Summary of legislative action on Texas housing trust fund

John Henneberger note: Kristin Carlisle in our office coordinated efforts on behalf of the Housing Texas coalition to gain a dedicated funding source and increase the money available for the Texas housing trust fund. Here is Kristin’s summary of the results of the coalition’s efforts.

I’ll have more to say about this in future postings.

The 2009 legislative session is quickly coming to a close. The Housing Trust Fund Campaign– a broad, coordinated effort to secure dedicated state funding for affordable housing– taught us many lessons. We learned that substantial hurdles remain in convincing decision makers and interest groups that a safe, decent, affordable home is a fundamental right of every Texas family, and that this right also has a social, economic and human value that demands strong public investment.

Most importantly, we learned that this campaign must be a long-term one. It will take time to: educate decision makers and the public, to address opposition, and to build an even larger, broader coalition of organizations and institutions willing to pour their time and resources into this cause.

We conclude this legislative session with a significant success: $10 million more state funds for the Housing Trust Fund. Depending on how this $10 million is used, it could help over 300 poor families build homes they can afford, rehabilitate aging and substandard homes, and/ or provide housing assistance to veterans, people with disabilities and victims of domestic violence. Thanks to your efforts, the state housing trust fund is now $21.9 million over the two-year biennium (compared to the appx. $7 million over the biennium that it was before we started building this campaign in 2007). This new funding not only provides additional resources for affordable housing, but it sets a new, higher funding precedent.

See the chart below to see how funding for the Housing Trust Fund has risen along with our advocacy efforts:

In addition to this new funding for the Housing Trust Fund, the conference committee approved an $11 million per-year increase to “Poor and Homeless Programs,” in response to a request by Texas mayors for more funding to address the homeless crisis in their cities. (The House had allocated $25 million per year for the Housing Trust Fund, and it is likely that part of this allocation eventually went to supplement the homeless programs.) We consider this funding to address homelessness a big victory. New total funding for affordable housing, including the Housing Trust Fund and homeless programs over the biennium is $32 million!

Just know that your hard work and dedication to this campaign HAS made a difference!

There are a few people who deserve special recognition for making the Housing Trust Fund Campaign so powerful this session:

Mike Gerber of TDHCA whose agency made a legislative appropriations request of $20 million per year and who consistently testified in favor of increased funding. This provided huge momentum to the Housing Trust Fund Campaign.

Linda McMahon of Chase bank, who by car or by plane from Dallas was constantly available in the early hours of the morning to testify before committees and meet with legislators.

Donna Chatham of the Association of Rural Communities in Texas, who got county judges and community leaders to actively encourage their legislators to support the Housing Trust Fund.

Steve Carriker of the Texas Association of CDCs, who delivered brilliant testimony and helped coordinate a successful lobby day.

Matt Hull of Habitat Texas, who made the Housing Trust Fund campaign a major priority (and probably wore out the soles of his shoes from walking the halls of the capital).

Larry James of Central Dallas Ministries, who got the Dallas Morning News talking about the Housing Trust Fund.

Jean Langendorf and Sarah Mills whose testimony reminded legislators that its not just a housing issue, but a disability rights issue as well.

Many more people generously committed their time and sacrificed some sanity in order to be part of this campaign. This is just the beginning, and the hard work won’t end next week when the legislative session does. We need you all to remain active in this effort as we continue the Housing Trust Fund campaign!

1 Comment

  1. John, We enjoyed working with Kristen on the HTF. SHe was great!

    I would like to reprint your comments (Summary of legislative action on Texas housing trust fund) for our Texas Homeless Network newsletter

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