Friday, December 10, 2010

Housing Industry Shows Strong Support for Advancing Affordable Housing Advocacy at NYHC/NHC Awards Luncheon

The New York Housing Conference (NYHC) and the National Housing Conference (NHC) hosted the 37th Annual Awards Luncheon, one of the largest gatherings of housing professionals in the nation, on Thursday, December 9, 2010  in Manhattan.

Alfred A. Dellibovi, President of Federal Home Loan Banks of New York, served as Luncheon Chairman and helped raise a record breaking $600,000. Michael Bloomberg, New York City Mayor, provided opening video remarks and Rafael Cestero, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, gave special remarks on the importance of affordable housing.

This annual fundraising event, underwritten by corporate sponsor Bank of America Merrill Lynch, honors those who have made New York a better place to live and work.

As the big tent representing the full spectrum of the housing industry, NHC convenes thought leaders and helps educate policy makers on vital reforms so that all in America have a safe, decent and affordable place to call home. Housing is a vital component to our nation’s economy and a stabilizing force for families and communities. The money raised at this year's luncheon is pertinent to NHC's goals of moving affordable housing to a first tier issue on the national agenda and further developing and growing our advocacy efforts in line with our five policy priorities.

This year’s honorees are:

• Clara Fox Award for Outstanding Achievement:
William R. Frey, Senior Vice President and Eastern Region Executive, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.

• Private Developer of the Year: The Bluestone Organization

• Nonprofit Developer of the Year: F•E•G•S Health and Human Services System

• Public Service Award: Marc Jahr, President, New York City Housing Development Corporation

• Special Recognition was given to the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York on the 20th Anniversary of its Affordable Housing Program.

Four policy symposiums were held prior to the event and included panels on tax credits, green development financing, affordable housing post midterm elections and government funding options.

The Luncheon provides essential support for NYHC’s and NHC’s housing policies and programs in New York City, Albany and Washington, DC. These programs are vital to develop and maintain affordable housing for all New Yorkers.

Friday, December 3, 2010

What Works and Why in Communicating on Affordable Housing

When it comes to effectively communicating on affordable housing, it's complicated. Public housing, workforce housing, mixed-income, mixed-use: the litany of terms can become overwhelming to even the most seasoned communications professional.

To help with this the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a nonprofit group based in San Rafael, California, have released a new report "What Works and Why: Affordable Housing Communications Campaigns 2000–2010.” This report examines efforts by advocates and government agencies to build public and political support for affordable housing. The summary is available for viewing free of charge at

The 36-page report describes 15 campaigns from New York to North Carolina to California, with reproductions of some of the advertisements used in those campaigns.

The full report is free for members of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities (PSC). It costs $12 for nonmembers. For information on the other benefits of membership, go to

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NHC Recaps the Piece by Piece Kick-Off Event

Piece by Piece – A Regional Foreclosure Initiative is a bold, coordinated effort designed to spur strategic action from the many regional stakeholders who care passionately about protecting the long-term future of our neighborhoods and communities, kicked off in Atlanta, GA on Tuesday, November 30. The event was a great success with more than 300 people in attendance at the Carter Center and 120 confirmed sponsors, including the National Housing Conference.

Former HUD Secretary, Henry Cisneros, provided the keynote and highlighted Atlanta as one of the cities he most greatly admires. Mr. Cisneros praised Atlanta’s tenacity and the leadership of Renee Glover in pursuing Hope VI redevelopments and noted that no city in America has done Hope VI redevelopments and mixed income communities better. As the foreclosure crisis has many communities “wringing their hands” as to what to do, Mr. Cisneros applauded the Piece by Piece initiative for creating a master strategy to combat the crisis. In line with Atlanta’s traditional and spirit of bringing people together and recognizing that everyone has a role to play, he had no doubt that this initiative would be a success.

The National Housing Conference shares Mr. Cisneros’ enthusiasm over the Piece by Piece initiative, and looks forward to assisting in the implementation of this bold initiative to stabilize the Atlanta region and share successes across the country.

Click here to read the full article of the kick-off event in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Piece by Piece Kicks Off Today in Atlanta

National Housing Conference participated in the kick off event of a new regional foreclosure initiative today in Atlanta. Piece by Piece – A Regional Foreclosure Initiative is a bold, coordinated effort designed to spur strategic action from the many regional stakeholders who care passionately about protecting the long-term future of our neighborhoods and communities.

Maureen Friar, NHC President and CEO, provided opening remarks and gave the national perspective on how Piece by Piece is an initiative to model on a national stage. Former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros gave the keynote address.

Piece by Piece is unique because is not about one convening event. Today served as the kick-off to a period of strategic collaboration, thoughtful discussion, and public commitments to curb this crisis. As the United Voice for Housing, National Housing Conference looks forward to assisting in the implementation of this bold initiative to stabilize the Atlanta region and share successes across the country.

This unique initiative is being planned by a leadership team that includes: Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, the Atlanta Regional Commission, CredAbility, Enterprise Community Partners, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association, The Home Depot Foundation, NeighborWorks America and the National Housing Conference.

