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The most important housing legislation in years

I attended the New York Housing Conference (NYHC) policy symposium on the impact of the federal budget and policy changes in New York. Led by Rachel Fee, the NYHC supports the development and preservation of decent and affordable housing for all New Yorkers.

I had the opportunity to moderate a panel, “Federal policy changes impacting investment in housing,” featuring Frank Korzekwinski, Flushing Bank; Dina Levy, NYS Homes & Community Renewal; Buzz Roberts, National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders; and Emily Cadik, Enterprise Community Partners. Our panel discussed the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), important provisions of the budget bill and prospects for housing finance reform.

The Treasury Department is expected to release its report on CRA soon. NHC will host a special members-only webinar on the report shortly after its release. I hope this will be the first of many such offerings just for our members.

As I’ve shared in previous messages, the FY 2018 budget bill was the most important piece of housing legislation in years, expanding the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and increasing funding for both HOME (to $1.36 billion, its highest funding level in seven years) and CDBG (to $3.3 billion). The bill:

  • Increases the LIHTC allocation by 12.5 percent for four years (2018-2021), which adds back about 30,000 affordable housing units that would have been lost due to the negative impact on the value of the credit due to tax reform.
  • Improves the LIHTC program by making income averaging permanent, creating a 60 percent area median income ceiling on entire developments, which allows for more mixed-income housing. Developers will be able to cross-subsidize units within a development, reaching lower-income tenants because of this new provision.
  • Funds the Section 202 program at $105 million for new construction, which could result in 760 new units. This is the first new construction funding for 202 since FY 2011.
  • Provides $82.6 million for about 1,840 new Section 811 housing for persons with disabilities units as well as a significant increase in Section 811 mainstream vouchers, which could serve more than 40,000 new households. Section 811 received the highest increase among major HUD programs, 57 percent over FY 2017. The last year Section 811 got new construction funding was FY 2010.
  • Provides about 2,500 new family unification program vouchers and about 5,100 new VASH vouchers.
  • Also increases the number of public housing units that can convert under the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program from 225,000 to 455,000 and extends the program through 2024. RAD allows public housing authorities to work with private-sector developers and managers to preserve their affordable housing stock

These funding levels are incredibly important, but they are not nearly enough to close the growing shortage of affordable housing units. You can see how significant this gap is by comparing typical salaries with area rents and homeownership costs in our Paycheck to Paycheck database.

As I said during the conference in New York, these recent successes are due to the unprecedented level of bipartisan support developed by a broad coalition of housing groups including the ACTION Campaign, Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding, the HOME coalition, the CDBG coalition and many others.

All of this underscores the importance of effective, broad-based housing advocacy—the subject of the closing plenary of Solutions for Housing Communications next month here in D.C. I hope you’ve registered, or plan to do so soon.

Your membership in the National Housing Conference is vital to our ability to continue this important work around CRA, the Housing Credit and more. Thank you for your support.

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