January 29, 2018

Community Developments: Mayors and CEOs Launch New Affordable Housing Initiative

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  • The mayors of 14 cities and a number of corporate leaders are launching “Mayors & CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment,” which calls on the federal government to invest more money into affordable housing and homeless services. The coalition is focused on federal policy changes, including maximizing funding for federal housing programs and creating a Housing Stabilization Fund that HUD would use to provide one-time, short-term emergency housing assistance to households below 80 percent of area median income. (Housing Wire, January 26). The group of mayors and CEOs represents a bipartisan and geographically diverse range of communities across the country, including Denver, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Oakland, Philadelphia, and Phoenix, as well as Airbnb, Sutter Health and GHC Housing Partners. (City Lab, January 29).
  • HUD’s new small area fair market rent (SAFMR) rule is set to go into effect this year, allowing public housing authorities (PHAs) across the country to offer higher Section 8 rental assistance voucher payments in more affluent neighborhoods. The rule was initially issued in 2016 and then briefly suspended by HUD Secretary Ben Carson until a lawsuit resulted in an order for HUD to implement the rule as originally planned. SAFMR’s will allow PHAs to calculate fair market rents based on zip codes rather than across entire metropolitan areas, providing voucher-holders with the opportunity for greater mobility. Analysis from Novogradac and Company finds that 57 percent of zip codes affected by the new rule will see decreases in rental voucher payments, compared to 43 percent who will see an increase. However, the rule has built-in measures to protect existing voucher users from having their subsidies abruptly reduced. (Next City, January 26)
  • A column in the Los Angeles Times explores LA's efforts to address its homelessness crisis. According to the article, homeless advocates note that jurisdictional boundaries, bureaucratic impediments and resistance from residents who oppose developments in their neighborhoods have created a disjointed silo system with little progress despite approximately $100 million per year being spent to respond to homelessness. Several strategies have emerged in recent years to develop and better coordinate efforts, including Proposition HHH to generate $1.2 billion for housing over 10 years and Measure H to produce $350 million for services each year. However, with high housing costs that continue to soar, it is unclear if this will be enough to address the severity of the issue. (The Los Angeles Times, January 28)
  • Last week, Enterprise’s Affordable Housing Design Leadership Institute (AHDLI) was awarded the 2018 Collaborative Achievement Award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). AHDLI was founded in 2010 on the belief that design excellence in affordable housing can transform the built environment to improve health and well-being and increase opportunity for residents. The Institute brings together leading designers and developers of affordable homes for a two-and-a-half-day convening focused on innovation and best practices in community and sustainable design. The AIA Collaborative Achievement Award, which Enterprise has received for the second time in a row, recognizes and encourages the achievements of those who have influenced or advanced the architectural profession. The award will be presented at the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018 in New York City. (Enterprise Community Partners, January 25)

In Case You Missed It

  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created the new Opportunity Zones Program, which will allow investors to receive a temporary tax deferral and other tax benefits when they reinvest unrealized capital gains into designated Opportunity Zones – distressed census tracts that meet eligibility requirements – for a minimum of five years. Governors must submit their recommendations for Opportunity Zone designations to the Treasury Department by late March, unless an extension is requested. Enterprise has published a policy brief that provides an early overview of the program details and a national map that identifies which census tracts are eligible for Opportunity Zones designation. Enterprise will also be hosting a webinar on February 7 that will include an overview of the program and a demonstration of our mapping tools for Opportunity Zones designation. 

For the latest housing and community development news and notes, follow the Enterprise policy team on Twitter: @E_Housing Policy and subscribe to the Capitol Express Newsletter. The Enterprise Public Policy team works to safeguard, expand and improve programs that end housing insecurity. Learn more about our public policy efforts.

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