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Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
October 27, 2019
President's Message I By David M. Dworkin
Dear Friend,

Two issues define our new housing crisis. How we address them will determine how our economy bears the next recession, and what kind of a country we will be in the decades ahead. These are the historic and enduring shortages of affordable housing for a growing number of working Americans, which has driven rising housing costs and rates of homelessness across the country; and the catastrophic collapse of homeownership for African Americans. To successfully address these issues, we need to do more than apply policy Band-Aids (although it’s better than doing nothing). We need to conduct major reconstructive surgery by passing a comprehensive National Housing Act for the 21 st century.

To be sure, critical policy issues like funding and tax credits for affordable housing construction, responsible modernization of the Community Reinvestment Act, and reform of our housing finance system play a major role in both these problems and potential solutions. NHC and our members are active in each of these important areas. But we need to think about this crisis holistically, and address it comprehensively, if we are going to be successful in achieving our mission of giving everyone in America equal opportunity to live in a quality, affordable home in a thriving community.

The National Housing Conference is playing an essential leadership role, gathering and leveraging the enormous expertise and experience of our members, who represent every facet of the affordable housing community, from the nation’s largest banks to our most prolific and impactful affordable housing developers, to our most passionate advocates. NHC is the place where housing leaders come to get things done. This is why our membership doubled over the past two years, and why now is the best time for you to renew your membership or join for the first time.

Skyrocketing housing costs
The cost of housing, for both homeowners and renters, is less affordable today than at any time in more than one hundred years – and it is on a steady path to get worse unless we act immediately. Affordable rental housing and entry level homeownership is out of reach for millions of working Americans from
Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon; from Nashville, Tennessee to Boise, Idaho. As NHC’s Paycheck to Paycheck database makes clear, this is not just a problem in San Francisco or Los Angeles, California, although these areas show us what is to come if we continue to ignore this growing crisis. In all of these communities, a carpenter cannot afford to live in the home that he or she builds.
Every morning, in cities in every region of the country, men and women wake up in a tent or a car, wash up in a restroom, and go to work. If you haven’t witnessed this yourself yet, you will. Over 4,000 homeless people in Los Angeles do it today, nearly 10 percent of its exploding homeless population. 

David M. Dworkin
NHC President and CEO
News from Washington I By Tristan Bréaux and
Quinn Mulholland
October Restoring Neighborhoods webinar: The end of veteran homelessness

This month's Restoring Neighborhoods Task Force webinar will feature a presentation by Tanya Torno, principal development specialist for the Housing Authority of the County of Riverside and Steve Berg, vice president for programs and policy for the National Alliance to End Homelessness. In 2018, Riverside, California ended homelessness for all veterans in the county by using a Housing First approach and orchestrating innovative cross-department coordination. Now the county is using their proven model to tackle chronic homelessness and more. Join us on Thursday, Oct. 31 from 2 to 3 p.m. EDT for a discussion about successes and solutions to ending homelessness at the local and federal level. Register here.
House Financial Services Committee holds hearing on Trump administration GSE reform plan

On Tuesday, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on the Trump administration’s recently announced plans to remove Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from conservatorship featuring testimony from HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and FHFA Director Mark Calabria. Chairwoman Waters strongly criticized the administration’s plans, saying in her opening statement, “the Trump Administration’s housing finance reform plan would be disastrous for our housing system.” In his testimony, Calabria suggested he would be willing to wipe out the shareholders of the GSEs, saying “If the circumstances present itself to where we have to wipe out the shareholders, we will.” In subsequent remarks at an Atlantic event on Thursday, Calabria explained the circumstances under which he would be willing to wipe out shareholders: “if they become insolvent.”
Lawmakers criticize HUD over delay of disaster relief for Puerto Rico

