Wednesday, March 31, 2010

NHC "On the Move" – "Housing and Development Reporter" Interview with President and CEO Maureen Friar

NHC President and CEO Maureen Friar recently sat down with Joe Poduska from Housing and Development Reporter to discuss the direction of the organization and its role as a convener within the industry. Read the piece below to learn more about Maureen and where NHC is headed.

New National Housing Conference Head Outlines Plans for Organization
Housing and Development Reporter
March 12, 2010
By Joe Poduska

Maureen Friar, the new president and chief executive officer of the National Housing Conference (NHC), said in an interview with HDR that she plans to rely on the organization's ability to convene a diverse coalition to discuss affordable housing issues, take a position on these issues when warranted, and act as a clearinghouse to exchange information about development models that work at the local level.

Well-known to many NHC members, Friar served as executive director of the Supportive Housing Network of New York (SHNNY) for 14 years. Established in 1988, SHNNY grew from a New York City-based group of about 35 members to 184 nonprofit organizations that developed and operate over 42,000 units of supportive housing across the state.

Friar was active in the New York Housing Conference and in the Housing First campaign that in part led to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's long-term affordable housing plan. SHNNY actively worked to get 12,000 supportive housing units included in the mayor's plan and in getting an agreement to have 9,000 of these units jointly funded by the city and state.

The result, said Friar, is that New York has a reliable source of funding for supportive housing through a network of bond issuers at the state and city level.

“New York is sort of its own engine of affordable housing,” she said. “The complexity of these projects shows what we can do in terms of creative financing in new development.”

National View

More recently, Friar served as a marketing consultant to the National Equity Fund and as a fundraising consultant to Community Access, a New York nonprofit agency that provides supportive housing, employment training, and advocacy for persons with psychiatric disabilities.

Friar said she became interested in working at the national level on housing issues after leaving SHNNY, and that's why she turned to consulting and became interested in the NHC post. “I am a big federalist when it comes to housing policy and am excited about the opportunity with a new Administration and who's at HUD and being able to get things done,” she said.

Among NHC's strengths, according to Friar, is its ability as an umbrella group to convene its members to study issues and make recommendations. A major affiliate, the Center for Housing Policy (CHP), plays a role in conducting research and providing information that Friar said can be translated into policy. “There is a commitment from the (NHC) board to seize this opportunity of a new Administration and work in this housing climate to make a difference,” she said.

“This is a challenging time to come up with matching funds for states and localities, many of them are financially strapped,” she noted. “So the challenges are great, but there are also opportunities, and so we as an advocacy organization can help eliminate any roadblocks so that money is available and can go out the door.”

Friar said NHC and CHP can also act as a clearinghouse to share information about what affordable housing production models work at the local and state levels.

Diverse Organization

Producing consensus recommendations can be difficult for a diverse membership group like NHC, but Friar had experience with that problem at SHNNY.

“New Yorkers overall are not a compliant group,” she said. “They don't just all line up, so I am used to opinionated, strong folks. But I also think that the job of the association is to keep the eye on the prize.” The goal is to make effective recommendations, she said.

The objective “is to actually change the status quo so more housing is developed and there is financing and so each project is not so complex because of all the funding streams,” Friar explained. “Getting government to work better, work more efficiently, is a great role for us as an advocacy organization, to be pushing from the outside in making suggestions.”

Another NHC strength, said Friar, is the loyalty of its members to a group that was established in 1931 and whose founders included several New Yorkers. One goal is to bring in the next generation of affordable housing advocates, said Friar. NHC has two major affiliates, the California Housing Consortium and the New York Housing Conference, but NHC could expand by first holding regional conferences, she said.

In addition, NHC held its first educational conference in Chicago last year, and it was successful enough that it is going to become a regular event and will be held again this year, said Friar.

As a coalition of coalitions, NHC needs to choose its issues wisely, Friar said, but it is definitely needed as an advocacy group. “We have entities across the country that develop and finance affordable housing,” she said “There are people involved in housing at the local level who need strong advocacy in D.C. All of these communities are reliant on federal money, so to be their voice in Washington is very important.”

This article was reprinted from Housing and Development Reporter with permission of Thomson Reuters. For more information about this publication, please visit www.west.thomson.com.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Research: FHLBank of Atlanta’s Affordable Housing Program is Boosting Local Economies Through Job Creation and More

The creation of stable, affordable housing is the backbone of many vibrant neighborhoods across the U.S., oftentimes boosting local economies by creating jobs and levering additional funds to be reinvested in the community.

