February 2, 2018

Community Developments: Survey Shows Support for Flooding Mitigation and Resilience Policies

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  • According to a survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for The Pew Charitable Trusts, more than 7 in 10 registered voters across the U.S. support policies that enable communities to better prepare and respond to floods, including requirements that have a potential cost impact. The survey results show that nine out of 10 respondents support flood-ready building, which would require that federally financed infrastructure in flood-prone areas be built to better withstand the impacts of flooding. The survey results also show that the majority of respondents support the provision of low-interest FEMA loans that would finance flood mitigation projects like elevating homes and schools, and the adoption of a national standard that would require property sellers to disclose past flooding incidents. The survey comes on the heels of debate in Congress regarding the expiration of the National Flood Insurance Program, infrastructure reform and additional disaster funding for areas affected by the 2017 hurricanes. (The Pew Charitable Trusts, February 1)
  • Today HUD awarded $243 million to help the U.S. Virgin Islands recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. HUD's Deputy Secretary Pamela Hughes Patenaude announced the disaster recovery grants with Governor Kenneth E. Mapp during a tour of damaged homes in St. Thomas. Provided through HUD's Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program, these funds will support long-term recovery of damaged infrastructure, housing and local businesses. Grantees must spend the majority of these recovery funds in "most impacted" areas as identified by HUD. (HUD, February 2)
  • Today, the Labor Department announced that the U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent. Workers’ average hourly earnings rose by 9 cents in January, a 2.9 percent year-over-year increase. In addition, the department’s revisions in the November and December figures produced a net loss of 24,000 jobs. (The New York Times, January 5) 
  • CityLab highlights a new report by Buildzoom, which suggests that the continuing low density of inner suburbs is a major cause of and a potential solution to the national housing challenge. According to the report, most metropolitan land is made of single-family neighborhoods in the inner suburbs of metropolitan areas, which have seen little or no new housing construction since they were initially developed. The report explains that relaxing zoning codes in these neighborhoods would spread population growth more equitably, relieving the pressure of rising housing costs and gentrification around the urban core and unsustainable growth at the periphery of metropolitan areas. (City Lab, February 1)
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City has announced that the city will spend $200 million to upgrade heating systems and replace aging boiler systems at 20 public housing developments. Last month, about 11,000 people were left without heat, hot water or either service when boiler systems failed at more than 60 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments.  The investment comes as the city struggles to improve conditions at the roughly 170,000 units of the NYCHA, the largest reserve of affordable housing in the country, amid constrained federal funding. (WSJ, January 31)

In Case You Missed It

  • 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.

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