NLIH Newsletter Update

NATIONAL HOUSING TRUST FUND

***White House Fails to Include NHTF in Jobs Plan

When President Obama unveiled his jobs plan on Thursday, September 8, it did not include funding for the NHTF as had been urged by the NHTF campaign and others. The President did propose $15 billion for a more flexible version of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). No policy explanation for the decision to exclude the NHTF was immediately forthcoming, but White House staff are interested in considering ways the new NSP funds could serve extremely low income renters, the primary population to be assisted through the NHTF.

Dubbed “Project Rebuild,” the $15 billion would be used to link unemployed people in distressed communities with jobs that will “repair and repurpose residential and commercial properties.” Land banks would be a key eligible use.

To read the White House overview of the whole jobs proposal, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/09/08/fact-sheet-and-overview.

FEDERAL BUDGET

***House T-HUD Subcommittee Decreases HUD Funding for FY12

The U.S. House of Representatives proceeded with its appropriations work during its first week back after Labor Day. The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD) Appropriations Subcommittee released its draft FY12 bill on September 7, followed quickly by a mark-up on September 8. The subcommittee’s T-HUD overall bill will cost $55.15 billion. The total for HUD and the Related Agency, the Interagency Council on Homelessness in the bill is $38.1 billion.

The bill, which does not yet have a number, would cut some HUD programs deeply, particularly public housing programs; maintain funding for other programs at the FY11 levels; and provide small increases to a few programs. Several amendments were offered at the markup to restore HUD funds cut in the draft bill, but none passed.

Public housing accounts would be cut significantly. The Public Housing Capital fund set at $1.53 billion is 36% below the President’s FY12 request and 25% below the FY11 level. This is almost $1 billion below the FY10 level. Cuts of this magnitude mean public housing agencies (PHAs) will not be able to maintain current units and may have to take units offline, making them unavailable to households on waiting lists.

The Resident Opportunity and Supportive Services (ROSS) program, a set-aside within the Capital Fund, was not included in the bill, consistent with the President’s request. NLIHC advocated for continued funding of the ROSS program, which offers valuable resources for residents of public housing.

During the markup, Subcommittee Ranking Member John Olver (D-MA) offered an amendment to restore funding to the Public Housing Capital Fund. Mr. Olver’s amendment failed with only the Democratic members of the subcommittee voting in favor.

The Public Housing Operating Fund would be funded at $3.86 billion, 3% below the $3.96 billion requested by the Administration and $755 million, or 16%, below the FY11 level. The Administration requested an amount $1 billion below the operating formula level and proposed that PHAs with excess reserves (amounts determined by HUD to be more than necessary to hold in reserve) use those reserves to make up the difference in operating cost in FY12.

Funding for the HOPE VI program would be eliminated by the subcommittee bill. This includes funding for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, a set-aside within HOPE VI. The program was funded at just under $100 million in FY11. Representative David Price (D-NC) offered an amendment to restore funding to the HOPE VI program, which also failed along party lines.

The bill does provide sufficient funding to maintain assistance for households currently assisted through Section 8. The Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) program would receive $18.5 billion, with $17 billion allocated to contract renewals. The contract renewal figure is $100 million below the President’s requested amount, but $375 million more than the FY11 figure. The bill would provide $75 million for Tenant Protection Vouchers, consistent with the Administration’s budget, which was $35 million below the FY11 funding level. The subcommittee would provide funding for new Veterans Affairs Supported Housing (VASH) vouchers at the FY10 level of $75 million. In FY11, less than $50 million was provided for new VASH vouchers.

Fees for administering the TBRA program would be cut below the President’s request by $548 million, or 33%, and below the FY11 level by $347, or 24%. The bill proposes a funding level of $1.1 billion compared to the President’s requested $1.6 billion and the FY11 level of $1.4 billion. Cuts to administration fees could impede PHAs’ ability to issue vouchers in a timely and effective manner, which could result in vouchers lost by attrition.

The subcommittee bill would fund Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance at $9.4 million, level with the President’s request and 2%, or $171 million, over the FY11 funding level.

