February 1, 2018

Community Developments: Including Housing in Infrastructure Funds, HUD Awards Recovery Funds to PR

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  • As previously reported in Community Developments, President Trump called on Congress during his State of the Union address Tuesday night to write an infrastructure bill that ‘generates’ at least $1.5 trillion of investment in the nation’s infrastructure. An Enterprise blog post notes that while the President specifically noted investment in roads, bridges, railways and waterways, he did not mention a critically needed part of our national infrastructure: affordable housing. The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding, a coalition of more than 70 national organizations including Enterprise Community Partners, responded with a statement urging the President and Congress to expand federal investments in communities and affordable rental homes that help connect low-income families to opportunity and promote economic mobility. In that statement, Enterprise President and CEO Terri Ludwig emphasized that “housing is fundamental to our national infrastructure and must be part of any infrastructure plan. Opportunity for Americans begins with affordable, well-designed homes in thriving communities.” In addition, Enterprise’s Vice President for Policy Development Andrew Jakabovics notes that any infrastructure package should consider both the magnitude of impact and speed of investment when considering projects, explaining that “by both metrics, public investment in housing infrastructure matches or outpaces that of public investment in transportation infrastructure.” Read more about the importance of including housing in any infrastructure package in Enterprise’s blog post
     
  • Today HUD awarded $1.5 billion to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. HUD's Deputy Secretary Pamela Hughes Patenaude announced the disaster recovery grants with Governor Ricardo Rosselló during her third visit to the island since Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Provided through HUD's Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program, these funds will support long-term recovery of damaged housing and local businesses. Grantees must spend the majority of these recovery funds in "most impacted" areas as identified by HUD. (HUD, February 1)
     
  • In a reversal of its previous decision, the full Court of the Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is constitutionally structured. The new rule reverses the court’s October 2016 decision that declared the CFPB's leadership structure unconstitutional due to unilateral directorial power and vacated a $100 million fine levied by the CFPB against mortgage lender PHH Corp. for allegedly illegally referring consumers to mortgage insurers in exchange for referral fees. The new ruling notes “The CFPB led by a single Director is as consistent with the President’s constitutional authority as it would be if it were led by a group. Like other independent federal financial regulators designed to protect the public interest in the integrity and stability of markets from short-term political or special interests, the CFPB is without constitutional defect.” (HousingWire, January 31)
     
  • The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) is circulating a sign-on letter urging Congress to expand the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF) to at least $3.5 billion annually in any comprehensive housing finance reform legislation, as part of a broad commitment to access and affordability in the housing market. The letter notes that the HTF, a federal housing resource that funds efforts to build and preserve housing affordable to people with the lowest incomes, is currently funded by a small assessment on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s annual book of business, but far greater resources are needed to meet the need. (NLIHC, February 1) 
     
  • An article in the Los Angeles Times looks at the connections between the city’s current homelessness crisis and past unsuccessful policies, such as “containment” policies in the 1980's that concentrated very low-income housing and homeless services and "broken windows" policing in the 2000's that fostered a cycle of incarceration and homelessness. According to the article, Los Angeles's homelessness surged by 75 percent to nearly 55,000 over the past six years, despite billions dedicated to building housing and supportive services for homeless individuals and families. (The Los Angeles Times, February 1)
     
  • According to the Quarterly Residential Vacancies and Homeownership report by the U.S. Census Bureau, the national homeownership rate rose slightly to 64.2 percent, reaching its highest level since the fourth quarter of 2014. The report shows that the homeownership rate among Hispanic households saw the highest increase and rose by 0.5 percent to 46.6 percent and the homeownership among black households increased slightly to 42.1 percent. (HousingWire, January 3) 

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