COLUMBUS — Housing advocates are pushing state lawmakers to pass legislation to raise another $8 million a year for affordable housing and homelessness programs.

“Cities are realizing there’s a shortage of affordable housing,” said Marcus Roth, communication and development director for the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio.

Advocates wanted the Ohio Senate to amend the biennial budget the House recently passed to hike county recording fees to raise the $8 million, but that did not make the Senate’s version of the budget released Tuesday. Roth said he’s hoping it could make it into a Senate omnibus amendment later this month.

“We’re definitely disappointed,” he said.

The Ohio Housing Trust Fund board learned this month that its funding for fiscal year 2020 should be $43 million. Roth said that in 2005 it was $73 million. He said the belief is that the amount dropped because institutional filers such as banks started to file what are called “master mortgages,” which are documents created when a property is purchased for the first time. They keep track of that first mortgage and liens.

Later mortgages then refer to the master mortgage, reducing the need for paperwork, he said.

Today, the recording fee is $28 for the first two pages of the document, plus $8 for each additional page. Advocates wanted legislators to raise the fee on the first page to $32 and $8 for each additional page. Those fees haven’t been raised since 1993, said Gina Wilt, advocacy director for the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio.

Those pushing for more money said legislators also could budget more money for the trust out of the state’s general fund.

Roth said 400,000 Ohio households pay at least half of their income toward housing costs, with 54,000 of them in the Columbus area.

Meanwhile, another 70,000 Ohioans are in the homeless system.

By state law, the Ohio Housing Trust Fund must grant 50% of the money to rural communities, and it requires a 100% local match.

In fiscal year 2020, close to $15 million of the $43 million is to go to the state’s Homeless Crisis Response Program and $13 million is to go to the Housing Development Assistance Program through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. Another $8.2 million is to go to a supportive housing program.

Advocates said poor housing or homelessness contributes to other issues, including infant mortality, opiate addiction and health-care costs.

“If you focus on housing first, you can solve other problems,” Wilt said.

 

mferenchik@dispatch.com

@MarkFerenchik