The fight continues for the National Housing Trust Fund.
Although it was created in 2008 as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, the trust fund has existed in name only, with no money behind it.
The priority is getting funds, said Sheila Crowley, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), which has led the campaign for the housing trust fund since 2000.
At the same time, Crowley and other supporters are keeping a watchful eye on any proposals that may seek to eliminate the trust fund even before it gets going. Most notably, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) is planning to introduce a bill that would kill the housing trust fund.
Although Crowley thinks these threats will not be successful, she's still keeping close watch.
“We have to be very assertive about protecting the trust fund,” she told Affordable Housing Finance in a recent interview. “It’s important for people to know that there are members of Congress who would do away with it if they could. We have to be vigilant about that.”
More pressing at the moment is identifying a funding source for the program. The original proposal called for the housing trust fund to receive contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. However, the government-sponsored enterprises were taken into conservatorship, and no contributions have been made.
The Obama administration has called for the National Housing Trust Fund to be funded with $1 billion but did not identify the source of those funds.
Crowley supports legislation, H.R. 1477, by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), which would provide $1 billion for the housing trust fund from profits made on the sale of “warrants” that were created in the Emergency Economic Stability Act of 2008. In exchange for federal Troubled Asset Relief Program funds, better known as TARP, banks gave the Treasury warrants. Treasury has begun to sell these warrants as the economy has improved.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) has introduced the same proposal in the Senate in S. 489.
Crowley’s NLIHC also continues to look for other ideas to fund the housing trust fund.
As the battle continues, Crowley urges people to contact members of the House Financial Services Committee to voice their support for the trust fund.