June 8, 2018

Community Developments: Update on Senate Appropriations FY 19 THUD Bill, Strategies for Puerto Rico Housing Resilience

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  • Yesterday the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously advanced its Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) spending bill, which would provide $44.5 billion in net discretionary funding for HUD, an increase of $1.8 billion above FY 2018 levels and $900 million above the House FY 2019 THUD bill. The Senate bill would provide: $22.8 billion for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, which represents an $800 million increase over FY 2018 and $325 million above the House bill; $2.775 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund, an increase of $25 million over FY 2018 and the House bill; and $4.756 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund, an increase of $206 million over FY 2018 and the House bill. However, the Senate bill would provide level funding for: the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program at $3.3 billion; the HOME Investment Partnerships Program at $1.362 billion; and the Section 4 Capacity Building Program at $35 million. Project Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) would receive $11.747 billion, which is level with the House bill and approximately $800 million above FY 2018 levels. For more information on the Senate bill and FY 2019 appropriations, see Enterprise’s blog post.
     
  • As the 2018 hurricane season begins, Enterprise Community Partners and the Asociación de Constructores de Puerto Rico, in collaboration with University of Puerto Rico, Perkins+Will, and the MIT Urban Risk Lab, are developing Keep Safe: Strategies for Puerto Rico Housing Resilience, a manual for building to withstand future natural disasters. Laurie Schoeman, national senior program director for resilience at Enterprise, notes that “the goal…is to centralize best practices, techniques, strategies, and interventions to make houses more safe and resilient from climate impacts.” The free manual, which will be written in Spanish and English, will: cover building methods to withstand landslides, earthquakes, drought, water damage, and wind; describe how to build a rainwater collection system and some of the basics of installing solar panels; and include strategies to design for redundancy, along with ideas for strengthening the relationship of individual homes to the greater community. (Building Green, June 5)
     
  • The New Markets Tax Credit Coalition has released its 2018 New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Progress Report, which provides a survey of NMTC activities in 2017 and documents the flexibility and importance of the NMTC in meeting the needs of the distressed communities, as well helping to create jobs and grow business opportunities. The report shows that last year community development entities (CDEs) used $3.9 billion in NMTC allocation to finance 272 projects amounting to $5.8 billion in total capital, and CDEs financed the construction or rehabilitation of nearly 19 million square feet of commercial real estate. The report also points out that projects financed by the NMTC in 2017 created nearly 60,000 jobs, over 23 percent of NMTC projects were in non-metropolitan counties, and 83 percent were in severely distressed communities. (NMTC Coalition, June 7) 
     
  • A blog post by the Urban Institute looks at the importance of Opportunity Zones for tribal census tracts, which face challenges in attracting private capital for housing construction and rehabilitation. The blog notes that of 1,341 census tracts eligible for nomination in tribal areas, 30 percent were designated as Opportunity Zones. It also points out that although investment vehicles designed to help lower-income people and communities, such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and the New Markets Tax Credit, are available to attract private funds to tribal lands, there remain barriers to accessing private capital. The post explainsthat now tribes can package development projects in Opportunity Zones to attract new corporate and private investors. (Urban Institute, June 7) Visit our Opportunity Zones webpage for information and updates on the tax incentive. 

In Case You Missed It

  • Yesterday HUD Secretary Ben Carson announced the first round of ‘EnVision Center’ designations in 17 communities across the nation. EnVision Centers, which will be located on or near public housing developments, will offer HUD-assisted families access to services that can help them achieve self-sufficiency and serve as an incubator to support four key pillars of self-sufficiency: economic empowerment; educational advancement; health and wellness; and character and leadership. According to HUD, after the groundbreaking “each demonstration community receiving the EnVision Center designation will convene with their local stakeholders and resident councils to assist in the selection of services to be offered at the Center,” and HUD will develop tools to track and measure outcomes of EnVision Center participants and services. 

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