News Column

Low Income Housing Advocates Urge Senators to Keep Working on Housing Finance Bill to Get to 'Yes'

May 5, 2014



WASHINGTON, May 5 -- The National Low Income Housing Coalition issued the following news release:

Today, 33 national organizations and 163 state and local organizations send a letter to six U.S. Senators on the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee urging them to keep working on the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014, the "Johnson-Crapo" bill, to get the bill to the point that they can support it and thus provide the $3.75 billion a year through the National Housing Trust Fund to address the acute shortage of affordable rental housing for the lowest income Americans.

The letter calls on Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to not let this opportunity pass by. All six express strong support for the National Housing Trust Fund, but remain undecided on the overall bill. The 163 state and local signatories to the letter are from these six states.

"The Senate Banking Committee has the historic opportunity to make the largest investment in housing for the poorest Americans in a generation," write the 196 organizations. "We urge you to seize this moment and make sure that the bill passes out of committee with the momentum needed to move forward to a vote on the Senate floor this year."

While other organizations oppose a number of other provisions in the bill, there is overwhelming support for the National Housing Trust Fund to receive funding. The Johnson-Crapo bill as drafted would require an assessment of 10 basis points on users of the new housing finance system. This is estimated to generate $5 billion a year. These funds would be directed to affordable housing activities with 75% going to the National Housing Trust Fund.

The May 5 letter urges the Senators to "negotiate until, together, you can craft a bill that you will support." The signing organizations include national, state, and local organizations representing seniors, persons with disabilities, people who are homeless, families with children, low wage workers, faith-based organizations, and affordable housing developers and providers. "Millions of people are counting on you to keep working until you get to "yes.""

The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs is expected to mark-up the Johnson-Crapo bill as early as Thursday, May 8.

"The nationwide shortage of rental housing that the lowest income people can afford is the most serious housing problem of our time," said Sheila Crowley, NLIHC President and CEO. "We cannot continue to consign poor children to substandard living conditions, evictions, stays in shelters, living out of cars, and the attendant learning and health problems that come with housing instability. Today, there are ten million extremely low income renter households in our country and only three million rental housing units they can afford. The Johnson-Crapo bill offers the first real chance to change this equation."

Established in 2008, the National Housing Trust Fund has yet to receive funding. Once funded, the National Housing Trust Fund will provide communities with funds to build, preserve, rehabilitate, and operate rental homes that are affordable for extremely and very low income households.

Read the May 5 letter at: http://bit.ly/1n5lXLv

Dr. Crowley is available for further comment.

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