Caddo Commission Rejects Funding for Housing Trust Fund After deferring the measure two times since it was first introduced in November 2017, several Caddo Parish Commissioners voted to block a proposal that would have provided $1 million from the Parish’s $140 million surplus funds to its E. Edward Jones Housing Trust Fund at its regular meeting this week.
Ordinance 5751 would have provided seed funding for the Housing Trust Fund to support gap funding for experienced developers, nonprofits, and faith based organizations to create quality affordable housing, mixed use development, and paths to homeownership throughout the Parish. The proposal was voted down on a 6-6 vote with District 12 Commissioner Louis Johnson siding with several Republican Commissioners in opposition and District 4 Commissioner Matthew Linn joined several Democrat Commissioner to vote in favor of the proposal.
“Funding for our Trust Fund would allow the Parish to leverage $1 million in seed funding with millions of outside private dollars. Over 600 cities and counties across the United States have successful Trust Funds and leverage those resources to help facilitate home ownership, rehabilitation of existing housing stock, neighborhood improvement grants, veterans housing, mixed use development, small business micro-loans. I don’t see why we wouldn’t utilize a proven national best practice here in Caddo Parish. ” – Commissioner Steven Jackson
The Parish created the E. Edward Housing Trust Fund in April 2017 to honor the life and legacy of the late Reverend Dr. E. Edward Jones (pictured). Jones was the patriarch of the Galilee Baptist Church for more than five decades. He was instrumental in leading the legal efforts to desegregate Caddo Parish School and desegregating the at-large form of government for the Caddo Parish Policy Jury (now the Caddo Commission) which prevented African Americans from serving on the Police Jury. In 2003, Dr. Jones helped develop an area around Galilee Baptist Church into 76 new apartment homes. It opened the door for low and moderate income for Shreveport families.
Several Commissioners including Commissioner Lyndon B. Johnson advocated for funding the Trust Fund noting, “When homes are built for homeowners they are put back onto the property tax rolls and contribute to an increase in quality of life for all of Caddo Parish to benefit.” Pointing out that the Caddo Parish has funding multiple projects before, Commissioner Matthew Linn cited the Parish’s previous investment in ACCION’s revolving loan for small business was returned 100% with interest.
The United Way of Northwest Louisiana’s Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed nicknamed ALICE Report cited housing as a critical need in its 2015 and 2016 report. “ALICE is a group of people who work hard but still cannot afford to make ends meet,” Sarah Berthelot, CEO of Louisiana Association of United Ways, wrote in the report’s opening. The nonprofit reported that more than 18,000 renters in Caddo Parish - or 48 percent - pay more than 30 percent of their total income for housing, making them "housing burdened." More than 40 percent of all Louisiana families can’t afford basic expenses of housing, food, child care, transportation or health care, according to the report. The creation of the Trust Fund was intended to be a tool in the tool box to help Caddo parish reduce renters and to reduce the percentage of people identified as cost burdened.
It is my plan to clear up any confusion that any commissioner may have with the proposal’s language and reintroduce it at a future meeting. I hope all of the opposing Commissioners will work with me in good faith to identify his issues with the previous proposal. I have an open mind on most things and will work to with anyone who has a heart to see working individuals have an opportunity for continual upward mobility.