[Hpn] Fw: "National Low Income Housing Coalition" - Memo to Members, Vol. 5, No. 29 No. 29

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National Low Income Housing Coalition
Memo to Members July 21, 2000
Vol. 5, No. 29

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.

Membership information is available at www.nlihc.org, or by
fax, mail, or e-mail. Just e-mail us at info@nlihc.org or call
202-662-1530 to request membership materials to distribute
at meetings and conferences.  [We are members why don't
you join too? icanamerica@email.com ]
------------------------------------

***** Point of View, by Sheila Crowley

I have had the great good fortune to spend this week in the
company of several hundred public and assisted housing
residents from across the country. We have come together
with HUD staff to move forward on the promise of empowerment
in the 1998 public housing reform act. Devolutionary in
intent, the 1998 act affords public housing agencies more
autonomy and flexibility in most operational decisions, but
balances the increase in power for PHAs with increased power
for residents. The law requires PHAs to engage residents in
policy decision-making. It is an experiment in participatory
democracy that has the potential of positive social change
in both the lives of individual residents and in the
communities in which they reside. It also can deepen
cynicism and alienation if not done right.

The occasion this week is the second series of training
sessions for resident leaders on what the new law provides.
HUD is to be commended for undertaking this training. The
major theme of comments I have heard this week is that the
training is valuable and validating. Although a frequent
refrain is that residents needed to have all this
information months ago when PHAs were doing their first five
year plans, an advantage of bringing people together now is
that they can compare their experiences in the
implementation of the new law from one PHA to another and
learn from one another. Some people report early and
substantive involvement in decision-making about the future
of their communities. Many others report a perfunctory
process in which they were expected to rubber stamp
documents they had no role in shaping. HUD field office
staff, who are reviewing PHA plans, find that a significant
number of PHAs report their residents are not interested in
participating. The residents who are here reject that there
is a lack of interested residents; rather there is a lack of
engagement skills in PHA staff or a lack of authenticity in
the invitation.

Another important theme I hear is the disconnect - distorted
communication - between PHAs and residents. The barriers to
genuine communication are substantial. Many are structural.
When people accept housing assistance, they must give up
freedoms and privacy that the rest of us take for granted.
Because PHAs must carry out policies that are oppressive, it
is no wonder that residents see them as the oppressors. But
other barriers are relational, that is, PHA staff who unable
or unwilling to form relationships with residents based on
trust and respect and equality.

The diversity of public housing residents notwithstanding,
resident leaders are predominately women of color. As a
group, they are bold and strong and resilient. They have had
a lifetime of confrontation with both sexism and racism, and
have to work very hard to not be battered down by this
"double whammy." The gender politics of public housing are
palpable, but unstated. However, both the structural and
relational barriers to true communication have to be
analyzed through the lens of gender. The twin feelings of
fear and anger that are expressed in many of the narratives
of the women here are rooted in their experiences as women.

As a white woman, I am mindful of the failure of the women's
movement to create a culture in which large numbers of women
of color feel at home. But the lessons of feminism offer
important insights into what is going on in public housing
today. When power is thought of as finite, then sharing
power means losing power and is resisted. When power is
understood as expandable, sharing power means more power for
everyone. PHAs with staff who are open to being challenged
without losing face, who recognize that the residents are
experts about their lives and their communities, and who
have the capacity to seriously listen, are those that will
thrive in the new system. The process will be messy and
emergent, not clean and linear. Sharing power takes time and
must be a top priority to do it right. I recommend
Empowering Women of Color by Lorraine Gutierrez and Edith
Lewis (1999, NY: Columbia University Press) to resident
leaders, PHA staff, and all others who are committed to
making this experiment in participatory democracy work.


***** Capitol Hill

*** Hearing on S. 2733

On July 18, Senate Housing and Transportation Subcommittee
Chair Rick Santorum (R-PA) held a hearing on S. 2733. This
bill reauthorizes and modifies many aspects of the Section
202 elderly housing program and the Section 811 housing for
disabled persons program. The bill also establishes a
matching grant to leverage state and local funds dedicated
to the preservation of federally-assisted housing. Senator
Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) called the bill "a very important piece
of legislation" and asked that the bill be moved through the
Senate as quickly as possible. He also entered into the
record a list of approximately 200 state, regional and local
organizations that signed on to a Statement of Support for
the preservation matching grant program coordinated by
NLIHC.

