Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A year of moving forward

by Chris Estes, National Housing Conference

Though it wasn’t always clear at the time, 2015 delivered on the hope that the year prior to the election would see some improvement in budgeting and legislative activity. It came down to the wire, but both parties and both houses of Congress agreed to lift the arbitrarily punitive budget caps that forced across-the-board funding cuts, replacing them with greater budget flexibility and higher funding targets. This was especially important for housing programs as the HOME program could have been effectively eliminated in order to the meet the budget required under the caps. This was a major victory for all interested in affordable housing and community development, and NHC is proud to have been an outspoken coalition member.

Moving forward, in Washington 2016 will be defined by the November election that will bring us a new president and new (though likely only slightly changed) Congress. Much of the analysis of housing-related legislation and budget activity will be couched in terms of what is possible in a presidential election year. Regardless, important policy debate and regulatory work will occur that we should all follow and engage in.

Many important issues, like tax reform and reform of the safety net, will be discussed in ways that will lay out the starting point for work in the new presidential administration. There are also important rules, like the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, the implementation of which could have major long-term impacts on the development of affordable housing and the redevelopment of areas of concentrated poverty.

In 2016, NHC celebrates 85 years as an organization. Throughout the year, we will highlight those involved in our founding in 1931 as well as the many important leaders and legislative accomplishments that are a part of NHC’s long history. If you have a history of involvement with NHC and want to share some your favorite memories, please contact me so we can get them documented!

One of NHC’s longstanding traditions, our annual Budget Forum, will be held on Feb. 18. This will again be presented as a free webinar to make it accessible for all our members and friends across the country. It will feature housing practitioners sharing what the proposed budget means for their work and analysis of the implications of tax reform. The Budget Forum will also include a presentation on Housing Landscape 2016, our annual report on housing need and affordability across the country.

A newer tradition for NHC is holding events in different regions of the country. One example of this is our Solutions for Housing Communications 2016 Convening in New York City, April 28-29. This event is a unique opportunity to learn about the psychology behind community opposition to affordable housing and learn effective strategies for building long-term support for affordable housing efforts. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, registration is only $100 for NHC members and $150 for non-members. Visit our website for workshop descriptions and to register. We expect demand to exceed capacity, so don’t miss this opportunity—register today.

We look forward to engaging with our members at these and many other opportunities in the coming year. 

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