Fla. gov. approves $200 million bank settlement

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 4, 2013 at 5:57 pm •  Published: June 4, 2013
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The bill signed Thursday by Scott spends the money that was left.

There's cash for several programs run by the Florida Housing Finance Corp. and some of it is targeted for rental payment assistance to the elderly and grants to provide housing for the homeless.

The measure also calls for spending money on housing for citizens with developmental disabilities as well as rehabilitating homes in blighted neighborhoods. Other parts give money to Habitat for Humanity and purchase dormitory contracts for low-income students planning on attending college.

The large amounts of money coming from the settlement gave legislators a chance to set aside money for affordable housing while passing a state budget that diverted money that normally goes to some of the same programs.

Back in January, House Speaker Will Weatherford said there was "no intention do a bait and switch" and use the settlement money in place of existing state funding. The amount of money diverted from housing trust funds was $205 million.

"We are not going to be spending this money, you know, on members' favorite projects that have nothing to do with the crisis," Weatherford said at the time. "The idea is to focus the resources on the people with the greatest need."

A spokesman for Weatherford defended the final budget decision.

Ryan Duffy pointed out that legislators have diverted much of the trust fund money — which comes from a tax charged on real estate transactions — the last five years. Duffy said that the amount spent on affordable housing programs was much larger this year due to the settlement.

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