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April 13, 2012 | Volume 17, Issue No. 15

MEMO MEMBERS

The Weekly Newsletter of the National Low Income Housing Coalition

FEDERAL BUDGET

Senate Committee to Take Up HUD Funding Bill

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) is scheduled to mark up its FY13 bill on April 17 at 3:30 in room 138 of the Dirksen Senate office building. The Senate Committee on Appropriations is expected to mark up the Subcommittee's bill shortly after the Subcommittee mark up. The House THUD subcommittee is expected to mark up its bill later in the spring or early summer. In addition, the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations likely will announce their FY13 302(b) subcommittee allocations the week of April 16. The Appropriations Committees were given a 302(a) figure from the Committees on the Budget in mid-March (see Memo, 3/16). The 302(a) is the top-line discretionary spending figure for the fiscal year. The Senate Committee on the Budget deemed a 302(a) figure in accordance with the FY13 spending cap enacted in the Budget Control Act in 2011. The House Committee on the Budget did not use the enacted spending level and set its 302(a) figure below the enacted level. The House and Senate Committees on Appropriations then divide the 302(a) amount among the 12 House and Senate appropriations subcommittees. This division of funding is called the 302(b) allocation. Each subcommittee must then craft a spending bill limited to its 302(b) allocation. The appropriations subcommittees that provide funding for HUD and USDA rural affordable housing programs are, respectively, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) and the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittees. In March, 1,724 organizations signed a letter urging House and Senate appropriators to increase the THUD Subcommittee 302(b) allocation in FY13 (see Memo, 3/23). The Subcommittee allocation was cut deeply in FY12. Without an increase to the THUD 302(b) allocation, funding for HUD is not likely to increase and may indeed decrease further below FY12 funding levels. During the week of April 16, the Senate Committee on the Budget is expected to proceed with a budget resolution despite Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-ND) having already filed a deeming resolution that established the Senate's FY13 top-line spending figure. House Republicans have criticized the Senate for not passing a budget resolution for two consecutive fiscal years, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that the Senate

will not pass a budget resolution in FY13 because the Budget Control Act of 2011 already establishes a top-line spending figure. Earlier in 2012, Senator Conrad stated his intention for the Committee to pass a budget resolution, despite the Senate Majority Leader's statement. Two Republican Senators have filed budget resolutions and additional Senators are expected to file resolutions as well. Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Ron Paul (R-KY) filed concurrent resolutions on the last day of the Senate session in March. Despite the Budget Committee's continued work on a resolution, the Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to proceed with its FY13 work. In addition to the Senate Appropriations Committee having received an FY13 top-line spending figure from the Senate Budget Committee in March, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are legally allowed to proceed with their appropriations work after April 15, regardless of whether or not Congress has passed a budget resolution.

Senate Banking Committee Chair Weighs in With Housing Appropriators

Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, wrote a letter to both the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) on providing support for housing and community development programs in FY13. "HUD housing and community development funds preserve the country's existing affordable housing assets; save costs in other government programs; invest in the future of our communities; and provide safe, stable and affordable housing options for America's seniors, children and families," wrote Chairman Johnson. The Senate THUD Subcommittee is expected to mark up its FY13 HUD spending bill the week of April 16 (see related article elsewhere in Memo). The letter cites the $18.25 national housing wage that a household must earn in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent published in NLIHC's 2012 Out of Reach report. "This is an amount far above the minimum wage or income available to persons with disabilities who rely upon Supplemental Security Income. Families burdened by housing costs have less available to meet other essential needs like transportation to work, food, medicine, and may even face homelessness," wrote the Chairman. He also cites NLIHC's report on the shortage of affordable units for extremely low income (ELI) households, saying that there are only 32 units available for every 100 ELI households.

727 Fifteenth Street NW, Sixth Floor · Washington, D.C. 20005 · 202-662-1530 · 202-393-1973 fax · [email protected] · www.nlihc.org

