February 27, 2018

Community Developments: HUD Awards $5 Million in Choice Neighborhood Planning Grants

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  • Today HUD awarded nearly $5 million to six communities to help them create redevelopment plans for severely distressed HUD-assisted housing and revitalize neighborhoods. Funded through HUD's Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, these grants will help local leaders craft comprehensive, homegrown plans to revitalize and transform neighborhoods struggling to address the interconnected challenges of distressed housing, inadequate schools, poor health, high crime and lack of capital. Recipients are in California, Illinois, Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Three of the awardees will receive an additional $950,000 for action activities that would help them build momentum and attract additional investment. (HUD, February 27) 
     
  • In an article in Affordable Housing Finance, Lori Chatman, president of Enterprise Community Loan Fund, provides an overview of the Opportunity Zones designation process and explains why the next several months will be critical to the impact of this new program. Chatman notes that governors must nominate census tracts – up to 25 percent of their state’s qualified tracts or up to 25 tracts if the state has less than 100 such tracts - or request a 30-day extension from the U.S. Department of the Treasury by March 21 in order to be eligible for Opportunity Zones investments over the next ten years.The article points out that Enterprise has developed an online mapping tool that can help guide the selection of tracts in each state by providing additional information about federal programs and designations that currently exist in each tract. (AHF, February 27) Tomorrow, Enterprise is hosting a webinar to review responsibilities of governors in the Opportunity Zone nomination process and provide a full demonstration of our new Opportunity360 state mapping tool and how it can help guide the selection of eligible census tracts. Register here for the webinar
     
  • The ACTION Campaign urges Congress to pass the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act in the omnibus Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 spending legislation, which is likely to include a tax component that could serve as a vehicle to advance the bill. ACTION also encourages advocates to reach out to current co-sponsors of the House (H.R. 1661) and Senate (S. 548) versions of the bill and ask them to urge House and Senate leadership to include the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act in the upcoming omnibus package. See the ACTION Campaign’s Advocacy Toolkit for resources to advocate for the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act.
     
  • A report by the Economic Policy Institute finds that since 1968, there has been no progress in how African Americans fare in comparison to their white counterparts when it comes to homeownership, unemployment and incarceration. The report finds that 7.5 percent of African Americans were unemployed in 2017, compared with 6.7 percent in 1968 – leaving unemployment rates for African Americans at roughly twice the level for whites. It also shows that the homeownership rate for African Americans remains just over 40 percent, 30 points below the rate for whites, and the percentage of African Americans incarcerated has nearly tripled between 1968 and 2016. The report also looks at other racial gaps, noting that African Americans make only 82.5 cents of every dollar earned by the typical white worker, and African Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be in poverty than their white counterparts. The study was published in connection with the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission report, which identified “white racism” as the key cause of “pervasive discrimination.” (The Washington Post, February 26)
     
  • A blog post by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) examines the local variations in renter household growth from its most recent America's Rental Housing report. The report shows that the growth of high-income renter households in more expensive metropolitan areas was pronounced and the number of high-income renters also grew in lower-cost markets. The report also notes that despite the distinct growth in the number of high-income renters, low- and modest-income renters still outnumber high-income renters in nearly every metro. For example, in 2016, over one-third (35 percent) of the nation's renter households had incomes below $25,000, and nearly two-thirds (62 percent) had incomes below $50,000. (JCHS, February 26)
     
  • According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI), U.S. home prices rose 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 and 6.7 percent between the fourth quarter of 2016 and the fourth quarter of 2017. The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (FHFA, February 27) 

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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