The initiative includes the following key objectives:

(1) Provides up-to-date status of Metro Atlanta’s foreclosure crisis and ways to take action to help address it;

(2) Offers opportunities for coordination and best practice sharing; and

(3) Encourages public commitments on goals and actions that will be taken over the next three to five years to address the crisis. This is not merely a convening to discuss the foreclosure crisis. This is a coordinated initiative to take direct action.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Recap of Latest Housing Communications Network Forum

NHC hosted the second Housing Communications Network Forum in Washington, DC on November 16. Jacquie Lawing Ebert, Partner at GMMB, moderated the panel which included David Avella, Executive Director, GOPAC; Bill Greener, Founding Partner, Greener and Hook; Glenn W. Richardson, Professor, Kutztown University and Ben Waxman, Senior Executive, AFL-CIO.

Below are the first two in a series of video clip from the forum.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Housing Communications Network Forum Wrap Up: Rebuilding America, One Job at a Time

On November 2, the American people voted for change . . . again. But now with the polls closed, the votes tallied and the campaign dust settled, NHC wanted to take a look back and reflect on how housing played out in the midterm elections and look forward to the future messaging of affordable housing.

As part of the new Housing Communications Network initiative, NHC convened a panel of expert Democrats and Republicans from the campaign world to discuss the role housing played in the midterm election campaigns. What effect did housing have on the election outcome? And what can the industry anticipate in this new political climate? Jacquie Lawing Ebert, Partner at GMMB, moderated the panel which included David Avella, Executive Director, GOPAC; Bill Greener, Founding Partner, Greener and Hook; Glenn W. Richardson, Professor, Kutztown University and Ben Waxman, Senior Executive, AFL-CIO.

The outcome of the election, the panel unanimously agreed, was a direct result of frustrated, financially and emotionally drained Independents who thought the politics of the past 2 years did not address their concerns. This group showed up and they voted for change. Republicans conceded the vote was less about them than about the current administration, an anemic economy, and an ongoing desire for change. Housing was cast in a supporting role in the election with the struggling economy playing the lead. The foreclosure crisis and declining home values were shown as but one symptom (or cause) of the difficult economic times we’re facing.

Given the new political environment and federal debt, the panel agreed that forward movement on affordable housing policies and additional funding would be unlikely. Restoring public confidence through steady job creation, economic growth, and deficit reduction will be the political priority. Without a growing economy, all other issues will remain secondary.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Is There a New Language for Housing?

The political landscape has changed since the midterm elections. With freshman Representatives and Senators starting  in their new respective positions soon, NHC poses the question how will the political shift change the way housing is talked about?

NHC hosts the second Housing Communications Forum today, Tuesday, November 16, 2010, in Washington, DC.

Expert speakers from the campaign world will discuss how housing issues played out in the midterm election campaigns, how the political shift will affect housing and homeownership, and their recommendations for crafting messages and advocacy strategies in this new environment.

We have a dynamic panel of Republicans and Democrats, including:

  • Jacquie Lawing Ebert, Partner, GMMB (moderator)
Jacquie Lawing Ebert manages the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation account, providing strategic advocacy and media counsel to the foundation. Most recently, Ebert took a leave of absence to serve on the Presidential Transition Team for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • David Avella, Executive Director, GOPAC
David A. Avello is currently serving as the Executive Director of GOPAC, the Republican Party's premier organization dedicated to educating and electing the next generation of Republican leaders. Having worked in politics for the past 20 years, his experience includes campaigns on gubernatorial, congressional and local level.
  • Bill Greener, Founding Partner, Greener and Hook
Bill Greener is the founding partner of Greener and Hook, a communication and politcal consulting firm servicing individual companies, trade organizations, ad-hoc organizations and Republican candidates for political office.
  • Glenn W. Richardson, Professor, Kutztown University
Professor Richardson is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. Richardson's areas of specialization include American government, political theory and political communication.
  • Ben Waxman, Senior Executive, AFL-CIO
Ben Waxman works for the President of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, in the Presidents Strategic Campaign Center. Waxman works to implement and drive numerous strategic campaigns for the AFL-CIO.

Monday, November 15, 2010

NHC Reflects on What's Next for Housing

National Housing Conference will host the second Housing Communications Network forum on Tuesday, November 16 in Washington, DC.

An expert panel comprised of Republicans and Democrats from the campaign world will lead a dynamic and interactive discussion on the many ways housing played out in the midterm elections. They will also offer strategies on messaging in this new era of housing and politics. This is one forum you don’t want to miss!

For more details and to RVSP, click here.

In a lead up to the panel NHC would like to extend our own thoughts on the issue of what's next for housing in this new political landscape:

The critical issue to keep in mind in the next Congress is the need to assist American families through this very difficult economic time which is having a particularly severe impact on housing. The federal government plays an important role in regulating the flow of capital when private capital has retreated from a particular market, such as lending for housing. Now is not the time for partisan politics but instead an opportunity and a challenge to find bipartisan solutions which turn around the tide of foreclosures, the lack of reasonably priced rental housing and to get America back on its feet and the housing market stabilized.

The House of Representatives added 60 Republican seats and changed leadership from Democratic to Republican. The Democratic majority was retained in the Senate with an additional 6 number of seats going to Republicans. With this change, the Administration will need to adjust its approach in order to deal with this critical issue.

Both good and bad, housing is not anticipated to be a priority for the next Congress. Critical issues which need to be addressed in the next Congress include the future and structure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The private sector alone will not create equitable and timely solutions to the crisis faced by American's every day. Deregulated private capital markets were a significant factor leading up to the crisis we face today. Banks alone cannot and will not provide adequate capital for housing, especially in challenged markets. In many markets, lending of all kinds has virtually dried up. A balanced solution must be pursued.

