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NALHFA 2018 Summer Advocacy Guide

 

NALHFA Members Take Action: 

Meet with Your Lawmakers Over August Recess

The House of Representatives is taking its traditional August Recess from July 27 to September 3 and the Senate will have a week-long recess August 6-10. Take action over the congressional break by meeting with your Members of Congress in the communities they represent.

 

Now is a great time to contact your local House and Senate offices and invite them to tour your housing projects. NALHFA is happy to help by providing you with the tools you need to engage your elected officials during the extended break. Check out our 2018 advocacy toolkit here

 

When you do make your appointments make sure to let us know, and after the meeting please send your pictures to hvoorman@nalhfa.org.

 

We encourage NALHFA members to focus their outreach on the following areas:

 

Low Income Housing Tax Credit Legislation

Although LIHTC was preserved in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the lower corporate tax rate along with other provisions will make the tax credit less valuable. An analysis done by Novogradac estimates the final version of the tax reform legislation would reduce affordable rental housing production by nearly 235,000 homes over the next decade. There have been efforts to include the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (or also known as the Cantwell-Hatch legislation) into various legislation throughout 2018. This legislation would increase LIHTC allocation by 50 percent, establish a minimum 4 percent rate, and include other provisions that would strengthen and enhance the LIHTC program. The 50 percent allocation increase alone would finance approximately 400,000 more affordable homes over the next decade that otherwise would not be possible. NALHFA urges Congress pass the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act or to include the legislation in the next tax legislation that Congress advances in the 115th Congress.

 

Private Activity Tax Exempt Bonds

Private Activity Tax Exempt Bonds are vital to the success of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) program, helping to finance approximately 40 percent of all Housing Credit production. Preserving the tax exemption on housing bonds is critical to tackling the affordable housing crisis, as the elimination of the bonds would mean 38,000 fewer affordable homes created every year. Additionally, the cap on the amount of private activity tax exempt bonds is a major limiting factor for a growing number of states and localities as they seek to preserve existing affordable and public housing and create new housing to meet the growing need. NALHFA urges Congress to preserve all tax-exempt housing bonds and seek opportunities to increase private activity tax-exempt bond volume cap so that local HFAs can better meet the needs for affordable housing creation and preservation.

 

FY2019 HUD Appropriations

 President Trump proposed deep cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in his budget this year with over $8.8 billion in cuts to HUD’s funding. The cuts closely resemble the budget request put forward by the President for 2018, including the elimination of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program, the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, and the Public Housing Operating Fund. The White House claims these programs are ineffective and outdated, a claim that was also made in the President’s FY 2018 budget request.

 

The budget proposal would also reduce Housing Choice Vouchers to $19.3 billion, and provide $17.b billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) contract renewals, merge the Public Housing Capital Fund with the Public Housing Operating Fund, and reduce funding for public housing to $2.8 billion, reduce funding for Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities to $132 million, reduce funding for Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS to $330 million, and slightly increase Project-Based Rental Assistance to $10.952 billion.

 

These cuts would have detrimental effects on affordable housing availability across the country, but the President’s Budget is just one part of many in a complex negotiation process.

 

Congress has shown they are willing to provide adequate resources to HUD’s housing programs through the FY 2019 THUD Appropriations bills recently passed at the committee level in both the House and the Senate. The bills that came out of the Appropriations Committees provide funding levels far beyond the President’s requested budget levels to these programs that combat homelessness, house low-income families, and provide crucial services and facilities to under-served populations.

  • The HOME Investment Partnerships and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs were level funded from FY18 at $1.362 and $3.3 billion respectively in the Senate.

  •  The HOME program received a small decrease in the House going from $1.36 billion to $1.2 billion, and CDBG was level funded at $3.3 billion.

  • The Senate bill provides the increases necessary to continue assistance to all families and individuals currently served by rental assistance programs. These numbers include: $22.8 billion for tenant-based Section 8 vouchers; $7.5 billion for public housing; $11.7 billion for project-based Section 8; $678 million for Housing for the Elderly; and $154 million for Housing for Persons with Disabilities.

  • There is concern in the House bill that the Housing Choice Vouchers ($20.1 billion) and the Project-Based Rental Assistance ($11.35 billion) would fall short of renewing all existing contracts. This shortfall could mean fewer families will be served by the program over the next year. Housing for the Elderly ($632 million) and Housing for People with Disabilities ($154 million) funding levels would renew existing contracts.

  • The Homeless Assistance Grants program saw a modest increase to $2.5 billion in the House and $2.6 billion in the Senate and includes several provisions to better serve vulnerable populations including veterans, youth, and survivors of domestic violence.

The Senate version of the legislation provides more robust funding for HUD programs, so NALHFA is urging members of Congress to support this version of the legislation. NALHFA urges Congress to support the Senate THUD FY 2019 appropriations legislation.

 

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) – Housing Finance Agency (HFA) Multifamily Loan Risk-Sharing FFB Program

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) – Housing Finance Agency (HFA) Multifamily Loan Risk-Sharing FFB Program is an important option for many HFAs affordable rental housing developments. The Risk-Sharing program was created by Congress in 1992 to help expedite and increase FHA’s multifamily mortgage production. Through the program, HFAs are able to underwrite and service FHA multifamily loans in exchange for sharing up to 50 percent of the risk of losses on those loans. The program has been a success, allowing the government to save money, improving housing affordability, and reducing risks to the FHA insurance fund. The program has provided over $2 billion in financing and over 20,000 units. The HUD FY 2019 Budget proposal includes the wind down of the Risk-Sharing FFB program with no new loan commitments under it after September 30, 2018.

NALHFA will continue to try to persuade HUD to continue the program in FY 2019 and beyond. With the confirmation of Brian Montgomery as FHA Commissioner, there is a greater possibility that the preservation of this program can be done at the agency level.  NALHFA will also work with Congress on the FY 2019 appropriations bill to provide the mandate necessary to ensure that HUD continues the program. NALHFA members should continue to work with their Members of Congress and emphasize the importance of continuing the Risk-Sharing FFB program.  

 

Ways to Take Action During August Recess:

  1. Invite your elected officials on tours of housing projects in the district. This is a good time to highlight successful projects that have already been completed, but also projects that are still in development.

  2. Plan meetings with your members of Congress at their district offices. Invite stakeholders and other individuals who can help tell your story. Elected officials like to see the humanity side of these projects, so it is very helpful to bring along families and individuals who have been helped by your programs.

  3. Attend a town hall or other local event hosted by a member of Congress. These meetings may not be heavily attended and are another way for you to speak with your elected officials.   

Resources:

Template Letters:

Don't have time to connect with your Members of Congress in person? Use these template letters to send to them via email or to their district offices while they're in town. Feel free to personalize these and include local projects and success stories.

Have questions or need help in making appointments?

Contact NALHFA's Policy Director, Heather Voorman at 202.367.2405 or email at hvoorman@nalhfa.org.  

 

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