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National Low Income Housing Coalition Memo March 30, 2009

Memo to Members, Vol. 14, No. 12

National Low Income Housing Coalition

March 27, 2009



***Senate and House Budget Resolutions Provide for Revenue to National Housing Trust Fund


***Tenant Protection Language Included in Anti-Predatory Lending Bill

***Three More HUD Nominees Announced by White House

*** President Asked About Growing Homelessness

***FY10 Budget Resolution Clears Senate and House Budget Committees

***Dear Colleague Letters Seek Support of Housing Appropriations

***Senate National Service Bill Includes Housing Language
***Senate Banking Committee Holds Symposium on Housing and Transit Policy
***Bill Introduced to Streamline Section 811 Program
***Bill Introduced Provides Housing for People Afflicted by Autism

***Details About Homelessness Prevention Funds Announced

***HUD Releases Public Housing Capital Funds


***Fair Housing Group Wins Lawsuit Against St. Bernard Parish, LA


***VT Advocates Head to State Capitol for Housing Lobby Day


***Metropolitan Residential Construction Increasing in the Central City


***Cities and Core Suburbs Experienced Growth in Residential Building Permit Share EVENTS

***Urban Institute Hosts Forum on Homelessness Among Veterans


***NLIHC Seeks Summer Interns



***White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes Confirmed as Plenary Speaker

Ms. Barnes, as well as HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, will address those attending the NLIHC 2009 Housing Policy Conference and Lobby Day, to be held on April 19-22 in Washington, DC at the Capital Hilton Hotel.


The conference will open on Sunday, April 19 at 6:30pm with a screening of Trouble the Water, the award-winning and Oscar- nominated documentary about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, directed and produced by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal. Ms. Lessin and Mr. Deal will be present to introduce the movie and discuss it with attendees afterwards.


Monday and Tuesday will be packed with plenary events, workshops and networking. 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, the reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Act, the federal budget and appropriations, and much more.


There will be a reception on Monday night at which the 3rd annual Cushing N. Dolbeare Media award winners will be honored.


The 27th Annual Housing Leadership Award Reception will be held on Tuesday evening. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and NLIHC’s own Sheila Crowley will be recognized for their work in establishing the National Housing Trust Fund. (This reception will be held at the Washington Court Hotel and registration is separate from conference registration.)


Conference registration information can be found at 


***Senate and House Budget Resolutions Provide for Revenue to National Housing Trust Fund

The Senate version of the FY10 Budget Resolution was voted out of the Senate Budget Committee on March 27. An amendment that specified that the housing assistance called for in the resolution would include funding for the National Housing Trust Fund and more Section 8 vouchers was offered by Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and accepted by a voice vote.


Senator Feingold has been a longtime proponent of the National Housing Trust Fund. His amendment was co-sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who championed the National Housing Trust Fund when he was in the House of Representatives and has continued to do so since joining the Senate in 2007.  Both Senators are members of the Senate Budget Committee.

The amendment would provide additional housing assistance without raising the national debt. 


“By passing this amendment,” Feingold said, “we have taken the first step toward making more funding available for housing assistance programs that are in such high demand.”


The House version of the Budget Resolution passed by the House Budget Committee also on March 27 includes a provision for the National Housing Trust Fund as well. The House resolution creates 17 reserve funds one of which is called the “deficit-neutral reserve fund for the affordable housing trust fund.”


President Obama has proposed an initial capitalization of the National Housing Trust Fund of $1 billion in his FY10 Budget. In its budget views and estimates sent to the House Budget Committee, the House Financial Services Committee noted the need to fund the National Housing Trust Fund in the budget because the original funding source, a percentage of new business for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has been suspended (see Memo 3/13).


(For more details of the FY10 Budget Resolution, see article elsewhere in Memo.)



***Tenant Protection Language Included in Anti-Predatory Lending Bill

Representative Brad Miller (D-NC) introduced H.R. 1728, the ‘‘Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act” on March 25 with co-sponsors Representatives Mel Watt (D-NC), Barney Frank (D-MA), Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Melissa Bean (D-IL), and Walt Minnick (D-ID). 


This overall bill aims to eliminate predatory lending practices, but it contains a provision that would protect renters in foreclosed properties, protections long sought by NLIHC and low income advocates.


