Federal Policy Priorities

Federal Housing Advocacy Issues

Georgia ACT board, staff and members visiting the Capitol while in Washington D.C. for the 2017 People and Places Conference.

2019 Georgia ACT Federal Housing Policy and Advocacy

Georgia ACT’s Federal Policy Priorities

 (Courtesy of the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. Georgia ACT is the Georgia State Intermediary for the NLIHC and NCRC). A pdf version of Georgia ACT’s 2019 federal policy agenda can be downloaded here.

  • Protecting, expanding and monitoring the implementation of the National Housing Trust Fund.

The National Housing Trust Fund is the first new housing resource in a generation. It is exclusively targeted to help build, preserve, and rehabilitate housing for people with the lowest incomes. NLIHC, its members, and other stakeholders played a critical role in the creation of the Housing Trust Fund in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. In 2016, the first $174 million in HTF dollars were allocated to states. In 2017, $219 million was available, and in 2018, $267 million is available.

  • Preserving and increasing resources for federal affordable housing programs serving extremely low-income families.
    • Despite a proven track record, federal housing programs have been chronically underfunded. NLIHC and Georgia ACT advocates for increased funding for Housing Choice Vouchers, public housing, project-based rental assistance, the HOME Investment Partnerships program, and homeless assistance grants, among many other programs. We opposes efforts to cut housing benefits by imposing arbitrary work requirements, time limits, and other restrictions. These so-called reforms are neither cost effective nor a solution to the very real issue of poverty impacting millions of families living in subsidized housing or in need.
    • NLIHC and Georgia ACT supports the creation of a new, innovative renters’ tax credit to help the lowest income families afford a place to call home. Moreover, any expansion of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit should be tied to reforms to ensure that the program better serves families with the greatest needs. NLIHC and Georgia ACT will also work to preserve and expand affordable housing available in rural areas by supporting funding for USDA Rural Development programs and opportunities to preserve the agency’s rental housing portfolio.
    • NLIHC and Georgia ACT advocates for the creation of a National Housing Stabilization Fund to provide emergency assistance to low income households to prevent housing instability and homelessness.  Temporary assistance can stabilize households experiencing major economic shocks before it leads to situations which require more prolonged and extensive housing assistance.
  • Ensuring federal disaster recovery efforts are fair and equitable. The NLIHC and Georgia ACT will work to ensure that all displaced families have a safe, accessible, and affordable place to live while they get back on their feet. Georgia ACT is a member of the NLIHC’s Disaster Recovery Coalition. The Disaster Recovery Coalition works to ensure that federal disaster recovery efforts reach all impacted households, including the lowest income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, veterans, people experiencing homelessness, and other at-risk populations who are often the hardest-hit by disasters.
  • Promoting equitable access to affordable housing.
    • NLIHC and Georgia ACT supports the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule issued in 2015 that helps communities better meet their fair housing obligations and promotes housing choice. Also, the NLIHC and Georgia ACT supports increasing mobility opportunities through new allocations of special mobility vouchers, expanded mobility counseling, and regional mobility programs, as well as the continued implementation of HUD Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs) in certain metropolitan areas that protect current and future tenants.
    • NLIHC and Georgia ACT supports expanding the Fair Housing Act to bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, and source of income.
    • NLIHC and Georgia ACT advocates for safe, stable, affordable and accessible housing for those who have been involved in the criminal or juvenile justice system. By eliminating the barriers to housing and supporting programs that help formerly incarcerated people successfully reintegrate into their communities, people with criminal records can make the most of their second chance. In addition, NLIHC and Georgia ACT advocates to end the criminalization of homelessness. Nationwide, homeless people are targeted, arrested, and jailed under laws that criminalize homelessness by making illegal those basic acts that are necessary for life.
  • Championing anti-poverty solutions. NLIHC supports efforts to protect vital safety net programs, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), unemployment insurance, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Affordable Care Act, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Moreover, NLIHC and Georgia strongly supports efforts to increase the minimum wage and to target federal resources to communities with persistent poverty. Through Georgia ACT’s partners at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), Georgia ACT will advocate to legislators and monitor regulators’ ability to strengthen the CRA, so that underserved communities have greater access to credit and capital.

Georgia ACT’s State and Federal Policy Action Strategies:

  • Housing Day at the Georgia State Capitol on February 27, 2019 (in partnership with Enterprise Community Partners and the Empire Board of Realists, Inc.) – Advocacy Training and Engagement from 7:30am to 2:00pm. Register at https://georgiaact.org/advocacy/housingday2019/
  • Messaging and Advocacy Training Webinar for Housing Day at the Georgia State Capitol – February 19, 2019 at 12:30 p.m. Register for the advocacy training here.
  • Advocacy updates and alerts throughout the legislative session to empower statewide engagement with legislators on affordable housing priorities.
  • Engage Department of Community Affairs to increase access to affordable housing through:
    • Enforcement of annual state housing goals and legislative reporting requirements.
    • Increase State Plan commitments for housing low-income families.
  • Expand the coalition of organizations working together to increase access to safe, decent, affordable housing for all Georgians.
  • Expand public education on affordable housing to raise awareness.
  • Obtain input from organizations, municipalities, practitioners, and advocates throughout the state of Georgia on affordable housing issues to build a 2020 legislative agenda.
  • Participation of “Hill Day” in Washington, DC from our national partners including the National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, and National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations, Center for Community Change, etc.
  • Advocacy engagements with U.S. House, Senators, and other federal agencies via sign-on letters, phone calls, Facebook, Twitter (Twitter storms), and Instagram.
  • Advocacy updates and alerts throughout the year to expand public education on affordable housing, anti-poverty initiatives, and community development issues via newsletters, social media, webinars (Zoom), in-person meetings, and listening sessions.

