Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
August 11, 2019
President's Message I By David Dworkin
Dear Friend,

For the past two weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to meet several of our current and future members from Cleveland, Ohio to Oakland, California. The work our “unlikely coalition” of homebuilders, lenders, civil rights advocates, nonprofit housing producers and individual housing professionals are doing is inspiring and enlightening. We often say we are only as strong as our members, and there is nothing as gratifying as seeing how powerful a statement that is.

In the Bay Area of California, I got to spend an afternoon with Linda Mandolini, president of Eden Housing and the chair of NHC’s Board of Governors. Eden is one of the largest nonprofit affordable housing producers and property managers in the country, serving more than 100,000 people in its 50-year history. We visited a wonderful rehab project at Faith Tennyson in Hayward. There, 158 units are being restored with residents largely in place. In addition to unit and façade improvements, the site will have a much-improved community center and play area. We also toured the Alta Mira Senior and Family Apartments, a beautiful project with 151 family and senior units, adjoining a 206-unit market-rate development that shares common areas. The affordable units are one, two and three bedrooms targeted to households earning between 20 and 50 percent of the area median income and are a tangible example of what success in our fight for affordable housing for all can look like.

In Sacramento, I was able to get together with NHC member and Housing Visionary Awardee Lisa Hershey, executive director of Housing California, to discuss how we can use the successful experience of the California housing bond initiatives to support our effort to develop and enact a national housing act for the 21 st century. In Oakland, I met with Amie Fishman, executive director of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California. We talked about the unique issues driving the affordable housing crisis in California, especially in the Bay Area, and how zoning impacts housing affordability. Our national housing crisis extends from areas where workers of nearly all income levels cannot afford housing to areas where prices are so low they are hard to build, rehab and mortgage.

In San Diego, I met with NHC members and affordable housing leaders from across the country, including Julia Gordon, president of the National Community Stabilization Trust; Lindsey Johnson of the US Mortgage Insurers; Chrissi Johnson of Quicken Loans; Barry Zigas from Consumer Federation of America; Gary Acosta, CEO and co-founder of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals; Jim Park, co-founder and CEO of the Mortgage Collaborative; Carol Bouchner from Genworth Financial; Mike Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending; and Lisa Rice from the National Fair Housing Alliance, to name just a few. We discussed the latest data from organizations like Moody’s Analytics and the Urban Institute, and how to move forward on housing finance reform and the growing minority homeownership gap. We also met with Congresswoman Katie Porter, a member of the House Financial Services Committee and expert on affordable housing in her own right.

In Cleveland, I got to catch up with Jim Rokakis, director of the Thriving Communities Office of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy and a national leader in land banking and blight elimination. Jim and I worked closely on the creation of the Hardest Hit Fund’s blight elimination program, and he continues to be a leading figure in the fight to help those neighborhoods most devastated by the housing crisis recover. While in Detroit, I had the opportunity to catch up with Erica Raleigh, executive Director of Data Driven Detroit (D3). D3 was a key leader in the effort to survey every parcel of land in the City of Detroit during its bankruptcy crisis, a project that has empowered the city and its stakeholders to attack neighborhood decay with precision, and an ongoing effort that has resulted in the stabilization of many of Detroit’s neighborhoods.

These trips are the highlight of my work here and always remind me how important all of our members are to ensuring safe, decent and affordable housing for all in America.
David Dworkin
NHC President and CEO
News from Washington I By Tristan Bréaux and
Quinn Mulholland
New NAREB president calls for a focus on black millennial homeownership

Newly installed NAREB President Donnell Williams called for a focus on millennials as a way of increasing black homeownership at the 72 nd Annual NAREB Convention on Aug. 1. This issue is especially urgent given the recent news that the black homeownership rate reached an all-time low in the first quarter of 2019. “My plan to reverse the downward slide is to reach the 1.7 million mortgage-ready black millennials who make over $100,000 annually but have delayed or not considered homeownership as part of their wealth building strategy,” Williams said. Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) also called for action to increase the black homeownership rate in an op-ed for CNN published last week.
Layton publishes paper on GSE reform

