Ensuring State Commitment to Housing

Tom Cope on next year's legislative opportunities

Ensuring State Commitment to Housing

The 2014 session of the Iowa Legislature starts on Monday, January 14.  While issues like education, healthcare, and property taxes often dominate the media coverage of the work done by the Governor and the Iowa Legislature, one lesser noticed item in the state budget is funding for the State Housing Trust Fund.  Monies in this fund are allocated via a formula created by the Iowa Finance Authority to twenty-six local housing trust funds across Iowa.

The Polk County Housing Trust Fund is the largest recipient of these funds, receiving $867,333 during this fiscal year.  Importantly, this is also a growing source of funding for the PCHTF.  In 2008, PCHTF received $146,251 from the State Housing Trust Fund.  In other words, this funding source has grown by nearly 600% in six years.

There are other important benefits of this funding as well.  While these funds are distributed to local trust funds by a state agency, the leadership of these local funds get to make the decisions about which projects receive these funds.  Given that the best decisions are usually those made at the local level, it helps ensure that these funds are used in a way that best benefits the communities they serve.

The State Housing Trust Fund typically receives $6 million in state funds each year--$3 million from the Real Estate Transfer Tax, and a $3 million appropriation from the State’s Rebuild Iowa’s Infrastructure Fund.  Each year, it is important for the advocates of the Polk County Housing Trust Fund talk to the Governor and Legislators about the importance of this funding.  Doing so will help ensure the continuation of this important funding source for the Polk County Housing Trust Fund.

Tom Cope is Principal at governmental relations firm Avenson, Oakley & Cope and a current Johnston City Councilor.  He previously served as the Chief of Staff for Iowa Senate Majority Leader Stew Iverson.