April 2, 2018

Community Developments: Section 4 + CDBG “Dear Colleague” Letters in the Senate

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  • Senators are currently circulating “Dear Colleague” letters that aim to build support for affordable housing and community development programs in fiscal year (FY) 2019 appropriations. Enterprise encourages advocates to reach out to their Senators and call on them to sign onto the following letters:
    • 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 is COB Tuesday, April 10.
    • 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 Friday, April 13.
       
  • The CDBG Coalition is circulating a national sign-on letter urging Congress to provide at least $3.5 billion for the CDBG Program in FY 2019 appropriations. The letter points out that the CDBG program plays a vital role in attracting investment in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods and that every $1.00 of CDBG funding leverages another $4.09 in private and public funding. The CDBG Coalition and Enterprise appreciate increased funding for CDBG in the FY 2018 omnibus, but the need for CDBG investments is far greater than what current funding levels allow. Sign your organization onto the letter by April 20
     
  • The Seattle City Council is considering legislation that would revise regulations to provide developers more flexibility in deciding how much parking to include in developments in areas with frequent transit, as well as enable existing building owners to rent their unused parking spots. The bill, which would alter more than 60 sections of the city law, would: allow for greater sharing of off-street parking in certain zones; reduce the parking requirements for rent and income-restricted housing; enable landlords to rent out excess parking to individuals who do not live or work in their buildings; and require owners of apartment buildings with 10 or more units to charge separately for parking spaces, giving tenants the option to forgo parking and pay less for housing. Supporters of the proposed legislation note that requiring less parking – which would decrease construction and maintenance costs - can allow developers to build more and less expensive housing. (The Seattle Times, March 31) 
     
  • In addition, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has announced plans to launch a $2 million rental assistance pilot program that would help keep households who are on the waitlist for Housing Choice vouchers from becoming homeless. It would offer about 1,000 low-income individuals who earn less than half of the area median income rental assistance and expedited enrollment in discount programs for city utilities to help them cover their rents and utility bills. The pilot is expected to be officially launched this month. (The Seattle Times, March 29)

In Case You Missed It

  • A blog post by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) explores how the proposed federal infrastructure plans would impact affordable housing. The blog points out that while the Trump Administration’s infrastructure proposal does not address affordable housing challenges, it would still impact the supply of affordable housing by calling for an increase in the usage of Private Activity Bonds (PABs) – which are used to fund affordable housing developments and to generate the 4 percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. The post also notes that the Senate Democrats’ infrastructure proposal would provide $62 billion for neighborhood revitalization, affordable housing and lead remediation, although the proposal does not indicate how these funds would be divided among affordable housing and community development programs. (BPC, March 29) Enterprise urges Congress to include housing in any infrastructure package, given the connections between access to affordable housing, job growth and economic mobility.

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.