October 23, 2018

Voter Initiatives for Affordable Housing in California

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Community Developments: Voter Initiatives for Affordable Housing in California

  • Yesterday’s edition of The Mercury News gave an overview of several voter initiatives that would raise money to fund affordable housing in California. Statewide, voters are being asked to decide on Proposition 1, which would issue $4 billion in bonds for affordable housing construction and home loans, and Proposition 2, which would authorize $2 billion to provide housing for people with mental illness who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. David Garcia from the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation noted that he predicts that the Propositions 1 and 2 will pass, because they have a broad group of supporters that really understand that need for more resources to address the housing and homelessness crisis.” In the Bay Area, a bond measure in San Jose would provide $450 million for affordable housing locally if passed. (The Mercury News, October 22)
  • An Enterprise blog post summarizes pre-disaster mitigation provisions in the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, which became law earlier this month. The DRRA authorizes the President to create a six percent set-aside from the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund for pre-disaster mitigation grants. The grants will be available on a competitive basis to all states, territories, and tribes where there have been major disaster declarations in the previous seven years. For context, all fifty states in addition to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia had major disaster declarations 2012-2018. If utilized, the set-aside could significantly increase pre-disaster mitigation funding. Read about the DRRA on Enterprise’s blog.
  • Despite the apparently tight labor market, wages continue to stagnate relative to historical precedent. A New York Times analysis compared present wage growth to the last time the unemployment rate was under 4%, shortly before the 2001 recession. The study found that wage growth is lower than in 2001 across nearly all demographic groups, industries, and worker skill levels. The cause of this stagnation remains something of a mystery, with economists divided on whether decreased productivity, weakened employee bargaining power, or an increase in workforce nonparticipation are to blame. (The New York Times, October 22)
  • As part of its ongoing Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts, Houston has partnered with a data analysis firm to model the damage done by the storm. This innovative approach seeks to identify areas that have been underserved so far in the recovery process in order to direct future recovery dollars towards the areas that need it most. In the past, advocates have expressed concerns that FEMA disaster relief practices can sometimes leave behind low-income households and renters. With the help of Civis Analytics, Houston is hoping to achieve a more equitable recovery and create a model for best practices for data-driven recovery going forward. (City Lab, October 22)
  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has announced updated requirements for Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) servicers when they assign FHA-insured reverse mortgages for claim payment. The goal of these revised requirements is “streamlining the HECM claim payment process,” making the process quicker and more efficient for participating lenders. Allowing lenders to submit alternative supporting documentation will hopefully reduce the time it takes the FHA to make payments to servicers.
  • Recently, Representative Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) introduced a bill designed to “assist in exploring and developing new approaches for increasing the supply of housing.” H.R. 7054, the “Housing Innovation Act of 2018,” would establish an Office of Housing Innovation within the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The goal of the bill is to advance pilot projects and demonstration programs, allowing the federal government to identify new and effective ways to address the lack of sufficient and diversified affordable housing stock. (NLIHC, October 22)

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