Other issues to be addressed include funding for critical housing and community development programs which assist in making housing more affordable and accessible (i.e. Section 8, National Housing Trust Fund, and the Sustainable Communities initiative).

A successful Congress will provide leadership and support in the effort to stabilize households and communities, as well as strategies to get all able American's back to work. NHC looks forward to providing forums and leadership which support objective efforts to find a balanced housing policy.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Face of Housing Post Election

National Housing Conference will host the second Housing Communications Forum on November 16 in Washington, DC. The focus of this forum will be on the outcome of the midterm elections in relation to housing since many election campaigns featured the housing and financial crises in their messaging, but to what purpose?

The forum features a dynamic panel:
Jacquie Lawing Ebert, Partner, GMMB (moderator)
Bill Greener, Founding Partner, Greener and Hook
Glenn W. Richardson, Professor, Kutztown University
Ben Waxman, Senior Executive, AFL-CIO
This week we asked several state housing advocacy organizations what the election results mean to them.

Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), a non-profit umbrella organization for affordable housing and community development activities in Massachusetts, is anticipating fending off housing cuts. CHAPA also expects to see a halting of progress on affordable housing.

Connecticut a state which has already experienced crippling job growth and the largest school achievement gap in the nation, David Fink, Executive Director for Partnership for Strong Communities, believes all is not lost for affordable housing in CT. Democratic Governor-elect Dan Malloy, has a fine track record on housing and a critical understanding of TOD, sustainability, and the core proposition that housing affordability and security is the foundation for opportunity – a winning equation which points to positive movement for affordable housing. However, with a $3.4 billion projected deficit in the state budget there will be little housing creation. Malloy has made it clear that he is committed to preserving the support of affordable housing, supportive housing services, Rental Assistance Payment certificates, and the like. Connecticut has been fortunate enough to receive three Sustainable Communities Initiative grants totaling about $8.25 million and one challenge grant of $2 million which will allow for some significant planning and creative initiatives. There are still major hurtles Connecticut must overcome including the loss of 7,000 rental units over the decade and a housing wage rise to $23/hour from $15.40/hour, a state median income which doesn’t qualify a resident to buy a home in 94 of the state’s 169 cities and towns, homeless shelters are at a 108% capacity rate, and the state has over 85,000 units at risk either from expiring use or physical deterioration.

Coalition for Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHIO) helped sum up Ohio’s thoughts on housing after the midterm elections. Bill Faith, Executive Director for COHIO, quoted Cushing Dolbeare’s, federal housing policy expert and founder of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, “we never won any major federal housing legislation without Republican support.” This is reflected at state level with Republican’s former Governor Bob Taft, Bruce Johnson, Doug White and John Carey are among those who deserve credit for helping to pass legislation that led to the Ohio Housing Trust Fund’s (OHTF) in 2003. Faith noted it is especially important to remember the housing successes of bipartisanship while continuing to work to protect the OHTF as it celebrates its’ 20th year “Keeping a Good Thing Going!”

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What the Realtors Say: Qualified Homebuyers Should Have Access to Credit

In an effort to ensure all those who are able and willing to assume responsibilities of homeownership should have the opportunity to pursue that dream, the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) urged the mortgage lending industry to reassess and amend their policies so more qualified home buyers can become home owners. NAR announced this policy at their annual conference in New Orleans earlier this week.

As part of its credit policy to increase mortgage lending to qualified borrowers, NAR will develop educational materials for Realtors® and consumers about credit issues, including the importance of good credit, lender credit policies, and how to find a fair and affordable mortgage.

NAR will also work with FHA, the GSEs, lenders and federal regulators to encourage them to assess their credit policies on a regular basis, and will urge them to re-evaluate their policies regarding which home owners can qualify for loan modifications, short sales, or deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure to help more home owners keep their homes or, when that is not possible, help them begin to rebuild their credit.

According to NAR President Vicki Cox Golder, “the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have a mission to provide mortgage liquidity to qualified home buyers, including low- and moderate-income families and first-time home buyers. That mission is being impaired by unnecessarily restrictive limits on the availability of credit, and these extremely tight credit policies are significantly delaying a housing market and economic recovery.”

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Monday, November 8, 2010

HUD and NAR Launch Consumer-Oriented Videos on the Homebuying Process

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) have unveiled three "how-to" videos to help prospective homeowners find a home they can afford, shop for a mortgage they can sustain, and what to expect when they go to closing.

HUD produced the three consumer education videos in coordination with NAR and released them at the Realtors Annual Convention in New Orleans last week. Each video focuses on a critical part of the homebuying process including Shopping for Your Home, Shopping for Your Loan, and Closing the Deal.

Below is the video from Shopping for Your Home. To see all videos from this series visit HUD's YouTube channel.

Friday, November 5, 2010

National Inclusionary Housing Conference: Day 3

Today, the National Inclusionary Housing Conference wrapped up with a day full of informative speakers and dynamic panels.

The morning featured speaker John Trasvina, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Two workshops followed Trasvina's opening remarks. Nick Brunick, Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen, moderated a panel on how inclusionary housing fits into the affordable housing constellation which featured Brad Lander, New York City Council; Mariia Zimmerman, Sustainable Housing and Communities, HUD; and Beth Osborne, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy, DOT as panelists.

