Monthly Archives: October 2014

Election Day 2014 – Potential Impact on Housing and Community Development

The Basics

Federal elections are held every two years on the first Tuesday in November. The entire House of Representatives and one third of the Senate is up for re-election on this upcoming Tuesday, November 4. This election is critical for housing and community development programs (HCD), as many allies of HCD programs and members of committees with jurisdiction over our programs are up for re-election. Additionally, the balance of power could change in the Senate, impacting the leadership and direction of HCD committees.

NAHRO will be live-tweeting on election night as results come in. With a few exceptions, polls close on the East Coast at 8:00 p.m., so follow the conversation @NAHROnational or join in using #election2014 starting at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Also, watch the NAHRO on the Hill blog for post-election analysis in the days and weeks after the election and for a webinar walking you through what will be a critical lame duck session of Congress after the election.

Note: NAHRO is a non-partisan organization and does not take positions on elections. This is intended as informational only and not meant to endorse any one candidate or party over another.


House
Though it is nearly impossible for the control of the House to be taken by Democrats, there are a small handful of contested House races that could impact committees with jurisdiction over HCD issues. On the Financial Services Committee, Rep. Michael Grimm (R- N.Y.), Rep. Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) are all considered “toss-up” races. Appropriator Rep. David Valadao (R-Cali.) is in a race that is considered “likely Republican.”


Senate

Currently, the Senate is comprised of 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans, and two Independents (who caucus with the Democrats). This means that Republicans need to pick up only five seats to create an evenly divided Senate and 6 to control it outright. Based on polling, most prognosticators claim that Republicans are between 60 percent and 70 percent likely to take control of the Senate. That said, predictions and polling are frequently inaccurate for a variety of reasons; in June, polls showed former house Majority Leader Eric Cantor up by as many as 34 points immediately before his primary race in June, a race Cantor lost by 10 points. Be prepared for surprises on election night.

If the Republicans do take outright control of the Senate, committees would be controlled by Republicans, which will change the leadership of committees and type of legislation that is considered. If the Senate is split, Democrats would retain control of committees because Vice President Biden, a Democrat, serves as the president of the Senate. In the past when the Senate was split, some power sharing agreements were reached, though it is unknown whether similar deals are possible if the 114th is split.

But, an even split between the parties is unlikely given the number of Independents on ballots in various states. If no party controls the Senate outright, the informal party allegiance of Independents could be the deciding factor in tipping the balance of power one way or the other.
It is also possible that the balance of power in the Senate may not be decided until as late as January; Louisiana and Georgia law requires that run-off elections be held if neither candidate gets a large enough majority of votes, and Georgia’s run-off election is not scheduled until January 6.

Regardless of which party controls the Senate, there are several Senate races that could impact members of committees with jurisdiction over HCD issues, specifically the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committee and the Appropriations committee.

Senator  Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) is a member of the Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is an Appropriator who is a strong housing advocate and both are in very tightly contested races. It is likely that based on Louisiana law, their Senate race could be headed for a run-off in December. Other appropriators who are in tight races are Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Sen. Mark Begich (R-Alaska), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Only a single member of the Banking Committee is in a close race- Sen. Kay Hagan (D- N.C.). Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) is also up for re-election, but is largely considered safe. Also considered most likely safe is Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who sits on both the Appropriations and Banking committees.

Beyond HCD impacts, there are also a handful of interesting races that could shift the balance of power in the Senate.

In Kansas, the Democratic candidate withdrew his candidacy over the summer and Democrats have chosen not to replace him on the ballot. However, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) has a formidable challenge from Independent Greg Orman, who is currently leading most polls, but is still well within the margin of error.

The retirement of Banking Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) has created a three-way race in South Dakota, in which Independent Larry Pressler could pull enough votes from Republican Mike Rounds to hand the victory to Democrat Rick Weiland. However, polling appears to indicate that the race is tightening in favor of a victory for Rounds by as many as 12 points.

In Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell leads challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in some polls by a slim margin, though other polls indicate that the Majority Leader is likely to win by as much as 8 percent.

Another retirement has triggered a close election between Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue. Most polls are showing a less than 3 percent divide between the candidates, making a run-off election in January likely.


Lame Duck

Regardless of the outcome of the election on Tuesday, the 113th Congress still has work to do before the new Congress takes office in January. The current continuing resolution expires on December 11, which means that Congress will have to consider spending in FY 2015 when they return to Washington after the election. Additionally, the issue of expired tax credits, including the fixed rate Low Income Housing Tax Credits, is still unresolved. Visit NAHRO’s Congressional District Contacts page after the election to watch a recorded webinar and access tools to make the most of the lame duck Congress. Appropriations bills could be finalized as early as Thanksgiving, so be sure that you’re ready to weigh in on these critical issues with your lawmakers immediately when they return to Washington.