A recent study completed by The Hendrickson Company and The Shimberg Center for Housing Studies at the University of Florida confirms that is particularly true in the southeast. The study, Beyond Units: Economic Benefits of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta’s Affordable Housing Program, shows that funds from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta’s (FHLBank of Atlanta) Affordable Housing Program (AHP) are a significant driver of job growth, housing production, and expanded tax bases in areas served by the program. These include communities in: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Findings from the study highlight and measure how member financial institutions, and the developers they work with, use AHP funds to finance housing construction and rehabilitation that serves low-and moderate-income families and individuals.

Overall, the study found that every $1 million of AHP funding generates $24.6 million in economic activity – with about $8 million going towards workers’ earnings.

Additional contributions from the FHLBank of Atlanta’s AHP cited in the study include:
  • Generating $811 million of federal, state and local taxes since the program began 20 years ago – representing $2.79 in taxes for each $1 of AHP funding;
  • Building or rehabilitating $14.3 million in housing for every $1 million of AHP funding; and
  • Creating 46,000 jobs since AHP’s inception.

About AHP
The FHLBank of Atlanta is one of 12 district banks within the FHLBank system that provide strength and stability to the nation’s financial system by funding homeownership and rental housing, small businesses, infrastructure and jobs in their communities. The FHLBanks contribute 10 percent of their net income to affordable housing through AHP, which is the nation’s largest source of private grant funds for affordable housing. The FHLBanks have distributed nearly $4 billion in AHP funds since 1990.

NHC “Housing Person of the Year” Gala to Honor AHP on Its 20th Anniversary
It is important to note that on June 9, 2010 NHC will honor the FHLBanks’ Affordable Housing Program with its prestigious "Housing Person of the Year" Award at its 38th Annual Gala in Washington, DC.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Live at the Forum: Linking Housing, Transportation and Workforce Policies

Housing Solutions Week 2010 concludes today with a "Live at the Forum" event featuring findings from two new policy briefs from the Center for Housing Policy and the Metropolitan Planning Council. The papers address the coordination of transportation, housing, and land-use policy, and include on-the-ground examples from Atlanta and the Twin Cities.

This two-part event begins with a conference call at 1 p.m. Eastern/10 p.m. Pacific. Featured presenters include Emily Salomon, Center for Housing Policy, and Robin Snyderman, Metropolitan Planning Council. Additional speakers include Susan Adams, Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Inc., and Caren Dewar, Urban Land Institute Minnesota, who will link their first-hand experiences in Atlanta and the Twin Cities to the themes outlined in the new policy briefs. The call-in number for this event is (712) 432-1001 and the access code is 452746624#.

After the call, you can go to the HousingPolicy.org Forum to interact with the speakers and get answers to your questions in real time.

Visit the Forum Now to Submit a Question!

About the Reports
How Transportation Reform Could Increase the Availability of Housing Affordable to Families with a Mix of Incomes Near Public Transit, Job Centers, and Other Essential Destinations, explains how reauthorization of the federal transportation bill can incent the improved coordination of transportation, housing and land use policy to ensure that families across a range of incomes have access to affordable housing as well as efficient, accessible transportation options.

Regional Coordination in Atlanta Metro and in the Twin Cities: Understanding the Challenges and Opportunities of Coordinating Housing, Transportation and Workforce Policies,
draws from the discussions held during the listening sessions and the information shared about the experience of coordinating land-use, transportation, and workforce policy in the Atlanta and the Twin Cities regions.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Live at the Forum: Making Homes More Resistant to Natural Disasters

Housing Solutions Week 2010 continues today with a "Live at the Forum" event introducing the new "Make Homes More Resistant to Natural Disasters" HousingPolicy.org Toolkit and a series of related issue briefs, developed with support from NHC Housing Leadership Support Program Partner WeatherPredict Consulting.

Speakers for this event include Ryan Sherriff, Center for Housing Policy, and Mike Cohen, RenaissanceRE - an affiliate of WeatherPredict Consulting. Leslie Chapman-Henderson, Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, and Ann Roberson, South Carlina Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program, will also be presenting.

