January 7, 2019

Partial Government Shutdown Enters 17th Day

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  • The partial government shutdown has entered its 17th day, making it the third-longest in U.S. history. Last week the House passed a spending package that would fund eight of the closed federal departments – including the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and Treasury – through September 30 and, in separate legislation, would fund the Department of Homeland Security at fiscal 2018 levels through February 8. However, the Senate has not considered the bill, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stating that the Senate will not vote on any bill until the President indicates he will sign it. Over the weekend, Congressional leaders from both parties and the President met for a third time to discuss an agreement to end the budget impasse over funding for the proposed border wall, but it did not produce tangible progress. This week House Democrats intend to pass individual spending bills in an attempt to end the partial shutdown. Stay tuned to our newsletters and blog for updates on budget and appropriations.
  • An article in NBC News looks at how the partial government shutdown is harming lower-income households across the country. It notes that the shutdown has forced HUD to suspend most of its routine enforcement activities, including mandatory health and safety inspections, leaving low-income families, the elderly and people with disabilities in dangerous living conditions. HUD’s contingency plan noted that “a government shutdown would deeply impact the millions of families in need assisted by HUD programs. Low-income families make up 72 percent of HUD-assisted households — and more than half of those receiving vouchers are elderly or persons with disabilities.” (NBC News, January 4) The National Low Income Housing Coalition notes that HUD has sent letters to 1,500 landlords seeking to address the impact of lapse in funding for its multi-family programs, which were not renewed before the government shut down on December 21, as well as asking landlords to use their reserve accounts rather than evict their tenants. One of the letters notes that HUD will continue to make payments under Section 8 contracts, rent supplement contracts, Section 236 agreements, and Project Rental Assistance Contracts (PRAC) on an as needed basis, but only if HUD has available budget authority from prior year appropriations or recaptures. (NLIHC, January 7)
  • A study by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) finds that households headed by older adults are increasingly located in low-density suburbs. The report shows that the number of adults older than 65 grew from 35.0 million in 2000 to 46.1 million in 2016, pointing out that half this growth took place in lower density metropolitan area census tracts. JCHS notes that older adults living in these places could face barriers to accessing services and social networks because of limited transportation options. JCHS urges policymakers and practitioners to “consider the significant challenges inherent in servicing a sprawling population with unique needs. This includes those related to housing but also related to healthcare, community, and mobility.” (JCHS, January 7) 
  • Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s administration has proposed an elderly tenant protection bill that would limit rent increases for this group to 5 percent per year. The bill would protect tenants 75 years or older against “arbitrary, unreasonable, discriminator, or and retaliatory evictions.” A group of property owners have opposed the proposal, arguing that it would mark the return of rent control in the city. Sheila Dillion, Boston’s chief of housing, notes that “many elders lose their home and ones that they have been able to enjoy for decades. We feel very strongly this is a very, very vulnerable population that needs to be protected.” (The Boston Herald, January 7)  

Upcoming Webinars

  • On 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, on January 17, 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.

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