Laurel Housing Authority, Housing Authority of Covington, and Norwood Housing Authority: Improving the quality of life for all

postercontest_Laurel HA  Public housing authorities are often thought of as mere housing providers, when in reality they do so much more. Today, we’re proud to feature the great work of three NAHRO members: Laurel Housing Authority (Miss.), Housing Authority of Covington (Ky.), and Norwood (Mass.) Housing Authority.

This year, the Laurel Housing Authority (LHA) provided free Spanish lessons to the public; launched a summer feeding program that provided food for more than 11,000 youth in the community; conducted a disaster preparedness class in conjunction with the America Red Cross; and hosted its 19th annual Spring Break Youth Basketball Tournament. LHA staff also collaborated with a local church to plan its annual Spring Activity Day for Summer Feeding Program_Laurel HAyouth; celebrated Senior Citizen Day to recognize the engaged and vibrant seniors living at LHA; partnered with a local AIDS coalition group on an AIDS awareness education initiative; and encouraged artistic development in youth by participating in Housing America’s What Home Means to Me poster contest.

For the Housing Authority of Covington (Ky.), 2014 has been a very busy year. The housing authority has spent much of its time investing in opportunities for residents that promote healthy and self-sufficient lives. These include a two-part work readiness class called Get Learning and Start Succeeding (GLASS) and GLASS Transitional Work Opportunities (GTWO); quarterly on-site hiring events featuring companies like Speedway, covington ha 2Amazon and Avon; a monthly ‘Ride n Apply’ no-cost transportation program for residents interested in applying for a job; a Dress for Success program, which helps prepare women for job interviews by providing with them with professional clothing and mock interview practice; computer classes; National Career Readiness Certification (NCRC); and GED study and testing support. The housing authority also sponsored: a family day cookout in collaboration with the National Fatherhood institute; summer camps for youth ages 6-13 and youth ages 16-20; a cardiovascular heart health education workshop sponsored by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute; a WIA CAREER Steps and Ignition program for 14-18 year olds; a free community health clinic in partnership with Northern Kentucky University and the Nurse Advocacy Center for the Underserved; a back-to-school resource fair in August for both children and adults looking to continue their education; a Christmas toy drive; and a meal program for Covington HAseniors and person with disabilities. Finally, the housing authority implemented a smoke-free housing policy in July and offered cessation support for residents, completed the first round of move-ins in September for its HOPE VI Revitalization project and opened its Housing Choice Voucher waitlist.

At the Norwood Housing Authority (Mass.), a community garden at the Maguire Senior Housing Development was once a vibrant social outlet for senior residents, but a challenging landscape made gardening for seniors with disabilities difficult, and the garden soon went unattended. In 2013, NHA partnered with local organizations Together Yes and Norwood Evening Garden Club to revitalize an onsite greenhouse and relocate the community garden. Upon completion, the new community garden featured raised planting plots for those seniors restricted to a wheelchair. In 2014, the demand to participate in the garden project grew. To meet the demand, NHA added an additional 15 plots for residents. Today, the success of the community garden continues to grow. At the Maguire Senior Housing Development, senior residents are healthier and more social, and building bonds with residents and NHA staff that will last long into their golden years.

Norwood HA

Transforming neighborhoods, building communities

This October marked not only Housing America Month, but also big anniversaries for two of our members: the Warren Housing Authority (R.I.) and Yolo County Housing (Calif.). Each housing authority celebrated by bringing together its residents, elected leaders, colleagues and regional HUD representatives. Sen. Reed _ Housing America Month

On Monday, Oct. 20, the Warren Housing Authority marked its 50th anniversary by recognizing the foresight Warren community leaders had to make a safe, quality, and affordable home for seniors.

“It was 50 years ago that a group of citizens led by Warren’s own Victor Andreozzi approached the town council and asked to form a housing authority,” said Carol Costa, executive director of WHA.  “Today, we celebrate the pioneers who made this possible; the commissioners who guide our vision; the residents who make this place so lively; the administration and staff who make this place tick and the federal, state and town leaders who keep us in business.”

In attendance were Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), State Sen. Walter Felag, Rep. Jan Malik, Rep. Ken Marshall and national housing officials representing NAHRO, New England Regional Council of NAHRO (NERC NAHRO) and Public Housing Association of Rhode Island (PHARI).

