July 6, 2018
Community Developments: Federal Judge Extends Order that Halts the Termination of FEMA's TSA Program
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- Earlier this week, Judge Timothy Hillman, a federal judge for the District of Massachusetts, extended to Monday, July 23 an injunction that prohibits FEMA from terminating its Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program pending a formal hearing. (HousingWire, July 5) As previously reported in Community Developments, nearly 1,800 Puerto Ricans were initially expected to be required to leave their hotel rooms on June 30, but Judge Hillman had previously ordered FEMA to extend the TSA program, which provides short-term lodging assistance to families displaced by natural disasters, until midnight on July 3. This week he extended the earlier order. National civil rights groups LatinoJustice PRLDEF and Faith in Action had filed a class action lawsuit to obtain the injunction.
- According to the Labor Department, the U.S. economy added 213,000 jobs in June, and workers’ average earnings rose by 0.2 percent month-over-month and 2.7 percent year-over-year to $26.9. However, the unemployment rate rose slightly to 4 percent; an analysis by The Wall Street Journal suggests that the rise in the unemployment rate partially reflected an increase in the number of Americans seeking jobs. The workforce participation rate, which refers to the number of people who are either employed or are actively looking for jobs, increased slightly to 62.9 percent in June. (The Wall Street Journal, July 6)
- An article in DSNews looks at Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, which enables homeowners to secure all the upfront financing they need to make green improvements to their properties and allows them to pay back the fixed-rate loans over terms of up to 30 years. PACE financing does not require a down payment and homeowners repay the loans through an addition to the property taxes. It also follows the property itself, rather than the property owners -- the new homeowner inherits the responsibility to repay the loan via property taxes and the risk of a tax foreclosure if they fall behind. Based on a review of PACE assessments in California, which is the largest market for PACE financing, an analysis by Kroll shows that there is no significant difference between property-tax delinquency rates for PACE and non-PACE homes. (DSNews, July 5)
- On Monday, July 9, the National Housing Trust (NHT), in partnership with Enterprise Community Partners and People's Action, will officially launch a dedicated website for the Where Will We Live campaign, an effort that aims to elevate housing issues at the federal, state and local level. The campaign captures compelling narratives that highlight how affordable housing directly impacts the lives of low-income families, as well as brings together and collaborate with a wide array of groups that can help amplify affordable housing as a platform issue in combination with other high-profile issues. NHT is also hosting a Twitterstorm at 2 p.m. ET on Monday, July 9 to promote the campaign and website launch. Please see sample tweets and join NHT and Enterprise in sharing this important work.
- On Tuesday, July 10, the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, in partnership with Enterprise and a number of partners, will debut a new handbook that aims to help increase homeownership opportunities for Native American communities. The new handbook will be launched and discussed during the lunch program, which will feature Enterprise’s CEO Terri Ludwig, Assistant Vice President and Director of the Center for Indian Country Development Patrice Kunesh, and Executive Director of the Salish & Kootenai Housing Authority Jason Adams. The event will be livestreamed at 12:45 p.m. ET. Learn more about the release event of the new handbook.
- On Thursday, July 12, the Up for Growth Coalition will hold “A Briefing on the Nation’s Housing Shortage and Affordability Crisis”. This panel will feature U.S. Representatives Denny Heck (D-Washington) and Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), as well as a number of housing policymakers, including Enterprise’s Senior Director for Congressional Relations Liz Osborn, President & CEO of Make Room USA Ali Solis, and Executive Director of the Up for Growth National Coalition Mike Kingsella. Register here for the event.
In Case You Missed It
- Senator Marin Heinrich (D-New Mexico), Ranking Member of the Joint Economic Committee, has released a report that provides a detailed examination of the state of the rural economy and the policies that may help advance opportunity in rural areas, including opportunities for affordable housing. Investing in Rural America points out that rural residents enjoy higher homeownership rates than their urban counterparts but have fewer adequate and affordable rental homes available, particularly in Indian Country. It also notes that rural areas have limited access to mortgage credit and that community banks can fill critical gaps left by big banks. Finally, the report emphasizes the importance of investing in housing revitalization, which can help attract and retain a high-skilled workforce and enable aging rural residents to remain in their communities. (The Senate Joint Economic Committee, June 2018)