Throughout the state this summer and fall, Prosperity Indiana went on the road hosting six regional Policy & Pizza meetings designed to share our 2020 Policy Priorities, but also to help build or deepen direct relationships between our members and legislators. We are thrilled by the results and thankful that at each meeting, legislators were able to hear local context for our priorities and witness the local partnerships among our network as PI members work to address considerable community development challenges.
We were also excited to lift up key successes among our network. We look forward to continuing to find ways to continue this engagement! One key way to touch base with legislators again is at our Statehouse Day on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 from 1-4 pm EST. Registration is free for members and we set up all legislator meetings and provide talking points. Let's keep building on all of this advocacy momentum as we head into 2020!
On September 27, the President signed a continuing resolution (CR), or stopgap funding measure, to keep the government funded through November 21 in an effort to give the House and the Senate to debate differences in their appropriations bills. The full Senate has not approved their appropriations bills as the House has, but the Appropriations Committee did approve the bills, meaning they are ready to be considered on the floor.
Below is an updated budget chart for many of PI's member interests for appropriations bills for housing and community development programs within the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Agriculture. Members of the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) have sent a letter to Appropriations leaders in both chambers urging them to include the highest possible allocations to support affordable housing under the budget deal.
Overall, the Senate proposal for the HUD budget provides than $11.9 billion above the president’s FY20 request and $2.3 billion above FY19 enacted levels, but still $1.5 billion less in funding than the House version. Key line items of concern to our members include the net loss to already underfunded Housing Counseling budget as well as funding for HOPWA and the Public Housing Operating Fund.
NOW IS THE TIME TO REACH OUT TO OUR SENATORS AND RESPECTFULLY URGE THEM TO PASS THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE FUNDING LEVELS UNDER THE BUDGET AGREEMENT FOR HOUSING PROGRAMS TO ADDRESS OUR STATE’S AFFORDABILITY CRISIS.
Senator Young: (202) 224-5623Senator Braun: (202) 224-4814
In terms of policy matters addressed in the Senate THUD bill, the legislation joins the House bill in prohibiting the Administration’s proposal for rent increases and rigid work requirements, but does not include the House-passed language to halt the Administration’s proposal to evict mixed-status families from assisted housing and to roll back LGBTQ protections.
On Tuesday, September 17, the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee today approved its FY20 appropriations bill, laying out critical housing and community development program funding levels for our communities and member network. Last week, the full Senate Appropriations Committee determined how much each subcommittee would receive and the Senate allocated $74.3 billion for the THUD Subcommittee, which is roughly $1.5 billion less than the House proposal, but $3.2 billion above FY19 enacted levels.
The measure will go on to be considered Thursday (September 19) by the full Senate Appropriations Committee. Click here for an updated budget chart.
Today, the Senate Banking Committee heard testimony from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria regarding the Administration’s proposal to overhaul the nation’s housing finance system. Secretary Mnuchin outlined the Administration’s vision for the future of two giant companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that back half of the nation’s mortgages by buying mortgages from lenders, then selling packaged securities to investors. The two companies also have an affordable housing mandate to support access to affordable, 30-year mortgages. They have also been under conservatorship, or government control, for 11 years.
The plan would make these companies private again, but require a fee for the government protection they receive and eliminate a requirement that the companies send their profits to the Treasury Department. Secretary Mnuchin noted that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac currently have a combined $6 billion in capital but said they should have about $100 billion and that creates an intense reliance on Treasury support. The companies did receive nearly $200 billion in bailouts, but as the market has been working towards recovery, they have since contributed $300 billion in dividends to the Treasury Department. This dynamic complicates the reform roadmap for moving forward.
There is bipartisan support for the need to come up with a plan to end conservatorship and move the mortgage giants move forward, but significant concerns over the proposal were raised regarding the implications for moderate-income households seeking a stable, affordable home loan. The proposal calls for eliminating the affordable housing goals in favor of having the Federal Housing Agency and Congress create “more efficient mechanisms” for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to achieve those goals with the goal for delivering tailored support to lower-income, rural and first-time home buyers. Changes to current mandates could have sweeping effects on credit access for first-time homebuyers who lack a 20 percent downpayment.
The plan would also allow for private competitors in the market for the first time who would not have the same obligations or guarantees. This could affect efforts to address racial homeownership gaps. During the hearing, numerous Senators pointed out that the black homeownership is just over 40 percent, which is actually lower than when the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968 while white homeownership has consistently increased over that time to 73 percent.
Jesse Van Tol, chief executive of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, noted that the plan would “open the market up to competitors for the first time and introduce private guarantors that won’t have the same obligations as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”
Numerous senators also focused on the proposal’s proposal that would release Fannie and Freddie from their “duty-to-serve” requirements that increase lending in rural communities. We will continue to update members on any further negotiations or discussions around this and other housing finance proposals.
Indiana is widely perceived as one of the most affordable places to live in the United States, but that is not the case for far too many Hoosiers. Forty-six percent of renters are cost-burdened and three large Indiana cities are in the top 20 nationwide for evictions, including South Bend, Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.