Several programs would receive level funding despite the Administration requesting higher funding levels.  Homeless Assistance Grants are allocated $1.9 billion, level with FY11, and an increase over FY10. The Community Development Fund would receive $3.5 billion, all of which is allocated to the Community Development Block Grants. The Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program is set at $334 million. The Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control program once again received just under $120 million. The Native American Housing Block Grants received level funding of $649 million. HUD’s Policy Development and Research line item received $47.9 million.

The HOME Investment Partnership program would be funded at $1.2 billion, 27% below the President’s request and 25% below the FY11 level. Other programs that were cut include Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, funded at $50 million, a 31% cut below the President’s request and a 30% cut below FY11; and the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program, cut by $11 billion below FY11 and not funded in the Administration’s FY12 budget. Funding for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant program was eliminated in the House bill.

Funding for the Housing Counseling program, eliminated in FY11, would not be restored in the subcommittee bill. Mr. Price also offered an amendment to restore funding to the Housing Counseling Program. Subcommittee Chair Tom Latham (R-IA) spoke against the amendment, saying that HUD has been unable to provide the subcommittee with sufficient justification for the number of HUD staff required to manage the program. Mr. Latham also cited the funding included in the bill for NeighborWorks for some types of housing counseling services as a reason to not fund Housing Counseling. Mr. Olver also commented on management challenges of the Housing Counseling program, saying that the program may have been managed more effectively when it was a set-aside in HOME.

Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) spoke in support of the amendment, noting that cutting counseling services was not a message that the subcommittee wanted to send when there are still many homeowners threatened with foreclosure. After lengthy discussion of the merits of the program, Chair Latham suggested that Mr. Price withdraw the amendment and seek more data and information from HUD to present to the full Appropriations Committee if it holds a markup of the bill. Mr. Price withdrew his amendment.

The subcommittee bill included two increases to programs cut in FY11. The Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program would be funded at $600 million, $201 million, or 50%, above FY11 funding. This would still represent a $157 million, or 21%, decrease from the Administration’s FY12 request and a $225 million decrease from FY10 funding. The Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities program receives a boost over its FY11 and FY10 funding levels. The program would receive $310 million with funds split between two accounts. Section 811 Mainstream Vouchers in the TBRA account would be funded at $114 million and the Section 811 account would receive $196 million.

The draft subcommittee bill included no funding for the Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) as a Related Agency. Ms. Kaptur offered an amendment to restore funding to ICH. Chair Latham offered an amendment to Ms. Kaptur’s amendment that would use funds from HUD’s working capital fund to restore ICH funding. Mr. Latham’s support for the program brought about a unanimous vote in favor of his amendment as well as a unanimous vote in favor of Ms. Kaptur’s amendment. ICH funding is restored in bill reported out by the subcommittee.

The subcommittee agreed to the bill by a voice vote. The full House Committee on Appropriations may or may not take up the bill. House leadership has said that it will not bring any more spending bills to the House floor individually this year. Instead, the T-HUD bill may be passed as part of an omnibus appropriations bill.

With the end of the fiscal year fast approaching and Congress once again failing to complete the next year’s appropriation, Congress must pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown. The House is expected to propose a short-term CR during the week of September 19 that will provide funding for around one month past the October 1 start of the fiscal year.

View NLIHC’s budget charts: http://www.nlihc.org/template/page.cfm?id=28

View the House T-HUD subcommittee draft bill, summary and tables: http://appropriations.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=259012

***Senate Begins FY12 Appropriations; Committee Marks Up Rural Housing Bill

The U.S. Senate also moved quickly with its appropriations work as soon as it reconvened on September 6.

On September 7, the Senate Committee on Appropriations set the 302b allocations for its 12 subcommittees. The Committee provided a $55.25 billion allocation for the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD) subcommittee, 1%, or $117 million, lower than FY11. The President requested $677 million more than the Senate’s allocation. The Senate T-HUD appropriations subcommittee may mark-up its bill the week of September 12 or September 19.

Immediately after establishing the 302b allocations, the Committee marked up the Agriculture bill. The Agriculture subcommittee reported out its bill to the full committee without holding a subcommittee mark up. The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug, and Related Agencies subcommittee allocation is $19.780 billion, $141 million or around 1%, below FY11. The President’s request for FY12 was $2.2 billion higher than the Senate allocation.

