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NALHFA is your voice on regulatory and legislative issues.

NALHFA is the premiere association with a Washington DC office and a government relations team representing your interests on Capitol Hill on local housing issues. As we have seen in recent years, Congress is actively pursuing issues which could have a dramatic and devastating impact on whether your organization is able to achieve its mission of providing affordable housing finance. Through NALHFA’s Advocacy Program, our government relations team is armed with a list of strategic legislative priorities, which guides our efforts to promote, protect and advance the industry in Washington.

2017 Legislative and Regulatory Policy Priorities

 NALHFA is committed to preserving, enhancing and improving the delivery and effectiveness of federal affordable housing resources to the local level, and through the nation’s network of locally-focused housing finance agencies.  To accomplish this, NALHFA will concentrate its advocacy activities in 2017 on key federal affordable housing and development programs

  •  Preserve and increase funding for the department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) programs.
  • Maintain, extend and enhance the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and Tax-Exempt Housing Bonds.

  •  Ensure local housing finance agencies are fully served by single- and multi-family secondary market finance programs offered by the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) or from any new secondary housing finance system developed by Congress and the Administration.

Below is a summary and description of federal housing and community development programs of key concern to local housing finance agencies (HFAs) and NALFHA’s official 2017 policy recommendations.  For the full description of NALHFA’s 2017 policy priorities, click here. 

FY 2018 HUD Allocation and Proposed Cuts

On March 16, 2017, the Trump Administration sent Congress its Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget blueprint, “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” proposing $6.2 billion in cuts to HUD. These cuts include the elimination of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) programs. NALHFA rejects any attempts to eliminate or cut of these critical programs.

 

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program:

Local governments use CDBG funds for critical community development activities. According to HUD, every $1 million in CDBG funding supports nearly 26 jobs and since 2005 CDBG program resources have created over 300,000 jobs. This important infrastructure and community development program has been a catalyst for economic growth and has helped local officials leverage funds for community needs. CDBG allocation continues to decline, however, at a time when the nation’s infrastructure is ailing and is in dire need of improvements. It is more important now than ever to increase CDBG funding to give communities the ability to address their infrastructure and economic development needs at the local level.

 

A total of $3 billion was appropriated for CDBG in FY2016—level with previous year’s funding.  Despite the success of this program, CDBG funding has declined by 49% since 2000, which has hampered local government ability to implement the community-driven development initiatives needed to create jobs, and improve essential infrastructure.  NALHFA supports funding CDBG at $3.3 billion for FY2018 and preserving it as a flexible and locally-driven community development resource.

 

HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program:

For counties across the nation, the HOME program is vital to increasing home ownership and expanding the availability of affordable rental housing. Since 1990, over one million units of housing have been produced with HOME funds. HUD indicates that each dollar of HOME funding leverages an additional $4 in other public and private funding. Every $1 billion in HOME funding creates or preserves more than 17,000 jobs. 

 

For FY2016, HOME was provided with $950 million in funding, an increase of $50 million above previous year’s appropriations.  However, the program has experienced a nearly 50 percent decline in funding since 2010, which has hindered the ability of state and local governments to produce and sustain affordable housing.  In addition, the program is beginning to suffer from record levels of funding deobligations, roughly $28 million in FY2015.  NALHFA supports total funding of $1.2 billion for the HOME program for FY2018, which will help to restore the ability of local governments to support affordable housing activities and leverage other public and private resources. In addition, NALHFA supports the development of technical assistance resources and programs that would reduce the level of funding deobligations.

Fair Housing

In July 2015, HUD published its Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Final Rule. The rule was developed in response to recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and stakeholders that HUD enhance its fair housing planning obligations.  Under the AFFH regulation, HUD grantees that complete a Consolidated Plan for HUD’s Community Planning and Development (CPD) block grant programs—such as CDBG, HOME and Emergency Solution grants— as well as Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) will complete an AFH to accompany their 3-5 Year Consolidated Plan or 5-Year PHA Plan. They may also work together with other grantees and PHAs to submit a joint AFH. Members of the community will also have an opportunity to provide input for the Assessment of Fair Housing.  According to HUD estimates, the compliance cost to program participants will total $25 million annually and 200 hours of staff time to complete the AFH. 

 

NALHFA urges Congress and HUD to provide dedicated resources to enhance the ability of local governments to comply with the HUD AFFH Final Rule and complete the required AFH planning process, including but not limited to:  increased flexibility to utilize Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds beyond existing statutory and regulatory caps for fair housing planning and program implementation; and dedicated funds for local governments to offset the increased costs associated with undergoing the mandated AFH planning process.  HUD is urged to provide enhanced technical assistance to local governments to aid them in developing comprehensive AFHs, such as best practice guides, toolkits and sample agreements for regional or multi-jurisdictional collaboration, fair housing program implementation guidance, and specialized assistance for public housing authorities.

Housing Finance Reform and Duty to Serve

In 2008, as a result of deterioration in the housing market and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s inability to raise new capital, Congress and the administration—through enactment of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA; P.L. 110-289)—placed the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) into conservatorship under the control of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).  During the 113th, Congress, policymakers began developing proposals to establish a new secondary market mechanism and wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. However, none of these measures received consideration by the full House or Senate.

 

In 2017, Congress and the Administration will continue discussions over the need to reevaluate the ongoing status of the GSEs. However, many outstanding details must be agreed to by Congress and the White House before any action would be approved modifying or eliminating the GSEs.

