May 30, 2018

Community Developments: Scarcity of Housing in Rural Areas, THUD Appropriations

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  • Drawing on the example of Columbus, Nebraska, an article in The Wall Street Journal looks at the connection between the scarcity of housing in rural areas and worker shortages. According to the National Association of Home Builders, there were 71,000 single-family homes built in rural areas in 2016, representing about 10 percent of all new single-family homes – down from 14 percent in 2010. The article notes that the housing shortage in rural communities has become especially acute as unemployment hits record lows: in Platte County, where Columbus is located, there are around 990 job openings but only 65 homes for sale, and they have a median listing price of $209,550. The article points out that Nebraska has recently granted $7 million to rural communities, including Columbus, to build market-rate homes to help attract more workers. (The Wall Street Journal, May 30) 
     
  • The Senate Appropriations Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee will markup its fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending bill next week. Enterprise urges stakeholders to reach out to Senate Appropriators to voice their support for robust funding for essential programs like the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the Community Development Block Grant Program, and the Section 4 Capacity Building Program. The Senate’s FY 2019 THUD bill follows the House version, which provided mostly level funding for housing and community development programs. While the House bill provided necessary increases for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, the bill also cut funding for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which provides flexible housing grants to states and localities. For more information on the House bill and the appropriations process, see Enterprise’s blog post
     
  • Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana has vetoed a bill that would ban local governments from adopting inclusionary zoning policies that require market-rate developers to include affordable housing in their developments. The article notes that the veto was a relief to affordable housing advocates. Governor Edwards' veto comes with the condition that parishes in Louisiana must enact inclusionary zoning policies by 2019. If the parishes do not implement inclusionary zoning over the next year, Governor Edwards stated that he “will be inclined to sign a similar piece of legislation in the 2019 regular session.” (NOLA.com, May 29) 
     
  • The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, which measures average home prices in major metropolitan areas across the nation, rose 0.8 and 6.5 percent month-over-month and year-over-year, respectively, in March. The largest price gains remained concentrated on the West Coast, as Seattle saw a 13 percent increase and San Francisco prices increased 11.3 percent. According to The Wall Street Journal, affordability challenges and the shortage of inventory are diminishing home sales. Existing-home sales fell 2.5 and 1.4 percent month-over-month and year-over-year, respectively, in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million. (The Wall Street, May 29) 
     
  • An article in Curbed New York notes that New York City’s Rent Guidelines Board, which determines increases to the nearly 1 million rent-stabilized apartments in the city, has released its annual housing supply report ahead of its upcoming vote on rent hikes. While the city added 11,044 new rent-stabilized apartments and lost 6,657 in 2017 for a net gain of 4,387 — the first time it has gained more than it lost in a given year— the report shows that the vacancy rate of 3.63 percent is still very low, and 11.5 percent of housing is considered overcrowded with more than one person per room. According to the article, landlords are seeking an increase of as much as 7 percent, which they say is necessary to offset a rise in operating costs over the past year; however, advocates argue that the board should not implement increases this year due to the extremely low vacancy rate for stabilized apartments. (Curbed NY, March 29)

Upcoming Webinar

  • On Thursday, May 31, Enterprise will host a webinar on “Year 15: Transition Strategies for Expiring LIHTC Properties.” Many Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties are reaching the end of the 15-year Low Income Housing Tax Credit compliance period, and year 10 in the life of a Housing Credit property is an ideal time to begin planning and taking action. This webinar will discuss disposition strategies for the nonprofit sponsor, as well review partnership provisions including rights of first refusal, purchase options, exit taxes and preservation of affordability. Register here for the webinar.

In Case You Missed It

  • Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL-26) is circulating a Dear Colleague letter asking his House colleagues to co-sponsor the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (H.R. 1661), bipartisan legislation to strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit). In the letter, Curbelo notes that the legislation “will make the Housing Credit more flexible, simplify program requirements, support the preservation of existing affordable housing, facilitate Housing Credit development in challenging markets and for hoard-to-reach populations, and institute other modifications to make the Credit an even more effective program.” Enterprise encourages all affordable housing stakeholders to share the Dear Colleague letter with your representatives and ask them to support the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act. Visit the ACTION Campaign’s Advocacy Toolkit for resources to contact your member of Congress.

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.