Affordable housing is neither tangential nor separate from the cause of abating sprawl; it is integral to the dynamic of sprawl development and crucial if we are to build a large and 
inclusive coalition to promote more ecological and equitable patterns of development. When communities fail to maintain enough affordable housing, it triggers a long list of reverberating problems that defy easy solutions and indeed, may define sprawl itself. One of the most problematic is the huge distances that separate low and moderate- income urban Americans from where most of the new jobs are being created, out in the suburbs. As distances between housing and work (and everything else) increase, traffic and air pollution worsen with the attendant increase in driving, especially when there are not adequate public 
transit options. As more land is paved, water pollution increases from the runoff created by impervious surfaces. The public sector ends up footing the bill for new water and sewer treatment plants created and new schools built, even as school buildings within the city remain vacant. 

Reports, Books, Articles,National Legislation, Affordable Housing Programs,State and Local Campaigns, Organizations&Industry Groups 

Mayors Call for Increased Federal Support for Housing
In testimony before the Financial Services Committee of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, Conference of Mayors Advisory Board Chair and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino recommended a four-point plan for easing the housing crisis in cities across America, explaining that the strong economy has caused housing costs to skyrocket, pricing many middle- and working-class citizens out of their homes and neighborhoods.

National Legislation
National Affordable Housing Trust Fund
Though not introduced yet this session, there will be National Affordable Housing Trust Fund legislation introduced by the end of June 2001, which will be similar to Trust Fund legislation introduced in the 106th Congress by Senator John Kerry (D-MA).  The goals of the Trust Fund, as specified by the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Campaign, are as follows:

  • A National Affordable Housing Trust Fund should be established that serves as a source of revenue for the production of new and preservation or rehabilitation of existing housing that is affordable for low income people. 
  • The initial goal of the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund should be to produce, rehabilitate, and preserve 1,500,000 units of housing by 2010. 
  • The Trust Fund should be capitalized with ongoing, permanent, and sufficient source(s) of revenue to meet the goal of 1,500,000 housing units by 2010. The first sources should be excess FHA and Ginnie Mae revenue. FHA revenue over the amount necessary to maintain the soundness of the FHA should be dedicated to the Trust Fund. Revenue produced by federal housing programs should be used to solve housing problems. 
Rural Rental Housing Act of 2001
The bill authorizes $250 million annually for a program to be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which will fund states by formula based on each state's share of rural substandard units and rural households living in poverty.   Funds under this program would have to be used to serve low income households, those making under 80% of the area median income, with priority for very low income families, making less than 50% of the area median income

Housing Preservation Matching Grant Act of 2001 (H.R. 425)
H.R. 425 would provide matching grants to states to preserve federally assisted affordable housing. Status: The bill has 41 co-sponsors and has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.

FHA First-Time Homebuyer Act (H.R. 859)
H.R. 859 would reduce the down payment amount that a first time homebuyer is required to pay if purchasing a home insured by FHA. Status: Referred to House committee.

Affordable Housing Programs
Hope VI
According to HUD, the purpose of HOPE VI is to:

  • Change the physical shape of public housing by replacing the worst public housing developments with apartments or townhouses that become part of their surrounding communities.
  • Reduce concentrations of poverty by encouraging a greater income mix among public housing residents and by encouraging working families to move into public housing and into new market-rate housing begin built as part of the neighborhoods where public housing is located.
  • Establish support service to help public housing residents get and keep jobs.
Though there is often great fanfare and community support during the actual demolitions, concerns have been raised about the lack of resident participation in the decision making process that goes into HOPE VI developments, the number of families displaced by the projects, and the net loss of affordable housing for extremely low income people.

Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)
LIHTC is the nation's primary tool for developing affordable rental housing.  Since its creation in 1986, the Housing Credit has produced over one million affordable homes for low-income renters.  Nonprofits develop approximately 30% of these homes nationwide, but this share varies considerably from state to state.  The housing credit works by providing a dollar for dollar reduction in the federal tax liability of equity investors in qualifying affordable rental properties. 

Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME)
The Home Program is a formula-based allocation program intended to support local housing strategies that increase the supply of housing for low income people.  The primary purpose of the HOME program is to increase the supply of housing for low and very low income families, expand rental assistance for low and very low income families, and increase financial support for affordable housing from the private sector and state and local governments among other aims. 

Housing Vouchers ("Section 8")
The housing choice voucher program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects.

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
CDBG provides block grants to local governments for community development and is an important source of funding for affordable housing rehab and construction.  The puropose of CDBG is to improve communities by providing decent housing, a suitable living environment, and expanding economic opportunities, principally for persons with low and moderate income.

State and Local Campaigns:  To find out what is happening in the states, please link to www.sprawlwatch.org/state.html

Reports and Websites:
Policylink: Beyond Gentrification Toolkithttp://www.policylink.org/gentrification/
PolicyLink has created a powerful set of tools for use in communities faced with gentrification. 

