Friday, May 29, 2009
Guest Blogger Linda Couch: "Advocates Plan to Take National Housing Trust Fund Over Next Hurdle in FY10 Budget
Achievements in affordable housing policy do not come easy and the benefits of having a national housing trust fund will not be realized until units can be built or preserved. Enactment of the trust fund in 2008 did not result in actual funding for the trust fund because planned-for funds from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac no longer exist to feed into the trust fund. Now, new funding sources must be identified and enacted. For trust fund advocates, this glass is half full. The trust fund has been enacted into law; it just needs some money in it. Say, at least $5 billion a year for the next 10 years.
This goal gives trust fund advocates reason to rally around President Obama’s request for fiscal year 2010, the first year even the 2008 bill would have allowed money to flow from the housing trust fund. President Obama has requested an initial capitalization of $1 billion for the trust fund, a program he supported along the campaign trail and an effort he cosponsored as a U.S. Senator.
When trust fund dollars start to flow, communities will receive the first funds since the 1970’s expressly for addressing the housing affordability needs of the lowest income families. Sure, there are a variety of other HUD housing programs working to help people afford housing. But of the few federal programs that actually produce and preserve housing, the trust fund is unique in that at least 75% of its funds must assist the nation’s lowest income people, people with incomes below 30% of area median.
The recession continues, unemployment rises, more households pay more than 50, 60, or 70 percent of their incomes on housing. More become homeless while the lucky families who can access our nation’s housing safety net cling to their assistance for longer periods, housing assistance waiting lists freeze as few leave behind their subsidies for new opportunities, and housing authorities struggle from underfunding.
This is not a cheery picture. But there is hope on the horizon if we set ourselves to achieving it.
Of course, no single housing program will solve all housing challenges. The nation needs a strong HUD budget so we can invest more in our public housing stock, increase the number of new vouchers issued by at least 200,000 next year and, yes, capitalize the housing trust fund.
For more information about the Fiscal Year 2010 President's Budget Requestion, visit this table published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).
Linda Couch is the deputy director for NLIHC, an organization dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
CJs are created by every federal agency to provide program level detail to Congress as part of the Administration's budget request for the upcoming fiscal year.
Friday, May 22, 2009
President Obama Appoints Erika Poethig as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at HUD
Poethig’s work in Chicago is widely known throughout the housing industry. At the MacArthur Foundation, Poethig focuses on regional policy and practice, housing policy and research, and on the $150 million special initiative for the preservation of affordable housing. Prior to joining the MacArthur Foundation, Poethig was the assistant commissioner for policy resource and program development at the City of Chicago’s Department of Housing. There, she developed the Chicago Mayor’s campaign to prevent foreclosures and stabilize communities. She also helped to increase city support for a state-issued tax credit for donations to nonprofit organizations developing affordable housing.
Upon the announcement, Secretary Donovan said, “Erika Poethig’s policy work is well-respected within the housing industry and we are confident that she will bring her fresh ideas and knowledgeable insights to HUD through this extremely crucial time in the housing market.”
To learn more about this recent appointment, please Read This Story.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The “Helping Families Save Their Homes Act,” which encourages banks to let people stay in their homes, expands the "Hope for Homeowners" Program that was enacted in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act last August and began October 1, 2008.
Moreover, in late April, the Administration announced that it would incorporate Hope for Homeowners to the “Making Home Affordable” Program to further remove hurdles that made it difficult for certain homeowners to receive help under the program.
Specifically, the new law encourages lenders to adjust a mortgage if the homeowner agrees to pay an insurance premium. Set to expire in 2011, the program would swap out a homeowner's high-interest rate for a 30-year fixed loan backed by the Federal Housing Administration.
Additionally, the “Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act” nearly doubles resources for the FBI’s mortgage and financial fraud program and provides prosecutors and regulators with new tools to crack down those trying to take advantage of troubled borrowers.
To learn more about the impact of these two new laws, please see this recent article from the Boston Globe.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Learn More About Building Support for Affordable Homes at This "Solutions for Working Families" Session and Related Workshop
Session Series 3: Building Community Support for Affordable Homes
"A Tutorial on Traditional and Web 2.0 Communications Strategies"
Sunday, June 28
Learn from communications practitioners at the American Planning Association, Enterprise Community Partners and the National Housing Conference about how using traditional, as well as new and social media strategies – including blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter – can help ensure the success of your public awareness campaign.
