Members of Congress will begin their month long district work period known as the August Recess on August 7, 2015. Neither chamber of Congress will resume work until September 8th, 2015.
The August Recess serves as an excellent opportunity to engage in grassroots advocacy. NAHMA encourages members to schedule meetings or property visits with their elected officials, and discuss the funding and regulatory issues facing federal affordable housing programs.
Contacting Your Members of Congress
Reaching out to a member’s office is easy, and their staff are willing to receive your comments and requests. NAHMA’s Grassroots Action Center features a full toolkit for members to use including webinars on advocacy strategies, FAQs on Congress as well as numerous documents to help you understand the program and funding considerations for fiscal year 2016. Additionally, NAHMA Maps can help you identify your elected official and their contact information.
Below are NAHMA’s top affordable housing considerations for fiscal year 2016:
Project-Based Section 8
Due to the transition of all Project-Based Section 8 program (PBS8) contracts to a calendar year funding model in 2015, wherein all contracts would be funded on January 1 rather than their individual renewal date, HUD must fully fund each PBS8 contract on the same day for their full 12-month term beginning in 2016. NAHMA remains extremely concerned about the slated funding levels for the PBS8 program in the proposed appropriations legislation for FY 2016. For example, the House bill (H.R. 2577) contains $10.5 billion for all contract renewals in FY 2016, an amount which is below the Obama Administration’s request for PBS8 contract renewals, and well below HUD’s previous estimates to renewal all contracts up-front for a full 12-months.
NAHMA is concerned that $10.5 billion will be insufficient to renew all PBS8 up-front on January 1, and that the resulting funding shortfall could lead to major issues in the program such as mortgage defaults and residents losing their homes. We believe that the true cost to renew all contracts for their full 12-months in FY 2016 is at least $10.8 billion. NAHMA is requesting that you contact your House Representative and Senators and urge him or her to reject any appropriations measure which could cause defaults and tenant dislocation in the PBS8 program. We request that members urge lawmakers that under no circumstance may the funding for PBS8 contract renewals fall below $10.8 billion in FY 2016 under the calendar year model.
For additional information on the PBS8 program and the calendar year funding model, please click here
HOME Investment Partnerships Program
One of the most controversial and objectionable provisions in the proposed funding bills for affordable housing programs in FY 2016 are the cuts and alterations being considered for the HOME Investment Partnerships program. The Senate’s Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations bill features a dramatic cut to the HOME program; the figure of $66 million for HOME in the Senate bill represents a 93 percent cut from the FY 2015 enacted level. The House T-HUD Appropriations bill also includes funding cuts for HOME and would redirect money from the Housing Trust Fund (HTF) to HOME to cover the reduction in funding. The purpose of the HTF is to provide grants to State governments to increase and preserve the supply of rental housing for extremely low- and very low-income families; the HTF is funded through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. NAHMA believes that programs should continue to exist as separate funding streams for affordable housing development.
Since HOME is used as gap financing for the construction/rehabilitation of multifamily properties under the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), these proposed cuts and alterations would greatly impact the construction of new affordable units. We request that members urge lawmakers to reject these cuts and alterations to HOME. Instead NAHMA recommends that Congress adopt the Obama Administration’s request of $1.06 billion for the program in FY 2016.
Section 521 Rental Assistance (Rural Housing)
For Section 521 Rental Assistance (RA), NAHMA is concerned if the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development is using the correct calculation for the true cost of the program. Our main object for the upcoming fiscal year is that Congress must provide adequate funding in FY 2016 to ensure full 12-month funding for all RA contracts. Both the House and Senate appropriations bills for Rural Development include a proposed funding level of $1.167 billion. Again, we request that NAHMA members urge lawmakers to ensure that this funding level will be adequate to provide full 12-month funding for all RA contracts in FY 2016.
Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)
For the LIHTC, NAHMA requests that members urge their lawmakers to pass legislation which will permanently set the minimum credit rates at 9% for development and 4% for rehabilitation on the program. This would eliminate the financial risk of the current floating rate system, simplify state administration, and create stability for owners and investors of Housing Credit developments.
Currently there are two bills which will accomplish this goal: Representative Patrick Tiberi’s (R-OH) H.R.1142 and Senator Maria Cantwell’s (D-WA) S.1193. We request that members urge their lawmakers to pass these bills to permanently set the minimum credit rates at 9% for development and 4% for rehabilitation in the LIHTC program.
For assistance in contacting a member or for additional information on this Grassroots Action alert, please contact NAHMA’s Manager of Government Affairs, Scott McMillen (firstname.lastname@example.org) or NAHMA’s Director of Government Affairs, Larry Keys (email@example.com)