The renter protection provision, which is based on H.R. 1247 introduced earlier by Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN), would provide tenants who have leases who are living in properties that have been foreclosed upon the right to remain in their homes until the end of the existing leases, unless a purchaser intend to use a property as a primary residence. In that case, the lease may be terminated, but the tenant must receive at least 90 days notice to vacate. Tenants without leases or with a lease terminable at will under state law must also receive 90 days notice to vacate. The bill also includes protections for tenants in foreclosed properties who are receiving Section 8 housing assistance. These Section 8 contracts must be transferred to new owners to assure that tenants can remain in place for the remainder of their leases with their assistance intact. These renter protections would apply only to foreclosures that occur after the date of enactment of the legislation.


Under its anti-predatory lending provisions, the bill would establish a federal duty of care that requires mortgage originators to: (1) be licensed and registered, (2) present consumers with appropriate mortgage loans that do not have predatory characteristics, (3) make full disclosures to consumers, (4) certify to lenders compliance with mortgage origination requirements, and (5) include a mortgage originator’s unique identifier in loan documents.


The bill would eliminate yield spread premiums and other compensation to mortgage originators that would motivate them to “steer” applicants toward more costly mortgages. The bill requires minimum standards for all mortgages that ensure that the borrower has the ability to repay the mortgage and that the mortgage provides a tangible benefit to the borrower.


H.R. 1728 would direct HUD to make grants on a competitive basis to state and local legal organizations to provide a full range of foreclosure related legal services to low and moderate income homeowners and tenants. The bill also establishes an Office of Housing Counseling at HUD, provides additional protections for borrowers with respect to escrow accounts, and establishes stronger appraisal standards.


The bill is scheduled to be marked up by the House Committee on Financial Services Committee on March 31 at 10 a.m. in room 2128 of the Rayburn House office building.


***Three More HUD Nominees Announced by White House

President Barack Obama made three more announcements of nominations to HUD positions during the week of March 23.


Helen R. Kanovsky is the President’s choice for HUD General Counsel. Ms. Kanovsky is currently the chief operating officer of the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust. She previously served as Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), as well as a special assistant to HUD Secretary Patricia Roberts during the Carter Administration. Ms. Kanovsky has private sector experience at GE Capital Asset Management and at the law firm Dickstein, Shapiro and Morin. She is the current chair of the board of directors of the National Housing Conference.


David Stevens is the nominee for Assistant Secretary for Housing and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner. Mr. Stevens currently serves as the president and chief operating officer of the Long & Foster Companies, which includes Long & Foster Real Estate. "The President's swift nomination of David Stevens, an innovator and single family housing industry leader, shows this Administration's commitment to moving this country out of the current housing crisis," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan upon the nomination. Mr. Stevens' background also includes positions at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Freddie Mac, and World Savings Bank.


John Trasviña, nominee for Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, has been the President & General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF) since 2006. He served as Chairman Paul Simon’s General Counsel & Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution. In the Clinton Administration, he was the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs and later the Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices. He also has taught immigration law at Stanford University.


No action on these or previously announced nominations has been scheduled by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, which must vote to confirm the nominees.


***President Asked About Growing Homelessness

At a press conference held on March 24, President Obama was asked a question about the rise of homelessness and tent cities across the country. The question was posed by Kevin Chappell of Ebony Magazine. While the President noted that homelessness was a crisis before the recent economic woes, it has been exasperated by the current recession. The President responded that is “not acceptable for children and families to be without a roof over their heads in a country as wealthy as ours.” He called for greater attention to homelessness among veterans.


In response NLIHC President Sheila Crowley issued a statement highlighting the steps that are needed to curb the increase in homelessness. Ms. Crowley said, “Substantial new investment in building of affordable rental homes is required beyond the $1 billion (proposed by the President) for the National Housing Trust Fund; we recommend $5 billion a year. Also needed are more housing vouchers of at least 200,000 in the next fiscal year. We look forward to the day when homelessness will no longer be the ultimate consequence of the shortage of housing that is affordable to the lowest income people in the United States, and when every American will have access to a safe, affordable home. We must no longer tolerate a housing shortage of the magnitude we now face.”


Homelessness advocates, including NLIHC, also sent a follow up letter to President Obama outlining several key steps to address the growth in homelessness that include:

·        hold a White House Conference at which a federal plan to end homeless will be presented, with specific goals and timelines.

·        propose and support significant increases in funding for affordable housing.

·        propose and support increases in wages to levels sufficient to afford housing.

·        ensure access to health services and education.

·        ensure protection from discrimination based on homeless status.


 The advocates had previously sent a letter to President-elect Obama on January 8, 2009 outlining the steps needed to end homelessness.  In the follow-up letter, the advocates requested a meeting with President Obama on the subject of homelessness.


