There are a bunch of stories in the media over the last few weeks about affordable housing. The first and most important was the Plain Dealer support for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program that the Cleveland Housing Network called our attention to in their newsletter. In an article by one of the reporters separated from the Plain Dealer wrote about the concern by advocates over the loss of the Tax Credit program. The tax credit program is not the best way to develop affordable housing because the housing is not really affordable to the lowest income people in our community, but it is still an important program. Typically, the rents are reduced but they are not reduced to the point of the housing voucher program or Public Housing. In a society that has seen a 25 reduction in the number of affordable housing units in most every community in the country any tool available is needed and necessary.
The Cleveland Housing Network has used the program here locally, and we have built about 100,000 units in the state of Ohio. There are hundreds of thousands waiting for housing in Ohio with 64,000 declaring a need for housing in Cleveland the last time the voucher program opened their waiting list. We need every possible tool in the toolbox to build housing and reduce homelessness. We need a trust fund at the federal and local level. We need a massive expansion of the housing voucher program (including for disabled individuals) and public housing for veterans and families struggling with housing. And we need corporations to get a break on their taxes if they invest in the development of beautiful efficient and affordable housing in our community. Our society would be so much healthier if people had a stable place to call home, and were not constantly in fear of where they were going to sleep at night.
Mark Naymik (who survived the slaughter on Superior this last week) took a swipe at the Union Miles Development Corporation for owning a large number of eyesores in their neighborhood. He went through much detail into the court cases they are involved in and the community critics who say that they have over extended themselves. They own over one dozen homes that have been condemned by the City of Cleveland. There were homes built with tax credits only seven years ago that are now rotting in their neighborhood. One house seemed to be the staging area for a dog fighting ring. One third of the homes that they own are vacant, and they do not seem have staff dedicated to managing these properties. This seems like a good neighborhood to construct an urban homesteading program. Lease these homes to skilled homeless people to preserve, fix and eventually own these properties. It certainly could not hurt and I am sure the neighbor would prefer a group of homeless people fixing up housing to a dog fighting venue as a neighbor.
Then one interesting national note...The National Low Income Housing Coalition in July filed suit against the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency for failing to uphold Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's obligation to fund the National Housing Trust from 2008. The law was passed that any surplus in these two account should go to the Trust, and then the bottom fell out on the housing market. In 2008, both entities were taken into federal conservatorship to avoid their bankruptcy and any transfer to the Trust Fund was suspended before it even started. In 2012, the two entities did $1.4 trillion in business, which should have delivered $382 million to the National Housing Trust fund. NLIHC is asking that the suspension of transfers to the Trust Fund be lifted since the crisis is over. The board of NLIHC along with low income potential tenants want the Trust Fund to start building, preserving and expanding opportunties for the millions of Americans waiting for a place to live.
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