April 13, 2018

Community Developments: Update on Proposed Constitutional Budget Amendment, Enterprise Publishes New RAD Handbook

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  • Yesterday a proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced federal budget every year failed to pass the House. Representatives voted 233-184 in favor of the amendment, but passage of a constitutional amendment requires the support of two-thirds of the House. (USA Today, April 12) As previously highlighted in Community Developments, an op-ed by Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, explains that adopting a constitutional balanced budget amendment would prevent the federal government from borrowing or raising funds when there is a crisis, noting 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.” It also points out that the proposed amendment would require courts to make spending decisions that are supposed to be left to our elected representatives. (USA Today, April 11)
     
  • HUD and the U.S. Department of Justice have jointly announced an initiative that aims to increase awareness and reporting of sexual harassment in housing. The new initiative includes an interagency task force that aims to combat sexual harassment in housing, an outreach toolkit and a public awareness campaign. According to HUD, the newly established task force will focus on five key areas: continued data sharing and analysis; joint development of training; evaluation of public housing complaint mechanisms; coordination of public outreach and press strategy; and review of federal policies. “HUD is especially focused on protecting the right of everyone to feel safe and secure in their homes, free from unwanted sexual harassment," said Secretary Ben Carson. (HUD, April 13)
     
  • Today is the last chance for housing and community development advocates to reach out to their Senators and ask them to sign onto the following “Dear Colleague” letters in support of housing and community development funding in the FY19 appropriations process: 
    • 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 today, 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 today, 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 today, Friday, April 13.
  • Enterprise also encourages advocates to contact their Senators and urge them to sign on the following “Dear Colleague” letters by early next week: 
    • 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.
  • 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. Sign your organization onto the letter by COB Friday, April 20, and share this action alert with your networks

Upcoming Event 

  • It is critical that Members of Congress hear from affordable housing and community development stakeholders as they negotiate appropriations legislation for fiscal year (FY) 2019. Enterprise is gearing up for our annual Legislative Action Day, but you do not need to leave your home town to voice your support for housing. Join us on social media by signing up for our Thunderclap here: www.thunderclap.it/projects/69409-2018-legislative-action-day, and for more ways to get involved, see Enterprise’s recent blog post on tips and tools for effective advocacy. 

 
In Case You Missed It

  • Earlier this week 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. Learn more about the first round of Opportunity Zone designations in Enterprise’s blog post and join our webinar on April 25 for an analysis of these nominations and discussion about what municipalities should consider next.

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.