HOME BUILDERS IN FLORIDA HAVE JOINED forces with bankers, real estate agents, and low-income housing advocates to fight Gov. Jeb Bush's plan to eliminate the state's affordable housing trust fund and roll it into the general fund.

Edie Ousley, public affairs director for the Florida HBA, says for every $1,000 spent on real estate transactions, 20 cents goes into the state's Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Since its inception in 1992, the trust fund has helped more than 150,000 working families, seniors, and people with disabilities own homes or find decent housing.

Ousley says the affordable housing trust fund is a big target, since the state's housing boom has seen trust fund receipts grow from $194 million in 2000–2001 to $319 million this fiscal year, 2003–2004.

For fiscal 2003–2004, the state took $126 million out of the trust fund and put it into the general fund. And for the upcoming fiscal year, Gov. Bush wants to redirect $167 million into the general fund out of the trust fund's estimated $360 million. If the affordable trust fund is eliminated, the real estate transaction tax will stand and all money will flow into the general fund, which means affordable housing would compete with education, health care, and prisons for general revenue dollars.

As of mid-March, the state Senate was working on a measure to reauthorize the housing trust fund. A spokesman for Bush refused comment when asked if the administration would veto the measure. A final resolution was expected in late April or the first two weeks of May.