During the 2015 Legislative Session, Florida lawmakers were tasked with drafting legislation to implement Amendment 1, which was approved by Florida voters in November 2014 and required one third of documentary stamp revenue to be placed into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to be spent on a variety of environmental programs and initiatives. With rumors that other documentary-funded programs, such as affordable housing, could receive a cut in funding, Bascom Communications & Consulting, LLC (BCC) led the communications and public affairs charge on behalf of the Sadowski Housing Coalition against this effort that would have caused significant and permanent harm to affordable housing.
Tackling the issue head on before the start of session, BCC assisted the Sadowski Coalition in garnering critical earned media pieces, which included almost every editorial board in the State of Florida weighing in on the need to not harm affordable housing with the implementation of Amendment 1 and the importance of using all housing trust fund monies for housing. As the 2015 Session grew nearer, BCC orchestrated the yearly call on Florida lawmakers to use all housing trust fund monies for housing in a press conference that featured members of the Sadowski Coalition and was highly attended by members of the press. Shortly after, the House of Representatives proposed changes to their Amendment 1 implementation bill that would modify the underlying distribution of documentary stamp revenues governed by section 201.15, Florida Statutes, to implement Amendment 1 without reducing the doc stamp monies that go into the affordable housing trust funds; and, the Senate followed suit.
With the coalition’s shift back to calling for all housing trust fund monies to be used for housing, BCC turned its focused toward educating lawmakers, their staff and key decision makers on the positive benefits that affordable housing has on the entire State of Florida, as well as their local communities, utilizing components, such as collateral materials that highlighted the distribution of funds in each lawmaker’s district, opinion pieces and letters to the editor, and media monitoring to ensure that no opportunity to insert the coalition’s message was lost.
In the end, the Florida Legislature passed a state budget that appropriated $175 million from Florida’s housing trust funds toward housing. This funding represented approximately 68 percent of the total $256 million that was available from the Sadowski Trust Fund. The budget also included $8.3 million for homeless and other housing projects.