From the Field: Alabama Advocates Lobby for the Housing Trust Fund

Alabama housing advocates from around state joined the Low Income Housing Coalition of Alabama (LIHCA), a NLIHC state partner, on Wednesday, March 9th at the State House in Montgomery for an advocacy day in support of H.B. 341, the bill to fund the Alabama Housing Trust Fund (AHTF). The AHTF is needed to address the shortage of more 95,000 homes for individuals in Alabama making the minimum wage or less. The advocacy day included a press conference, legislator visits, and a demonstration with tents highlighting the plight of many Alabamians experiencing homelessness.

Established in 2012 without a defined revenue source, the AHTF was designed to create and rehabilitate homes for households living at or below 60% of the area median income, with a majority of its eventual resources for housing to serve individuals making minimum wage or less. LIHCA and the AHFT’s legislative champion, Representative Patricia Todd (D), fought to secure revenue for the AHTF in the 2015 legislative session but were unsuccessful.

H.B. 341 would fund the AHTF through adjustments to the mortgage record tax. Enacted in 1935 and never increased, the mortgage record tax is a fee that individuals pay when they purchase or refinance a mortgage. H.B. 341 would increase the current fee by $0.15 per $100 of indebtedness, a modest adjustment that could bring in approximately $17 million per year for the AHTF. Given that Alabama currently relies solely on the federal government for affordable housing dollars, the $17 million per year would be a significant additional investment to address the affordable housing shortage in Alabama.

Economists say that funding the AHTF at this level would result in $1.1 billion of economic impact over 10 years in Alabama and would generate 6,500 new full-time jobs. LIHCA’s Community Initiatives Manager Ashley Kerr stated: “Funding the Alabama Housing Trust Fund is fiscally responsible and morally right. And perhaps most important, Alabama needs to ensure that every child has a safe place to call home.”

You can follow H.B. 341’s progress at www.alabamahousingtrustfund.org, LIHCA’s Twitter feed (@LIHCAlabama), or its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/LIHCAlabama. You can also contact Ashley Kerr at ashley@collaborative-solutions.net