During the luncheon, WHA received citations recognizing its 50 years of service to the community from Sen. Whitehouse, General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, and the Rhode Island House of Representatives and Senate.

Rep. Cicilline_Housing America Month tweet

On Thursday, Oct. 23, Yolo County Housing celebrated the 30th anniversary of the opening of Riverbend Manor. The property was once a school that closed in 1978 and fell into disrepair. In 1984, it was converted to housing for senior and disabled families. Today, the classrooms have been further updated to provide housing for 63 extremely low-income families. Onsite amenities include a ceramics classroom complete with a kiln, community gardens and a lunch program for senior residents.

California State Assemblyman Roger Dickinson and HUD Division Director Melina Whitehead attended the anniversary celebration as well as former students and instructors of the school.  HUD Division Director Melina Whitehead and Lisa Baker _housing america event

NAHRO congratulates both Warren Housing Authority and Yolo County Housing on their years of service to their communities and thanks them for providing safe, quality, and affordable homes for all!

Yolo County Housing

Fighting homelessness and generational poverty with affordable housing

The Housing Authority of Winston-Salem (NC) is honoring Housing America Month this October, but more importantly, the clients and residents it serves every day. The Oaks at Tenth_Winston Salem

This year, HAWS partnered with the Bethesda Center for the Homeless by committing to set aside 42 public housing units for those persons in the community experiencing chronic homelessness. Since 2012, HAWS Collaborative Program has helped 49 homeless individuals.

Affordable housing is at a premium in Winston-Salem much like the rest of the country. That’s why HAWS recently broke ground on a new 30-unit public housing property called Camden Station. The property is set to be completed in the summer of 2015. HAWS also recently completed its Stoney Glen Apartments project, a newly renovated public housing community. The Apartments began leasing this month. Both properties come with energy efficiency washers and dryers and require residents to work. Earlier this year, HAWS also completed The Oaks at Tenth, HAWS’s first ever working requirement activity community.

HAWS also focuses on helping its residents further their education. Eight first generation college students will continue their education at local colleges and universities thanks to HAWS and funding from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. Stoney Glen Renovation_Winston Salem

For more information about how agencies like the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem are positively impacting their communities, visit the Housing America Campaign website.

Community Focus on Affordable Housing for ’17Days’

From Sept. 19 through Oct. 5, artwork created by youth living in assisted housing provided by the State Representative Alma Adams with GHA youth at HA eventGreensboro Housing Authority (NC) was featured at the 17Days Arts and Culture Festival in celebration of Housing America Month. Artists in grades K-12 created art that expressed what home means to them.

“We are delighted to have our ‘What Homes Means to Me’ posters included in the 17DAYS Arts & Culture Festival,” said Tina Akers Brown, president and CEO of GHA. “This is the first time that an agency such as ours has had the opportunity to participate in the community event.  It will be great exposure for the children and will help highlight the many positive things that happen in our communities.”

03_72dpi_Harmonee_FebIncluded in the exhibit was Greensboro’s national winning 2015 ‘What Home Means to Me’ contest entry created by 18 year old, Harmonee.

Greensboro (NC) Mayor Announces 2015 What Home Means to Me National WinnerArtsGreensboro’s annual festival celebrates “all things beautiful and exciting.” In 2013, more than 85,000 people attended the festival including State Representative Alma Adams. This year, Greensboro Mayor Nancy B. Vaughan joined GHA at the 17Days Arts and Culture Festival to highlight not only wonderful work of the children, but the integral role affordable housing plays in education and job training and development.

D.C. Housing Authority: Impacting the quality of lives of the families it serves

With its focus on the future and the ever-changing backdrop of affordable housing in our nation’s capital, the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) has spent much of 2014 and the years before developing and preserving its existing affordable housing stock for the thousands of low-income persons and families in need. DCHA-Lofts at Capitol Quarter - Ribbon Cutting1

In March 2014, DCHA Executive Director Adrianne Todman and local leaders broke ground on the latest addition to the Southeast neighborhood community, the Lofts at Capitol Quarter. When completed, the $42 million L Street building will contain 156 market-rate and 39 affordable rental units. Amenities will include a roof top deck and pool, internal courtyards, an exercise room, and a computer room. Construction is expected to be completed by late 2015. The Lofts at Capitol Quarter are part of DCHA’s Capitol Quarter redevelopment project, one of the nation’s largest Hope VI projects.