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Chairman Johnson urges appropriators to fund HUD programs at a level at least equal to the President's FY13 budget request to Congress and to increase funds for certain HUD programs. For the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance account, he requests funding to renew all current vouchers, a level of administrative funding sufficient for public housing authorities to manage the program, the President's requested level for 10,000 new Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers, and funding for the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. The letter criticizes the Administration's proposed funding level for the Project-Based Rental Assistance program as insufficient and urges a funding level that would continue "current services" and preserve thousands of affordable units. For the Public Housing accounts, the Chairman recommends fully funding the operating fund and providing sufficient capital funding to begin to address the $26 billion backlog of public housing capital needs. He also requests that appropriators provide the President's requested funding level for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative. Chairman Johnson requests full and robust funding for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. For the HOME Investment Partnerships program he requests that appropriators consider an increase in funding over the President's FY13 request. For supportive housing, he requests full funding for the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program, restoration of funding to the Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities program and a continued commitment to funding the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program. For the Community Development Fund programs, the Chairman requests an increase in funding for the Community Development Block Grant program and the President's requested funding level for the Sustainable Communities Initiative. He requests that appropriators continue support for Section 4 funding. He calls for restoring funding for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program, which was zeroed out in the President's budget, and continuing funding for housing and foreclosure mitigation counseling, Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard. For the Native American and Hawaiian Housing Assistance programs, he requests at least the Administration's funding request and urges appropriators to consider increasing funding for those programs. He also urges full funding of the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Program. View the letter: www.nlihc.org/sites/default/files/THUD_FY13_ Letter_3-19-12.pdf View Out of Reach 2012: www.nlihc.org/oor/2012 View the report on the housing shortage, Housing Spotlight: The Shrinking Supply of Affordable Housing: www.nlihc.org/library/ housingspotlight/2-1

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NLIHC Joins Other National Organizations in Call for Tax Fairness

NLIHC joined 110 national organizations in signing a letter to members of the Senate organized by the Tax Revenue Campaign in support of S. 2230, the "Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012," introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Senator Whitehouse's bill "would address an array of tax loopholes in the tax code that allows some millionaires and billionaires to pay a lower effective tax rate than working families," write the organizations. The bill addresses the current variation in tax rates paid based on household earnings. The bill calls for a change in the tax rate for households earning over $1 million annually. Senator Whitehouse's bill would make the "Buffett Rule" part of the U.S. tax code, a reform that is being promoted by President Obama. The Buffett Rule, named for billionaire Warren Buffett, would require a tax rate increase for households earning more than $1 million annually to bring their tax rate equal to at least 30%. View the letter: http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/Fair_Share_ Sign-On_Ltr_4-13-12.pdf

MORE CONGRESS

House Committee to Vote on Revised Housing Reform Bill

The House Committee on Financial Services is scheduled to mark up the Affordable Housing and Self-Sufficiency Improvement Act on April 18. A draft version of the bill, which has not been formally introduced and thus does not have a bill number, was approved by the Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity on February 7. A revised iteration of the draft legislation was released on April 13. Key changes to the bill made in the April 13 bill are summarized below. One of the most harmful and controversial sections of the bill is the inclusion of an increase to the minimum rents residents of public housing, voucher households and project-based Section 8 tenants must pay. The April 13 bill retains the increase of minimum rents to $69.45, but adds both hardship exemption improvements and the ability of local public housing agencies and owners to set minimum rents below the $69.45 rate, if they can demonstrate good cause. Together, these changes could buffer the minimum rent increase, which could impact as many as 500,000 households, who are the poorest households in these programs. The improvements to this section of the bill are the result of three influences: a desire for a bill that could attract bipartisan support, HUD's revision of its own policy proposal on minimum rents, and advocate input.

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Currently, public housing agencies (PHAs) are authorized, but not required to, set monthly minimum rents up to $50. The HUD Secretary has used his authority to set minimum rents in projectbased Section 8 units at $25 (the maximum authorized is $50). NLIHC's opposition to the minimum rent policy is so strong that NLIHC's support for the overall bill hinges on whether improvements to this section of the bill are included. NLIHC has urged Committee members to make any minimum monthly rent policy discretionary on behalf of the local housing agency and owner, and for the bill to include improvements to the current hardship exemptions, which are ineffective and underused. Although HUD's FY13 budget request included an increase to minimum rents for these three largest HUD programs, HUD now supports both retaining discretionary authority for minimum rents at the local level and improved hardship exemptions to ensure housing stability for the lowest income households, the only households impacted by a minimum rent policy. The revised draft bill also includes authorization for the HUD Secretary to establish hardship exemptions for households impacted by the bill's changes to the deduction of un-reimbursed medical or health care expenses for any elderly or disabled family. Here, households could be protected if the Secretary determines that calculated rents endanger families unable to pay such an amount because of financial hardship. The April 13 version of the bill also includes a new title, replacing the earlier bill's version, on expansion of the Moving to Work (MTW) program. The highly controversial nature of this program has played a role in stalling this larger reform bill for many years. Earlier in 2012, NLIHC and several other stakeholder groups worked out a compromise on MTW expansion, which has been included in the April 13 version of the bill. The bill would allow a significant number of units administered by high-capacity PHAs to be included in a basic MTW program. Units in the basic MTW would have the flexibility to streamline administrative procedures. Up to 25 agencies could also participate in an "enhanced" MTW program, which would have the ability to implement harmful policies, like rent reform, work requirements, and time limits only if doing so is part of rigorous evaluation protocols. For all, income targeting, resident rights and housing affordability would be protected to significantly greater extent than in the current demonstration sites. The April 13 draft bill also newly includes language on the allocation of voucher renewal funding. The need for clear direction to HUD on the allocation of voucher renewal funding was a primary reason for the development of this legislation several years ago, and it will increase stability in the voucher program. New language in this section would allow for offset and reallocation of voucher funding. Other provisions of the far-ranging bill would impact most HUD housing programs, but the bill primarily makes major reforms to

