Four years ago we managed to beat back a serious effort to gut the Ohio Housing Trust Fund in the state budget. This summer we are celebrating a modest, but important, increase for the OHTF in the budget bill that passed last month.
While it’s not as much as we had hoped, the Senate’s amendment will generate approximately $3.5 million more every year for local homeless and affordable housing programs throughout Ohio. That’s an increase of eight to nine percent over the current fiscal year. It’s less than the $20 million we advocated for, but it’s the first increase in 16 years and it’s a promising step in the right direction.
Another sign that policymakers are starting to pay more attention to housing issues is a $5 million GRF appropriation to beef up housing efforts targeting youth and pregnant women experiencing homelessness. The amendment was added to the bill at the very end of the budget process at the request of the DeWine Administration after learning about increasing rates of children and pregnant mothers in the homeless system.
Taken together, these two amendments suggest that our message is starting to resonate. And we’re working to keep the momentum going. Earlier this month we coordinated a roundtable discussion on housing insecurity at the Menwa Senior Apartments in Wadsworth. Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina), who joined us at the event along with Reps. Darrell Kick (R-Loudenville) and Steve Hambly (R-Brunswick), was a key ally in the Housing Trust Fund expansion. We also joined the YMCA of Central Ohio to show Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) and Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) firsthand how supportive housing at Franklin Station helps stabilize some of their most vulnerable constituents. We also helped coordinate housing events in Findlay, Toledo and Columbus in recent months.
We’re also meeting with DeWine administration officials to ensure that the new funding for youth homelessness gets spent wisely. And we’re still encouraging the administration to do more to reverse rising homelessness among children by investing a portion of Ohio’s federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families funding on rapid rehousing.
Meanwhile, there have been some promising developments on the federal budget for housing and homeless programs in the past month, but nothing has been finalized yet. We’re also encouraged by forthcoming legislation to reduce the negative impact of eviction on low-income tenants. On the downside, we’ve been fighting backward and self-defeating rules at HUD. Congress is still in recess, so now is a great time to weigh in on these important issues with your senators and representatives.
On that note, I want to personally thank everyone who picked up the phone or sent an email to their elected officials over the past several months. I bug politicians all the time, but when they hear several constituents asking them to do something specific about housing insecurity in their own districts, sometimes it makes all the difference.
That’s all for now. Click on the links below to read more details about these topics and other things we’ve been working on over the summer.
Thanks for helping house Ohio,