Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
March 28, 2018
President's Message I By David M. Dworkin
Dear Friend,

I attended the New York Housing Conference (NYHC) policy symposium on the impact of the federal budget and policy changes in New York. Led by Rachel Fee, the NYHC supports the development and preservation of decent and affordable housing for all New Yorkers. 

I had the opportunity to moderate a panel, “Federal policy changes impacting investment in housing,” featuring Frank Korzekwinski, Flushing Bank; Dina Levy, NYS Homes & Community Renewal; Buzz Roberts, National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders; and Emily Cadik, Enterprise Community Partners. Our panel discussed the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), important provisions of the budget bill and prospects for housing finance reform. 

The Treasury Department is expected to release its report on CRA soon. NHC will host a special members-only webinar on the report shortly after its release. I hope this will be the first of many such offerings just for our members.

As I’ve shared in previous messages, the FY 2018 budget bill was the most important piece of housing legislation in years, expanding the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and increasing funding for both HOME (to $1.36 billion, its highest funding level in seven years) and CDBG (to $3.3 billion). The bill:

  • Increases the LIHTC allocation by 12.5 percent for four years (2018-2021), which adds back about 30,000 affordable housing units that would have been lost due to the negative impact on the value of the credit due to tax reform. 

  • Improves the LIHTC program by making income averaging permanent, creating a 60 percent area median income ceiling on entire developments, which allows for more mixed-income housing. Developers will be able to cross-subsidize units within a development, reaching lower-income tenants because of this new provision. 

  • Funds the Section 202 program at $105 million for new construction, which could result in 760 new units. This is the first new construction funding for 202 since FY 2011. 

  • Provides $82.6 million for about 1,840 new Section 811 housing for persons with disabilities units as well as a significant increase in Section 811 mainstream vouchers, which could serve more than 40,000 new households. Section 811 received the highest increase among major HUD programs, 57 percent over FY 2017. The last year Section 811 got new construction funding was FY 2010.

  • Provides about 2,500 new family unification program vouchers and about 5,100 new VASH vouchers.

  • Also increases the number of public housing units that can convert under the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program from 225,000 to 455,000 and extends the program through 2024. RAD allows public housing authorities to work with private-sector developers and managers to preserve their affordable housing stock

These funding levels are incredibly important, but they are not nearly enough to close the growing shortage of affordable housing units. You can see how significant this gap is by comparing typical salaries with area rents and homeownership costs in our Paycheck to Paycheck database

As I said during the conference in New York, these recent successes are due to the unprecedented level of bipartisan support developed by a broad coalition of housing groups including the ACTION Campaign, Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding, the HOME coalition, the CDBG coalition and many others.
All of this underscores the importance of effective, broad-based housing advocacy—the subject of the closing plenary of Solutions for Housing Communications next month here in D.C. I hope you’ve registered, or plan to do so soon.

Your membership in the National Housing Conference is vital to our ability to continue this important work around CRA, the Housing Credit and more. Thank you for your support. 
David M. Dworkin
President and CEO
News from Washington I By Kaitlyn Snyder
NLIHC launches multi-sector housing campaign

Last week, NHC member National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) launched its new Opportunity Starts at Home campaign at its Housing Policy Forum. This multi-sector campaign is designed to meet the rental housing needs of the nation’s lowest income people. NLIHC launched the campaign with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Children’s HealthWatch, NHC member Make Room and NHC member National Alliance to End Homelessness, and with a steering committee of partners including Catholic Charities USA, the Children’s Defense Fund, Community Catalyst, the Food Research and Action Center, NAACP, National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Association of Community Health Centers, the National Education Association and UnidosUS.
HUD, Houston enter into fair housing agreement 

Last week, HUD and the city of Houston announced a joint fair housing agreement designed to expand housing choice and mobility for lower-income residents, including those experiencing homelessness and victims of Hurricane Harvey. The agreement requires the city of Houston to broaden its voucher mobility programs by encouraging more landlord participation, invest in homeless assistance by providing a total of $7 million to help victims of Hurricane Harvey who became homeless, develop and adopt objective policies for Low Income Housing Tax Credit applications and seek comprehensive technical assistance from HUD to meet its obligations under the Fair Housing Act. 
Detroit creates affordable housing leverage fund

The city of Detroit recently announced the creation of a $250 million fund that would preserve 10,000 affordable housing units with expiring Low Income Housing Tax Credits and create 2,000 new units on vacant land or in existing vacant buildings by 2023. The fund will be comprised of $50 million in grant funds, $150 million in low-interest borrowing and $50 million in public funds from expected federal and city funds for affordable housing over the next five years.
HUD releases report on LIHTC tenants

HUD recently released “ Understanding Whom the LIHTC Serves: Data on Tenants in LIHTC Units as of December 31, 2015.” The report summarizes data received from the state housing finance agencies that administer the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and includes data on race, ethnicity, family composition, age, income, use of rental assistance, disability status and monthly rental payments for LIHTC tenants. 
New report on federal resiliency policy highlights how cities can become more resilient

NHC Gold member Enterprise Community Partners and 100 Resilient Cities jointly released a report, “ Safer and Stronger Cities: Strategies for Advocating for Federal Resiliency Policy.” The report offers a menu of federal policy recommendations that would help cities become more resilient in the face of changing conditions, focusing on infrastructure, housing, flood insurance, economic development and public safety. These recommendations provide a framework for cities and their champions to advocate for a collective federal resilience agenda. The report was prepared by Enterprise Community Partners in collaboration with Climate Resilience Consulting, Georgetown Climate Center and HR&A Advisors. 100 Resilient Cities is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.
Everyone in America should have equal opportunity to live in a quality, affordable home in a thriving community. The National Housing Conference educates decision makers and the public about housing policies and practices to move housing forward together. NHC convenes and collaborates with our diverse membership of housing stakeholders including tenant advocates, mortgage bankers, nonprofit and for-profit home builders, property managers, policy practitioners, real estate professionals, equity investors and more to advance our policy, research and communications initiatives to effect positive change at the federal, state and local levels. Founded in 1931, we are a nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
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