Georgia Advancing Communities Together, Inc.

250 Georgia Avenue, SE, Suite 350

Atlanta, GA 30312

Office: (404) 586-0740

Email: info@georgiaact.org

Web: www.georgiaact.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/GeorgiaACT

Twitter: @GeorgiaACT

Instagram: @GeorgiaACT250

Senators Propose Two Bold Renters’ Tax Credits Bills

Summary

(Courtesy of the Low Income Housing Coalition, 2018 August 13)

Senators Propose Two Bold Renters’ Tax Credits Bills Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) separately introduced bold proposals to create fully refundable tax credits for cost-burdened renters, households spending more than 30% of their income for rent and utilities. Both bills directly address the widening gap between incomes and housing cost and would go a long way toward alleviating the housing crisis for people with the lowest incomes. For more information about the proposals, see NLIHC’s factsheet, “Bold Proposals for Renters’ Tax Credits.” The “Rent Relief Act” (S. 3250) introduced by Senator Harris would provide renters with a refundable tax credit covering a portion of the difference between what they can afford – 30% of their income – and their rent and utilities capped at 150% of fair market rent. The value of the credit would be based on the taxpayer’s income.

The credit would cover: 100% of cost burden for households earning less than $25,000; 75% of cost burden for households earning between $25,000 and $50,000; 50% of cost burden for households earning between $50,000 and $75,000; and 25% of cost burden for households with income between $75,000 and $100,000. Residents in federally assisted housing would also receive a tax credit valued at the amount paid for rent for one month. The “Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, and Equity (HOME) Act” (S.3342) introduced by Senator Booker would provide a refundable tax credit for renters whose income is at or less than 80% of area median. The tax credit would cover the difference between what the household can afford – 30% of their income – and their rent and utilities capped at 100% of fair market rent. Senator Booker’s bill would also require local governments and the private sector to build more housing affordable to the middle class. Under the proposal, local governments receiving Community Development Block Grant funds would be required to address regulatory and zoning barriers that drive up housing costs and restrict the ability of the private sector to build more rental homes for the middle class. NLIHC’s factsheet comparing the two proposals is at: https://bit.ly/2npi5K2 NLIHC’s press release about Senator Booker’s bill is at: https://bit.ly/2KmEP6r Senator Harris’ press release, featuring a quote from NLIHC president and CEO Diane Yentel, is at: https://bit.ly/2O4FXyx

The Issue

Both bills directly address the widening gap between incomes and housing cost and would go a long way toward alleviating the housing crisis for people with the lowest incomes.

Our Stance

Georgia ACT, along with our state and national partners, advocate that the current Administration consider and pass either Bill to support low- and middle-income renters.

HOME Investment Partnership Program

Summary

The National Home Coalition notes that: “Despite the modest increase that Congress provided HOME in FY 2016, the program has been cut in half in recent years, from more than $1.8 billion in FY 2010 to $950 million last year. This reduction comes at a time when recent studies have found that almost half of renter households are cost-burdened and more than a quarter spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent. At the same time, due to funding limitations, only one in four low-income families eligible for housing assistance actually receive assistance. As a result, these cuts have only made it more difficult for America’s most vulnerable residents – including low-income seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, families with children, and those experiencing homelessness – to access safe, decent and affordable housing.”

The Issue

However, today the program is under attack from those in Congress who want to reduce funding to levels that make the program financially unfeasible.

Our Stance

Georgia ACT along with housing advocates from across the country would like Congres to support the proven outcomes of the HOME program by providing a FY 2017 appropriation of at least $1.2 billion. For more information, visit: https://www.ncsha.org/homecoalition.

National Housing Trust Fund

Summary

The National Housing Trust Fund was created in 2008 to provide targeted assistance to those most at risk for becoming homeless. Because the program is funded with surplus revenues from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac it has remained largely unfunded and unused during the recent recession.

The Issue

Now that the economy has recovered, the trust fund is finally seeing needed resources, but some in Congress want to divert that funding elsewhere.

Our Stance

Georgia ACT, along with our state and national partners, strongly oppose this move by Congress. To learn more, visit: http://nlihc.org/issues/nhtf

Low Income Housing Tax Credit

Summary

The Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program provides tax incentives to developers who reserve a portion of residential units for affordable housing.

The Issue

The program is administered under different terms and conditions in each state.

Our Stance

To demonstrate the critical need for an expansion of the LIHTC, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wa) is asking for stories from anyone who has ever dealt with homelessness or struggled to find affordable housing. The campaign to expand the Housing Credit includes changes in order to strengthen the program and would increase the allocation authority by 50%. To support this campaign and share your story, click here. To learn more about LIHTC: visit http://www.nlihc.org/