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the Housing Choice Voucher program. The draft bill would make numerous improvements to the project-basing of vouchers, simplify the rent-setting process for tenants and housing administrators, streamline the inspection process for voucher units, among many other reforms. The Committee mark up will be on April 18 at 10 am in room 2128 of the Rayburn House office building. The mark up will be webcast via http://financialservices.house.gov/

HUD

NLIHC Offers Sample Comment Letter on the Rental Assistance Program

As previously noted in Memo, the comment period regarding the Rental Assistance Program (RAD) was extended to April 23, 2012. PIH Notice 2012-18 provides all of the details concerning the proposed RAD conversion process. The FY12 Appropriations Act allows HUD to convert assistance provided for a limited number of units from public housing and three smaller private HUDassisted housing programs to long-term, renewable, project-based Section 8 rental assistance or to project-based vouchers (see Memo, 11/18/11, 3/9/12, and 4/6/12). The three smaller programs are Rent Supplement (Rent Supp), the Rental Assistance Program (RAP), and the Moderate Rehabilitation program (Mod Rehab). PIH Notice 2012-18 is available from the RAD webpage at http://portal. hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/RAD. NLIHC offers the following sample RAD comment letter in this week's Memo and encourages advocates to submit similar comments through www.regulations.gov. Regulations Division Office of General Counsel Department of Housing and Urban Development 451 7th Street SW Room 10276 Washington, DC 20410-0500 Re: Docket No. FR-5630-N-01, Rental Assistance Demonstration: Notice of Web Availability and Request for Comments Via www.regulations.gov April XX, 2012 [Brief description of your organization and why there is interest in RAD.] With the continued loss of public housing due to inadequate Congressional appropriations for capital improvements, we agree that alternative financing methods should be considered in order to preserve the stock of public housing and to keep it in the public domain. The Rental Assistance Demonstration is an improvement

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over earlier plans offered by the Administration and we support it in general. Indeed, there are many positive aspects of the proposed Notice. However, [Name of Organization] has a number of concerns and offers the following comments. A RAD Application is a Substantial Amendment to the PHA Plan The draft Notice would allow the submission of a Substantial Amendment to the PHA Annual or Five-Year Plan to be submitted along with a RAD Financing Plan, which may be six months after HUD has given tentative approval of a RAD conversion application. By this stage the PHA has invested too much effort to be effectively swayed by resident and public comment. The PHA Plan Substantial Amendment process requiring Resident Advisory Board (RAB) consultation, 45-day public notice, a public hearing, and "public outreach to encourage broad public participation" must take place before a RAD application is submitted to HUD. All public housing and voucher residents of the PHA, citywide and development-specific resident councils, as well as the general public must have an opportunity to inform preliminary RAD plans. We also suggest that the Notice be modified to require the RAD Substantial Amendment process be separate from any Annual Plan process for non-qualified PHAs in order to prevent a RAD proposal from being buried in an already crowded Annual PHA Plan review and comment process. Continuous Resident and Public Participation Ongoing, full resident and public engagement should be required before each RAD conversion milestone to ensure that when decisions must be made and when changes to the plan need to be made, the RAB, all public housing and voucher residents, and the public, have an opportunity to review and comment. After conversion, developments converted to project-based rental assistance (PBRA) should remain subject to the PHA Plan process, the development's resident organization should be allowed to join a jurisdiction wide resident organization, and any of the development's residents should be allowed to serve on the PHA Board of Commissioners. $25 Per Unit Fund For Resident Participation The Notice requires PHAs and owners of converted properties to continue to provide $25 per occupied unit annually for resident participation. Although the regulations only require $15 of this to be directly provided to a resident organization, PIH Notice 2001-3 remains in effect and directs the full $25 to be controlled by resident councils. The RAD Notice should continue to follow PIH Notice 2001-3. Technical Assistance for Residents HUD must provide residents and resident organizations with sufficient resources to enable them to obtain technical assistance to help them understand and effectively participate in the RAD process. Grievance Procedures