The second workship was moderated by Center for Housing Policy Senior Researcher, Rebecca Cohen. This workshop focused on how to get elected officials to support inclusionary housing policies and had elected officials discussing their personal experiences with adoption of inclusionary housing ordinances in their respective communities. The panel featured Brad Lander, New York City Council; Margo Williams, Town Board Commissioner, Davidson, NC; and Cathy Hudgins, Supervisor of Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

The conference closed with a keynote from PolicyLink Founder and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

National Inclusionary Housing Conference: Day 2

The National Inclusionary Housing Conference second day of inclusionary housing education and information sharing held many insights from experts on the topic.

The morning began with opening remarks by NHC President and CEO Maureen Friar and the Center for Housing Policy's Executive Director, Jeffrey Lubell. Friar reaffirmed NHC's commitment and dedication to inclusionary housing practices, when done right, as a way to provide safe, affordable and decent housing to all in America. Lubell spoke about the government's need to adopt a policy agenda on how to build affordability into communities when new transit lines are built and have the very likely chance of increasing home and rent prices in those communities. The way Lubell suggested this happening was through federal incentives to get the state and local levels to adopt such inclusionary zoning practices.

The day was comprised of several workshops on inclusionary housing including how to garner support from unlikely allies including the business community, faith-based, environmental and low-income advocates. Also, how to make the most of inclusionary homeownership and how to make it's long term impact. 

The lunch plenary featured Alan Mallach and Nico Calavita of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. They presented on the international perspective of inclusionary housing, focusing on affordable housing, social inclusion, and land value recapture. 

The day ended with a reception honoring two giants of inclusionary housing policy policy, Conrad Egan and Bernie Tetrault.  Egan and Tetrault colleagues paid tribute to their professional achievements and concluded with a musical performance by After the Storm.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

National Inclusionary Housing Conference: Day 1

National Inclusionary Housing Conference's first day was packed full of powerful speeches and intellectual discussions on inclusionary zoning. Ron Sims, Deputy Secretary of HUD, provided opening remarks to an audience of over 200 industry experts from all over the country. Sims, a native of King County in Seattle, gave a powerful speech on his personal experiences of the many benefits of inclusionary housing, when done right, throughout his extensive career in housing.

A panel discussion moderated by
Kalima Rose of PolicyLink, followed Sims keynote. The panel was composed of David Rusk, Metropolitan Area Research Council and Innovative Housing Institute, Derek Douglas, Special Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs and Mercedes Marques, Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development.

Two workshops were held following the panel discussion. "Let's make it work for the developer!" focused on what a program would look like that would work for and with builders while still providing public benefits. The discussion was moderated by Rob Wiener, California Coalition for Rural Housing, and featured Brian Allen Jackson, EYA, Raquel Montenegro, Maryland-National Capital Building Industry Association and Bill Daleure, Avant Garde Real Estate Consulting, Charlotte, NC. Attendees heard real feedback from builders who have developed in communities with inclusionary zoning ordinances.

The second workshop examined the latest and greatest in inclusionary zoning research. Erica Poethig, Deputy Assistant Secretary for PD & R, HUD moderated the discussion that featured Heather Schwartz, RAND Corporation, Gerrit Knaap, National Center for Smart Growth Research, and Jeff Lubell of the Center for Housing Policy. Schwartz presented her findings on a research study on public housing in Montgomery County that found a positive effect in math and English of elementary school children who live in public housing and attend moderate poverty schools. Knaap's research on inclusionary zoning effects on housing prices showed that there was an increase in housing prices in jurisdictions that adopted inclusionary zoning practices, the price effects occured in the higher price markets and the effects varied with the terms of the program. Jeff Lubell, spoke of a study on inclusionary zoning in relation to new transit lines. Overall, the findings showed that with a new transit line, home prices grow much faster in metro areas and rent prices increase significantly.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Living Cities Launches the Integration Initiative

Last week, Living Cities formally launched its newest signature effort, the Integration Initiative, at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.  Over 200 guests from the five cities competitively selected to participate in the Initiative were joined by Assistant Secretary Mercedes Márquez from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Director of the Treasury Department's CDFI Fund, Donna Gambrell.  The mayors from Newark, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis and St. Paul participated in an extraordinary conversation about their communities and the short- and long-term impacts hoped for from this work.  

The Integration Initiative builds upon Living Cities long history of investing in cities. It acknowledges both the power and limitations of the neighborhood as a lever for change and seeks to drive a broader perspective that recognizes the role systems and regions must play in securing economic opportunity for low-income people.  

The five cities in which the initiative is being implemented are:
  1. Baltimore
  2. Cleveland 
  3. Detriot 
  4. Newark 
  5. Twin Cities
To learn more about the Integration Initiative, please click here

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Friday, October 29, 2010

NHC Responds to Washington Post Editorial

Recently, much has been said in the news about the current state and future of affordable housing and NHC, as the United Voice of Housing, would like to respond. The Washington Post ran an editorial, titled Structural Redesign on October 25, focused on a report released by the federal regulator in charge of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The editorial provided some good and some not so good insights.