“At DCHA we work creatively with other public and private partners to unlock opportunities for our residents so that they can improve their life outcomes,” Todman said. “We are in the final stages of developing the Capitol Quarter neighborhood into a successful mixed-income community that our clients can consider home.”

DCHA-Lofts at Capitol Quarter - Ribbon Cutting2Funding for the Lofts at Capitol Quarter was made possible by combining Low Income Housing Tax Credit subsidies, District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency debt purchased by Citi Community Capital, and a short-term loan made by Industrial Bank.

Helping families to self-sufficiency one step at a time

Homeownership can be an overwhelming process to go through for a first time buyer, particularly when the buyer doesn’t have a thorough knowledge of the process. DCHA saw a need to help support and counsel its residents moving toward homeownership both at the beginning of the process and after to ensure complete success.

By combining the resources of local and federal government, FDIC Insured Banks, HUD community-based homeownership organizations-University Legal Services, prominent title companies-Answer Title, and the DCHA HCV Homeownership Program, DCHA was able to educate its first-time homebuyers in the process in a way that the typical first-time homebuyer would not receive.

DCHA has pledged to continue to develop partnerships with resource centers across the city through its Homeownership Coordinating Committee in order to bring an even greater level of support to future homeowners.

Serving the needs of our seniors

DCHA also opened its first, state-of-the-art, affordable assisted living facility, with the designation of certified Medicaid provider. By creating a model that combined HUD rental subsidies, Medicaid reimbursements, and other revenues, DCHA is able to provide a 24-hour per day community and healthcare outlet for seniors, as well as health-related employment opportunities for other trained DCHA residents.DCHA-Maintaining Housing for Seniors

“It’s clear there is a need for additional affordable housing options in the District of Columbia and I salute DCHA for putting great care in creating this new facility that not only puts a roof over residents’ heads, but provides them with key wrap-around services that will help them to lead healthy and full lives,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “This new facility will serve as a model as we continue to foster a city where all can live and thrive.”

Seniors’ Housing Choice Voucher leases are often terminated because of disputes between landlord and resident, a failure to complete the biennial recertification process, or a resident violation of Housing Quality Standards (HQS). DCHA’s HCVP Mediation Program partners low-income seniors, a majority of whom are low-income ethnic minorities and women, with an Elder Buddy –AARP’s answer to legal counsel for the elderly.

Since 2012, more than 400 of DC’s seniors have received legal counsel through the Elder Buddy program which has resulted in a major decrease in terminations from the HCV Program.

For these reasons and many more, we celebrate DCHA today during Housing America Month for its its undying dedication and commitment to providing safe, quality, and affordable housing for all in  need in our nation’s capital.

Colorado NAHRO Names Rep. Perlmutter Legislator of the Year

On Monday, Oct. 6, Colorado NAHRO (CoNAHRO) honored Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) as its 2014 Legislator of the Year.

A member of the House Financial Services Committee, Perlmutter has a proven track record of fighting for the interests of Colorado residents by supporting the activities and programs of housing authorities and community development agencies. In 2013, he sponsored the Freddie Mac REMIC Reform Act, more commonly known as H.R. 3754. In the same year, he introduced an amendment to the 2014 Energy and Water spending bill in an effort to restore resources in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. He is also committed to making transportation accessible by all.

“Rep. Perlmutter worked to help secure a “Sustainable Community Initiative” grant worth $4.5 million for DRCOG to develop the Metro Denver region’s long-range plan for growth and development, while addressing one of our region’s most pressing and exciting challenges: leveraging the multi-billion dollar expansion of the FasTracks transit system,” said Tami Fischer, president of CoNAHRO. “Part of this plan is to ensure families have affordable housing along transportation lines such as the Westline and Northline.”

Perlmutter worked side by side with CoNAHRO to endorse regulatory reform in a time of declining federal resources, in order to enable housing authority and community development agencies to more efficiently and effectively meet the growing demands of Colorado residents.

During his remarks, Perlmutter explained that his role in this process had been insignificant compared to the work of the housing and community development (HCD) professionals of Colorado. “This is a team effort,” he said. “It’s about a vision and an effort to make that vision a reality.”

The ceremony honoring the Congressman took place at the Lamar Station Affordable Housing Development in Lakewood, Colo., in front of more than 50 HCD industry leaders.

Going Digital: Housing Choice Voucher Waiting Lists

Providing shelter for families, children and adults who have fallen on hard times is a housing authority’s main function. And in these difficult times, any way to speed up and improve the process of helping those in need find shelter is helpful. The Lafayette (La.) Housing Authority did just that this month, by moving its administratively burdensome Housing Choice Voucher waiting list application process from in-person to online.

