Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
August 18, 2019
Feature Message I By Antoinette Sykes
Dear Friend,
For the past few weeks, we have had the opportunity to read some inspiring and innovative essays on the future of housing from some of our industry’s brightest emerging leaders. The best essays have been awarded a scholarship for travel to Chicago for the Foundations for the Future of Housing Conference, a collaboration between the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Urban Institute. NHC is hosting the opening reception on the evening of Monday, October 28.

This conference seeks to navigate new pathways for addressing current and future challenges in affordable housing to bolster economic success and the well-being of families and communities. We look forward to these emerging leaders sparking new thinking as they continue their housing careers.

Storytelling is a great way to share the impact of the work we do. We not only learn a lot, but we can see how the work we do makes a difference in the lives of the people and communities for whom we advocate. We cannot do this work alone and this collaboration with Urban Institute fosters one of NHC’s core beliefs: we are only as strong as our diverse members and partners.

I’m pleased to share a few highlights from our top essay winners. We hope that you will continue to be energized, as we spark new ideas for the future of housing.

“Housing inequality is one of the cornerstones of injustices in America. Our history is plagued with discriminatory housing policies such as redlining. The failure of our leaders, both in government and industry, to rectify these inequalities is devastating. The responsibility falls to our future leaders. I intend to be one of the next generations of affordable housing leaders who will create a better tomorrow for America’s renters and homeowners.”- Daniel Scheinman, Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing

“Everyone deserves to have housing options in ideal areas. Design is also a critical element in creating housing that works well and keeps residents happy. Smaller units that have shared communal spaces for the residents to use would be highly effective. Less square footage would mitigate the cost to build and rent out these spaces.” – Logan Ashby, Virginia Commonwealth University

“It is impossible for someone to live a stable life without a home. You cannot be expected to earn decent money in decent conditions, maintain your physical and mental health, and help those who depend on you when you don’t know where you’ll be sleeping every night. But as the cost of housing skyrockets, causing people to pay over half their income on rent, that is the situation many find themselves in. Government – local and federal, have the greatest power to reverse this crisis by allowing more production of high-density homes, setting requirements of the number of units in new developments that must be affordable, and increasing the number of housing vouchers for low-income households.” – Justin Cook, Metro Housing Boson

“Cities must facilitate conversations between community-based groups and housing investors to adopt policies that lead to the development of high-quality, affordable housing that is reflective of community needs.” – Stephanie Pazarin, Global Institute for Public Strategies

“Rising housing costs, immobilizing education debt, and stagnant wages have made it harder for millennials to survive and thrive in the state I’ve always called home. Solving the state’s housing shortage isn’t exclusively about creating places to sleep, it’s about creating places to live. Housing is central to the social and cultural fabric of our communities. The value of a diverse supply of housing isn’t just about providing affordable shelter, but about what happens beyond the mailbox, too.” – Sarah Wrightsman, Workforce Housing Coalition for the Greater Seacoast

“The housing system must be flexible. Broad cultural, economic, racial, climate, technological and other changes will continue to shift living patterns, and a successful housing industry will need to be adaptable.” – Olivia Barrow, Low Income Investment Fund

We welcome and look forward to having these new Emerging Leaders as a part of NHC’s membership. Their value, insight and commitment to housing will expand our mission ensuring safe, decent and affordable housing for all in America. 
Antoinette Sykes
NHC Director of Marketing and Communications
News from Washington I By Tristan Bréaux and
Quinn Mulholland
HUD publishes disparate impact rule proposal

On Friday, HUD published a new rule proposal making it harder to bring discrimination claims under the Fair Housing Act. The new rule would revise the Obama-era "disparate impact" policy at HUD, which outlaws even unintentional housing discrimination. NHC strongly opposes this rule proposal, and is working with our members on a response. “This is a blow to our efforts to ensure equal access to housing over the past fifty years. It is well outside the parameters of the Supreme Court’s guidelines and must be reversed, either by regulatory action or legislation,” said NHC President and CEO David Dworkin. The rule proposal was also met with strong criticism from several NHC members. National Community Reinvestment Coalition CEO Jesse Van Tol said in a statement, "HUD’s proposal is irresponsible. It is inconsistent with HUD’s legal obligation to affirmatively further fair housing, by creating an overly broad exemption to discriminatory practices that affect liability for the home insurance market."
U.S. mortgage debt hits record as housing market shows signs of weakness

A dubious milestone was announced last week as new data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed that mortgage debt in the U.S. reached a record high in the second quarter of 2019. Meanwhile, in a separate report also released last week, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York described U.S. home sales as “soft,” “anemic,” and “lackluster.” As several recent reports have shown, despite very low mortgage rates in the past few weeks, the housing market remains weak. Many point to a lack of affordability as the culprit. “Rates are low, but does it matter if you can’t find anything you can afford?” said Nela Richardson, an investment strategist with Edward Jones, in an MarketWatch article. 
FHFA publishes rule on credit score models

