Calls to Boost Fund that Fights Ohio Housing Insecurity, Homelessness
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Calls are intensifying in Ohio to strengthen a key tool in fighting homelessness and housing insecurity. The Ohio Housing Trust Fund provides money to organizations, private developers and others working on affordable housing and homeless programs. The Home Matters to Ohio campaign, which includes more than 300 companies and nonprofit groups, is asking lawmakers to boost the fund by $15 million a year.
Bill Faith, the executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, explains over the past 25 years, nearly 1.8 million Ohioans have been assisted by programs supported by the Fund.
"We've been really able to help reduce the number of homeless people in the state," he said. "And so we just want to keep a good thing going. The trust fund needs more funding even just to stay on par with what we've done in the past."
Governor John Kasich soon will release his two-year budget, which is expected to include spending cuts. But Faith argues the Ohio Housing Trust Fund has a proven track record of success and points out it creates almost $590 million a year in economic activity.
The campaign is drawing support from a broad range of organizations, including faith, education and health advocates.
Mark McDermott, vice president and Ohio market leader with Enterprise Community Partners in Ohio, says that's because the benefits of the fund go far beyond just putting a roof over people's heads.
"We all see that housing is a platform for kids to get a good education, families to be healthy, for children to really have the opportunity to move forward in their lives," he explained. "So those sectors really care about this campaign, too."
In 2016, money from the Ohio Housing Trust Fund was used to connect more than 1,300 families to homeless shelters, repair nearly 1,600 homes owned by seniors or Ohioans with disabilities, and construct or rehabilitate more than 1,500 rental properties.