Copies of both letters sent to President Obama are available at:



***House and Senate Committees Pass Respective FY10 Budget Resolutions
The House and Senate Budget Committees each passed FY10 budget resolutions on March 27. The resolutions will now be considered by the whole House and Senate, respectively, during the week of March 30.

The President submitted his budget proposal on February 26, laying out his spending priorities, including an overall increase in discretionary spending, and additional funds for health care and education. It also included proposals to increase taxes on the wealthiest 5% of the population and reduce taxes for everyone else.


The next step in the budget process is for Congress to adopt a Budget Resolution.  The Budget Resolution sets the framework for all spending in FY10, both mandatory and discretionary, as well as what revenue will be raised. As spending is expected to exceed revenue again this year, the Budget Resolution projects the size of the deficit. The Budget Resolution sets a cap on discretionary spending levels, which are the amounts allocated through the annual appropriations process.  Most HUD programs are funded on the discretionary side of the budget. However, the President’s proposed $1 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund is on the mandatory side.

Responding to concerns about a growing deficit, both the reported resolutions include lower discretionary spending levels than the President requested. The House’s discretionary funding level is $7 billion less than the President’s, and the Senate's resolution is $15 billion less than the President's. Since both the House and Senate propose funding the military at the level requested by the President, most of the cuts are in non-defense domestic programs, including housing. Thus, the increase for domestic programs is relatively modest. There are two “must pay” items that will come out of any proposed increase in domestic spending: the 2010 U.S. Census and losses in the FHA insurance program. Once those items are subtracted, the House assumes a 3.5% increase in domestic discretionary spending above 2009 levels and the Senate assumes a 1.5% increase.

The House resolution provides for full funding for the voucher program and project-based section 8. In addition, the resolution accommodates the President’s request of $4.5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program. The Senate Budget Committee resolution would also fully fund the CDBG program, as well as provide for section 8 vouchers.

To accommodate the President’s request for funding for health care reform and education, the House Budget Committee included reconciliation provisions, which require the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the House Committee on Ways and Means, and the House Committee on Education to adopt provisions to implement these new initiatives. Reconciliation instructions are provisions in a Budget Resolution directing one or more committees to report (or submit to the Budget Committee) legislation changing existing law in order to bring spending, revenues, or the debt-limit into conformity with the budget resolution. Legislation developed according to reconciliation instructions is not subject to the 60 vote filibuster rule in the Senate and therefore easier to pass. The Senate bill does not contain any reconciliation instructions.

The full House and Senate will take up their respective resolutions the week of March 30. Attempts to reduce the level of domestic discretionary spending even more are expected. Advocates are urged to contact their Representatives and Senators and ask them to support increased funding for domestic programs, especially housing programs.


The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding, of which NLIHC is a member, sent letters to both the Administration and the House and Senate Budget Committees expressing support for a strong HUD budget. 


The letters are available at:


***Dear Colleague Letters Seek Support for Housing Appropriations

Two letters began circulating the House during the week of March 23 in support of increased funding for housing and community development programs. Both letters are addressed to House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Chair John Olver (D-MA) and Ranking Member Tom Latham (R-IA).


Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) have asked their House colleagues to join them in their letter to support 200,000 new incremental vouchers in FY10 as well as full funding for the renewal of all existing vouchers and project-based Section 8 contracts.


Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chair of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, asks her colleagues to join her letter in support of full funding for public housing, tenant- and project-based renewals and Community Development Block Grants. This letter also supports the President’s request for $1 billion to capitalize the National Housing Trust Fund.


Members of the House have until March 30 to sign onto these letters, which they can do by contacting John Doty (202-225-5635) with Mr. Nadler, Sean Hughes (202-225-2361) with Ms. Velázquez, and Charla Ouertatani (202-226-3070) with Chairwoman Waters.


The letters are available at:


***Senate National Service Bill Includes Housing Language

On March 26, the Senate passed H.R. 1388, which was renamed the “Senator Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act” during Senate consideration in honor of Senator Kennedy (D-MA). The vote was 79-19. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who managed the bill on the Senate floor, called the bill, “the most sweeping overhaul and expansion of national service programs in 16 years.” The bill was introduced by Senators Kennedy and Orrin Hatch (R-UT).


H.R. 1388 passed the House on March 18 (see Memo 3/20).


