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Washington Report | September 28, 2018

Published on September 28, 2018

Washington Report - September 28, 2018Even words like ‘emergency’ and ‘epidemic’ seem insufficient to adequately characterize deaths from drug overdoses in this country, which now annually exceed the number of American military killed in the entire Vietnam War. While the exponential growth in overdose deaths is actually a 40-year trend and by no means all due to opioids, the fallout from their abuse has focused new energy on solutions.

The economic cost of opioid addiction may already surpass $1 trillion since 2001 and could increase by $500 billion more over just the next few years. Princeton economist Alan Krueger’s work suggests that opioid prescriptions could account for 20 percent of the decline in men’s participation in the workforce from 1999 to 2015.

The housing industry is especially impacted. National Association of Home Builders chief economist Rob Dietz has said, “The impact of increasing numbers of Americans addicted to painkillers and other drugs has resulted in lower labor force participation, particularly among Americans who have less than a four-year college degree. This makes recruiting more workers into the trades that much harder.”

If there are any grounds for optimism about the prospects for progress, they likely arise from a remarkable body of recent reporting and analysis and new leaders like Ryan Hampton who are building movement for action.  In his powerful congressional testimony this past March, Ryan recalled the start of his journey back from a decade of addiction:

Finding recovery housing was even more difficult than finding treatment…One time, I was able to find sober living shortly after treatment, but the owner was not a trustworthy person. The “sober residence” was essentially a flophouse, with no recovery support, no oversight, and no peer network…When I relapsed, I quickly went back to my old life. Without safe, sober housing, all my hard-won sobriety fell apart.

Ryan’s housing-focused advocacy efforts are backed up by the evidence. President Trump’s opioid crisis commission reported “recovery residences can help maximize the public and private investments in treatment by ensuring better long-term outcomes, by sometimes making a lower, less costly level of care possible and, in some instances, by making treatment unnecessary.”

The Ohio HFA has prioritized recovery housing through its Housing Credit program and the New Hampshire HFA is at the center of its state’s response. Perhaps the largest state housing program is Recovery Kentucky, a partnership between Kentucky Housing Corporation (HC) and the state’s Department for Local Government and Department of Corrections. The program has created 13 recovery centers serving more than 2,000 people so far, with massive reductions in associated opioid use and homelessness among those served.

We are honored to have Ryan Hampton as our keynote speaker during the Opening Plenary of NCSHA’s Annual Conference & Showplace, starting in Austin in two weeks. Ryan will be joined on the stage by Kentucky HC Executive Director and CEO Edwin King for a solutions-focused discussion of housing’s importance in the utterly urgent work of solving the opioid crisis.


Stockton Williams | Executive Director

In This Issue

Congress Passes CR Funding HUD and USDA Rural Housing Programs Through December 7

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) on Thursday announced that House and Senate conferees were unable to reach agreement on a four-bill FY 2019 appropriations package (H.R. 6147), including funding for HUD and rural housing programs, before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1. In order to avoid a partial government shutdown, HUD and USDA programs will now be rolled into a Continuing Resolution (CR) providing FY 2018 level funding through December 7 for agencies without full-year appropriations. The Senate passed the CR last week, and the House followed suit earlier this week. President Trump recently indicated he plans to sign the CR legislation.

Warren Introduces Expansive Affordable Housing Bill

Senate Banking Committee member Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced September 26 expansive new affordable housing legislation that authorizes $500 billion for affordable housing programs over the next 10 years, including $445 billion for the Housing Trust Fund. The legislation also establishes the Middle Class Housing Emergency Fund, which would provide $4 billion in competitive grants to state HFAs for the construction of rental units affordable to middle-income individuals and families (those earning less than 120 percent of area median income). For more information, see Warren’s summary of the bill and NCSHA’s blog.

