HUD Launches National “House America” Initiative to Address Homelessness

HUD launched on September 20 “House America,” a national initiative to address the nation’s homelessness crisis. The initiative encourages state, local, and tribal leaders to pledge to reduce homelessness in exchange for federal resources and support to increase the supply of deeply affordable housing and to permanently house people experiencing homelessness.

UCSD Students Scramble To Find Affordable Housing

Students across the country are having trouble finding housing for the fall semester as their colleges return to in-person classes,in areas with tight housing markets. Before the pandemic, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) guaranteed housing for first- and second-year students but has since changed its housing policy to a lottery system. Students who thought they were covered are now scrambling to find housing, a challenge particularly difficult for students with low-incomes. Now, UCSD is working with Marriott to offer students housing options, along with other services like the Basic Needs Emergency Grant, which is available to students without sufficient funds for food or housing.

DC Program Will Close Three Homeless Encampments And Provide Housing

A new pilot program in DC will permanently close three homeless encampments and intensively engage residents to provide housing and other services. Since last year, the number of DC encampments has increased, and the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness jumped 20 percent. Skeptics worry people may not trust the government enough to accept services and that closing encampments will criminalize homelessness. Proponents hope the program will provide a successful model that can be replicated; Instead, Aaron Howe—a cofounder of the mutual aid group Remora House, says their group aims to “let the pilot program exist by itself without the clearing, so we can actually evaluate its effectiveness. Because if it is effective, then the number of tents in that area should be reduced anyway.”

How Will Afghan Refugees Fare In An Already Tight Housing Market?

About 1,300 Afghan refugees have settled in the Washington, DC, area since last fall, and thousands more are expected to arrive in the coming months. While many incoming refugees have family ties to the area, it’s also one of the most expensive housing markets in the country. Evacuees will only receive limited federal assistance, making it more difficult to find cost effective housing. “We’re advising people that Northern Virginia may not be the best place because there is such a saturation [in the housing market] and there are high rental prices,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, chief executive of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “But sometimes, people, that’s the only place they know. That’s where they will go.”

ACTION Alert: Member Advocacy Needed

Housing Credit Provisions at Risk for Cuts in Reconciliation Negotiations

ACTION Member Advocacy Needed

Negotiations surrounding the $3.5 trillion legislative package known as the Build Back Better Act are ongoing – with Members of Congress looking to make deep cuts – putting Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) provisions at risk. Recent media reports have noted that the $300 billion worth of housing provisions that passed through the House Budget Committee in late September are on the chopping block and we understand there will be cuts made to tax sections passed by Ways and Means as well. To ensure the best possible outcome, we must continue to advocate aggressively for inclusion of the Housing Credit in the final package, as this is the best opportunity to see our Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA) production provisions swiftly enacted.

With that in mind, ACTION has crafted a number of messages for our members to pull from for use in email or telephone outreach to legislators – specifically Democratic Members of Congress – which you can find below. These talking points cover how the Housing Credit is central to strengthening infrastructure, how the Housing Credit helps families afford stable homes and achieve better outcomes, and reasons why the Housing Credit must be included in reconciliation.

Housing Credit Messaging Options for Outreach

THE HOUSING CREDIT IS CENTRAL TO STRENGTHENING INFRASTRUCTURE

  • A thorough and effective approach to infrastructure must include robust investment in Housing Credit production nationwide.
    • For critical environmental and social safety net priorities to be impactful, individuals and families need a safe and affordable place to live.
    • Investment in Housing Credit production is a critical building block to achieve multiple goals from the Build Back Better agenda – stabilizing families, climate resiliency, better physical and mental health outcomes, child development, and racial justice and economic opportunity.
    • Making progress on these essential priorities is underpinned by our nation’s desperate need for an expansion of affordable housing stock through increased production.
  • Congress must take a holistic approach to addressing the affordable housing crisis, and the Housing Credit must be central to this strategy.
    • The Housing Credit is our nation’s primary affordable housing financing tool and is responsible for virtually all the affordable rental housing produced or preserved in our country for the past 35 years.
    • It was highlighted as the “backbone” for President Biden’s housing proposal to build 2 million additional affordable homes as part of the Build Back Better climate agenda.
  • Housing Credit production resources are also indispensable and critical for the success of many other federal housing programs.
    • As the foundational financing source for nearly all affordable rental housing built today, the Housing Credit is central to the success of HUD capital financing programs, like the HOME Investment Partnerships program and the National Housing Trust Fund, further extending their reach.
    • Housing Credit properties are also places where families that have vouchers can always rent, free from source of income discrimination. This is essential for housing justice and equity.

THE HOUSING CREDIT HELPS FAMILIES AFFORD STABLE HOMES AND ACHIEVE BETTER OUTCOMES

    • Our nation was in an affordable housing crisis well before COVID-19, and the pandemic has only exacerbated that crisis.
      • The need has never been more critical when data shows that in no state, metropolitan area, or county in America can a full-time minimum-wage worker afford a modest two-bedroom rental home, and that these workers also cannot afford modest one-bedroom apartments in 93% of U.S. counties. This is not sustainable.
    • There are 10.5 million renter households nationwide spending more than half their monthly income on housing.
      • The high cost of rent severely constrains family budgets and leaves too little for other critical expenses like health care, transportation, healthy food, and childcare.
    • Access to safe, decent, affordable housing is essential for family stabilization.
      • Working families without safe, affordable housing struggle to make ends meet, and must often pick up and move, uprooting children from their schools and impacting parents’ ability to maintain employment.
      • The positive impact of stable, affordable housing is well-researched, including positive outcomes for low-income tenants’ education, physical and mental health, and job security. Without it, families are often one unforeseen event away from a potential eviction.

