April 3, 2017

Community Developments: HUD Cuts Hurt Communities, Families and Seniors

A daily roundup of news impacting housing and communities. Not receiving the Community Developments daily email yet? Sign up here. 

  • An article in The New York Times examines how deep cuts to HUD programs would impact communities and families across the U.S. HUD programs, such as the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), provide support to communities in ways that are often unknown to residents. For example, these programs help low-income homeowners afford needed repairs, provide supportive services like Meals on Wheels for seniors and supplement funding for infrastructure projects like road repairs. As previously reported in Community Developments, the White House has proposed eliminating HOME and CDBG funding in fiscal year 2018. As Marion McFadden, vice president for public policy at Enterprise, notes in the article, “These programs are carefully targeted to ensure they serve people of modest means. Taking the funds away from communities will be really devastating in some places.” (The New York Times, April 2)
  • Cutting HUD’s budget would have particularly harmful effects on low-income older adults who live on fixed-incomes, writes Linda Couch, vice president of housing policy at LeadingAge. Because housing assistance is not an entitlement, only 40 percent of older adults eligible for housing assistance actually receive it. HUD’s Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program (Section 202) is essential for affordable housing for low-income seniors, writes Couch. However, due to the fact that Section 202 has relied on reserves for the past couple years that have now dried up, the program needs an unusually large funding increase of $72 million for the remainder of fiscal year 2017. Without it, one-sixth of Section 202 rental renewals will go unfunded. According to Couch, even more seniors will lose their rental assistance if the program is cut. (McKnight’s Senior Living, April 3)
     
  • Lawmakers from both political parties should come together to reform the nation’s housing finance system, specifically Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, writes Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist. According to Humphries, housing finance reform is a critical issue affecting most Americans, and there’s already abundant bipartisan agreement on the basic outlines. Humphries writes that the federal government acting as conservator for Fannie and Freddie was meant to be temporary and is not sustainable in the long-term, with taxpayers on the hook for any future losses. (Zillow, March 31)
  • A report by the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) and RE/MAX finds that homeownership rates among Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are 8 percent lower than the national average. According to the report, the AAPI population has been the fastest growing in the country since 2000, and is projected to more than double by 2050. “As the AAPI community continues to grow, it is important to have accurate and reliable data to help us better understand the unique set of challenges facing this group when it comes to homeownership,” said Angie Lee, AREAA National President. (DSNews, March 31)
     
  • Last week, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James released a brief on housing discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) individuals in New York City. According to the brief, TGNC individuals often face discrimination and harassment when searching for housing, such as illegal denial of housing and higher upfront deposit requirements without any guarantee of return. The Fair Housing Act does not specifically include discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited. However, discrimination against a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person may be included the Fair Housing Act if it is based on non-conformity with gender stereotypes, according to HUD guidance. The brief includes a number of recommendations that would protect the TGNC community, including initiatives for formal cooperation with community activist groups, new training and educating mechanisms and expanding the city’s capacity to take in complaints in locations outside of Manhattan. (CityLab, March 31)

  • MDRC has released a new study, which relies on social network analysis and in-depth field research, examining how community organizations in the city of Chicago collaborate on local improvement projects, including improving schools, addressing violence and rebuilding homes and businesses. The study’s new website on organizational networks introduces social network analysis and how it may be used as a tool to understand community action and inter-organizational neighborhood partnerships in Chicago. (MDRC, April 3)

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