Enterprise Partners with The Hill for Virtual Events on Affordable Housing at 2020 Democratic and Republican Conventions
As part of Enterprise’s broader work lifting up the importance of affordable housing in the 2020 Presidential election, we partnered with the media outlet The Hill to host virtual events at both the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and the Republican National Convention (RNC). The broadcasts featured conversations with policymakers, housing advocates and industry experts, and focused on what can be done to ensure all Americans have access to a safe and affordable home.
The DNC event was moderated by Steve Clemons, The Hill’s Editor-at-Large, and featured Priscilla Almodovar, Enterprise CEO, Muriel Bowser, Mayor of Washington, D.C., Sec. Julián Castro, Former HUD Secretary, Representative Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1), Mark Dones, Executive Director of the National Innovation Service, and Noerena Limón, SVP of Public Policy and Industry Relations at the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. Priscilla Almodovar help set the stage for the event by explaining how the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated a lot of the affordable housing challenges low- and moderate-income communities and communities of color were facing even before the outbreak of the virus. She also touched on the potential for a looming wave of evictions if Congress is unable to restart the stalled coronavirus relief package negotiations and secure emergency rental assistance for struggling households and reinstate eviction moratoria for nonpayment of rent.
In response to a question about what can be done legislatively to help address these looming issues, Congresswoman DelBene (D-WA-1) highlighted the importance of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act. This bipartisan piece of legislation would expand and strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) to produce more units of affordable housing and better serve a number of at-risk and underserved communities. Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, in his conversation with Clemons, raised some concerns over HUD’s recent decision to terminate the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. Castro described this action as “going backwards” because AFFH is an example of what we can do to tackle systemic racism. Mayor Bowser with her time touched on how deeply intertwined and embedded the work of racial equity is with affordable housing and described her efforts as Mayor to make the issue a top priority.
The RNC edition, moderated by Steve Clemons, featured discussions with Priscilla Almodovar, John Giles, Mayor of Mesa, AZ, Francis Suarez, Mayor of Miami, FL, Colleen M. Fisher, Executive Director of the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing, and Sarah Rosen Wartell, President of the Urban Institute.
Mayor Giles highlighted the importance of permanent supportive housing in both ending homelessness and preventing the spread of Covid-19 and detailed how the city of Mesa was able to support these initiatives with funding provided by the Cares Act. Mayor Suarez discussed the efforts he took to combat discriminatory lending practices in Miami by taking on banks that had a history of redlining in addition to describing what he believes cities across the country can do to promote more equitable housing. Sarah Rosen Wartell pointed out how housing affordability is not a partisan issue, saying “There’s a lot the red, purple, and blue parts of the country have in common: housing is what provides stability for people so they can support their families, and it is a core part of our economy.” Lastly, Collen Fisher detailed the critical role USDA plays in housing for rural families and the need for funding for rural housing services.
This election cycle has demonstrated a tangible increase in housing affordability as an election issue, as shown by the more than 30,000 individuals who have viewed the DNC event and the inclusion of housing plans by all the major democratic presidential contenders. The RNC event also was able to reach a large audience, as it was aired on CSPAN as part of their coverage of the convention, further signifying how important housing has become in the 2020 election.