THE HOUSING CREDIT MUST BE INCLUDED IN RECONCILATION

    • Inclusion of Housing Credit production provisions in the reconciliation bill is critical – particularly, those provisions with significant and immediate impact.
      • It has been years in the making to move Housing Credit provisions that would make a significant dent in the affordable housing crisis, as tax bills that can pass both the House and Senate are often few and far between.
      • For example, lowering the 50 percent bond-financing test is one of the most significant production provisions included in the House Ways and Means Committee package.*Note*key point for bond-cap constrained states.
      • Increasingly, states are becoming bond-cap constrained and this change would allow states to use their resources more efficiently and result in immediate production for those communities.
    • Without significant action now, it is unlikely we will ever catch up to the growing affordable housing crisis.
      • If Congress fails to act to increase Housing Credit authority this year, we will actually see a cut to Housing Credit production with the expiration of the temporary volume cap increase.
      • Not only can we not go backwards on production – particularly now when it has never been needed more – but we must go beyond the status quo and actually increase production to truly take on the growing affordable housing crisis.
      • Reconciliation is an important legislative vehicle to ensure this does not happen in the remaining weeks left on the congressional calendar this year.

THE HOUSING CREDIT WILL HAVE IMMEDIATE & SIGNIFICANT IMPACT

    • The Housing Credit is an existing program with a well-established infrastructure – production investments made can get to work immediately.
      • Its resources in every state are oversubscribed, with worthwhile and needed developments left unfunded every year in every state because of lack of resources. Therefore, there is a waiting pipeline of developments that are ready to go should Congress provide new Housing Credit resources.
      • Providing additional resources for the Housing Credit to produce more affordable housing will quickly support job creation and higher economic output in addition to addressing the enormous shortage of affordable housing as well as workforce housing.
    • The House Ways and Means Committee reconciliation package includes a $30 billion investment in Housing Credit production focusing taxpayer resources most efficiently to achieve significant production results – nearly 1.4 million additional affordable homes serving 3.2 million low-income – to help offset the greatest costs to low-income families.
      • This $30 billion investment in Housing Credit production is estimated to have an even bigger impact as it will also support more than 2 million jobs, nearly $235 billion in wages and business income, and $81 billion in tax revenue over a decade. (Novogradac)
      • We must push to keep Housing Credit production investments prioritized in this critical reconciliation legislation.

In addition, as a number of Members of Congress are specifically focused on climate impact throughout the continued negotiations, we have included a couple talking points on the connection between the Housing Credit and climate, which advocates should feel free to use if they may resonate with their specific Members.

THE HOUSING CREDIT AND CLIMATE CHANGE

    • Housing Credit production is a key tool in the fight against climate change and bringing climate and clean infrastructure benefits to disadvantaged communities.
      • With buildings being the largest single contributor of global greenhouse gas emissions—producing 40 percent of global emissions—no plan to tackle climate change is complete without addressing the built environment.
    • With an affordability period of at least 30 years, Housing Credit properties are built to high-quality standards that stand the test of time.
      • Housing Credit properties increasingly incorporate strategies to increase energy and water efficiency, upgrade solar and electrification upgrades, and reduce indoor air pollutants.
      • Many of these strategies not only create healthier environments for residents, but they also improve properties’ financial performance.
      • Again, it was highlighted in President Biden’s Build Back Better climate agenda as the “backbone” for climate/housing proposal to build 2 million additional affordable homes.

Please reach out to Krista D’Alessandro, kdalessandro, for additional support connecting with your Members of Congress – including staff contacts – as well as for support with drafting email messages that include these talking points. Thank you for your continued, persistent outreach in support of affordable housing in reconciliation!

Stimulus Payments, Other Programs Kept Millions of People Out of Poverty in 2020

A set of three reports from the United States Census Bureau—Income and Poverty in the United States: 2020, Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2020, and The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2020—examine trends in household income and the important effects of social welfare programs in 2020. Median household income fell from $69,560 in 2019 to $67,521 in 2020. Using the official poverty rate, the number of people in poverty increased by 3.3 million, representing a one percentage point increase to a rate of 11.4%. At the same time, the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which incorporates post-tax transfers and government programs that assist low-income families, fell: the poverty rate for 2020 using the SPM was 9.1%, 2.6 percentage points lower than in 2019. This divergence reflects the extent to which stimulus payments, Social Security, refundable tax credits, housing subsidies, and other federal aid succeeded at keeping millions of people out of poverty.

Poll Reveals Strong Bipartisan Support for Action on Housing Affordability

The Opportunity Starts at Home campaign recently released the results of a national opinion poll revealing that the public is deeply concerned about the housing affordability crisis and favors decisive government action. The Tarrance Group, one of the most widely respected Republican strategic research and polling firms in the nation, conducted the poll on behalf of the campaign and found that nearly 9 in 10 (89%) respondents – including 76% of Republicans – believe the role of government is important when it comes to making sure there is enough affordable housing.

District Court Affirms Opa-Locka Community Development Corporation’s Right of First Refusal under LIHTC

The Third District Court of Appeals in Florida issued on September 15 an opinion affirming the Opa-Locka Community Development Corporation’s (OLCDC’s) right of first refusal for the purchase of a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) property in the case Aswan Village Associates, LLC. vs. Opa-Locka Community Development Corporation, Inc.

HUD CPD Issues Notice on Requirements on the HOME-American Rescue Plan Program

HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) issued Notice CPD-21-10 on September 13 establishing requirements for funds appropriated for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program under the American Rescue Plan Act. The notice includes waivers and alternative requirements to allow communities to begin accessing funds from the nearly $5 billion funds allocated from ARPA to create affordable housing and services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.