Ronell Guy, Co-Chair of the Northside Coalition for Fair
Housing, testified in support of the matching grant program.
The Northside Coalition was formed in 1998 to ensure that
the tenants of the Northside Properties multifamily Section
8 units in Pittsburgh could fully participate in the
ownership and management of their homes. Since 1998, the
Northside Coalition has worked toward acquiring the 333
homes within Northside, integrating a homeownership
component and a resident empowerment service, learned how to
manage the units and establish a no interest loan fund to
support homeowners and renters in financial crisis. The
Northside Coalition's work is a model for other tenant
groups seeking to save their housing from pending opt-out or
prepayment by their project's owner. In her testimony, Ms.
Guy stated, "We believe this bill - if provided adequate
funding by Congress - can contribute significantly not only
toward preserving HUD assisted multifamily housing but also
be a catalyst for improving the quality of life for
residents in that housing."

Representative John LaFalce (D-NY), Ranking Democrat on the
House Banking and Financial Services Committee, commended
Senators Santorum, Kerry (D-MA) and Sarbanes for introducing
the bill, including the preservation matching grant program.
HUD Assistant Secretary for Housing William Apgar also lent
the Administration's support for the bill, stating, "While
the Affordable Housing for Seniors Act [S. 2733] focuses
primarily on housing for older Americans, it also includes
some important advances in the preservation of affordable
housing that is not limited to seniors. These provisions
also complement efforts the Administration and Congress have
made in recent years."

Representatives from the Retirement Housing Foundation (for
the American Association of Homes and Services for the
Aging), National Church Residences (for the National
Affordable Housing Managers Association), the American
Association of Retired Persons, Recapitalization Advisors,
and Goldman Sachs and Co. also testified in support of the
bill at the hearing.

In related news, Senate co-sponsors of S. 2733, the
Affordable Housing for Seniors and Families Act, have begun
circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter to their fellow
Senators. The letter encourages all Senators to co-sponsor
this bill.

*** EITC Sign-On Letter

The Coalition on Human Needs is still seeking additional
organizations to sign on to an Earned Income Tax Credit
letter being circulated by CHN and the Center on Budget and
Policy Priorities. The deadline for signing on to this
letter is September 1. The letter expresses support for
legislation sponsored by Senators Rockefeller (D-WV),
Jeffords (R-VT), Breaux (D-LA), and Graham (D-FL) that would
expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). It is open to
national, state, and local organizations. To see the letter
and for instructions to sign on, go to
http://www.chn.org/budget/letter.html.

*** New Surplus Estimates

A new estimate projects that the budget surplus, outside of
Social Security, will be $2.2 trillion over the next decade
(even $300 billion higher than a June estimate.) The
additional surplus estimate gives Congress a new chance to
bust its own budget caps for domestic spending - a chance at
least the House seems likely to take. According to the
Washington Post, a letter for House Speaker Dennis Hastert
(R-IL) to White House Chief of Staff John Podesta says that
the Speaker would "accept the president's spending request
for a wide array of labor, health and education programs to
help expedite the budget process." At this time it does not
appear that these spending adjustments will affect the
House's inadequate spending levels for HUD programs in H.R.
4635.

*** At A Glance

Bill: H.R. 4635, HUD Appropriations
Status: The House passed its HUD appropriations bill, H.R.
4635, on June 21. It is unclear when the Senate
Appropriations Committee and its VA-HUD Subcommittee will
take up HUD. For more information, see the budget chart at
http://www.nlihc.org

Bills: H.R. 175/S. 1017
Topic: Increase the Low Income Housing Tax Credit allocation
to states from $1.25 to $1.75 per capita.
Status: H.R. 175 in the House Ways and Means Committee and
S. 1017 in the Senate Finance Committee. On March 9, the
House passed minimum wage and tax bills that include an
increase to the LIHTC from $1.25 to $1.65 and indexing it to
inflation. The President has included an increase to the tax
credit, and indexing it to inflation, in his FY01 budget
request.

