ADVOCACY ALERT: The More You Know

Advocacy starts with being in the know.  We know you're busy, but we want your Congressional members and state legislators to hear from YOU why we need safe, affordable housing for all Arizonans. 

So we've made advocating easy! 

As a reminder, every time you see this TAKE ACTION AZHC Bubble...


...You'll know there's an action YOU can take to help us end homelessness by advocating for safe, affordable homes for ALL Arizonans. 

And don't forget, we're 'unjumbling the jargon' of the affordable housing and homeless service sectors every Monday on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, so we can all be the most educated, informed advocates we can be! #unjumblejargon

Now, let's get to business. Read on the learn more about the latest on federal and state housing and homelessness proposed budget and policy reforms.

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FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

Last Monday, the White House Administration released the President’s FY 2019 budget request, which proposes dramatic cuts to housing, community development, and homeless funding across agencies like HUD, USDA and Treasury.   


The President’s budget proposes an $8.8 billion cut to HUD in the form of funding cuts for:

  • Section 4 Capacity Building for Affordable Housing and Community Development (Section 4); 
  • HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME); 
  • Community Development Block Grants (CDBG); 
  • Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA); 
  • Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI), 
  • Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA); 
  • Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities; 
  • Choice Neighborhoods Initiatives; and 
  • Public Housing Capital Fund

Federal Homeless Assistance Grants funding is proposed to remain stagnant, as it appears so does funding for housing counseling assistance programs.  Slight increases are being proposed for Project-Based Rental Assistance and Section 202 Housing for the Elderly.  One bright spot in the budget proposal was for a $100 million allocation for the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, which helps public housing authorities convert aging public housing properties to project-based Section 8 housing.


President Trump’s administration also proposes cuts to housing benefits by increasing rents on low-income families receiving federal housing assistance and by allowing local housing authorities to impose administratively burdensome work requirements. This proposal mirrors recent calls for reforms for people receiving food aid and Medicaid, and in direct conflict over the fact that nine in ten households receiving HUD rental assistance are elderly, disabled, working or receiving TANF.  The cuts reflect the Administration’s claims that these programs would be more efficiently administered at the state and local level. 


As our friends at the National Low Income Housing Coalition so eloquently wrote, “Proposals to slash federal housing budgets would leave even more people without a stable home, making it harder for them to climb the economic ladder and live with dignity.  Congress should reject proposals to take away housing benefits and instead enact proven solutions to help struggling families earn more and get ahead.  This starts with expanding – not slashing – investments in affordable homes, job training, education, childcare, and other policies to help families thrive.”


It should also be noted that the President’s budget request is not the final budget agreement, but in fact signals the beginning of Congressional action on spending bills for FY 2019.  



Now is the time to take action and #SpeakUp4Homes!  Tell your members of Congress to reject the President’s budget proposal.  Urge them to oppose any proposals that increase rents and impose arbitrary work requirements on federal housing programs and to support full funding for affordable housing programs.


          




Sign on to support letters (if you have the authority to sign the support letters on behalf of your organization)
  • Our friends at the National Housing Research Center are asking for sign-ons to a letter requesting for $65 M for Housing Counseling Assistance in the FY 2019 appropriation. A strong showing of support on this letter will make a big difference on the impact it has with members of Congress and their willingness to make housing counseling funding a priority, so we hope you will consider signing your agency on to it. Sign-on deadline: Wednesday, February 28th at 3 PM (AZ)

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  • The Opportunity Finance Network requests people and organizations to take action to oppose the proposed $234 million in cuts to the CDFI Fund, which provides access to capital in underserved communities.    
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President Trump's Federal Infrastructure Plan

In addition to the President’s FY 2019 budget proposal, the administration released last Monday a 55-page proposal for President Trump’s long-awaited infrastructure overhaul.  


The plan puts forth a framework for lawmakers to put forth legislation for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that would focus on public-private investments and funding from state and local governments. While the President called for investment in roads, bridges, railways and waterways, he did not mention a critically needed part of our national infrastructure: affordable housing.


As our friends at Enterprise Community Partners highlight, an investment to create more affordable homes must be a part of any infrastructure package:  The shortage of affordable homes in America is a barrier holding working families back from moving up the ladder and accessing greater economic opportunity. As a result, our communities and economy pay the price. An adequate supply of affordable homes near good paying jobs improves economic growth as households can afford to live where they can earn more.  In addition to serving a great need, building new affordable homes creates jobs fast. Affordable housing infrastructure investments pay out more quickly than transportation infrastructure so that construction workers get out on the job sooner.

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STATE ACTION ALERTS

Friday marked the deadline for the 1,165 bills that have been introduced this legislative session to be heard in a committee of their house of origin.  Typically, this means that any bill that hasn’t received a committee hearing will not move forward this legislative session.  There are a few exceptions, most notably a couple of bills that will be heard this week in the Appropriations committees highlighted below:

HOUSE BILL 2568 - AFFORDABLE HOUSING TAX CREDIT

House Bill 2568 establishes a credit against individual and corporate income taxes and insurance premium taxes for projects that qualify for the federal low-income housing tax credit and that are placed in service from and after June 30, 2019. The credit is equal to the amount of the federal low-income housing credit for the qualified project. To claim the credit, a taxpayer is required to apply to the Arizona Department of Housing and receive an eligibility statement. If the amount of the credit exceeds taxes due, the taxpayer may carry the unused amount forward for up to five consecutive taxable years. Effective January 1, 2019.

This bill mirrors similar bills implemented in Kansas, Missouri, Georgia, and Oklahoma.  The stakeholders who worked with Arizona Representative Tony Rivero (R) to introduce the legislation are pleased that the bill is being heard in the House Appropriations Committee on Monday, February 19th.  


Knowing the critical need for additional resources to create affordable homes, the Arizona Housing Coalition will be signing in to support this legislation and ask other interested individuals who have registered with the Arizona Legislature’s Request to Speak system to do the same.  

 


If you do not have an RTS account, you can email members of the House Appropriations Committee and express your support and voice the need for public-private investments in creating affordable homes in our state.



SENATE BILL 1257 - STATE LOTTERY DISTRIBUTIONS; FAMILY HOMELESSNESS


Senate Bill 1257 stipulates that the funds remaining in the State Lottery Fund each fiscal year after appropriations and deposits authorized by statute, $4 million or the remaining balance in the Fund, whichever is less is appropriated to the Department of Economic Security (DES) for services that prioritize families experiencing homelessness.


It’s important to note that this bill does not reduce the current $1 million allocation from state lottery proceeds to DES to allocate to homeless service providers.  This bill will receive an “information only” hearing (Legislators will not vote on the bill) in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, February 20th.  



The Arizona Housing Coalition has been advocating for the Legislature to appropriate more than the current allocation of approximately $6 million in state funding for homelessness-ending services and housing supports.  

We welcome the opportunity to bring awareness to not only families experiencing homelessness, but all Arizonans without a safe, affordable place to call home and will be signed in to support this bill receiving an informational hearing, and encourage others who are registered with the Arizona Legislature’s Request to Speak system to do the same.  


If you do not have an RTS account, you can email members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and educate committee members on the need and what our community’s homeless service providers are doing across the state in bringing about an end to a family’s bout of homelessness.