Jefferson County Home Opportunity Fund

In the Tuesday, November 7, 2017 General Election, Jefferson County voters will vote on Jefferson County Proposition 1 or “Prop 1” to approve or reject establishing the Home Opportunity Fund.  If passed, by a simple majority, the Home Opportunity Fund would be funded by a property tax of approximately 36 cents per thousand dollars property valuation - for 7-years only – dedicated to creating or preserving housing that would remain affordable for low-income and very low income households.  Non-profit and other housing organizations would submit competitive proposals for the best projects to build or preserve affordable housing stock throughout Jefferson County.  The housing built or preserved will help fill a critical shortage of housing for many Jefferson County residents, including seniors on limited income; struggling families with young children; people with disabilities; and local service, trades and retail workers with lower wages.

Prop 1 can be approved or rejected by a simple majority vote of citizens.  Here is how it looks on the ballot:

20170912_Prop1


History and Factual Information for Prop-1 & Housing

Public Hearing

On July 24, 2017, many people attended, and sixty people spoke at a Public Hearing with the Board of County Commissioners about a draft resolution to:

  1. recognize an existing emergency in the availability of affordable housing for low-income and very low-income households within Jefferson County, and
  2. refer to the voters a question of whether or not to establish a Home Opportunity Fund to create or preserve affordable housing for low-income and very low-income households.  

A PowerPoint presentation was given at the Public Hearing, detailing information about the housing crisis throughout Jefferson County, as well as information about the Home Opportunity Fund created if a majority of citizens vote to approve Prop 1.

Resolution Placing Prop 1 on the Ballot

The County Commissioners deliberated on the written and oral testimony from the Public Hearing.  On July 31, the Commissioners unanimously adopted Resolution No. 35-17.  In placing the ballot question before the voters, State law required that the Resolution include a declaration of an emergency in the availability of affordable housing.

Draft Financing Plan

State law also requires that if Prop 1 passes, that after November 7 and before January 1, 2018, the County Commissioners adopt a Financing Plan for how the Home Opportunity Fund will be managed by Jefferson County to award the funds to housing organizations to build and preserve affordable housing stock.  Even though that is a later step, Resolution No. 35-17 included a DRAFT Financing Plan so citizens could see how the Home Opportunity Fund would be administered to create and preserve affordable housing.  Click here to download and read the Draft Financing Plan.  

Draft Financing Plan’s Table of Contents

20170912DraftFinTOC

If citizens vote in the General Election to pass Prop 1, as required by Resolution No. 35-17 the Commissioners will hold another Public Hearing to consider public input for refining the Financing Plan to further improve how the Home Opportunity Fund will be administered to create and preserve affordable housing.  A final version of the Financing Plan will be adopted after the hearing, in November or December, 2017.

If citizens vote in the General Election to pass Prop 1, as required by Resolution No. 35-17 the Commissioners will hold another Public Hearing to consider public input for refining the Financing Plan to further improve how the Home Opportunity Fund will be administered to create and preserve affordable housing.  A final version of the Financing Plan will be adopted after the hearing, in November or December, 2017.

Years 2018 – 2024

The first annual round of Requests For Proposals for housing organizations to submit project applications for funding to create or preserve affordable housing stock will take place in 2018.  New rounds of RFPs will be issued each year thereafter through 2024.  After the Housing Opportunity Fund Levy expires in 2024, there would be additional RFPs to allocate any Fund balance that might remain.

In other communities with similar programs, housing organizations are able to use these local dollars to leverage outside state, federal and private grants for building and preserving affordable housing stock.  In Bellingham, housing organizations have been able to use local dollars to bring in five times more outside funding for affordable housing.  If Jefferson County is able to match Bellingham’s experience, over the 7 years the Home Opportunity Fund would raise a total of $13 Million in local funds, and bring in an additional $63 Million of outside funding to create and preserve affordable housing stock for low- and very low income Jefferson County residents.

Additional Resources