March 28, 2017

Community Developments: Possible FY17 Budget Cuts, Veteran Homelessness

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  • The White House has followed up its proposed budget cuts for fiscal year 2018 (FY 18) with a wish list of $18 billion worth of immediate reductions for the current fiscal year, including cuts to medical research, infrastructure and community development programs. According to the Associated Press (AP), the Community Development Block Grant program would be halved, amounting to a cut of $3 billion. These dollars would be redirected to additional defense spending and funding to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The wish list is not an official Administration proposal, but was sent to Congress as a set of options for GOP staff and lawmakers crafting a catch-all spending bill for the ongoing budget year, which ends September 30. Congress must pass a spending plan for the remainder of FY 17 by the April 29 deadline, or risk a government shutdown. (The Seattle Times | AP, March 28)
  • Housing advocates and local officials fear that deep cuts to the federal budget could defund the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), harming efforts to end veteran homelessness. According to USICH, which is up for elimination under the Trump Administration’s proposed FY 18 budget, homelessness among veterans has been effectively ended in several states and the number of homeless veterans nationwide has dropped 47 percent since 2010. However, defunding USICH, which coordinates the efforts of 19 federal agencies that help prevent and end homelessness, would dramatically slow efforts to address this need. (The Washington Post | AP, March 28)
  • A new report by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reviews Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s collective effort to shift credit risk to investors with the goal of protecting taxpayers. According to the report, the government-sponsored entities (GSEs) transferred $18.1 billion of credit risk on mortgages over the past year. The report also shows that the GSEs have now transferred nearly $49 billion of credit risk on $1.4 trillion in unpaid principal balance since the risk-sharing programs began in 2012. (HousingWire, March 27)
  • The Trump Administration is meeting resistance from the housing industry as it ramps up deportations and enacts policies making it harder for people to enter the country. The National Association for Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) has put immigration at the top of its policy agenda for the first time, over traditional housing concerns. Hispanic households are critical players in the building and sale of single-family homes, which account for about one-sixth of the U.S. economy, according to NAHREP. A growing body of research shows that the future of the housing market will depend on Hispanic households. (Politico PRO, March 28)
  • A recent analysis looks at monthly rental costs in the world's top 30 financial centers, comparing rents in U.S. cities to those across the world. The report finds the average rents for one-bedroom apartments between 600 and 999 square feet in each city, including in Boston, Geneva, Hong Kong, New York, San Francisco and Zurich. According to the report, New York City is the most expensive financial center for a one-bedroom apartment, with an average monthly rent of $3,680, followed by San Francisco, Boston and Hong Kong. (CNBC, March 26)

  • President Trump is expected to sign an executive order today that calls on Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to take steps to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, a set of rules regulating energy plants powered by fossil fuels. The plan, which would have regulated carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-powered electricity plants, has been tied up in courts for more than a year. As the federal government seeks to scale back federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions, states and cities are likely to take on a larger role in charting the course forward. (The New York Times & The Washington Post, March 27)

  • On Monday, President Trump signed bills overturning two education regulations, including requirements for programs that train new teachers and rules outlining how states must carry out the Every Student Succeeds Act. Members of Congress who voted in favor of overturning the regulations say that the accountability rules were an executive overreach, while those who voted in opposition argue that rescinding the rules opens loopholes that states can use to shield poorly performing schools from scrutiny, particularly those that serve low-income children, students of color, English-language learners and students with disabilities. (The Washington Post, March 27)

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