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The RAD notice only refers to the use of a grievance hearing when an owner terminates a tenancy. RAD should explicitly provide for the right to grieve PHA or owner inactions as well as actions that adversely affect residents such as rent adjustment, transfer denial, change in household composition, and serious housing quality problems, among others. HUD has long required a two-step process that first calls for an informal grievance settlement, followed if necessary by a hearing. The first step often results in resolving problems without the need for a more formal grievance hearing. For RAD, HUD should require an informal grievance resolution stage in addition to providing for the proposed hearing process for those cases that cannot be resolved. In addition, the grievance hearing must include all of the components in the public housing grievance regulations. One-for-One Replacement The Notice ought to clearly state that the purpose of RAD is to preserve assisted, affordable rental housing, and that there must be one-for-one replacement if units are lost in excess of the "de minimis" standard of 5% of a project's units or five units, whichever is greater. HUD should remove the provision allowing unlimited demolition, without HUD approval and without one-for-one replacement, of units that have been vacant for more than two years or that are beyond reasonable repair. Allow 100% of the Units in a Development to be Converted to Project-Based Vouchers HUD's proposal to raise the cap on the number of units in a development using PBVs from 25% to 50% is insufficient. In the RAD context there should be no limit because the public housing developments to be converted are already 100% occupied by eligible households. A 50% cap would force a PHA to find replacement units at other locations, and half of the residents would be forced to move from their homes. Ownership of Converted Units If a RAD-converted property is threatened with foreclosure, the RAD law requires HUD to ensure that ownership is transferred to a public entity, and if that is not possible, then to a private entity. The Notice should specify that among private entities, preference should be given to nonprofit owners, with an additional preference for tenant organizations. Only after these four options have failed should other forms of private ownership be sought. Choice Mobility HUD should give significant ranking points to applications that commit to provide mobility counseling, landlord outreach, enhanced rents in high opportunity areas, and other activities that facilitate choice mobility. Additional ranking points should be awarded to

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PHAs that commit to providing a percentage of choice mobility vouchers greater than the Notice's cap of one-third of turnover vouchers or 20% of a project's assisted units. For units converted to PBRA, a PHA should be required to honor all eligible choice mobility requests, at least up to a level of one-third of the PHA's turnover vouchers. The Notice proposes an exemption from the choice mobility requirement for up to 10% of all units in the RAD program for PHAs that do not administer a voucher program or that set aside more than one-third of their vouchers for veterans or homeless people. If HUD awards RAD status to an exempt PHA its residents would have no choice mobility. Therefore, HUD must require an exempt PHA to provide for some forms of mobility for current and future RAD residents. Link to this sample RAD comment letter at: http://nlihc.org/sites/ default/files/RAD_Sample_Comment_Ltr.pdf

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c. Commits to subcontract more than 25% of the dollar amount of all subcontracts to businesses that meet (a) or (b). Long Beach also agrees to use Section 3 businesses at projects not receiving HUD assistance, such as the $29 million Airport Terminal Project. In addition, the city will apply Section 3 contracting opportunities at projects smaller than those exempted by the regulations: projects that have less than $200,000 in HUD funds and contracts involving less than $100,000 in HUD funds. The 1995 Queensway Bay Project, previously known as the Rainbow Harbor project, was funded in part through a $40 million Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Section 108 loan guarantee, which triggered Section 3 obligations. The Queensway Bay Project is a downtown harbor improvement project that includes retail, restaurant, and entertainment facilities, commercial boat tours and an aquarium. The federal loan guarantee was used to construct public infrastructure such as piers, docks fountains, an esplanade and boardwalk, a building for anglers and a lighthouse. In June 1998, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) filed an administrative complaint on behalf of public housing residents. This initiated an investigation by HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) which oversees Section 3. FHEO finally concluded in April of 2004 that the city had not fulfilled its Section 3 hiring and contracting obligations, ordering Long Beach to submit a Restitution Plan. The December 2005 Restitution Plan required Beach to achieve four outcomes within three years: 1. Provide at least 3,000 hours of work to low income Long Beach residents on city-funded construction projects; 2. Train and educate at least 50 local low income participants from a pre-apprenticeship program, with half of the slots for residents of HUD-assisted housing and half from at-risk youth; 3. Provide placement assistance for graduates of a construction training program into the Union Building Trade apprenticeship program, and provide each with up to $1,500 to purchase tools and uniforms. 4. Implement a $3.2 million Section 3 business incentive program. According to the VCA, the first three employment outcomes were fulfilled, but the business incentive program was not, resulting in the current VCA. HUD's media release is at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/ HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2012/ HUDNo.12-065. The Voluntary Compliance Agreement is available at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/ huddoc?id=LONGBEACHSECTION3VCA.PDF.

