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Publicly-funded trusts leverage public funds to attract private investment (typically in the form of state revenue bonds) for improvements to public infrastructure, housing and/or land preservation, and support for housing improvements to promote homeownership. These agencies are public or quasi-public authorities, created through legislation at the state or local level, and funded, at least in part, through state budget allocations. Public trusts may utilize funding and financing vehicles such as subsidized low-interest loans, provide support for capital improvement planning, and other innovative funding mechanisms for lead hazard remediation in housing, drinking water and soil.
The following steps should be taken in order to employ public trusts or financing agencies in addressing residential lead hazards:
- Identify existing public trusts or financing agencies related to housing, infrastructure or land in your state or community. Explore the extent to which these agencies currently fund or finance lead remediation or lead-safe housing rehabilitation, lead service line replacement, soil remediation or other lead hazard remediation-related activities.
- Where needed, engage policy makers, legislators and elected leaders in maintaining and expanding current financing vehicle, and directing resources to vulnerable communities.
- Identify and partner with a legislative champion to advance/increase state or community bond funding for investment in lead remediation through an existing public trust.
- Identify and partner with stakeholders who can access the funding and financing mechanisms offered through your state’s or community’s public trust for lead hazard remediation, including property owners, non-profit developers, and local utilities.
- If no public trusts or financing agencies related to housing, infrastructure or land currently exist in your state or community, engage policy-makers, legislators, and elected leaders in creating a public trust as a vehicle for leveraging public investment with private dollars to sustainably support lead remediation.
- Identify and partner with a legislative champion to advance the creation of a public trust to address lead hazards in your state or community.
- Reference national examples of successful public trusts at the state and community level and put together state and local statistics to demonstrate the need for leveraged investment in housing, infrastructure and/or land use (for lead safe demolition and soil remediation).
The New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust (NJEIT) is a state financing authority that provides low interest loans to qualified public water systems to finance water quality infrastructure projects. Currently, NJEIT has set aside $33 million in annual grants ($30 million) and no-interest loans ($3 million) for water systems to fully replace lead service lines in low income communities. New Jersey American Water has a project in Irvington, NJ that makes use of this program.