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Sen. Passidomo Files Bill to Ban Housing Trust Fund Sweeps

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By Matt Dixon

11/26/2018 12:30 PM EDT

After two years of massive hurricanes pummeling Florida's housing stock, lawmakers are again going to consider whether to allow millions of dollars in sweeps from trust funds set up to build affordable housing.

Legislation (FL SB70 (19R)) filed last week by state Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) would add the State Housing Trust Fund and Local Government Trust Fund to the list of funds that can't be raided to help pay for other areas of the budget.

A so-called "trust fund sweep" happens each year as lawmakers raid trust funds designed for a specific activity to cover other areas of the budget that become priorities. After Hurricane Irma hit much of the state, including important low-income housing in the Florida Keys, senators pushed to end raids of the housing trust fund, but that effort fell apart after the Legislature needed to fund a massive school safety bill after the Parkland shooting.

State lawmakers last session ultimately swept more than $180 million from state trust funds to help boost other areas of the budget. Lawmakers will now consider banning such sweeps after a second devastating storm. Hurricane Michael smashed into the panhandle in October, leaving many without housing.

Passidomo filed a similar bill last year, noting that Florida's housing trust funds are "national models — they work, but only to the degree that they are funded."

Her co-sponsor last year was former state Rep. Sean Shaw, a Tampa Democrat.

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