03/22/2010
IN THIS ISSUE:

NYCHA's Big Deal

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) on March 15 announced completion of one of the largest tax credit bond deals in the nation’s history. The $400 million public-private deal will preserve 20,000 affordable housing units in 21 buildings previously ineligible for federal subsidies.  The majority of the money will go to capital improvements that will start immediately.

The arrangement, approved by HUD and authorized by state legislation, allows the properties to be sold to an entity created and controlled by NYCHA.  The majority of the $400 million will be spent on capital improvements over the next two years, creating hundreds of construction jobs. In addition, the properties are now eligible for $65 -- $75 million in annual operating funds; HUD has included this in its FY2011 budget request.

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Boston Housing Authority Launches Largest Ever Energy Performance Contract

The Boston Housing Authority is undertaking the largest public housing energy efficiency project in the nation’s history.  Mayor Thomas M. Menino made the announcement last week at the Bromley-Heath Public Housing Development in Jamaica Plain.

BHA is partnering with Ameresco to engineer, design, and implement $63 million of water and energy conservation measures in approximately 4,300 apartments at 13 public housing developments.  The project will save the BHA more than $56 million in energy costs over the next 20-years, will create about 600 jobs, many for local union workers, and reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 13,000 tons.

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Long-Awaited Affordable Housing Preservation Legislation Introduced

On March 17, 2010, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced the Housing Preservation and Tenant Protection Act of 2010, H.R. 4868.  The proposed legislation is several years in the making and is a comprehensive approach to prevent the loss of many federally assisted multifamily affordable housing units throughout the country and is designed to help keep many low-income residents in their homes.

The Act is principally concerned with privately-owned multifamily housing.  It covers such topics as preservation of affordable housing at risk of conversion to market-rate housing; restoration of housing at risk of loss due to deterioration; protection of residents; preservation of troubled projects facing foreclosure; incentives to maintain housing affordability; rural housing preservation and more .  Read More >

Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) Hearing

The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing March 17 on the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) new Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI).  HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan testified first, followed by a panel of stakeholders.

Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) said the committee is ready to work with HUD and provide input on the authorizing language for CNI, but there are concerns. One of the chief concerns is the lack of funding from any other federal Department, despite the proposal’s inclusion of non-housing related activities.  Frank said  “funding from other agencies is not apparent” in this proposal and he “would be skeptical of HUD funding other agencies’ activities”.  A number of members made similar points during their opening statements, saying it is imperative other federal departments contribute resources for holistic neighborhood revitalization. Read More >

CLPHA Comments on Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program

Last week, CLPHA submitted written comments on the advance notice of the HUD Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program (SCPGP). Among the comments offered, CLPHA believes:

  • PHAs should be included in any regional planning effort
  • PHAs should be eligible to be the lead agency for funding and planning purposes
  • HOPE VI and other Public Housing Activities should qualify for implementation funding
  • SCPGP grant size should be scaled according to planned activities
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House Hearing on HUD & DOT Sustainability Proposals

HUD’s new Sustainable Homes and Communities Initiative was the subject of a March 10 hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.  Ron Sims, HUD Deputy Secretary, and Roy Kienitz, Department of Transportation Under Secretary for Policy, testified.

Sims started by describing the plight facing low incomes families living in neighborhoods with limited access to jobs, quality schools and opportunities to create wealth and lead healthy lives.  On top of that, he said, working families in metropolitan areas spend an average of 60 percent of income on housing and transportation.  HUD’s new initiative is designed to help meet these challenges, building sustainable homes and communities while creating jobs and expanding opportunity. 

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Senate Hearing on HUD FY11 Budget Request

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development held a hearing last week on the Administration’s FY 2011 budget request for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD.)  HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan was the sole witness. to testify.

In her opening statement, Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) commended HUD for getting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) money out quickly.  She then expressed concerns about the lack of detail on long-term costs in the proposed new Transforming Rental Assistance (TRA) program.  She voiced the subcommittee’s worry about drastic cuts proposed for several programs, including Section 202 and Section 811.  She ended on a cautionary note, saying the current economic environment might require more budget cuts in this strained fiscal year. Read More >

The Next Challenge for Public Housing: Serving its Most Vulnerable Residents

HOPE VI changed the face of public housing, and created a range of self-sufficiency services for its residents. But a part of the public housing resident population – the hard-to-house – has not fully experienced the benefits. Concerns remain that people with physical and mental health problems, low literacy levels, criminal histories and other problems, will fall through the cracks in the move to mixed-income developments or private market housing.

Urban Institute held a forum earlier this month on a promising approach for PHAs struggling to figure out how to serving this vulnerable population. It focused on the Chicago Case Management Demonstration, a three-year partnership now complete.  In it, the Chicago Housing Authority (the primary funder of the project) worked with Heartland Human Care Services and Housing Choice Partners to provide intensive supportive services to families in two CHA developments. Read More >