Hillsboro schools have state’s top homelessness rate


New recorder fees could help combat the problem

By Jeff Gilliland - jgilliland@timesgazette.com



With the Hillsboro City Schools having the state’s highest rate of student homelessness, new document rates announced this week by Highland County Recorder Chad McLaughlin could help solve some of that problem, according to Marcus Roth, communications/development director for the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio.

McConnaughey announced this week that effective Oct. 17 there will be an increase in fees charged for most documents in the office due to the enactment of House Bill 88.

Currently, the recorder’s office charges $28 for the first one or two pages, plus $8 for each additional page. Effective Oct. 17 of this year, the fee will increase to $34 for the first one or two pages, while the fee for additional pages will remain the same.

He said the fees will be applicable to deeds, mortgages, easements, land contracts, the release of mortgages and other documents too numerous to list.

However, he said the new fee schedule will not pertain to federal tax liens and plats.

Half of the $6 increase per document will go to Highland County, while the other half will go to the Ohio Housing Trust Fund.

According to figures provided by Roth from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency Housing Needs Assessment, the Hillsboro City Schools had 308 homeless students during the 2017-18 school, or 13.15 percent of its student body. The next highest was the Switzerland of Ohio Local Schools with 10.56 percent, followed by the Toledo public schools with 9.92 percent and the Fostoria City Schools with 8.75 percent.

The list of the top 25 school districts with the highest rate of homeless stops at the Parma City Schools with 2.18 percent, and there are more than 600 school districts in the state. The state average is 1.41 percent, according to the OHFA.

According to the OHFA, those figures come from the Ohio School Report Cards for the 2017-18 school year.

“That’s always kind of perplexed me. I’m not really sure why,” Roth said of Hillsboro’s high rate of homeless students. “I don’t want to put too much weight on that. But those figures have been strangely high in Hillsboro for a long time.”

He said the figures could be a bit deceiving because government agencies in different locations may use a different formula to define homelessness.

Roth also provided the following data from the OHFA:

* 25.7 percent of Highland County renters spend more than half their household income on rent;

* There are only 615 rental units that are affordable for the 1,554 extremely low income households in Highland County;

* Median household income in Highland County dropped 8.56 percent from 2007 to 2017, while rent increased slightly;

* Highland County renters need to earn $13.12 and hour to afford a basic two-bedroom apartment, but the average renter earns only $9.15 per hour.

“The growing shortage of affordable housing is directly connected to increasing homelessness in our state,” Roth said. “The Housing Trust Fund is the only state source of funding to address these problems, and the recent increase in recorder fees is the first time the OHTF has been increased in 16 years.“

He said Highland County has benefited from Ohio Housing Trust Fund dollars in the past, and will likely continue to. He also said that at least 50 percent of OHTF grants go to rural parts of the state.

Roth said that in 2018, the Highland County Homeless Shelter received $137,000 on OHFT funds, and the county’s COAD Housing Assistance Grant Program received $467,800. In 2017, the Area Agency on Aging District 7, a 10-county area that includes Highland County, received $282,520.

The $2.5 million expected to be raised for the OHTF recorder fee increases is not as much as needed, but it’s a good first step, Roth said.

“It’s going to take a lot more than this slight increase, but we see it as a sign policy makers are starting to see this as a problem and they’re starting to do something about it.”

The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio said this in a news release provided by Roth, “Housing is by far the most expensive item in the family budget and is simply out of reach for many Ohioans. Most states have housing trust fund programs to make housing more affordable for their residents, but the Ohio Housing Trust Fund has one of the best track records in the U.S. Over the past 27 years, it has helped nearly one million Ohioans with a wide range of needs, while injecting billions of dollars into the local economy.

“Now is the time to build on the success of the Ohio Housing Trust Fund by expanding its reach to more Ohioans. The DeWine administration has an opportunity to increase access to a safe, decent home for the most vulnerable Ohioans – homeless children and youth, women at risk of infant mortality, people with disabilities, and seniors who want to remain in their own homes.”

Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.

New recorder fees could help combat the problem

By Jeff Gilliland

jgilliland@timesgazette.com