The FHFA sent its final rule on third-party credit score models that can be used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the Federal Register last week. “One of my priorities is to ensure that the American people have a safe and sound path to sustainable homeownership, which requires tools to accurately measure risk,” said FHFA Director Mark Calabria in a statement. “The final rule we are publishing today is an important step toward achieving that goal.” The rule is a reversal from the FHFA’s previous stance, which would have blacklisted VantageScore, one such third-party model, because of conflicts of interest with the company’s backers. Consumer advocates praised the final rule since the scoring model the GSEs currently rely on, FICO, weighs things like medical debt against consumers.
FHA issues new rules on condominiums

The FHA published its final regulation creating a new condominium approval process last week, ensuring more condominium phases will be eligible for lower-down payment loans. The rule is aimed at opening up the condo market to first-time buyers, since FHA-backed loans require only a 3.5 percent down payment. “This is greatly going to expand the ability of people to get into the housing market at a low-price level,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson told Lou Dobbs on his Fox Business show. The National Association of REALTORS® applauded the rule, with NAR President John Smaby saying it “will help reverse recent declines in condo sales and ensure the FHA is fulfilling its primary mission to the American people.” Some, however, questioned the timing of the rule. “FHA is already a higher-risk program,” former MBA President David Stevens told the Wall Street Journal. “Layer that on top of a higher-risk product called the condominium, and you definitely have to prepare yourself for the fact that in the next correction you’re going to take more losses at FHA than anywhere else.”
Otting visits Atlanta to tout CRA benefits

Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting recently visited Atlanta to tour neighborhoods that have benefited from the Community Investment Act (CRA). Otting also highlighted areas where CRA could be improved, saying, “We can modernize CRA regulations to encourage banks to do even more by clarifying what counts for CRA credit, updating where activity qualifies, making evaluations of bank CRA performance more objective, and reporting results in a more timely and transparent manner.” Specifically, Otting discussed his desire to prevent banks from getting CRA credit for loans to wealthy borrowers, remarking “CRA mortgage lending should be to [low- and moderate-income] people.” Also last week, Shelterforce published an op-ed by National Community Reinvestment Coalition Senior Advisor Josh Silver on the importance of homeownership in CRA reform.
House Financial Services Committee holds a field hearing on homelessness in Los Angeles

The House Financial Services Committee held a field hearing on the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles at the California African American Museum on Wednesday. Witnesses included Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Margarita Lares of the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and Joe Horiye of the Local Initiatives Support Coalition. In her opening remarks, Chairwoman Maxine Waters said, “We cannot ignore that our homelessness crisis is directly linked to the affordable housing crisis. Too many people cannot afford to keep a roof over their heads, as wages have not kept pace with rising rents.”
Farm Service Agency holds listening session on heirs’ property

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) held a listening session on Wednesday to hear about the struggles of land loss in poor, predominantly black rural areas. The session focused on provisions in the federal farm bill co-sponsored by Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) that would help owners of heirs’ property. The session comes after ProPublica, the Washington Post, and the Atlantic all recently took deep dives into the issue of land loss among black families in the rural South. “I’m glad that USDA is finally shining a light on the issue of heirs’ property. It’s an issue that has gone unaddressed for far too long,” Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) told Reuters, describing the listening sessions as “first steps towards progress that is essential for the generations of African Americans who have had their land unfairly taken away.”
Trump administration moves to deny green cards to immigrants receiving public benefits

The Trump administration issued a final rule last week that would base decisions about granting green cards to immigrants on whether they use government programs like food stamps and subsidized housing. The rule faced immediate blowback from housing advocates and public officials. Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) issued a statement calling the rule “cruelty for cruelty’s sake, intended to harm immigrant families and push them into the shadows.” Several groups filed suit against the new rule, including San Francisco and Santa Clara County in California on Tuesday and a group of 13 states led by Washington Attorney General Robert Ferguson on Wednesday.
Chart of the Week
Blacks are more likely than whites to experience homelessness in every state

According to a recent analysis by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a racial gap in homelessness exists in every state. The ratio of black homelessness to white homelessness is highest in the Midwest and Northeast and lowest in the South.
What we're reading
A new study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research finds no evidence of displacement of low-income children in New York City. Using Medicaid records between 2009 and 2015, the authors find that children who start out in gentrifying neighborhoods see larger overall improvements in their residential environment and were just as likely to be displaced than those who start out in low-socioeconomic status areas that aren’t gentrifying. Read the full study here.

An article in Yahoo Finance published Tuesday examined the overlap of affordable housing and high health care costs. The article cites a report from Enterprise Community Partners that shows that over half of renters surveyed had to delay medical care in order to pay rent. Read the article here.

The Urban Institute published a blog post last week examining the Hispanic homeownership gap across the country. The blog post reveals that the gap is largest in the Northeast and smallest in the Southwest, with Texas cities El Paso and Laredo having higher Hispanic homeownership than non-Hispanic white homeownership. Read the blog post here.

A new study from researchers at the University of Michigan and Syracuse University shows that increasing the Earned income Tax Credit (EITC) can help improve housing affordability. The researchers found that a $1,000 increase in the EITC is associated with lower housing cost burdens and household crowding, though they didn’t find evidence of an effect on homelessness or evictions. Read the full study here.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston published a new study revealing the obstacles that Boston families who use Section 8 vouchers face when trying to find an apartment. The study found that racial discrimination by landlords played a big role in restricting black voucher holders’ choice in finding housing. Read the full study here.
The week ahead
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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