January 19, 2017

Health system part of group supporting increased funding for affordable housing

The Sisters of Charity Health Care System is one of more than 300 organizations supporting an effort to increase funding for homeless and affordable housing programs. Cleveland.com wrote about the initiative in a recent article. The full text of the article is below.

Groups push for $15 million annual increase for Ohio affordable housing efforts in next state budget

A broad coalition of companies and nonprofits are pushing for the state to boost state funding for homeless and affordable housing programs. 

The Home Matters to Ohio coalition wants the state to add $15 million a year to the Ohio Housing Trust Fund, which awards grants statewide to reduce homelessness and help poor Ohioans repair their homes. 

The request comes at a time when Gov. John Kasich and legislative leaders say the next two-year state budget will be tight and could include some spending cuts. But those pushing for the deal say the funding is needed and the program has a track record of making an impact for a relatively small amount of public money. 

"This programs reduces strain on other public systems," Mark McDermott, vice president and Ohio market leader for Enterprise Community Partners, said in an interview. "This proposal has the support of the health care industry, the education industry, child welfare groups and others because we clearly see that." 

More than 300 businesses and organizations have signed on to support the proposal, including the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, PNC Bank, Sisters of Charity Health System, the Ohio Association of Realtors, Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority and Cleveland City Council. 

Trust fund money is used to build temporary or permanent housing for the homeless, fill gaps in funding for public housing projects and fix or upgrade homes for poor Ohioans. At least half of the money is allocated to rural areas.  

Thomas Strauss, CEO of the Sisters of Charity Health System, said it's common to see homelessness and housing insecurity linked to serious chronic conditions.

"The Trust Fund can help our patients and those we serve find housing and, as a result, help our interventions become more effective and enduring," Strauss said in a news release.

Ohio's economy sees $11.56 in economic output for every dollar of fund allocations, according to the Ohio Finance Housing Agency. Every $10 million in trust fund grants creates or sustains 855 full-time jobs statewide. 

The Ohio Housing Trust Fund received state general revenue funds when it was established in 1992. In 2004, county recorder fees replaced state money as the funding stream and the total amount to be awarded was capped at $50 million a year. 

If the recorder fee revenue exceeded that amount, the excess went into the state's general fund. But that only happened a few times before the recession. In the 2004-05 fiscal year, $73 million was collected. In the 2015-2016 fiscal year, only $43.6 million was collected.

An extra $15 million a year would bring the state back in line with pre-recession funding levels at a time when Ohioans need the help, McDermott said. 

"We know that the need is real. We know that there's 400,000 families out there paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing costs which places them on the edge," McDermott said. "We know that there's still significant need around homelessness."

 

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