The bill provides $904.6 million for the Section 521 Rural Rental Assistance program, $2 million below the President’s FY12 budget request but $51 million below FY11. The Senate figure is significantly higher than the House’s proposed funding level of $890 million, a $65 million cut below the FY11 funding level (see Memo, 5/27).

Under the committee-passed bill, the Section 515 Rental Housing program would receive $65 million, $30 million below the President’s FY12 request but only a $5 million cut below the FY11 funding level.

The Section 514 and Section 516 Farm Labor Housing programs would also see a decrease under the Senate bill. The Section 514 program would be funded at $23 million, a $4 million decrease below both the President’s FY12 request and the FY11 funding levels. The Section 516 program would receive $8 million, nearly $2 million below the Administration’s request.

No amendments related to the rural housing service programs were offered in the committee mark-up. The bill was reported out of Committee favorably by a vote of 28 to 2.

Ordinarily, the next step in the legislative process is for the Senate to bring the bill to the floor where further amendments may be offered and the final bill put to a vote. However, because the end of the fiscal year is fast approaching, the Senate likely will not have time to consider each appropriations bill individually by September 30, and the bills will instead be wrapped into an omnibus bill.

View the Senate 302b allocations: http://appropriations.senate.gov/news.cfm?method=news.view&id=8cccdd10-cc67-4d10-be51-ea5c1e496717

View the Senate Agriculture bill summary: http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news.cfm?method=news.view&id=8af3a7f2-4f62-4dab-ba9f-108744d63c58

View the Committee bill at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CRPT-112srpt73/pdf/CRPT-112srpt73.pdf

***Super Committee Lays Out Plan for Fall

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction held its first public meeting on September 8 to discuss organizational matters. The joint committee, otherwise known as the Super Committee, was established as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (see Memo, 8/5). The committee is charged with identifying $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions by November 23.

If the committee does not reach its deficit reduction goal, a sequestration process will begin in FY13. Sequestration would reduce the discretionary caps for security and non-security spending by the amount that the committee fell short of its deficit reduction target. Congress already established discretionary funding caps for the next ten years that will significantly constrain non-security discretionary spending through the Budget Control Act of 2011. Additional cuts to non-security discretionary programs could result in acute cuts to federal housing programs.

At the first Super Committee meeting, co-chairs Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) provided opening statements and held a vote on the committee’s rules. Senator Murray said that the nation’s finances are in deep and serious trouble. She expressed confidence that Congress can work cooperatively to face these problems since the nation has faced deeper challenges before. The committee “owe[s] it to the families that we all represent, to finally come together to put their needs first,” said Senator Murray.

Mr. Hensarling expressed his view that the committee’s responsibility is to ensure debt is not passed onto future generations. Other committee members commented on the need to increase jobs. Republicans blamed spending for the nation’s fiscal problems and jobs deficit, while their Democratic counterparts said the government has not focused job creation sufficiently.

Opening statements of Super Committee members were interrupted by a protest in the hallway outside of the meeting room. The committee halted discussion for several minutes while security quieted the chants of “jobs now!”

After the meeting reconvened, members finished their statements and passed the proposed set of rules for the committee. The rules allow the committee to hold private meetings in the future.

The Committee hired as director Mark Prater, a former Republican staffer for the Senate Finance Committee, the week of August 29 and as deputy director Sarah Kuehl, former senior budget analyst on the Senate Budget Committee, the week of September 5.

The Committee will hold its first hearing on September 13 with Douglas Elmdorf, Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), testifying on the history and drivers of the nation’s debt.

CONGRESS

***Sign On in Support of Voucher Reform Legislation

Advocates are encouraged to sign onto a letter to Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Chair Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Richard Shelby (R-AL), urging Senate action on voucher reform legislation.

NLIHC, the National Affordable Housing Management Association, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials are circulating the letter along with other national, state and local organizations.

The deadline to sign on is September 16.

View the letter and sign for your organization at http://nlihc.org/template/page.cfm?id=280

***House Hears Proposal to Move Rural Housing Programs to HUD

On September 8, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity held a hearing, “Determining the Role of the Federal Housing Finance Administration, Rural Housing Services and Ginnie Mae in the Single- and Multi-Family Mortgage Markets, Part 2.”