The bill would increase number of AmeriCorps national service volunteers from the current 75,000 participants to about 250,000 participants. These volunteers will work in the five new service corps established by the bill: education, healthy futures, clean energy, veterans, and opportunity.


Senators Russell Feingold (D-WI) and Jack Reed (D-RI) sought to include language in the Senate bill that would specify work in affordable housing as eligible activities for participants in the new Opportunity Corps. Volunteers can work on assisting in the construction, rehabilitation, or preservation of housing units, including energy efficient homes, for economically disadvantaged individuals. Similar language had been added into the House bill by Representative Al Green (D-TX).


Senator Feingold also championed the inclusion of language to allow Opportunity Corps volunteers to assist, “economically disadvantaged individuals, including homeless individuals, in finding placement in and maintaining housing.” This language will help ensure that volunteers can work at homeless service agencies and other organizations that help low income individuals find affordable housing.


The bill’s Clean Energy Corps functions also provide for volunteers to build energy-efficient housing in low income communities and to weatherize and retrofit housing for low income households to significantly improve the energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions of their housing.


The Senate bill, like its House counterpart, prohibits national service volunteers from lobbying, participating in boycotts or strikes, conducting voter registration drives, and engaging in partisan political activities. The Senate bill does not prohibit, like the House bill would, volunteers from being located in organizations that do these activities or in organizations being co-located with organizations that do.


The bill, H.R. 1388, will now go back to the House for final passage, which is expected during the week of March 30.

***Senate Banking Committee Holds Symposium on Housing and Transit Policy

The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs hosted a symposium, on March 26, titled, “Creating Livable Communities: Housing and Transit Policy in the 21st Century.” The symposium provided Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) and other Senators the opportunity to learn the perspectives of several transit and housing interest groups on transit-oriented development policy. The panel included representatives from the National Housing Conference, the National Association of Home Builders, the Partnership for Strong Communities, Reconnecting America, The Brookings Institute, Jonathan Rose Companies, the Reason Foundation, and Metropolitan Planning Organizations from Texas, Connecticut, North Carolina, Utah, and Colorado.


After each panel member made a statement, they were asked questions regarding the placement of transit lines and discussed whether the focus should be on economic development or meeting current community needs. Another question, revisited multiple times throughout the meeting, considered how to avoid displacing low income residents once new transit systems cause property values, and thus rents and taxes, to rise. Some on the panel suggested that those who benefit from increased property values should pay for low income housing subsidies through increased taxes. Lastly, they were asked if funding for Section 8 housing vouchers should be increased because vouchers often cannot be used in areas that have experienced the property value rise that usually accompanies new transit. The panelists were supportive of more federal funding for vouchers, pointing out that the voucher program should be considered in transit-oriented development planning.


Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) reminded the panel that “without transit, neighborhoods continue to disintegrate,” and that they should recommend policy solutions that are focused on the long-term good of all and that they should not get bogged down by short-term neighborhood concerns.    


The theme of the symposium was to think about housing and transit policy in what Senator Dodd called “a holistic fashion” of coordinating efforts of federal housing and transit policymaking from the beginning of the process. The symposium concluded with policy recommendations from each panel member, including a stronger focus on Smart Growth, federal incentives for collaboration between state and local planners, and greater application of green and sustainability criteria for federally funded projects.


This symposium is part of series of meetings and briefings on transportation issues that the Senate Banking Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold in preparation for a rewrite of the transit section of the transportation bill later this year.

***Bill Introduced to Streamline Section 811 Program

Representative Christopher Murphy (D-CT) introduced H.R. 1675, “The Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2009,” on March 23 which would streamline the Section 811 program. The Section 811 Program provides housing for persons with disabilities. An identical bill passed the House of Representatives on September 17, 2008; however the Senate did not consider the legislation prior to adjourning the 110th Congress.  

The bill would authorize a new Section 811 demonstration program on community integration for people with disabilities and would improve the existing Section 811 production program with changes to provide states and localities with a new infusion of critically needed Section 811 capital and project-based rent subsidy funding to produce more permanent supported housing.

Frank Melville, for whom the bill is named, was the co-founder and first chair of the Connecticut-based Melville Charitable Trust. The Melville Charitable Trust has been a major funder of organizations working towards ending homelessness, including NLIHC, and was honored in 2004 by NLIHC for the Trust’s efforts and support.

Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL) is the lead Republican sponsor on the bill. Other cosponsors are Representatives Keith Ellison (D-MN), Bob Filner (D-CA), House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Albio Sires (D-NJ), and the Chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity Maxine Waters (D-CA). Upon introduction, the bill was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services for further review.