The two-part event kicks off with a conference call featuring the speakers at 1 p.m. Eastern/10 a.m. Pacific. The 30-minute call will feature information on programs aimed at expanding financial support for disaster-resistant home construction and renovations, along with strategies for combining funding streams to make homes more energy-efficient as well. Speakers will also discuss ways to help low-income families pay for upgrades to make their homes more resilient to natural disasters. The call-in number is (712) 432-1001 and the access code is 452746624#.

Following the call, please join the speakers on the HousingPolicy.org Forum to get answers to your questions in real time.

Visit the Forum Now to Submit a Question!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New Center for Housing Policy and AARP Study Calls for Wide Range of Housing Options to Meet the Growing Needs of America's Over 50 Population

At a time when the Census Bureau is predicting that the number of Americans age 50 and up will increase 30 percent in the next 20 years – from 100 million in 2010 to 130 million in 2030 – it’s clear that meeting a growing range of needs for older adults is set to become one of the nation’s most timely policy issues.

In particular, housing that is affordable, accessible and well-connected to services is essential to addressing the housing challenges that older adults face. These are the findings of a new report released today by AARP’s Public Policy Institute and authored by the Center for Housing Policy, NHC’s research affiliate, entitled Insight on the Issues: Strategies to Meet the Housing Needs of Older Adults. The report provides a comprehensive look at available and new research on the housing needs of older adults and is intended to help state and local policymakers address the unique housing needs of the older population. Insight on the Issues emphasizes the importance of building and preserving a wide-range of housing options that are sufficient to meet future demand and located in livable communities that provide affordable and appropriate housing, supportive community features and services, and adequate mobility options.

The report summarizes findings outlined in a series of nine fact sheets, which has been expanded into an online toolkit on HousingPolicy.org – the Center for Housing Policy’s online guide to state and local housing policy solutions. The report and toolkit are divided into three distinct sections: 1) Accessible, Safe and Affordable Homes; 2) Social Services and Transportation; and 3) Housing Options Geared to Older Adults.

The video below features Keith Wardrip, a senior research associate at the Center for Housing Policy, who speaks about the new report and its related online resources.

Keith Wardrip: Meeting the Housing Needs of America’s Over 50 Population



To learn more, please Read the Full Release.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New "Paycheck to Paycheck" Study Finds Homeownership Still Unaffordable for Many Key Community Workers, Despite Low Interest Rates and Home Prices

While recent headlines report both lower interest rates and home prices, purchasing a home remains unaffordable for many key community workers, according to a new study released today by the Center for Housing Policy entitled Paycheck to Paycheck: Wages and the Cost of Housing in America.

Specifically, the study compares and ranks the costs of buying or renting a home in more than 200 U.S. metropolitan areas with salaries for over 60 occupations. Overall, the income needed to purchase a median-priced home dropped in 93 percent of the homeownership markets studied between 2008 and 2009, yet many workers still do not earn enough to own a home. In addition, the typical rent for a two-bedroom home rose in 89 percent of the markets studied. The steady rise in rents and the decline in mortgage costs nationwide may, to some extent, reflect a continued shift in demand from homeownership to rental housing as families exit homeownership due to foreclosure and as renters wait for market stability before buying a home. As the findings indicate, this trend was particularly noteworthy in Florida.

The study also offers a unique glimpse at housing affordability for workers in the emerging “green economy” who help make the nation’s homes and businesses more energy efficient and help to produce clean and sustainable energy, including electrical engineering technicians, environmental engineering technicians, HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) mechanics, maintenance and repair workers, and insulation workers. In addition, the study examines affordability for key “traditional” community workers, including police officers, elementary school teachers, licensed practical nurses, retail salespeople and janitors.

“While the green economy holds substantial promise as a source of higher-paying jobs, there are still many housing markets in which green economy workers cannot afford the costs of buying or renting a home," said Center for Housing Policy Chair John K. McIlwain, senior resident fellow and the J. Ronald Terwilliger chair for housing at the Urban Land Institute. “We must develop the common sense, cost-effective policy solutions at the state and local levels that will help ensure long-term affordability for green economy workers and others. Otherwise, our workforce will face longer commutes and higher transportation costs, leading to increased traffic congestion and adverse environmental impacts."

View the Data – U.S. Metropolitan Area Rankings
Fact SheetMost to Least Expensive Homeownership Markets
Fact SheetMost to Least Expensive Rental Markets
Fact SheetChanges in the Qualifying Income Needed to Purchase a Home

Read the Full Release

Housing Solutions Week
Today’s release of Paycheck to Paycheck is part of Housing Solutions Week 2010 – a series of events and announcements being hosted by the Center for Housing Policy and its affiliate, the National Housing Conference, focused on framing the nation’s housing challenges, while at the same time providing some of the solutions necessary in order to meet those challenges.

