A NEW HOUSING POLICY FOR THE NATION

WHEREAS, housing is at the core of strong communities, promoting neighborhood stability, improved educational opportunity, employment stability, and helping owners save for their futures; and

WHEREAS, housing serves as an economic generator and springboard which fosters solutions for many other national and local priorities; and

WHEREAS, housing, however, has not kept pace with the needs of the residents in most cities; and

WHEREAS, despite an all-time high homeownership rate in America of over 68 percent, the rate in cities is only 50 percent and even lower for minority and low-and moderate-income households; and

WHEREAS, more than 14 million families spend more than half their income on housing; clearly, in many markets, housing costs are growing faster than incomes,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the U.S. Conference of Mayors calls for a comprehensive national housing policy that addresses the variety of housing challenges in our urban communities, including homeownership, rental housing, public housing, special needs housing and homelessness issues; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges the Administration and Congress to work closely with the nation's mayors and their communities on the following recommendations adopted at USCM's Housing Forum to advance the goal of increasing affordable housing opportunities and access to housing:

Rental Housing

  • Provide an array of tools and resources to leverage the private sector to produce and preserve an adequate supply of rental housing to meet cities' priorities.
  • Provide a high priority within Federal programs on achieving both mixed income developments and neighborhoods.
  • Create a new rental housing production program to serve the needs of working families with incomes up to 100 % AMI, providing adjustments for high cost areas.
  • Create a National Housing Trust Fund to meet the needs of low income individuals and families through the production and preservation of rental housing; and ensure cities receive a direct allocation of funds under the Fund.
  • Provide full funding for federal programs supporting rental housing production.
  • Provide within Federal programs significant incentives for regional fair share housing agreements and production consistent with smart growth principles.
  • Urge states to allocate existing housing resources in accordance with city priorities.
  • Urge states to create a set aside of federal and state housing, social services and transportation funds to provide cities with additional funds to implement targeted comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategies.
  • Urge cities to reduce the regulatory costs of housing production and rehabilitation by streamlining building codes, inspection and the permit process as well as by adopting "smart codes."
  • Eliminate the volume cap for mortgage revenue bonds, which fund the production and preservation of affordable housing.
  • Create a National Housing Opportunities Corporation to give technical assistance and support to suburban communities to develop affordable housing.
  • Expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to create mixed income developments.
  • Given the shortfalls in the production of multi-family housing over the past decade, Congress should enact tax code provisions as incentives to the private sector to expand and preserve the supply of rental housing and underserved communities.

Homeownership

  • Urge the public and private sector to promote regional planning and implementation that develops and retains a diverse housing stock.
  • Urge the public and private sectors to continue to fund homeownership education and outreach, credit counseling programs, bilingual credit counseling and financial literary programs.
  • Expand the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to cover entities currently not included by the act, such as marketing companies; expand CRA regulations to include local operations when financial institutions are not locally owned; and expand CRA ratings to include comprehensive community development activities.
  • Expand CDBG and HOME funding.
  • Provide more flexibility to local governments in CDBG and HOME regulations that limit the use of the funds for new construction.
  • Adopt the Community Homeownership Tax Credit.
  • Urge the public and private sectors to develop a secondary market for lenders to non-traditional borrowers who have had appropriate counseling and seasoned performing loans.
  • Support homeownership through existing Federal policies such as the mortgage interest deduction, mortgage revenue bonds and passage of predatory lending regulations.
  • Urge cities to develop policies and programs which result in homeownership land use opportunities such as land banking, military sites reuse, brownfields reuse and in- fill housing.
  • Provide full funding for comprehensive strategies such as the homeownership zone, Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities.
  • Urge FHA to extend the amortization period to 40 years.
  • Urge FHA to provide mortgages for accessing homeownership and home repairs to borrowers with lower credit scores and non-traditional credit histories.
  • Urge the public and private sectors to aggressively target education of the elderly population of their opportunities to access financing for home repairs.
  • Urge the public and private sectors to develop programs to support construction management of repair projects for elderly residents.
  • Enact predatory lending legislation.
  • Create incentives for local PHAs to utilize homeownership Section 8 programs.
  • Over the next decade reduce disparity of homeownership rates between white and non-whites by 50 percent.
  • Encourage Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to create national employer-assisted housing programs to support homeownership by working families.

