Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Pamela Patneaude, by an 80-17 vote, to serve as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Ms. Patenaude had previously served as former HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development under President George W. Bush and as the director of housing policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center. She is currently the president of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families. As Deputy Secretary, Ms. Patenaude will handle the day-to-day operations of HUD, as well as lead the Department’s Disaster Management Group (DMG), playing a primary role in coordinating the long-term efforts of 16 program and support offices within HUD.
In a press release on Ms. Patneaude’s confirmation, NAHRO CEO Adrianne Todman states:
“NAHRO is pleased that the Senate has confirmed Ms. Patenaude as HUD Deputy Secretary. Her extensive experience with affordable housing and community development issues, both in the non-profit sector and at HUD, will be an asset to the department. We look forward to working with her to advance HUD’s mission to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.”
Yesterday, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017 (S. 548), a comprehensive bill that would strengthen and expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit). This legislation is very similar to the version of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 3237) introduced by the same Senators last year, but with minor modifications.
Earlier this week, Senator Cantwell released a new report that chronicles the nationwide shortage of affordable housing. In her press release, Senator Cantwell said, “[w]e are facing pressures from all sides: demand for rental housing has increased by 21 percent, but we are building units at the lowest rate since the 1970s. If we do not act to increase the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit-our best way to build new affordable homes-by 2025 over 15 million Americans could be spending half of their income on rent. This is unacceptable.”
S. 548 seeks to take steps towards addressing the affordable housing deficit by increasing the overall Housing Credit authority by 50 percent. The legislation also includes other provisions that would streamline and modernize the Housing Credit, increase financial feasibility for projects, and encourage development in underserved areas. The legislation would also support the development of rental units that use the Housing Credit in conjunction with multifamily Housing Bonds, which currently provide important financing to about 40 percent of all Housing Credit apartments.
S. 548 has bipartisan support on the Hill and there are currently eleven other original co-sponsors to the bill: Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Dean Heller (R-NV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Todd Young (R-IN), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Brian Schatz (D-HI). Also recently, over 2,000 organizations across the country, including NAHRO, signed on to the ACTION Campaign’s letter to Congress in support of S. 548.
More information on the bill by the ACTION Campaign can found here:
In a huge victory for NAHRO and its members, the Senate today approved the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (HR 3700) unanimously by a voice vote, sending the bill to the President for his signature.
The bill was approved using a process known as “hot-lining”, a procedure to quickly pass non-controversial legislation. It was passed by the House unanimously on February 2, 2016.
“NAHRO commends the House and the Senate for their work on this critical legislation. With the President’s signature, housing authorities across the country will be able to do their jobs more efficiently and serve their residents and communities better,” said NAHRO President Steve Merritt.
NAHRO thanks everyone involved in the passage of this important legislation, including legislators and their staff, NAHRO membership, and partner housing advocacy groups.
“This is a big deal. The passage of HR 3700 marks the culmination of years of work by members of Congress and their staff, NAHRO members and staff, and the housing community at large. It demonstrates that housing reform is a priority and can be accomplished, and that the legislative process does still work,” said NAHRO’s Acting CEO John Bohm.
Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs committee members Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), along with Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Christopher Coons (D-Del.) took a big step this week by introducing S. 3083, which is companion legislation to the House-passed H.R. 3700. Substantially, the bills are the same.
This is a huge victory, but our work is just beginning in the Senate – contact your Senators today to urge them to take action immediately on S. 3083 – send a letter to your senators and tweet at them (your Senators’ Twitter handles can be found on their websites).
- TY @RoyBlunt @SenatorTimScott @ChrisCoons @SenatorMenendez for #S3083 – I will help you pass this critical legislation @NAHRONational
- #PHAs hit hard by budget cuts, over regulation – S 3083 protects residents, helps #PHAs serve comm better- @SENATOR pass #S3083
- House passed #HR3700 unanimously 4 months ago. @SENATOR please act on #S3083
NAHRO has supported many of the reforms within the bill since it was originally drafted in the House; NAHRO President Steve Merritt testified at a hearing on H.R. 3700 in October 2015 and NAHRO has been working with a coalition of housing stakeholders pushing for the passage of the bill. In April, NAHRO joined the coalition on a letter to Senators urging the quick passage of the legislation.
Specifically, NAHRO supports these provisions of HOTMA (H.R. 3700 and S. 3083):
- Capital Replacement Reserves – Using NAHRO language also included in the Senate FY16 and FY17 Appropriations Acts, HOTMA would allow PHAs to voluntarily establish Capital Fund replacement reserves.
- Subsidy Flexibility – HOTMA would allow for PHAs to transfer 20 percent of their Operating Funds to their Capital Fund, language NAHRO has advocated for strongly over many years.
- Income Review Safe Harbors – HOTMA would allow PHAs to use other federal data to determine income including TANF, Medicaid, and SNAP.
- Project-Based Voucher Program – PHAs would be able to calculate project-based vouchers (PBVs) based on authorized units instead of voucher funding. Additionally, those PHAs that have units targeting homeless individuals and families, veterans, elderly households, disabled households, or units in areas where vouchers are difficult to use, would be permitted to project-base up to 30 percent of those targeted units. In other instances, PHA project-based voucher (PBV) assistance may not exceed 25 percent of the units in a project or 25 units, whichever is greater. In areas where vouchers are difficult to use and in census tracts with a poverty rate of equal to or less than 20 percent, PHAs may provide project-based voucher assistance for up to 40 percent of the units in a project. HOTMA allows PBV contracts and extensions of up to 20 years; allows PHAs to permit site-specific waiting lists managed by owners; and clarifies that PHAs may project-base HUD-VASH and Family Unification Project (FUP) vouchers.
- Extended Family Unification Vouchers – HOTMA would increase the age of eligibility for FUP vouchers from 21 to 24 and make youth who will leave foster care within 90 days and are homeless or at risk of homelessness eligible. S. 3083 contains provisions that would also expand FUP vouchers by allowing eligible youth “who have attained 16 or 17 years” and who have left foster care to remain in the program for up to 36 months.
- PHAs and LRAs as ESG Subrecipients – HOTMA includes statutory language, supported by NAHRO, that would permit any state or local government receiving Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) allocations to distribute all or a portion of its grant funds to PHAs and local redevelopment authorities (alongside private nonprofit organizations).
- Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs and an Annual Supplemental Report – HOTMA would create a new position of Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs that reports directly to the Secretary of HUD and would be responsible for, among other things, ensuring veterans have access to housing programs and homeless assistance, coordinating veteran-related programs at HUD, and serving as a liaison between HUD, the VA, and the USICH, and officials of state, local, regional, and nongovernmental organizations. HOTMA would also require HUD to collaborate on and submit to Congress an annual supplemental report on veteran homelessness.
Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Chairman Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Ranking Member Robert Menendez (D-N.J), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) introduced companion legislation to the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (H.R. 3700) in the Senate today. The Senate bill number is S. 3083.
“NAHRO commends Chairman Tim Scott and Ranking Member Robert Menendez, with Sen. Roy Blunt and Sen. Christopher Coons, on the introduction of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act in the Senate. This common-sense legislation will help public housing authorities across the country do their jobs more efficiently and better serve their residents. NAHRO was honored to have the opportunity to testify at the House Financial Services Committee last fall about this bill and I am thankful to the senators for their commitment to moving it forward,” said John Bohm, Acting NAHRO CEO.
This is a huge victory, but our work is just beginning in the Senate. Send a letter to your senators today urging them to take immediate action on the Senate bill.
For more information, see NAHRO’s coverage of the introduction of H.R. 3700 and the revised version that was approved unanimously by the House in February.