On Monday, April 16, we joined the Baltimore Housing Roundtable, Housing for All, City Councilman John Bullock and City Council President Jack Young to introduce the Fund the Trust Act, a bill that would create a funding stream for the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Health Care for the Homeless is a member of the Baltimore Housing Roundtable and Housing for All coalitions—and we are an active supporter of the Fund the Trust campaign.
In 2016, local advocates collected more than 20,000 petitions calling for the creation of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. As a result of that effort, the fund appeared on the 2016 general election ballot. With 180,000 Baltimore City residents voting favorably for the fund, it passed without a hitch. But since then, it has lacked a sustained revenue source, and only very recently received a one-time deposit of $2 million. This bill aims to change that by creating a one-time, 1% surcharge on real estate transactions with non-resident buyers. The surcharge is estimated to generate approximately $20 million a year for the fund.
If funded, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund would be used to deconstruct and rehabilitate vacant houses, develop affordable housing for renters and homebuyers, operate community land trusts and provide rental vouchers and housing-related services to families with low incomes and persons with disabilities.
Remember the 20/20 campaign? This is the same thing. Originally, the 20/20 campaign sought to push the city to include $20 million each year in its budget for permanently affordable housing and $20 million annually for projects that deconstruct, demolish and green vacant property by employing returning citizens. Unfortunately, lawmakers wouldn’t make room for the fund in their budget.
But this new bill will put us back on course to funding the fund in perpetuity!