HOUS­ING

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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.

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