The Not So Good:
“Developers, builders, real estate agents and advocates of low-income housing may plead their various cases for more and more subsidy. But America is overbuilt. In the second quarter of 2010, 10.6 percent of all apartments and 2.5 percent of houses stood empty, according to Census Bureau statistics. Both rates are roughly double what they were 30 years ago.”
While vacancy rates have increased in recent years, the need for affordable housing has not disappeared. In fact, even with the current financial and housing crisis, there is still a strong need for affordable housing, particularly affordable rental housing. According to a recent brief titled Rental Housing Affordability released by NHC’s research affiliate, the Center for Housing Policy, for every three units added to the rental stock between 1995 and 2005, two units were demolished or lost from the inventory, and many of these new units are priced at the higher end of the market and therefore unaffordable to lower-income renters.

By 2013, the need for affordable rental housing will become increasingly dire because more than one million subsidized units will be at the end of their use restrictions allowing property owners to “opt out” of their affordability contract, thereby threatening the loss of even more critically-needed affordable rental housing. The October 25th NYT piece on the state of public housing, where tenants’ requests for repairs are three years backlogged, only highlights the urgent human need for a newly revived housing policy.

The Administration clearly believes the continuation and improvement of the nation’s affordable housing program is important. On October 13th the White House, Treasury, HUD and USDA sponsored a meeting with a group of invited practitioners, advocates, academics, Administration officials, and congressional staff to discuss rental housing policy.

The conference explored many ideas, including the desire to integrate housing policy with other areas, such as education, energy, transportation, and health to improve people lives and enable them to secure affordable housing in locations that provided a variety of important amenities. Another theme was the importance of policies that support economic development and independence.

Given the importance of multifamily rental housing in meeting American’s housing needs, any reform of the nation’s housing finance system must ensure the continued availability of capital to preserve and develop multifamily rental housing. NHC recently released ten key principles for strengthening the nation’s system for financing multifamily rental housing, and argues that private capital by itself – without government backing in some form, such as a federal guarantee – is not sufficient to reliably meet the full range of the nation’s multifamily finance needs.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

NHC Executive Committee Member Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

LISC NYC's celebrated it's 30 years of building sustainable communities at their annual Big Apple Innovation Awards ceremony on October 26, 2010. Each year LISC NYC recognizes those who made significant contributions to community development in New York City.

Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero of the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development received the Robert Brandwein Public Partner award. Bridge Street Development Corporation, 300 Putnam Avenue, received the Innovation of the Year award.

Of particular note, Carol Lamberg received the Leah Schneider Lifetime Achievement Award. Like Leah, Carol is an incredibly smart, creative and tireless advocate of affordable housing and community development. This award reflects her innovation and continued dedication to creating economically and ethnically diverse neighborhoods. Marc Jahr, President of the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), presented Carol with the award.

Since 1983, Carol has served as Executive Director of Settlement Housing Fund which has produced over 8,700 apartments in 56 developments in NYC. She is co-chair of NHC's affiliate, the New York Housing Conference (NYHC), and serves on our Executive Committee.

NHC would like to congratulate Carol on all her achievements, for her inspiration and dedication to the housing field, NHC and NYHC.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Will Halt on Foreclosures Wash Americans' Worries Away?

The Washington Post ran an article today on a recent poll which found that most Americans worry about their ability to pay their mortgage or rent. Since 2008, in the aftermath of the housing and financial crises, concerns over making housing payments have spiked. 53% say they are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about having the money to make their monthly mortgage payments.

Additionally, worries are most intense among those with lower incomes and African Americans.

It is no surprise where these concerns arise from: jobs, or the lack thereof. With the unemployment rate still very high and those with jobs concerned about losing them there is very good reason to be anxious over ability to pay future mortgage payments or rent.

According to a recent brief titled Rental Housing Affordability released by NHC’s research affiliate, the Center for Housing Policy, only one in three poor renters actually benefit from housing assistance and as a result, nearly half of all renters pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing. This makes the need to sustain and create more affordable housing critical to uphold and improve the quality of life for all in America.

The brief also found that the need for affordable rental housing is only going to become increasing scare. By 2013 more than one million subsidized units will be at the end of their use restrictions, allowing property owners to “opt out” of their affordability contract and threatening the loss of even more critically-needed affordable rental housing.

Given the importance of multifamily rental housing in meeting American’s housing needs, any reform of the nation’s housing finance system must ensure the continued availability on capital to preserve and develop multifamily rental housing. NHC recently released ten key principles for strengthening the nation’s system for financing multifamily rental housing, and argues that private capital by itself – without government backing in some form, such as federal guarantee – is not sufficient to reliable meet the full range of the nation’s multifamily finance needs.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Around the Block: Freeze, Thaw and Melt (down) Edition

What People Want
According to an article by Patrick C. Doherty in the New America, of the Washington Monthly, the only thing to pull us out of the Great Recession is the same thing that got us into it – housing. But now, there is a new face, and name, to what the people want: homes in central cities and closer-in suburbs where one can walk to stores and mass transit or “walkable urban.” Such “walkable urban” real estate has experienced less than half the average decline in price from the housing peak.

The obvious reasons for the growing demand for walkable neighborhoods are the ever-worsening traffic congestion, fear of the 2008 spike in gasoline prices returning, and the fact that many cities have become more attractive places to live.

