May 16, 2018

Community Developments: Upcoming Hearings on the Promise of Opportunity Zones + the CDBG-DR Program

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  • Tomorrow, 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.
  • Also, tomorrow Enterprise Community Partners Vice President for Public Policy Marion McFadden will testify before the House Financial Services Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee on “Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program – Stakeholder Perspectives.” McFadden will share with Congress recommendations for strengthening the CDBG-DR Program, which has become a crucial resource for communities nationwide due to rising frequency of disasters and escalating costs, including creating a set-aside for capacity building and technical assistance for all CDBG-DR appropriations, ensuring that grant funds reach those who need them the most, and expanding resources for HUD’s administration of disaster recovery. In addition, Enterprise recommends that Congress permanently authorize the CDBG-DR Program to allow HUD to write regulations and develop model programs, policies, and systems that grantees could adopt to shorten the time it takes communities and households to rebuild and recover. Stay tuned to the Enterprise blog for updates on the testimony and resources on disaster resiliency and recovery.
  • The Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago has released a report that offers policy recommendations for addressing that region's segregation, focusing on dismantling institutional barriers and identifying solutions for the area’s disparities in race and income. These recommendations include adopting a City Earned Income Tax Credit that could create an extra $218 million in spending by working families, expanding the Chicago Housing Authority voucher program to open up more than 3,300 housing units and promote mobility and accessibility into new areas of the city, and eliminating the use of secured money bail and criminal court fees in order to help stop a cycle of poverty and detention. Enterprise Community Partners’ Vice President and Chicago Market Leader Andrew Geer, an adviser on the study and many of the housing recommendations, notes that the region “needs to be pulling on all three levers — policy, investment and programs” in order to create fair and affordable housing options. (The Chicago Tribune, May 14)
  • The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) urges national organizations -- those which are focused primarily on federal affairs and/or have a national scope -- to sign onto a letter opposing proposed legislation to rescind affordable housing funding from fiscal years 2015 through 2018. The letter notes that the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act (HR 3) includes almost $40 million in rescissions from HUD’s Public Housing Capital Fund Program, $40 million from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Section 521 Rental Assistance Program, and $151 million from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Capital Magnet Fund Program. The letter also points out that these proposed rescissions will exacerbate the affordable housing challenge across the country. The deadline to sign onto this letter is COB tomorrow, Thursday, May 17.

Upcoming Hearing 

  • This evening, the House Appropriations Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee will mark up its Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Appropriations Bill. It would provide HUD with $43.6 billion in net discretionary funding, an increase of $941 million over FY 2018 funding levels. The appropriations bill provides $3.3 billion for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, level to FY 2018 funding; $1.2 billion for the HOME Investment Partnership Program, $162 million below FY 2018; and $35 million for the Section 4 Capacity Building for Affordable Housing and Community Development Program, level with FY 2018. 

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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