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National Low Income Housing Coalition Latest News

Memo to Members, Vol. 14, No. 10

National Low Income Housing Coalition

March 13, 2009

 

NATIONAL HOUSING TRUST FUND

***House Committee Budget View Includes $1 Billion for NHTF

CAPITOL HILL

***President Signs FY09 HUD Spending Bill

***House Committee Adopts Budget Views

***House Hearing on Housing and Transit

***Bill Would Increase Visitability Standards for People with Disabilities

***CRA Modernization Act Introduced

***Groups Urge New Housing Corps

HUD

***Stimulus Funding Details

***Letters Urge HUD to Reconsider Changes to Income Eligibility

***HUD Announces Computer Matching Data Program Agreement with SSA

HURRICANE RECOVERY

***NLIHC President, State Partners to Testify on Failures of Disaster Housing Aid

***House Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Post-Katrina Management

FROM THE FIELD

***San Jose, CA, Advocates Win Citywide Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance

RESOURCES

***Report Grades States on Status of Child Homelessness

FACT OF THE WEEK

***Lowest Scoring States on Child Homelessness

NLIHC NEWS

***HUD Secretary Donovan and House Financial Services Chairman Frank to Headline at NLIHC’s 2009 Conference

***NLIHC Board of Directors Seeks Nominations

***NLIHC Seeks Spring and Summer Interns

 

NATIONAL HOUSING TRUST FUND

***House Committee Budget View Includes $1 Billion for NHTF

When the House Committee on Financial Services adopted its budget views and estimates this week (see related article), the Committee included a provision for the funding of the National Housing Trust Fund at the level provided in the President’s budget, $1 billion, in FY10.

 

The Committee’s adoption of the views and estimates is a further step along the road to ensuring funding for the housing trust fund in FY10. In coming weeks, the House and Senate will adopt a FY10 budget resolution, which will guide the Appropriations Committees in setting spending levels for the fiscal year. Advocates will continue to push to ensure that funding for the National Housing Trust Fund is included in the FY10 budget resolution.

 

In its write up, the Committee noted the need to fund the Trust Fund given that the original funding source, assessments on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have been suspended in light of the entities’ financial difficulties; however, the committee did not specify a source for the funds. 

 

The President’s budget proposal as released last month (see Memo, 2/27) also did not include a source for the initial funding of the NHTF, but a funding source is expected to be made public when more details of the President’s budget are released in April.

 

Unfortunately, the Republican members of the Committee in their dissenting views once again objected to the National Housing Trust Fund as duplicative of the HOME program and as a vehicle for funding ACORN.

 

In light of President Obama’s proposal to fund the National Housing Trust Fund at $1 billion in FY10, the Frequently Asked Questions section of the National Housing Trust Fund website has been updated. Also addressed is the current state of Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

 

Find the updated NHTF FAQs here: http://www.nlihc.org/doc/FAQ-NHTF.pdf 

 

To read the Views and Estimates of the Financial Services Committee, go to:

http://www.house.gov/apps/list/speech/financialsvcs_dem/viewsandestimates2009.pdf

 

CAPITOL HILL

***President Signs FY09 HUD Spending Bill

On March 10, the Senate passed and the President signed H.R. 1105, the omnibus FY09 appropriations bill. The bill includes nine FY09 spending bills, including the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies spending bill, for the fiscal year that began on October 1, 2008.

 

The bill provides for increases for most HUD housing and community development programs. Among notable improvements over FY08 funding levels are increases to the Public Housing Operating Fund, HOME, and Policy Development and Research. Total HUD funding increased from $37.6 billion to $41.5 billion.  

 

The Senate passed the final bill by voice vote after overcoming opposition to earmarks contained in the bill. The House passed H.R. 1105 on February 25 (see Memo, 2/27).

 

Link to NLIHC’s budget chart at http://www.nlihc.org/doc/FY10-presidents-request.pdf

 

***House Committee Adopts Budget Views

On March 11, the House Committee on Financial Services adopted its “Views and Estimates…on Matters to be Set Forth in the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2010.” This document provides the Committee’s views on matters within its jurisdiction, including legislation that the Committee expects to consider during the first session of the 111th Congress.

 

With respect to HUD and housing programs generally, the Committee noted that HUD programs provide “a critical safety net for our nation’s poorest families, seniors, veterans, and disabled persons, foster economic opportunities for low and moderate-income families, and strengthen urban and rural communities.” The Committee also recognized that the FY10 budget proposed by President Obama represents an 18% increase in funding over the FY09 level and reverses an eight-year pattern of budgets proposing deep cuts to HUD programs.

