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Stuck in dial-up age, rural Ohio still pushing for high-speed internet

A recent Dispatch article featured Terri Fetherolf of OCDCA member Vinton County Economic Development Board.

Marion Renault of The Columbus Dispatch:

“McARTHUR — Terri Fetherolf has two wishes for Vinton County: clean water and fast internet.

The first is imperative for its safety and health. “But rolling out broadband is key to our economic survival,” said Fetherolf, Vinton County’s development director.

Today, high-speed internet has become a utility as important as sewage systems, the electricity grid and highways.

But despite the internet’s tightening chokehold on technologies embedded in our pockets, homes, vehicles and public spaces, more than 1 million Ohioans have zero access to fast, reliable broadband at home.

Almost a third of Ohio’s rural residents lack home access to broadband, compared with just 2 percent of urbanites, according to Federal Communications Commission estimates. Those figures are slightly better than the national rate.

Last week, a legislative proposal to establish a $50-million-per-year broadband development grant program inched forward, fueling the hopes of advocates.”

Read the full article.

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URGENT: Save the Ohio Housing Trust Fund Expansion!

Your strong support helped convince leaders in the Ohio House of Representatives to add our proposal strengthening the Ohio Housing Trust Fund to the state budget that passed the House last month.

Unfortunately, the Ohio Senate just stripped the proposal from its version of the budget.

Please call your Senator by noon on Thursday and ask him or her to support the Ohio Housing Trust Fund proposal!

Senators need to know that their constituents and community leaders care about this issue and are opposed to removing the Trust Fund proposal.

Find contact information for your Senator.

Talking Points for Calls to Senators:

  • We urge the Senator to restore the Ohio Housing Trust Fund/Recording Fee proposal in the budget.
  • The proposal is a key part of the solution to Ohio’s opiate crisis because it dedicates $6 million/year in non-GRF (general revenue fund) to help house people who are exiting opiate treatment.
  • The proposal stabilizes and expands the Trust Fund, the primary source of state support for homelessness and decent, affordable homes for seniors, veterans, and children.

This Home Matters to Ohio brochure has more information about the Trust Fund.

You will most likely speak to a Senator’s aide or leave a brief voice mail, but please know, these contacts are critically important. After you call, please send a quick email to marcusroth AT cohhio.org to let the coalition know who you contacted.

We still have time to get the Trust Fund proposal restored before the budget is finalized on June 30, but we need your voice!

Despite this setback, we are confident that our efforts will ultimately succeed in increasing state funding for the Ohio Housing Trust Fund.

Thank you for your support!

Nate Coffman
Executive Director
Ohio CDC Association
On behalf of the Home Matters to Ohio coalition

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TAKE ACTION: OHTF Faces a 50% Cut in the Senate Budget

We need immediate action for the Ohio Housing Trust Fund!

We recently learned that the budget bill introduced this morning in the Senate includes an amendment that would cut the Ohio Housing Trust Fund in HALF and send the money to counties. The OHTF works –  it’s effective, efficient, and benefits the most vulnerable of Ohio’s residents. The proposed amendment dismantles the fund and makes it ineffective, inefficient, and unworkable.

Below is a COHHIO press release that provides more information. Please review the press release, send this information to others, and call your State Senator ASAP to voice your opposition. This amendment would dismantle a successful 25 year-old policy! Below is an Ohio Senate district map with phone numbers.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Nate Coffman at ncoffman@ohiocdc.org or (614) 461-6392 ex. 207.
ohio senate
June 9, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Bill Faith, 614-579-6108
Suzanne G. Acker, 614-280-1984 X 11

 

Housing Advocates Rail Against Amendment that would
Cut Housing Trust Fund in Half

COLUMBUS – The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) reacted with disbelief over a Senate amendment in the state budget bill that would strip half of the Ohio Housing Trust Fund proceeds, return them to counties, and create 88 county bureaucracies to fund housing.

“It is a terrible idea to have certain government offices unfamiliar with housing administration suddenly begin allocating housing dollars,” said Bill Faith, COHHIO executive director.

The amendment requires that the county auditor, county recorder and county commissioner or their delegates determine by majority vote how the funds are to be used.

“They’re creating 88 county bureaucracies where county auditors and recorders have little or no knowledge or experience administering housing programs,” he said. “These bureaucracies will require huge administrative costs to get up and running. At a time of very scarce resources, this would dismantle – for no good reason — an effective policy that has been serving critical housing needs across Ohio for nearly 25 years.”

The Ohio Housing Trust Fund was created in 1991, after voters approved a constitutional amendment making housing a public purpose. During the 2004-2005 biennium budget session, the legislature established a permanent, dedicated funding source through the Housing Trust Fee that is collected by the county recorders. Currently, the Trust Fund is capped at $50 million annually, but has averaged less than that over the past few years.

The Trust Fund supports a range of projects and programs to help address homelessness and support the development of quality affordable housing options around the state. It leverages federal and private resources in public/private partnerships as much as 9 to 1 to help stretch state dollars to meet the housing needs of our military veterans, senior citizens, people with disabilities, and working families.

The Trust Fund is administered by the Development Service Agency, which has decades of experience of administering both federal and state housing resources. Allocations are based on recommendations of a 14-member advisory committee representing various sectors of the housing and lending industries and local governments.

“The advisory committee has a cumulative knowledge about statewide need,” Faith explained. “It’s like with highway projects; if you know the needs of the entire state, you make priorities this year and allow other projects to go forward next year. County officials would not have that vantage point.

“This rogue amendment is bad public policy and should be removed from the state budget. It’s an ill-conceived notion that would create housing dysfunction across the board,” he said. “Our most vulnerable populations would be hurt the most, and that’s the exact opposite of what the citizens of Ohio voted for 25 years ago.”

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