Regional Housing Trust Funds
Regionalism has long been associated with affordable housing advocacy, because the connection between where one lives, drives to work, goes to school, and accesses services is all about geography. It should be no surprise that “going regional” would make its way into the housing trust fund world. While it is a challenge to get neighboring jurisdictions to share resources in addressing affordable housing needs, enough flexibility was found in the housing trust fund model to attempt different approaches.
Perhaps the truest example of a regional structure is the Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County (AHT) in Ohio; established in 2001, acts as an independent, not-for-profit lender to create affordable housing opportunities. AHT is funded by the City of Columbus and the Franklin County Board of Commissioners. The City appropriates hotel/motel taxes to the Fund and the County appropriated general fund revenues until 2006, when it committed half of the revenue from an increase in the real estate conveyance tax to the Fund. The Affordable Housing Trust hires its own staff to operate the trust fund and is accountable to an appointed eleven-member Board of Trustees. Revenues are expected to reach $2 – 4 million annually.
Best known among the regional housing trust fund efforts is the East King County, Washington housing trust fund administered by A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH). Created in 1993, King County and fifteen cities have entered into an interlocal agreement to cooperatively address affordable housing issues on the east side of King County, Washington. ARCH both administers the trust fund and provides technical assistance to participating jurisdictions. Representatives from ARCH member cities establish priorities for funding and approve awards from the trust fund, with final approval by participating city councils. Participating jurisdictions commit general fund, federal revenues, and other funds annually to the trust fund; some funds are redistributed rather than simply spent in the contributing jurisdiction. More than $30 million has been made available to the Fund, supporting 2,975 units of housing in East King County.