Meadows Introduces Opportunity Zones Bill

Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) introduced on September 25 the Creating Advancement and Personal Improvement in Targeted American Localities Act of 2018 (CAPITAL, H.R. 6980) to allow for the designation of new Opportunity Zones every 10 years. The Opportunity Zones program, which was established in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, creates an incentive for investment in a zone and currently allows for designations to expire after 10 years. The legislation would allow for designations of new Opportunity Zones after 10 years, permitting the program to expand rather than expire. The bill was assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee.

House Financial Services Committee Holds Oversight Hearing on FHFA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac

The House Financial Services Committee yesterday held an oversight hearing on the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) that included testimony from FHFA Director Mel Watt, Fannie Mae CEO Tim Mayopoulus, and Freddie Mac CEO Donald Layton. The Committee asked Watt and the CEOs about the risks of high loan-to-value lending, appraisal waivers, the use of credit risk transfers, and assistance for struggling homeowners. In response to a question from Housing Subcommittee Ranking Member Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Watt, Mayopolous, and Layton all agreed that Congress should advance housing finance reform and that the current system is untenable. Watt and the CEOs also told the Committee that the nation is facing an affordable housing shortage that cannot be solved by the housing finance system alone but requires new strategies to increase housing production.

NCSHA and HFAs Offer Feedback on Upcoming Section 811 Funding Availability

On September 26, HUD hosted a listening session with stakeholders in Washington, DC, to help inform its development of a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for $82.6 million for the Section 811 Supportive Housing for People with Disabilities program. NCSHA’s Althea Arnold participated along with HFA staff from Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia; housing and health services providers; and disability rights advocates. Participants discussed the current landscape of housing for persons with disabilities, the role of state and local governments, and how HUD can encourage developers and owners to participate in the Section 811 program. HUD intends to host two remote listening sessions in October and publish the NOFA in late Spring 2019. HFAs interested in participating in the remote listening sessions can contact NCSHA’s Althea Arnold for more information.

Opportunities for HFA Input on Potential Regulatory Changes to Key Housing Programs

The deadlines to submit comments to HUD on its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule, to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on its Proposed Rule for Single Family Housing Direct and Guaranteed Loan Programs, and to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for its ANPR on the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) are October 15, October 30, and November 19, respectively. NCSHA encourages HFAs to provide us with feedback on each of these to inform the comment letters we will be submitting. Please send your feedback on AFFH to Jennifer Schwartz by October 1, on the USDA proposed rule to Glenn Gallo by October 19, and on CRA to Greg Zagorski by November 2.

HFAs in the News

HUD Must Preserve the Federal Financing Bank and Risk-Sharing Program (The Hill)

Looking Ahead…

NCSHA, State HFA, and Industry Events

  • October 1 – 2 | Southeast States Regional Roundtable
    Jim Tassos will participate.
  • October 2 – 4 | Housing Washington Conference
    Jennifer Schwartz will participate.
  • October 3 | National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies Legislative Conference
    Althea Arnold and Katelynn Harris will attend.
  • October 4 | New Hampshire Housing and the Economy Conference
    Stockton Williams will participate.
  • October 5 | New England HFA Executive Director Meeting
    Stockton Williams will participate.
  • October 11 | Ohio Housing Council Fall Symposium
    Jennifer Schwartz will participate.
  • October 13 – 16 | 2018 Annual Conference & Showplace | Austin, TX
  • October 21 – 23 | National Affordable Housing Management Association’s Biannual Top Issues in Affordable Housing Conference—Fall 2018
    Jennifer Schwartz will participate.
  • October 24 – 25 | North Carolina Affordable Housing Conference
    Stockton Williams will participate.
  • October 24 – 25 | Affordable Housing Investors Council – Affordable Housing Summit
    Jim Tassos will participate.
  • November 7 | Ohio Housing Conference
    Stockton Williams will participate.
  • November 7 – 9 | Indiana HCDA’s Moving Forward Rural Development Workshop
    Jennifer Schwartz will participate.

Legislative and Regulatory Activity