Housing Trust Fund receives federal grant

A countywide organization that promotes below-market-price housing has received a $600,000 grant from the federal government.

The San Luis Obispo County Housing Trust Fund says it will use the grant, which comes from the Treasury Department, to subsidize housing projects in the county.

“This is our third U.S. Treasury grant in as many years, and it is also our largest,” said Jerry Rioux, the Housing Trust Fund’s executive director.

The federal fund from which the grant money comes provides capital for “under-served communities” throughout the nation and aims to stimulate local economic development. It received 393 applications requesting nearly $466 million in funding. Since its inception, it has awarded well over $1 billion.

The county Housing Trust Fund’s award was one of 155 grants totaling $142 million that were announced Monday.

The nonprofit organization was created in 2003 to increase the supply of below-market-price housing throughout the county.

Rather than directly developing or owning housing, it provides financing and technical assistance to help private developers, nonprofit agencies and local governments produce and preserve housing that low-income families, seniors on fixed incomes and persons with disabilities are supposed to be able to afford to rent or buy.

Since making its first loan in 2005, the Housing Trust Fund has provided nearly $7 million in financing to help create or preserve 218 units of subsidized housing.

During 2010, nearly 30 percent of all the housing starts in the county were projects that it helped finance.

The new award increases the fund’s revolving loan funds to $6.9 million. About $2.2 million is currently available for new loans.