November 7, 2018

The 2018 Midterm Elections & Affordable Housing and Community Development 

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  • Yesterday’s midterm elections resulted in the House of Representatives flipping to Democratic control and Republicans likely expanding their majority in the Senate, although there are a number of races still too close to call. The 116th Congress that opens in January will be a divided government, presenting both potential challenges and opportunities for affordable housing and community development programs. The current Congress will return to work next week for its lame duck session, and finalizing fiscal year (FY) 2019 appropriations will be a high priority for lawmakers since the current continuing resolution funding many government functions, including key affordable housing and community development programs, runs out on December 7. There is also the potential for Congress to consider another tax vehicle this year, which could provide an opportunity to strengthen and expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) and make the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) permanent. Strong engagement from affordable housing and community development advocates will be critical to advancing policy priorities this year. For updates on advocacy strategy in the lame duck and 116th Congress, stay tuned to Enterprise’s blog, newsletters, and the Action Campaign, and stay tuned to the NMTC Coalition’s website for updates. 
  • Yesterday, voters in various jurisdictions across the country approved ballot measures that allocate new resources for preserving and creating affordable housing. Californians approved Proposition 1 to allow the state to authorize a $4 billion bond issuance for affordable housing, as well as Proposition 2, which authorizes $2 billion for supportive housing services for people living with chronic mental illness who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and will be repaid using existing funds generated from the Mental Health Services Act. However, California’s Proposition 10, which would have expanded local authority to enact rent-control laws on residential property, was rejected by voters yesterday. San Francisco’s voters passed Proposition C to impose a tax on certain businesses to raise $300 million annually for supportive housing and homelessness services. In Portland, Oregon, voters passed measures 102 and 26-199, which allow local governments to use bond money in partnerships with private business and nonprofits to build affordable housing and to generate more than $650 million to build affordable housing, respectively. Austin’s voters approved Proposition A, which allocates $250 million in general obligation bonds for affordable housing. Stay tuned to the Enterprise blog for further information on the final results for the key 2018 housing ballot measures. 
  • In a blog post, Enterprise’s Vince Gallagher urges housing advocates and policymakers to promote and support the Native Homeownership is Possible Campaign, which was established by the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition out of a desire to encourage and inspire Native Americans to pursue their dreams of homeownership. Gallagher explains that there are various obstacles to creating homeownership opportunities for Native American families. He cites a number of obstacles, including infrastructure issues like connecting water and electricity to the home site, difficulties in acquiring and building on trust land on reservations, and land title searches that can be time-consuming. The campaign’s website features inspiring stories of Native Homeownership. Enterprise has been undertaking initiatives that aim to improve access to tribal homeownership through new tools and resources. At the heart of this support is a guide, Tribal Leaders Handbook on Homeownership, which aims to help tribes understand the importance of homeownership in their communities, as well as demystify complex systems and identify the players involved in the mortgage lending process. 
  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has announced that its 2019 multifamily lending caps for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be $35 billion for each, unchanged from the year before. The caps are based on projections of the overall size of the 2019 multifamily originations market, which is expected to be relatively flat compared to the 2018 market. However, FHFA will review its estimates of the market size on a quarterly basis and will adjust the caps if necessary – if the actual size of the 2019 market is smaller than was initially projected, FHFA will not reduce the caps to prevent disruption in the market. (FHFA, November 6)
  • The city of Atlanta and the Atlanta Housing Authority, in collaboration with Invest Atlanta, the United Way Regional Commission on Homelessness and Partners for HOME, have announced a new partnership to develop 550 permanent supportive housing units through the HUD-funded initiative HomeFirst. This initiative, which will be administered by Partners for HOME, builds on the City Council’s $50 million commitment to address homelessness and focuses on assisting the chronically homeless through permanent placement and project-based rental subsidies. “The fight to end homelessness cannot be won by any one organization or entity. We are committed to building sustainable public-private partnerships that can impact the lives of Atlantans across all sectors” noted Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. (AJC, November 7) 
  • According to a new study from the Urban Institute, social safety net programs cut American’s material hardship nearly in half. It finds that participation in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or public health insurance reduces the number of hardships low-income families with children face by 48 percent and the share who experience food insufficiency by 72 percent. This study, which focuses on three measures of material hardship: food insufficiency, unmet medical or dental need and number of hardships experienced, suggests that proposals to reduce funding for those programs could exacerbate food insecurity and families’ inability to afford medical care. (Urban Institute, November 5)

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

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