April 4, 2017

Community Developments: Housing Credit Sign-On Letter, Dear Colleague Letters

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  • As previously reported in Community Developments, Representative Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) and Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-Mass.) recently introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (H.R. 1661), bipartisan legislation to strengthen the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit). The Tiberi-Neal legislation is the House companion to S. 548, introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in March. The ACTION Campaign will be submitting a letter to Congress demonstrating its strong support for the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act. Read the letter and sign on to support the Tiberi-Neal legislation. The deadline for signing the letter is Friday, April 7.
  • Representative Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) has drafted a Dear Colleague letter urging appropriators to fund the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (NeighborWorks America) at $175 million in fiscal year 2018. Like many other affordable housing and community development programs, funding for NeighborWorks America is at risk of elimination. Enterprise encourages affordable housing advocates and organizations to call their Representative and urge them to sign on to the letter. The deadline to sign the NeighborWorks Dear Colleague letter is close of business today. Also closing today is a Dear Colleague letter led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) that asks appropriators to increase the unit cap for the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) and provide $50 million in funding for the program. The deadline for Senators to sign the RAD Dear Colleague letter is close of business today.
  • In the Senate, two other housing-related Dear Colleague letters are circulating. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is urging members to support full funding for the Public Housing Operating Account and $5 billion for the Public Housing Capital Account. The deadline for Senators to sign on to the Public Housing Dear Colleague letter is Wednesday, April 5. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) is urging members to support adequate funding levels for rural housing programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The deadline for Senators to sign on to the rural housing Dear Colleague letter is Friday, April 21.
  • At the National Low Income Housing Coalition conference yesterday, HUD Secretary Ben Carson said that the Trump Administration will seek to include housing funding in a future infrastructure spending bill. “This administration considers housing a significant part of infrastructure in our country,” said Sec. Carson, “and as such, the infrastructure bill that is being worked on has a significant inclusion of housing in it.” (The Washington Post, April 3) Enterprise supports making housing part of any infrastructure spending bill. However, including housing in an infrastructure package would not sufficiently make up for cuts to HUD programs that were proposed by the White House. In a recent blog post, Marion McFadden, vice president for public policy at Enterprise, writes that Congress must reject these proposed budget cuts to HUD’s programs, since they would damage or eliminate vital domestic programs that address local needs. Read Marion’s blog post on the Enterprise blog.
  • As the need for affordable rental housing has skyrocketed in recent years, Congress has slashed funding for crucial federal programs that help local governments meet their local housing and community development needs. In a new blog post, Enterprise’s John Griffith summarizes several policy tools available to cities and counties to raise resources for housing, including local housing bonds, dedicated sales and property taxes, linkage fees, document recording fees and real estate transfer taxes, tax increment financing, and hotel and short-term rental taxes. According to Griffith, additional strategies cities could use include mandatory inclusionary housing ordinances, voluntary incentives for affordable housing development, strategies for developing affordable housing on public sites, partnerships with local impact investors and anchor institutions, and strong legal protections for renters. Learn more about local tools for developing and preserving affordable housing in Enterprise’s blog post.

  • When working on tax reform, it is important for lawmakers to consider implications for federal housing policy, writes Michael Stegman, a fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, and Dennis Shea, former assistant secretary for policy development and research at HUD. Stegman and Shea believe that federal housing policy should advance two major goals: expand opportunities for creditworthy households to make first-time home purchases and mitigate the severe cost burdens experienced by millions of low-income renter families. According to Stegman and Shea, the federal tax code, as written, fails to promote either objective effectively. (U.S. News & World Report, April 3)

  • Citing an example in Charlotte, N.C., an article in The Atlantic examines the fact that economic mobility levels in Southern cities rank the lowest across the country. According to data by the Equality of Opportunity Project, research led by Stanford University’s Raj Chetty, children born into the bottom quartile of the income distribution in Southern cities have the lowest chance of making it to the top quartile of the income distribution compared with other cities. According to the data, cities with low levels of economic mobility, such as Atlanta, Charlotte and New Orleans, tend to be more racially segregated, have a higher share of poverty than the national average, have higher levels of income inequality and have lower levels of social capital. (The Atlantic, April 4)

  • As Fair Housing Month begins, it is important to look back at the landmark legislation that was passed in 1968. A new article by Zillow provides an overview of the Fair Housing Act, what it does, how it’s enforced, the challenges it faces and what its continued evolution may look like going forward. (Zillow, April 3)

  For the latest housing and community development news and notes, follow the Enterprise policy team on Twitter: @E_Housing Policy and subscribe to the Capitol Express Newsletter. The Enterprise Public Policy team works to safeguard, expand and improve programs that end housing insecurity. Learn more about our public policy efforts.