 

In addition to providing for $1 billion in funding for the National Housing Trust Fund (see related article), the Committee also included language urging Congress to provide new, incremental vouchers to be used as project-based vouchers in the new construction and substantial rehabilitation of units in order for these units to be affordable to households with extremely low income families.

 

The views state that the Committee will continue efforts begun in the 110th Congress to reform the Section 202 (housing for the elderly) and Section 811 (housing for the disabled) programs, the Section 8 housing choice voucher program, and the HOPE VI severely distressed public housing revitalization program. The Committee will also continue efforts to reauthorize the McKinney-Vento homeless programs and adopt anti-predatory lending legislation.

 

The Republican members of the Committee use their opportunity to offer dissenting views to repeatedly link ACORN to HUD programs, continuing the strategy used in the 2008 political campaign to discredit HUD programs by claiming that HUD funds are used to support fraudulent voter registration activities by ACORN.

 

These views are submitted to the House Committee on the Budget to inform the development of the budget resolution. The budget resolution establishes the overall level of spending for the federal government, including the level of discretionary spending for programs such as housing programs (see Memo, 2/27). The House and Senate Budget Committees are expected to mark up their respective budget resolutions the week of March 23 and Congress is expected to adopt a budget resolution before the April recess, which starts on April 6.

 

To read the Views and Estimates of the Financial Services Committee, go to:

http://www.house.gov/apps/list/speech/financialsvcs_dem/viewsandestimates2009.pdf

 

***House Hearing on Housing and Transit

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies will hold a two-day hearing on livable communities, transit oriented development, and incorporating green building practices into federal housing and transportation policy.

 

On March 18, the subcommittee, chaired by Representative John Olver (D-MA), will hear testimony from HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. On March 19, the subcommittee will hear testimony from Grace Crunican with the City of Seattle’s Department of Transportation, Mary Leary with Easter Seals Transportation Group, John Norquist from the Congress for a New Urbanism and Robert Puentes with the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.

 

The March 18 hearing will be in room 2359 of the Rayburn House office building at 2 pm. The March 19 hearing will be in room 2358-A of the Rayburn House office building at 10 am.

 

***Bill Would Increase Visitability Standards for People with Disabilities

Representative Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced on March 10 H.R. 1408, the Inclusive Home Design Act of 2009. This bill is similar to legislation Ms. Schakowsky introduced in the 110th Congress. That bill, H.R. 4202, was not considered by the House Committee on Financial Services prior the adjournment of the 110th Congress.

 

The bill would require that all newly built single-family homes and townhouses receiving federal funds meet specific standards to increase the number of homes that are accessible to people with disabilities. Among the provisions are that there be at least one accessible (‘zero step’) entrance into the home, and that all doorways on the main floor have a minimum of 32 inches of clear passage space.

 

Furthermore, each home is to include at least one wheelchair-accessible bathroom on the main floor. The bill also requires that electrical and climate controls are installed at reachable heights. The legislation applies to new construction, not renovations of existing homes.

 

There are five cosponsors of the bill: Representatives Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Sam Farr (D-CA), Luis Guiterrez (D-IL), Mark Steven Kirk (R-IL), and James McGovern (D-MA). Upon introduction, the bill was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services for further consideration. Action on the bill has not yet been scheduled.

 

***CRA Modernization Act Introduced

Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) on March 12 introduced legislation, H.R. 1479, to reform and expand the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). 

 

Passed in 1977, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) requires banks to meet the credit needs of low and moderate income neighborhoods that they serve.

 

Briefly, H.R. 1479 would reform and expand CRA in several ways that advocates support. The bill would expand CRA to cover additional institutions such as independent mortgage companies, penalize banks that engage in predatory or other abusive lending practices, and expand the obligation under CRA to include lending and services to minority communities. See Memo next week for a more detailed analysis of H.R. 1479.

 

H.R. 1479 was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services and the House Committee on Rules.

 

***Groups Urge New Housing Corps

Eighteen national housing organizations sent a letter to Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) on March 10, asking them to include a Housing Corps within their bill to expand national service programs. The bill, S. 277, would create four new national service corps, which would promote clean energy, healthy futures, and education, and teach job skills to unemployed people.