One of the proposals considered by the Subcommittee was a draft bill, the FHA-Rural Regulatory Improvement Act of 2011, which would move management of the Rural Housing Service (RHS) from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to HUD (see Memo, 5/27).

Proponents of consolidating rental housing programs into HUD say it would reduce inefficiencies and duplication across federal agencies. However, both USDA and HUD oppose the proposal in its current form.

Carol Galante, Acting Federal Housing Administration Commissioner and Assistant Secretary for Housing at HUD, and Tammye Trevino, Administrator, Housing and Community Facilities Programs, USDA, Rural Development Agency, spoke about collaboration between the two agencies and the Department of the Treasury through the White House’s Rental Policy Working Groups.

“Given the ongoing and initial stages of these various collaborations,” said Ms. Galante in her written testimony, “we believe it makes sense to continue focusing for now on those efforts, rather than contemplating a more extensive reordering of the various federal agencies’ roles in these programs, as outlined in the legislation.”

“Rural communities have a unique set of challenges, quite different from those in urban areas, and it is imperative that we not lose focus on the specific needs and challenges in rural America,” said Ms. Trevino in her written testimony.

Subcommittee Ranking Member Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Representative Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) voiced support for the services provided by RHS, and expressed concern about any potential move of RHS into HUD.

Subcommittee Chair Judy Biggert (R-IL) entered into the hearing record testimony from NLIHC. NLIHC is opposed to the proposal in its current form and asks in its testimony that further consideration of the proposal to be postponed until advocates and other stakeholders have more time to review the measure.

It is unclear if the draft proposal will be formally introduced. The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture will hold a hearing to review Rural Development programs, including those in the Rural Housing Service, on September 13 (see elsewhere in Memo).

View the draft legislative proposal: http://financialservices.house.gov/UploadedFiles/fha_rural.pdf

View NLIHC’s testimony: http://nlihc.org/doc/NLIHC_RHS_Proposal_Testimony_9-8-11.pdf

All witness testimony and an archived hearing webcast is available at: http://financialservices.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=257901

***Housing Hearings Scheduled in House, Senate

Rural Housing Service

On September 13 at 10 am, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture will hold a hearing, “Agricultural Program Audit: Examination of USDA Rural Development Programs.” The hearing will be held in room 1300 of the Longworth House office building.

It is anticipated that the hearing will focus on a proposal that in part would move Rural Housing Service programs out of the Department of Agriculture and into HUD. On September 8 the Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity of the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing to discuss this proposal (see article elsewhere in Memo).

Also on September 13, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs will hold a hearing, “Housing Finance Reform: Should There be a Government Guarantee?” The hearing will be in room 538 of the Dirksen Senate office building at 10am.

Housing Counseling

On September 14 at 2 pm the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity will hold a hearing, “HUD and NeighborWorks Housing Counseling Oversight.” Both subcommittee hearings will be held in room 2128 of the Rayburn House office building.

Draft Voucher Bill

The House housing subcommittee will also hold a second hearing on the draft Section Eight Savings Act (SESA) bill on September 23 at 10 am. SESA is the House Republican version of the Section Eight Voucher Reform Act (SEVRA), which did not pass in the prior Congress. The subcommittee held a hearing on a discussion draft of SESA on July 23, at which NLIHC testified (see Memo, 6/24).

ADMINISTRATION

***Deadline Approaching for REO Comment Submission

Comments in response to the Request for Information on the disposition of Real Estate Owned (REO) properties held by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are due to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) no later than September 15.

FHA and the GSEs collectively have listed for sale approximately 92,000 REO single-family properties acquired through foreclosure. The Administration intends to reduce the number of properties held by FHA and the GSEs, increase private investment in the housing market, and “where feasible and appropriate, improve the supply of rental housing.” The Administration anticipates that most comments will recommend some form of REO-to-rental structure (see Memo, 8/19).

Advocates are urged to submit comments stating the importance of affordability in any REO disposition program. NLIHC also encourages readers to provide feedback on NLIHC’s draft comments prior to the submission due date.

