Membership Messages

Fahe Advocacy Update: Our Homes, Our Voices campaign by NLIHC; House appropriations subcommittees advance bills with large increases; America needs better housing, and rural tenants need protections too

The Latest

  • National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) to hold national tweetstorm and call-in days to advocate for affordable housing
  • House THUD, and Agriculture/Rural Development appropriations subcommittees advance initial bills with large increases, but spending caps loom

Longer Term

  • Issues with housing price and quality are widespread, tenant protections are needed in rural areas too
  • 2020 Presidential candidates are turning their attention to housing issues, housing finance reform to be major issue

The Latest

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is concluding their Our Homes, Our Voices campaign this week. Today from 2:00-3:00pm they are having a tweetstorm in support of affordable housing, and tomorrow they are having a national call-in day to let legislators know the importance of our work. If you are interested in participating, sample tweets, images, and a call-in day script can be found here. The places where we work present unique challenges, so please share your expertise with your lawmakers.

Both the House THUD appropriations subcommittee and the Agriculture and Rural Development appropriations subcommittee met on May 23rd, and passed their initial bills. Some highlights from these two bills include: $1.75 billion for the HOME Program (an increase of $500 million from FY19), almost $4 billion for Rural Development programs (an increase of $290 million from FY19), and NeighborWorks America’s requested allocation of $170 million (an $18 million increase from FY19 levels). The request moves today to the full House Appropriations Committee where it is expected to be approved. The danger as the appropriations process moves forward is the looming negotiations over spending caps Fahe has discussed in previous Advocacy Updates.

Longer Term

Renters in our largest cities face a variety of challenges, and are increasingly organizing for greater protections in tight rental markets. For rural renters however, this organizing and the protections that come along with it are rare. A recent article asks the question: “What about the rest of America?” and points to instances where rural communities in Oregon, Colorado, and New York are organizing for public protections like rent control. In housing markets like Appalachia (see: VCHR Housing Needs Assessment), a general lack of rental properties can result in a mismatch between high income residents and the available safe, quality, and affordable rental units—often stunting the possibility for healthy low and middle income housing markets. Stronger protections for tenants can produce more robust, more aligned, markets for everyone, including producers and operators of housing units.

Building more homes people can actually afford looks to play a role in the 2020 presidential elections. 16 candidates have discussed housing issues on the campaign trail, and 4 have released significant policy proposals to address those issues. With housing finance reform likely to be a key issue in these debates, Fahe encourages candidates to pursue strengthening Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s duty to serve low-income and historically disinvested regions like Appalachia. Furthermore, Fahe hopes to see these debates include the unique housing challenges of rural and small town America. While it is promising to see housing issues discussed at all, solution based on the largest coastal cities do not fit all communities across the country. To make change in every community, our dialogue and proposed solutions must take the unique needs and challenges of all communities as the starting point.

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