HUD and Long Beach, CA Sign Section 3 Voluntary Compliance Agreement

HUD announced a Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) with the City of Long Beach, CA after a 2010 HUD monitoring and compliance review raised shortcomings in the City's Section 3 Queensway Bay Restitution Plan. The purpose of Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 is to ensure that when HUD assists housing and community development projects, some of the new jobs, training and contracting opportunities created go to low income people and to the businesses that hire them, "to the greatest extent feasible." For non-housing construction activities the hiring and training goal is 30% of new construction hires, and the contracting goal is 10% of the dollar amount of all construction contracts and 3% of all other contracts. The VCA calls for Long Beach to provide $3.7 million within the next three years for an incentive program to encourage construction contractors to use Section 3 businesses in future construction projects. The Section 3 Business Incentive Program agreed to in the VCA will reimburse contractors for 10% of the total contract amount subcontracted to Section 3 businesses. For example if a non-Section 3 general contractor with a $1 million Long Beach contract enters into a $100,000 subcontract with a Section 3 business, the city will reimburse the general contractor $10,000 once the subcontract is completed. A Section 3 business is one which meets one of three tests: a. At least 51% of the business is owned by Section 3 residents (public housing residents or low income residents of the metropolitan area); or b. At least 30% of its permanent, full-time employees are Section 3 residents; or

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HUD's Section 3 website is at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/ HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/section3/ section3. For more information about Section 3, see page 157 of NLIHC's 2012 Advocates' Guide, www.nlihc.org/library/other/guides/2012.

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While the report does not put forward any specific legislative proposals, USICH notes that legislative changes could further the solutions proposed in the report. For example, participants at a summit hosted by USICH on this topic in 2010 recommended "that Congress ensure that funding streams that support law enforcement activities are not allowed to support activities that criminalize the basic life activities of people experiencing homelessness." USICH will host a webinar on the report on April 16 from 3:30 to 4:30 pm ET. Readers can register for the webinar at: https://www3. gotomeeting.com/register/418709382 The report is available at: http://www.usich.gov/resources/uploads/ asset_library/RPT_SoS_March2012.pdf

INTERAGENCY COUNCIL ON HOMELESSNESS

Report Released on Alternatives to the Criminalization of Homelessness

The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) released a report, Searching Out Solutions: Constructive Alternatives to Criminalization, (SOS) on April 9. The report proposes alternative strategies for communities that have implemented policies criminializing "acts of living," which include activities such as sleeping in public and panhandling. USICH was charged by the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009 to help communities develop alternatives to criminalization for people experiencing homelessness. The report cites research conducted by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty and the National Coalition for the Homeless that found increases in the criminalization of homelessness from 2006 to 2009. Further, SOS notes that while more people are at risk of experiencing homelessness due to the recession, states and localities are reducing or eliminating funding for services for people experiencing homelessness due to the fiscal crisis. According to USICH, policies that criminalize homelessness not only marginalize people experiencing homelessness, but are also expensive for communities to implement and do nothing to address the root causes of homelessness. In its report, USICH proposes three solutions to the criminalization of homelessness: · "The creation of comprehensive and seamless systems of care that combine housing with behavioral health and social service supports have been shown to prevent and end homelessness. · "Collaboration between law enforcement and behavioral health and social service providers results in tailored interventions that connect people with housing, services, and treatment and meet the community's goal of reducing the number of people inhabiting public spaces. · "Implementation of alternative justice system strategies can reduce homeless involvement with the criminal justice system, decrease recidivism, and facilitate connection with other systems of care."

