I am posting this to bring everyone up to date on the most recent Housing Trust Fund meetings. I have run a position statement by Blair and Nancy from our annual meeting and shared it at two meetings I attended in New York City, one with Housing First hosted by Dave Munchnick and one with Priscilla Almodovar at HFA and the ESHA group.
The Housing First meeting was a presentation by the Dave, ESHA, and Shelly Nortz’s bill from the Coalition for the Homeless. There was no time for discussion. I had hoped there would be some way to unite around a single effort but there is clearly many differences among the NYC folks. There was also some discussion about the possibility of Liz Kruger submitting an HTF bill but people knew very little about what might be in it or if this will happen.
The meeting with Priscilla was more discussional and she made some things pretty clear about the HTF which she is calling the Housing Investment Fund. Though HFA is looking at the use of reserves for funding housing programs the budget office is clear that the HFA bill language must be changed to even allow for the use of reserves for this purpose. The Bond community is also being asked to determine if the use of reserves will lower the bond status of NY State bonds.They may allow, but restrict the amount that can be used for this. Secondly they are concerned that selling a HTF and the subsequent discussion of dedicated revenue may just be too much this year politically. I think she is saying that we will see the proposal for housing funds through the change in HFA reserve regulatory language but not an HTF. So its still back to the legislature for this one. She also indicated that the HFA has about 61 Million in backed up projects from the withheld 50 m that the legislature didn’t fund this year. It sounds like any funding from the use of reserves may go to fulfill this commitment first. (just a guess on my part).
There is also potential that the legislature may want to use some of the HFA funds to support the DHCR request for more funding to the existing housing programs. Priscilla dwelled on the current housing programs as needing funding. Another indicator that we may get some money but through the same old vehicles. The group also asked about the limitations on private developers participation. She got pretty testy about this. There seems to be sound support for the private developer community.
We then discussed the needs survey that the Division is doing and the report that they are working on to identify all the funding that goes into housing including SSI payments DSS housing funds, all types of supportive housing etc. (Not clear what this is for: maybe a reason to not put money into certain areas?? )I have to say I left all this feeling like we need to wait on this thing. There is no one bill that meets all our needs and deserves our support. It seems that this will all play out through the legislature anyway and we ought to wait and see how the session goes. If this moves anywhere this year we are probably going to be more successful pushing our agenda through the housing committees. Take Care all and have a great holiday!! Charlie Kalthoff