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Syracuse councilors have questions about proposed housing trust fund

Syracuse City Hall on March 14, 2023
Ava Pukatch
Syracuse City Hall on March 14, 2023

Syracuse Common Councilors have a lot of questions about Mayor Ben Walsh’s plan to create a Housing Trust Fund that would help coordinate funding needed to solve the housing crisis in the City of Syracuse.

The Housing Trust Fund would funnel capital to developers and property owners looking to expand and improve the city’s housing stock.

Neighborhood and Business Development Commissioner Michael Collins said this fills a gap; allowing certain streams of revenue that are currently unavailable because of among other things, state and federal regulations.

"This would create access to capital that doesn’t exist right now," Collins said. "And we haven’t met a developer yet that doesn’t want more access to capital."

It would mean the creation of a governmental entity, requiring three staffers, overseen by a board. Collins says the state has already promised $5 million to run the trust. So far there aren’t any specifics about what projects would be in line for funding. The uncertainty about it all has Councilor Rasheada Caldwell concerned.

"I'm really struggling with this because we still don’t — you're creating these bylaws this board but we still don't have the parameters of what the government is going to come back and say right," Caldwell said.

Councilor Pat Hogan is concerned a trust would interfere with other organizations that deal with housing issues in the city.

"We have entities that we're aligned with that do a pretty really good job here at Home Headquarters and the Land Bank," Hogan said. "So, and I think I'd like this concept, but I think we have to narrow the frame a little in order for me to be comfortable with it."

The Walsh administration needs lawmakers to be on board with this and was hoping for approval by the end of the year.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.