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Housing Solutions Week 2010" – Series of Online Announcements and Events Provides Ideas for Helping Solve Today’s Housing Challenges

This week, the Center for Housing Policy and National Housing Conference (NHC) are hosting Housing Solutions Week 2010 – a series of events focused on state and local strategies for responding to today’s critical housing challenges. Below you'll find a summary of the events and activities taking place this week.

Schedule of Events

Tuesday, March 23
  • Announcement of New "Paycheck to Paycheck" Study: This regularly-updated study is provided in an online, interactive database format and compares wage information for more than 60 occupations with average home prices and rents in more than 200 metropolitan areas nationwide. In addition to Paycheck to Paycheck’s traditionally featured occupations, this year’s report will highlight several "green economy" jobs, including insulation workers, HVAC mechanics and environmental engineering technicians, to see how their wages stack up against housing costs.

Wednesday, March 24
  • Announcement of "Strategies to Meet the Housing Needs of Older Adults" Report, and Launch of Older Adults Focused HousingPolicy.org Toolkit: Following the release of the new report, please join us at 1 p.m. Eastern/10 a.m. Pacific for a Webinar presentation introducing the accompanying online housing policy toolkit. Both the report and in-depth toolkit were developed in collaboration with AARP and are focused on meeting the housing needs of Americans age 50 and over. Register for the Webinar!
  • Regional Foreclosure Response and Data Tools on Foreclosure-Response.org: Check back in at 3 p.m. Eastern/12 p.m. Pacific for a Webinar discussion on how the Washington, DC region has responded to the foreclosure crisis. The session will also take a closer look at data tools available on Foreclosure-Response.org that you can use to analyze the needs of your community. Register for the Webinar!

Thursday, March 25
  • Launch of "Make Homes More Resistant to Natural Disasters" HousingPolicy.org Toolkit: Call in at 1 p.m. Eastern/10 a.m. Pacific for a Live at the Forum event describing this new online toolkit and a series of related issue briefs, developed with support from NHC Housing Leadership Support Program Partner WeatherPredict Consulting. The call will feature information on programs aimed at expanding financial support for disaster-resistant home construction and renovations, along with strategies for combining funding streams to make homes more energy-efficient as well. Speakers will also discuss ways to help low-income families pay for upgrades to make their homes more resilient to natural disasters. After the call, please join the speakers on the HousingPolicy.org Forum to get answers to your questions in real time. Visit the Forum!

Friday, March 26
  • Release of Two Papers on Coordinating Housing, Transportation, and Workforce Policies: Call in at 1 p.m. Eastern/10 a.m. Pacific for a Live at the Forum event featuring a discussion of findings from two new policy briefs from the Center for Housing Policy and the Metropolitan Planning Council that address the coordination of transportation, housing, and land-use policy, including on-the-ground examples from Atlanta and the Twin Cities. After the call, you can go to the HousingPolicy.org Forum to interact with the speakers and get answers to your questions in real time. Visit the Forum!
For more information about Housing Solutions Week 2010, please visit HousingPolicy.org.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Guest Blogger Mindy La Branche: The President’s FY 2011 Budget and the Financing of Affordable Housing

As the national association for the state Housing Finance Agencies (HFAs), the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) is pleased with several of the President’s budget proposals, disappointed with some, and curious about the potential impact of some of its new initiatives.

NCSHA is pleased that the budget again proposes $1 billion for the Housing Trust Fund to finance more homes for families with extremely low and very low incomes. We continue to encourage Congress to capitalize the Trust Fund as well as to provide its state administrators with additional resources to offset the operating costs of Trust Fund-financed developments.

NCSHA is also pleased that the budget proposes to extend the Housing Credit Exchange program for an additional year. However, NCSHA believes several additional actions are necessary to facilitate the Housing Bond and Credit programs, including expanding the Exchange program to include 4 percent and Disaster Credits, attracting more Credit investment, allowing HFAs to use temporary Housing Bond authority provided by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) in 2008 for one more year, and extending the 10 percent Housing Credit cap increase provided in 2008 and 2009 by HERA.

