Advocates thanked leaders of the Ohio legislature for increasing support for local homeless and affordable housing programs in the state budget.

“We appreciate leaders in the Senate and House for including an amendment in the final version of the budget that will generate an estimated $2.5 million a year for the Ohio Housing Trust Fund – the first increase in 16 years,” said Bill Faith, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio.

“We were also pleased to see the governor’s request for an additional $2.5 million a year for the Ohio Department of Health to address youth homelessness,” he said. “These are two very positive, concrete steps to begin reversing the increase in homelessness we’ve seen in recent years, particularly among families with children. We look forward to working with the governor and legislative leaders to build on this progress in the future.”

The Senate first added an amendment to its version of the biennial budget (HB 166) to slightly increase revenue for the Housing Trust Fund, the primary source of state funding for local efforts to fight homelessness and expand access to affordable housing in Ohio. Then leaders of both chambers agreed to a more significant increase during the budget conference committee process.

COHHIO sought additional funding for the Housing Trust Fund to position the state to respond to rising homelessness, which has increased 20 percent over five years to more than 71,123 Ohioans, according to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. Children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population and now total 20,717 individuals, including nearly 3,000 babies under age 1, a population that has increased 53 percent since 2012.