NLIHC’s draft comments are available at: http://nlihc.org/doc/NLIHC_Draft_REO_Comments.pdf

A press release announcing the RFI is available at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2011/HUDNo.11-167

The RFI is available at http://www.fhfa.gov/webfiles/22366/RFIFinal081011.pdf

A breakdown of listed properties by state and community is available at http://nlihc.org/doc/REO_Properties_7-18-11.pdf

HUD

***NSP Grantees Reminded To Obligate 25% For Very Low Income Households

HUD issued an NSP Policy Alert reminding NSP1 and NSP3 grantees that an October 19, 2010 Federal Register Notice requires them to budget at least 25% of their NSP allocations plus program income for activities that provide housing for very low income (VLI) households, those with incomes below 50% of the area median (see Memo, 10/22/10). The September 2 NSP Policy Alert notes that some grantees might not have realized that the October 19 Notice amended an October 6, 2008 Notice. The key difference is that the 25% set aside applies to any program income received as a result of NSP activity.

Common sources of NSP program income are:

• Payments of principal and interest on loans made with NSP funds.

• Proceeds from the sale of properties acquired and/or improved with NSP funds.

• Gross income from the use or rental of real property constructed or improved with NSP funds, less the costs incidental to the generation of that income.

Any program income received after October 19, 2010 must be included, along with the NSP1 and NSP3 allocation when calculating the 25% VLI targeting requirement. This requirement does not have to be met every time program income is received, just by the time of the entire NSP1 or NSP3 program closeout. The amount of program income received to date is shown on an attachment. Many local jurisdictions, including large cities, have zero program income so far, but others do have program income, generally less than $1 million.

The Notice explains that the inclusion of program income is meant to conform more closely with Congressional intent, and because very low income households “need more help than ever finding decent, affordable housing.”

The NSP Policy Alert is at http://hudnsphelp.info/media/resources/NSPPolicyAlert_25SetAside.pdf

FROM THE FIELD

***Illinois Advocates Look to the Future After Capital Budget Victory

NLIHC state coalition partner Housing Action Illinois is celebrating the impact of its multi-year campaign to secure funding for affordable housing development in the state’s capital budget, which successfully concluded in 2009 (see Memo, 8/21/09). In that campaign a coalition of advocates won $130 million for affordable rental housing. The state will use the funds to initiate its Permanent Supportive Housing Development Program, which is targeted for extremely low income (ELI) households. This is the first funding for affordable housing ever to be provided in Illinois’ capital budget.

Last month, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) issued a request for proposals (RFP) for developers to participate in the program. All projects must target a minimum of 10% of units to ELI households and priority will be given to projects that exceed this minimum. Capital budget funding will be combined with other funding sources, such as Low Income Housing Tax Credits and the HOME program, to finance the projects.

The funding will provide much-needed housing in Illinois, and will also help the state settle three lawsuits accusing it of “warehousing” people with disabilities in nursing homes and other institutions and not providing sufficient options for community-based housing. As of 2008, the total institutional population in Illinois was more than double the national average. Disability advocates argue that Illinois’ failure to offer supportive housing alternatives to institutional care violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1999 Olmstead decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled that unjustified institutionalization of people with disabilities is discriminatory.

IHDA is looking to the majority of the capital budget funding to help remedy this long-standing problem. A portion of the funding, however, will likely be directed toward development of housing for more traditional ELI households, such as people at risk of homelessness.

The first $17.5 million of the $130 million was obligated in the fall of 2010 to six projects serving people moving out of institutions. All of those projects should close on their construction financing in the coming weeks.

“We’re very pleased that the IHDA has released the RFP,” said Bob Palmer, Policy Director at Housing Action Illinois. “But we know that a lot of work still remains. We are continuing to organize to make sure the money becomes available. Bonds to fund the capital budget still need to be sold, and the Governor’s office still needs to prioritize committing the funds among the more traditional infrastructure projects funded through the capital budget.” Housing Action Illinois met with staff from the office of Governor Pat Quinn (D) earlier this summer regarding these issues. “We need roads repaved, but considering the economic hard times creating affordable housing should be a greater priority.”

