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Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
News from Washington
Biden taps Todman as deputy HUD secretary

President Biden announced his intention to nominate Adrianne Todman as deputy secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Wednesday. Todman is currently the CEO of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), and has also served as the executive director of the District of Columbia Housing Authority and in several other positions at HUD.

Todman’s nomination was welcomed by many housing leaders who pointed to her longtime leadership in the industry and extensive connections with housing groups and advocates. “Adrianne Todman would bring a perfect combination of experience to one of the nation’s most important positions in housing,” said NHC President and CEO David M. Dworkin. “She understands the needs of HUD’s primary constituencies, who are the housing and redevelopment officials throughout the country navigating HUD’s programs and successfully maximizing the impact of its funding.”

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who as Senate Banking Committee chair will play an important role in Todman’s confirmation, voiced his support as well. “Todman brings years of housing and community development experience from various perspectives – implementing national policy at HUD, running a large public housing agency, and working with practitioners across the country in her current role at [NAHRO] – that will serve the agency well as Deputy Secretary of HUD,” he said.
Members of Congress introduce new pro-housing legislation

A group of Senators and Representatives, led by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), introduced the Housing Supply and Affordability Act on Tuesday. The legislation seeks to alleviate the housing supply crisis by spurring local governments to allow increased housing production through a new Local Housing Policy Grant (LHPG) program administered by HUD.

“To truly address the issue of housing affordability, we need to look closely at what’s happening at the local level, and that is exactly what this bill does,” said Portman. “This bipartisan piece of legislation will provide localities and municipalities with resources to expand the supply of housing and increase affordability.”

To apply for grants, governments will be required to draft “housing policy plans” that address local housing supply constraints and center housing production around existing transit and jobs centers. The legislation is notable for directing HUD to give preference to LHPG grant applications from regional coalitions of governments. The idea was highlighted in a recent report from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation that called for housing policy that does not “artificially stop at jurisdictional borders.”

NHC joined a coalition of over 100 housing organizations and other stakeholders in supporting the legislation, along with the National Association of REALTORS®, National Multifamily Housing Council and Up for Growth Action. LHPG “incentivizes recipients to develop housing policies that eliminate artificial barriers to housing production, including exclusionary zoning,” said Up for Growth Action Executive Director Mike Kingsella.
Senate takes up Violence Against Women Act

The House of Representatives passed a new version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) last Wednesday, a vital hurdle in funding programs for victims of domestic and intimate partner violence. Cases of domestic violence have risen during the pandemic as stay-at-home orders force people to isolate, leading to increased concern for victims who no longer had daily escapes from their situation. VAWA provides for housing services for victims of abuse to prevent them being forced to choose between remaining with their abuser and homelessness.

VAWA requires federally assisted housing programs to follow certain guidelines to prevent and address domestic violence. The version passed by the House also authorizes $20 million in funds for emergency transfer services for victims, as well as a mandate for VAWA-related transfers to take priority over non-emergency transfers on waiting lists.

This is the second time a reauthorization of VAWA has passed the House. A version passed the lower chamber in 2019 but never made it to the Senate floor for consideration. The reauthorization includes staunchly debated provisions that expand protections for transgender individuals and close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” for firearm purchases. The bill also expands the definition of a “covered housing program,” adding five additional programs that must comply with VAWA regulations. The bill now passes to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Quicken Loans founder invests $500 million in Detroit neighborhoods

Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert announced a $500 million investment in neighborhoods in Detroit on Thursday. The first $15 million will be reserved to cover delinquent property taxes that have contributed to blight in the city. The investment is being made by the Gilbert Family Foundation and Rocket Community Fund. It aims to expand the city’s revitalization outside of its downtown and build wealth in neighborhoods that still have not recovered from the effects of the Great Recession.

Gilbert has led efforts to reinvest in Detroit’s downtown. He moved Quicken Loans’ headquarters there in 2010 and supported plans to create a walkable city center that continue to fuel the city’s tech boom. He characterized the foundations’ investment as a "bridge" between the resurgence of the city’s downtown and neighborhoods outside of it.

The initial $15 million is expected to preserve more than $400 million in wealth and home equity for Detroit homeowners, for whom unpaid property taxes have been a major cause of foreclosure in recent years. “The greatest resource of any community is its people,” said Gilbert. “We are honored to be able to invest in removing this tax burden, which will build a stronger foundation for Detroit families to thrive.”
HUD invests $450 million in COVID-19 relief for tribal communities

HUD announced a major investment of $450 million through Indian Housing Block Grants (IHBG) for Native American communities to respond to COVID-19. The relief funds will go towards housing development, operation and maintenance, housing modernization, housing services, and affordable housing development in nearly 600 tribal communities across Indian country.

In a statement announcing the funds, Fudge emphasized the Biden administration’s commitment to equity for communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. “HUD understands the significance of our responsibility to serve American Indian and Alaska Native families,” said Fudge. “The Department is dedicated to working in a government-to-government manner with Tribes to quickly bring much-needed relief to Tribal communities.”
Chart of the week
Chart of the week: Extremely low-income renters face a shortage of 3.4 million units

A new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that 7.4 million rental units nationwide were affordable to the country’s 10.8 million extremely low-income renter households, leaving a gap of 3.4 million units. “Extremely low-income renters are the only income group facing this absolute shortage of affordable homes,” the report notes.
What we're reading
The Arizona Department of Health Services has launched a new campaign promoting receipt of the COVID-19 vaccine. The series of public service announcements are airing in both English and Spanish, with David Adame, president and CEO of Chicano Por La Casa, delivering the Spanish version. He urges “When it’s your turn, join the millions of Arizonans who have already been vaccinated and get your shot.”

Seattle for Growth Director Roger Valdez tells state and local governments to “Stop Playing Games With Rent Relief” in an op-ed for Forbes. Valdez argues that time spent creating complex administrative schemes is time in which emergency rent assistance funds are “evaporating.” “We can make the distribution of rent relief more efficient if state and local governments get out of the way and allow banks and credit unions to work with their customers to get a tally of unpaid rent, put the money in their accounts, and settle the details later,” Valdez says.

The New York Times reports on the latest winners of the highest prize in architecture, a French couple who have done extensive work rehabilitating subsidized housing in the suburbs of Paris and other cities in France. “There are too many demolitions of existing buildings which are not old, which still have a life in front of them, which are not out of use,” said Anne Lacaton, describing the couple’s development philosophy.

An article from The Atlantic investigates the highly unusual divergence in rent and home price trends in large cities over the past year, in which rent prices have cratered while home prices skyrocketed. According to the article, the situation is the result of remote workers who have seen stable incomes during the pandemic increasingly opting for suburban home purchases and social distancing precautions rendering many urban amenities unattractive.
The week ahead
Monday, March 29, 2021
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Thursday, April 1, 2021
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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