On the November 6th ballot, Broward County voters are being asked to approve the enactment of a new Broward County Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The purpose of this proposed Trust Fund is to provide a continuous fund to address the obvious need for affordable housing in Broward County.

Contributor: Caroline Carrara, RAPB + GFLR Eastern Broward County Regional Vice President

Contributor: Caroline Carrara, RAPB + GFLR Eastern Broward County Regional Vice President

While the intent of this proposed Trust Fund is well meaning, and there certainly remains the need to create greater affordable housing opportunities for our workforce, and there are serious concerns about vague language regarding the sources of revenue that would be generated for this new fund.  It is true that much of the revenue would be generated by general revenue appropriations by Broward County and voluntary contributions, grants and donations by local governments and others. However, language also exists citing sources of income as mandatory payments made pursuant to development policies and other sources as established by ordinance.

It is concerning that voters are being asked to cast a vote in favor of a Trust Fund without knowing the full set of facts and the future intent of our leaders. Several years ago, Broward County’s leaders asked the Florida Legislature for the authority to enact a local option documentary stamp tax to fund affordable housing programs. In fact, a proposal allowing them to do so nearly passed the Legislature. Luckily, the idea was defeated at the last minute. In subsequent years, advocates were able to table that proposal at the local level before it even made its way to Tallahassee, again saving new homeowners significant monies. It is concerning that the enactment of this Trust Fund could open the floodgates for a local option documentary stamp tax, a.k.a. the Double Doc Stamp, along with other unknown proposals, to gain steam and be enacted to the surprise of our residents. 

To be clear, no other single organization has done more than the Realtors® to advance the cause of funding affordable housing programs. Working together with our partners at Florida Realtors® we led the way for the successful enactment of the ‘Homeownership for All’ specialty license plate. More important, Realtors® visit Tallahassee every year to demand that our state lawmakers stop diverting promised funds from the Affordable Housing Trust Funds. Last year, we successfully secured $270 million for affordable housing, the highest amount of funding in a decade, along with additional funding this year.

It is no secret and it is fully understood that Broward County faces significant and well publicized challenges relating to housing affordability, but the possibility of adding to the cost of real estate transactions is not the answer. This shared problem requires a shared solution from all sectors of our diverse community. We ask that all local elected and community leaders join us in Tallahassee during the next and future years to continuously fight for the full funding of the existing Affordable Housing Trust Funds.   

More immediately on the November 6 ballot, voters should keep in mind that the vague language pertaining to the funding of this proposed Trust Fund could lead to surprise fees and taxes during the year to come.

The Realtors® of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale is the 3rd largest local real estate association in the country. As one unified voice, RAPB + GFLR represents 30,000 Realtors®, 33,000 MLS subscribers, and 5 regional boards across South Florida and the Treasure Coast. For more information, contact communications@rapb.com.