Advocates will use the RFP process as a tool to demonstrate the great demand for the capital budget funds. “We are hoping that the level of response to the RFP will underscore the volume of projects that need funding,” Palmer said. “Funding is needed at the federal level as well. Capitalizing the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) is crucial, and Illinois’ efforts demonstrate one way funding for the NHTF could effectively be used to provide housing, create jobs and promote economic growth.”

For more information, contact Bob Palmer at bob@housingactionil.org. Visit Housing Action Illinois’ website at www.housingactionil.org.

RESOURCES                      

***Proximity to Transit Linked to Rising Cost of Housing in Low Income Communities

A recent Center for Housing Policy review of literature evaluates the relationship between housing and transportation and finds considerable evidence that the cost of housing rises with proximity to public transit. However, the degree to which transit is associated with higher housing costs remains contentious; studies cite a broad range of cost premiums associated with housing situated near transit. Generally, researchers cite a modest cost premium of up to 10%, but other studies suggest negative effects and others find premium prices of upwards to 45%.

According to the review, several factors can contribute to the rising cost of housing near transit. Among these factors, the reliability and quality of the transit system is a key element. Researchers found the highest cost premiums are associated with housing near transit in metropolitan regions with robust transit systems, zoning codes encouraging density and mixed uses, and a strong economy.

While some studies demonstrate that transit accessibility tends to primarily increase the cost of housing in already affluent communities, several other studies in the review suggest that lower income communities are likewise affected. The latter research includes a study that found 15% to 30% housing price hikes in low income communities near planned rail in Atlanta. Such an increase in housing costs can displace long-time residents and increase housing cost burdens on those households who remain.

The Center for Housing Policy suggests several strategies to mitigate rising housing costs and reduce displacement around transit oriented development projects. Preserving affordable housing near transit through public investment in existing properties is noted as the most cost-effective strategy. Other suggested strategies include establishing inclusionary zoning ordinances, setting aside funds from Tax-increment financing (TIF) for affordable housing, and acquiring land for affordable housing. Lastly, the Center for Housing Policy encourages the Federal Transit Administration to consider a municipality’s commitment to affordable housing in their fund allocation process.

The literature review, Public Transit’s Impact on Housing Costs, can be found on the Center for Housing Policy’s website at http://www.nhc.org/media/documents/TransitImpactonHsgCostsfinal_-_Aug_10_20111.pdf

***Launch of New Database and Report on Subsidized Housing in NYC

On September 8th, the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at NYU launched the Subsidized Housing Information Project (SHIP), a comprehensive database of close to 235,000 privately-owned subsidized rental housing units in New York City. An interactive online search tool provides users with the opportunity to view the physical and financial information about each property while layering in data about the surrounding neighborhood. The report, released in conjunction with the launch of SHIP, is a detailed analysis of the data and gives a thorough and revealing overview of the subsidized housing stock in NYC.

The properties in the SHIP database received or continue to receive subsidies through four categories of programs: Mitchell-Lama (a housing subsidy program in the state of New York serving middle to low income households), HUD financing and insurance, HUD project-based rental assistance, and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). The database contains the most comprehensive information on the privately-owned, publicly-subsidized, affordable rental housing sector in New York City.

According to the SHIP database, 2,132 rental properties in New York City currently receive subsidies, and these properties represent approximately 8% of the city’s entire stock of rental housing. Analysis of the data reveals that the Bronx contains the greatest share of subsidized rental housing units (13%).

The database contains information pertaining to the history of subsidized housing in New York City. Analysis of SHIP data demonstrates that the majority of this housing was developed in the 1970s, when many developers took advantage of the Mitchell-Lama program. In more recent years, the LIHTC program became the most the frequent subsidy source for new affordable housing development. A primary benefit of this database is that the Furman Center scrubbed the addresses from the 50 different datasets integrated in the database, making it possible to see all the subsidies attached to every property. Many properties receive subsidies from multiple sources, particularly those properties financed through HUD programs.

