January 23, 2018

Community Developments: Updates on AFH Suspension, CR Averts Government Shutdown

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  • As previously reported in Community Developments, HUD has published Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Federal Register notice that delays the deadline for local governments to submit an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) by almost two years, with the goal of informing localities about how the suspension will impact their fair housing obligations. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Keith Ellison (D- Minnesota) are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter asking HUD Secretary Ben Carson to provide more information on the agency’s recent decision to suspend the AFH requirement. The letter notes “The AFFH rule reaffirms the strongly held American belief that your zip code should not determine your access to opportunity. Unfortunately, HUD has abruptly decided to push back implementing this rule without input from these stakeholders and has not justified the agency’s actions in any convincing manner.” (NLIHC, January 22)
     
  • Today HUD announced that it is awarding $37 million to fight housing discrimination under its Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP). These grants will help more than 150 national and local fair housing organizations provide fair housing enforcement through testing in the rental and sales market, filing fair housing complaints with HUD and conducting investigations. “Every person deserves a fair chance to live in a neighborhood free from discrimination,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “The funds announced today will allow our fair housing partners on the ground to combat housing discrimination and ensure every person has equal access to housing.” (HUD, January 23) 
     
  • President Trump signed a stop-gap spending bill last night, officially ending the three-day government shutdown. The continuing resolution (CR), which passed the House and Senate yesterday, funds the government through February 8 and extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for an additional six years. However, it does not protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that expires on March 5, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised to bring immigration legislation up for consideration before the CR expires. (The Hill, January 22) Congress has yet to pass a full year spending bill for FY 2018, in part because leadership and the White House are still negotiating a deal to lift the budget caps that were instated by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Housing and community development programs like Project-Based Rental Assistance, HOME Investment Partnerships Program, and Community Development Block Grants could all face cuts if caps aren’t raised for non-defense discretionary spending. 
     
  • The findings of the 2017 Menino Survey of Mayors show that more than half of respondents are concerned about the price of housing and believe that high housing costs are the main reason that people are moving out of their cities. Even in the least-expensive housing markets, fewer than one in five of those mayors reported that their housing stock is well-suited to residents. The survey, which is based on interviews with more than 100 mayors, also shows that mayors are concerned about climate change, weak federal financial support for meeting infrastructure needs, and autonomy from state governments. (The Washington Post, January 22)
     
  • A blog post by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) outlines 10 surprising findings from its latest report on America's Rental Housing. These findings include growth in the rental stock for units renting over $850 per month, a 9 percent decline in construction starts for rental units, softening of the rental market for high-cost units, and a jump in the number of renter households by nearly a third since 2004, with households with incomes over $100,000 accounting for 30 percent of that growth over the past decade. The report also shows that nearly 40 percent of rural renters are cost-burdened, paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing. (JCHS, January 22) Learn more about JCHS’ recent housing report in Enterprise’s blog post.
     

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