USICH Seeks Input on Strategies to End Youth Homelessness, Educational Outcomes for Children and Youth

The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) announced the launch of an interactive forum for stakeholders to provide feedback to USICH on two topics: the improvement of early childhood learning and educational outcomes for youth and children experiencing homelessness, and strategies for ending homelessness among unaccompanied youth up to age 24. USICH released Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness in 2010, and issued an update to the plan one year after its release (see Memo, 6/25/10, 10/7/11). Opening Doors set four goals for ending homelessness among different populations, including ending homelessness for families, youth and children by 2020. USICH is planning a second annual update to Opening Doors that will include a particular emphasis on issues related to educational outcomes for children and youth and the needs of unaccompanied youth, and is seeking feedback through the aforementioned forum for strategies and content to be included in it. USICH says that the feedback will be used in conjunction with guidance from other experts and practitioners to create: · "A set of actionable steps that states and communities can take to improve educational supports for homeless youth and children. · "A strong framework for preventing and ending youth homelessness that will set us on a path to reaching our 2020 goal. · "A focused set of priorities USICH and our federal partners will pursue in both the short- and long-term." USICH will accept comments until April 30. Readers can participate in the forum at: http://usich.uservoice.com Opening Doors is available at: http://www.ich.gov/PDF/ OpeningDoors_2010_FSPPreventEndHomeless.pdf

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The update to Opening Doors is available at: http://www.ich.gov/ PDF/OpeningDoors_2010_FSPPreventEndHomeless.pdf

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FROM THE FIELD

Colorado Advocates Organize to Oppose Denver Camping Ban

Homeless and affordable housing advocates in Colorado are urging Denver city council members to withdraw a proposed ordinance that would ban unauthorized camping on public and private properties. The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), an NLIHC state partner, leads the campaign, which also calls on lawmakers to develop a strategy to increase treatment services and permanent supportive and affordable housing (see article on alternatives to criminalization elsewhere in Memo). The camping ban targets unsheltered homeless persons who sleep on the streets; it criminalizes their survival activities and homeless status by citing or incarcerating them after failing to comply with a verbal warning. A council committee will consider the legislation on April 24; it is expected that the full council will take a final vote on May 7. Denver lawmakers assert that not imposing a camping ban would allow for unsafe, disorderly and unsanitary environments, adversely impacting both campers and the general public, and that camping destroys the property on which the camping occurs and detracts from its intended use. CCH is concerned that criminalizing homelessness would force those without shelter further out of sight, making outreach and engagement efforts more difficult. It also would increase city costs through more citations, court expenses, incarcerations and police training, and would create additional barriers to housing and employment for those arrested. "City officials say it is inhumane to allow homeless persons to sleep outside. We agree," said John Parvensky, CCH President, in an opinion article published in The Denver Post. "However, it is even more inhumane to make it illegal while acknowledging that there is not sufficient shelter or housing alternatives." Advocates have organized a local "Homes not Handcuffs" campaign, building on a national effort to eliminate the criminalization of homelessness, which has received greater attention with the rise in local camping bans in the wake of the Occupy Movement. CCH has a page on its website dedicated to the Denver city initiative containing the proposed ordinance, contact information for the City Council and Mayor's offices, the council's meeting schedule, media coverage and resource reports on the criminalization of homelessness. In a statement, CCH urges council members to collaborate with the Denver Homeless Commission, business leaders and service

providers to develop a comprehensive solution to homelessness. Advocates call for a strategy that increases safe emergency shelter for all people who are homeless; strengthens health, mental health and treatment services for those whose disabilities prevent them from accessing existing shelter, housing or employment programs; and expands long-term affordable housing and employment opportunities for homeless individuals and families. CCH urges the use of Housing First programs as a cost effective alternative to the ban. CCH's Housing First programs have ended homelessness for more than 400 of the most vulnerable, chronically homeless persons in Denver, maintaining a housing retention rate of 95% for at least two years, improving the health status of those housed and reducing the cost of emergency services by an average $30,000 per person through reduced emergency room, detoxification, hospitalization and police costs. Advocates expect a large turnout at the upcoming City Council meetings. Usually, the meetings are attended by just a handful of citizens. However, CCH reported record attendance of more than 100 people at an April 3 meeting on the ban. For more information, contact BJ Iacino, CCH Director of Education and Advocacy: [email protected]

RESOURCES

Report on Discrimination in REO Property Maintenance Released, Complaint Filed

The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) issued a report, The Banks are Back--Our Neighborhoods are Not: Discrimination in the Maintenance and Marketing of REO Properties, on April 4. The report summarizes an investigation conducted by NFHA of more than 1,000 real estate-owned (REO) properties in nine metropolitan areas. Banks are increasingly in the position of having to act as landlords and property managers as their REO portfolios grow due to foreclosure. Some regulators, such as the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, have begun to provide guidance to banks on how they should manage their REO stock (see Memo, 12/16/2011). However, according to the report's findings, NFHA's investigation "revealed a pattern of consistently poorer maintenance in communities of color than in white communities." In response to the findings in the report, on April 10, NFHA and four of its member organizations filed a discrimination complaint with HUD against Wells Fargo & Co. and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. "The investigation of 218 foreclosed properties owned by Wells Fargo demonstrates that Wells Fargo has engaged in a systemic practice of maintaining and marketing its foreclosed, bank-owned properties

