August 6, 2018

Community Developments: NPR Looks at Housing Scarcity in Midsized, Fast-growing Cities

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Community Developments

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  • Citing affordability challenges in Boise, Idaho, an NPR story points out that the housing shortage has spread beyond expensive markets like New York City and San Francisco to midsized, fast-growing cities, such as Boise, Idaho and Durham, North Carolina. The story highlights that in the city of Boise, there is a demand for more than 10 times the number of homes being built right now and that 65 percent of homes for sale are on the upper end of the market. The story also suggests that the housing scarcity challenge has spread to cities that have long been affordable like Boise due to a combination of factors, including a slow rebound in the housing sector after the Great Recession, regulatory barriers, increases in construction materials cost, and a shortage of construction labor. (NPR, August 6)  Enterprise has released a white paper, Proven Local Strategies for Expanding the Supply of Affordable Homes and Addressing Cost Challenges, which draws on the successes of some of the country’s most expensive cities to offer options for communities working to address the scarcity of affordable homes and the rising cost of development.
  • An article in The Washington Post explains that rent increases are slowing nationally, although the trend is being driven primarily by falling prices for high-end rentals and not for housing that is affordable to low- and moderate-income people. Using data from Zillow, the article notes that in many metro areas, such as Los Angeles and Miami, rents have risen for both low-income and higher-income renters. In other major cities, including San Francisco and Washington, D.C., rents have fallen for the highest earners while increasing for the poorest renters. The article points out that officials have responded to these rent increases with a range of policy measures, such as reforming zoning codes, creating new tools for financing affordable housing and mandating the inclusion of affordable units in new developments. However, advocates argue that the federal government needs to take more direct action to increase affordable housing construction and provide greater rental assistance to low-income families. (The Washington Post, August 6)
  • An Enterprise blog post notes that last week the Senate passed a four-bill “minibus” spending package that includes funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The spending package passed with a vote of 92-6, a show of significant bipartisan support, and maintains funding for critical HUD-administered programs, including the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) and the HOME Investment Partnership Program. The package, which covers four of the 12 fiscal year (FY) 2019 appropriation bills -- Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), Interior-Environment, Financial Services, and Agriculture, will need to be reconciled with companion legislation pending in the House. The blog points out that the House legislation differs in some ways from the Senate bill, including reductions in the allocations for both the CDFI fund and the HOME program. As the process moves forward, stakeholders and constituents can advocate for these programs by asking their representatives to support the Senate funding levels for the programs mentioned here. Read Enterprise’s blog post and see our updated budget chart for more information on program funding levels.  
  • Last week HUD sent a pre-rule, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing [AFFH]: Streamlining and Enhancement, to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for regulatory review. The OIRA Frequently Asked Questions webpage explains that releasing a pre-rule, which is also known as an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, is an action that enables agencies to solicit public comment on whether or not, or how best, to initiate a rulemaking. (NLIHC, August 6) 

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  • The ACTION Campaign has released a new fact sheet explaining how the 4 percent Housing Credit works and the importance of establishing a minimum 4 percent Housing Credit rate, as proposed in the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act. The fact sheet explains how the floating credit rate for the 4 percent program provides far less equity to developments than what Congress intended, and highlights the benefits of creating a fixed rate, such as filling critical financing gaps for developing affordable homes, providing more market certainty in Housing Credit financing, and allowing for greater flexibility and discretion for states to finance high-priority developments. Visit the ACTION Campaign’s Advocacy Toolkit to access this fact sheet, along with other advocacy resources to support the Housing Credit. 

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