Launch Pad

Public Policy Update

By Kymberly Franklin posted 09-13-2021 15:54


September 10, 2021

Public Policy Update

Hello everyone. We announced some exciting news this week regarding our ongoing efforts to address Florida’s housing affordability crisis. Thanks to REALTOR® advocacy efforts, Florida Realtors® will immediately begin working with legislative leaders to advance homeownership opportunities for frontline workers while protecting funding for existing housing programs.

This effort will be a part of our 2022 Legislative Session agenda and provide us with enhanced opportunities to advocate for REALTORS® as the voice of real estate in Florida. In light of this plan, Florida Realtors® is suspending the Housing Funds for Housing ballot initiative. 

Comments provided by your leadership team perfectly summarized the benefits of this new legislative approach to the state’s housing issues. Here is what several of them had to say about the matter.

2021 Florida Realtors® President Cheryl Lambert: “Floridians made it known through their broad public support for the ballot initiative that workforce housing affordability must be a top priority, and this has opened the door for positive discussions in the Capitol. The legislative leadership has committed to working with us to find significant, immediate solutions to Florida’s workforce housing crisis. This crisis cannot wait. Every day, we hear about workers who are bearing the brunt of the pandemic who can’t afford a home. This approach will help bring homeownership within reach of Floridians much faster.”

2021 Florida Realtors® President-Elect Christina Pappas: “During the pandemic, when ‘home’ took on a whole new meaning, REALTORS® put forth unprecedented efforts to ensure that Floridians were given every opportunity for housing assistance. Advocacy comes in many forms – Florida Realtors® believes that protecting funding for housing and creating new options for homeownership for our front-line workers is a top priority. We are excited to work with the Legislature to advance new programs and improve existing ones to ensure that all Floridians, especially our front-line workers, have access to safe and attainable housing.”

Florida Realtors® CEO Margy Grant: “Front-line workers are the absolute foundation of our communities, something that has been made even more apparent during this pandemic. They are putting their lives and health on the line every day to benefit those around them. We’re pleased that legislative leaders recognize the importance of this issue and we look forward to working with them on meaningful solutions.” 

We announced this news Tuesday evening via a statewide news release. A summary of that announcement can be found in this Florida Realtors® news story

The following morning, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson and Speaker of the Florida House Chris Sprowls sent a joint statement to the media saying, “The Florida Legislature and the Florida Realtors have a long, productive history of working together on pro-business, pro-family, pro-homeownership initiatives. In recent years, support of the Florida Realtors has been instrumental as we worked to increase funding for affordable housing developments and rental assistance programs, expand the tax credit for property owners who maintain affordable housing units, and permanently lower the business rent tax.”

“We commend the decision by the Florida Realtors to suspend their ballot initiative. As we have seen in recent months, the housing market is extremely fluid, and fluctuates based on a variety of factors, which are outside of the Legislature’s control. Constitutional amendments, while instrumental in defining the ideals of the framework of our state government, do not provide the flexibility needed to respond to the ever-changing housing situation in Florida. Legislative solutions derived from the input and expertise of the entire coalition of stakeholders and experts who work on housing-related issues remain the best way to address housing challenges that impact families across our state. 

“Housing challenges impacting our state and the entire nation have placed a tremendous burden on hard-working Floridians trying to pursue their dream of homeownership, and we are committed to doing what we can at the state level to help more Florida families overcome this challenge. In particular, the ongoing pandemic has highlighted the need to focus on opportunities for health care workers, teachers, law enforcement officers and first responders to find affordable housing options within the communities they serve. As we head towards the 2022 Legislative Session, we look forward to again working with the Florida Realtors and other housing stakeholders to develop effective legislative solutions, while at the same time maintaining the flexibility needed to fund the many other critical priorities of our state.”

Florida Senate President-Designate Kathleen Passidomo also commented, saying, “I have worked with the Florida Realtors all summer — and for more than a decade — to strengthen affordable housing opportunities in Florida. We agree that affordable housing is absolutely essential to our state — for our families, for our workforce and for our economy. We must ensure that the state’s investment in affordable housing is spent judiciously, and that our first responders, health care workers, teachers and other critical professions are able to benefit from the opportunities available. I look forward to continuing our work with the realtors, property owners, affordable housing advocates and other key stakeholders across the state toward our shared mission of providing safe, accessible and affordable places for Floridians to live, work and raise a family."

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, Jimmy Patronis, even took a moment to weigh in on the matter, saying, “I applaud the Florida Realtors dedication to working with House Speaker Sprowls and Senate President Simpson in the upcoming legislative session to create a new program to support firefighters, first responders, and nurses that need financial support to buy a home in the community where they serve. The Florida Realtors commitment to making housing more affordable - especially for our heroic frontline workers - is remarkable. I have seen our first responders work tirelessly, whether it was in the building collapse at Surfside, or in response to hurricanes and natural disasters, or their continuous sacrifice to care for those suffering from the deadly COVID-19 virus. Our heroes deserve our support, especially during such trying times and the dream of homeownership is something we should help them achieve. This is simply the right thing to do for those who do so much for us.” 

Our collaboration with the Florida Legislature is fantastic news for Floridians who are pursuing the dream of homeownership and I cannot thank you enough for all of your advocacy efforts and passion on this issue. Your response as a profession has been incredible, demonstrating the true power of the REALTOR® voice.