News Round-Up: Making Housing a Priority

Our first news round-up of 2013 brings you stories of a big push to provide greater funding for affordable housing, and some very real reasons why that housing is so important.

First, to reasons: In The Nation we read about the connection between safe, decent housing and educational success. According to the post, “Children who lack stable homes are more anxious and less focused than their peers who have adequate housing. They are also at higher risk for poor health and developmental problems, and have lower educational attainment,” which are cited as reasons to finally fund the National Housing Trust Fund.

In a story from April re-posted on Christmas Eve, Crosscut explores what life is like for unemployed, homeless people who live at a highway rest stop outside of Seattle. The author notes that the Housing Wage in Washington State is so high that even if one of the gentlemen she interviews manages to have his application for SSI accepted, he will not earn enough to afford a modest apartment in that state.

As The Nation noted, the National Housing Trust Fund would be part of the solution to homelessness in America, but it is still without a funding source. Housing Affairs Letter and The Hill both report that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) introduced a bill in December that would fund the National Housing Trust Fund, among other housing programs, through a reform of the mortgage interest deduction.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition proposes a reform to the mortgage interest deduction that would make mortgage tax breaks work for middle and lower income families, while providing the level of funding the National Housing Trust Fund would need to end homelessness in 10 years.

Meet Our Interns: Max Steininger

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is fortunate to have great interns every semester and summer. Fall intern Max Steininger, a political science major at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., shares his experiences as an intern with us today.

Think interning with the Coalition might be for you? You’re in luck! We’re now accepting applicants for spring 2013 internships.

Before heading to college in Washington, D.C., the need for low income housing had never really been of issue of great importance to me. Growing up in suburban Iowa, I never really considered how important affordable housing is. After a limited amount of time in D.C., I realized how widespread a problem the lack of housing is in all regions in the country. Without a home, how can anyone be expected to improve their standing in education, income or health?

These growing concerns coupled with my interest in policy and governmental relations lead me to finding the internship position at NLIHC. Since joining, I’ve experienced a great combination of direct work and discussion in regard to housing in addition to an extensive amount of work researching and compiling information about how housing organizations can best advocate for the cause.

Though I joined because of my interest in policy work, interning with NLIHC has shown me the extensive landscape of nonprofits, advocacy groups and cause-driven coalitions. The number of acronyms I was presented with seemed a bit daunting at first, but continually hearing about and interacting with such a large group of organizations helped me to learn the basic structures of nonprofits and their partner organizations well.

In addition to learning the importance and scope of nonprofit advocacy groups in government, interning has done more to teach me about the actual processes that take place within government more than any class ever could. From attending a meeting with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to just having extensive discussions with the members of the NLIHC policy team, my experience has allowed me to be surrounded by intelligent people who are passionate, well-informed, and insightful about a meaningful issue. No other work I’ve done has been so educational in a field I’m passionate about and simultaneously been so beneficial to the human condition.

News Round-Up: Desperate Times, Inadequate Measures

Evidence has been mounting for decades that there exists in the United States an extreme shortage of rental housing affordable to the lowest income Americans. What those with influence choose to do about this situation is another matter.

The Los Angeles Times and the Huffington Post reported last week that a Los Angeles landlord took advantage of that city’s demand for low-cost rental housing by subdividing a triplex into 44 separate apartments. While housing this substandard is illegal, and criminal charges have been filed, as Huffington Post notes it is no surprise that demand exist for this kind of living situation, when the national Housing Wage is $18.25.

Presumably, those Los Angeles renters must now move to new apartments. As reported by Affordable Housing Finance and in Memo to Members, a recent study from the Brookings Institution and First Focus shows that switching schools due to a move is detrimental to a child’s education, as well as to her physical and mental health. The report recommends funding the National Housing Trust Fund, as well as increasing funding for HUD’s voucher, public housing, and project-based rental assistance programs.

How will Congressional appropriators address this issue? The House passed its FY13 budget for HUD on Friday with inadequate funding for key programs serving low income people. According to Coalition president Sheila Crowley, in spite of the efforts of a few Representatives to introduce helpful amendments to the bill,

“The U.S. House of Representatives broke faith with many thousands of the poorest, most vulnerable Americans who are served by the programs of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Housing assistance is not an abstraction. Real people, the majority of whom are elderly or disabled, will lose their homes if these cuts are enacted. And turning the clock back on fair housing shows that the House is out-of-step with 21st century American values.”

It might be some time before the FY13 budget is decided; the Senate has yet to weigh in with its own appropriations bills.

Become a stronger advocate with Memo to Members!

“… SEMINAL NEWS AGGREGATOR, MOST WIDELY CITED SOURCE BY HOUSING POLICY STAKEHOLDERS (NONPROFITS, THINK TANKS, ADVOCATES, GOVERNMENT STAFF).”

– The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and CSB consulting. Online Housing Resources: Current Landscape & Usage. October, 2011.

How did you start off the week yesterday morning? If it wasn’t with Memo to Members then you should join the 4,000+ housing advocates who get NLIHC’s acclaimed weekly newsletter e-mailed directly to them every Monday morning. It’s easy – by becoming a member of NLIHC, you can stay up-to-date with all the latest housing-related news from Capitol Hill, HUD and the Administration; the latest research on housing and related issues; and major updates from our state coalition partners and other housing advocacy organizations from across the country. Read by everyone from community and resident organizers to reporters to members of the Administration and Congressional staff, Memo is a must-read for any housing advocate. Support this critical publication by joining NLIHC today!

Top stories from this week’s issue of Memo to Members include:

  • Eight National Organizations Send Letter to HUD, OMB, DPC Urging Regulatory Actions
  • House and Senate Focus on Budget and Appropriations
  • Houses Passes VAWA Legislation
  • House Meeting on HOME Documents Requested From HUD
  • Bill on Homeless Veterans Introduced
  • HUD Releases Section 811 NOFA
  • Proposed Project-based Voucher Rule Implements 2008 HERA Changes

Already getting Memo? What’s your favorite part of our weekly newsletter? Is it the in-depth coverage of housing policy developments, the review of important new research reports, or the updates on events and resources we think advocates would like to know about? Let us know, and thanks for your support!