January 23, 2019
Senate Scheduled to Vote on Two Spending Bills to End Partial Shutdown
A daily roundup of news impacting housing and communities. Not receiving the Community Developments daily email yet? Sign up here.
- Yesterday Senate leadership struck an agreement to vote on Thursday on two spending bills aimed at ending the budget impasse. The first vote will be on the End the Shutdown and Secure the Border Act, which includes the President’s proposed immigration language — $5.7 billion for the border wall and a three-year extension for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status programs — and $12.7 billion in disaster aid. The legislation also includes stricter immigration changes that would impact asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Senate then plans to vote on a House-passed spending bill that if signed into law would reopen the closed federal departments through February 8. Any spending bill will require 60 votes to pass the Senate, and it is unclear if either bill can receive the required votes to pass and potentially end the shutdown. House Democrats also intend to consider a spending package — which includes $1 billion for boosting infrastructure at existing ports of entry and increasing the number of immigration judges who can process migrants’ cases — in an effort to end the shutdown in advance of border security negotiations. (The Hill, January 22). The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) is circulating a national sign-on letter calling on Congress and the Administration to end the government shutdown and ensure affordable housing and community development programs receive robust funding. Enterprise is a member of the CHCDF and urges organizations and local government officials to sign onto this letter.
- Yesterday Enterprise, NeighborWorks America and the Puerto Rico Community Foundation launched the Puerto Rico Nonprofit Capacity Building Network, which will provide training, networking opportunities and funding for nonprofits across Puerto Rico to increase their ability to meet crucial community needs in areas such as housing, climate resilience, education and health, especially as the island recovers from Hurricanes Irma and María. At a full-day event in San Juan, “Together, We’re Better: How Nonprofits are Helping Rebuild from Hurricanes Irma and María,” leaders from the three organizations explained that the network will focus on identifying local needs, both of nonprofits and the communities they serve; improve coordination among nonprofits, government and business; and develop and implement a detailed action plan. One of its first initiatives will provide training on using federal Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds to support recovery and rebuilding, enabling nonprofits not only to understand better how to access those funds, but also to learn from each other, develop collaborations and prepare for future needs.
- In an op-ed, Evelyn Zwiebach, state and local policy director of Enterprise’s Chicago and Detroit markets, and Sarida Scott, executive director of Community Development Advocates of Detroit, point out that the cross-sector benefits of expanding affordability and improving housing quality indicate that housing challenges are best addressed collaboratively. The authors note that “by working together with public health, education, economic development, and sustainability initiatives, community and housing developers can capture the expertise of diverse groups, better align their work and maximize the impact of their strategies and investments.” The op-ed urge housing and community development policymakers and stakeholders to undertake innovative, cross-sector strategies to improve Detroit’s housing affordability and quality. (Detroit Free Press, January 22)
- According to the National Association of Realtors, U.S. existing home sales in December dropped 6.4 percent month-over-month and 10.3 percent year-over-year to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.99 million, which marks the weakest level since 2015. The median sale price for an existing home in December rose 2.9 percent from a year earlier, the smallest increase since March 2012 and an indication that home-price growth has slowed significantly. The Wall Street Journal suggests that existing home sales were “weighed down by a surge in stock-market volatility, uncertainty as the government shutdown began and rising interest rates, which pushed up mortgage rates in November to their highest level in seven years.” (WSJ, January 22)
- The ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing will host its Housing Opportunity 2019 conference on February 4 – 6 in Newport Beach, California, to share lessons learned and best practices for addressing an array of housing challenges. The conference will cover several topics, including: homelessness and successful strategies to reduce it; tools for preserving and expanding affordable and senior housing; sustainable, healthy and equitable housing options; and investing in housing and new sources of capital. Online registration is available at: https://bit.ly/2FKyyng.
- 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 JCHSManaging Director Chris Herbert and will feature Blatchford, Fireflower Partners President 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.