One Housing Trust Fund vs. 88 New Bureaucracies:
Making the case against the Senate Amendment
The Senate Trust Fund amendment reads: “Requires that half of the fees collected by county recorders for the Housing Trust Fund to be retained by the county for the purpose of housing. Requires that the county auditor, recorder, and a county commissioner, or their delegates, determine by a majority vote how the funds will be used.”
Here are the primary reasons the state Trust Fund process is preferable to the county process the Senate amendment would create:
1) The Housing Trust Fund is administered by a single state agency with oversight by a 14-member advisory board and a 25-year solid track record of accountability. The amendment would establish 88 separate county administrative processes with elected officials, such as recorders and auditors, who may have little or no housing experience.
2) The Housing Trust Fund has statutory protections to ensure that funds are used for those with the greatest housing needs, such as: 10% of funds must be used to support homeless programs, including homeless youth; and there’s an overall preference for projects serving those at 35% of median income or below. The county process has no such protections.
3) Ohio Development Services Agency coordinates efforts with the Ohio Housing Finance Agency to leverage the Housing Trust Fund with low-income tax credits and bond financing so that Trust Fund is leveraging dollars at a rate of 9/1. These types of leveraging opportunities would be rare at the county level.
4) The Housing Trust Fund has a statutory limit of 5% or less to be used for administration. The county program would create 88 separate county bureaucracies, each of which would require unspecified amounts of administrative funds to operate. In an era of scarce housing resources, this is an inappropriate use of public funds.
5) The Housing Trust Fund provides numerous opportunities to expand housing options for people in recovery, people with disabilities, and people in need of alternatives to institutional settings. These are done in partnership with other private and state agencies such as Medicaid, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Department of Aging. With the county program those partnerships are greatly diminished.
6.) The Housing Trust Fund is currently of sufficient size that it is capable of leveraging resources from private and public sector sources, and funding several larger impactful housing developments projects each year. The proposed county-based approach would disperse funding, making it much more difficult to leverage funds for the larger, more impactful projects.
7) Housing Trust Fund dollars are awarded on a competitive basis to make sure projects using best practice with solid outcomes are funded first. While projects in all 88 counties can compete for the funds, to ensure funds have broad geographic distribution, there is a statutory requirement that at least 50% of the available resources be awarded to projects in rural parts of the state. This approach assures both fairness and quality in distributing the funds and makes the county process unnecessary.
The State Housing and Homeless Coalition is asking that you call your State Senator today to protest this horrible plan. If you get a response let COHHIO know below. To get the call in information to your senator go to the COHHIO website here.
Advocacy Director, COHHIO
cathyjohnston (at) cohhio (dot) org
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