Partial Government Shutdown Continues With No Resolution
A daily roundup of news impacting housing and communities. Not receiving the Community Developments daily email yet? Sign up here.
- The partial government shutdown, which started on December 22, continues with no end in sight. House Democrats intend to vote on two new spending bills this week to reopen the closed federal departments while lawmakers negotiate an agreement over funding the proposed border wall. Politico reports that the House will consider a bill, H.J. Res. 27 (116), that would reopen the nine shuttered federal departments through February 1, as well as another bill, H.J. Res. 28 (116), that would reopen the same departments through February 28. Democratic Senators Chris Van Hollen (MD) and Ben Cardin (MD) have asked for consent to take up a package of House-passed bills that would end the shutdown, but this effort was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Politico reports that both chambers of Congress are likely to cancel the year’s first recess next week if the partial shutdown carries into its fifth week. Enterprise joins with affordable housing stakeholders and partners across the country in calling on Congress and the Administration to end the government shutdown and pass full-year spending bills that provide strong funding for affordable housing and community development.
- In an op-ed, Eric Kaplan, director of the housing finance program at the Milken Institute Center for Financial Markets, writes that ending the government conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs) without further reforms would “freeze the levers of the marketplace in favor of the GSEs and disregard the lessons learned from the financial crisis.” The Milken Institute has published a whitepaper outlining a series of administrative reforms that can be taken by regulatory agencies to: strengthen the housing finance system, pave the way for bipartisan legislation to revise the GSEs’ charters and enable new entrants to compete with them. These recommendations include increasing transparency into the GSEs’ activities, adopting a capital rule that supports a housing finance system driven by private investment, and boosting risk-based pricing combined by explicit affordable housing subsidies. (The Hill, January 14) Enterprise has released recommendations for housing finance reform that would expand support for affordable single-family and rental housing.
- NPR notes that teachers in Los Angeles began a strike yesterday, which marks the first city-wide teachers’ strike in nearly 30 years. The United Teachers Los Angeles union is asking for reducing the class size, hiring more nurses, librarians and counselors, and offering teachers a 6.5 percent raise, including back pay to July 2016. (NPR, January 14) An analysis by Zillow points out that in Los Angeles County, educators earning the median teacher’s salary of $5,170 would need to spend 48.1 percent of their salary (pre-tax) to afford a median mortgage payment and 51.6 percent of that salary to afford median rent. The study notes that teachers’ salaries in Los Angeles County can vary widely based on experience and qualifications. For example, a teacher in the 25th percentile, who earns $2,920 a month, would have to spend 91.5 percent of their income to afford a median rental, or 85.1 percent to afford a typical mortgage payment. (Zillow, January 14)
- The Boston City Council is considering levying fees on high-end real estate deals to help fund affordable housing. The proposal would impose a fee of up to 6 percent on commercial and residential sales over $2 million and establish a speculation/flipping tax of up to 25 percent on properties that are sold twice within two years. The proposed fees would need to win support in the City Council, be signed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh and finally receive the Legislature’s approval. (The Boston Globe, January 14)
- This Thursday, January 17, Enterprise Community Partners will host a webinar on “Opportunity360 Overview and Q&A.” This webinar will go through Opportunity360 tools and resources, including the Measure Tool, which can be used to create and download a 25-page Measurement Report for any census tract in the country, and the Opportunity Zone Explorer Tool that enables users to obtain data-rich views of every Opportunity Zone across the country. Register here for the webinar.
- Also this Thursday, Enterprise Community Partners will host a webinar on “Creative Placemaking: Perspectives of Artists and Developers.” This webinar will discuss the experiences of two community developers who joined forces with a theater artist and writer to elevate their community engagement approach. Register here for the webinar.