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.
Legislation, Affordable Housing
Programs,State and Local Campaigns,
Call for Increased Federal Support for Housing
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 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:
Rural Rental Housing Act of 2001
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
the FHA should be dedicated to the Trust Fund. Revenue produced by federal
housing programs should be used to solve housing problems.
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
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.
According to HUD, the purpose of HOPE VI is to:
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
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.
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.
and Local Campaigns: To find out what is happening in
the states, please link to www.sprawlwatch.org/state.html
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.
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
Out of Reach
The Growing Gap Between Housing Costs and
Income of Poor People in the United States (National Low Income Housing
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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
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
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
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
National Association of Home Builders
Growth Policy Statement
Smart Growth Report: Building
Better Places to Live, Work and Play
National Association of Realtors
the Challenge of Growth: A Blueprint for REALTOR Action
National Multi Family Council