The Cuyahoga County, Ohio Board of Commissioners created a Housing Trust Fund and a Housing Advisory Board late in 2010. This success comes from the diligent work of the Housing Trust Fund Implementation Task Force established in 2008 to develop recommendations for the Board on establishing a trust fund to address low-income housing needs in the community. In 2009, the Board unanimously accepted the recommendations of the Task Force and further asked the Task Force to make speciﬁc recommendations for membership of the board.
In its last meeting of 2010, the Board of County Commissioners of Cuyahoga County established the Housing Trust Fund to accept funds identiﬁed by the Task Force in its report and other such monies as identiﬁed by the Housing Advisory Board. The Trust Fund will be staffed by the Department of Development, as funds become available.
The Board also established the Housing Advisory Board to administer the trust fund and appointed its ﬁrst eighteen of a potential twenty-one members. In Ohio, counties are required to establish Housing Advisory Boards to review strategies and any funding that allocates local resources for housing, including analyzing the anticipated impact on existing housing patterns, submitting a fair housing impact statement, and a planning for afﬁrmative marketing.
The resolution speciﬁes that the Housing Advisory Board is to:
- Develop by-laws for the operation of the Housing Advisory Board;
- Develop program guidelines and set annual program goals based on the Report and Recommendations of the Task Force dated April 2009;
- Recommend an annual budget for Trust Fund programs;
- Administer and monitor expenditures from the Trust Fund;
- Recommend an individual to serve as the Housing Trust Fund Manager and advise on hiring of other staff needed to fulﬁll program objectives;
- Review county trust fund staff recommendations of proposals and recommend proposals for funding;
- Submit a complete package of selected proposals to the Board of
County Commissioners for action;
- Conduct an annual program review and report annually to the Board of County Commissioners and the community on progress and activities
of the Trust Fund;
- Perform other oversight functions; and
- Provide advice to the County Executive and County Council on affordable housing issues.
The Board of County Commissioners, in its initial approval of the recommendations from the Task Force, accepted the recommendation to establish an annual funding goal of $12 million and agreed that at least 75% of the program funds should be targeted to households whose incomes do not exceed 30% of the area median income.
The County Commissioners indicated their support of an increase in the conveyance fee of one mil as an initial on-going revenue source to support the housing trust fund and the passage of permissive state enabling legislation to enable the increase in the conveyance fee.
Two funding sources were recommended in the Task Force Report to fund the trust fund:
- State unclaimed funds: legislation could be enacted to establish a ten-year statute of limitations and return “timed out” funds to the county of origin to be dedicated for use to a local housing trust fund. It is estimated that this would generate approximately $6-7 million annually for Cuyahoga County.
- Conveyance fee: tapping this source would require enabling legislation to allow the county to increase the property conveyance fee by one mil for the sole purpose of supporting a local housing trust fund. It is estimated that this would generate approximately $4 million annually for Cuyahoga County.
The Task Force recommended that trust fund dollars focus on four programmatic areas, with a priority on activities that prevent homelessness and promote housing stability for very low income households. The four program areas are:
- Capital expenditures to preserve or secure long-term, deep rent subsidies (e.g., preserve Section 8 project-based units or develop public housing or shelter plus care units),
- Short-term emergency assistance to avoid eviction or to avoid and/or end homelessness (e.g., one-time assistance for unpaid rent, ﬁrst month rent, and/ or security deposit),
- Middle- or long-term shallow rent subsidies, tenant-based or project-based (e.g., monthly rent subsidy of about $100-$200, not based on tenant’s income), and
- Innovative programs, including a vacant and abandoned housing program.
The Housing Advisory Board held its ﬁrst meeting in December of 2010 and identiﬁed initial steps to take in meeting its obligations, including educating the newly elected County Council on affordable housing needs and the role of the trust fund.
Executive in Residence, Cleveland State University
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