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Understanding the cause and addressing the decrease in African-American homeownership

A recent article in The Washington Post on “The ‘heartbreaking’ decrease in black homeownership” details many of the complicated issues that have contributed to African-American homeownership declining to a level lower than when the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968. Yet, dangerous myths continue to undercut efforts to understand why this homeownership gap persists. It’s a subject that is the focus of a new working group of NHC members, which will develop concrete, practical strategies to reverse this trend, which continues to get worse. We hope you will join us in this important work. (more…)

This spring, I hope to see you at Solutions

It’s hard to believe that spring is only three weeks away. While I’m no groundhog, I’m willing to bet we may have more snow than flowers in March, but warmer temperatures and spring blossoms are coming, and that means NHC’s April convening, Solutions for Housing Communications is right around the corner. One of my favorite things about Washington, D.C. is that we have a great spring here. The entire city is loaded with tulips, cherry blossoms and empty boxes of Claritin (as an allergy sufferer, I’m here to tell you it’s worth it!) We hope that you will join us here for the only national convening designed for housing communicators focusing on day-to-day communication strategies and tactics for expanding awareness of the benefits of affordable housing and building support for affordable housing policies and other developments.

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Housing should never be a zero-sum game

Amazon’s recent decision to reverse its decision to move 25,000 jobs to New York has exposed the fallacy of the “zero-sum game,” where one side must lose so the other can win. This is an approach I first became exposed to during my coverage of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan when I was a reporter in the 1980s. Enaytollah Qadiri, a quiet and humble accountant from Kabul who was my translator, explained that any form of compromise was an act of personal and spiritual shame to the Pashtun tribesmen. In America, compromise is woven into nearly everything we do. But many still cling to the ancient principle of winner take all. And that’s what happened over the last month in New York.

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The continued impact of the government shutdown

As the partial government shutdown crawls into its fourth week, anxiety among those housed with money from the unfunded Department of Housing and Urban Development continues to rise. This crisis is completely unnecessary and irresponsible. As I said in my note last week, no one wins in a government shutdown. Yet our “leaders” continue to negotiate by tweet and sound bite. On Tuesday, I appeared on FOX Business News and made this point with Neil Cavuto. Affordable housing advocates need to be careful to provide vitally needed facts to our constituents and avoid unnecessarily stoking the fears of innocent low-income people, especially the thousands of senior citizens and people with disabilities living in Section 202 and 811 units. (more…)

FHFA’s new leadership?

As reported in several news publications this week, President Trump is expected nominate Mark Calabria, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief economist, to run the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) after the current Director Mel Watt’s term expires in less than a month. This is consistent with rumors I have heard from insiders for several weeks. (more…)

What a week in housing

It has been a whirlwind seven days for NHC and for housing. On Tuesday, Nov. 27, nearly 200 NHC members and partners met in Washington, D.C. for our Solutions for Affordable Housing 2018 convening. The following day, we held our first Advocacy Day on the Hill, where NHC members were able to take advantage of the timing of the Solutions convening to meet with their congressional representatives, senators and administration officials. On Thursday and Friday, I attended the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) biannual Mortgage Roundtable with other senior leaders in affordable housing, where we heard from top economists from NAHB, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on the housing markets, and spoke at length with Treasury’s Craig Phillips and HUD’s Brian Montgomery, who also joined us at Solutions. This week, Linda Mandolini, NHC’s board chair and president of Eden Housing, past Board Chair Ted Chandler, COO of the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust and several dozen other NHC members attended the New York Housing Conference’s Awards Luncheon. There, I had an opportunity to address 1,200 New York housing leaders, following one of the best speeches I’ve heard in a long time, delivered by new House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, who represents parts of Brooklyn in one of the most diverse congressional districts in the nation. And today, I bid farewell to my former boss and one of my personal heroes, former President George H. W. Bush at the Capitol Rotunda. Like I said, it’s been a whirlwind week! (more…)

Can Amazon new HQs be a win-win?

This week, one of the world’s largest and most successful companies, Amazon, announced it would open two new “headquarter” locations in Queens, New York and Arlington, Virginia with a total of 50,000 new jobs. This should be great news, and in fact dozens of cities fought hard to be chosen, pledging billions of dollars of tax breaks and cash. Instead, much like the end of an online binge buying spree, anxiety has been the headline. The reason can be summed up in one word – housing. (more…)

Housing is the big winner in this year’s election

It’s clear today that Housing is the big winner in this year’s election. As a result, NHC is poised to be a big winner in this year’s election, as the affordable housing crisis is a top line agenda item for many newly elected members of Congress – in part because the housing crisis is impacting so many of their constituents, from middle income families to rising evictions and growing homelessness. Housing policy is most successful and most impactful when it is inclusive and bipartisan, and nothing forces bipartisan solutions like a divided government. (more…)

All eyes are on the Senate this election

With less than two weeks until the election, all eyes are on the Senate. Will Democrats upset the odds and take back control, or will we have a divided government with Republicans in charge of the White House and the Senate, while Democrats take back the House? I know that many of my friends who are life-long Democrats still fret about the House but take it from a life-long Republican who is now an Independent – stick a fork in it, it’s done. Nothing illustrates this better than the Cook Political Report’s House Ratings Chart, which shows 29 Republicans and only one Democrat with races rated as “toss-ups.” Twelve more Republican seats lean Democrat while only one Democrat seat leans Republican. The House is going blue and no one knows it as well as my former colleagues in Republican offices who have resumes ready to go. It’s bad form to send them out now, but if you are in D.C. and have a staff of any size, you’ll be hearing from your GOP friends on the Hill come Nov. 7. (more…)

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