Over a quarter of the properties tracked by SHIP data are no longer subsidized. The Furman Center identifies two predominant reasons for properties to leave subsidized programs: failure to comply with subsidy requirements, or reaching a subsidy expiration date (often associated with the owner “opting out” of the subsidy program). During times when the real estate market was strong, such as the late 1990s, property owners opted out because of the draw of lucrative market rents. Other properties “failed out,” or left a subsidy program due to physical or financial distress.

Analysis of SHIP data shows that 227 properties containing nearly 40,000 units are associated with affordability requirements that will expire within the next five years, potentially creating housing insecurity and uncertainty for tenants. Further analysis of SHIP data will evaluate the factors that lead property owners to opt out instead of renewing subsidies. Lastly, the Furman Center plans to work on identifying the most effective preservation policies that prevent the loss of affordable units.

The report, entitled the State of New York City’s Subsidized Housing: 2011, is available at the Furman Center’s webpage at: http://furmancenter.org/files/publications/SHIP_FINAL.pdf and the SHIP database is also publicly available at: http://furmancenter.org/institute/directory/

***Report Highlights Housing Trust Funds That Provide Support For ELI Housing

The Housing Trust Fund Project of the Center for Community Change issued a report highlighting approaches state and local housing trust funds support housing occupied by extremely low income (ELI) people, those with incomes below 30% of area median income (AMI). The report, “Model Approaches to Providing Homes for Extremely Low Income Households,” focuses on three well-defined strategies that align with eligible uses of the National Housing Trust Fund.

Even when a combination of housing trust fund money and other loan and grant programs is used to build or rehabilitate apartments for ELI households, rents that they can afford by paying no more than 30% of their income are not typically sufficient to keep their housing development financially and physically sound over a long period of time. Some additional subsidy is necessary.

After reviewing state and local housing trust funds and talking with housing trust fund advocates and administrators, the authors identified three key approaches to providing the additional subsidy needed to ensure that ELI rental housing can be created and operated over the long term by housing trust funds:

  1. Cross-subsidization. This approach uses rents from higher income housing in a development to subsidize the ELI housing.
  2. Provision of ongoing operating and maintenance costs to sustain ELI housing.
  3. Provision of project-based or tenant-based rental assistance to subsidize ELI apartments.

Cross-subsidization is a strategy used to develop housing that is affordable across a range of incomes, typically 80%, 60%, and 30% of AMI. The more units in a project, the easier it is to support a greater percentage of ELI homes. In weaker rental markets, the percentage of ELI housing that can be sustained is often lower than in strong markets. Oregon and Ohio use cross-subsidization, where a typical project with 50 units might produce five to seven ELI homes, with most of the remainder of the homes affordable to those at 80% AMI.

Although both the Oregon and Ohio housing trust funds have set aside requirements only targeted to households at 50% of AMI, each have preferences for ELI households. Oregon gives preference to projects serving the hardest to house and people who are homeless. Ohio awards preference to projects serving households at 35% of AMI, and one component of the housing trust fund that supplements the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program requires 10% of a project to be dedicated to ELI households. Neither Oregon nor Ohio have specific requirements limiting the amount of rent paid by an ELI household to 30% of income.

The second approach to supporting ELI housing provides support for ongoing operating and maintenance costs. Both the State of Washington and the City of Seattle devote a portion of their housing trust funds to help fill the gap between rental income and operating expenses for housing trust fund homes occupied by ELI households. Seattle provides up to $2,500 per home per year for up to 20 years. Washington provides up to $50,000 per project per year for up to 20 years. The Seattle program requires that residents pay no more than 30% of income for rent, but the Washington program does not.

In 2009, Seattle set aside $14.4 million out of a $145 million housing trust fund to cover operating and maintenance for seven years. About 220 households will be served during a 20-year commitment period. Currently, 63 projects are under contract. Since 1986, 749 apartments have been subsidized. According to a May 2010 report, Washington has used $16 million to support 1,993 homes.

The third approach entails providing project-based or tenant-based rental assistance. Chicago’s housing trust fund must use at least half of its resources for households with incomes less than 15% of AMI, with the balance targeted to those up to 30% of AMI. In order to achieve such targeting, some of the housing trust fund is used to support a rental subsidy program, which in 2009 was tied to 2,912 apartments. In North Carolina, a separate, state-funded program provides rental subsidies to housing trust fund homes occupied by people with disabilities who have Supplemental Security Income (SSI)-level incomes. The North Carolina program requires that residents pay no more than 30% of income for rent, but the Chicago program does not.

