May 9, 2017

Community Developments: Housing Credit Resources, Duty to Serve Plans

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

  • A new blog post by the ACTION Campaign highlights several recent articles, reports and advocacy tools that build the case for strengthening and expanding the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit). Most recently, the NYU Furman Center published a report on the Housing Credit, the federal government’s primary financing tool for the construction and preservation of affordable housing. The report finds that the Housing Credit has generated a host of benefits, including increased surrounding home values, lower crime rates and access to better schools. A new report from the AARP also highlights the need to expand the Housing Credit in order to address the growing affordable housing shortage among low-income seniors. (ACTION, May 9)
  • On Monday, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac released their proposed underserved markets plans under the Duty to Serve (DTS) program. Under DTS, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) requires Fannie and Freddie to increase the availability of mortgage financing in rural housing, manufactured housing and affordable housing preservation in order to serve families with very low to moderate incomes. FHFA is requesting public input on the proposed plans by July 10, 2017. (FHFA, May 8) FHFA also announced Monday that it is extending the public input period on its proposed evaluation guidance for the DTS program from May 15 until June 7. (FHFA, May 8)
  • Yesterday, LeadingAge launched a new campaign to save HUD’s Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program. Save HUD 202 is a comprehensive, multi-month effort to convince lawmakers to fully fund the program. As the population of low-income older adults continues to expand, they increasingly face challenges of finding affordable, safe housing that can accommodate their needs as they age. Section 202 currently provides rental assistance to older adults living in over 300,000 homes. Any cut to the 202 program would reduce the availability of affordable housing for older adults who rely on it. Learn more about Save HUD 202 on the LeadingAge website.
  • In The New York Times, Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted, examines the mortgage interest deduction (MID) and its impact on inequality. Homeownership is often the primary vehicle for accumulating wealth in America. The average homeowner has a net worth of $195,400, which is 36 times higher than the net worth of the average renter ($5,400). While the MID can help lower- and moderate-income households access homeownership, the group that receives the largest benefits are affluent homeowners, while renters (who are disproportionately poor) receive nothing. Due to rising housing costs and stagnant wages, slightly more than half of all poor renting families spend more than half their income on housing costs, and at least one in four spends more than 70 percent. Yet, America’s national housing policy continues to disproportionately benefit wealthier households, writes Desmond. (The New York Times, May 9)
  • As part of a series on Baltimore’s court system for landlord-tenant disputes, The Baltimore Sun investigative team examines evictions and the challenges faced by evicted households in Baltimore. In 2013, Baltimore's renters received more court-ordered eviction notices per capita than any other city, leading to more than 6,600 evictions. Evicted tenants followed by the Sun Investigates team reported facing new financial burdens after eviction, such as affording hotel rooms, renting storage units to hold their furniture and belongings, and paying security deposits and moving expenses once they find new housing. In addition, a recent analysis shows that one-third of Baltimore’s renters are severely cost-burdened, spending more than half of their income on housing. (The Baltimore Sun, May 6)

  • An article in Oakland Magazine looks at the connection between exclusionary zoning in affluent neighborhoods and gentrification in low-income neighborhoods in the Bay Area. According to the article, exclusionary zoning laws that prohibit dense housing development in affluent neighborhoods, along with the influx of tech jobs, have directed new multifamily development toward low-income neighborhoods, playing an indirect role in the gentrification of these neighborhoods and the displacement of longtime residents. The article emphasizes the importance of allowing new apartment buildings in affluent neighborhoods by relaxing strict building-height limits and parking mandates, in order to help reduce competition for housing in low-income neighborhoods and the displacement of existing residents. (Oakland Magazine, May 8)

  • A new study shows that life expectancy in U.S. counties can vary by more than 20 years and the gap is still growing. The study from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests that much of the variation in life expectancy can be explained by differences in socioeconomic and racial factors, behavioral and metabolic risk factors and health care factors. According to the report, life expectancy is greatest in central Colorado, and is lowest in central Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta and areas in the Dakotas with large Native American populations. (The Washington Post, May 8)


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