Post-Conference Training Workshop
"Building Community Support for Housing:
Implementing and Integrating Traditional and Web 2.0 Communications Strategies"
Tuesday, June 30
12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
If your best efforts to support affordable housing are running up against strong “Not in My Backyard” sentiment, this workshop is for you. Learn how to build support for affordable housing across your community in this training workshop. This in-depth workshop will focus on the related implementation of traditional communications strategies, as well as developing and integrating Web 2.0 new and social media tools such as blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter.
Speakers for both the session and the workshop will include:
• Michele Anapol, National Housing Conference
• Roberta Rewers, American Planning Association
• Isaac Salazar, Enterprise Community Partners
• Laura Woods, National Housing Conference
If you are interested in these issues and more, please Register for the Conference. If you are on Twitter, be sure to use the hashtag #SWFComm to reference both the communications session and workshop in your tweets.
Additionally, check out these opportunities to connect with your peers before, during and after the conference through new and social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and the HousingPolicy.org Discussion Forum.
To address this need, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan affirmed the agency’s plan to expand affordable housing options for renters Monday at a news conference in Conshohocken, PA. As a top priority at HUD, Secretary Donovan stated that there would be a “recommitment” at the agency to provide rental housing for lower-income families.
Specifically, in Obama's recently proposed budget, HUD would increase spending for rental vouchers by $1.8 billion, which would create additional housing for 225,000 individuals and families. Donovan also said that the administration wants to increase the amount of tax credits available for underwriting affordable housing projects by $2.25 billion.
To learn more about expanding the stock of rental housing affordable to all, please join the "Rental Housing Preservation" Discussion Group on the HousingPolicy.org Discussion Forum.
Monday, May 18, 2009
This briefing will provide a first look at the President's Fiscal Year 2010 Budget for affordable housing and community development programs. This briefing will also host a panel to highlight "Ten Things You Didn't Know About Affordable Housing and Community Development."
For more information, please contact Policy Associate Megan Richardson.
The Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC) has been the major driver of affordable housing for many years. By many indicators, it is a success, providing thousands of units to low income households who desperately need the housing. The program should be preserved and strengthened. Yet, by itself, the LIHTC Program is an ineffective affordable housing tool.
I say this with the highest respect for the practitioners of the program. But by standards for both efficiency and effectiveness, the program falls short. It is expensive to put together, complicated, and lengthy. There are numerous third parties who get a piece of the action. It is virtually incomprehensible to the lay man. It has also been subject to the roller coaster effect of the economy. In an effort to make the program attractive to the private capital markets, the costs have been expensive.
Similarly, the program is relatively ineffective. It houses a relatively small segment of the low income housing population; the relatively higher end low income market. It is not usable for very low income households who cannot afford to pay the rent. Similarly, the program is difficult to make work in rural areas due to the fair market rent structure. In the end, I believe the tax system should be used to collect revenue and not as a social carrot.
So in the end the LIHTC Program is expensive, confusing, and does not house the persons who need housing the most. Sounds kind of like our health care “system.” Again, I do not want to eliminate or change the program, but simply add to it.
So what should we add to it? I recommend versions of programs already used. I would re institute the Below Market Interest Rate FHA Multifamily Program. Writing down the interest rate for affordable housing appears to be an efficient and relatively inexpensive alternative. Similarly, I recommend a strengthening of the HOME Program as an equity tool. Projects should be developed that mix market rate with affordable tools and maximize housing populations in greatest need. Both these programs would meet the standard of being more affordable and housing a wider range of low income households than the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program.
Paul Dribin is currently an independent consultant. Mr. Dribin has dedicated his career to solving issues of affordable housing and community development by specializing on the development and management of multifamily properties.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Yesterday, the Senate introduced legislation aimed at restructuring the nation's transportation system, which calls for less dependence on automobile use, reduced carbon emissions and new support for increased public transit, inter-city rail systems and rail freight service.
NHC is working closely with its member partner Transportation for America (T4 America) on helping chart a new course for our nation’s transportation system. To learn more, visit the new T4 America sponsored Web site “My Commute Sucks.” The Web site enables people across the nation to express frustrations with their commute and encourages Congress to make smart transportation investments focused on addressing these concerns.
As part of this effort, many Americans who use automobiles as their primary mode of transportation may begin to reevaluate what types of vehicles they choose. This CNN video profiles two electric options – a sports car and a scooter – that provide a glimpse of what could become more popular for those who wish to make a smaller carbon footprint.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
This article by the Washington Post discusses the several goals laid out by this upcoming legislation, including:
- Decrease per capita motor vehicle miles traveled on an annual basis;
- Reduce national surface transportation-generated carbon dioxide levels by 40 percent by 2030; and
- Increase the proportion of national freight provided by means other than trucks by 10 percent by 2020.
