Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
October 20, 2019
Feature Message I By Priya Jayachandran
Dear Friend,

This week, our guest blogger is Priya Jayachandran, president and CEO of the National Housing Trust and an active member of the NHC Board of Governors.

Kathleen Palmer’s story begins in Columbus, Ohio, where she lived in a slum apartment with no gas or electricity. It was her third apartment in less than a year: since the birth of her daughter and becoming a single mother, Kathleen struggled to maintain a job and shuffled from one poor quality home to the next. She feared that social services would take her child if they observed their current living conditions, so she made the wrenching decision to have her daughter live apart from her with a friend. Once wary of receiving government aid, Kathleen quickly realized that housing assistance would be the only way to prevent the choice between child custody and living on the streets. 

Over 11 million Americans spend over half their income on rent, yet affordable housing resources are scarce and under threat. We need to increase public investment in affordable housing, and in order to do that we need to change the way we advocate. We must expand our coalition beyond traditional housing stakeholders by unlocking and amplifying new voices and new channels to build awareness of housing needs. Storytelling can help achieve that.

In 2017, National Housing Trust (NHT) and Enterprise Community Partners launched Where Will We Live? to lift the voices of residents and community members in support of housing resources. The campaign uses storytelling to draw the connection between access to housing and health, education, and economic opportunity. Kathleen Palmer is one of nearly 200 residents and community members who opened their personal housing narrative to us to share.  Ultimately our goal is to use story to change perspective and inspire action through empathy and shared experience.

Priya Jayachandran
National Housing Trust President and CEO
News from Washington I By Tristan Bréaux and
Quinn Mulholland
NHC submits comments on HUD disparate impact rule

NHC submitted a comment letter on Friday opposing HUD’s proposed rule to raise the threshold for bringing housing discrimination claims under the disparate impact standard of the Fair Housing Act. “The disparate impact standard is one of the most important tools for reversing discrimination outlawed by the Fair Housing Act,” NHC President and CEO David Dworkin wrote in the letter. “It is imperative that it is not watered down.” Several other organizations also submitted comment letters, including the NYU Furman Center. HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also wrote dueling op-eds last week on the proposed rule, with Carson arguing for the rule change and Warren arguing against it.
Another presidential debate fails to mention housing

At the Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and the New York Times on Tuesday, the moderators once again failed to ask a single question about housing, despite many of the candidates recently unveiling housing plans, including most recently Beto O’Rourke. In a tweet after the debate, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro expressed his frustration at this lack of discussion on housing, in addition to climate change and immigration. Meanwhile, in an op-ed for CityLab, former New York City Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen argued that many Democratic candidates’ housing plans fall short on addressing the needs of public housing residents. “While topics like national rent control have gotten a lot of play,” Glen wrote, “our nation’s crumbling public housing stock hasn’t received a lot of solution-oriented attention, even though 2 million low-income Americans reside in it.”
Several committees hold housing-related hearings

Last week, lawmakers in the Senate and the House convened four housing-related hearings. The House Financial Services Committee held an oversight hearing on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Wednesday, at which Democrats including Chairwoman Maxine Waters criticized CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger for, among other things, weakening Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) requirements. Kraninger faced similar criticism from Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee, which held its own oversight hearing on the CFPB on Thursday. Additionally, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a hearing on Native American homeownership on Wednesday, at which Chairman John Hoeven (R-N.D.) questioned witnesses on difficulties those living on tribal lands face when applying for mortgages. On Thursday, the House Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access held a hearing on Opportunity Zones, featuring witnesses from the Urban Institute, the Kresge Foundation, the Opportunity Finance Network, and the Economic Innovation Group.
Courts strike down public charge rule

Federal judges in New York, California and Washington state all ruled against the Trump administration recently, blocking its public charge rule that would have made it harder for immigrants who use public benefits like subsidized housing to achieve legal status. The Justice Department is expected to appeal the decisions. More recently, a judge in Illinois also issued an order to block the public charge rule, siding with plaintiffs who argued that the rule would impose “real and irreparable harm to Cook County and the people who call it home.”
Chart of the Week
Northeast region leads country in new permit growth

According to a recently released analysis from the National Association of Home Builders, there were 3.7 percent fewer single-family permits issued overall in August 2019 compared to August 2018, with the Northeast being the only region to post an increase in permits. On the multifamily side, all regions posted increases in permits except for the West.According to a recently released analysis from the National Association of Home Builders, there were 3.7 percent fewer single-family permits issued overall in August 2019 compared to August 2018, with the Northeast being the only region to post an increase in permits. On the multifamily side, all regions posted increases in permits except for the West.
D.C. releases plan to increase affordable housing in affluent neighborhoods

The D.C. government unveiled a plan last week that would significantly increase the amount of affordable housing in the city’s most affluent neighborhoods, which currently have comparatively little such housing. The plan came after the results of a survey were released in which District residents overwhelmingly reported that the affluent neighborhoods west of Rock Creek Park did not have their fair share of affordable housing. The plan drew mixed reactions from residents of the affluent neighborhoods mentioned, some of whom applauded the plan while others warned it will face strong opposition. The District is currently facing a severe affordable housing crisis, with almost half of metro area renters considered cost-burdened, and a newly launched citywide tenants’ union attempting to help renters fight displacement.
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. 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.
What we're reading
NHC board member Anne McCulloch, CEO of the Housing Partnership Equity Trust, wrote a piece in Medium about how to make a difference in the fight for affordable housing. “We have to tackle the problem one building at a time,” McCulloch wrote. Read the full op-ed here.

In this Shelterforce article, they share the story behind African American sharecroppers being kicked out of their homes after participating in their voter registration drives and raising money to purchase a 6,000 acre parcel in Albany, Georgia. Read the full article here.

The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies released a report on housing inequality among older Americans on Wednesday. According to the report, the number of older adults facing housing cost burdens reached 10 million, an all-time high. Read the full report here.

An investigation by Spotlight PA found that the Opportunity Zones program has not benefitted the low-income communities in Pennsylvania it was targeted at. Reporter Charlotte Keith found that many of the lowest-income communities in the state have been passed up by investors in the program in favor of areas that are already seeing growth. Read the investigation here.

A new paper from researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that the number of home builders who made up 90 percent of a typical market dropped by a quarter. This oligopolization, the researchers argue, has contributed significantly to the lower housing supply and thus exacerbated the affordable housing crisis. Read the full paper 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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