Bill: S. 2779
Senator Santorum's (R-PA) S. 2779, the Senate's Community
Renewal and New Markets Empowerment Package, was offered as
an amendment to the estate tax bill on July 14. The
amendment failed. The bill increases low income housing tax
credits and private activity bond caps.

Bills: H.R. 425 / S. 1318 / S. 2733
Topic: Federal Matching Grants for Housing Preservation
Status: H.R. 425 was amended and placed into H.R. 202 that
eventually passed the House in September 1999 by a vote of
405 to 5. Only pieces of H.R. 202 were enacted into law -
the preservation matching grant has yet to be enacted. Now,
advocates are seeking additional co-sponsors for S. 1318
with hopes to move that bill through the Senate in 2000.
Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) has introduced a bill, S. 2733,
that includes the preservation matching grant. A hearing was
held on S. 2733 on July 18.

Bill: H.R. 595 / S. 1553
Topic: FHA Foreclosure Prevention
Status: In House Banking and Financial Services Committee.
Advocates are seeking additional co-sponsors. Senate
version, S. 1553, has been introduced. Representatives from
the Philadelphia Unemployment Project testified in support
of including this bill into Representative Lazio's H.R. 1776
at a September 15, 1999 hearing.

Bills: H.R. 864/ S. 459
Topic: Increase the state private activity bond caps
Status: H.R. 864 in House Ways and Means Committee and S.
459 in the Senate Finance Committee. Among the provisions of
the tax bill that passed the House on March 9 (alongside a
minimum wage increase bill) is one to raise the private
activity bond cap. In a compromise on a community renewal
bill (H.R. 815), the President and Speaker of the House have
agreed to include an increase of private activity bonds.

Bill: H.R. 1073
Topic: Homeless Programs Consolidation and Flexibility Act
Status: Hearing held and later voted out of House Housing
and Community Opportunity Subcommittee. Still in House
Banking and Financial Services Committee. There is no Senate
counterpart for this bill at this time but one is expected.
Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO), Chair of the Senate Housing and
Transportation Subcommittee of the Senate Banking Committee,
is drafting a bill to block grant homeless programs and held
a hearing on homeless program consolidation on May 23. It is
likely that this bill will be introduced this summer but it
is not expected to pass this year.

Bill: H.R. 1776
Topic: Homeownership Bill
Status: Passed the House, 417-8, on April 6, referred to
Senate on April 7.
Outlook: A scaled-back, similar bill, S. 1333, has been
introduced in the Senate by Ron Wyden (D-OR) and only
addresses the "barriers to affordable homeownership" portion
of H.R. 1776. A Senate bill on the manufactured housing
provisions, S. 1452, passed the Senate the week of May 8.
Generally, H.R. 1776 is a much-supported bi-partisan bill
but advocates are concerned about provisions that relax
income targeting guidelines and provide for a broad
"regulatory barrier removal." Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO),
Chair of the Housing and Transportation Subcommittee of the
Senate Banking Committee held hearing on homeownership and a
range of housing issues on June 20.

Bill: H.R. 2400
Topic: Programmatic Changes to Low Income Housing Tax Credit

Status: In House Ways and Means Committee. These provisions
will be part of the community renewal package (what will be
a new H.R. 815) as decided by the President and the Speaker
of the House

Bills: H.R. 2764, H.R. 2848 and S. 1565.
Topic: America's Private Investment Companies (APIC)
Status: APIC was funded, for the first time, in the FY2000
HUD budget. These funds will shift into APIC accounts as
soon as the authorizing legislation is passed. The House
Banking and Financial Services Committee passed a bill
establishing the APIC program on April 12. The House
HUD-VA-IA Appropriations Subcommittee failed to include
funds for APIC in its FY2001 bill, although the Speaker of
the House announced that it would be funded in a joint
appearance with the President.

Bill: H.R. 3081
Topic: Increases to Minimum Wage, LIHTC, Bonds
Status: Introduced October 14. Passed the House on March 9
as a two-year phase in of a $1 minimum wage increase with
many, many tax breaks, mostly for very wealthy people. The
Senate has passed a bankruptcy reform bill that includes a
three-year phase in of a $1 minimum wage increase. The
reconciliation process for these bills, and their various
tax provisions, has begun at a discussion level. It is
unclear how the process will proceed but many expect some
increase in the minimum wage this year. How big the
adjoining tax breaks will be and how long the phase in will
take are major questions to be resolved.

