Saturday, February 10, 2007

County Trust Fund

The Case for More Affordable Housing

NEOCH and the Cleveland Tenants Organization held its first meeting on the road to implementation of a County Trust Fund. We need a place to deposit funds to be reserved for the construction or preservation of housing. We have all heard of (and may have even voted) for trust fund kids. While trust fund kids have a derogatory connotation, a County Trust fund would go along way to moving people into housing. We have a team of young leaders working from Cleveland Bridge Builders on a plan for the development of a fund. The plan is to figure out the best revenue source for a housing trust fund. These funds would be locked away and reserved exclusively to build or renovate housing. They also have a goal of developing a strategy for building consensus around a campaign to create this fund.

What could this fund do for Cuyahoga County? The hope is to generate $6-$10 million per year for the development of housing. This fund could be used to:
  • Repair elevators in senior buildings to keep these buildings from having to close.
  • Provide $200 a month to a low income family trying to stay in their housing.
  • Renovate housing for family with young children to remove the lead paint.
  • Provide the 20% local match for HUD homeless/housing funds for the construction of new supportive housing project.
  • Provide a piece of the funding for a place for men to pay a weekly rent while they get back on their feet in order to avoid having to go to shelter.
  • Set up a sweat equity program for single men with skills to renovate abandoned housing that are eventually turned over to those men who helped to bring the housing back.
  • Or the hundreds of other programs that would contribute to a reduction in homelessness.
This is a needed resource since both the Federal and State government have dropped the ball on the creation of affordable housing. But a new tax or an increase in taxes is always tough for the public to accept. If we can approve a sin tax for the arts then we should be able to figure out a way to pay for such life sustaining activity as housing.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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