A majority of housing trust funds have an oversight body other than, or in addition to, the jurisdiction’s elected officials. This advisory board is typically appointed by elected officials, represents varied constituencies, and assumes specific responsibilities. Virtually all oversight bodies have some responsibility for establishing or advising on policy that governs the fund. Many boards help select applicants for funding.
Representation on these boards varies greatly. Some are government coordinating bodies with staff from different agencies. Others seek a broad membership of housing advocates, low income people or tenants, service providers, bankers, realtors, apartment owners, developers and others.
- Most boards look for members who have experience with low income housing.
- Others specify particular representation and invite constituent groups to suggest appointees. Board members then are chosen from a slate of potential appointees suggested by these groups.
The advantage of these boards is that they provide the housing trust fund with a broad range of expertise. They ensure a connection with, if not accountability to, the community and its needs. Boards help buffer the housing trust fund process from politics. For the most part, these boards have helped trust funds succeed.
Applicants for funding may sit on the board, but they must excuse themselves if they are involved with a project being considered for an award.
A very critical responsibility of the oversight board is to report annually on the activities and accomplishments of the housing trust fund. This should be required in the law establishing the housing trust fund. An annual report is important for public accountability, it ensures proper accounting and auditing of funds, and it enables the housing trust fund to brag about what it has done. This, in turn, is an opportunity to educate the public, elected officials, and others about the importance of affordable housing and making just the investment a housing trust fund represents. It also helps sustain the housing trust fund by ensuring a broad understanding of the critical role affordable housing plays in the community.
The annual report should document expenditures and commitments of the housing trust fund, administrative costs and activities, and highlight the accomplishments through the awards made by the housing trust fund. It might also focus on households that have benefited from activities of the trust fund and reinforce the economic benefits gained.
There are many examples of excellent annual reports from housing trust funds, often available on their websites: Ohio; Seattle, Washington; Montgomery County, Maryland
There are also occasions where a report is prepared by an outside entity on the accomplishments of the housing trust fund either to promote additional funding or for monitoring purposes. For examples, click here.
Example: Board Representation Models
Indiana Housing and Community Development Fund
The housing trust fund advisory committee consists of sixteen (16) members appointed by the governor who represent : the division of mental health and addiction; the division of family resources; the division of disability, aging, and rehabilitative services; the office of the lieutenant governor; residential real estate developers; construction trades; banks and other lending institutions; the interests of persons with disabilities; service providers; low income families; nonprofit community based organizations and community development corporations; real estate brokers or salespersons; the Indiana Apartment Owner’s Association; the manufactured housing industry; and two members to represent neighborhood groups. At least three members of the committee must be from a city with a population of less than thirty-five thousand (35,000), a town, or a rural area.
St. Louis, Missouri Affordable Housing Trust Fund
The housing commission has eleven members appointed by the Mayor. They represent: the financial or banking industry; the St. Louis Labor Council; the home builders association; licensed realtors; tenants in subsidized or assisted housing; an organization that advocates for disabled persons; the health care profession; and organization that advocates on affordable housing issues; and three community at-large members.