Bills: S. 192 (Senator Kennedy, D-MA) and H.R. 325
(Representative Bonior, D-MI)
Topic: Increase the minimum wage by $1 over two years
Status: Senator Kennedy will continue to seek movement on
this bill. Senators Kennedy and Daschle (D-SD) re-introduced
their minimum wage increase bill, S. 2284, the week of March
20.

Bill: H.R. 3613 (Representative John LaFalce, D-NY)
Topic: Authorizes HUD to use already appropriated Section 8
funds, on a one-year emergency basis, for grant renewals of
programs for permanent supportive housing and shelter plus
care for homeless persons.
Status: Although this bill was included in the House
supplemental spending bill for FY2000, supplemental spending
bills will not move any further this year.

Bills: H.R. 4250 / S. 2415
Topic: Predatory Lending
Representative John LaFalce (D-NY) and Senator Paul Sarbanes
(D-MD) introduced identical bills (HR 4250/S 2415) to combat
the growing problem of predatory lending. The bills would
extend the Home Owners Equity Protection Act of 1994 to
include predatory protections, by limiting the amount of
equity that can be lost by borrowed through unnecessary and
excessive fees. Other predatory lending bills have been
introduced by Representatives Bob Ney (R-OH, HR 4213) Jan
Schakowsky (D-IL, HR 3901), and Senator Charles Schumer
(D-NY, S 2405).

Bill: H.R. 4795
Topic: Homeowners Rebate Act of 2000
Introduced by Representative Rick Lazio (R-NY), this bill
would provide FHA-insured homeowners with rebates from
unexpected excess revenue within the FHA's single family
mutual mortgage insurance fund.

Bill: S. 2733
Topic: Preservation Matching Grant; Elderly and Disabled
Housing
Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD)
and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) have introduced a bill similar
to the provisions in H.R. 202 that were not enacted in 1999.
This bill includes a preservation matching grant to states
and local governments to give them another tool to maintain
the affordable housing stock in their communities. A hearing
for S. 2733 is scheduled for July 18.

Bill: S. 2825
Topic: Earned Income Tax Credit Expansion
S. 2825 would provide a wage boost to 2.1 million families
and help alleviate the wide disparity in child poverty rates
between smaller families and families with three or more
children. This Rockefeller-Jeffords-Breaux bill would
increase the phase-out rate of the EITC for families with
three or more children from 40% to 45%, and would provide a
nearly $500 increase in the maximum benefit available to
larger families. This legislation would also slow the
phase-out rate for all families with two or more children,
and it contains minor but helpful provisions to reduce
complexity in the EITC.


***** HUD

*** Federal Property Suitable as Facilities to Assist the
Homeless

HUD has published a notice identifying unutilized,
underutilized, excess and surplus Federal property
potentially suitable for possible use to assist the
homeless. Properties listed as suitable and available will
be obtainable exclusively for homeless use for a period of
60 days from the date of the notice, which is July 13, 2000.
Homeless assistance providers interested in any such
property should to go www.hudclips.org, directive number
FR-4557-N-29 to read the notice and find out how apply to
use the properties.

*** The Impacts of Supportive Housing on Neighborhoods and
Neighbors

Supportive housing programs are programs that are designed
to provide supportive services in conjunction with some form
of housing assistance - be it small group homes, larger
institutions, or apartment-based living. In 1997, HUD
requested that the Urban Institute (UI) conduct an analysis
of the impacts of supportive housing programs on property
values and crime rates. The UI used a three-pronged
methodology including community and policy reconnaissance,
quantitative property value and crime impact analysis, and
focus group analysis to determine whether or not the fears
of residents regarding supportive housing are based in fact.

The analysis found that for the study area of Denver,
Colorado, supportive housing facilities are associated with
a positive impact on house prices in the surrounding
neighborhood and that there were no differences in the rates
of any type of reported offenses between areas where
supportive housing was developed and in other, "control"
areas. The researchers noted that the analysis contained
only a set of small-scale, special care facilities, with no
large sites, correctional facilities, or homeless shelters
included. There was a strong direct relationship between the
rate of disorderly conduct reports and 500 foot proximity to
a supportive site. For more information go to
http://www.huduser.org/publications/suppsvcs/support.html.


