September 5, 2017

Capitol Express Newsletter: Hurricane Harvey Sparks Major Recovery Effort, Congress Returns to Full Agenda

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CONGRESSIONAL AND ADMINISTRATION NEWS

Hurricane Harvey Causes Billions in Damage, Major Recovery Efforts Begin Across the Gulf Coast

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction across large parts of Texas and Louisiana, more than 450,000 people are expected to apply for federal assistance. HUD announced that it will speed federal disaster assistance to Texas and provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes due to Harvey. President Trump’s disaster declaration for 18 Texas counties also allows HUD to offer mortgage-foreclosure relief and other assistance to certain families living in impacted areas. According to a Washington Post analysis of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) data, only 17 percent of homeowners in the eight counties most affected by Harvey have flood insurance policies.

Congress will now negotiate billions of dollars in disaster aid and other federal resources, which may include supplemental appropriations as well as tax relief, at a time when it is already facing a difficult September legislative agenda. Over the weekend the Trump Administration requested $7.85 billion for immediate relief funding, as well as an additional $6.7 billion as part of the spending bill Congress must pass by September 30. Congress is expected to move quickly on this request, with the first round of funds for the affected states expected to be authorized in September.

Enterprise will help to lead efforts to ensure that low-income renter households find safe, stable and affordable housing as recovery work unfolds. As the impacted areas begin to recover, it will be the lowest-income households – who often lack savings and insurance – that bounce back the slowest. Enterprise has also developed the Ready to Respond: Disaster Staffing Toolkit to help affordable multifamily housing organizations prepare and respond to natural disasters. Included is a housing evacuation tracking sheet to help organizations track the evacuation of their residents. Read more about Enterprise’s efforts to support disaster recovery and resilience.

Congress Returns to Full Agenda

Lawmakers return from August recess this week to a full work slate in September. Must-pass items include legislation to raise the debt ceiling before the end of the month, a spending bill to fund the government beyond September 30 and assistance for Hurricane Harvey recovery. Congress will also continue to negotiate a budget resolution, tax reform, infrastructure legislation and potentially health care reform.

This week, the House of Representatives will consider the Make America Secure & Prosperous Appropriations Act, which comprises the eight remaining spending bills that have not yet advanced, including the one for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. Consideration of the bill is expected to last all week, as a result of the nearly 1,000 amendments submitted for the legislation. The House has already passed one consolidated appropriations bill, H.R. 3219, which authorized spending for the Department of Defense, the legislative branch, the military and veterans affairs, and energy and water. The Senate has yet to consider any appropriations legislation on the floor.

GOP Congressional leaders and the Administration are also continuing to make the case for tax reform. Last week, in a speech in Missouri, President Trump amplified the Administration’s push to achieve comprehensive tax reform this year. The President identified four guiding principles for tax reform: making the tax code simple, fair, and easy to understand; creating jobs and higher wages; providing tax relief for the middle class; and bringing back trillions of dollars of wealth that is parked overseas. Neither the Administration nor Congress have released a detailed tax reform proposal this year, but negotiations are taking place this week with the goal of coming to an initial agreement by the end of September.

Trump Administration Overturns Federal Flood Risk Management Standard

In the week before Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, President Trump signed an executive order overturning an Obama-era directive that required new housing and infrastructure projects receiving public money to be elevated two to three feet above their local 100-year flood height. While the Trump Administration claims undoing the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard is part of a broader effort to make it easier to build new infrastructure by cutting red tape, others argue that revoking the rule will cost the taxpayers more in the long run as devastating storms like Harvey become more frequent. According to Enterprise’s Laurie Schoeman and Marion McFadden, the rule’s repeal puts billions of dollars of property at risk.

HUD Publishes Notice Detailing Process for Increased RAD Authority

On August 23, HUD published a notice in the Federal Register addressing the expansion of the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) from 185,000 to 225,000 public housing units, as authorized in May through the FY 2017 appropriations bill. The notice does not change existing RAD eligibility or selection criteria, but announces that public housing authorities that have submitted letters of interest to reserve their position on the RAD waiting list are eligible for award under this expansion. The notice also sets rents based on a FY 2016 RAD rent base year for public housing units participating in RAD under the increase. The current waiting list to participate in RAD is now 48,708 units.

