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.”

Image: via, realtor.org/

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

Image: via, livingcities.org