Officials from HUD faced severe criticism last week over the department’s handling of disaster relief funding for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. In an Oct. 17 House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Program, lawmakers castigated HUD officials after they admitted that the agency broke the law by missing a deadline for hurricane relief funding. Then, at a Tuesday House Financial Services Committee hearing, HUD Secretary Ben Carson faced additional criticism from Democrats, with some suggesting there were ulterior motives for the delay. “If it was not the inspector general, pushing for this delay, I wonder if this was politically motivated,” Representative Nydia Velázquez said at the hearing.
Zuckerberg testifies about Facebook’s housing practices before House committee

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, facing questions about Facebook’s alleged housing discrimination as well as its monopolistic practices and its role in enabling foreign interference in the 2016 election. In her opening statement, Chairwoman Maxine Waters noted that Facebook’s algorithms for housing advertisements “were found to have a discriminatory impact even when advertisers did not target their audience in discriminatory ways.” The day before the hearing, Facebook announced it would invest $1 billion to help ease California’s affordable housing crisis, the latest tech company to announce a major investment in affordable housing after Google and Microsoft made similar announcements earlier this year. Both JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo also announced affordable housing and anti-gentrification initiatives in Maryland and across the country, respectively.
We are looking forward to joining our ELAH contest winners in Chicago for Urban Institute's Foundations for the Future of Housing , Oct 28-30. Follow the action using #housingfuture2019
HUD charges California city with housing discrimination

HUD recently charged the city of Hesperia, California with violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against minority residents. According to the charge, Hesperia attempted to push out black and Latino residents through a 2015 ordinance forcing landlords to evict entire households for any criminal activity by a household member or guest. “HUD is committed to ensuring that people can live where they choose free from discrimination,” Carson said in an e-mail to Politico. “We are not going to allow minorities to be denied a place to call home simply because of how they appear.” Meanwhile, California continues to face an escalating homelessness crisis, and an intensifying backlash against people experiencing homelessness, according to the New York Times.
Supreme Court will hear challenge to CFPB structure

The Supreme Court recently agreed to review a legal challenge to the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The plaintiff in the case, a California-based law firm backed by the Trump administration, argued that a CFPB rule that the director can only be removed by the president for cause violates the constitutional separation of powers. The bureau was created in large part by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in the wake of the financial crisis. The CFPB engages in a range of consumer protection activities, including collecting and publishing data under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.
Chart of the Week
Housing construction barely keeping up with household growth 

In a recent blog post for the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, research analyst Alexander Hermann wrote that new housing construction has been remarkably low compared to household growth for the past eight years. Using data from the Joint Center’s 2019 State of the Nation’s Housing report, Hermann found that housing construction has barely kept pace with household growth for nearly a decade, a departure from previous decades when housing construction was significantly higher than household growth.
What we're reading
The Boston Herald covered the housing crisis in Boston in an article published Wednesday. The article, which cited NHC’s Paycheck to Paycheck database, showed that many households in the Boston metro area have incomes well below those needed to be able to afford a home. Read the article here.

The Detroit News published an op-ed from Jared Fleisher of Quicken Loans in response to a recent ProPublica article on the Opportunity Zones program. In the op-ed, Fleisher argued that the ProPublica story was flawed because Quicken Loans did not manipulate the process of designating Opportunity Zones in Michigan. Read the op-ed here.

The Washington Post examined how residents of Syracuse are discussing reparations as part of a plan to remove a highway in an in-depth article published last week. The highway’s construction, as in many cities, devastated a vibrant black neighborhood in Syracuse, leading some to advocate for a program to mend the harm caused by the highway. Read the article here.

In the latest episode of the Reveal News podcast, journalists examine a group of Wall Street titans who profited off the housing crash. Julia Gordon, the president of the National Community Stabilization Trust, an NHC member, is interviewed in the podcast. Listen to the podcast here.

In an astonishing article published Thursday, the New York Times dove into the housing conditions of immigrants in Queens. The article showed that many immigrants there live in illegal, cramped underground apartments that get little if any sunlight and often don’t have amenities like a stove. Read the full article 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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