To dive into the issues surrounding our affordable housing crisis, Prosperity Indiana's Executive Director, Jessica Love, joined U.S. Senator Todd Young and Matthew Desmond, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City," and numerous members for a community conversation on current challenges and policy solutions to pursue. These events took place at member-hosted sites in South Bend and Fort Wayne.
The Journal Gazette provided the following coverage of the event in Fort Wayne:
Targeting city's rate of evictionYoung leads panel seeking affordable housing solution
A roundtable discussion Wednesday generated plenty of ideas for shrinking Fort Wayne's home eviction rate, the 13th highest among the nation's large cities.
Among the suggestions: Increase funding for affordable housing from the public and private sectors. Improve legal protections for tenants. Provide better support services for low-income renters. Use lower-cost manufactured housing. Persuade landlords and tenants to take advantage of available options for education and training on their rights and responsibilities.
Perhaps the most frequent recommendation: Expand collaboration among stakeholders.
“Collaboration is a big key to this on a lot of different levels,” said Justin Barker of Pathfinder Services, which assists people with disabilities.
“One organization can't do it all,” he said. “We need each one here at the table and each one in this room to be able to push that needle forward for these low-income households in Indiana.”
Barker was among 10 people invited to participate in the roundtable discussion at Tiffany Heights Apartments on Elmcrest Drive by U.S. Sen. Todd Young. About 40 more people crowded into the Tiffany Heights office, and Young encouraged them to weigh in, too.
Young, R-Ind., said the nation suffers from a “housing affordability crisis.” He has introduced bills addressing it, including legislation signed into law that aims to help public housing voucher recipients relocate to lower-poverty areas.
“Getting people into safe and stable housing saves on health care and education expenses and public safety and corrections,” Young said.
He was accompanied by Matthew Desmond, a Princeton University sociologist and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.”
“We are at a point in this country where we are evicting people not by the thousands or hundreds of thousands, but by the millions every year,” Desmond said. “There are more eviction filings in America every single year than there were foreclosure filings at the height of the (financial) crisis” in 2007-08.
The odds of being evicted triples for tenants with children, he said, noting that a New York evictions court offered child-care services until recently.
“So if we want more family stability and more community stability, we need fewer evictions,” Desmond said.
He said a third of evictions involve tenants who owe less than a month's rent.
“People are getting evicted for peanuts. This doesn't make any sense,” Desmond said.
He and others lamented state laws that allow eviction records to follow people as they seek housing elsewhere. An audience member mentioned that Indiana allows for eviction records to be stuck to adult children living with evicted parents.
Desmond said renters have few resources at their disposal for researching and comparing landlords.
“We don't even have the capacity in most cities to identify which landlords are awesome and which landlords are really breaking the rules, and that's strange to be in the dark in the age of the internet,” he said.
Roundtable participants agreed that affordable housing is in great demand in Fort Wayne.
“Our phone rings off the hook. People walk in the door all the time. ... Our tax-credit properties are full,” said Nikki Gillenwater of New Generation Management, which manages affordable-living communities.
Roundtable participants included representatives of the Fort Wayne Housing Authority, Brightpoint, Vincent Village, Keller Development, Prosperity Indiana, the Affordable Housing Association of Indiana and the Indiana Manufactured Housing Association.
Young and Desmond conducted a similar discussion Wednesday morning in South Bend, which has the country's 18th highest eviction rate among large cities, according to Princeton's Eviction Lab, a nationwide database of evictions. Indianapolis has the 14th highest rate.
Eviction Lab calculates its eviction rate as the number of evictions for every 100 renters homes in an area. Fort Wayne's rate was 7.39% in 2016, the last year measured.
Three communities in northeast Indiana – Waterloo, Grabill and Cromwell – had among the 60 highest eviction rates for small communities and rural areas nationwide in 2016. All three were in double digits, topped by Waterloo's 24.3%, ranked ninth nationally.
Register for the Policy & Pizza event with legislators from your region below!
Friday, August 23
Thursday, September 5
Thursday, September 12
Thursday, September 19
Friday, October 4
North Central Region
As we referenced in our federal budget update in late June, increases in U.S. House-passed FY20 funding bills for housing and community development programs within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would not have a chance of enactment unless Congress agreed to lift spending caps put in place under the Budget Control Act of 2011. Further, if no deal was reached, discretionary programs faced a 10 percent cut across-the-board.
Fortunately, both chambers passed a budget deal before heading out for August recess that would lift the budget caps by about $50 billion this year and another $54 billion the following year and the debt for two years. The package passed by a vote of 284-189 in the House. 67-28 in the Senate. The agreement has received support from President Trump who plans to sign the bill this afternoon and averts prospects of a government shutdown prospects ahead of current funding deadline (October 1).
Under the budget deal, domestic programs will receive a 4.5 percent increase over current FY19 spending levels. Unfortunately, that leaves funding overall at $15 billion less than the House proposed budget.