NCSHA is disappointed in the FY 2011 budget’s proposed 10 percent cut to the HOME Investment Partnerships Program. This flexible funding source allows states and localities to leverage other federal and private funds to meet a wide range of housing needs and has received more than its share of funding cuts in recent years.

NCSHA supports the proposed funding increases for Housing Choice Vouchers and project-based Section 8 and urges Congress to fund as many new vouchers as possible to help families still waiting for assistance.

HUD’s Transforming Rental Assistance initiative, which proposes to consolidate several existing tenant-based and project-based rental assistance programs, must be reviewed carefully to identify and address any potentially destabilizing impact it may have on existing properties.

The budget does not reveal additional information on the Administration’s plans to reform the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs). NCSHA believes that the GSEs should employ the proven and sound HFA affordable housing delivery system and support that system with low-cost capital and liquidity, through, among other means, investment in Housing Bonds, Housing Credits, and HFA loan products under advantageous terms.

NCSHA’s analysis of the budget is available on our Web site at www.ncsha.org.

Mindy La Branche is a legislative and policy associate at the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Guest Blogger Alayna Waldrum: Budgeting for an Aging Population

The demographics are staggering yet all too familiar – our senior population will double by 2030. There are 3.6 million seniors living below the federal poverty line. HUD estimates that they will need to build an additional 10,000 units per year of Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly to meet the need. And our national long-term care system remains fragmented and inaccessible for older Americans. Our culture has embraced home and community based services models of care and the goal of aging in place, but without a comprehensive approach to serving our elderly population we will face an abrupt and unpleasant wake up call in a few years.

Affordable, supportive senior housing is an integral component to addressing our national long-term care needs. Unfortunately, Congress faces a FY 2011 Budget Proposal that recommends suspending the Section 202 capital advance development program in order to reform the program. While there are several program changes that can and should be made to modernize and streamline production, any suspension of new units would further exacerbate our long-term care crisis. The AARP estimate of 10 seniors that are waiting for each Section 202 unit that becomes available is a testament to the program's great need.

Approximately 3,500 Section 202 units are built each year. With an average residency of 7.8 years, five seniors will live in a unit over the 40 year affordability commitment of the project. This means that 17,000 very low-income elderly will benefit from every year the Section 202 capital advance program is funded. Furthermore, program features such as service coordination means that senior residents and care givers are not left to navigate the complexities of federal, state and local programs alone.

The Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), which has been highlighted as the largest developer of senior housing and an alternative to the Section 202 program, cannot meet the needs of the average Section 202 resident. The average Section 202 resident has an income of less than $10,000 per year and cannot afford the rents in a tax credit property.

The LIHTC program serves an important population and will be essential for those low- and moderate-income seniors to age in place. The programs however, are not interchangeable.

Affordable, supportive senior housing and its role in addressing our long-term care crisis is undeniable. Congress should maintain and fully fund the Section 202 capital advance program. In addition, the Senate should move forward with S.118, Section 202 reform legislation to bring the program into the 21st century.

Alayna Waldrum serves as housing policy associate at the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.

Monday, March 15, 2010

HUD's Raphael Bostic Provides Detailed Overview of FY 2011 Budget Proposal

On March 12, NHC held its Annual Budget Forum at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, DC. NHC’s 2010 Budget Forum highlighted programs and initiatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) included in the President’s Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Proposal, with a particular emphasis on rental housing and homelessness assistance programs.

Raphael Bostic, assistant secretary for HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research, was the keynote speaker at the event. The PowerPoint presentation below provides an outline of housing-related budget items highlighted in Bostic's remarks.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Forum Participants Detail HUD Programs and Initiatives Included in the Proposed FY 2011 Budget

Today NHC hosted its Annual Budget Forum, which highlighted programs and initiatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) included in the President’s FY 2011 Budget Proposal.

Raphael Bostic, assistant secretary for HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research, was the keynote speaker at the event. In addition to outlining the budget request as a whole, Bostic emphasized the need to strategically transform both HUD and its programs. In particular, he detailed the Administration’s proposed Transforming Rental Assistance program – a multi-year initiative funded at $350 million in the proposed budget designed to help better coordinate and improve HUD’s many rental assistance programs.

Additionally, the NHC Budget Forum included a panel discussion between the following nationally recognized experts:
  • Sheila Crowley, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition;
  • Conrad Egan, immediate past president and CEO of NHC;
  • Jonathan Harwitz, deputy chief of staff for HUD’s Policy and Programs Department;
  • Nan Roman, president and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness; and
  • Sarah Wartell, executive vice president of the Center for American Progress.
Watch the videos below to see highlights from the event.