 

Related to this, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released a final rule implementing Duty to Serve (DTS) provisions of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008, in December 2016.  The provisions require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to serve three specified underserved markets:  manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and rural markets. 

 

The rule requires the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) to adopt plans that improve “the distribution and availability of mortgage financing in a safe and sound manner for residential properties that serve very low-, low-, and moderate-income families” in the three underserved markets. DTS credit will be conveyed for eligible GSE activities that facilitate a secondary market the specified underserved markets.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be required to submit to FHFA an Underserved Markets Plan covering a three-year period that describes the activities and objectives it will undertake to meet its Duty to Serve.

 

NALHFA will work to ensure the needs of local HFAs and the role they play in financing affordable housing are fully served. This includes ensuring that any successor entity to the GSEs acts as a viable secondary market outlet for affordable single- and multi-family housing finance; provides credit enhancement, insurance programs; and liquidity support for local HFA programs. NALHFA will work with FHFA and GSEs to strengthen and expand local HFA-GSE collaborations and partnerships, including as part of the GSEs Duty to Serve requirements.

Housing Trust Fund

In 2014, FHFA announced it was lifting the suspension on GSE-required payments to the Housing Trust Fund (HTF) and Capital Magnet Fund (CMF).  The two programs administered by HUD, are authorized as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA; P.L. 110-289) to fund affordable housing activities.  However, shortly after HERA’s enactment FHFA suspended the mandatory payments to the Funds.

 

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are assessed 4.2 basis points (.042 percent) on new business purchases.  These fees are directed to the HTF and CMF—65 percent to the HTF and 35 percent to the CMF.  FHFA ordered the GSEs to begin setting aside these funds beginning in January 2015 for distribution in 2016. Congressional Republicans have expressed opposition to the programs and there are questions as to whether the programs will continue with the new Administration.

 

In 2017, NALHFA will urge HUD and Congress to ensure resources continue to be provided directly to local jurisdictions, either through a minimum set-aside, formula sub-allocation, or alternative regulatory/statutory direction.

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program

Since it was established in 1986, the Housing Credit has financed over 2.8 million homes, making rent affordable for roughly 6.5 million low-income families. It has also supported more than 3 million jobs while bringing $100 billion in private investment into communities throughout the U.S.

 

Signed into law in December 2015, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act provided permanent reauthorization for the minimum 9% Low-Income Housing Tax Credit rate for new construction and substantial rehabilitation.  Unfortunately, the legislation did not include a permanent 4% credit rate floor for acquisition and bond-financed projects. The minimum 9% LIHTC rate makes LIHTC development more predictable, strengthening the program.

 

As affordable housing becomes more difficult to access and rents continue to increase, the creation of more affordable housing units is necessary. With the affordable housing crisis in combination with proposed corporate tax rate cuts, it is critical now more than ever for Congress provide the tools and funding necessary to increase the nation’s affordable housing stock.   The LIHTC program has been one of the most successful tools for rental housing production, but the current authority available is not enough to adequately respond to affordable housing needs and increasing demands on the program.

 

In 2017, NALHFA will urge Congress to preserve and strengthen LIHTC to allow the program to create more affordable homes in the United States. Furthermore, NALHFA supports a permanent 4% credit rate floor for acquisition and bond-financed projects that will empower states to allocate more credit equity to properties, provide more efficiency to program administration, and offer more predictability to the program.

Private Activity Bonds (PABS)/Municipal Bonds

Past tax reform and budget proposals put forth by Congress have pursued elimination of Private Activity Bonds (PABs), as well as capping the value of the deduction on interest earned on municipal bonds.  The Administration’s budget requests (including in FY 2017) have sought to cap the value of the exemption at 28 percent. 

 

However, the issue of broad-based individual and/or corporate tax reform could gain prominence in 2017 as Congress works with a new Administration. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) have both expressed a desire to move forward on tax reform and proposals already exist from past tax reform efforts over the past several years.

 

In 2017, NALHFA will continue its efforts—including through its participation in the Municipal Bonds for America and Don’t Mess with Our Bonds coalitions—to preserve all tax-exempt housing bonds.  Tax exempt housing bonds are a critical tool in the local HFA affordable single- and multi-family housing finance tool box.  NALHFA will also seek opportunities to promote the expanded use of tax-exempt housing bonds to better serve local HFA housing finance needs and programs.

  • For updates and advocacy information on the Municipal Bonds for America coalition, click here.

Moving to Work

The Moving to Work (MTW) demonstration program was created by Congress in 1996 to provide HUD and local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) the flexibility to test alternative policies for providing housing assistance through the nation’s two largest housing assistance programs: the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program and the public housing program.

 

The 39 PHAs initially selected to participate in the demonstration have adopted a wide range of new policies not allowed under rules governing assisted housing programs. Participating PHAs have merged their various federal funding streams and used their merged, “block grant” funding to undertake new activities, including supportive services for residents, development of new affordable housing, and the restructuring of traditional public housing. 

 

The FY 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act expanded the number of MTW PHAs from 39 to 139 over a seven-year period and extends existing MTW contracts through 2028. NALHFA supports efforts to further increase the number of participating MTW PHAs and provide flexibility to PHAs to deliver locally-driven public housing strategies that increasing housing choices, increase cost-effectiveness and foster economic sustainability.

 

For more information, contact NALHFA Policy Director, Heather Voorman at (202) 367-2405 or hvoorman@nalhfa.org.

 

 

more Calendar

6/15/2017
Washington Briefing Webinar

5/9/2018 » 5/11/2018
2018 NALHFA Annual Conference

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