcement and K-12 education.  Shaw is hoping the bipartisan support for his bill will help the measure advance.