Former Freddie Mac CEO and current Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies fellow Don Layton published a paper last week on the issue of GSE reform. In the paper, Layton described a conversation with a senior Treasury Department official who said GSE reform “has already mostly happened.” Layton also argued in the paper that, given the low likelihood of congressional action on housing finance reform, it is possible for the GSEs to be taken out of conservatorship through administrative, rather than legislative, action. “There is no reason that the administration cannot put the GSEs on a path to be released from government control over the next several years,” Layton wrote.
HUD delays disaster aid to Puerto Rico

HUD announced on Aug. 2 that it would delay $9 billion in disaster recovery aid to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands out of concern for corruption. HUD also announced that it would appoint a federal financial monitor to oversee the disbursement of the disaster aid to Puerto Rico. Disaster aid for states including Texas, North Carolina and California will not be delayed. Meanwhile, several local news outlets in California reported about Butte County residents’ difficulty finding landlords that would accept Section 8 vouchers after they lost their housing in the deadly 2018 Camp Fire. The New York Times Magazine published a lengthy piece in last Sunday’s edition on the Camp Fire, the deadliest in California’s history.
Fannie report details benefits of shopping for a mortgage

Fannie Mae published a report last week by Senior Vice President and Chief Economic Doug Duncan on the benefits of shopping around for a mortgage. According to the report, mortgage borrowers who received five or more offers saw a difference of over $2,000 between the highest and lowest fees. However, over a third of homebuyers said they did not shop around before choosing a mortgage lender. “By not shopping around to give themselves leverage when negotiating their mortgage,” Duncan wrote, “some homebuyers are leaving money on the table.” The report also noted stark racial differences in shopping around—about 72 percent of white borrowers reported shopping around, compared to 10 percent of Hispanic borrowers, 7 percent of black borrowers, and 5 percent of Asian borrowers.
Democratic presidential candidates unveil rural plans

Three Democratic candidates—Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)— unveiled plans to help rural America last week, all of which included initiatives to expand rural Americans’ access to high-speed broadband. Warren’s plan calls for publicly-owned and operated broadband networks and mentions her proposal to invest $523 million in rural affordable housing and $2.5 billion in rehabilitation for 200,000 homes on tribal lands. Klobuchar’s plan addresses affordable housing as well, calling for expanding rural rental assistance programs and strengthening protections for mobile homeowners. And Gillibrand’s plan calls for a $50 billion Rural Future Partnership fund to be used for priorities including affordable housing.
Chart of the Week
Wealth gap 8-10x larger for Blacks and Latinx since 1963

The gap between white and Latinx and black Americans has exploded and continues to widen, according to data presented by the Urban Institute. NHC believes that the significant erosion of housing wealth since the 2009 housing crash through equity extraction and foreclosure has exacerbated this trend. 
Median wealth by race/ethnicity
What we're reading
The Center for American Progress published a report showing that extreme weather caused by climate change is exacerbating the affordability crisis. The report makes several policy recommendations, including expanding rental assistance and homelessness assistance programs and increasing funding for disaster mitigation strategies. Read the report here.

In an article published last weekend, the New York Times found that the disappearance of the mortgage-interest deduction, once a primary means of federal homeownership assistance, has had little effect on middle-class neighborhoods across the country. The article notes that, as a result of the 2017 tax overhaul, far fewer households are claiming the deduction, yet there is no indication that house prices or buying activity have changed. Read the article here.

The Boston Globe reported last week that three large Boston hospitals are teaming up to launch a $3 million initiative to help families facing eviction. The plan reflects a growing consensus that a strong connection exists between good health and affordable, quality housing. Read the article here.

The International Monetary Fund has issued a new study that finds “strong evidence that increasing house price and income inequality has reduced long distance migration, the type most linked to jobs.” According to the study, migration to more prosperous locations is disincentivized because higher housing prices trump higher earnings, and migration to less prosperous locations is disincentivized because lower earnings trumps lower house prices. 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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