December 17, 2018

HUD Released Its 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress

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  • Today HUD released its 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, which shows that 552,830 individuals experienced homelessness on a single night in 2018, an increase of 0.3 percent since last year. According to the report, the majority of homeless individuals (nearly 360,000) were located in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs, but almost 195,000 were unsheltered. The assessment finds that homelessness among veterans dropped 5.4 percent and homelessness experienced by families with children fell 2.7 percent nationwide since 2017. (HUD, December 17) 
  • Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) is drafting legislation that would require local jurisdictions of 10,000 or more to amend their zoning codes to allow for more density in single-family home zones. The bill would compel jurisdictions to permit duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes and cottage clusters as-of-right in all urban areas zoned for detached single-family housing and to make these changes to their zoning codes within 16 months. Speaker Kotek notes that “allowing more diverse housing types in single family neighborhoods will increase housing choice and affordability, and that’s a fight that I’m willing to take on.” (Planetizen, December 15) As previously reported in Community Developments, the Minneapolis City Council has passed Minneapolis 2040, a comprehensive plan to: permit duplexes and triplexes in single-family home zones; eliminate parking minimums for all new construction; and allow for higher density along transit corridors.
  • According to a HUD press release, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) have filed a joint status report with a federal court that updates the courts on the progress being made to address the authority’s public housing developments’ maintenance issues. The report also requests time for further discussions. HUD has sent a letter telling NYCHA it “has until January 31, 2019, to produce a plan of action acceptable to HUD that remediates NYCHA’s longstanding issues with management, lead, mold, heat, elevators, and vermin. If an acceptable arrangement is not reached, HUD intends to declare NYCHA in substantial default of its legal obligation to provide decent, safe, and healthy housing to its residents.” (HUD, December 14)
  • A new poll by Gallup shows that 29 percent of respondents reported delaying seeking medical treatment within the past year because of medical costs. This share is consistent with the poll’s findings in recent years, as an average of 30 percent of Americans have reported putting off medical treatment each year due to costs since 2005. The poll also finds that while uninsured Americans were the most likely to delay treatment, respondents who were enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid were the least likely to put off treatment. (The Hill, December 17) A federal judge in Texas has ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, arguing that the Act cannot stand now that Congress has rolled back the mandate that everyone carry health insurance or pay a fine. This ruling could roll back the Act’s ban on charging patients with preexisting conditions higher insurance premiums. (Vox, December 14) 
  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has announced its single-family home loan limits for 2019, with most counties to receive an increase in those limits. Starting January 1, the FHA will increase its loan limit ceiling for high-cost counties from $679,650 to $726,525; it will also boost its floor from $294,515 to $314,827. (HousingWire, December 14) 
  • Earlier today HUD Deputy Secretary Pam Patenaude announced her plans to step down at the end of the year. Prior to her role at HUD, Patenaude served as the president of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America's Families and director of housing policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center. Earlier this year Neal Rackleff stepped down as HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development and rejoined Locke Lord as a partner in its Affordable Housing and Community Development Section. The Administration is expected to send nominations for officials to fill these roles to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs in early 2019. The Senate has not acted on the nominations of Seth Appleton to lead HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research and of Robert Hunter Kurtz to be the Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing. Appleton and Kurtz were nominated by the Administration in 2017. 

In Case You Missed It 

  • On Wednesday, President Trump signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council with the goal of aligning federal agency priorities and funding with the new Opportunity Zones tax incentive. This council will be chaired by HUD Secretary Ben Carson and comprised of 13 federal agencies. Our blog post points out that the Council is tasked with developing strategies to help communities address entrenched issues of economic inequality, facilitate economic growth, and identify areas in which federal agencies can prioritize investment in Opportunity Zones. Importantly, the Executive Order instructs the council to evaluate the effectiveness of investments in Opportunity Zones by establishing best practices for reporting requirements. Enterprise Community Partners President Laurel Blatchford noted that “Enterprise is encouraged by the Administration’s commitment to measuring the effectiveness of the new Opportunity Zones tax incentive…We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and Congress to create the kind of accountability and transparency that will enable stakeholders – including government officials, investors, community-based organizations, and neighborhood residents – to evaluate if this program is benefitting the residents and businesses in these lower-income areas.” At the same time, Enterprise has concerns that the Interagency Council may unintentionally divert resources away from the tens of thousands of census tracts that have a great need for capital and economic revitalization but were not designated as a Qualified Opportunity Zone.

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