About this time each year, Washington is buzzing about the annual State of the Union Address otherwise referred to as the SOTU. NAHRO for years has been a part of the process and has prepared a written response re our thoughts on the address good and bad. Our thoughts are sent to the media, members of congress and others to ensure that affordable housing issues are on the table. More recently we have live tweeted the speech to our ever growing list of followers. This year we will be tweeting from @NAHROnational and we will prepare a more formal response following the Presidents remarks.
The Administration forwarded talking points to us today in advance of the speech. The list of talking points is not altogether surprising:
- The President will deliver the State of the Union address Tuesday night, driven by three key principles: opportunity, action, and optimism.
- The core idea is as American as they come: If you work hard and play by the rules, you should have the opportunity to succeed. In America, your ability to get ahead should be determined by your hard work, ambition, and goals – not by the circumstances of your birth.
- The President will lay out a set of real, concrete, practical proposals to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class, and empower all who hope to join it.
- In this year of action, the President will seek out as many opportunities as possible to work with Congress in a bipartisan way on behalf of the American people. But when American jobs and livelihoods depend on getting something done, he will not wait for Congress.
- The President has a pen and he has a phone, and he will use them to take executive actions and enlist every American – from business owners, workers, mayors and state legislators to young people, veterans, and folks in communities across the country – in the project to restore opportunity for all.
- It will be an optimistic speech. America has a hard-earned right to that optimism thanks to the grit and determination of citizens across the country. Five years after the President inherited the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, our businesses have created more than eight million new jobs in the past 46 months, and they’re primed to create more.
- The President will remind the country that, with some action on all of our parts, we can help more jobseekers find work, and more working Americans find the economic security they deserve.
- In the week following the State of the Union, the President will travel to communities across the country – including Prince George’s County Maryland, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and Nashville – before returning to the White House to outline new efforts to help the long-term unemployed.
This is the first time that I can recall that talking points such as these were broadly distributed in advance of the speech providing a window into what we can expect to hear from the President. Yes, it would have been better to see the word housing or better yet, affordable housing in the talking points, but we hold out hope that the work that NAHRO members do every day to ensure that vulnerable populations are being served will be recognized in some way. Specifically, we hope the President will speak to the following NAHRO “talking points” in the SOTU:
- The most vulnerable in our nation should know that providing decent, safe and affordable housing is still a priority;
- The investment we make in providing affordable housing will serve those in need, create good paying jobs and will help stimulate the economy through the sale of goods and services;
- The Administration recognizes that any attempt to address “income inequality” must include a vigorous well thought out plan to address the housing needs of the most vulnerable;
- Improving our nation’s infrastructure includes preserving our nation’s irreplaceable housing inventory of affordable housing. The two are not mutually exclusive;
- Efforts to get our fiscal house in order going forward should not come at the expense of domestic discretionary accounts generally and HCD accounts specifically;
- He intends to focus on a plan to restore our nation’s aging inventory of federally assisted-housing (including public housing and section 8 assisted housing) in the remaining months of his term as President;
- He hopes the Congress will send him tax reform legislation or at a minimum tax extender legislation that preserves both the 9% and 4% LIHTC credits.
- He has directed HUD and other government agencies to expedite regulatory reforms that save the federal government money and relieve the administrative burdens that such regulations impose upon local providers;
- He wants to work with mayors and all those who utilize both the HOME and CDBG programs to maximize the effectiveness of both programs in the larger effort to meet the housing and service needs that exist in our communities;
- He wants to ensure that the needs of seniors, the disabled and children living in federally supported-housing are part of this Administrations overall commitment to ensure quality housing and a quality living environment for those in need.
Too much to ask for in one speech? Maybe. A reasonable set of objectives to shoot for this year and for the remainder of the President’s term in office? We certainly hope so.