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Gwen Graham vows to get housing money into communities

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham accused the Republican-led Florida government of neglecting the needs of affordable housing and vowed to change that with full funding of the state’s Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund and efforts to get housing money quickly into communities.

“When I get into office I am going to take a hard look at where we are spending our resources, and what we need to do. I’m not naive. I know it’s going to be tough. There are going to be a lot of challenges Florida has not faced in a very long time, and housing is one of them,” she said. “We’re going to have to be creative about how we get resources into communities to begin to immediately address these shortages.”

As part of her ongoing “WorkDays” program that has her work in someone else’s job for a day, Graham spent Friday installing windows, calking floor baseboards and painting for a Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando housing construction project in Apopka. The Arbor Bend subdivision will include 34 new affordable homes when it is complete. Many already are finished and occupied.

While praising Habitat for Humanity, she conceded “It is a drop in the bucket” as a response to the state’s affordable housing needs.

Graham stressed the affordable housing crisis in the greater Orlando area, saying it ranked third worst in the nation behind Los Angeles and Las Vegas, adding, “and it’s only getting worse.”

It’s a topic that her rival Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King, an Orlando entrepreneur whose projects include affordable housing, has pushed from the first day of his campaign last year. Like King, Graham expressed frustration that the state’s fund for affordable housing has been raided annually for other budgetary purposes, rather than spent on affordable housing.

They also face Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine in the August 28 Democratic primary. The leading Republicans are Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

“The Republicans who control Tallahassee have stolen more than $2 billion of Floridians’ tax dollars from the affordable housing trust to pay for their own special projects,” Graham stated in a news release. “If more of the politicians in Tallahassee spent a day working to construct affordable housing, they’d see just how much more we could accomplish working together on progressive solutions to help Florida families. They’d quit stealing from the trust fund and invest in Florida.”

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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