Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
November 7, 2018
President's Message I By David M. Dworkin

It’s clear today that Housing is the big winner in this year’s election . As a result, NHC is poised to be a big winner in this year’s election, as the affordable housing crisis is a top line agenda item for many newly elected members of Congress in part because the housing crisis is impacting so many of their constituents, from middle income families  to rising evictions and growing homelessness. Housing policy is most successful and most impactful when it is inclusive and bipartisan, and nothing forces bipartisan solutions like a divided government.

So, a Republican Senate and Democratic House can serve housing well if members of Congress are given thoughtful answers to the questions they are being asked by their constituents: Why is it still so hard to get a mortgage on an affordable house? Why is my rent so high? Why are there so many people experiencing homelessness in my city? Why do I owe more on my student loans now than I did when I graduated five years ago? Why do I still live with my parents? Why can’t I afford to live in the neighborhood my parents did? Where am I going to live when I retire on Social Security? Asking these questions is the easy part. Answering them with action and results is much harder, but it is what NHC was created to do.

This country’s first comprehensive housing act was passed in 1937 and it was developed and fought for by NHC. The next one was in 1949, and again NHC was in the lead. We advocated for HUD for 10 years before it became a cabinet agency, and for six years we were a part of the coalition to create the Fair Housing Act before it became law. Today, America is overdue for a comprehensive national housing policy and NHC will once again be in the lead. Through our Policy Committee and National Advisory Committee, we will embark on a process of study, consultation and consensus building to develop the National Housing Act of 2021 – a national housing policy for the 21 st century. By the end of the year, we will have a set of principles and detailed proposals for a comprehensive approach to realizing our mission: that everyone in America should have equal opportunity to live in a quality, affordable home in a thriving community – everyone.

This conversation will begin at Solutions for Affordable Housing 2018 – just three weeks away from now. You can join housing leaders throughout the country, current and many newly elected members of Congress, senior officials from the Treasury Department and HUD, as well as major congressional leaders (announcement to come soon) to discuss the future of housing in America. It’s not too late to register today. Anyone can attend Solutions, but only members of NHC can participate in our policymaking process, and we need your experience and vision. Join or renew your membership today. We are looking forward to working with you.

David M. Dworkin
President and CEO
What Congress means to housing

by  Tristan Bréaux and David M. Dworkin

Last night, Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives after eight years of Republican leadership. In 1994, Speaker Newt Gingrich led a similarly historic change when Republicans gained 54 House seats. He was successful by establishing an agreement with voters across the country in the “Contract with America.” The progressive strategy this year was entitled “A Better Deal,” which laid the pathway for the historic wins last night. Candidates who offered little more than support or opposition to President Trump largely failed. Those who came with a solution to the problems they saw, especially governors and candidates for the House of Representatives, did much better.

While we won’t have a precise picture on how the new Congress will shape up until a couple of weeks from now, there is no doubt that there will be a shake up within committee assignments in the 116 th Congress.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) will most certainly take the helm of the House Financial Services Committee and will add at least 13 new members of Congress to the Financial Services dais. Those who know her best believe that she will challenge conventional expectations and seek common ground on issues facing housing and financial regulations. As noted in a Politico article last week, many of her colleagues on the Republican side see her a consensus builder and one that they can work with, notwithstanding her tough campaigning style and opposition media persona. The Republicans will retain control of the Senate Banking Committee, but many leadership positions, including the chairmanship, remain undecided.

On day one of the transition period, this is how we see this election impacting housing issues in Congress:

