Congress Holds Hearing on Expanding Housing Access to All Americans

On July 14, the Oversight Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on “Expanding Housing Access to All Americans.” The hearing covered a variety of housing and community development topics, including the recent increase in home prices, low rate of home construction, tax credits, and rental assistance. Subcommittee members from both parties agreed on the dire need for more affordable rental homes and homeownership across the nation.

Five witnesses joined the hearing to provide expert testimony. They included:

  • Jeff Tucker: Senior Economist, Zillow
  • Gerald Howard Jr.: CEO, National Association of Home Builders
  • Staci Berger: President and CEO, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey
  • Lilian Faulhaber: Professor of Law, Georgetown University
  • John Persinger: CEO, Erie Downtown Development Corporation

The first two witnesses testified about the extreme mismatch of supply and demand in the current homeownership market. Faulhaber and Persinger spoke about tax credits and other community development tools, including the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and Opportunity Zones. Persinger also pointed out that his community needs more resources to fill financial gaps in redeveloping aging housing stock. Finally, Berger mentioned the recent National Low-Income Housing Coalition Out of Reach report, which finds that minimum wage workers cannot afford a moderate, two-bedroom rental unit anywhere in the country.

Following the testimonies, subcommittee members questioned the witnesses. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) discussed the Housing Trust Fund and LIHTC with Berger, asking how nonprofit developers can use the two programs together to develop affordable housing in high-cost areas. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) noted that the lack of affordable housing in her community is blocking job growth. Many workers cannot afford to live near employment opportunities because the cost of housing in those neighborhoods is too high.

Several members asked further questions about access to homeownership, including Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA). The Congressman had a conversation with the witnesses about the need to address the racial disparity in homeownership rates. Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY) expressed his concern that many young people are unable to purchase homes in the current market without financial assistance. Subcommittee members and witnesses both offered potential policy solutions that could address these affordable housing and homeownership challenges.

The recorded hearing and witness testimonies are available on the Ways and Means Committee website.

Extended Deadline and New Webinar for MTW Landlord Incentives Cohort

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has extended the deadline for the Moving to Work (MTW) Demonstration Expansion under the Landlord Incentives Cohort to October 15, 2021. The department will hold a webinar for PHAs interested in applying on July 20, 2021 at 1:30 EST to learn more about the application process, ask questions, and hear from current MTW PHAs.  

MTW agencies have the ability to waive certain statutory requirements to create more flexible, locally-designed approaches. The Landlord Incentive Cohort (MTW Cohort #4) must use at least two MTW activities designed for their cohort, including flexibility around payment standards and small area fair market rent, vacancy loss and damage claims, inspections, a signing bonus for new landlords, and more.

To attend the webinar:

Step 1:  Dial into the conference. 

  • Dial-in: 888-251-2949 or 215-861-0694 
  • Access Code: 4047630#  

Step 2: Join the conference on your computer.

For technical assistance:

  • Audio Connection: 1-888-796-6118
  • WebEx Connection: 1-888-793-6118

To learn more about the Landlord Incentives MTW cohort, see here. For a complete list of approved cohort activities, see here.

HUD-VASH Registration of Interest Notice Made Public

In an email to Executive Directors, HUD attached the HUD-VASH Registration of Interest Notice (PIH 2021-21). The notice provides $49 million for new HUD-VASH assistance. The 2021 Appropriations Act provides $40 million, while the additional $9 million is from prior appropriations. HUD estimates that this funding has the potential to fund 6,000 new vouchers.

Awards of vouchers will follow a two-step process. First, eligible PHAs will respond to the notice with an email and a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) letter of support. Second, registered PHAs will receive an invitation to apply for a specific number of vouchers based on a “relative need” formula.

Registrations of interest should be submitted electronically to no later than August 31, 2021.

Although not yet published on HUD’s website, the HUD-VASH registration of interest notice may be found here.

A document explaining the benefits of project-basing HUD-VASH vouchers can be found here.

A slide deck explaining the notice may be found here.