February 20, 2018

Community Developments: HOME Sign-On Letter, HUD Awards $35 Million to Promote Self-Sufficiency

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

  • The HOME Coalition is circulating a sign-on letter urging lawmakers to increase funding for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) to $1.2 billion in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill. Congress is currently writing and negotiating the fiscal year (FY) 2018 Appropriations bills following the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which raised the caps for discretionary spending, and lawmakers have an opportunity to address the urgent need for housing resources for low-income families and communities. Earlier in this appropriations cycle, over 1,500 organizations signed on the HOME Coalition's letter supporting funding for the HOME Program in the FY 2018 Appropriations bill. If your organization has not already signed the letter, sign it onto the letter by COB (5PM ET) Thursday, February 22
     
  • Today HUD awarded $35 million to promote self-sufficiency for public housing residents. Provided through HUD’s Resident Opportunities and Self Sufficiency – Service Coordinators Program (ROSS-SC), these funds will enable public housing authorities, public housing resident associations, Native American tribes and non-profit organizations to hire or retain service coordinators who work directly with residents to help them find jobs and educational opportunities that promote economic and housing independence. HUD Secretary Ben Carson notes that “it’s part of our mission to help connect public housing residents to better, higher paying jobs and critical services as a means of helping them move beyond public assistance and toward self-sufficiency.” (HUD, February 20) 
     
  • Understanding that housing is intrinsically linked to many other social outcomes, nine of the nation’s largest private foundations have joined forces to create the Funders for Housing and Opportunity (FHO), a philanthropic collaborative that aims to help millions of households who spend more than half of their income on rent - or lack stable housing - afford safe, stable rentals in thriving communities. FHO’s investments are targeted to spark large-scale change in three complementary priorities: supporting policy change at the local, state, and federal levels; raising awareness about the fact that housing is a public concern and how access to housing connects residents and communities to opportunity; and securing funding for evidence-based initiatives that expand cross-sector solutions. The collaborative has provided nearly $5 million to four grantees over the next three years, and Enterprise is pleased to have been selected as an FHO grantee, specifically focusing on raising awareness and bringing together advocates from other sectors to highlight the importance of affordable housing. Learn more about the collaborative in an Enterprise blog post
     
  • In an op-ed, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) explains that addressing housing and homelessness challenges requires more than preventing cuts to existing housing and community developments programs, highlighting the importance of expanding the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit). Senator Merkley notes that he has co-sponsored the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 548), a bipartisan bill introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) that would expand the Housing Credit by 50 percent, explaining that passing it would help the nation address its unprecedented affordability and homelessness challenges. (The Register-Guard, February 18) See the ACTION Campaign’s Advocacy Toolkit for resources to advocate for the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act.
     
  • An investigation by POLITICO finds that wage laws are poorly enforced nationwide and workers are often unable to recover back pay even after the government rules in their favor. According to the investigation, six states have no investigators to handle minimum-wage violations, and an additional 26 states have fewer than 10 investigators. While raising the minimum wage continues to receive great consideration, the investigation suggests that less attention is paid to the widespread nature of wage theft, which often goes unreported due to the lack of resources needed to ensure compliance. In addition, a POLITICO survey of 15 states shows that 41 percent of the wages that employers are ordered to pay back to their workers are not recovered. (POLITICO, February 18)

In Case You Missed It 

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.