Housing trust funds

Housing trust funds (HTFs) work to facilitate affordable, quality housing by creating or maintaining low income housing; subsidizing rental housing; and supporting non-profit housing developers. Trust funds may also assist low income homebuyers through down payment support, counseling, or interest subsidies, and may provide gap financing. Housing trust funds exist at federal, state, county, and city levels.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased access to affordable housing

  • Increased access to quality housing

Evidence of Effectiveness

Housing trust funds (HTFs) are a suggested strategy to increase affordable, quality housing options (Urban-Newman 2005, APA-Meck 2003) and minimize the displacement of low income residents that can follow such neighborhood improvements (Damewood 2011). Housing improvements have been shown to positively affect health outcomes, especially when improvements address warmth and energy efficiency (Thomson 2015). HTFs may help meet low income housing needs, including the needs of the lowest income families (Larsen 2004); program funds are typically designated for these families (Scally 2012). In a Florida-based study, HTFs appear to increase affordable housing initiatives across the state, from rural counties to large urban centers (). A Washington DC-based study suggests that HTFs in conjunction with other programs and policies can support affordable housing options (Howell 2016). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Impact on Disparities

Likely to decrease disparities

Implementation Examples

There are 800 housing trust funds (HTFs) in cities, counties, and 48 states which generate over $2.5 billion annually to support affordable homes (CCC-HTF). Washington DC’s Housing Production Trust Fund is an example of a fund focused on a metropolitan area; since 2001, it has produced more than 9,000 units of affordable housing (DC-HPTF). Non-profit organizations may also manage housing trust funds on a larger scale: the National Housing Trust preserves and improves affordable housing in 42 communities across 13 states and Washington DC (NHT). State-level housing trust funds are often administered by governmental housing finance agencies (Scally 2012).

A national HTF is permanently authorized by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (NCSHA-HTF). The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (US HUD) allocates HTF funds annually to states and state-designated entities; all HTF-assisted housing units have a mandated minimum affordability period of 30 years (US HUD-HTF).

Implementation Resources

US HUD-HTF - US Department of Housing and Urban Development (US HUD). Housing Trust Fund (HTF). HUD Exchange.

ChangeLab-Housing toolkit - ChangeLab Solutions. Preserving, protecting, and expanding affordable housing: A policy toolkit for public health. 2015.

LISC-Affordable housing - Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Helping neighbors build communities: Affordable housing.

LHS - Local Housing Solutions (LHS). To enhance local affordability and foster inclusive communities. New York University, Furman Center and Abt Associates, Inc.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Urban-Newman 2005 - Newman SJ. Low-end rental housing: The forgotten story in Baltimore’s housing boom. Washington, DC: Urban Institute; 2005.

Larsen 2009* - Larsen K. Reassessing state housing trust funds: Results of a Florida survey. Housing Studies. 2009;24(2):173–201.

Larsen 2004 - Larsen K. State housing trust funds in the US: A comparative study. In: Adequate & Affordable Housing for All. Toronto, CAN: Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto; 2004.

APA-Meck 2003 - Meck S, Retzlaff R, Schwab J. Regional approaches to affordable housing. Washington, DC: American Planning Association (APA); 2003: Report No. 513/514.

Thomson 2015 - Thomson H, Thomas S. Developing empirically supported theories of change for housing investment and health. Social Science & Medicine. 2015;124:205-214.

Damewood 2011 - Damewood R, Young-Laing B. Strategies to prevent displacement of residents and businesses in Pittsburgh's Hill District. September 2011.

Scally 2012 - Scally CP. The past and future of housing policy innovation: The case of US state housing trust funds. Housing Studies. 2012;27(1):127-150.

Howell 2016 - Howell K. Preservation from the bottom-up: Affordable housing, redevelopment, and negotiation in Washington, DC. Housing Studies. 2016;31(3):305-323.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

NHT - National Housing Trust (NHT). Safeguarding affordable housing + strengthening communities.

US HUD-HTF - US Department of Housing and Urban Development (US HUD). Housing Trust Fund (HTF). HUD Exchange.

NCSHA-HTF - National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA). Housing trust fund.

CCC-HTF - Center for Community Change (CCC). Housing trust fund (HTF) implementation information and resources.

Scally 2012 - Scally CP. The past and future of housing policy innovation: The case of US state housing trust funds. Housing Studies. 2012;27(1):127-150.

DC-HPTF - Washington DC Department of Housing and Community Development. Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF).

Date Last Updated

Apr 18, 2019