House Committee Eliminates National Housing Trust

Call Your Representative TODAY to Oppose the Bill’s Treatment of the National Housing Trust Fund in the House Appropriations

The proposed FY16 appropriations bill for HUD passed today by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) would eviscerate the National Housing Trust Fund. The bill:

  • Transfers all funding that is supposed to go to the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) into the HOME program.
  • Forbids Congress to put any other funding into NHTF.

The House Appropriations Committee press release on the proposed THUD bill states that the bill will provide level funding of $900 million for the HOME program, but fails to mention that it would do so only by raiding the NHTF.

The House Appropriations Committee will consider the THUD bill when they reconvene after their recess next week. Please reach out to your Representative before May 12 and urge him or her to oppose the bill’s treatment of the NHTF.

When you contact your Representative, share with him or her that:

  1. The NHTF is the only federal program that provides new money specifically to expand the supply of rental housing that is affordable for extremely low income (ELI) households. Nationwide, there is a shortage of 7.1 million rental housing units that are available and affordable for ELI families. In most of the country, ELI is less than the federal poverty level. The shortage of rental housing that extremely low income households can afford is the reason so many people are homeless in the United States.

  2. The funding for the NHTF is a dedicated source of revenue on the mandatory side of the federal budget, and as such, is not subject to annual appropriations. Funding for the NHTF is based on an assessment of 4.2 basis points of the annual volume of business of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This is a reliable, predictable stream of funding that is supposed to be separate from HUD appropriations. It is not subject to sequestration.

    As an appropriated program, HOME has suffered deep cuts in recent years, including cuts dictated by sequestration. Its FY15 appropriation of $900 million is less than half of the FY10 appropriation. The Appropriations Committee should not be managing the sequester cuts to HUD programs by raiding mandatory funds that have a dedicated purpose.

  3. Neither program is funded anywhere near what is required to address the unmet housing need.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

If your Representative sits on the Appropriations Committee, tell him or her to oppose the THUD Appropriations bill’s treatment of the NHTF. Urge your Representative to remove all references to the National Housing Trust Fund when the bill is marked up in full committee after next week’s recess.

To find out if your Representative sits on the Appropriations Committee, visit http://appropriations.house.gov/about/members/.

To find contact information for your Representative, call the Congressional switchboard at 877-210-5351, or visit NLIHC's website and enter your zip code on the right side.

Thank you for your support from the National Low Income Housing Coalition

Faith Says Very Little Good in Ohio Budget

Bill Faith attends a Medicaid Expansion Rally in Columbus. Photo from COHHIO.org Bill Faith, executive director, of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, spoke to the April Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting.  He brings a wealth of information about the State of Ohio budget and its impact on housing and homelessness.  Bill focused on the budget that the Governor submitted, which are subject to House and Senate approval.  Many of the Governor's proposals are destined to be slashed because the Republican dominated Ohio Legislature does not want to ever ever ever raise taxes anywhere, never upon pain of death.  Here are some highlights of his speech:

  • The National Housing Trust will most likely now have funds in 2016, but it looks as though Ohio will only get about $10 million or less to preserve or expand affordable housing. The Ohio Housing Finance Agency will develop an implementation strategy similar to priorities set by the HOME program.  These funds are no where near the level of cuts at the federal level to Public and Housing Choice Voucher over the last few years.
  • The State will receive additional funds to help build additional housing for disabled individuals in conjunction with State Medicaid and Drug and Mental Health Boards (only 508 disabled individuals selected throughout the state).
  • Bill talked about the horrible job the state did in renewing people on Medicaid as part of the Obamacare expansion.  There was a very long application with confusing details on where to return the form and thousands did not respond. 
  • Maybe additional PRC funds through the welfare department for job placement and retention assistance.  This is the proposal by COHHIO to counter the huge proposal to put huge funds into a new case management system at the local welfare offices. 
  • Massive cut to the income tax which benefits the richest people in the state the most.  These $4.6 billion in the two year budget could do so much for improving infrastructure, local governments, increasing the housing trust fund, and public transportation. But sadly a missed opportunity.
  • No controversy so far about expanding Medicaid because there are so many now on the program and benefitting from the service.
  • There may be an expansion of the childcare assistance from those below 200% of poverty to those under 300% of poverty income.
  • May be an increase in funds for Developmentally Disabled. This came about because of a series of lawsuits that showed that the system is overly reliant on institutional care for the developmentally disabled.
  • The State may allow more of the Recordation funds go to the State Housing Trust Fund to go to a Housing reserve funds.
  • COHHIO wants the state to do more to preserve mental health and recovery housing in the state as well as figure out a way to bill Medicaid for more of the supportive services offered at Permanent Supportive Housing buildings in the state.
  • There is a toxic bill that would gut the fair housing regulations (SB 134) in the State of Ohio and make it more difficult to file a claim of discrimination.  COHHIO fighting this potential regulation.
  • The state agency that distributes tax credits is making some big changes this year to correct some of the problems from the previous year.  COHHIO will weigh in on these changes.
  • The Hardest hit funds for those in foreclosure is over and the funds to renovate shelters in the State was a one year allocation. 

