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Washington Report | August 3, 2018

Published on August 3, 2018

Washington Report - August 3, 2018

Today’s funeral for Jeremy Nowak in Philadelphia is an occasion to mourn the untimely passing and reflect on the remarkable legacy of an innovator whose impact was, and will continue to be, felt well beyond his hometown. Nowak, who died of a heart attack July 28 at the age of 66, was a rare combination of entrepreneur, analyst, and advocate whose ideas were sometimes so far ahead of the curve that, by the time they became mainstream in the community development field, he was already looking around the next turn.

Consider just a few of the breakthroughs of The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), the Philadelphia-based organization Nowak founded in 1985: financing for clean energy development in low-income neighborhoods beginning back in the early 1990s; creation in the early 2000s of a data visualization tool (the Market Value Analysis) that has enabled dozens of communities to tailor housing policy solutions to their geographic conditions; elevation of equitable food access as an urgent policy challenge — and socially-motivated business opportunity — through the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative starting in 2004, among many others.

Nowak was also an incisive, and at times provocative, commentator on affordable housing finance, with a keen interest in cutting through the happy talk and hazy rhetoric that sometimes masquerades as analysis. In a paper published last year, he urged providers of financing to maintain greater data-driven discipline in the allocation of scarce public resources:

“The rule of limits — as long as it can be shown to provide high-value construction and management in keeping with longer-term sustainability and development — ought to be affirmed as the major principle of smart subsidy. Where it is not affirmed, the social value of subsidy will decline.”

While Nowak and TRF’s work is often associated with the inner city neighborhoods of Philadelphia and other urban centers, his and the organization’s impact has been far broader. The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and Delaware State Housing Authority each engaged TRF to develop statewide housing strategies. And last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture selected TRF to lead a new national effort to “create financial services to establish and support grocery stores and other businesses to provide fresh and healthy food in rural areas.”

Just a couple months ago, Nowak and Bruce Katz published a report recommending how states, including state HFAs, can play “multiple roles to enhance the attractiveness of Opportunity Zones for market capital and ensure that social benefits within and beyond these communities are maximized.” The drive to tap market capital to realize social benefits animated Jeremy Nowak’s work, as it does for many others of us in the field who will long miss his leadership.

Stockton-Williams-Washington-Report

Stockton Williams | Executive Director


In This Issue

Senate Passes FY 2019 Affordable Housing Funding Bills

On August 1, the Senate voted 92–6 to approve a four-bill “minibus” spending package that includes the FY 2019 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) and Agriculture bills. The Senate passed these bills, funding the majority of federal affordable housing programs, without any changes to funding levels and with only a limited number of housing-related amendments. Please see NCSHA’s blog for more details. The House has not yet passed its THUD and Agriculture bills, which is likely necessary before conferencing with the Senate to negotiate final appropriations bills. The House could also vote on the Senate’s version of the package — though this may fall short of votes among House Republicans. If the House and Senate were to conference their bills, a conference report would provide an opportunity to revise or update the House and Senate report language on Performance-Based Contract Administration and the Federal Financing Bank Risk-Sharing program, summarized in our blog.

National Flood Insurance Program Extended Through November 30

President Trump on Tuesday signed into law legislation, S. 1182, extending the authorization for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through November 30. The Senate passed S. 1182 earlier that day after the House passed it last week. NFIP’s authorization was previously scheduled to expire July 31. While the extension received broad bipartisan support in the House and Senate, it was met with resistance from some conservative Republicans in both chambers, including House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), who argued that Congress should not extend NFIP without enacting several reforms to improve its financial health. Hensarling has said that he will continue to push for substantial reforms to NFIP before he retires from Congress at the end of the year.

Senator Booker Introduces Legislation Establishing Renters’ Credit and Affordable Housing Planning Requirements

On August 1, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, and Equity Act of 2018, S. 3342, which would establish new Consolidated Plan (Con Plan) requirements, enact a refundable tax credit for renter households, and set up an optional savings program for renters who receive the renters’ credit established by the bill. The bill would require state and local Con Plans and Annual Action Plans to include a strategy to support new inclusive zoning policies, programs, or regulatory initiatives to create a more affordable, elastic, and diverse housing supply. Strategies could include high-density multifamily zoning, elimination of off-street parking requirements, density bonuses, shortening of permitting process timelines, and prohibition of source of income discrimination. The bill also would provide a refundable tax credit to renters on rent paid in excess of 30 percent of their income up to a limit of no more than the fair market rent. Unlike the renters’ legislation introduced recently by Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), Senator Booker’s bill does not set an explicit income eligibility limit for claiming the credit.

FHFA Extends Comment Period for Proposed GSE Capital Standards

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced this week it is extending the comment period for its proposed rule that would establish new capital requirements for the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The comment period, which was previously scheduled to close on September 17, has been extended to November 16 after multiple stakeholders requested more time to review the proposal. NCSHA previously summarized the proposed rule on our blog. We will continue to review the proposed capital standards to determine how they could impact HFAs and the GSEs’ support for affordable housing and whether we should submit comments on behalf of all HFAs. Please email Greg Zagorski with any thoughts or questions you have.

Looking Ahead…

NCSHA and State Events

  • August 13 – 15 | U.S. Bank HFA Symposium
    Garth Rieman will participate in this event.
  • August 14 – 15 | New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority Board and Staff Retreat
    Stockton Williams will participate in this event.
  • August 21 – 22 | Oklahoma State Housing Conference
    Garth Rieman will participate in this event.
  • September 5 – 7 | Housing Iowa Conference
    Jennifer Schwartz will participate in this event.
  • September 6 | Delaware 2018 Governor’s Conference on Housing
    Stockton Williams will participate in this event.
  • September 12 – 14 | New Mexico Housing Summit
    Stockton Williams will participate in this event.
  • September 14 | Discounted Early Registration Deadline for the 2018 Annual Conference & Showplace
  • October 2 – 4 | Housing Washington Conference
    Jennifer Schwartz will participate in this event.
  • October 4 | New Hampshire Housing and the Economy Conference
    Stockton Williams will participate in this event.
  • October 5 | New England Housing Finance Agency Meeting
    Stockton Williams will participate in this event.
  • October 11 | Ohio Housing Council Fall Symposium
    Jennifer Schwartz will participate in this event.
  • October 13 – 16 | 2018 Annual Conference & Showplace | Austin, TX

Legislative and Regulatory Activity

  • August 3 | Comments due to NCSHA on HUD’s Disparate Impact Standard Final Rule
  • August 7 | Application deadline for HUD Counseling Grant Program NOFA<
  • August 15 | 2018 HUD Meeting for Approved Housing Counseling Intermediaries, State HFAs, and Multi-State Organizations
    NCSHA’s Greg Zagorski and Glenn Gallo will attend. 
  • August 20 | Comments due to HUD on its Disparate Impact Standard Final Rule
  • September 17| Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Symposium on Credit Visibility
  • September 17 | Comment deadline on Federal Housing Finance Agency proposed rule on Capital Requirements for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

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