The final biennial budget passed by the Ohio Legislature on July 17 includes $5 million in new funding for the Ohio Housing Trust Fund. The $2.5 million for each year of the biennial falls short of the $8 million mark that advocates were seeking, but this new commitment of funds is the first since 2003. This expansion of the Ohio Housing Trust Fund is the result of a coordinated campaign effort led by the Coalition On Homelessness and Housing In Ohio (COHHIO), an NLIHC state coalition partner.
Originally established in 1991, the Ohio Housing Trust Fund has helped 1.9 million Ohioans secure safe, accessible, affordable homes. The Housing Trust Fund is a flexible funding source that supports a wide range of housing development, preservation, rehabilitation, and operation. The Housing Trust Fund is also an essential tool for combating homelessness in Ohio, as it provides significant support to organizations developing and operating permanent supportive housing for the lowest income people. According to COHHIO, there are now 71,123 Ohioans experiencing homelessness, which is a 20% increase over the past five years. The new $5 million in funding will help to slow the growth of this trend, but much more investment is needed moving forward.
The primary source of funding for the Ohio Housing Trust Fund since its inception has been document recording fees collected by county governments. Over time, this funding source has proved less valuable; $43 million is available for 2020, down from $73 million in 2015. To address this reduction in funds at a time of growing needs, COHHIO organized more than 300 nonprofit organizations and companies in Ohio to call for increased investment. The additional $5 million over two years will be funded by a $6 increase to the document recording fee on the first two pages of applicable documents.
For more information on campaign efforts to protect and expand the Ohio Housing Trust Fund, contact Gina Wilt, advocacy director for COHHIO, at [email protected].