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NCSHA Washington Report | February 28, 2020

Published on February 28, 2020

NCSHA Washington Report-February-28-2020

Economists of all ideological stripes have tended to favor policies aimed at people over those that target places. This may be changing, as the geography of prosperity in America has become increasingly uneven and some worry “America appears to be evolving into durable islands of wealth and poverty.”

There’s little consensus among experts about what to do, though. And even among economists who grudgingly give place-based policies their due, few seem willing to recognize the proven potential of affordable housing investment to help redress at least some of the spatial disparity pulling America apart.

Thankfully, there are exceptions.

Like the Stanford researchers who assessed the impact of the Housing Credit and found “an affordable housing development in a low-income area improves welfare by $23,000 per local homeowner and $6,500 per local renter, with aggregate welfare benefits to society of $115 million.”

And the Cornell analysts who studied the Credit and found “low-income housing development in the poorest neighborhoods brings with it significant reductions in violent crime that are measurable at the county level.”

And the Michigan researcher who quantified the spatial improvement effects of Housing Credit development, especially when it is part of a broader neighborhood improvement plan, and determined “Black high-poverty neighborhoods receiving the [Housing Credit] investment have experienced the most positive changes.”

And the Georgetown/Joint Committee on Taxation analyst who showed “growing up in [Housing Credit] housing has a large positive effect on both education and earnings” and “those who spend more time in [Housing Credit] housing as children have better outcomes regardless of what neighborhood they live in” (emphasis supplied).

Affordable rental housing development is not the only residential investment tactic that delivers place-based payoffs.

Separate studies have shown targeted efforts to rehabilitate older homes have helped stabilize struggling neighborhoods in Camden, NJChicago; and Milwaukee. Perhaps most encouragingly, the Milwaukee study suggests it’s possible to increase home values without pushing people out.

Then there’s safety. A dollar spent on fixing abandoned buildings returned $5 – $79 in taxpayer and broader social returns, according to research published in the American Journal of Public Health, which concluded: “Urban blight remediation programs can be cost-beneficial strategies that significantly and sustainably reduce firearm violence.”

Nobody is suggesting neighborhood-based housing development and rehabilitation initiatives can turn around struggling cities and towns by themselves, let alone reduce rapidly growing inequality across entire regions of the country.

But investing in sufficient scale in these efforts, and aligning them with smart economic development policies, stands a better chance than commonly credited of helping level the playing field within metropolitan areas. In fact, a silver lining of the falling American mobility rate we commented on recently could be a better return on investment for place-based policies in serving the people that most need assistance.

“Complete system change would no doubt be helpful in addressing these issues as well,” CityLab’s Brentin Mock writes. “That won’t happen overnight. Meanwhile, people living in distressed communities deserve the place-based investments and resources necessary to improve their neighborhoods and lives.”


Stockton Williams | Executive Director

In This Issue

NCSHA Joins Coalition Letter to Appropriators on FY 2021 Housing Funding
NCSHA joined other members of the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) in a letter urging Congress to ensure affordable housing, community development, and transportation programs receive the highest allocation of discretionary funds possible in Fiscal Year 2021. CHCDF sent the letter — signed by 4,707 national, state, and local organizations — directly to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership on February 21. The letter explains that affordable housing and community development programs play a critical role in reducing “existing inequities and boost local economies by leveraging public and private resources to lift resident earnings and local tax revenue.”

Colorado, Massachusetts, Wisconsin HFAs Receive Capital Magnet Fund Awards
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund Tuesday announced Capital Magnet Fund awards totaling $131 million to 38 organizations, including the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, MassHousing, and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. The grantees will use the awards to finance affordable housing activities, related economic development activities, and community service facilities. Each recipient must use at least 70 percent of their award allocation to finance affordable housing and may use up to 30 percent to finance economic development activities related to affordable housing. See the full list of award recipients.

House Financial Services Committee Marks Up Housing Bills
The House Financial Services Committee today approved several housing-related bills, including Chairwoman Waters’ Housing Is Infrastructure Act (H.R. 5187). This bill would authorize more than $100 billion for public housing, Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs), the HOME Investment Partnerships program, and other programs. The committee also approved:

  • Representative Green’s (D-TX) Housing Fairness Act (H.R. 149), which would authorize increased funding for HUD’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program and make a number of reforms to the program.
  • Representative Heck’s (D-WA) Yes in My Backyard Act (H.R. 4351), which would require localities that receive CDBG funding to submit a plan to track and report on the implementation of land-use policies that promote housing production.
  • The Improving FHA Support for Small Dollar Mortgages Act (H.R. 5931), a bill by Congressmen Clay (D-MO) and Stivers (R-OH) to require the Federal Housing Administration to conduct a review of its policies to identify any barriers to supporting mortgages under $70,000 and report to Congress within a year with a plan for removing such barriers.