***** Campaign 2000 and Low Income Housing Update

*** Shadow Conventions 2000

As reported in Memo two weeks ago, five national
organizations - Call to Renewal, The National Campaign for
Jobs and Income Support, The Lindesmith Center, United For A
Fair Economy, and Public Campaign - and author and
syndicated columnist, Arianna Huffington, will host shadow
conventions as alternatives to the Republican and Democratic
national conventions that are being held in Philadelphia and
Los Angeles later this summer.

These shadow conventions will focus on three critical
public-interest issues that the major political parties have
failed to sufficiently address: campaign finance reform,
poverty and the growing wealth gap, and the failed war on
drugs.

Those who are interested in attending these convention
(attendance is free) are invited to sign up on the Shadow
Convention website at www.shadowconventions.com. Also posted
on the site is the agenda for the convention.


***** People and Faces

Minnesota's Fourth District Congressman Bruce Vento is the
latest recipient of the National Housing Conferences' Carl
A. S. Coan, Sr. Award. The award, named after Congressional
staff director Carl Coan, Sr. honors those who have made an
extraordinary contribution in the field of affordable
housing. Vento who was first elected to the Minnesota State
Legislature in 1980 has announced his retirement from
Congress for health related reasons. The award was presented
on July 11 at a luncheon hosted by the National Housing
Conference in Minneapolis.


***** Resources and Events

*** Resources

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is accepting a new
round of applications from non-profit organizations for
Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) loans.
SHOP is the HUD program that gives low income families a
chance to purchase homes through the "sweat equity" they
develop in the process of building their own houses. More
information and an application are available at
http://www.ruralhome.org/loanfund/shopapp.htm.

*** Events

The Enterprise Foundation's 19th Annual Network Conference,
themed "Community Solutions," will be held November 12-15 in
Atlanta, GA. For more information call 410-772-2418, or see
http://www.enterprisefoundation.org/resource/netconf.


***** Fact of the Week

Number of working families with critical housing needs in
the suburbs: 1.3 million
Number of working families with critical housing needs in
central cities: 1.2 million

Source: Housing America's Working Families, The Center for
Housing Policy, at http://www.nhc.org/chprpt.pdf


***** Website of the Week

National Housing Law Project
http://www.nhlp.org/

The National Housing Law Project (NHLP) is a national
housing law and advocacy center. The goal of NHLP is to
advance housing justice for the poor by increasing and
preserving the supply of decent affordable housing, by
improving existing housing conditions, including physical
conditions and management practices, by expanding and
enforcing low-income tenants' and homeowners' rights, and by
increasing opportunities for racial and ethnic minorities.
NHLP works to achieve that goal by providing legal
assistance, advocacy advice and housing expertise to legal
services and other attorneys, low-income housing advocacy
groups, and others who serve the poor. NHLP's primary areas
of emphasis are public policy advocacy, litigation
assistance, training, and research and writing, focusing on
issues and problems that will have the greatest impact on
the housing rights of the poor. The organization's website
includes an extensive library of back issues of their
monthly Housing Law Bulletin, as well as resources on issues
from preservation to public housing to Section 8.


***** Save the Date: NLIHC's Annual Leadership Reception

The NLIHC's 2000 Leadership Reception will be held on
Monday, October 16, 2000 at the Washington Court Hotel in
Washington, DC. Watch our website for more details during
the summer.


*****

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 on our website, at
www.nlihc.org, or by fax, mail, or e-mail. Just e-mail us at
info@nlihc.org or call 202-662-1530 to request membership
materials to distribute at meetings and conferences.

*****

About NLIHC: Established in 1974, the National Low Income
Housing Coalition/LIHIS is the only national organization
dedicated solely to ending America's affordable housing
crisis. The NLIHC is committed to educating, organizing, and
advocating to ensure decent, affordable housing within
healthy neighborhoods for everyone. NLIHC provides
up-to-date information, formulates policy, and educates the
public on housing needs and the strategies for solutions.

National Low Income Housing Coalition
Memo to Members
July 21, 2000
Vol. 5, No. 29