  • The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance might see Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (Mo. 5th District) as its new chairman. In addition to his passion to increase rural development, he is a strong advocate for low-income housing production and addressing the crumbling infrastructure of our public housing properties. This could be a win for Opportunity Zones and GSE reform, but flood insurance will likely remain a challenge.
  • The New England region will feel the departure of Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), who played a centrist role. It is unclear whether Representative Elect Ayanna Pressley, who replaced him, will be interested in, or given a seat on that committee by the House leadership. Two additional rural Republicans Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) and Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.) were both replaced by younger Democrats.
  • Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) could become the Chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. Clay is a proponent of rural development under Rural Housing Services.
  • The future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be decided in part by a new leader of the Financial Institutions Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities, and Investments. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) is set to take over the subcommittee as Congress addresses almost certain administrative action by the Trump administration and new leadership at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). With the departure of former Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Rep. John Delaney (R-Md.) from the overall Committee and the Congress, efforts to eliminate Fannie and Freddie by statute will be shelved unless Hensarling is nominated to lead FHFA and confirmed by the Senate’s newly increased Republican majority.
  • On the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Housing, Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) will work to advance funding and spending levels for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • In the Senate, the Banking Committee will lose Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.), three moderate Democrats and a moderate Republican, respectively. That leaves a lot of open seats on the Senate Banking Committee, which we expect to see filled during the week our members are in Washington for the Solutions for Affordable Housing 2018 convening on Nov. 27-28.

All things considered equal, the results of last night’s election are positive for affordable housing, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and rural development. Consensus on housing finance reform and Community Reinvestment Act modernization will be led by the administration and prudential regulators but will require support or oversight by Congress. Next week, we’ll have more on the agenda for the lame duck session that will begin on Nov. 13 and run into December. 
News from Washington I By Tristan Bréaux and
Kaitlyn Snyder
AHTCC webinar: 2018 midterm election impacts on affordable housing

Join the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition (AHTCC) at 4 p.m. EST on Nov. 8 for a webinar analyzing what the 2018 midterm election results will mean for affordable housing. Learn about the future makeup and leadership of key committees, and what the election results will mean for our current and future affordable housing champions. Panelists will also discuss how the midterm election may impact the legislative agenda during the lame duck session and the next Congress. Register here
California passes $6 billion in new funding for affordable housing

Yesterday, California voters approved Propositions 1 and 2, which will provide a combined $6 billion in new funding for the development and preservation of affordable and supportive homes. Proposition 1 will dedicate about $4 billion in funding to build and preserve housing, including supportive housing, and provide homeowner assistance through a variety of proven and effective programs. The state is expected to issue its first notices of funding availability in spring 2019. With $2 billion, Proposition 2 will build an additional 20,000 supportive rental homes that will provide mental health services to help end homelessness for thousands of people.

California voters also voted down Proposition 10, which would repeal existing state law that prohibited local governments from enacting rent control on most housing units occupied since 1995. Prop 10 was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind.- Vmt.) and many progressive activists but and opposed by the National Association of REALTORS® and the National Multifamily Housing Council. The ballot initiative was resoundingly defeated by voters, 61.69 percent to 38.31 percent. Governor-elect and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) said he was open to fewer restrictions on rent control, but that outright repeal would “have unintended consequences on housing production that could be profoundly problematic.”
FHFA webinar on FHLBanks proposed rule

Tomorrow at 2 p.m. EST the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is hosting a webinar on its new proposed rule, Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBanks) Housing Goals Amendments. Register here. FHFA is seeking comments on proposed amendments to the existing regulation for the new housing goals. The proposed rule would:

  • Set a single prospective mortgage purchase housing goal as a share of each FHLBanks' total Acquired Member Asset (AMA) purchases.
  • Set a new small member participation housing goal for participation by small institutions.
  • Eliminate the volume threshold and instead allow FHLBanks to propose different goals levels for mortgage purchases and small member participation, subject to FHFA approval.
  • Simplify and expand the eligibility criteria to enable federally backed loans to count for goals purposes. 
FHFA announces 2019 multifamily lending caps for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac  

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that the 2019 multifamily lending caps for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) will be $35 billion for each Enterprise, unchanged from the 2018 caps. The caps are based on FHFA’s projections of the overall size of the 2019 multifamily originations market, which FHFA expects to be relatively flat compared to the market in 2018. In setting the caps, FHFA also considers multifamily market estimates developed by industry participants and analysts. FHFA also made changes to loans to finance energy or water efficiency improvements and on affordable units in cost-burdened renter markets. 
Farewell and good luck to Kaitlyn Snyder

NHC Policy and Research Associate Kaitlyn Snyder is leaving us at the end the week for a new opportunity as director of policy at the National Housing & Rehabilitation Association. It’s a great opportunity for Kaitlyn, and we wish her the best! Applications for NHC’s policy and research associate position and director of communications and marketing are being accepted now. Learn more here .
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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