Public Housing

  • Enact legislation which funds the development of 150,000 units of public housing annually for the next 10 years in a form which encourages income diversity and fosters healthy urban neighborhoods.
  • Urge cities to facilitate cooperative activities between public housing authorities and public school systems in their communities; and urge Congress to authorize and fund specific programs aimed at enhancing both educational activities and housing environments of public housing children.
  • Adopt Federal legislation that ensures public housing operating and capital subsidies are allocated in a manner that is predictable, objective and consistent with actual need, and ensure funds continue to be made available directly to PHAs.
  • Provide full funding for conventional public housing and Section 8 and allow cities to use funding for the two programs interchangeably as local needs dictate from time to time, including the capacity to increase the use of project based Section 8 beyond current levels.
  • Urge reauthorization of HOPE VI for an additional 10 years and funded at levels recommended by the Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing.
  • Enact Federal legislation which provides maximum housing choice for senior citizens and persons with disabilities including opportunities to remain at home with necessary assistance.
  • Enact Federal legislation which establishes valid and appropriate methods of assessing pubic housing authority performance and provide maximum flexibility for PHAs who perform well under the system.

Special Needs Housing

  • Urge appointment of a Special Needs Coordinator in every city to coordinate and optimize existing funding streams for special needs populations, including Medicaid, CDBG, tax-exempt financing and other sources.
  • Urge cities to charge its department leaders to develop collaborative programs between sectors, such as housing and education, housing and health services, and housing and children's services.
  • Expand Section 202 funding for new construction and rental assistance.
  • Provide funding for modernization of up to 32,000 units of elderly housing, with a priority for accessibility and the delivery of supportive services.
  • Provide funding to preserve elderly housing, permitting non-profit organizations to purchase elderly housing projects with expiring Section 8 contracts.
  • Provide funding for Service Coordinators in 21,000 units of elderly housing and provide for the ability to fund Service Coordinators through PRAC contracts.
  • Increase Section 811 funding for the disabled to prior levels.
  • Increase McKinney Act homeless assistance grants.
  • Urge cities to dedicate 10 percent or more of all housing units in projects supported with locally administered federal funds for homeless and special needs populations, under a competitive application process.
  • Streamline the Section 811 program for disabled housing to permit smaller scale projects and more flexible use of funds for purposes like capital grants, services, and tenant support.
  • Provide homeless housing renewals (i.e., Shelter Plus Care, the Supportive Housing Programs, and the SRO Program) through the mainstream HUD Housing Certificate Fund, rather than through renewals of the McKinney Act programs.
  • Provide increased Federal resources for supportive services, including non-HUD funding streams, such as HHS, Veteran Affairs, and Labor.

Preservation

  • Support exit-tax relief to existing owners to encourage the transfer and long-term preservation of affordable rental housing to preservation entities.
  • Oppose the recession of Section 236 funds and urge that these funds be made available per Title V of the FY '98 appropriation act to rehabilitate HUD-assisted properties.
  • Urge states to award bonus points in their QAP or tax credits award process and create set-asides for long-term preservation of HUD-assisted Low-Income Housing Tax Credit properties.
  • Urge the Federal government to focus more on small unassisted properties (less than 30 units), which are being lost at alarming rates.

- HUD should conduct a needs assessment to determine the scope of the problem and create a sketch of the owners.

- HUD should develop programmatic responses from the data.

- In conjunction with the needs assessment, engage the GSEs (Fannie and Freddie Mac) in developing financing products and outreach to the ownership community.

- Mayors advocate increased funding for CDBG and HOME for subsidized loans and grants to create long-term affordability for these small rental properties.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Conference of Mayors will urge HUD to appoint a dedicated leader who has overall responsibility for preserving the affordable rental housing inventory and reporting to cities and other municipalities on at least an annual basis on the status of the inventory in all communities in the U.S.