June 5, 2018. The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Nine years ago, the question before Topeka’s governing body was whether to fix the city’s streets, and the community responded by implementing a half-cent sales tax to accomplish that purpose, Topekan Carol Babcock told the city’s governing body Tuesday evening.

“Today, the question is ‘Do we need to fix affordable housing?’ ” Babcock said. “I say ‘yes.’ ”

Babcock — a member of Topeka JUMP, a faith-based organization asking the city government to do more to deal with affordable housing problems — told city officials she felt pleased they were considering establishing a process through which a housing trust fund the city maintains could be used to target dollars toward affordable housing.

“It’s time for the city to make a serious commitment to addressing a serious problem,” she said.

Babcock was one of two members of the public who spoke before the governing body on the matter as it discussed but took no action on a proposal put forth by city manager Brent Trout. The governing body consists of the nine city council members and Mayor Michelle De La Isla, who was absent Tuesday because of illness.

Trout said he would make revisions prompted by comments governing body members made that evening and bring the amended proposal before them in a few weeks.

The measure would “establish a formal process for allocating funding for housing projects in the event funding is provided to the housing trust fund through donations or other revenue sources,” according to a document in the agenda packet for Tuesday’s meeting.

The purpose of the trust fund would be “to encourage and support the acquisition, rehabilitation and development of affordable housing and/or emergency shelter and supportive services necessary to maintain independent living with dignity in the Topeka community,” the proposal says.

It adds, “Monies placed in the Housing Trust Fund through donations or otherwise will provide resources that can be used to address community, neighborhood, housing and economic development needs of the City that cannot be fully met with federal, state or local funds; including gap funding for affordable housing projects and housing-related services.”

Under the proposal, the city manager would have the final decision on how to allocate money from the trust fund. But if the city’s governing body would rather have that responsibility, “I’m willing to entertain that,” Trout said.

About 20 members of Topeka JUMP wearing yellow T-shirts promoting that organization were in the audience for Tuesday’s meeting. Topeka JUMP representatives have appeared intermittently before the governing body since last year asking it to do something about affordable housing.

View original article.