February 5, 2019
President’s Budget Request Expected in Mid-March
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- The Office of Management and Budget confirmed on Monday that the White House is aiming to release the Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request in mid-March. The topline FY 2020 budget blueprint may be released the week of March 11, with the full budget coming out the following week. The Administration missed its budget request deadline in early February following the five-week government shutdown. The delay could complicate early negotiations on a deal to raise the spending caps in order to avoid across-the-board sequester cuts. (PolitcoPro, February 4)
- More than 1,000 organizations, including Enterprise, have called on Congress and the President to reach an agreement on fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending and avert another government shutdown. The letter also urges congressional leadership and the President to lift the spending caps for FY 2020, which would lead to severe cuts to housing and community development programs like HOME Investment Partnerships, Community Development Block Grant, Housing Choice Vouchers, and Project-Based Rental Assistance.
- Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and the Houston congressional delegation, led by Representatives Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX-7) and Pete Olson (R-TX-22), sent a letter to the Office of Management of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Russell Vought to approve guidance on $4.383 billion of mitigation funds through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program. In February 2018, Congress appropriated $28 billion in CDBG-DR funds for states and territories to rebuild from and mitigate against major natural disasters. Of this funding, HUD allocated $15.9 billion for mitigation activities, but OMB and HUD have yet to approve guidance on how states, territories, and localities can use these funds. Last month, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush sent a letter to the President requesting his help in approving guidance for these funds. (Texas Tribune, February 4) In September 2018, Enterprise sent a set of ten recommendations to HUD on how they can maximize their investment in mitigation.
- In a CNN op-ed, Penny Pritzker and Max Stier write that the recent government shutdown, along with hiring and pay freezes and disparagement of government by some in public office, discourages talented young professionals from entering federal public service. Already, only six percent of the roughly two million full-time federal employees are under the age of 30. Meanwhile, 45 percent of these federal employees are over the age of 50, and 32 percent are eligible to retire in the next five years. In order to address our nation’s most pressing challenges for future generations, the federal government needs make itself more attractive for a younger generation of motivated young professionals and can do so by full use of internship programs to hire top talent; engaging subject matter experts to proactively recruit and evaluate applicants; and developing a stronger presence on college campuses, among other strategies. (CNN, February 5)
- The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development has inaugurated a competition to design affordable housing for a set of 23 unusually shaped lots, many of which have sat vacant for years or decades. The program, called Big Ideas for Small Lots NYC, is a new approach to help increase affordable housing production in one of the nation’s most expensive cities. The vacant lots have remained empty because of their odd dimensions and small sizes, making them difficult for developers to invest in. By inviting architects into this competition, the city hopes to produce housing designs that will result in high quality affordable housing in unusual places. (New York Times, February 4)
- The mayor of San Jose has announced a $100 million commitment to affordable housing. The investment will go toward eleven developments and provide 1,144 units to low-income households, the formerly homeless, and seniors. The developments are all expected to apply for tax credits within the next 18 months, and the mayor’s office hopes that construction will begin on most of the projects within the next few years. The funds will be supplied by a city housing fund paid into by developers, as well as repayment on loans the city offered when it was running a redevelopment agency. As San Jose works towards meeting the mayor’s goal of adding 10,000 affordable apartments by 2022, this represents a strong step towards increasing the city’s housing stock. (Mercury News, February 4)
- Ahead of the deadline to introduce legislation, members of the Tennessee legislature are pushing two bills that would help ease housing affordability challenges in urban areas. The first bill, the Affordable Rental Property Act, would give tax breaks to property owners offering rents below a certain affordability threshold. These tax breaks would be available in areas that currently lack sufficient affordable housing and are specifically targeted towards high-cost urban areas. The second bill aims to allow seniors to age in place by offering property tax reductions for homeowners over 65 who have lived in their homes for 30 or more years. This would reduce displacement pressure on senior homeowners who might otherwise be forced to sell their longtime homes. (The Tennessean, February 5).
In Case You Missed It
- The Chicago City Council approved Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s plan to expand the City of Chicago’s Transit Oriented Development (TOD) policy to more than twenty high-ridership bus routes through the city. Chicago’s TOD policy was created in 2013 to foster pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods by enabling new construction projects near rapid transit stations to have higher densities and less parking than is typically allowed by the zoning code. This new policy gives these high-ridership bus routes the same TOD eligibility as rapid transit stations for projects that are within a quarter-mile of the bus stop in most cases. The ordinance will also create an Equitable TOD (eTOD) implementation plan, which will include strategies aimed at avoiding displacement of residents and businesses, investing in low-income communities and communities of color, supporting transit investment, and ensuring appropriate density levels and parking requirements to neighborhood context.