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Florida Realtors punt plans for affordable housing ballot initiative

Photo: Northeast Florida Association of Realtors
Photo: Northeast Florida Association of Realtors

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After spending more than $2.7 million on a petition drive to create more affordable housing, Florida Realtors are dropping the effort.

The move faced significant opposition from top legislative leaders.

Florida realtors launched the amendment drive in June, seeking to restore affordable housing’s share of documentary stamp revenues.

“Every single year a portion of the housing trust funds are swept into the states general revenues,” said Christina Pappas with the Florida Realtors Association.

State and national realtors put $13 million into the kitty, but they angered legislative leadership.

In July, incoming Senate President Kathleen Passidomo didn’t mince words.

“I said to them, I’ll be honest with you, you’ve declared war on the Florida Legislature,” said Passidomo.

Next came high-level conversations with the legislative leaders who oppose most amendments that tie legislative hands.

“We had no agreements to do anything,” said Passidomo. “You should never budget in the constitution. That’s what they do in California, and it creates issues.”

Realtors got the message.

Late Tuesday they folded on the petition drive and said they will instead push for a legislative solution to the affordable housing crisis.

Now, the plan is to prioritize affordable housing for first responders and other frontline workers.

“We did an analysis and there are very few of the first responders…the front line workers, nurses, teachers, etc. that are participants in the Ship and Sail programs, so we need to ask why,” said Passidomo.

Passidomo did tell us that the realtors didn’t waste the $2.7 million they’ve already spent because it is what brought everybody to the negotiating table.

Earlier this year, legislation changed how revenues from real estate transactions are divided up.

Now, more than $200 million will go to affordable housing every year.

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