Draconian cuts at HUD
: The President's proposed 2018 budget includes unprecedented cuts at HUD - including total elimination of the CDBG, HOME, and Choice Neighborhoods programs - and severe cuts to our national community development infrastructure, including proposed elimination of funding for the Neighborworks technical assistance program, Section 4 capacity building grants, and the CDFI grants program at Treasury. All of these cost savings would go directly into increased military spending. This is of course completely contrary to the President's pledges to invest in the "inner city." As framed by Diane Yentel at the National Low Income Housing Coalition:
"President Trump proposes to cut overall HUD funding by 13% or $6.2 billion compared to 2016 levels. When compared to funding levels needed for FY 2017, the
proposed cuts amount to a 15% or $7.5 billion reduction. If enacted, Trump's proposed budget would result in the most severe cut to HUD since President Reagan dramatically reduced funding in the early 1980s. Reagan's deep spending cuts ushered in a new age of homelessness with a dramatic increase in the number of people sleeping on the streets, in cars, and in shelters."
PRRAC has joined Public Advocates, PolicyLink, and the Lawyers Committee in CarsonWatch, a new organizing and communications project designed to track and widely publicize any efforts by the new administration to roll back protections for our most vulnerable families and children. You can sign up here for regular updates.
Keeping school diversity alive
: We assisted the National Coalition on School Diversity in a letter to Education Secretary Devos urging her to release the funds for the innovative Opening Doors, Expanding Opportunity program. This grant program, which involved an allocation of School Improvement Grants from the old No Child Left Behind program, would award funds to up to ten school districts to assist in planning or implementing public school choice programs that support socioeconomic diversity.
Ascend in St. Louis:
This month, the St Louis nonprofit Ascend began counseling clients in a new housing mobility program designed to help low income families with housing choice vouchers move to low poverty neighborhoods throughout the region. The "Mobility Connection" program, operating in collaboration with the city and county housing authorities, will start out fairly small, but hopes to expand over time. PRRAC and the Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership have been working with the St. Louis group as part of our Mobility Works technical assistance effort.
LIHTC reform bill
: A proposed bill was introduced last week in the Senate to amend several key provisions of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. We were pleased to see changes that promote deeper income targeting for LIHTC developments, an increase in the number of low poverty areas (defined as "difficult to develop areas" in the statute) eligible for increased tax credits, limits on the ability of states to give local communities ability to scuttle projects by refusing to "contribute" to the development, and improved guidelines for states in their formulation of definitions of the "concerted community revitalization plan" requirement (a factor in tax credit awards to high poverty neighborhoods). Our comments on an earlier version of the bill can be found here, and we have also published a detailed "best practices" guide for concerted community revitalization plans, with assistance from the Yale Community and Economic Development Clinic.