Smart Growth, Better Neighborhoods:  Communities Leading the Way  (National Neighborhood Coalition)
Learn about community-based organizations and coalitions that are tackling the negative consequences of sprawl and disinvestment in their neighborhoods and making growth smarter for low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. In Smart Growth, Better Neighborhoods, a 204 page report, organizations share in their own words the lessons they have learned from working on such regional issues as public transportation, affordable housing, brownfields, schools, and more.
http://www.neighborhoodcoalition.org/report form.htm

A Study of the Relationship Between Affordable Family Rental Housing and Home Values in the Twin Cities, (Family Housing Fund-Minneapolis, MN September 2000.)
We conclude from our research that there is little or no evidence to support the claim that the tax-credit family rental developments in our study eroded surrounding home values.  The information from this research suggests that the various housing submarkets examined in our study performed normally in the years after construction of the tax-credit properties in question varying in similar fashion to the pre-construction years, and responding to supply and demand forces in a similar manner as the larger market.

Dealing with Neighborhood Change:  A Primer on Gentrification and Policy Choices (Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy)
This paper serves as a primer on how to view the complex issue of gentrification. It reviews the findings, analyses and frameworks developed during the gentrification wave of the '70s and '80s. The paper outlines the complex ways that current and "original" residents view gentrification-and clarifies that long-time neighbors can take very different positions on the gentrification issue.

Who Should Run the Housing Voucher Program? (Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy)
Section 8, commonly known as "housing vouchers," is the federal government's primary rental assistance program. It is administered by thousands of local public housing agencies in a balkanized system that seriously undermines the potential of the program. This working paper explores options for administering the federal housing voucher program at the metropolitan level.

Out of Reach 
The Growing Gap Between Housing Costs and Income of Poor People in the United States (National Low Income Housing Coalition)
Out of Reach contains income and rental housing cost data for the fifty states and District of Columbia by state, metropolitan area, and county or, in the case of New England, town. For each, it calculates the income that renter households need in order to afford rental housing and estimates how many of these households cannot afford to pay the Fair Market Rent (FMR), and what they would need to earn to pay the rent and keep their housing costs at 30 percent of their income, the generally accepted standard for affordability established by Congress and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. http://www.nlihc.org/oor2000/index.htm


Enterprise Foundation
The Enterprise Foundation is a national, nonprofit housing and community development organization working with partners to provide low-income people with affordable housing, safer streets and access to jobs and child care.  The Foundationís mission is to see that all low-income people in the United States have the opportunity for fit and affordable housing and to move up and out of poverty into the mainstream of American life.

Fannie Mae Foundation

Local Initiative Support Center (LISC)
LISC's mission is to assist community development corporations (CDCs) in their efforts to transform distressed neighborhoods into healthy communities. By marshalling private sector resources and extending financial and technical support to CDCs, LISC enables residents to set their own priorities and shape the process of community renewal.

National Neighborhood Coalition
The NNC is an umbrella organization of national nonprofits, networks of community, neighborhood and faith-based organizations and other advocates who are committed to promoting socially and economically healthy, vibrant neighborhoods.  NNC is working on two papers that examine the intersection of affordable housing and smart growth.  The first a literature review examining the affects of smart growth on affordable housing to be released in July 2001. The second is a report on policies and strategies that foster both smart growth and affordable housing.

National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC)
Established in 1974, the NLIHIS is dedicated solely to ending Americaís affordable housing crisis. NLIHC educates, organizes, and advocates to ensure decent, affordable housing within healthy neighborhoods for everyone.  NLIHC provides up-to-date information, formulates policy, and educates the public on housing needs and the strategies for solutions.

National Community Reinvestment Coalition
NCRC was formed in 1990 by 16 national, regional, and local organizations to develop and harness the collective energies of community reinvestment organizations from across the country so as to increase the flow of private capital into traditionally underserved communities.

Smart Growth America
Smart Growth America is a national coalition promoting a better way to grow, one that protects open space, revitalizes neighborhoods, keeps housing affordable, and makes communities more livable. 

Smart Growth Network
The Smart Growth Network encourages development that is environmentally, fiscally, and economically smart and helps create national, regional and local coalitions to support smart growth. Smart Growth Network's Subgroup on Affordable Housing will be releasing a report on policies and strategies that foster both smart growth and affordable housing.

Housing Assistance Council
A nonprofit corporation, the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) has been helping local organizations build affordable homes in rural America since 1971. HAC emphasizes local solutions, empowerment of the poor, reduced dependence and self-help strategies. HAC assists in the development of both single- and multi-family homes and promotes homeownership for working low-income rural families through a self-help, "sweat equity" construction method. The Housing Assistance Council offers services to public, nonprofit and private organizations throughout the rural United States. HAC also maintains a special focus on high-need groups and regions: Indian country, the Mississippi Delta, farmworkers, the Southwest border colonias and Appalachia.

Congressionally Chartered Commission
Millennial Housing Commission
The mission of the Commission is to identify, analyze, and develop recommendations that highlight the importance of housing, improve the housing delivery system, and provide affordable housing for the American people, including recommending possible legislative and regulatory initiatives.  As defined by Congress:
? Identify the role and importance of housing as it relates to:
? Analyze existing federal, state, and local housing programs,
and private sector delivery systems, and:
? Develop specific recommendations including legislative and/or regulatory initiatives, especially focused at the federal level, but including linkages between federal activities and action at the state and local level.

The following are the three industry associations with the largest presence on Capital Hill that often advocate on affordable housing issues.  We have provided links to their positions on affordable housing.

National Association of Home Builders
Smart Growth Policy Statement
Smart Growth Report: Building Better Places to Live, Work and Play

National Association of Realtors
Meeting the Challenge of Growth: A Blueprint for REALTOR Action

National Multi Family Council