Affordable housing advocates have been pressuring city leaders to find a permanent source of funding for Ashland's Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
Established almost 10 years ago, the trust fund holds $166,361 at last report. How best to use that money can be debated, but more importantly, once it's spent, it's gone. There is no dedicated funding source to replenish Ashland's trust fund going forward.
There is good reason to find such a source because, as housing advocates point out, cities that have housing trust funds can use the money in them to leverage state, federal and private funding sources. In a guest opinion published last month, Ashland residents Bonny Photinos and Jacob Dean noted that cities with housing trust funds generate an average of $6.50 in outside money for every dollar a city puts in.
In today's Voices section, Dave Kanner, Ashland's former city administrator, suggests a singularly appropriate source for that dedicated funding: a luxury housing tax on residences worth $900,000 or more.
Ashland certainly does not lack for high-end housing, and Kanner's proposal — he suggests a rate of 0.1 percent — would hardly be a burden to a buyer in that price range. He speculates that such a tax might also put a damper on demand for construction of new million-dollar-plus mansions in the city.
It strikes us as an elegant solution. What better way to help people at the bottom of the housing market than by levying a modest tax on those at the very top?