The report closes by stating, “We know from more than twenty years of achievements at the state and local level that the housing trust fund model can help meet the challenges of preserving and producing affordable housing for ELI households…. But in order to make a significant difference in the lives of low income people in need of housing, we need to secure revenue for the National Housing Trust Fund.”

“Model Approaches to Providing Homes for Extremely Low Income Households” can be found at: http://nlihc.org/doc/Models_for_Providing_ELI_Housing_HTF_Project.pdf

For more information, contact Nina Dastur, Housing Trust Fund Project, Center for Community Change, ndastur@communitychange.org, or go to http://www.communitychange.org/page/housing-trust-fund.

FACT OF THE WEEK      

***Number of Subsidies Associated with Currently Affordable Properties in NYC        

Properties                                            Units

#                      %                                 #                      %

Single Subsidy Source            1,800               85%                             121,577           71%

Two Subsidy Sources             303                  14%                             38,928             23%

Three Subsidy Sources            25                    1%                               10,807             6%

Four Subsidy Sources             1                      <1%                             146                  <1%

Total                                        2,129                                                   171,458

Source:  Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. (2011). State of New York City’s Subsidized Housing: 2011. Table 1F: Overlap of Financing Sources Across Currently Affordable Properties. Retrieved from: http://furmancenter.org/files/publications/SHIP_FINAL.pdf

NLIHC NEWS         

***Farewell to Danilo Pelletiere

NLIHC bid a sad farewell to Research Director and Chief Economist Danilo Pelletiere on September 8 after his nearly nine years of service to the Coalition.  Danilo will immediately begin his new assignment as an economist with the Office of Economic Affairs in the Office Policy Development and Research (PD&R) at HUD on September 12. During his tenure at NLIHC, Danilo maintained and enhanced NLIHC’s highly-regarded research program established by our founder, the late Cushing N. Dolbeare. Our loss is HUD’s gain, but we know where to find him.

***Prepare for Fall with the Advocates’ Guide

With summer coming to a close and Congress returning to session, there’s no better time to purchase your own copy of the 2011 Advocates’ Guide to Housing and Community Development Policy. With articles on issues ranging from Disaster Housing to the Minimum Wage to the Public Housing Agency Plan, the Guide is the essential desk reference for housing advocacy.

NLIHC members can take advantage of price discounts and special bulk rates.

Contact Shannon Faulk, Executive Assistant, at Shannon@nlihc.org or 202.662.1530 x224 to enquire about the Advocates’ Guide and the many other useful publications offered by NLIHC.

***NLIHC Seeks Fall Interns
NLIHC urges students to submit applications for Fall 2011 intern positions. Interns are highly valued and fully integrated into NLIHC’s staff work. We seek students who are passionate about social justice issues and have excellent writing and interpersonal skills. The following positions are available:

Communications Intern.  Executes social media strategy and writes and coordinates content for the NLIHC blog and select publications. Responsible for daily maintenance of the press contact database and press hit tracking.

Policy Intern. Tracks new legislation, attends and summarizes Congressional hearings for Memo to Members, participates in visits to Congressional offices, and develops materials for use in lobbying the House and Senate to accomplish NLIHC’s mission. Updates the Congressional database.

Outreach Intern. Assists with grassroots organizing efforts for the National Housing Trust Fund Campaign and other legislative campaigns. Assists with membership prospecting, recruitment and retention efforts and internal database updates.

Research Intern. Assists with quantitative and qualitative research projects, writes weekly articles on current research for Memo to Members, attends briefings, and helps staff respond to research inquiries.

All interns will contribute articles to our newsletter and perform other duties as assigned. A small stipend is available.

In their cover letter, interested students should specify which position(s) they prefer. The cover letter and resume should be sent to:

Bill Shields, Vice President for Operations
National Low Income Housing Coalition
727 15th Street NW, 6th Floor
Washington, DC 20005

or via email to bill@nlihc.org or fax at 202-393-1973. Please call 202-662-1530 x 232 with any questions.

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