FHFA Authorizes 2020 Disbursements to Housing Trust Fund, Capital Magnet Fund
The Federal Housing Finance Agency on Thursday authorized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to disburse payments to HUD for the Housing Trust Fund (HTF) and to the Treasury Department for the Capital Magnet Fund (CMF). According to FHFA, HTF will receive $326.4 million for the year, while CMF will receive $175.8 million. These are record highs for both programs. Last year, HTF received $244.9 million, while CMF receive $131.8 million.

FHFA Requests Input on Federal Home Loan Bank Membership Eligibility
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued a Request for Input on Federal Home Loan Bank membership. The RFI seeks public input on current membership requirements and any potential future changes, including comments on general eligibility, safety and soundness concerns, and mission requirements. The responses received will help FHFA determine what actions, if any, may be appropriate to take to update the FHLBank membership regulation. Comments are due to FHFA June 23. To help NCSHA consider whether to submit comments, please provide feedback to Garth Rieman by June 5.

GASB Releases Exposure Draft on Notes to Financial Statements
The Governmental Accounting Standards Board has released an exposure draft of a proposed concepts statement on the method of disclosing notes to financial statements. The proposed concepts statement describes the purpose of notes to financial statements and the users of those notes. It also defines the criteria for disclosing information items in notes to financial statements. Comments on the exposure draft are due April 17. To help NCSHA consider whether to submit comments, please provide feedback to Garth Rieman by April 3.

Inspector General Finds Inadequate HUD Oversight During Suspension of PBCA MORs
HUD’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) on February 26 published a collection of audits showing HUD did not conduct adequate oversight of its Project-Based Rental Assistance properties in the Southwest Region during the five years in which it suspended the Performance-Based Contract Administrators’ (PBCA) management and occupancy reviews. According to the audits, HUD did not adequately implement replacement procedures or its own onsite monitoring to reduce deterioration and mismanagement risks to its subsidized properties. The OIG recommends HUD enforce its written policies and procedures to ensure verification and payment of housing assistance subsidies are based on accurate and supported information; establish and implement policies to ensure effective contract administration, including providing PBCA contract amendments in a timely manner; and develop contingency policies and procedures to ensure its subsidized properties receive adequate and verifiable continuous monitoring.

NCSHA in the News
How Community Development Tax Incentives Have Benefited Primary States: South Carolina (Notes from Novogradac)

Looking Ahead…

Legislative and Regulatory Activities

NCSHA, State HFA, and Industry Events

  • March 5 – 6 | National Rural Housing Coalition Board of Directors Meeting | Washington, DC
    Jennifer Schwartz will speak at this event.
  • March 9 – 11 | NCSHA Legislative Conference | Washington, DC
  • March 17 – 18 | Nebraska 2020 Housing Innovation Marketplace | La Vista, NE
    Jennifer Schwartz will speak at this event.
  • March 18 | Ohio Housing Finance Agency Board Retreat | Columbus, OH
    Jennifer Schwartz will speak at this event.
  • March 30 | Moody’s US Housing and Housing Finance Conference | New York, NY
    Rosemarie Sabatino will attend this event.
  • March 31 | S&P Global Ratings’ Housing Hot Topics Event | New York, NY
    Stockton Williams will speak at this event.
  • April 1 | National Council of Housing Market Analysts Spring Meeting | Washington, DC
    Stockton Williams will speak at this event.
  • April 23 | Virginia Association of Housing and Community Development Officials Annual Meeting | Virginia Beach, VA
    Jennifer Schwartz will speak at this event.
  • April 26 – 29 | State HFA Southeast Executive Directors Meeting | Baton Rouge, LA
    Stockton Williams will participate.
  • April 28 – 29 | Building Michigan Communities Conference | Lansing, MI
    Stockton Williams will speak at this event.
  • May 1 | Entry Deadline | NCSHA’s 2020 Awards for Program Excellence

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