With the midterm elections over, Washington turns to analysis of what the elections results mean and, more importantly, what the new power dynamic means and what newly elected members of Congress will do when they enter office.
For all of us the real question is, what does this mean for the affordable housing movement in terms of resources and legislation? This is what the next two years look like from my vantage point.
In the “lame duck” session we remain hopeful for passage of a tax extenders bill that will bring price stability to the 9% housing credit for one, ideally two, years. This session will also be an important test of whether Democrats will try and push some federal nominees through the Senate that could incite more pushback from Republicans. The same logic applies to any executive orders the President might make on issues such as immigration. These will provide an indication as to the tone we can expect when the new Congress takes over in January.
While some speculate that not much will change in terms of legislative action in the new Congress, I believe Republicans understand they need to govern to make a strong case for the 2016 election. We expect there to be much attention on tax reform which will require a lot of education from the housing community on the Low Income Housing Tax Credit with special attention to the 4% credit, which has much less congressional support. While Tax Reform is a major issue, trade, energy (Keystone Pipeline) and immigration are also major issues that could demand a lot of Congress’s time and energy.
Another major focus for NHC will be the budget process and funding for housing. It hard to know the likelihood of returning to regular order (as opposed to the continuing resolutions that been funding the government), but it seems likely that there will be additional pressure on housing funding, especially if military demands in the Middle East increase and the need for military spending further squeezes the budget.
While NHC will be very engaged in housing policy on the federal level, we also focus on issues impacting affordable housing and community development at the regional, state and local level. Next week we head to Oakland, Ca. for Solutions 2014, our national conference on state and local housing policy. We look forward to seeing our members there and learning more about the successes and challenges of developing affordable housing and improving neighborhoods in your local communities.
It is our belief that increasing support for policy and funding at the federal level begins at local level. It is where housing gets built and helps transforms lives and communities. It is also where we can work with all of you to build a movement of support with residents, government officials and the public.