Raphael Bostic Details HUD’s Transformative Rental Assistance Initiative




Nan Roman Applauds Interagency Collaboration to Provide Homelessness and Special Needs Vouchers




Sheila Crowley Discusses Funding Status of National Housing Trust Fund


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Secretary Donovan Outlines HUD's FY 2011 Budget Request at Senate Hearing

Today, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Donovan testified before the Senate Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development about HUD programs and initiatives included in the President’s Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Proposal. Secretary Donovan discussed funding allocations for the proposed Transforming Rental Assistance (TRA) program, as well as the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative and the Sustainable Communities Initiative. He also detailed HUD’s proposed collaboration with the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services to improve homelessness assistance programs.

Following Secretary Donovan’s prepared testimony, several senators expressed their interest in how different estimates of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Ginnie Mae related revenue would affect HUD’s proposed budget. While HUD has projected it will receive $6.9 billion in revenue from these sources, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that these returns will be 1.9 billion, while the Office of Management and Budget projects these funds to come in at $5.8 billion.

In addition, Secretary Donovan responded to questions from Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Kit Bond (R-MO) about how rural communities would be affected by HUD’s proposed budget. Specifically, he detailed the budget’s $150 million request for a Catalytic Investment Competition Grants program, which would implement targeted economic improvements for revitalization efforts across the U.S.

Senators also raised concerns about the effectiveness of programs such as the Home Affordable Modification Program in helping to address the current foreclosure crisis, and how other programs could assist homeowners across America.

Other questions posed during the hearing related to Section 202 Section 811 program cuts, vouchers for veterans, shared equity, HUD’s Sustainable Communities Initiative, and the new TRA initiative.

For more information, watch the Webcast and read Secretary Donovan’s Written Testimony.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Register Today for NHC's Annual Budget Forum

This Friday, March 12, NHC will host its Annual Budget Forum at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, DC. The budget forum will provide both public and private-sector housing leaders with an extensive first look at housing concerns within the context of the federal budget proposal. In particular, this year’s event will focus on rental housing and homelessness assistance programs included in the President's FY 2011 Budget Proposal.

Raphael Bostic, assistant secretary, Policy Development and Research, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), will be the keynote speaker for the event.

A panel discussion will be moderated by Conrad Egan, NHC immediate past president.

Panelists include:
  • Jonathan Harwitz, deputy chief of staff, Policy and Programs, HUD;
  • Nan Roman, president and CEO, National Alliance to End Homelessness;
  • Sheila Crowley, president and CEO, National Low Income Housing Coalition; and
  • Sarah Wartell, executive vice president, Center for American Progress.
Register for this Complimentary Event!

A paper ticket will not be issued for this event. You will receive an email from Eventbrite on behalf of NHC to confirm your participation. Attendees who registered online may check in at the Congressional Auditorium in the Capitol Visitor Center beginning at 9 a.m. EST on March 12.

For more information, please contact NHC Policy Associate Clare Duncan at (202) 466-2121 Ext. 228 or at cduncan@nhc.org.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Guest Blogger Nancy Murray: Why Demolish?

In today’s disposable society, we don’t expect anything to last. From our daily paper coffee cup to the annual iPod upgrade, we do not seek goods with permanence. This outlook has permeated the market for housing, resulting in an epidemic of teardown in residential communities. Blighted homes in economically depressed neighborhoods; moderately sized 1950s ranches in a suddenly trendy area; communities that lie in the path of commercial or transportation development – in all of these situations it has become common practice to demolish what has become functionally obsolete and haul it to the landfill.

The greenest house is the one that is already built – this is the foundation of the Builders of Hope model. We have built our process around this existing framework, capturing the top quality materials and craftsmanship of yesterday’s single family home construction and retrofitting it with modern technology, open floor plans and energy efficiencies to create a home for today’s lifestyle. We have found that, contrary to popular opinion, rehabilitation – even Extreme Green Rehabilitation – can be done affordably, quickly and sustainably. Most importantly, the model is replicable throughout the country.

The national teardown epidemic has expanded in recent years to encompass the aging stock of 1970s-era public housing developments, high rises and large multifamily complexes. While they have failed as experiments in affordable housing, they provide a perfect opportunity for a creative, responsible solution to both the issues of affordable housing and sustainable rebuilding.

