Monday, February 1, 2016

How is a budget forum like your car's GPS?

What we're building 
by Ethan Handelman, National Housing Conference 

You have probably gotten an email about NHC’s upcoming Budget Forum, and assuredly you will get more before February 18 at 2 p.m.  We’re persistent not because we’re trying to sell tickets (you can register for free, after all) but because there should be new ideas and information for anyone in housing. So what can you learn?

  • How critical federal funding is to affordable housing. This may seem obvious, but the last few years of appropriations certainly don’t reflect it. Learn where the current trajectory for federal funding is heading and what that could mean for different types of affordable housing work.
  • How the pieces fit together. Many of us in housing work with just parts of the puzzle, but creating and preserving affordable housing takes a combination of federal, state and local resources. Those resources come from appropriations and tax programs alike. And a mix of private sector companies, nonprofit entities and public sector agencies come together to bring housing about. Learn how other housing stakeholders are making best use of the resources available.
  • How the process will look this year. Appropriations and tax reform are moving on separate tracks, each with their own momentum. The national election overshadows all. Learn how you can get involved to help make affordable housing a federal priority.

When the president’s budget proposal comes out next week, many of us will immediately dive deep into the many pages of supporting materials, looking for the key details we hope (or fear) will be in there (or missing). That analysis will take weeks, so we don’t expect to have all the answers for you at the Budget Forum. Rather, we hope to point you in a direction, remind you how exciting affordable housing really can be and help surface the questions we will collectively need to answer this year and beyond. Please join us.

Oh, and the riddle in the title? The answer is manifold. Your car’s GPS points you where you want to go, but you need to know your objective to begin with. You are the one driving; the GPS just gives advice. And it only works if you pay attention. Just like the NHC Budget Forum.

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