 But the biggest factor is demographic. The baby boomers and their children, the millennial generation, are looking for places to live and work that reflect their current desires and life needs. Boomers are downsizing while the millennials, or generation Y, are setting out on their careers with far different housing needs and preferences. Both of these huge demographic groups want something that the U.S. housing market is not currently providing: small one- to three-bedroom homes in walkable, transit-oriented, economically dynamic, and job-rich neighborhoods.

Waiting for the freeze to thaw
Housing Predictor recently released a survey reporting that more than two out of three people surveyed believe the housing recovery will be delayed as a result of banks freezing foreclosures. The new Housing Predictor poll found that a huge number of respondents feel negatively about the move by four of the nation’s largest lenders.

Growth Spurt Delayed
The Washington Post reported that home prices in 20 U.S. cities rose at a slower pace than forecasted in August from a year earlier, reflecting slumping sales as the effects of a tax credit waned.

"Prices are declining in line with the widening imbalances between housing demand and supply, and we can expect this trend to continue," said Michelle Meyer, a senior economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research in New York, who correctly forecasted the year-on-year change. "Home prices are likely to decline, probably on a choppy basis, through at least the middle of next year."

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Secretary Speaks: What's Happen's Next

U.S. Secretary for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Shaun Donovan wrote a piece that ran in the Huffington Post on October 17, 2010, which addressed the halting of foreclosures and what the Obama Administration is doing and plans to do.

1) The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force has made this issue priority number one. Bringing together more than 20 federal agencies, 94 US Attorney's Offices and dozens of state and local partners to form the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud, the Task Force is examining this issue and the Attorney General has said publicly that if it finds any wrongdoing the members of the task force will take the appropriate action.

2) The Federal Housing Administration and Federal Housing Finance Agency have launched reviews to make sure servicers are in full compliance with the law.

3) The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has directed seven of the nation's largest servicers to review their foreclosure processes, fix the processing problems and determine whether there is specific harm that has been caused in individual cases.

Finally, the Secretary made his recommendations as to what the banks should do.
"Banks need to provide more help, more people, more resources to those families facing a crisis long before they ever get to a foreclosure -- so more families can keep their homes. And where foreclosure is not avoidable, having been processed legally and appropriately, banks should help families transition to sustainable housing situations with dignity."
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

TOD: The Ultimate Combo

Denver 16th Street Mall is a TOD Dream
Hardly a day goes by without a story about the housing downturn appearing on the front page of the newspaper. Dramatic changes in the housing market over the last two years have reinforced the importance of affordable homes – homeownership and rental units- for families of all incomes. But it isn’t enough to consider whether a home is affordable or not; it is critical to consider where homes are located too.

According to A Heavy Load: The Combined Housing and Transportation Burdens of Working Families, a study of 28 metropolitan areas by the Center for Housing Policy, housing, transportation and utility costs together account for some 57 percent of the income of families earning between $20,000 and $50,000 in 2000, with transportation accounting for slightly more than half of these costs. Households that spend less on housing often offset those savings by spending more on transportation, and vice-versa, such that the overall percentage of income spent on the combined costs of place remains relatively constant. As the rapid increase in gas prices in 2008 showed, families located far from jobs, schools, and other amenities experienced dramatic increases in household transportation costs, highlighting their vulnerability to fluctuating energy costs and the potential for their combined cost burden to be much greater.

Many local, regional and state entities have initiated efforts to coordinate policies across housing and transportation agencies to support transit-oriented development (TOD) in an effort improve housing affordability and also reduce traffic congestion and overall greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, ensuring that TOD provides housing opportunities for households with a range of incomes is very complex. After all, in many places with a mix of land-uses that are well-served by transit, land values tend to be very expensive, making it difficult to preserve and expand affordable housing where it is needed most.

To assist policymakers and practitioners tackle challenges and share successes associated with affordable TOD, the Center for Housing Policy launched the Transit-Oriented Development discussion group on the Forum. The Forum is a place to pose questions, exchange ideas, and learn from the experience and expertise of others. There are currently ten different discussion groups on the forum about affordable housing issues ranging from rental housing preservation to neighborhood stabilization.

Within the new Transit-Oriented Development discussion group, you can ask questions and respond to others’ posts about affordable housing and TOD. Most recently, the group featured three discussion threads dedicated to the Partners in Innovation events in Denver held on September 27-28. Including Affordable and Workforce Housing within Transit-Oriented Development, was a day-long national symposium on September 27, which examined the challenges and opportunities for developing and sustaining Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) that included housing opportunities affordable to families with low- and moderate-incomes. Preserving Affordable Rental Housing Near Transit, a policy forum held on September 28, was designed to examine the connection between preserving affordable rental housing near transit.

Image: via,

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hawaii Wrap-Up: NHC on EAH

As the sun rose over Waikiki Tuesday, NHC and National Association of REALTORS hosted their final Bring Workers Home forum of 2010.

More than 90 participants from over 14 states gathered to learn about housing affordability and employer-assisted housing. A hot topic was Hawaii’s circumstances as an expensive, global housing market with a tourism-based economy that does not provide many high-paying jobs. In fact, according to James Hardway of the Hawaii Workforce Development Council, most of the top 20 occupations in Hawaii fall below 80 percent of the area median income and qualify for housing assistance through the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation. The Center for Housing Policy’s Paycheck to Paycheck database further illustrates the severe housing cost burdens in the state.