As the leading advocates, builders and administrators of affordable housing throughout the nation, it is the obligation of NHC members to accept the challenge of retaining and increasing the quantity of available stock, while we take a serious look at the quality. There is another way, a more responsible method for addressing aged housing on a larger scale to ensure we meet the changing needs of the U.S. population – without also taxing our environmental resources. It is our task to change the prevailing mindset in our disposable society into one that first asks “Why Demolish?”

Nancy Murray is the CEO of NHC Member Partner Builders of Hope, Inc.

It is important to note that Builders of Hope received the NHC 2009 "Pioneering Housing Strategies" Award for its work in helping to close the gap between the availability and the need for safe, affordable and environmentally-friendly urban housing solutions in the Raleigh, NC, area.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Benefits of "Greening" Subsidized Housing Strong Given Tight Budget Outlook

The release of the Administration’s FY 2011 Housing and Urban Development (HUD) budget request marked the start of what will be an unusually challenging budget season for affordable housing programs, given mounting concern about the deficit. In such a tight fiscal environment it’s important to use available funds as cost-effectively as possible and to look for resources outside the regular HUD budget to help meet housing needs. Efforts to improve energy-efficiency in subsidized housing offer opportunities on both fronts.

HUD spends about $6 billion a year on utility subsidies, close to a fifth of the amount it spends on rental assistance. Subsidized housing, like the majority of older housing, tends to use energy inefficiently. This is true not just for large developments with public housing and other project-based subsidies, but also for the single-family and small multi-family rentals where most families with Section 8 housing assistance vouchers live. Energy-efficiency improvements could generate very large savings, cutting energy costs by 20 percent or more in some buildings.

“Greening” initiatives could also direct new resources to subsidized housing. Last year’s economic recovery package made available $600 million for energy-efficiency improvements in public housing and $250 million for other subsidized housing. Congress has also considered adding more funds through jobs legislation this year. In addition, the House and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have passed climate change bills that would fund subsidized housing efficiency improvements by setting aside some proceeds from auctioning “cap and trade” allowances to help control greenhouse gas emissions.

In each case, the funds would not only generate important environmental benefits, but also help preserve needed subsidized housing at a time when resources are hard to come by.

Will Fischer is a policy analyst for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Administration Pushing for a “Cash for Caulkers” Program

Yesterday President Obama spoke about the Administration’s push to implement a "Cash for Caulkers" program to give rebates to homeowners who make energy-efficiency upgrades to their homes. Officially known as Home Star, the plan is expected to appear in either another jobs bill or in separate energy legislation later this year.

The rebate amount will be determined by how much the upgrades reduce a home’s energy usage. If homeowners cut energy use by 20 percent, they could be reimbursed for half the cost of their energy saving purchases, for a maximum rebate of up to $3,000. Those who complete a more comprehensive home energy audit, reducing energy use by more than 20 percent, could receive up to $8,000, according to people familiar with the plan. A typical home energy audit and retrofit costs $5,000 to $8,000 and generally reduces monthly energy bills by 20-40 percent.

Watch the video below from CNN Money to learn more about the cost savings associated with a home energy audit.



Click here to see NHC’s related "Cash for Caulkers" policy statement.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Guest Blogger Caitlin Uzzel: Green Preservation – Take a Tour!

Preserving affordable housing is inherently resource efficient – the greenest building is the one that already exists. Retrofitting existing affordable housing to increase energy efficiency and conserve water creates green jobs and healthier homes, and also leads to lower utility bills and operating costs.

Galen Terrace Apartments in Washington, DC, is a prominent example of green preservation.

Once a deteriorating property, Galen Terrace was saved by a handful of courageous residents who were determined not to be forced from their homes. They organized the Galen Terrace Tenants Association to exercise their right of first purchase under D.C. law, and chose the National Housing Trust/Enterprise Preservation Corporation and Somerset Development Company to help them acquire the- Section 8 property and make substantial green improvements.

In 2007, Galen Terrace re-opened as the first rehabilitated property in DC to meet all of the green criteria under the Enterprise Green Communities Initiative and the city’s new green building requirements.

Learn more about the many green improvements made to Galen Terrace by taking an Online Interactive Tour today. For this tour, the National Housing Trust has created a 3D replica of the building, and has highlighted all of the energy and water conserving improvements.

Caitlin Uzzel serves as public policy associate at the National Housing Trust.