 

NLIHC coordinated the sign-on letter as part of an effort to establish a Housing Corps that has been initiated by the National Alliance of HUD Tenants. As envisioned, Housing Corps volunteers could assist in the production, preservation and rehabilitation of housing, could assist residents in organizing tenant associations, assist households who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to obtain or retain housing, inform and educate residents of their rights to decent, safe, accessible and affordable housing.

 

“The confluence of the current mortgage foreclosure crisis, the long-standing severe shortage of housing affordable to the nation’s lowest income households and the tenuous nature of preserving the nation’s more than 4 million units of federally assisted housing justifies the creation of a Housing Corps within S. 277,” the letter states.

 

The Serve America Act, S. 277, will be marked up in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on March 18. Senator Kennedy is the chair of this committee.

 

The House is expected to consider its version of a national service expansion bill during the week of March 16. The House bill, H.R. 1388, introduced by Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), passed out of the House Committee on Education and Labor on March 11. In addition to the four corps that would be created by the Senate, the House bill would also create a veterans corp.

 

The Senate and House bills provide the vehicle for one of President Obama’s campaign commitments, to expand national service and volunteerism. The bills would more than triple the number of volunteers in national service programs, from the current 75,000 to 250,000.

 

Link to the national groups’ sign on letter at http://www.nlihc.org/doc/Kennedy-Hatch.pdf

 

HUD

***Stimulus Funding Details

NLIHC has produced a chart of selected housing programs funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was enacted into law in February. The bill provided $13.6 billion for HUD’s housing and community development programs. The chart highlights funding amounts, key dates and eligible entities for the programs. Link to the chart at http://www.nlihc.org/doc/ARRA-chart.pdf

 

***Letters Urge HUD to Reconsider Changes to Income Eligibility

March 13 was the deadline for comments to HUD on its delay in implementing final regulations on access to housing for eligible low income families and on HUD’s definition of ‘annual income’ for purposes of determining a resident’s eligibility for, and rent payments in, HUD housing programs.

 

HUD issued a proposed rule on these issues in June 2007 and a final rule on January 27, 2009. Advocates used the opportunity presented by the new Administration to voice strong concern about the impact of the final rule, which was to go into effect on March 30, 2009, and HUD pulled the final rule and announced it would accept additional comments on the rule before delaying its implementation and/or amending the rule prior to implementation.

 

In the June 2007 proposed rule, HUD suggested a series of changes that would have denied or terminated housing assistance to eligible low income citizens and immigrants unless every person in the household provided a social security number. The final rule would have denied housing benefits to eligible individuals based on the status of their household members, as is not now currently the case.

 

NLIHC signed onto a March 13 letter from national organizations objecting to this change. “HUD’s January 2009 rules would deny access to housing for eligible low income families, particularly ‘mixed-status’ households, which include citizens or eligible immigrants as well as ineligible non-citizens,” says the comment letter to HUD written by the National Housing Law Project, California Rural Legal Assistance, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty and the Housing Justice Network.

 

Another portion of the proposed and final rule would have allowed HUD to redefine “annual income” so that public housing agencies and owners would have had the option to determine a household’s income for rent and program eligibility purposes based on either current or anticipated income or on income during the previous 12 months. Current law bases income determinations on current or anticipated income.

 

“It appears that under the proposed regulation, a family where a parent loses a job or that experiences income loss for another reason could continue to be charged rent based on its previous income, even if that rent is now far above the level the family can afford.  Newly admitted families who have recently experienced income declines could also be subject to such a retrospective income policy.  This is a profound change in policy that conflicts with the spirit, if not the letter, of the Brooke rent policy that pegs rent obligations to 30 percent of a family’s income,” a separate March 13 comment letter to HUD, coordinated by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the National Housing Law Project, states. NLIHC signed onto the letter. The letter asks HUD to reconsider the entire regulation.

 

The SSN comment materials can be found at http://www.nlihc.org/doc/Comments-to-Doc.pdf   http://www.nlihc.org/doc/Addendum-I.pdf  and http://www.nlihc.org/doc/Addendum-II.pdf

 

The annual income letter can be found here http://www.nlihc.org/doc/CBPP-NHLP-NLIHC.pdf

 

***HUD Announces Computer Matching Data Program Agreement with SSA

HUD announced on March 11 that it will enter a matching data program with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to verify tenants’ income, to ensure they are receiving the correct amount of assistance, and to update the participants that may be deceased or are no longer eligible to receive aid.