When LHA last opened its waiting list, they were greeted at their door by thousands of people hoping to secure an affordable home.  “Two years ago, we accepted nearly 1,200 names in two hours,” said Katie Anderson, executive director of the Lafayette Housing Authority. “To date, we have just under 3,000 people who have applied to be added to the wait list. I’m anticipating about 4,000 names to end up going to the lottery for selection.” This year, at the end of the lottery process, 1,000 names will have been added to the waiting list, and the process itself will have been streamlined. The lottery closes on Oct. 14.

Housing authorities across the country are shifting the process online. Over the last few months, Baltimore Housing, Charlotte Housing Authority, and the St. Louis Housing Authority have all transitioned their application processes online, giving families a chance to apply without disrupting their work or school schedules.

Today, the Housing America Campaign celebrates the Lafayette Housing Authority and the countless others who continue to find quicker and more efficient ways to help those in need of safe, quality and affordable housing.

Housing Authority Provides Active Seniors with a Community to Call Home

Pinellas Heights, a new, 153-unit development for seniors and persons with disabilities, is described as “a blessing” by many in Pinellas County.

PinellasHeightsInitialHR-2The Pinellas County Housing Authority (PCHA) transformed a once-vacant abandoned lot into a vibrant, thriving community center for seniors living on fixed incomes. The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) was instrumental in the development of the property. “Without the LIHTC, we couldn’t have constructed Pinellas Heights,” said Debbie Johnson, PCHA’s executive director. Public-private partnerships were also key. Pinellas Heights was designed by Bessolo Design Group, Inc. and constructed by Brooks & Freund. Norstar Development USA, LLP was a co-developer with PCHA on the project.   PinellasHeightsInitialMR-13
Pinellas Heights boasts of an impressive list of amenities including Energy Star appliances, walk-in showers, and emergency assistance pull cords in every apartment. It also features an onsite library, fitness center, and laundry rooms accessible on every floor, as well as internet access, touch-screen computers and scenic views. Pinellas Heights is also a smoke-free and pet-friendly property.

With the growing number of seniors in need of affordable housing in the area, it is clear that Pinellas Heights is a welcome addition to the community. Read what current residents are saying about their home:

  • “I’ve waited three years for this, and it finally came. It’s a blessing. It’s like the Taj Mahal, seriously.”
  • “One of the things we really appreciate was that this building was designed to accommodate any kind of handicap.”
  • I think this is a fantastic completion of a dream. And as a long-term resident of Clearwater and Pinellas County, I appreciate the opportunity that this is providing for me and for so many other citizens to have beautiful safe housing for those of us on a low-income.”
  • It gave the community such a sense of pride, particularly seniors that have low affordability.”

City Council and Housing Authority Proclaim October to Be Housing America Month

Last week, the San Antonio City Council joined the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA) in proclaiming October as Housing America Month. SAHA shared local statistics about the need affordable housing and community development in the San Antonio metro area:

  • SAHA provides housing to over 65,000 children, adults and seniors, through programs such as public housing, Housing Choice Vouchers, and Mixed-Income housing;
  • One out of every two residents in these programs is under the age of 18;
  • Nearly one-half of the heads of households are senior or disabled;
  • Over the last five years, SAHA has developed 1,800 new mixed-income units, at a development cost of over $215 million.

Housing America Month Proclamation _San Antonio Housing AuthoritySAHA also remains committed to helping families and individuals reach self-sufficiency so that others may benefit from the support of affordable housing, reporting that:

  • There are more than 1,900 “actively engaged” clients involved in SAHA’s self-sufficiency initiatives, 40 percent of whom are currently employed.
  • This summer, SAHA hosted its annual William “Bill” Sinkin Education Summit, at which more than 280 students were recognized for academic excellence and 40 college students were awarded scholarships from the SAHA education foundation.

San Antonio is not only home to a former HUD Secretary, Henry Cisneros, but also to the current one: former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro. The city is also known for innovations in affordable housing and community development. Last month, SAHA celebrated the start of demolition of former public housing site Wheatley Courts, signaling a beginning of a new era for residents in San Antonio’s Eastside. From the rubble, will emerge 417 new mixed-income apartments for seniors, children and families.

“The kickoff of the demolition and construction activities on the Wheatley site is definitely cause for celebration,” said Lourdes Castro Ramirez, SAHA President and CEO. “Eastside residents have been working together with us to plan this redevelopment for more than three years now, and we’re all very excited that the work on this new housing for the Choice Neighborhood Initiative is now underway.”