Millions in housing assistance taken from Palm Beach County to help balance state budget

Housing advocates want money to return to trust

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Opening the blinds to her backyard is still a novelty for Tamia Jones. She would not have moved into the West Palm Beach home without financial assistance from Palm Beach County.

"Very difficult, this was my third time trying to purchase a home, the first two deals fell through on me," said Jones, a single mother of two.

Hundreds of millions of trust fund dollars that should've helped families get into homes, were instead funneled into the state general fund to balance the budget.

"If that purchase assistance was available, there would've been more buyers taking advantage of the downturn in the housing market," said Cindee LaCourse-Blum, a representative with the Community Land Trust of Palm Beach County.

The trust fund generates money through a tax assessed every time a house is sold. The last time Palm Beach County collected money from it, it totaled $7 million.

Affordable housing advocates want the legislature to put the trust fund back in place to help low income families.

"I know how it is to get almost to that point, and then the money they said was there, no longer exists," said Jones.

"We don't have many options for first time homebuyers who are credit worthy and have savings and employment, just not the means to make it happen," said LaCourse-Blum.

That is why Jones considers herself one of the lucky ones.

"I'm a single mom, so providing my family a home with a backyard, it's overwhelming," said Jones.

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