 

HUD will provide the SSA with the tenants’ full name, Social Security number, and date of birth. SSA will in turn contact HUD if there is no record of the person or if they are deceased. Any matches in the database will be further reviewed by HUD, PHAs, and private owners and management agents.

 

The program will help to verify the amount of aid for participants in rental assistance programs, as well as the incomes and eligibility of borrowers and co-borrowers applying for mortgage insurance for FHA loans.

 

The program is scheduled to begin April 10, 2009, unless comments lead to the delay of implementation. Public comments are also due April 10. Advocates interested in submitting comments may send them to:

 

Rules Docket Clerk

Office of General Counsel, HUD

451

Seventh Street
, SW., Room 10276

Washington, DC20410–0500

 

The notice can be found here: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-5127.pdf

 

HURRICANE RECOVERY

***NLIHC President, State Partners to Testify on Failures of Disaster Housing Aid

The Senate Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery will hold a hearing on March 18 at 2:30 pm in room 342 of the Dirksen Senate office building.  The hearing, “A New Way Home: Findings from the Disaster Recovery Subcommittee Special Report and Working with the New Administration on a Way Forward,” will focus on the report recently issued by the subcommittee detailing housing assistance in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and recommendations for responding to future disasters (see Memo, 2/27).

 

Testifying from the perspective of the advocacy community are Sheila Crowley, NLIHC President; Krystal Williams, Executive Director of the Louisiana Housing Alliance, an NLIHC state partner;  John Henneberger, Co-Director of Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, also an NLIHC state partner; and Reilly Morse, Senior Attorney with the Mississippi Center for Justice. 

 

The lone confirmed witness on the first panel is Frederick Tombar, III, Senior Adviser for Disaster and Recovery Programs at HUD.

 

The subcommittee is chaired by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who has been a staunch advocate for recovery efforts in the GulfCoast.

 

***House Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Post-Katrina Management

The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Communications, Preparedness, and Response will hold a hearing on “PKEMRA (Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006) Implementation: An Examination of FEMA’s Preparedness and Response Mission.” The subcommittee, chaired by Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX), will examine FEMA’s role in responding to a disaster.

 

The witnesses are Bill Jenkins, director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues at the Government Accountability Office; Corey Gruber, acting deputy administrator of the National Preparedness Directorate, FEMA; Richard Skinner, inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security; Mary Troupe, executive director of the Mississippi Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities; and Daniel Kaniewski, deputy director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University.

 

The hearing will be held in room 311 of the Cannon House office building at 10 am on March 17.  

 

FROM THE FIELD

***San Jose, CA, Advocates Win Citywide Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance

In December, a broad coalition that included Charities Housing Development Corporation (Charities Housing) succeeded in convincing the San Jose City Council to approve a citywide inclusionary zoning ordinance by a stunning 7-2 vote. Charities Housing is a member of NLIHC and a member of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH), an NLIHC state partner.

 

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, an organization of business leaders; PACT (People Acting in Community Together) a community-based organizing group; and labor were instrumental to the coalition, with substantial efforts also made by the Public Interest Law Firm and the Greenbelt Alliance. The City’s Department of Housing is also cited by advocates as a key facilitator of success because it conducted numerous public meetings in various parts of the city and brought the developer community on board.

 

Inclusionary zoning (IZ) is a policy tool intended to result in new housing developments that include homes affordable to a wider range of households, particularly low income households. San Jose’s new ordinance is ‘mandatory,’ requiring builders to set aside 20% of their market-rate projects for affordable housing, or pay a fee to build such housing elsewhere. In return, builders receive non-monetary compensation such as density bonuses, zoning variances, or expedited permitting. In other jurisdictions inclusionary zoning might be “voluntary,” merely offering builders incentives such as density bonuses or regulatory flexibility in return for providing a certain percentage of affordable units in a new development.

 

San Jose has had a form of inclusionary housing (which is another name for IZ), but only in parts of the city called “Redevelopment Project Areas.” California law allows a city or county to create one or more Redevelopment Project Areas where there are blighted conditions. As development occurs in these areas, between 15% and 30% of new or substantially rehabilitated residential units must be affordable to very low, low, and moderate income households. Now, as a result of the citywide ordinance, inclusionary zoning applies throughout San Jose.

 

It has taken 20 years and two unsuccessful efforts to arrive at this success. Over this period, San Jose advocates consciously built a movement to enable the general public to view affordable housing as part of a community’s infrastructure that is just as important as transportation, the education system, and health care facilities. This set the stage for the city council to agree to devote a year and a half studying IZ. Eventually, what really propelled the IZ ordinance was a large tract of land being rezoned, and the Council member for that district realizing that affordable housing would not be built without IZ.