Rep. Crowley Introduces Legislation to Provide Tax Credits to Cost-Burdened Renters

Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY-14) recently introduced legislation (H.R. 3670) that would provide two new refundable tax credits to qualified renters who pay more than 30 percent of their income on rental housing. Renter households’ eligibility under the Rent Relief Act would be determined by several factors, including the household’s annual income, the total amount spent annually on rent and the federal government’s established fair market annual rent caps. Households earning less than $25,000 per year who have rental cost burdens would be eligible for a tax credit, while households making over $125,000 per year would not be eligible. Read Rep. Crowley’s press release.

RESEARCH AND REPORTS

Enterprise Releases New Report on Intersections of Housing and Education

A new report by Enterprise’s Allison Charette examines the connections between education and housing in providing opportunity. Creating Equitable Student Outcomes: How Housing and Education Policy are Intertwined looks at how segregation in education and housing prevents children across socioeconomic and racial/ethnic backgrounds from achieving the greatest possible academic success. Both the housing and education sectors have historically struggled with racial equity, disparate quality, access to opportunity and economic mobility and unequal outcomes among people of different racial and economic backgrounds. Segregation continues to be a factor in the U.S. today, restricting millions of students’ access to a good education. The report details the ways in which the United States has tried over the years to address disparities in academic achievement, and how housing policies and practices remain connected to those efforts. Learn more about the report in Enterprise’s blog post.

ACTION Campaign Releases Updated State Fact Sheets on the Impact of the Housing Credit

The ACTION campaign has released updated fact sheets on the impact of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) in each state, including data on the homes created or preserved, jobs supported, and local income and tax revenue generated. The fact sheets also include information on the affordable housing shortages that still remain in each state, underscoring the need to expand the Housing Credit.

Shortages of Affordable Housing Impede Economic Growth Across the Country

According to a report from the National League of Cities, businesses have been opening and expanding more rapidly in cities around the country over the past year, but homelessness and a lack of affordable housing are increasingly pressing problems. Three-quarters of the 224 cities surveyed saw employment rise, but this coincided with a quarter of the cities experiencing a rise in their homelessness rate, while the availability of affordable housing decreased in nearly a third of these cities. The report underscores that planning for affordable housing is especially important in cities with a rapidly expanding economy.

STATE AND LOCAL POLICY 

California Moves Closer to New Housing Legislative Package

Governor Jerry Brown and Democrats in California’s state legislature are expected to vote on a housing package that includes a $4 billion bond to pay for affordable rental housing, transit-oriented development and farmworker housing. The package also includes two other pieces of legislation, a new fee on real estate transaction documents that would raise an estimated $229 to $258 million annually, and regulatory reforms to expedite construction and speed up approval processes for multi-family developments. California must build 180,000 units of housing every year to meet current demand, according to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood). Other affordable housing provisions may be added as negotiations continue.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

News Updates from Community Developments

In recent Community Developments, we highlighted the gap between what high-income and low-income households pay for housing, the increase in the number of seniors who face foreclosure after taking out reverse mortgages against their homes, the decline in new home sales in July 2017, and much more. Sign up to receive Community Developments

HEARINGS AND EVENTS

Featured Event: Enterprise Hosts Undesign the Redline Exhibit in D.C. this September

Social impact firm Designing the WE, in partnership with Enterprise, is hosting the Undesign the Redline exhibit in the District of Columbia. Undesign the Redline is an interactive exhibit connecting the intentional and systemic racial housing segregation of the 1930s to political and social issues of today, through the powerful narratives of the people and communities affected by redlining and its legacy. The exhibit is open to the public September 6-28 at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery. Learn more about exhibit dates, times, tours and special events on Enterprise’s website.

Upcoming Markups and Hearings

There are no affordable housing and community development-related hearings scheduled at this time.

Upcoming Events

September 2017 

October 2017 

November 2017 

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions regarding the Capitol Express newsletter, email Emily Cadik. You can also follow the policy team on Twitter

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