Tuesday, April 20, 2010

NHC Head Maureen Friar Speaks About Vital Need for Affordable Rental Housing at 2010 COHHIO Conference

Today NHC President and CEO Maureen Friar addressed the 2010 Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) conference in Columbus.

Friar detailed the importance of affordable rental housing in the context of the current economic crisis and the strain that the crisis has placed on the nation’s already burdened low income households, as a result of limited credit availability, as well as job losses and financial upheavals.
Rental homes, Friar emphasized, are “a vital way to serve not only low income families, but also the formerly homeless or at-risk populations through supportive housing.” In addition, rental homes often provide, she said, “affordable housing options in ‘connected’ neighborhoods that allow families to reduce their combined costs for housing and transportation.”

Friar stressed that “preservation initiatives as necessary to ensure the continued availability of a strong stock of affordable rental homes with close access to transportation” since transit-oriented development tends to drive up the cost of nearby housing. She added that the preservation of existing rentals is often less costly than new construction, which generally “costs twice as much when compared to preservation.”

It is important to note that Barbara Poppe, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, delivered the opening plenary at the COHHIO conference yesterday. Additional conference speakers include Mercedes Marquez, assistant secretary for planning and development for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

NHC member partner the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's 10-year, $150 million Window of Opportunity initiative is focused on the preservation of affordable rental homes for more than 70,000 families across the nation. Ohio received $5 million from MacArthur last year to help ensure the preservation of affordable housing for an estimated 14,000 of Ohio’s families. Implementation of this investment is led by the Ohio Preservation Compact – a strategic partnership between several key state housing organizations including COHHIO, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, Ohio Capital Finance Corporation and its parent, the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing.

Building on the MacArthur Foundation’s Window of Opportunity initiative, NHC, with support from its research affiliate, the Center for Housing Policy, has been working closely with the Foundation, and with the Foundation’s State and Local Housing Preservation Leader awardees, to successfully plan and execute three Partners in Innovation rental preservation forums in 2010. The first forum took place in Boston last week, and the forums continue in Portland, OR, and Denver through September.

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