Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
June 26, 2019
President's Message I By David M. Dworkin
Dear Friend,

Bipartisanship gets short shrift these days as our political discourse feels more divided than ever. If you get your news on cable TV, you are likely to wonder if anyone is working “across the aisle” anymore. The truth is, however, that bipartisanship is alive and well. And when it comes to the growing crisis in housing affordability, it is gaining ground for the first time in many years. Just yesterday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to address the shortage of affordable housing. While we have strongly criticized the administration’s proposals for deep cuts in housing assistance (which have been rejected by bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate), we will work with the White House and the Department of Housing and Urban Development on the important work of responsibly reducing regulatory barriers to affordable housing. 

Earlier this month, the House Financial Services Committee unanimously voted for a five-year extension to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The bill provides $500 million a year over five years for updating maps and modernizing technology to identify high-risk zones. It also includes a provision that encourages growth of the emerging private market for flood insurance. Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Ranking Member Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) negotiated the compromise. You can read Chairwoman Waters’ statement here and Ranking Member McHenry’s statement here. While House passage is assured, Senate agreement remains challenging. The NFIP has received 10 short term extensions in the past two years. The latest passed in May, and expires in September. NHC is a member of the SmarterSafer coalition, which is working to achieve a long term, bipartisan compromise. 

Three new pieces of bipartisan legislation were also introduced in the past few weeks: The Neighborhood Homes Investment Act (NHIA), the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA) of 2019, and the Save Affordable Housing Act of 2019. Together they would make a significant impact on two major factors exacerbating America’s housing affordability crisis: the appraisal gap for affordable homes in depressed single family housing markets, and the lack of affordable rental housing across the country. NHC strongly supports all three bills. As we work to develop a holistic national housing policy for the 21st century, we also continue to advocate for current initiatives that can address the crisis now.

David M. Dworkin
NHC President and CEO
News from Washington I By Tristan Bréaux and
Quinn Mulholland
Lawmakers introduce legislation to prevent premature loss of subsidized housing

Yesterday, a bipartisan group of legislators introduced the Save Affordable Housing Act of 2019, which would close a loophole that allows LIHTC properties to prematurely convert to market rate. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators Ron Wyden (D-Wash.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) and in the House by Representatives Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), Don Beyer (D-Va.), and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.). NHC strongly supports this bill and has been working with our national partners to advocate for its introduction and passage.
Priscilla Almodovar named CEO of Enterprise Community Partners

Enterprise Community Partners announced last week that its new CEO will be Priscilla Almodovar, a former Enterprise trustee and managing director at JPMorgan Chase. Almodovar also previously served as CEO and president of New York State's housing finance and mortgage agencies. “I am honored to join the exceptional team at Enterprise who are focused on making a positive impact on the lives of countless families across the country,” Almodovar said.
Senate Banking Committee holds hearing on GSEs

Yesterday, the Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on whether Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be designated as systemically important financial institutions. Witnesses testifying at the hearing were Alex Pollock of the R Street Institute, Douglas Holtz-Eakin of the American Action Forum and Susan M. Wachter of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. In his opening remarks at the hearing, Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) said, “We have a key opportunity right now while the sun shines on our economy and mortgage markets are healthy to put our housing finance system on a durable, sustainable course that can withstand any market cycle.”
New York Times examines single-family zoning policies

In an in-depth report published last week, the New York Times examined how prevalent single-family zoning is in many cities, and recent movements to change that. In some cities, according to the article, over 90 percent of residential land is zoned for detached single-family homes, which can be bad for both the environment and housing affordability. At an event last week in Minneapolis, Secretary Carson praised the city’s recent decision to eliminate single-family zoning. Also last week, the Oregon state house passed a bill to prevent cities from using single-family zoning in the entire state.
EPA issues tighter standards for lead in older homes

Last Friday, the EPA announced finalized standards that are stricter when it comes to lead in paint dust in older buildings. The standards require public housing developments and other facilities built before 1978 to test for lead on floors, window sills and other surfaces. In a statement, Secretary Carson commended the EPA’s announcement, saying, “EPA’s efforts to update its standards for lead dust on floors and windowsills in pre-1978 homes and child-occupied facilities is an important step forward. We will look to complement the EPA move by using this new standard to update the lead safety requirements for pre-1978 housing.”
Gillibrand introduces legislation to block HUD immigration rule

Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand introduced a bill last week that would block HUD from implementing a rule that would prohibit mixed-status families from receiving federal housing assistance. The rule has come under intense criticism recently, including by landlords and local officials across the country, according to a recent New York Times report. Keep Families Together, an initiative to oppose the rule by the National Housing Law Project and the National Low Income Housing Coalition, is having a day of action today, including a webinar with Representative Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas) at 2 p.m. EDT.
What we're reading
The Federal Reserve Board published a report summarizing feedback from bankers and community groups during a series of roundtable discussions on the Community Reinvestment Act. The report, entitled “Perspectives from Main Street: Stakeholder Feedback on Modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act,” reflects the feedback of over 400 individuals who participated in one of the 29 roundtable discussions. Read the full report here .

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Monday unveiled a citywide affordable housing plan, with plans to invest $1 billion in public and private funds to combat rising housing costs and displacement. Read the article here

USA Today published an in-depth article examining health risks faced by people experiencing homelessness in large cities around the country. According to the article, homeless individuals are “increasingly susceptible to outbreaks of contagious diseases, including typhus, Hepatitis A and Shigella.” Read the article here .
The National Housing Conference has been defending the American Home since 1931. We believe everyone in America should have equal opportunity to live in a quality, affordable home in a thriving community. NHC convenes and collaborates with our diverse membership and the broader housing and community development sectors to advance our policy, research and communications initiatives to effect positive change at the federal, state and local levels. Politically diverse and nonpartisan, NHC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
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