One such example, as cited by the article, is the inclusion of $8 billion to go towards high speed rail systems in last February's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that had been added at the last minute by the White House.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Working alongside the Kansas City City Council and the Mid-America Regional Council, Representative Cleaver plans to focus his energy and funding on communities that reside from 39th street to 51st in Kansas City. These neighborhoods are highly concentrated with low-income residents who are experiencing a rising unemployment rate.
By focusing revitalization efforts to a specific zone, Representative Cleaver believes he will be able to make a greater impact with this funding.
An article by Online Journal KansasCity.com lists several project ideas that will soon be underway using ARRA funds including:
- weatherize homes through energy - saving retrofits;
- provide job training for "green" jobs;
- improve public transit; and
- build a green sewer demonstration project
This project has been recognized nationally as a promising tool to assist low to moderate - income families in weatherizing their homes and cutting utility costs, while promoting a greener, more "livable" quality of life for all.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
This article in the New York Times recognizes Vauban as one of the few suburbs around the world that is not auto-dependent. Internationally, residents of Vauban are seen as land use pioneers of a growing trend to separate suburbia from automobile dependence that is called "smart planning."
The New York Times "Green Inc." Blog reports that while car ownership is allowed in Vauban, nearly 70% of residents do not own a vehicle. Moreover, 57% of residents sold their automobile in order to move to Vauban.
In doing so, residents of Vauban are reporting a much higher quality of life and are also reducing their carbon footprint.
While some urban cities in the United States - like New York City and Washington, D.C. - report lower carbon emissions by being walkable and providing more compact and dense living arrangements, very few suburban regions have been able to accomplish similar goals.
Guest Blogger Danielle Arigoni: Sustainable Housing Creates Environmental, Household & Community Benefits
A sustainable approach to housing creates compact, mixed-income, mixed-use communities on locations close to transit, commercial, and or job centers so that driving becomes an option rather than a necessity.It utilizes green building techniques and materials to reduce energy consumption and to create healthier homes.It offers a range of housing types – attached and detached, small and large, rental and owner-occupied – to accommodate the needs of households of all sizes, ages, and incomes. Households benefit from lower transportation and utility costs, and the community benefits from less land consumed, more affordable workforce housing, and a lighter carbon footprint.
Monday, May 11, 2009
The article profiles Christine Prince, who recently moved into the Intervale Green complex – located in “an infamous strip of South Bronx urban blight.” Developed by the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation, the property has highly insulated windows, Energy-Star appliances and lighting fixtures designed for compact fluorescent lighting. Overall these, and other amenities, are projected to save residents nearly 30 percent on their utility bills.
Among other benefits, according to Prince, the placement of a green roof atop this apartment building has improved her breathing.
For many, the green roof symbolizes progress in the Bronx – an area that has been characterized by blight and violence. Green initiatives in the community may help change the Bronx's reputation in the coming years.
The Intervale Green complex is currently the largest affordable green housing development in the country. In addition, a nonprofit group called Sustainable South Bronx is training unskilled workers to help them develop "green" careers.
Friday, May 8, 2009
The use of large boxes or recycled shipping containers have become a popular resource in other parts of the world when building affordable, green housing. Now this rising trend is beginning to take off in the United States.
This methodology is also being considered as a possible solution to recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
New Study Ranks Housing Affordability for More Than 60 Occupations in Over 200 U.S. Metro Areas, Provides Key 2007 and 2008 Comparisons
Specifically, the study takes an in-depth look at housing affordability for five construction-related occupations that may see a boost from the stimulus package, including construction managers, carpenters, equipment operators, long haul truck drivers and construction laborers. For all of these occupations except construction managers, homeownership remains unaffordable, even after the recent drop in home prices.
In addition, Paycheck to Paycheck found that in Florida, one of the states hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis, the rental market has become substantially less affordable. In the study’s nationwide ranking of metro areas from highest to lowest rents, each of the Florida rental markets studied climbed significantly up the list between 2007 and 2008. In Florida, the top three least affordable rental markets are Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami.
To learn more about this study, and to see where your city falls among the rankings, please visit the Paycheck to Paycheck Online Database.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Specifically, the documentary highlights the work of Jonathan Rose, president of Jonathan Rose Companies LLC, whose dedication to creating eco-friendly, mixed-income communities has had a lasting impact on New York City. Rose – a third-generation developer from New York – believes that the diversity and complexity of a community is what provides its strength and, ultimately, its sustainability. By combining all of these factors, Rose is helping to redefine the word "community" in urban areas.
