Some areas may find that tackling their affordable housing challenges and creating more inclusive communities requires a regional approach. Many areas in the U.S. are economically interdependent, and changes in one housing market often impact neighboring jurisdictions. Additionally, in areas made up of many small municipalities, pooling resources may be the best way to attract larger-scale affordable housing development and thus, have a larger impact. To this end, regional coalitions may be formed to create inter-local funding sources by combining municipal revenue into one, large regional fund.
Recognizing that affordable housing was a regional problem requiring a regional solution, municipalities in east King County formed ARCH, A Regional Coalition for Housing, in 1992. In 1993, ARCH established a regional housing trust fund with some unique features. The ARCH Housing Trust Fund enables municipalities in east King County to pool their resources, which can be spent in any of the municipalities to create or preserve housing for low- and moderate-income individuals.
Currently 13 municipalities in east King County contribute to the fund annually. Funds are made available through loans, and grants and are offered through an annual application round. Municipalities are able to contribute funds in a variety of ways, including offering fee waivers or land donations to developers. Common revenue sources for municipal contributions include general fund allocations, Community Development Block Grant funds, developer payments, loan repayments and interest earnings.
Funds collected from member jurisdictions are then distributed regionally, based on the needs in the county. Applications can be submitted by nonprofit organizations, private organizations, public housing authorities and public development authorities. From there, ARCH’s Citizen Advisory Board makes project recommendations, which are confirmed by the Executive Board and approved by individual city councils.
The fund has a minimum goal of $1 million of new local funds annually, but when accounting for all sources (e.g., land donations, fee waivers, loan repayments) the fund has averaged approximately $2 million annually.
As of 2015, member jurisdictions had contributed $45 million to the ARCH Housing Trust Fund. Housing Trust Fund resources have been used toward new housing development, preservation and rehabilitation. Since its inception in 1993, the fund has helped finance the creation of over 3,100 new housing units in east King County. ARCH credits its success to its ability to engage key stakeholders in a regionally collaborative process, the willingness of development partners to undertake creative partnerships and its ability to remain responsive and flexible to community, developer and other funders’ needs.
For More Info:
Arthur Sullivan, ARCH
Email: [email protected]