Next meeting is May 4 with First Call for Help and the State of Fair Housing at 1:30 p.m. at HUD lower level in Cleveland.  The meeting is open to all.

Brian Davis

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COHHIO Gives Summary of Ohio Budget

February 2, 2015

MEMO TO HOUSING ADVOCATES
FROM: Bill Faith, Executive Director, COHHIO
RE: Biennium Budget Bill Housing Provisions

Today, the Kasich Administration released its budget proposal for the next two years. Over the coming days and weeks, there will be lots of details to uncover but we want to highlight a few issues related to housing and homelessness where we know the administration is taking some action.

1.) The Ohio Housing Trust Fund - The OHTF will continue to receive the $50 million in each of the next two years, but an additional helpful step is the formation of a reserve fund to help stabilize year-to-year funding fluctuations. Since 2003, the OHTF has been supported by a fee tied to recording of documents at the county level up to a maximum of $50 million per year. The budget proposal amends the OHTF statute to create a $15 million reserve amount to be used to fill the gap in years when the $50 million level is not reached.

2.) Homeless Youth Employment Assistance - Historically, funds available through WIA (Workforce Invest Act) -- now WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) -- have not worked well in many communities assisting homeless people or other vulnerable populations, such as transition aged youth. WIOA funds are now being shifted to focus on disconnected youth (including homeless youth) ages 16 to 24. Additionally, the Administration has committed to focus more job opportunities and supports to homeless youth, with a portion of the governor’s discretionary WIOA funds helping homeless youth gain employment as they stabilize their housing.

3.) Continued Health Care Coverage – Everyone remembers the battle two years ago to extend health care coverage for more low-wage workers and vulnerable people left out of the Medicaid program. The Governor’s budget provides for the ongoing funding and coverage necessary to support this critically important health care coverage.

4.) Supportive Housing and Medicaid -- The Administration has signaled that it supports, through changes in the state Medicaid plan, an expanded package of supportive services which will allow housing and service organizations to help people who experience chronic homelessness remain in stable housing.

5.) Other Housing Resources in Budget Plan

a.) The budget plan includes $5m to expand the recovery housing capacity over the next two years. This continues and expands on the $10 million provided last year in the mid-biennial review.

b.) Initiates a pilot program for a subsidy to housing providers that support low-income people with disabilities at $1 million a year through a partnership with the Department of Medicaid the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

c.) Sustain funding for Residential State Supplement program at $15M annually while MHAS works to improve the quality of the RSS housing.

6.) In addition to the budget points mentioned above, the administration will leverage the following additional resources it has received or is expected to receive in the near future:

a.) Ohio will begin preparing for the receipt of National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) dollars, expected to be approximately $10 million a year. The Kasich Administration announced February 2nd that the Ohio Development Services Agency will administer the NHTF and OHFA will develop the allocation plan and allocate program funds. The NHTF will provide revenue to build, preserve, and rehabilitate housing for people who are extremely low income.

b.) A $3.6M Cooperative Agreement to Benefit Homeless Individuals (CABHI) grant was awarded to OMHAS to provide programming and services for individuals who are chronically homeless. The funds will be used to leverage PATH to reach 820 people over the next three years in 5 Ohio cities.

c.) Finally, Ohio is expected to receive news in early 2015 of being awarded almost $12 million in HUD Section 811 grant that will allow OHFA and Medicaid to develop and subsidize over 500 units of rental housing with supportive services for low-income adults with a disability. This resource will work with existing units to create long-term housing success.

To learn more about how these and other budget measures will impact housing across the state, consider attending the COHHIO conference April 13-15.