To view a portion of this documentary, please watch the segment below:
Jonathan Rose was also highlighted in this recent article for his commitment to developing affordable housing that is both innovative and eco-friendly.
Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Donovan and Secretary of Energy Chu signed this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to better coordinate weatherization efforts in both single-family and multifamily homes using funding allocated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
Among its many provisions, ARRA includes $5 billion in funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program that will help low and moderate-income families make energy efficiency improvements to their home.
To better understand how to access weatherization funds, register here for this complimentary event sponsored by Enterprise Community Partners.
Online Journal The Advocate reports on a potential construction site for eco-friendly housing that would be designated for working class families that earn 25 percent to 60 percent of the area's median household income (AMI).
Jonathan Rose Companies LLC and W&M Properties, co-developers of the city's first "green" affordable housing, revealed plans for two housing complexes to city officials and members of the South End Neighborhood Revitalization Zone.
These complexes are part of Metro Green, a mixed-income housing development that is expected to be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
Although developers hope to begin construction by 2010 they cannot begin until financing is secured.
While the city has already given developers $1.3 million from its affordable housing fee-in-lieu funds, developers must find additional gap financing. There is potential for this project to receive Low Income Housing Tax Credits and the city could also opt to use money from the capital appropriation budget for this development.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
While this committee has held dozens of hearings on this legislation there is much disagreement among House members on whether to include a cap-and-trade system or to implement a carbon tax in the bill draft.
Housing-related provisions in this bill would promote energy retrofits in residential properties. These provisions align with the Administration's goals to mitigate climate change.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Specifically, in an April survey from Apartments.com, 60 percent of renters said they search for environmentally friendly apartments, with a quarter of them willing to pay more for green features.
While some landlords are finding it difficult to accommodate this new trend, the article explores the use of green amenities in apartment buildings by citing the successes of UDR, Inc. The company, which owns rental properties across the U.S., recently enacted a $16 million green program to address the environmental needs of its tenants. The program - which includes the installation of programmable thermostats and compact florescent light bulbs - will save $2.5 million for the company and $22 million for its tenants annually.
As the demand for more energy-efficient apartments continues to grow among renters, property owners must adapt to the needs of their tenants, specifically through rental preservation efforts. Specifically, when it comes to affordable rental housing, it generally costs twice as much to build an affordable home as to preserve one.
To learn more about rental preservation efforts, please visit and sign up for the "Rental Housing Preservation" Discussion Group on the HousingPolicy.org Discussion Forum.
Friday, May 1, 2009
National Housing Institute's "Rooflines" Blog Features Information on Smart Growth and Sustainability
The National Housing Institute (NHI) showcases an ongoing discussion sustainability and smart growth on its "Rooflines" Blog. This post, written by Kaid Benfield, points out that development patterns are often testament to the preferences and lifestyle choices made from generation to generation.
Benfield writes, "...this is no longer the same America that fled the cities in droves in the 20th century and created the new suburbs, one after another, that they hoped would be idyllic."
As American demographics continue to evolve, so will the choices that determine how and where we choose to live.
According to Benfield, other possible explanations for this growing trend towards "livable" communities include the economic recession, foreclosure crisis and recent rises in gas prices.
New "Out Loud" Podcast from the Center for Housing Policy Features MacArthur Foundation's Erika Poethig, Focuses on Rental Housing Preservation
In addition, this event is offering unique opportunities for attendees to connect with their peers through social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and the HousingPolicy.org Discussion Forum before, during and after the event to facilitate conversations about topics covered at the learning conference.
Specifically, conference participants can use Twitter to "Live Tweet" at the event. Please see the information below to find out how you can become a part of the conversation by following NHC and the Center for Housing Policy on Twitter!
Prior to the learning conference, NHC and the Center encourage you to sign up for Twitter, a microblogging network that enables you to receive updates about the event and meet other participants before you arrive. You can also use Twitter to share your personal insights and experiences during and after the conference.
Once you begin following our updates at www.twitter.com/NHCandCenter, you can use the hashtag #SWF2009 in your tweets that reference the learning conference. By using this tag, you can easily find and follow others who are tweeting about the learning conference by going to search.twitter.com and typing in #SWF2009. If you have questions about signing up for Twitter or following the NHC and Center's page, please contact NHC and Center Communications and New Media Associate Laura Woods.