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Broome County housing trust fund aims to keep residents in safe, affordable homes

Broome housing trust fund - superspot WEB

BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG)—Communities across New York are strategizing ways to keep residents in quality housing. In Broome County, that effort has taken the form of a housing trust fund, set up to address issues through a range of solutions.

“The quality of housing that some of our families are forced to live in is appalling,” said Christina Cramer, program coordinator for the Broome County Planning Department.

Cramer said the communities throughout the county need funds to address code violations and the lack of affordable housing, amid rising costs. These conditions often drive low-income residents from their homes and from the county.

“We have to have funding to bring that apartment up to code, but as well as incentivizing landlords to keep those properties up to code to begin with,” she continued.

The Broome County Housing Trust Fund aims to secure housing and prevent families from being displaced from a number of different angles. Programs eligible to receive grants include those related to equitable homeownership, relocation services for low-income families, fair housing laws and rental repairs.

Cramer, who is a member of the fund's advisory committee, said all applicants must commit to keeping units accessible and affordable for low-income households. Initiatives should also work to stabilize housing for low-income households and residents of color.

“We don't want to see rehabilitation and renovation done and then they turn around and start charging twice as much as they did before,” she explained.

Broome County received nearly $500,000 to set up the fund from the New York Attorney General’s Office and Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit, as part of a statewide network of anti-displacement initiatives. Other recipients include Elmira and Ithaca.

All of the fund's advisory committee members have either experienced housing instability or work to address it in Broome County. Cramer said since the award money is locally-controlled, organizations will be able to access grant money from the fund without as many obstacles as there are for state and federal funding.

The fund follows a model similar to that of the housing fund in Tompkins County, established in 2009. It is a collaboration between the county, the city of Ithaca and Cornell University.

Cramer said she hopes the Broome County Housing Trust Fund, while early in its inception, can partner with local stakeholders, like hospitals and Binghamton University, to keep it sustained after the initial seed funding is spent.

Organizations have through Jan. 28 to apply for a grant. Awards will range from $5,000 to $100,000.