January 5, 2018

2017 In Focus: How State and Local Policy Is Transforming the Housing Landscape

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2017 was a year of playing defense on the federal level for the affordable housing community, but as we wrapped up the year some significant victories came out of our states and local efforts.

Last month, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the Affordable Housing Linkage Fee Ordinance, the city’s first-ever source of permanent funding for affordable housing. Support for the legislation didn’t come overnight — it took nearly two years of persistent advocacy with the guidance of our Southern California office.

Under the steadfast leadership of Jacqueline Waggoner, vice president, and KeAndra Dodds, senior program director, Policy, Enterprise co-led a coalition that brought together elected officials, advocates, community members and key stakeholders to secure the ordinance’s passage, which is expected to generate between $85 and $100 million per year once fully implemented. KeAndra was recognized by the mayor’s team during the victory celebration for her contribution. Learn more about KeAndra and how policy creates change in Southern California

Leaders on the East Coast have also demonstrated a strong commitment to affordable housing. In November, Enterprise was one of more than 20 endorsing organizations that publicly signed Pathways to Opportunity: A Community Development Agreement for the Purple Line Corridor along with Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, CASA and the National Center for Smart Growth. The document is a pledge to protect affordable housing and prevent displacement along the rail corridor and is three years in the making.

Leaders from our Mid-Atlantic office — David Bowers, vice president, and Jessica Sorrell, program director — have led the Purple Line Corridor Coalition efforts in Maryland in alignment with Enterprise’s anti-displacement and inclusivity priorities. The signed agreement is an incredibly important commitment among local and regional governments, community organizations, anchor institutions, nonprofit, philanthropy, education and business organizations to work together to leverage the rail line by protecting nearby residents and ensuring the development benefits all income levels. 

Also in December, more good news came out of our Northern California office. California’s Tax Credit Allocation Committee voted to adopt new Opportunity Maps that were the result of a large collaboration including Enterprise and many of our partners. After nearly a year of work, the resulting regulation creates strong incentives to place new development, large family 9% credits in high-opportunity areas — a major step forward in addressing segregated housing patterns and advancing fair housing practices. Under the leadership of Rich Gross, State and Local Policy Director Sarah Brundage led the Northern California office efforts in making critical changes to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program to increase access to opportunity for low-income families.

That win builds on more recent victories coming out of the state, most notably a housing package signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown that includes a permanent source for affordable housing through a document recording fee, generating more than $200 million annually, as well as a ballot measure for $4 billion in bonds for affordable housing. These accomplishments further advance Enterprise’s commitment to opportunity and establish Enterprise’s Northern California office as a trusted advisor on state policy. Read more about Enterprise’s policy work in California.

That is just a small sample of how state and local policy shaped the housing landscape last year.

For instance, in 2017: 

  • The Denver office and Make Room Colorado co-hosted the Denver Forum for the First, a public event to raise awareness about the region’s affordable housing crisis and ultimately led  to legislation being introduced in the Colorado state legislature.
  • The Detroit office served in an advisory role to members of the Detroit city council, which in September voted to approve its first inclusionary zoning housing ordinance.
  • The Gulf Coast office was a leader in supporting key changes to Louisiana’s Qualified Allocation Plan for LIHTC administration, which included several improvements that will make it easier to develop affordable housing in high-need urban area.
  • The Pacific Northwest office engaged members of the Washington State Legislature to create the Early Learning Facilities Fund, which will provide $13.5 million to construct early learning centers in affordable housing developments, pending passage of the state capital budget.
  • The New York office co-led a statewide coalition for supportive housing, senior housing and public housing resulting in a long-promised $2.5 billion investment in affordable housing by the New York State Legislature.
  • The Cleveland office is facilitating the Cuyahoga County Fair Housing Working Group, a coalition of fair housing advocates, affordable housing advocates, the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and other placed-based developers to create a voucher mobility program and pursue a Source of Income protection ordinance. 
  • The Atlanta office advised, in partnership with a core group, the Atlanta City Council ordinance authorizing the City of Atlanta to issue the final $40 million of the Housing Opportunity Bond which passed the council unanimously.  

These crucial victories don’t come overnight. They involve months — and sometimes years — of relentless advocacy. Across the country, our state and local policy experts have helped to secure billions of dollars for affordable housing, built support for policies that promote racial equity and inclusive growth and convened our partners to create visible changes in communities that allow low-income residents to thrive. 

No matter the issues or the stakes, our day-to-day state and local policy efforts would not be possible without the generous support of our partners, including the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, who recognize how critical policy can be as an instrument for positive change. Their support enables us to educate policy leaders and constituents on issues and serve as a voice for those who struggle to have theirs amplified. 

We look forward to shaping new policies in 2018. We will continue to advocate in states and communities across America for more and better quality affordable homes, stronger, more resilient neighborhoods and greater opportunities for those families who need it most.