Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
July 3, 2018
President's Message I By David M. Dworkin
Dear Friend,

When HUD Sec. Ben Carson testified before the House Financial Services Committee last week, an issue we had hoped was dead and buried reemerged in the public debate: Whether to raise rents on the poorest residents living in HUD-assisted households. Earlier in the month, he suggested the Trump administration was backing away from the controversial plan, which has served as a distraction from the hard work of developing sensible, bipartisan public housing reforms. But at the hearing, Sec. Carson said as many as 400,000 people would likely be impacted by the increases.

Let’s break down what we are talking about. For many people, a rent increase from $50 a month to $150 can sound like it’s still quite a bargain. And it would be, if you earned $25,000 per year. But the people who pay $50 don’t live on $25,000 a year; they live on $2,500 – which is a little more than $200 per month. Increasing their rent to $150 means reducing the money they have to eat, or buy medicine, or ride the bus, from $5 a day to less than $2. Think about that for a moment. In America today, there are 400,000 people who live in public housing and only have $5 a day to pay all of their bills.

What happens if these 400,000 people choose food over rent? They would nearly double the homeless population. So in addition to the tragedy of putting them and their children on the street, the government ends up spending much more than the $100 per month they saved on a wide range of costs that are also paid by the taxpayer. It’s not just bad policy and bad politics, it’s also bad math. When Sec. Carson says that “obviously, we have to be concerned with fiscal responsibility as well as compassion and we have to do what we need to do to make the budget fit,” he makes a compelling argument against the rent increases.

The current system has real problems that need to be solved; recommending raising rents on the poorest people among us detracts from the work that needs to take place. If Sec. Carson is serious about solving them, and I believe that he is, he needs to repudiate this counterproductive approach that will serve only to hurt hundreds of thousands of people and help no one.

David M. Dworkin
President and CEO
News from Washington I By Kaitlyn Snyder &
Patrick Clifford
Register for NHC's webinar on the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act

Join NHC for our July Restoring Neighborhoods Task Force webinar on July 11 at 2 p.m. EDT. This webinar will feature a presentation from Buzz Roberts, president and CEO of the National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders (NAAHL) on the Neighborhood Homes I nvestm ent Act (NHIA). NHIA would add single-family rehabilitation as an eligible use for private activity bonds to address the appraisal gap for distressed single-family properties. NHC and NAAHL are part of a coalition working to advance the proposal in Congress. Register here

Furman Center issues brief on NYC development, preservation programs

NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy recently released, “ The State of New York City’s Subsidized Housing in 2017 .” The brief reviews the major programs used to develop and preserve affordable housing in the city and provides the number and location of properties benefiting from a subsidy or incentive in 2017. It also discusses when affordability restrictions on some of those properties will expire unless renewed by the owners and the housing agencies. The authors found that across the entire city, 11 percent of properties with a subsidy are eligible to expire out of affordability restrictions by 2023.

HUD announces winners of 2018 Healthy Homes Awards

HUD recently announced the 2018 winners of the Healthy Homes Awards. This year’s winners are Baltimore’s Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, an organization committed to combating childhood lead poisoning and to creating energy efficient homes; the Fort Collins, Colo., Healthy Homes Program and DIY Assessment Tool, a local government program addressing residential indoor air quality; the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority/Thurgood Marshall Apartments, which have created hundreds of small, affordable housing units for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness and for persons who suffer from alcoholism and the North Carolina State University and Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine for their work in investigating the role of cockroaches in the quality of homes in inner cities and the role of asthma in the morbidity of low income children in the United States.

House passes Credit Access and Inclusion Act of 2017

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Credit Access and Inclusion Act of 2017 (H.R. 435) by a voice vote. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act to allow the reporting of certain positive consumer-credit information to consumer reporting agencies. Specifically, utility companies, telecom companies, public housing authorities (PHAs) and landlords could report on-time payments, as opposed to only late or missed payments. The bill does not require reporting of this data and does not provide any additional funding for PHAs or landlords of HUD-assisted households. The bill also requires the Government Accountability Office to report on the consumer impact of such reporting within two years of final passage. The bill now heads to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs for consideration.

U.S. District Court files immediate injunction against FEMA, rules TSA program must continue

On Saturday, June 30, the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts filed an injunction halting the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) from ending its Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program for evacuees from Puerto Rico until midnight today, July 3. The injunction allowed the plaintiffs and the class to “stay until checkout time on July 4, 2018.” On July 1, FEMA announced that the TSA program “has been extended until 5 July to comply with the court’s order.”

Yesterday, the U.S. District Court held a telephone hearing and today ruled that FEMA must continue the program until July 23, enabling the plaintiffs and the class to stay until checkout time on July 24. The defendants and plaintiffs are each required to submit additional information, after which the judge will decide if an additional hearing is necessary. For more on this, view this press release from LatinoJustice PRLDEF, one of the groups representing the plaintiffs in the case. 
Trump administration recommends moving USDA housing programs to HUD

In addition to the Trump administration’s proposal to reform the nation’s housing finance system , the plan to reorganize the federal governmen t also includes a recommendation to “move USDA’s rural housing loan guarantee and rental assistance programs HUD.” The administration argues that “having both USDA and HUD housing programs administered by HUD would allow both agencies to focus on their core missions and, over time, further align the federal government’s role in housing policy.” The full proposal can be found on pages 35 and 36 of the reform plan and reorganization recommendations document . For more on the legislative history and inherent challenges behind this proposal, view this blog post from the Housing Assistance Council

HUD publishes two RAD notices
Today, HUD published two Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) notices today that expand the tools participants have to preserve and recapitalize properties. The first notice implements provisions from the FY 2018 Appropriation Act, which authorized an additional 230,000 public housing units to convert under RAD. The second notice introduces five changes to the public housing conversion process. On Monday, July 9, at 2 p.m. EST, HUD will host a webinar on the provisions of both notices. Register here
The National Housing Conference has been defending the American Home since 1931. 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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