January 14, 2019

Partial Government Shutdown Enters Its Fourth Week

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  • The partial government shutdown has entered its fourth week, making it the longest in U.S. history. Although the House has passed a number of spending bills aimed at reopening the government, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) did not bring those bills to a floor vote, on the basis that Congressional leaders from both parties and the President have not reached an agreement over funding the proposed border wall. Politico reports that the President has ruled out, at least for now, declaring a national emergency to fund the wall the Administration supports. The President has also rejected an effort by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to temporarily reopen the closed government departments while lawmakers negotiate an agreement over the budget impasse. 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.
  • Designing the WE and Enterprise’s Undesign the Redline New Orleans exhibit, which runs at the Tulane University’s Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design in Central City through March 1, connects the city’s long history of systemic racial housing segregation to its current policy and social issues. John Sullivan, senior program director for Enterprise Gulf Coast office, points out that while many people see impoverished neighborhoods as the result of bad decisions made by their residents, these challenges are really the “result of a system, of actions taken over decades that have restricted choice and opportunity.” Sullivan notes that the exhibit focuses on history and context and touches on the current debate over potential housing solutions, such as adopting a city-wide inclusionary housing policy that would require developers to include affordable units in their developments. (NOLA.com, January 11) A separate version of the exhibit  opens in Los Angeles on February 7.Learn more about the exhibit on our website
  • In an op-ed, Jared Bernstein, former chief economist to former Vice President Joe Biden and senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, points out that while it is too soon to evaluate Opportunity Zone investments, experts can examine early developments, including the Zone certification process, market reactions and some proposed investment targets. Bernstein explains that although some high-profile Opportunity Zones were poorly chosen, the average certified Zone has a 29 percent poverty rate, nearly twice the national rate, and a median family income of $42,400, nearly 40 percent lower than the national median. He also opines that while some proposed Opportunity Zones investments could create gentrification risk, the selected Zones have both the need and capacity to absorb new investment, development and people without displacing local residents. Finally, Bernstein suggests giving “OZs a chance, while scrutinizing their progress. That will require the Treasury to dictate strong reporting requirements that will accommodate thorough evaluation.” (The Washington Post, January 14)
  • Julián Castro, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under former President Obama’s administration and former mayor of San Antonio, has announced plans to run for President in 2020. Castro has outlined his support for universal healthcare, prekindergarten and higher education. Politico notes that “his first campaign stop as a presidential candidate will be in Puerto Rico, where Castro will address the Latino Victory Fund, visit with residents still recovering from hurricane damage and visit recovery sites with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.” (Politico, January 12) Also, Senator Elizabeth Warren, who introduced the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act in 2018, has formed an exploratory committee for 2020 presidential run. The legislation would invest billions of dollars in the National Housing Trust Fund, strengthen the Fair Housing Act, and offer down payments to first-time homeowners in formerly redlined neighborhoods.

Upcoming Event

  • Tomorrow, January 15 at 4 p.m. ET the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding will hold a call to discuss the impacts of the partial government shutdown on affordable housing and community developments programs. This call will feature housing experts and stakeholders, including Doug Rice of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Ellen Lurie Hoffman of the National Housing Trust, and Joey Lindstrom of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Register here for the call

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