April 12, 2018

Community Developments: Proposed Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment

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  • Today the House is scheduled to vote on a constitutional balanced budget amendment that could lead to extreme budget cuts. In an op-ed, Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, points out that adopting a constitutional balanced budget amendment would prevent the federal government from borrowing or raising funds when there is a crisis, explaining that this restriction would be “especially dangerous when our nation needs to spend extra money to respond to a national security crisis, a natural disaster, or a sudden change in the economy.” She also notes that it would require courts to make spending decisions that are supposed to be left to our elected representatives. (USA Today, April 11) An analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) shows that requiring a balanced budget every year would cut social programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), by an average of one-fifth. It explains that even if lawmakers chose to protect some programs from cuts, the cuts in other programs would be even deeper. For example, if lawmakers protect funding for Social Security and Medicare, all other programs would be cut by two-fifths. (CBPP, April 11) 
     
  • 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 this 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 co-sponsoring a “Dear Colleague” letter urging the Senate Appropriations 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 this 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” letter urging 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 tomorrow, 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 in Senator Merkley's office at Meredith_booker@merkley.senate.gov. The deadline to sign on is COB tomorrow, 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 also COB tomorrow, Friday, April 13.
  • The HOME Coalition is circulating a national sign-on letter urging Congress to restore funding for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program to at least $1.5 billion in FY 2019. Sign your organization onto the letter by COB Friday, April 20, and share this action alert with your networks.
     
  • Yesterday the Los Angeles City Council approved two new ordinances that aim to spur supportive housing. One of the two would allow the owners of motels to convert their structures to temporary housing for the homeless or to supportive housing, which would require the inclusion of onsite services like counseling and substance abuse treatment. The other ordinance would streamline the approval process for the construction of new supportive housing. Supporters of the ordinances point out that they will be a key part of ensuring the successful implementation of Measure HHH, a $1.2-billion bond measure dedicated to building supportive housing and other services for homeless individuals and households. (Curbed LA, April 11) 
     
  • The Philadelphia City Council is considering a set of bills that aim to boost affordable housing across the city. The proposed legislation would introduce a 1-percent tax on construction costs, funneling the funds to the city’s Housing Trust Fund with the goal of helping first-time homebuyers with down payments and closing costs. It would also provide density bonuses to developers who set aside 10 percent of their new rental units for households earning up to 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), or who set aside 10 percent of new for-sale units for households earning up to 80 percent of the AMI. (Next City, April 12)

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