Enterprise: Community Developments: State- and City-Wide Efforts to Boost Affordable Housing Development

March 19, 2019

  • In a culmination of a four-year process, the Seattle City Council passed yesterday Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) upzones that allow higher density and impose affordable housing requirements on more than two dozen neighborhoods. This action upzones 27 neighborhood hubs, requiring developers in those areas to set aside 5 to 11 percent of their developments as affordable units or pay $5 to $32.75 per square foot in fees. It also allows for denser housing on about 6 percent of lots where new construction is currently reserved exclusively for single-family homes and upzones by one or several stories blocks where apartment buildings and commercial buildings are already allowed. Along with the upzoning legislation, the council passed a resolution that commits the city to consider other steps, such monitoring and combating the displacement of marginalized communities. City officials have estimated the upzones will create up to 3,000 affordable units across Seattle over the next decade. (The Seattle Times, March 18)
  • According to analysis by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, the District of Columbia has the highest intensity of gentrification across the country, based on the percentage of lower-income neighborhoods that have experienced gentrification. The study, which defines gentrification as an influx of investment and changes to the built environment that leads to rising home values, family incomes and educational levels of residents, shows that about 40 percent of the District's lower-income neighborhoods experienced gentrification between 2000 and 2013. (The Washington Post, March 19) Enterprise has released a paper that looks at the issues around defining and measuring gentrification and their implications for policymaking. Gentrification: Framing Our Perceptions, summarizes several approaches used in recent studies of gentrification and details the complications these create for identifying where it occurs. Watch a short video that offers a summary of the paper, and learn more about this research in our blog post.
  • U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA-49) has introduced the “Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act,”legislation that aims to improve the health and safety of homes for military families. The introduction of this bill follows a Reuters investigation that highlighted poor housing conditions in military bases across the country, including persistent mold, water leaks, and rodent and insect infestations. This measure would withhold a servicemember's housing allowance until a military housing official can inspect the home for any environmental, safety, or health hazards, and servicemember would also have to agree that the housing is satisfactory. It would also withhold incentive fees by the Secretary of Defense to any contractor who “persistently fails to remedy hazards.” This bill was originally introduced in the Senate by Congressmembers Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) Kamala Harris (D-CA), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA). (NBC San Diego, March 18)

In Case You Missed It

  • Yesterday the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released more information on the President's Budget requests for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20). Under the proposed budget, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would see dramatic cuts and many important housing and community development programs would be eliminated. As previously reported in Community Developments, the budget request for HUD does not include any funds for the HOME Program, Public Housing Capital Fund, the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) Program, or the Self-Help and Assisted Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP), which houses the Section 4 Capacity Building Program. The request also includes additional cuts to community development and housing programs. The Department of Treasury's proposed budget confirms that the White House is not seeking funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund Program. Furthermore, the Administration proposes major cuts to rural housing programs in the Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed budget, including eliminating the Section 515 Rural Multi-Family Housing Loan Program.

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