Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
November 14, 2018
President's Message I By David M. Dworkin

This week, one of the world’s largest and most successful companies, Amazon, announced it would open two new “headquarter” locations in Queens, New York and Arlington, Virginia with a total of 50,000 new jobs. This should be great news, and in fact dozens of cities fought hard to be chosen, pledging billions of dollars of tax breaks and cash. Instead, much like the end of an online binge buying spree, anxiety has been the headline. The reason can be summed up in one word – housing. 

During my interview on FOX Business News with Blake Burman, I stressed that Amazon’s investment can be a win-win only if we get the housing right. According to NHC’s Paycheck to Paycheck database, Amazon’s workforce will have to earn at least $105,000 to purchase a modest home in the D.C. area, and earn over $70,000 to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment. Those costs will only get higher unless we invest in more affordable housing. If we don’t, Amazon’s employees will soon find themselves in the same bind they are in Seattle, where most cannot afford to live anywhere close to where they work. 

Understandably, the impact 25,000 additional employees will have on traffic and housing has made some residents and elected officials in these two areas very uneasy about Amazon’s plans. Condos in Queens and Arlington are already being bid up by speculators, and affordable housing units have been in short supply for some time. Arlington County had 20,000 privately-owned apartments that were affordable to households earning 60 percent of the area median income or less in 2000. By 2017, there were less than 2,500 of these units on the market as rent increases and redevelopment have both escalated, according to NHC member The Alliance for Housing Solutions, a Arlington-based nonprofit. Significantly increasing affordable housing production is going to be a top priority in these markets and across the country.

It will take consensus, coalition-building and engagement from everyone involved to address the growing rental markets and homeownership. We also need to think holistically about housing. When homeownership rates go down, rents go up. When rents rise, low income renters are squeezed out of the market and some become homeless. In the past four years, the number of unsheltered homeless people in Seattle has doubled. 

Amazon has an opportunity to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. We hope they are part of the solution. The nation’s leading housing experts will discuss this and the need for other affordable housing production and more at our annual convening, Solutions for Affordable Housing 2018, on Nov. 27-28. We hope to see you there! 

David M. Dworkin
President and CEO
News from Washington I By Tristan Bréaux
HUD announces drop in veteran homelessness

HUD Secretary Ben Carson announced that veterans homelessness has declined by nearly half since 2010. The Annual Homeless Assessment Report found that the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in January 2018 dropped by 5.4 percent from the prior year. According to HUD, the decrease can largely be attributed to the HUD-VA Supportive Housing program, which combines housing choice vouchers with case management and services from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Mortgage rates hit seven-year high as buying sentiment drops

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey released Nov. 8 showed mortgage rates reached a seven-year high, averaging 4.94 percent, an increase of 11 basis points from the prior week. The increase is driven by continued strong business activity and employment growth. The higher rates have contributed to slower home price growth, primarily in coastal markets like California and Washington state. Meanwhile, Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index continued its downward trend during October as the share of Americans saying it’s a good time to buy a home fell 5 percentage points. 
Affordable housing ballot measures win big

State and local bond measures and propositions were big winners at the ballot box this year. In addition to California’s Proposition 1 and 2 (reported last week), ballot initiatives in places from Oregon to Florida helped allocate even more resources for affordable housing programs. Voters in a number of California cities and counties, Portland, Oregon; Broward County, Fl orida and Charlotte, North Carolina, were among others across the country to support new and expanded housing initiatives this year. In Oregon, voters statewide approved a measure that will encourage public-private partnerships for affordable housing funded by bond revenue. Austin voters overwhelmingly approved $250 million in new bonds, their largest bond ever dedicated to affordable housing.  
New research: Freddie Mac releases multifamily white papers
As part of its eight-part Duty to Serve series of white papers, Freddie Mac released three new reports examining efforts to encourage affordability and deconcentrate poverty. The reports explore efforts around the county to expand residential economic diversity, one of the areas of covered in the GSEs’ Duty to Serve regulation and plans. The new reports include: 

Opportunity Incentives in LIHTC Qualified Allocation Plans – More states are promoting affordable housing in high opportunity areas than previously thought.

Affordable Housing in High Opportunity Areas – Just 7 percent of the nation’s 75,000 subsidized affordable housing properties are in high opportunity areas.

Mixed-Income Housing in Areas of Concentrated Poverty – Although mixed-income housing can help increase economic and educational opportunity, there is a risk of resident displacement.

Diversity in housing types drives market stability 

Researchers at the University of Illinois have found that communities with less diversity in housing types have higher foreclosure rates. The researchers looked at diversity in housing types as well as allowable residential densities, and how these factors affected foreclosures during the Great Recession. Places with less housing diversity, particularly those limited to higher-cost housing options, may drive people to buy homes that are out of their reach financially.  
Is homeownership inherited?

A new study from the Urban Institute shows that children of homeowners are 7 to 8 percentage points more likely to be homeowners than children of renters, even adjusting for other factors. Parental wealth is also a factor, with a 10 percent increase in parents’ wealth increasing a person’s likelihood of owning a home by .15 to .20 percentage points. Together, these factors explain 12 to 13 percent of the homeownership gap between black and white young adults. Because the homeownership rate among older black households has declined significantly in the past 15 years, we may see long-term implications for future homeownership rates and racial homeownership and wealth gaps. 
Upcoming Events
Thursday, Nov. 15

Senate Banking Committee hearing

Annual hearing on Federal Reserve’s Supervision and Regulation of the Financial System featuring Randal Quarles, vice chairman for supervision.

Opportunity360 Community Engagement Toolkit webinar

Enterprise Community Partners webinar on the launch of the new Listen: The Community Engagement Toolkit with more than 40 resources to help with community engagement process. 

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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