October 17, 2018

Disaster Preparedness, Support for NMTC

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Community Developments

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  • An article in Bloomberg points out that devastation and costs from the record disasters of the past two years have been spurring action on disaster preparation. The article notes that earlier this month, Congress passed legislation that increases funding for natural hazard mitigation as well as gives state and local government a financial incentive to adopt building codes that incorporate the latest hazard-resistant designs. Enterprise’s Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Senior Advisor for Resilience Marion McFadden notes that “the law’s passage reflects the increasingly unaffordable cost of disasters….Members of Congress are taking this very seriously.” Citing the adoption of a requirement that the first floor of new homes in much of Houston must be at least two feet above the floodplain as an example, the article also highlights that more local jurisdictions have adopted or considered imposing stricter codes on development in flood plains. (Bloomberg, October 16)
  • Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY-29) has announced that the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Extension Act of 2017 (H.R. 1098) is now supported by one hundred lawmakers for the first time in the bill’s history. The NMTC is set to expire at the end of 2019 unless Congress extends the program. The NMTC Extension Act would make the NMTC permanent, as well as adjust the Credit to inflation. The NMTC was authorized in the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act of 2000 as part of a bipartisan effort to stimulate investment and economic growth in low income urban and rural communities. Visit the NMTC Coalition website to learn more about this tax credit.
  • Yesterday the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to eliminate a requirement that gave Councilmembers the power to block funding for permanent supportive housing in their districts. Under city regulations, Los Angeles has required developers seeking funding for permanent supportive and affordable housing to obtain a letter of acknowledgment from the City Councilmember who represents the district. California has recently adopted legislation that prohibits awarding state funds or tax credits to any housing development that is saddled with such a requirement, which has led to the unanimous vote on the removal of the requirement from city regulations for Proposition HHH, a $1.2-billion bond to fund housing for people who have been experiencing homelessness, along with other funding streams for affordable housing. (LA Times, October 16)
  • A review by the Urban Institute finds that rapid re-housing (RRH), which offers housing search services, short-term housing assistance and case management services to enable people to exit homelessness, helps families exit shelter faster than they would on their own. The review highlights a HUD study that found homeless families assigned to RRH exited shelter two weeks quicker than those who left on their own. It also notes that providing RRH costs about $4,000 less than leaving families to exit homelessness on their own and that most families who receive RRH assistance do not return to shelter. (Urban Institute, October 16) 
  • According to data by the Commerce Department, U.S. housing starts in September fell 5.3 percent month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.201 million, and residential building permits dropped 0.6 percent month-over-month to an annual pace of 1.241 million. Permits declined 9.3 percent for buildings with five or more units and rose 2.9 percent for single-family homes compared with August. The Wall Street Journal argues that “continued job and wage growth are helping drive housing demand, but factors such as rising material costs and labor shortages have posed challenges to builders seeking to meet that solid demand.” (WSJ, October 17)

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