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(also known as Real Estate Owned or REO) in a state of disrepair in communities of color while maintaining and marketing REO properties in predominantly white communities in a far superior manner," says NFHA in a press release. HUD will now initiative an investigation of the claims made against Wells Fargo and will also begin a conciliation process between the involved parties. The under maintenance and management of foreclosed properties is of concern to many advocates, particularly in light of recently announced Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) REO-torental pilot program (see Memo, 3/2). In comments submitted to a Request for Information (RFI) prior to the development of the program, NLIHC said that "past efforts to dispose of REO properties (held by FHA) have not been as successful as they could have been because there was no associated funding provided to assist with operating or rehabilitation expenses." NLIHC recommended that REO sales be paired with National Housing Trust Fund dollars to assure that the sold REO properties are decent and affordable to extremely low income people (see Memo, 9/16/11). NLIHC also strongly recommended that mission-driven purchasers rooted in communities be given access to the properties. The report is available at: http://www.nationalfairhousing.org/ Portals/33/the_banks_are_back_web.pdf NLIHC's comments in response to the RFI are available at: http:// nlihc.org/sites/default/files/NLIHC_REO_Comments_9-15-11.pdf

April 13, 2012 Volume 17, Issue No. 15

Demolition and relocation are also associated with a 4.4% decline in gun related crime and 0.3% increase in property crime, on average. In Atlanta, public housing transformation has resulted in a 0.5% decline in property crime rate and 0.7% net decrease in violent crime rate citywide. However, at a neighborhood level, tearing down public housing appears to have a much bigger effect on the crime rate than at a citywide level. According to the report, between 2000 and 2008 in the Chicago neighborhoods where public housing was demolished, gun crime, violent crime and property crime declined by 70%, 60% and 49% respectively. Similarly, in Atlanta between 2002 and 2009, public housing demolition at a neighborhood level is associated, on average, with 13% decline in violent crime and 9% decrease in property crime. For some destination neighborhoods, however, the study finds a negative relationship between relocation of public housing households and neighborhoods crime rate, which was also found by the study's authors to correspond with the density of relocated households in the neighborhood. For instance, in Chicago, a neighborhood with more than two to six relocated households per 1000 families had a 5% higher violent crime rate than a similar neighborhood without relocated households. Also, in both cities, a high-density area with more than 14 relocated public housing households per 1000 households has a 21% higher violent crime rate than a similar neighborhood without relocated public housing residents. Comparison of the impact of pre-existing Housing Choice Voucher households in destination neighborhoods with public housing transplants is probed by the authors, but the issue remains unsettled. "This research raises many questions, most notably why the presence of even relatively small clusters of relocated households in the destination neighborhoods is associated with statistically significant differences in crime rates during that quarter, on average, compared to tracts without any relocation voucher holders, while the presence of traditional voucher holders seems to have little to no impact," the authors say. Also, the paper notes that in both cities the percentage of these moderate- or high-density tracts associated with higher crime rates vary throughout the study period. For example, in Atlanta, for most of the study period, only 13% of the census tracts had a moderate or high concentration of relocated households. Moreover, most of these moderate- or high-concentration areas already had a higher crime and poverty rate even before the arrival of public housing relocation households. The researchers recommend "responsible relocation strategies" in future public housing redevelopment, which they say includes real housing choice and support during and after relocation. The full study, Public Housing Transformation and Crime: Making the Case for Responsible Relocation, can be found at the Urban Institute website: http://www.urban.org/publications/412523.html

Joint Study Analyzes Relationship between Public Housing Transformation and Crime Rate

A recent study by the Urban Institute and Emory University finds that public housing transformation in two cities had overall a positive impact on the cities' crime rates. The study, Public Housing Transformation and Crime: Making the Case for Responsible Relocation, probes the nexus between the relocation of public housing residents into private-market housing with housing choice vouchers and the change in crime rates in both original and destination neighborhoods in Chicago and Atlanta between 2000 and 2009. The study's authors note the Chicago Housing Authority's (CHA's) and Atlanta Housing Authority's (AHA's) "efforts generated positive effects in some places and negative effects in others." The researchers conclude that, overall, a significant portion of neighborhoods in both cities were able to assimilate relocated households from public housing without any unfavorable impact on destination neighborhood conditions. Controlling for other factors affecting the crime rate, in Chicago citywide, demolishing public housing and relocating households is associated, on average, with a 1% decrease in violent crime rate, which the authors call "a small but significant net decrease."

