May 15, 2018

Community Developments: Upcoming Hearing on the Promise of Opportunity Zones

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  • On Thursday, May 17, Enterprise Community Partners’ CEO Terri Ludwig will testify before Congress on “The Promise of Opportunity Zones.” When Ludwig appears before the Joint Economic Committee, she will share with Congress our belief that Opportunity Zones, if implemented with local needs and priorities in mind, have the potential to catalyze investments that revitalize distressed communities and connect local residents to opportunity, including developing or preserving affordable housing, creating and retaining jobs that pay a living wage and increasing transportation options and the overall infrastructure needed to increase access to opportunity. To realize this vision, Enterprise will offer Congress two recommendations that will be critical to the success of Opportunity Zones: 1) promoting the transparency of Opportunity Fund activities, and 2) ensuring accountability and preventing abuse in implementation. Stay tuned to the Enterprise blog for updates on the testimony and resources to engage in the Opportunity Zones implementation process.
  • A report by the National Association of Realtors shows that housing inventory levels hovered at all-time lows in the first quarter of 2018, driving up home prices. The report notes that between the first quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018, the total number of existing home sales, including single-family homes and condos, dropped 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.51 million. It also points out that by the end of the first quarter of 2018, there were just 1.67 million existing homes available for sale, down 7.2 percent from the 1.8 million homes available at the end of the first quarter of 2017. Finally, the report finds that the median existing single-family home price increased 5.7 percent from the first quarter of 2017 to $245,500 in the first quarter of 2018. (HousingWire, May 14)
  • Yesterday the Seattle City Council unanimously passed an employee hours tax that will be imposed on Seattle’s highest earning businesses to generate funds for affordable housing. According to Curbed Seattle, the tax plan is a smaller version of the one that advanced out of special committee last week. Starting next year, the city will charge businesses making $20 million a year or more in gross revenue $275 per employee - instead of $500 as originally proposed. This new figure is expected to generate up to $50 million annually, compared to the original estimate of $75 million. In addition, the tax plan expires in 2023, although a new ordinance could renew the tax. A recent report by McKinsey & Company notes that the Seattle region needs to spend around $400 million to solve the homelessness crisis, with about 80 percent of that money going toward affordable housing. (Curbed Seattle, May 14)
  • Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) has introduced legislation that aims to address lead contamination in homes. The bill would require that localities that receive Community Development Block Grant funds digitize and make available online information regarding violations of housing construction, building and safety codes, which would allow prospective renters to know if homes have a history of health and safety issues. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 4 million homes across the nation have high levels of lead that could expose children to lead poisoning. (NLIHC, May 14)

Upcoming Testimony

In Case You Missed It

  • Enterprise is accepting applications for two small grant opportunities for affordable housing developers and organizations interested in furthering sustainable practices in their current projects. Pre-development Grants of $5,000 each are available to 10 affordable housing development organizations committed, through one current project, to improving pre-development and engagement practices with residents and stakeholders. Excellence in Active Design Grants are $15,000 each and available for five affordable housing development organizations who are employing creative design strategies to encourage physical activity within one of their projects. The submission deadline for the two funding opportunities is this Friday, May 18.

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.

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