by Steven Hale
Mayor Karl Dean's proposed affordable housing trust fund starts moving through the Metro Council this week, and the ordinance answers a few questions about how the commission overseeing the fund will work.
Along with the trust fund, which will be established with about $3 million from existing grants, the ordinance will create the Metro Housing Trust Fund Commission that will oversee it. The seven-member commission will consist of one member designated by the Metro Development and Housing Agency, one member from the council designated by the vice mayor, and five members appointed by the mayor. Mayor-appointed commission members will serve five-year terms, while the council’s representative on the commission will serve for two years at a time.
The commission will award grants to fund “renovation or construction of affordable homeownership and rental opportunities, project-based rental assistance, and other supportive efforts to encourage affordability” according to information previously provided by the mayor’s office. The ordinance states that specific criteria for awarding the grants will be established by the commission and approved by the council.
Most importantly, the mayor has answered the question as to how he plans to keep the fund going after the initial $3 million from existing grants runs out.
In an interview with reporters and editors from the Scene and the CP, Dean said he foresees his administration using the capital budget to sustain the fund. Affordable housing advocates prefer dedicated funding streams — such as a portion of an existing tax or fee that would be directed to the fund — but Dean cited the difficulty of winning approval for dedicated funding.
“Of course this is subject to change when I’m out of office,” Dean said. “But what my plan would be for upcoming years would be to put money in the capital budget to fund it. You know, people, there’s — finding dedicated funded is — I mean, like a real dedicated funding source that goes specifically to one thing is really hard to do. And you can take it back to the transit discussion. If you say we want a certain percentage of some fee or tax right now, the resistance from the folks is going to be tremendous.”
Dean went on to say that the fund is "something we have to do."
The council will take its first of three votes on the proposal tomorrow night.