Given the lack of visible action so far to address federal spending as the Dec. 8 continuing resolution expiration approaches, and given the recent trend of declining federal resources for affordable housing, it can be challenging to see that the field is making progress. However, in recent weeks, I was reminded of reasons for optimism. While we need to continue to advocate for Congress to raise the budget caps for FY 2018 spending and increase resources for affordable housing, we can also focus on areas where positive change is possible.
- The Republican tax framework explicitly retains the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. This recognition of the strengths of the program and its importance should be encouraging. Over a quarter of the House has signed onto the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, and the bill has 20 co-sponsors in the Senate. Even accounting for Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio)’s departure, this bill has strong bipartisan support and will hopefully move forward.
- Lawmakers in both parties support expanding the Family Self-Sufficiency program. At a recent Housing and Insurance subcommittee hearing on the Family Self-Sufficiency program, Republicans and Democrats expressed their support because of the program’s proven success at improving family outcomes. While Republicans and Democrats may like different aspects of the program, because it is a low-cost way to incentivize families to improve their economic situation that studies show is working, members of both parties have spoken out in support. 1344, the Family Self-Sufficiency Act, can be a bipartisan win if we continue to highlight the strengths of the program and the benefits of making the proposed improvements and changes to the program. A companion House bill is in the works.
- States and cities are supporting affordable housing and creating inclusive communities. Denver, Colorado, has a newly created $150 million affordable housing fund. The state of New York has a $20 billion housing plan to create and preserve 110,000 affordable housing units in the state over the next five years. California just passed a number of bills that increase funding for affordable housing and make improvements to the development process.
While the federal funding picture is uncertain and continued advocacy essential, we do have opportunities to create positive change for affordable housing, both federally and at the state and local levels. NHC is here to partner with you on that effort.