|A bipartisan group of mayors and business leaders from around the country announced a new initiative to protect and expand current levels of federal spending for programs addressing the issues of affordable housing and homelessness.
The coalition, Mayors & CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment, consists of 11 mayors from Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, the District of Colombia, and Pennsylvania and executives from Airbnb, GHC Housing Partners, and Sutter Health. The group is affiliated with the National League of Cities.
The group says its aim is to advance the national conversation about affordable housing and homelessness by:
- Rejecting the growing perception that the federal government does not have a role to play in creating affordable housing and preventing homelessness;
- Promoting the notion that housing is pro-family, pro-jobs and pro-investment;
- Establishing public-private partnerships to encourage investment in communities that will lead to economic growth, a stronger workforce, and stronger cities; and
- Advocating for major policy and funding reforms for federal affordable housing and homelessness programs.
To coincide with the launch event, the group issued a press release, in which it laid out four specific policy recommendations:
- Maximize funding for existing federal programs addressing the areas of affordable housing and homelessness, such as Section 8 Housing Vouchers, the Continuum of Care (CoC) homeless assistance grants program, and the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) program;
- Create and issue new Housing Innovation, Investment, and Reform Opportunities (HUD-HIIRO) grants that are modeled after the Department of Transportation’s TIGER grants;
- Expand the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing model by creating HUD-PASS (Partnerships Accelerating Supportive Services), which would pair HUD vouchers with Health and Human Services programs that help families and individuals experiencing homelessness who suffer from mental illnesses; and
- Create a Housing Stabilization Fund that would provide one-time, short-term emergency housing assistance to households below 80 percent of area median income. The Fund, administered by HUD, would provide monetary relief for households experiencing a health emergency or loss of employment in order to stave off eviction or foreclosure and prevent a "downward spiral" into homelessness.