National Survey of Housing Trust Funds

NJ Home to 304 Housing Trust Funds

The Housing Trust Fund Project of the Center for Community Change (CCC) released Opening Doors to Homes for All: The 2016 Housing Trust Fund Survey Report. In 2015, more than 770 city, county, and state housing trust funds that provided more than $1 billion to support affordable housing.

The report highlights six trends that housing trust funds are advancing:

  • providing homes for extremely low income (ELI) households (those with incomes at or below 30% of area median incomes),
  • keeping homes affordable,
  • addressing homelessness,
  • fending off gentrification and displacement,
  • attending to rural housing needs, and
  • striving to meet environmental goals.

Housing trust funds are established by elected government bodies at the city, county, or state level when a source or sources of public revenue are dedicated by ordinance or law to a distinct fund with the express purpose of providing affordable housing.

Forty-seven states have housing trust funds, with a few states having more than one. New Jersey’s trust fund is funded through the realty transfer tax. Not all states have dedicated, ongoing sources of revenue.

The top three sources of revenue for state housing trust funds are:

  • A real estate transfer tax (15),
  • Document recording fees (7), and
  • Appropriations (8).

Slightly more than half of the state housing trust funds are administered by state housing finance agencies, while most of the others are administered by a state agency or department.

In the category of city housing trust funds,

“New Jersey tops the chart with nearly 300 jurisdictions collecting developer fees in accordance with the landmark Mount Laurel litigation in which the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that every municipality has a constitutional obligation to adopt planning and zoning laws that realistically meet present and future housing needs, which technically applies to all jurisdictions throughout New Jersey.”

County trust funds exist in 12 states, the vast majority using document recording fees as their primary source of revenue.

In 2008, New Jersey passed legislation which “permits a county to impose a surcharge of $3 on each document recorded and deposit these funds into a county homelessness trust fund. Funds can be used solely for the operation of a homelessness housing grant program, with five per cent allowed annually for costs related to the administration of the fund.”

Ten counties

  1. Bergen,
  2. Camden,
  3. Cumberland,
  4. Essex,
  5. Hudson,
  6. Mercer,
  7. Middlesex,
  8. Passaic,
  9. Somerset and
  10. Union

have established trust funds.

“On average, counties have raised more than $100,000 annually for their funds. The Trust Funds have provided short- term rental assistance, eviction prevention services, case management and the development of new affordable housing.”

Hudson County’s Homeless Trust Fund was featured in the report. The County “Has partnered through its County Homeless Trust Fund with nonprofit developers like the Garden State Episcopal Development Corporation (GSECDC) to address homelessness.” “The Hudson County Homelessness Trust Fund awarded GSECDC a contract to expand their Coordinated Entry Program for the Homeless to the Palisades Emergency Residence Corporation (PERC) Shelter for Calendar Year 2016.”

Four housing trust funds target all of their funds to ELI households. Fifty-five housing trust funds are committed to addressing homelessness, and another 50 give priority consideration or extra points to projects serving homeless populations. Another 24 set aside funds to projects providing housing for homeless people, homeless services, and permanent supportive housing.

The report provides numerous examples, brief case studies, and details about state enabling legislation for local housing trust funds.

Opening Doors to Homes for All

Center for Community Change’s Housing Trust Fund Project

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