April 11, 2018

Community Developments: First Opportunity Zones Announced, 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act

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

  • Yesterday the U.S. Department of Treasury and the IRS announced the first round of Opportunity Zone designations in 15 states and 3 territories. "Attracting needed private investment into these low-income communities will lead to their economic revitalization, and ensure economic growth is experienced throughout the nation," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The remaining states that have not received designations are believed to have filed for a 30-day extension on March 21, and thus have until April 20 to submit final nominations. Stay tuned to Enterprise's blog for more information, and join our webinar on April 25 for an analysis of nominations and discussion about what municipalities should consider next. (Enterprise Community Partners, April 9)
  • In a blog post, Enterprise President and CEO Terri Ludwig recognizes the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act and the importance of providing everyone access to affordable, well-designed homes. She points out that our communities still bear the legacy of decades of discriminatory practices, like redlining, predatory lending and “racial steering." This history has left dramatic disparity between predominantly white neighborhoods and areas with significantly higher percentages of people of color – not just in housing, but in access to opportunity afforded by good schools, jobs, transit and other resources necessary for upward mobility. She also notes that Enterprise will be highlighting -- not just this month, but throughout the year -- resources, guidance and ideas that will bring our country closer to providing all Americans opportunity, starting with a place to call home. 
  • In an executive order signed yesterday, President Trump directed the Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and other agencies to make a top-to-bottom review of their safety-net programs, with the goal of finding ways to reduce the number of people receiving support from these programs. According to Politico, the President wants to target the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is used by about 43 million families, and cash benefit program Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which helps about 3.5 million people. The executive order follows policy shifts already in progress under the Trump administration, including the addition of work requirements in Medicaid. (Politico, April 10)
  • Enterprise encourages housing and community development advocates to reach out to their Senators and call on them to sign onto the following “Dear Colleague” letters in support of housing and community development funding in the FY 2019 appropriations process:
    • Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) is sponsoring a “Dear Colleague” letter urging the Senate Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee to provide $40 million for the Section 4 Capacity Building for Affordable Housing and Community Development Program in FY 2019. The deadline for Senate offices to sign on has been extended until COB Monday, April 16. Feel free to adapt this sample email in your outreach. Senate offices can sign on by contacting Zak Sawyer at Zak_Sawyer@donnelly.senate.gov.
    • Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are are co-sponsoring a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter urging the Senate Appropriations Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee to provide $1.5 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program in FY 2019.  Send a message to your Senators urging them to sign on to the 'Dear Colleague' letter. The deadline for Senate offices to sign on is COB Monday, April 16. For more information or to sign this letter, congressional staff can contact Kelsey Daniels at kelsey_daniels @coons.senate.gov or Brent Palmer at brent_palmer@feinstein.senate.gov.
    • Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Chris Coons (D-DE) are co-sponsoring a “Dear Colleague” letterurging the Senate Appropriations THUD Subcommittee to provide $3.5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program in FY 2019. The deadline for Senate offices to sign on is COB this Friday, April 13. Senate offices can sign on to the letter by contacting Meghan Ladwig in Senator Baldwin's office at Meghan_Ladwig@baldwin.senate.gov.
    • Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) are co-sponsoring a 'Dear Colleague' letter to appropriators requesting $12.2 billion for the Project-Based Section 8 Rental Assistance Program in FY 2019. Reach out to your Senators and urge them to sign on to this letter. Senate offices can sign on by contacting Meredith Booker atMeredith_booker@merkley.senate.gov. The deadline to sign on is COB this Friday, April 13.
    • Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) is sponsoring a "Dear Colleague" letter to Senate THUD appropriators requesting full funding for USDA Rural Housing Service program in FY 2019 appropriations. The deadline for Senate offices to sign on is COB this Friday, April 13.
  • The CDBG Coalition is circulating a national sign-on letter urging Congress to restore funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program to at least $3.5 billion in FY 2019. The deadline to sign on COB Friday, April 20. Read the letter and sign on now. Please share this action alert with your networks.