May 4, 2017

Community Developments: Housing Credit Expansion, FY17 Spending Bill

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  • At a time when rising rents and flat wages have left 11.4 million renter households paying at least half their income on homes, it is critical for Congress and the Trump Administration to support programs that increase the supply of affordable homes, writes Terri Ludwig, president and CEO of Enterprise, in an op-ed. According to Ludwig, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) program is central to addressing housing affordability challenges. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) recently introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act to expand and strengthen the Housing Credit, and companion legislation has also been introduced in the House by Representative Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) and Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-Mass.). The Administration and Congress can also support the effectiveness of the Housing Credit by continuing to provide funds through HUD’s HOME Investment Partnerships and Community Development Block Grant programs, which provide critical financing to many Housing Credit developments, writes Ludwig. (Huffington Post, May 4)
  • Today, the House narrowly approved a health care bill that would repeal and replace large portions of the Affordable Care Act. The bill is in many ways identical to the legislation that the House attempted to pass in March before suspending a vote, but with several new provisions. One allows states to opt out of requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions, and a second adds $8 billion to help cover insurance costs for people with pre-existing conditions. The House vote took place before the Congressional Budget Office finished a fresh assessment of its cost and impact. However, if signed into law, millions of Americans would likely lose their health insurance due to the rollback of the Medicaid expansion. It is not clear whether the Senate will take up this legislation. (The Washington Post, May 4) Read about the possible implications of health care reform and Enterprise’s healthy housing work in our March blog post.
  • The AARP Public Policy Institute has released a new factsheet that examines the Housing Credit program. The Housing Credit is the federal government’s primary vehicle for producing affordable rental housing and has financed over three million apartments since its inception. According to AARP, approximately 16 percent of Housing Credit properties are intended primarily for seniors. However, as demand for affordable housing among seniors continues to grow, expanding the Housing Credit, as proposed by the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act in the Senate, will be necessary to increase the supply. (AARP, May 2017)

  • In a blog post, Judi Kende, vice president and New York market leader at Enterprise, emphasizes the importance of understanding how citywide or statewide policies affect particular neighborhoods, in order to avoid unintended consequences, such as rising housing costs and displacement of families. The blog post is part of a series hosted by University Neighborhood Housing Program, a longtime partner of Enterprise’s in New York. Citing an example in the Bronx, Kende writes that each neighborhood has unique needs and challenges and policymakers must understand these nuances to bring positive change to every community. According to Kende, involving community based organizations in the policymaking process is an essential way to bring on-the-ground experience and perspective to decisions that can have major effects on residents’ lives. (UNHP, May 2)

In Case You Missed It

  • A paper by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco examines the drivers of the recent rise in involuntary part-time employment and the impact it has on lower-income households, focusing on the interrelated nature of housing, jobs, transportation and child care. Currently, more than six million working Americans are involuntary part-time workers (that is, they would like to work more but are only able to find part-time employment), and 19 percent of part-time workers are living in poverty. The paper suggests that access to full-time employment is not only constrained by the availability of full-time jobs, but also by access to affordable housing near jobs, transportation and child care. (The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, April 4)

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