***Bill Introduced Provides Housing for People with Autism

Representative Kay Granger (R-TX) introduced H.R. 1707, the “Helping Housing, Awareness, and Navigation Demonstration Services (HANDS) for Autism Act of 2009” on March 25. Similar legislation was introduced last Congress, but stalled prior to the adjournment of the 110th Congress.


The bill would authorize an Autism Navigator program, a grant program in coordination with HUD and the Department of Education. It calls for HUD to convene a task force comprised of national and state autism advocacy groups, recipients of HUD funds for housing for adults with an autism spectrum disorder, and community-based organizations that serve adults with an autism spectrum disorder. The task force will establish a housing demonstration grant program to award grants to eligible entities that would provide a housing program for adults with an autism spectrum disorder. Eligible entities include states, localities, public and private partnerships, and community nonprofit and for-profit organizations.


Cosponsors of the bill include Representatives Dan Burton (R-IN), Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Peter King (R-NY), Mike Rogers (R-AL), Frank Wolf (R-VA), and C.W. Bill Young (R-FL). Upon introduction, the bill was referred to both the House Committee on Financial Services and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for further review.

***Details About Homelessness Prevention Funds Announced

HUD announced a notice on March 19 detailing the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). The HPRP is funded with the $1.5 billion for homelessness prevention included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (AARA) for homeless prevention (see Memo 2/13). The funds will be allocated according to the formula used for the HUD Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) Program.


HPRP is to assist homeless families or families that are at-risk of homelessness. Eligible uses for the assistance include covering first and last months’ rent, deposits, utility bills, rental assistance for a final month at a location, moving or transitional costs assistance, or other activities that will help tenants remain in their homes. The funding may also be used for hotel or motel vouchers.


On an individual basis, grants will average approximately $1,500 depending on the need and the amount allocated to each community. Rental assistance can be available for up to 18 months, again based on the circumstances and needs of the household. Assistance may also be used to pay for case managers and housing counseling.


Communities seeking funds must submit a substantial amendment to their 2008 Consolidated Plan Action Plans. Interested communities have until May 18 to submit their amendment to HUD. By July 2, 2009, HUD will have completed its review of all correctly completed substantial amendments, and intends to execute all grant agreements no later than September 1, 2009. Grantees will then have 30 days to obligate funds to their sub-grantees.


The HUD notice on HPRP is available at:

***HUD Releases Public Housing Capital Funds

Also on March 19, HUD issued a notice on how public housing agencies (PHAs) can begin spending the $3 billion in public housing capital funds appropriated in February’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). 


“HUD is informing 3,122 local housing authorities . . . that spending can begin on a backlog of previously underfunded capital improvement projects,” said HUD’s press release. HUD used the FY08 capital fund formula to determine the dispersal of the $3 billion.


If a PHA elects to reject its new capital funds, the PHA executive director must send a written statement to the local HUD field office; a resolution from the PHA board must accompany the statement.


The funds can be used on capital activities currently identified in the PHA’s PHA Annual Plan or Five-Year Action Plan. PHAs must give priority consideration to the rehabilitation of vacant units and must prioritize capital projects that are already underway and require additional funds.


All expenditures of the new public housing capital funds are subject to HUD approval.


The ARRA also provided for $1 billion in public housing capital funds to be issued on a competitive basis. HUD will issue a separate Notice of Funding Availability to disperse those funds, which must be obligated by HUD to local PHAs by September 30.


See how much each PHA has received at:


View the notice at:



***Fair Housing Group Wins Lawsuit Against St. Bernard Parish, LA

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) won a lawsuit on March 25 against St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana. The court found that a moratorium on building of multi-family housing implemented by the Parish violated both the Fair Housing Act and a Consent Order previously agreed to between the two entities.


James Perry, Executive Director of GNOFHAC and an NLIHC board member, said in a statement after the ruling, "Even before Hurricane Katrina local municipalities sought to limit affordable rental opportunities. These limitations have both strangled our recovery and limited housing opportunities for people of color and people with disabilities. Judge Berrigan's ruling today sends a strong message to elected officials in our region: officials must allow the development of affordable rental housing in our region."


A February 27, 2008, Consent Order upheld a GNOFHAC challenge to a multi-family moratorium enacted by St. Bernard after Hurricane Katrina, as well as an ordinance that restricted the rental of single-family residences in St. Bernard Parish to those related by blood to the owner of the property.


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