The final bill that emerged from the budget conference committee this week does not include the Home Matters to Ohio coalition’s proposal to expand the Ohio Housing Trust Fund. While this is disappointing, we are encouraged by the fact that we came quite close to securing a major funding increase for homelessness and affordable housing in an extremely tight budget cycle. In the budget two years ago, COHHIO was fighting off major cuts; this time we were fighting alongside hundreds of groups throughout the state to make real gains. Furthermore, the Home Matters to Ohio campaign created a new focus on homelessness and housing issues and increased legislators’ support for the Housing Trust Fund as a critical part of the solution.
Support to strengthen the Housing Trust Fund remained strong among legislators in both chambers throughout the budget process. Hundreds of people made calls and sent emails asking senators to restore the provision in the House version. This helped build support among rank and file senators, but unfortunately key Senate leaders remained opposed to fee increases, regardless of the need for new revenue to address serious problems, like Ohio’s growing affordable housing crisis or the opiate epidemic.
We were amazed how people picked up the phone on short notice to urge their legislators to support the Housing Trust Fund, and for that we thank you. We would also like to thank our legislative champions, like Representatives Ryan Smith and Kirk Schuring, who pushed hard to strengthen the Ohio Housing Trust Fund throughout the budget process.
While this round is over, COHHIO will continue the fight to end homelessness and expand affordable housing into the future.
With great appreciation for all of your support,
Executive Director, COHHIO