January 11, 2019

Partial Government Shutdown Enters 21st Day, No Clear Path Forward 

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  • Congress has adjourned for the weekend after multiple meetings produced no progress on the budget impasse, which means that the 21-day partial shutdown will be the longest in U.S. history. The House has passed spending bills that would reopen the Departments of Agriculture, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), allocating $44.5 billion for HUD, which is $137 million more than Fiscal Year 2018 levels. Although the Senate has passed by unanimous consent legislation to ensure that essential and furloughed federal workers will be paid once the shutdown is over, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has blocked an effort by Senate Democrats to vote on two House-passed funding bills that would reopen the nine closed federal departments. The President has indicated that he may declare a national emergency for funding the proposed border wall, and the New York Times notes that the White House has “directed the Army Corps of Engineers to determine whether it can divert for wall construction $13.9 billion allocated last year after devastating hurricanes and wildfires.” Earlier this week Enterprise’s Senior Director of Congressional Relations Liz Osborn published a blog post explaining how the shutdown is affecting growing numbers of vulnerable workers and families across the country. Enterprise calls 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.
     
  • California Governor Gavin Newsom has revealed his proposed state budget, which includes more than $2 billion in new funding for housing and homelessness initiatives. The proposed housing budget would pay for emergency homeless shelters, subsidize new housing development that will serve low- and middle-income residents and provide grants to cities and counties to boost homebuilding. Governor Newsom has also pledged to revamp the state-mandated process that requires local jurisdictions every eight years to identify local housing supply goals that would enable them to accommodate projected population growth. He intends to enforce homebuilding goals in local jurisdictions with financial penalties, which would withhold state transportation revenue from cities and counties that do not meet their housing supply goals. (LA Times, January 10) 
     
  • In its biennial report to the Texas State Legislature, the state’s Department of Insurance recommended adopting laws that would mandate including a disclosure in home insurance policies to clarify that the policy does not cover flood damage. The report points out that while the state requires that property within FEMA’s 100-year flood plain have flood insurance to get a federally backed mortgage, more than half the homes that were impacted by Hurricane Harvey were outside of these designated flood zones and most of those did not have flood insurance. It also notes that homeowners outside the flood zones and even renters in the flood zones were not aware that they might need flood insurance. Finally, the report explains that the legislature could pursue this recommended step by requiring the Department to adopt rules for such disclosure or providing specific language in state statute. (DSNews, January 10)  

Upcoming Event 

  • On Tuesday, February 19, the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) will hold an event titled “Is Opportunity Knocking: Can Opportunity Zones Aid Distressed Neighborhoods?” with a focus on whether and how this tax incentive could achieve its goals. This event will feature a presentation by Enterprise Community Partners’ President Laurel Blatchford, which will be followed by a panel discussion that will be moderated by JCHS’ Managing Director Chris Herbert and will feature Blatchford, Fireflower Partners’ Maria Cabildo and Louisville Metro Government’s Director of Redevelopment Strategies Jeana Dunlop. It will be held at Harvard Kennedy School at 6:30 p.m. ET. Learn more about the event

In Case You Missed It

  • MIT Solve, a hybrid business incubator that aims to advance solutions from tech entrepreneurs to address pressing global issues, is seeking public input on the most pressing issues in local communities with the goal of including the public perspective in designing the 2019 MIT Solve Global Challenges. MIT Solve is asking the public to vote on which dimensions impacting issues, such as inclusive communities, healthy cities and early childhood development, are most relevant to their communities. 

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