Page 8

MEMO MEMBERS

TO

April 13, 2012 Volume 17, Issue No. 15

NLIHC NEWS

NLIHC Is Hiring

NLIHC is seeking applicants for an outreach associate. Duties include maintaining and expanding NLIHC's membership base, mobilizing members on federal policy advocacy in a manner that advances our mission, assisting in the design and implementation of field strategies for housing policy campaigns, and conducting outreach activities in specifically assigned states. The position requires strong written and oral communication skills; excellent electronic technology skills, including high proficiency in database management; organizing experience, including successful meeting planning; and knowledge of federal housing policy. A Bachelor's degree is required. The position is based in Washington, D.C., but some travel is necessary. A commitment to social justice is a core qualification for employment. NLIHC is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer. Interested candidates should forward a cover letter, salary requirements, resume and a writing sample to Bill Shields, Vice President of Operations, 727 15th Street, N.W., 6th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005, or to [email protected] No phone calls, please.

2012 Advocates' Guide Now Available for Purchase

The Advocates' Guide is here! The National Low Income Housing Coalition's 2012 Advocates' Guide to Housing and Community Development Policy provides advocates, policymakers, students, and others with information on the most relevant housing and housing-related programs and issues at the federal level, as well as information related to the community planning process. This year's edition of the Advocates' Guide includes a special focus on advocacy. In this election year, it is important for housing advocates to be prepared to query candidates for public office on their positions on low income housing programs, as well as to educate newly-elected local, state and federal officials on the housing programs that matter in our communities. We believe readers will find the Guide to be a useful reference to which they will turn often all year long. To order a copy of the 2012 Advocates' Guide to Housing and Community Development Policy, please contact Shannon Faulk at [email protected] or 202-662-1530 x224. NLIHC members receive a discounted rate, and special bulk rates are also available.

Page 9

MEMO MEMBERS

TO

April 13, 2012 Volume 17, Issue No. 15

FACT OF THE WEEK

Banks Fail to Maintain REO Properties in Minority Communities as Well as They Maintain Those in White Communities

Average Maintenance Score by Region and Neighborhood Racial Composition City Predominantly White 84.6* 82.3 79.6 80.9 80.9 Predominantly African-American 76.9 71.6 79.0 73.7 74.1 Predominantly Latino 71.0 85.0 73.2 65.0 73.9

East Bay, CA Philadelphia, PA Miami, FL Atlanta, GA Dallas, TX

*Based on a pre-determined 100-point scale that included 39 factors such as curb appeal, structure, signage and occupancy, paint and siding, gutters, water damage and utilities. Source: National Fair Housing Alliance. (2012). The Banks Are Back ­ Our Neighborhoods Are Not: Discrimination in the Maintenance and Marketing of REO Properties. Retrieved from: http://www.nationalfairhousing.org/Portals/33/the_banks_are_back_web.pdf.

NLIHC STAFF

Megan Bolton Senior Research Analyst, x245 Elina Bravve Research Analyst, x244 Sarah Brundage Communications Associate, x246 Lauren Cartwright Outreach/MSW Intern, x229 Amy Clark Communications Director, x227 Linda Couch Senior Vice President of Policy & Research, x228 Sheila Crowley President, x224 Shannon Faulk Executive Assistant, x224 Stephanie Foner Policy Intern, x252 Ed Gramlich Regulatory Director, x314 Mary Kolar Outreach Associate x233 Sham Manglik Policy Analyst, x243 Taylor Materio Communications Consultant Khara Norris Director of Administration, x242 Melissa Quirk Senior Policy Analyst, x230 Bill Shields Vice President of Operations, x232 La'Teashia Sykes State Coalition Project Director, x247 Girma Syoume Research Intern, x249

ABOUT NLIHC

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving equitable federal policy that assures affordable, accessible, and healthy homes for the people with the lowest incomes in the United States. Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, NLIHC educates, organizes, and advocates to ensure decent, affordable housing within healthy neighborhoods for everyone.

TELL YOUR FRIENDS!

NLIHC membership is the best way to stay informed about affordable housing issues, keep in touch with advocates around the country, and support NLIHC's work. NLIHC membership information is available at www.nlihc.org/join. You can also e-mail us at [email protected] or call 202-662-1530 to request membership materials to distribute at meetings and conferences.

Follow @NLIHC on Twitter! Become a fan of NLIHC on Facebook! Check out NLIHC's blog, On the Home Front, at www.nlihc.wordpress.com!

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