The Legislative Outlook in the Lame Duck Session
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- The current continuing resolution (CR) funding many government functions, including key affordable housing and community development programs, expires next Friday, December 7. If Congress is unable to reach an agreement on final fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending before the current CR expires, they will need to pass another CR or face a partial government shutdown starting December 8. On the tax policy side, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) earlier this week released tax legislation in an opening bid to negotiate a tax package before Congress adjourns for the year. The package includes a clarification that veterans are an eligible group under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit’s (Housing Credit) general public use rule for properties financed using multifamily Housing Bonds. The legislative outlook for this opening bid from House Republicans is unclear — there is limited legislative time remaining and Congress will likely prioritize finalizing FY 2019 appropriations.
- An article in The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline notes that rent stabilization laws have been gaining traction in various jurisdictions across the country. It points out that over the past year, renters’ rights efforts have accomplished policy wins in Berkeley, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Westchester County, New York. The article also highlights that rent regulation measures have been considered in Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey and Washington State. As previously reported in Community Developments, New York State’s rent regulation laws will expire in June 2019, and State Legislators are currently considering a number of bills that would strengthen those laws. Elizabeth Ginsburg, senior program officer at Enterprise New York, notes that “under the current system, landlords can revoke preferential rent upon lease renewal, putting families at risk of losing their homes.”
- An article in the Los Angeles Times notes that California’s Camp Fire has worsened the state’s housing challenge. According to the article, the vacancy rate in the rental market in that region, which hovered around 3 percent before the wildfire, has fallen to near zero, and hotels and motels from Sacramento to Redding have reached full capacity. In addition, temporary shelters run by the Red Cross to house wildfire survivors still hold more than 600 people, many of them elderly and impoverished. Finally, the article looks at some the wildfire’s unwelcomed side effects, including price gouging, the displacement of thousands of Californians and real estate speculation. (LA Times, November 2018)
- A bill that would reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) — currently set to expire this Friday, November 30 — through December 7 has been introduced in the House. This extension would give lawmakers more time to consider adopting a long-term extension bill and potential reforms to the debt-burdened program, which has been facing pressure from the string of costly natural disasters in recent years. (PoliticoPro, November 28)
- According to the Department of Commerce, the sales of new U.S. homes in October dropped 8.9 percent month-over-month and 12 percent year-over-year to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 544,000, which marks the steepest decline since December 2017. The Wall Street Journal suggests that “while price growth has slowed some, it appears in part to reflect weakening demand, as inventory has built up in recent months.” Sales of previously owned homes in October rose 1.4 percent month-over-month but declined 5.1 percent year-over-year, signaling continued weakness in the housing market. (WSJ, November 28)
- On Monday, December 3, the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) will host a webinar on the federal funding outlook for affordable housing and community development programs in fiscal years 2019 and 2020. This webinar, which will feature Doug Rice of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Linda Couch of LeadingAge and Joey Lindstrom of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, will discuss how stakeholders can effectively advocate for increased federal investments in proven affordable housing and community development programs. Register here for the webinar.