In short, Hawaii has a severe mismatch between the jobs available on the islands and the housing stock. Land use regulations and a lack of transit and other infrastructure further hinder the development of local affordable housing options.

Employer-assisted housing is a truly viable solution here, as demonstrated by several speakers from other tourist destinations. Connie Ealey from Funding Partners in Colorado and Sharon Kerrigan from South Tahoe Association of REALTORS both spoke about successfully using EAH programs to bridge the housing affordability gap in high-end resort communities.

Carol Marx, a Bank of Hawaii senior vice president, an NHC member, spoke on an afternoon panel about the financing solutions the bank offers to employers in the islands, and how productive partnerships make for winning affordability solutions. Other speakers from local advocacy organizations, developers and banks offered their own thoughts on what’s needed to bridge the gap between jobs and homes: education about what affordable housing is and means, smarter land use regulations, better jobs and increased engagement of local employers.

Visit NHC's website for additional materials including PowerPoint presentations from the featured speakers.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From Hawaii Five-O to ‘Hawaii $500,000’

NHC and NAR hosted the final of four forums on workforce housing in Honolulu, HI on October 12, 2010. Ryan Sherriff, researcher for the Center for Housing Policy, recaps the issues facing workforce housing in Hawaii - Hawaii Five- O style.

Life wasn’t easy for Officer Steve McGarrett in the original
Hawaii Five- O. He led a Hawaiian state police force responsible for dealing international secret agents, organized crime syndicates and an array of other well-tanned felons that menaced the islands. But one thing McGarrett didn’t have to worry about was workforce housing issues.

Back in 1970, just a couple years after McGarrett took his post, a household making the median income in Hawaii of $10,675 could afford a median price home of $35,100 without suffering financially.

Fast-forward 40 years and enter the world of Detective Chris McGarrett, the lead character in the new Hawaii Five-O. Not only does the new McGarrett have to deal with more sophisticated, heavily armed criminal gangs, but now he and fellow detective Danny “Danno” Williams have to struggle with the state’s current astronomical housing costs.
In 2009, the median home value for Hawaii was almost $518,000.

To stress the severity of the situation the ratio of median home value to the median household income in Hawaii jumped from 3.8 to 8.1 between 1970 and 2009. Gang warfare and high profile abduction cases may have to take a backseat for a few episodes while McGarrett and Danno figure out how to stretch their paychecks. According to the Center for Housing Policy’s Paycheck to Paycheck (P2P), a household living in the Honolulu area would have to make over $134,000 a year to afford a median priced home in 2009. For reference, police officers in that area make on average $55,000 a year.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Honolulu Plays Host to Final Regional Forum on Workforce Housing

Today, local, state and national housing leaders came together in Honolulu to identify effective solutions to the workforce housing challenge. Essential workers in many communities, like Honolulu, cannot afford safe and appropriate housing near their place of employment. Highlighting solutions and bringing together diverse groups in search of practical solutions has been the mission of National Housing Conference (NHC) and National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Bring Workers Home regional forums.

Tourism accounts for nearly seventy-five percent of Hawaii’s economy and many jobs in this sector do not pay enough for workers to affordably obtain homeownership or rental homes, according to the Center for Housing Policy's Paycheck to Paycheck--an interactive database comparing wages and housing costs for 200 metro areas.

The Bring Workers Home forum in Honolulu provides a unique opportunity to bring together regional leaders and experts to discuss and exchange ideas on how to make affordable workforce housing a reality – not only for working families and individuals in the Hawaii, but throughout the nation.

The forum focused on how to create, sustain and advance workforce housing both through public-private partnerships and privately funded employer-assisted housing programs. Keynote speaker Darlene Porter, Second Vice President for Employee Relations/Talent Management at Aflac™, shared the success of their employer-assisted housing program, which provides down payment and closing cost assistance to its employees through a first-time home buyer grant program.

Today’s forum was the final in a series of four regional workforce housing events that NHC and NAR sponsored across the nation this year. Forums in Atlanta, GA (June); Minneapolis, MN (July) and Austin, TX (August) helped to identify both the challenges and solutions for workforce housing in those markets. One key theme that emerged from each forum is that despite the current housing crisis and falling home prices, working families continue to struggle with their housing costs and policy innovations are still needed at the local, state, and federal levels.

World Habitiat Day Raises Awareness for Health of Urban Poor

"Shelter plays a critical role not only in the health of individual families but in the well-being of communities and ultimately our larger global connection." 
- Jonathan Reckford, CEO Habitat for Humanity International
(Watch the CEO's address World Habitat Day here)

World Habitat Day was held on Monday, October 4. World Habitat Day’s purpose is to call attention to the current global state of the human habitat and push toward adequate housing for all.

By raising awareness and advocating for universal decent housing, the hope is to dismantle and alter the systems that reinforce and entrench poverty housing. In doing so, we can make an affordable, decent place to live a reality for all.

World Habitat Day is a day for grassroots action and a day for people to be united in their efforts to eradicate poverty housing.

The 27th Carter Work Project spearheaded World Habitat Day events in six U.S. cities Oct. 3–8. Volunteers will join in building and rehabilitating houses with Habitat homeowner families, former President Carter and Mrs. Carter and other celebrities. The cumulative event, featuring the Carter’s, was held on October 4 in Washington, DC.

