CHN: House Passes National Housing Trust Fund
For over a decade housing advocates have been working to pass legislation that provides a dedicated source of funding, not dependent on the annual appropriations process, to increase the stock of affordable housing. The goal in the House-passed bi-partisan National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act, H.R. 2895, is to construct, rehabilitate, and preserve over one million units of affordable housing during the next 10 years. Funds from the Trust Fund could also be used for down payment and closing costs for first-time, lower-income homebuyers.
Prior to passage of the bill on October 10, the House had already enacted legislation providing monies for the Trust Fund. One source is excess funds in the Federal Housing Administration due to expanding the number of mortgages in its portfolio. Regulatory reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two Government Sponsored Enterprises, also requires them to contribute to the Trust Fund. It is estimated that between $800 million and $1 billion would be available to local communities through the Trust Fund. At least 75 percent of funds must go to housing for extremely low-income families, those below 30 percent of local area median income. The need for affordable housing for these families is acute. Nationwide, there are only 6.2 million units renting at prices affordable to the 9 million extremely low-income renter households.
The Senate has not yet acted on legislation to establish the Trust Fund nor set up the funding mechanism. Senator Kerry (D-MA) is expected to introduce trust fund legislation soon.