All the best, and thanks for your support.

Bill Faith, Executive Director
COHHIO

Come to Participate in Democracy on Thursday

Many governmental bodies including the County Council are not big on these pieces of legislation that urge other governments to do something.   I know that they are symbolic and don't have a lot of impact, but I like them.  It is a chance for your local elected officials to state their positions and identify what proposals they would like to see enacted, but are not in their purview to regulate.  It makes it easier for voters to know the values of their local leaders, and makes it easier to select candidates to support for higher office.  A City Council member who supports a resolution against "fracking" will have a hard time claiming they support fracking if they run for a state elected office.

Join Us May 16 at 1 p.m. at Cleveland City Hall Health and Human Services Hearing on the Second Floor

This Thursday May 16, 2013 at Cleveland City Hall there is a hearing of the Health and Human Services Committee at 1 p.m. on two resolutions if passed will push the State and Federal Government to act.   The City Council will take up the measure to urge the State of Ohio to pass Medicaid Expansion as the Governor has requested.  They will also take up a measure to support the United for Homes adjustment of the Mortgage Interest Deduction to support the National Housing Trust Fund.  This campaign is led by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and now there is a piece of legislation to support introduced by Rep. Keith Ellison (HR 1213). Both are on the agenda for Thursday.  We hope that you can come out to support both these pieces of legislation.  Show that you care about low income people who need housing and health care.

Brian Davis

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Meeting with HUD Secretary

As part of the National Coalition for the Homeless Board meeting, we had the privilege of meeting Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.  He attended the meeting on Sunday afternoon before flying out of Washington.  Attending with the Secretary was

long time HUD staff member Mark Johnston who is responsible for special populations for HUD.  We have posted a summary of the meeting with the HUD Secretary in our latest newsletter (available on our website to our members on our website). 

Donovan was complimentary of the work of the advocates and social service providers from around the country.  He firmly believes that with a renewed commitment to prevention and moving people quickly into housing, we can end homelessness in America.  We thanked him for the lengthy discussion with Jon Stewart on homelessness on the Daily Show.  We do not hear much about homelessness on a national television show so this was a treat for advocates to see in early March.  Donovan indicated that unlike most HUD programs there is bi-partician support for homeless programs.  While homeless programs have faced level funding for the past two years, every other program has seen cuts.  The President has proposed an increase in homeless funds for the 2013 budget in order to implement the HEARTH changes. 

Shaun Donovan touted a HUD plan to address the mortgage crisis and provide resources for the National Housing Trust Fund.  All of this was spelled out in testimony before Congress on March 21.  He acknowledged the tough environment in Congress, which is making it difficult to serve all parts of the United States with housing assistance.  Donovan agreed that HUD was a long way from implementing the goals contained in HEARTH especially those goals for rural housing.   He said that HUD was doing all it could to get every subsidy fully utilized, and was urging the local communities to focus on providing those in need of the deepest subsidy.  Donovan also had sent out a memo to the field asking the Public Housing groups to re-evaluate their policies around those re-entering.  It seemed that there was a myth that HUD was pushing a policy to erect strict barriers to those with previous experience in the criminal justice system.  This was not the case and the HUD Secretary's letter has resulted in many jurisdictions changing their plans to allow those re-entering after serving their time to find housing in the local community. 

Donovan is looking at avenues for collaboration especially with the Department of Health and Human Services.  He was hopeful that the new health care law would withstand challenge, because he indicated that it would go a long way to reducing homelessness.  If those struggling with behavioral health can find a home to receive treatment, they are many steps closer to finding a residential home. 

NCH members asked for a similar letter to the field from the Secretary about the importance of shelter.  In a time of huge increases in need, some communities seem confused by the focus on prevention.  Many are withdrawing funding for shelter to redirect resources to housing first initiatives.  No matter how many times, Mark Johnston and other HUD officials say that shelter is still critical, cities are not hearing the message.  We believe that a letter from the HUD Secretary clarifying that we need shelters as part of the strategy to end homelessness would go along way toward providing support for the shelters.  In addition, we asked that homeless people be more involved in how funds are distributed.  We want to see local officials meet with those living in the shelters to talk about funding priorities and strict oversight of the resources provided by HUD.  Finally, we asked that the HUD Secretary put in a word with the President for a White House conference on homelessness. 

 Brian Davis

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