Tuesday, February 23, 2016

NHC Budget Forum emphasizes the importance of advocating now

by Ethan Handelman, National Housing Conference

Last week, NHC’s Annual Budget Forum helped housing stakeholders and Hill staffers alike understand how affordable housing fits in to the FY 2017 budget cycle and where they can make a difference. The release of NHC’s “Housing Landscape 2016” framed the need for affordable housing. Then, using President Obama’s budget proposal as a jump-off point, panelists explored appropriations issues. We concluded with a discussion of the tax-side proposals and the importance of advocacy around the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and other housing and community development programs. The running theme: advocate now on both the tax and appropriations issues.

A few of the key take-away points from the forum:
  • Advocacy for housing is essential in this highly partisan and fiscally constrained budget environment.
  • More funding overall for housing and transportation is the place to start, because once funding levels are set for the appropriation subcommittees, increases for individual programs come only at the expense of other housing programs. You can still join the sign-on letter!
  • Tax reform is coming, and legislators are laying the groundwork now. Ensuring that policymakers see the benefit of affordable housing in their communities gives them the understanding they need to protect and expand the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and other housing and community development programs during tax reform.

Presentations and discussions got much deeper into individual program questions and the likely political dynamics that will play out as the appropriations process unfolds in coming months. Our presenters brought a wealth of knowledge from work in state and local government, affordable housing development and finance, federal service and advocacy:

Chris Estes, president and CEO, National Housing Conference
Lisa Sturtevant, Ph.D., vice president of research, National Housing Conference 
Ethan Handelman, vice president of policy and advocacy, National Housing Conference 
Laura Hogshead, chief operations officer, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 
Aaron Gornstein, CEO, Preservation of Affordable Housing 
Adrianne Todman, executive director, District of Columbia Housing Authority 
Susan Dewey, executive director, Virginia Housing Development Authority 
Bob Moss, principal and national director of government affairs, CohnReznick 

If you missed the webinar, you can view the recording and the slides. For a quick summary of the president’s budget proposal, see our initial blog post.

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