FEDERAL NEWS UPDATE

According to an article in Politico, the Trump administration plans to send preliminary allocations to federal agencies this week. We expect the allocations to increase defense spending by $54 billion and reduce non-defense discretionary spending by the same amount.

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin recently announced the Trump administration’s goals for a tax code overhaul by August. Speaker Ryan and Chairman Brady are working hard to move tax reform through the House and both remain committed to doing so before the August break. This is an ambitious schedule, particularly in light of concerns that have been raised over some elements of the plan. Further complicating the timeline is the need to address funding for the government and raising the debt limit. Secretary Mnuchin said the administration is focused on a middle income tax cut and simplifying business taxes. This quick schedule for tax reform will be challenging to achieve given the other issues congressional Republican leaders are taking on, including "Obamacare" and essential spending legislation. Any major tax reform effort could potentially affect the Housing Tax Credit, and the affordable housing community is therefore active. The ACTION Campaign is sponsoring a sign-on letter to show support for the program in expectation on Senator Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Senator Hatch (R-Utah) reintroducing the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act.

On February 22, a small group of industry advocates, including Housing Advisory Group (HAG) representatives, met with key Administration officials from the National Economic Council and the White House Domestic Policy Council. The purpose of the White House meeting was to discuss the Housing Tax Credit and tax reform, and to encourage the Administration to support the credit and bond programs. HAG Executive Director David Gasson, Board Member Mike Novogradac and Counsel Barbara Pate reported that the meeting was very positive and productive. While no commitments were made, it is clear that there is a good understanding on the part of the White House policy advisors regarding the Housing Tax Credit program and its bipartisan support in Congress.

Of particular interest to the Administration is how the credit could fit into a community revitalization plan. We have an excellent story to tell on that aspect and discussed both direct and indirect benefits that the Housing Tax Credit delivers. We also had an opportunity to point out the importance of the credit and housing bonds in providing affordable housing in rural areas. We were very encouraged by the reception we received and the interest in the credit and proposed enhancements to it.

A meeting was held in February with the key tax advisor to Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), our House Housing Tax Credit champion, to discuss the expected introduction of legislation that will include most of the enhancements in the Cantwell-Hatch bill from last Congress. The Tiberi bill will not include the increased allocation

We expect to see a reintroduction of the Housing Tax Credit expansion bill authored by our champions Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA). The Senators are finalizing details and hope to have the bill introduced in the next few weeks. The legislation will include the increase in allocation as well as the other enhancements that were in the bill introduced in the last Congress. We have again joined the ACTION Campaign on a letter of support for the bill, urging Congress to address the severe shortage of affordable rental housing by expanding and strengthening the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. Over 2000 businesses and organizations signed a similar letter last year, including many of you. A robust list of supporters is very helpful in presenting our case to Congress, and we are pleased to see the number grow. If you signed the previous letter there is no need to act as you will be included in this latest version. If you did not sign-on to the previous letter please do so now by clicking here and following the directions to include your organization.

We continue to get very good comments from Members of Congress who have visited properties in their districts and states, and we encourage you to arrange visits with your elected officials who have not had an opportunity to stop by in the past. It makes a difference for them to see the properties and hear from the families who live there. This will be a critical factor in getting their commitment to retain and improve the credit.

The House of Representatives will soon bring its HUD funding bill for the remainder of FY17 to the floor for a vote, and Representative Gosar (Arizona-04) is likely to file an amendment that would dismantle the 2015 Affirmative Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule and eliminate federal support for disaggregated geospatial data. This data is critical for communities and advocates to understand, track, and address racial inequities related to housing, employment, transportation, and many other important causes. Please join the National Fair Housing Alliance, PolicyLink, the ACLU Nationwide, and the National Low Income Housing Coalition and sign this letter encouraging Congress to protect AFFH and oppose any efforts to block access to federal geospatial data.

Our First Annual Washington DC Fly In is scheduled for April 3 – April 5. Please join us on The Hill as we meet with the entire Oklahoma delegation to discuss the results of the Oklahoma Housing Needs Assessment and how are industry is filling the gap for low income Oklahomans.

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