In addition, Habitat for Humanity International released their 2011 Shelter Report – Housing and Health: Partners against Poverty in conjunction with World Habitat Day on October 4. The report urges the U.S. government to recognize the link between health and housing around the globe as well as recognizing that addressing the issue of adequate housing and healthy communities together is key in any successful health-focused strategy.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

NHC Welcomes Mary Hanlon as the New Vice President of Policy and Advocacy

NHC is happy to announce Mary Hanlon has been hired as our new Vice President of Policy and Advocacy. With 25 years in the housing industry, Hanlon comes with a wealth of public, non-profit, and private sector experience with a special focus on real estate development and management of complex projects. Her expertise and numerous accomplishments are in line with NHC’s mission and policy priorities in housing’s new era, making Mary the ideal person for the position.

For the last 14 years, Mary has been the Principal and Owner of Hanlon Development & Consulting working out of New York City, Washington, DC and Portland, OR. She has provided consulting services to private companies, government agencies and non-profit organizations on a wide range of issues including single and multifamily housing, real estate development finance - including private, bond and tax credit financing, public private partnerships, elderly housing, commercial and mixed-use developments, and sustainable and transit-oriented design. Additionally, she has developed and owned real estate for her own portfolio.

Mary has served in government as senior staff member at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In that position, she assisted Secretary Cisneros with critical housing legislation, the structural reorganization of HUD and the Pacific Region Community Empowerment Board, including managing and supervising the implementation of the $44 million Oakland Enhanced Enterprise Community and the $3 million San Francisco Enterprise Community.

Mary attended the UCLA graduate school of Architecture and Urban Planning and holds a Bachelor of the Arts from the University of California - Berkeley. She has served on several boards during her career and presently volunteers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Please join us in welcoming Mary as the newest member of the NHC team. She can be reached at We look forward to having her on board as our organization enters an era of unprecedented housing advocacy.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Foreclosures are Halted Nationwide

On October 1, Bank of America along with J.P. Morgan and Ally Financial announced a moratorium on foreclosures in 23 states in order to review whether correct procedures were being applied, particularly regarding court documents, given allegations that crucial documents were being mishandled. In addition, Connecticut, as well as other states, has halted foreclosures for all banks. Other companies are expected to halt additional foreclosures given the prevalence of the problem.

Maureen Friar, NHC President and CEO, gave her insight in a piece that ran on a local DC FOX news station on Monday, October 4.

NHC Makes Recommendations to Policymakers to Strengthen the Nation's Multifamily Housing Finance System

Village of East Lake
The National Housing Conference (NHC) issued a policy statement underscoring the importance of the nation’s multifamily housing finance system on October 4. The policy statement urges policymakers to ensure Americans will continue to have a strong and stable supply of multifamily rental housing. The only way to ensure renters have an adequate supply of multifamily properties with affordable rents is to address multifamily housing finance directly and separately from single family finance. 

Some 15 million U.S. households live in multifamily rental housing, which is defined as rental housing with five or more units. These households represent more than 13 percent of all U.S. households and nearly 43 percent of U.S. renters. A stronger multifamily finance system would help address the nation’s shortage of affordable rental housing. (See for background on the nation’s rental housing affordability challenges.)

Lorington Apartments
NHC’s policy statement on multifamily finance is based on the results of a report NHC commissioned from Recap Real Estate Advisors to analyze the current state of multifamily housing financing. The report found that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have provided essential liquidity for multifamily housing during the financial crisis and that government support will be needed to ensure the availability of credit for multifamily rental housing during any future economic downturns.

The NHC policy statement outlines ten key points for strengthening the nation’s system for financing multifamily rental housing, which are summarized below. The full policy statement may be accessed at

1. Any restructuring of the nation’s housing finance system must ensure the ongoing availability of capital to preserve and develop multifamily rental housing.
2. Multifamily housing finance must be addressed directly, not as an afterthought to the larger debate that will focus primarily on single-family housing.
3. Private capital is indispensable for funding multifamily rental housing, but private capital without some sort of government backing is not sufficient. Government backing is needed to ensure the ongoing availability of long-term fixed rate mortgages and provide countercyclical liquidity so financing is available when private credit retreats during downturns.
4. Government support for multifamily lending should be provided thorough multiple channels to meet the diverse range of multifamily housing needs and ensure that a competitive marketplace exists.
5. A government guarantee wrap of the mortgage-backed securities that are backed by one or more multifamily loans underwritten by the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) or their successors is the most effective way to provide the backing needed to ensure continued access to capital for multifamily housing.
6. The government’s principal interest is to guarantee loans for housing at rent levels affordable to low- to middle-income households throughout the United States.
7. Strong government regulation is necessary and desirable to ensure the safety and soundness of the multifamily financing activities of the GSEs or their successors. This regulation should also ensure that credit is available for underserved market segments, including small multifamily loans and rural, lower-income and other underserved markets.
8. The GSEs or their successors have important roles to play in supporting the financing of affordable housing.
9. The GSEs or their successors will need a limited portfolio capacity for multifamily housing to support many of their core functions. However, the large majority of their multifamily activities should involve packaging loans directly for sale to the capital markets.
10. It could take several years to transition to a new housing finance system. During this interim period, the existing GSE channels for supporting multifamily lending should be maintained to ensure the ongoing availability of credit for multifamily rental housing.