November 8, 2018

Affordable Housing, Community Development and Resiliency in the Midterm Elections

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  • Tuesday’s election was historic for voter turnout, with many states recording levels of voter participation not seen for a non-presidential election in decades. And while there remain a number of races that are too close to call, we know that when the 116th Congress convenes in January, the House of Representatives will be under Democratic control and Republicans will maintain, and likely expand, their majority in the Senate. In a blog post, Enterprise’s Senior Director of Congressional Relations Liz Osborn offers an insight on the legislative outlook and advocacy strategy in lame duck session and the 116th Congress, including the current frontrunners for leadership positions on key appropriations and tax committees in both chambers. She points out that finalizing fiscal year 2019 appropriations will be a priority for the remainder of this year: the continuing resolution currently funding many government functions, including key affordable housing and community development programs, expires on December 7. In addition, advocacy in support of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and New Markets Tax Credit will be critical when Congress returns to Washington on November 13 so these programs rise to the top of the list in any potential tax negotiations. Stay tuned to the ACTION Campaign website for updates on Housing Credit advocacy, and the NMTC Coalition website for updates on that program. Finally, Osborn notes that while there are still a lot of questions, the bottom line is that in both this year and next, strong engagement will be critical to advancing affordable housing and community development policy priorities.
     
  • In a blog post, Enterprise’s National State & Local Policy Director Flora Arabo points out that while there has been a lot of rhetoric casting Congressional midterm elections as a referendum on federal policy, voters made dozens of decisions earlier this week about what happens in government outside of Washington, D.C. The blog notes that across the country Americans cast votes in 36 gubernatorial elections, 210 mayoral elections, 132 municipal elections, 42 state senate chambers, and 45 state house chambers, as well as on 155 ballot measures in 37 states. The post provides a roundup of the outcomes of some of the housing-related ballot measures, highlighting that voters generally displayed a willingness to be taxed and a strong interest in solving the problems of affordability and homelessness that, in some places, seem only to be getting worse. Learn more about the results of votes on the 2018 key housing ballot measures on our blog post
     
  • Earlier this week, voters in various jurisdictions across the country weighed on ballot measures that aim to create new sources for funding or financing environmental projects, including those aimed at mitigating the increasing frequency and intensity of flooding events. Portland’s voters approved the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Initiative, which imposes a one percent surcharge on large retail corporation to fund clean energy and green infrastructure projects. This initiative requires that more than 50 percent of the projects specifically benefit low-income residents and communities of color. In Austin, voters passed Proposition D, which authorizes $184 million in general obligation bonds for flood mitigation, open space and water quality protection. San Francisco’s voters approved Proposition A to authorize the city and county to issue up to $425 million in bonds to fund repairs and improvements to the Embarcadero Seawall as well as Embarcadero infrastructure and utilities for earthquake and flood safety. In Denver, voters approved Measure 2A, which increases the local sales tax rate by 0.25 percent to raise funds for parks, open space, trails, waterways, and related acquisitions and capital improvements. Miami Beach’s voters approved a measure that authorizes $439 million in general obligation bonds to finance parks, infrastructure and public safety projects.
     
  • An article in CityLab notes that voters in several jurisdictions approved ballot measures that create new resources for public transportation and infrastructure. Austin’s voters approved Proposition G, which authorizes $160 million in general obligation bonds for transportation infrastructure. In Hillsborough County, Florida, voters passed a one-cent sales tax increase that is expected to generate $9 billion over the next three decades to fund transportation investments, with 45 percent of the raised funds allocated to the local transit authority. Voters in Arlington County, Virginia, approved a $74.6 million bond measure that will support variety of transportation initiatives and projects, including $44 million for capital improvements on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro). In addition, Californians rejected Proposition 6, which would have rolled back a gas tax and vehicle fee increase that passed in 2017 and raises about $5 billion per year for road and bridge improvements and other mobility measures. (CityLab, November 7)

Upcoming Events

  • On Thursday, November 15, Enterprise will hold a webinar to discuss the newly released Opportunity360 – Listen: The Community Engagement Toolkit, an online tool that brings together more than 40 resources to enable effective community engagement. This webinar will feature a panel of experts and practitioners from across the country who specialize in community development. Register here for the webinar
     
  • On Tuesday, November 27, Enterprise New York, in partnership with the Fair Housing Justice Center and with support from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, is hosting the Regional Affordable and Fair Housing Summit. This full-day convening will feature a keynote address by Isabel Wilkerson, the author of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, as well as a discussion on the Affordable and Fair Housing Roundtable’s policy platform. The summit will be held at the CUNY Graduate Center. Register here for the summit.     

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