even with full appropriation,” Ross said.
The state money that doesn’t get diverted to other parts of the budget goes primarily to two programs, the State Housing Initiatives Partnership and the State Apartment Incentive Loan Program.
SHIP funds are given to local governments to help eligible prospective homeowners with down payment or closing cost assistance, emergency repairs and rehabilitation for existing homes. SAIL gives low-interest loans to developers to build apartment complexes for those with incomes of 50% or less than the area median income.
Even if lawmakers opt to keep all $350 million for affordable housing programs, it could take years before those in need begin to see the benefit. SAIL projects can take two to three years to complete once the money is awarded, Ross said, but also noted that about 20,000 potential homebuyers in Polk County are awaiting down payment assistance through SHIP, but the Legislature’s annual sweeps have led to a backlog.
“These (affordable housing developments) don’t happen overnight, (developers) need to be able to plan for them,” Ross said.
That’s why a law is needed to prevent future raids on the housing trust fund, said Rep. Sam Killebrew, sponsor of the House version of the bill, HB 381.
“During the Great Recession we needed to use all the available monies to balance the budget, but when the recession ended, sweeping trust funds did not,” said Killebrew, R-Winter Haven.