Throughout the course of any year, we’re sure that you’re inundated with a variety of different alerts and calls to action. They can be easy to ignore. Because the affordable housing and community development movement responded in force to ours and multiple stakeholders lead by the Coalition for Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) to oppose the destructive Ohio Housing Trust Fund (OHTF) Senate amendment, it was defeated in conference committee in the early hours of June 25. Your powerful outpouring of opposition and advocacy to the General Assembly mattered and was felt throughout state government.
It is important to name individuals and agencies that carried and reacted to your message. In particular Representatives Ryan Smith, Kirk Schuring, and Denise Driehaus, who were backed by House leadership and other Representatives, and who pushed Senate leadership to ultimately agree to drop the proposed change. To Senators Michael Skindell and Charleta Tavares and the Democrat Caucus for their support. And to the Kasich administration, including the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Ohio Development Services Agency, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, especially the Office of Budget and Management, and the Office of the Governor for understanding the important role the OHTF plays in both protecting vulnerable populations and creating economic impact.
We encourage you all to thank your State Representatives and Senators for their support.
This demanding exercise was instructive – that together we can impact policy and that we still have a lot of work to do. Given term limits we learned there is a high level of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge at the Statehouse about the OHTF. A continued lack of understanding will keep the OHTF and other programs vulnerable to future attacks so educating our elected officials has to be a priority.
While it’s fresh in their minds, we urge you to connect with your state legislators during summer recess and demonstrate to them the value of the OHTF in your community. Nearly 550 organizations across the state signed on to the preemptive veto letter to the Governor. Let’s use the momentum and strength we’ve created together to elevate the importance of our state’s greatest housing resource!