 

“There are so many people to thank for this, among them the city’s housing staff who diligently and patiently pursued this issue through many years of study and procedures,” said Evelyn Stivers, NPH Field Director. “This really puts the focus on Oakland now, as the last remaining major city in Northern California lacking an inclusionary policy.”

 

For more information contact, Evelyn Stivers, Field Director of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, evelyn@nonprofithousing.org  

 

RESOURCES

***Report Grades States on Status of Child Homelessness

In a comprehensive report on child homelessness released March 10, the NationalCenter on Family Homelessness (NCFH) compiles information from a wide variety of sources to rank the 50 states on the extent and nature of child homelessness within their borders.

 

The publication includes a two-page report card for each state and the nation as a whole based on four broad categories: the extent of child homelessness; child well-being; structural risk factors for child homelessness; and states’ policy and planning efforts. NCFH adds value to these data by condensing them into state-level indices, including one for each of the four categories and one overall index.

 

In the report, NCFH estimates that more than 1.5 million children in families – or 2% of all children in the country – experience homelessness annually, and that three-quarters of homeless children are concentrated in 11 states. (Texas, California, and Louisiana each have more than three times as many children experiencing homelessness as the next highest-ranking state.) Based on both the percentage of children who experience homelessness, as well as on data from the other categories, NCFH gives Connecticut the highest marks on child homelessness; Texas receives the lowest.

 

Beyond the report cards, this 220-page compendium is a real resource for advocates because it compiles data from numerous sources and different years, and where data are incomplete, it uses Census data on children living in poverty as a proxy for homeless populations. The report also highlights findings from previous research on the detrimental impact of homelessness for children (e.g., homeless children are twice as likely as those with homes to go hungry, report health problems, and to be held back in school).

 

America’s Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on Child Homelessness is available at http://www.homelesschildrenamerica.org/pdf/rc_full_report.pdf.

 

FACT OF THE WEEK

***Lowest Scoring States on Child Homelessness

A new report ranks the states on child homelessness by evaluating them in four categories. These data, the percent of all children who are homeless and the number of homeless children, constitute two of four categories on which the overall rank is based.

 

                                                                     % of Children                      Number of

State                               Rank                   Who Are Homeless*            Homeless Children

Texas                              50                                 5.20%                              337,105

Georgia                          49                                 2.38%                                58,397

Arkansas                        48                                 2.73%                                18,852

New Mexico                  47                                 1.76%                                  8,919

Louisiana                        46                               18.71%                              204,053

 

* Data are for 2005-2006; data reflect the impact of the 2005 hurricanes.

Source: The NationalCenter on Family Homelessness. (2009, March). America’s Youngest Outcasts: State Report on Child Homelessness. Newton, MA: Author. Retrieved March 10, 2009 from http://www.homelesschildrenamerica.org/pdf/rc_full_report.pdf.

 

 

NLIHC NEWS

***HUD Secretary Donovan and House Financial Services Chairman Frank to Headline at NLIHC’s 2009 Conference

NLIHC’s April 19–22 Annual Housing Policy Conference and Lobby Day will be packed with great speakers, workshops and networking, and will include the opportunity to hear from HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank.

 

The conference brochure has been posted at www.nlihc.org/doc/conference/brochure.pdf <http://www.nlihc.org/doc/conference/brochure.pdf> . Find the conference schedule and more information on invited speakers, receptions, the screening of the Oscar-nominated Trouble the Water and more in the brochure. Registration and hotel information can be found at https://www2398.ssldomain.com/nlihc/conference/index.cfm <https://www2398.ssldomain.com/nlihc/conference/index.cfm>  

 

Sessions at this year’s conference will cover topics including the National Housing Trust Fund, renters and foreclosures, low income housing tax credits, the future of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and federal housing finance, homelessness prevention and the reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Act, the federal budget and appropriations, and many more.

 

Mark your calendars and plan to join us! 

 

***NLIHC Board of Directors Seeks Nominations

The Board of Directors of the National Low Income Housing Coalition will be elected new board members at its meeting on April 18, 2009. Threshold requirements for consideration for nomination are current NLIHC membership, commitment to NLIHC mission, and is or has been a low income person or is or has worked with low income people to meet their housin



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