The work ahead for Prosperity Indiana and our members is to remain focused on Senate budget negotiations that will commence in September now that Congress passed this agreement. We will urge our Senators to pass urgently needed increases in funding for community development programs at House-passed levels. Too see a breakdown of that funding, click here for our chart of programs.
Prosperity Indiana provided the following comments to the Department of Housing and Urban Development's proposed rule to prohibit “mixed-status” families from living in public housing and Section 8 units.
HUD claims that the rule is necessary to prevent undocumented immigrants from benefiting from federal housing assistance. However, existing law already does this. Right now, a family’s rent subsidy is decreased (or prorated) to account for household members who are ineligible for the assistance based on immigration status.
The truth is that this rule proposal
Docket No. HUD-2019-0044
July 9, 2019
Office of General Counsel, Rules Docket Clerk
Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street SW, Room 10276
Washington, DC 20410
To Whom It May Concern:
Prosperity Indiana appreciates the opportunity to express our strong opposition to Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) proposed rule that would impose new burdensome, damaging changes regarding the "verification of eligible status.” Our organization represents a network of more than 170 community development organizations dedicated to helping low-income Hoosiers achieve and maintain housing and economic security in each of our state’s 92 counties.
Our members strive to ensure all Hoosiers can access safe, stable and affordable housing. This proposal to prohibit “mixed-status" families from living in public and federally-assisted housing through Housing Choice Vouchers and Section 8 Project-Based Rental assistance, the three largest HUD housing programs, undermines those efforts. This rule would force families who receive benefits to face eviction from subsidized housing after 18 months for living with those who are ineligible for assistance.
Secretary Carson has characterized the proposed rule as a means to help “legitimate American citizens,” so that we can “put America’s most vulnerable first.” In explaining the justification for implementing this proposal, Carson noted that “there are hundreds of thousands of children, as well as elderly and disabled, who are on the waiting list who are legal American citizens.” In our view, it is most important to note that this rule will do nothing to further achieve those aims, as current law already prohibits ineligible households from receiving assistance.
Section 214 states that the Secretary of HUD is prohibited from making financial assistance available to persons other than United States citizens, nationals, or certain categories of eligible noncitizens in HUD's public and specified assisted housing programs. Further, United States Code defines how HUD should comply in upholding that regulation, while allowing for mixed-status households.
42 U.S. Code § 1436a(b)(2) states:
“If the eligibility for financial assistance of at least one member of a family has been affirmatively established under the program of financial assistance and under this section, and the ineligibility of one or more family members has not been affirmatively established under this section, any financial assistance made available to that family by the applicable Secretary shall be prorated, based on the number of individuals in the family for whom eligibility has been affirmatively established under the program of financial assistance and under this section, as compared with the total number of individuals who are members of the family.”
As clearly outlined, housing for mixed-status households is allowed, albeit prorated to ensure the regulation is fulfilled and those who are not eligible for housing assistance do not receive a subsidy.
Instead of providing a new protection against potential abuse, the rule promotes misinformation about immigrant communities. Mixed-status families are those that include both members who are eligible and ineligible for housing assistance based on their immigration status. Being an immigrant who is ineligible for housing assistance does not mean they are not legal residents or undocumented. Immigrants can have legal status and still not be eligible for federally assisted housing programs.
Additionally, the proposal does not alleviate long waits for housing assistance. The proposal’s practical impact will be to force families of mixed immigration status to break up to receive housing assistance, forego the assistance altogether, or face termination from the programs. By HUD’s own analysis, this measure would force more than 55,000 children, who are U.S. citizens or legal residents, to face eviction under the proposed rule . This comes at a time when community development organizations throughout Indiana, and in other states across this country, are working harder than ever to confront an affordable housing crisis. Our communities can ill afford this misguided policy when there are already measures ensuring public funds are being used to assist only eligible individuals.
In Indiana, 46 percent of renters are cost-burdened and 86 households are evicted every day. Our state has a 134,485-unit deficit of housing that is affordable and available for extremely low-income households (those earning at or below 30 percent of area median income). Only one-in-four households eligible for federal assistance receives it. Prosperity Indiana shares HUD’s concern about long waiting lists for housing assistance. However, we believe the Administration should focus on increasing budget requests to address the critical need for expanded affordable housing production and preservation, rather than destabilizing housing or forcing family separation for thousands of eligible, legal residents and citizens.
The proposed rule imposes new, expensive and onerous documentation requirements for thousands of housing agencies and private property owners, who would have to collect documents “proving” the citizenship for the more than nine (9) million housing-assisted residents under the age of 62 to be screened through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE) within the Department of Homeland Security. This added reporting is a waste of resources to require citizens, who have already attested under penalty of perjury, to “prove” that they are U.S. citizens.
Critically, this will most certainly affect households beyond those who are mixed-status. Studies, including one from the Brennan Center for Justice, show that citizens with low incomes are more likely than others to lack both proof of citizenship or other forms of identification . The Brennan Center study found 12 percent of U.S. citizens with incomes below $25,000 lack proof of citizenship, and adults earning under $35,000 are twice as likely as others to lack a government-issued photo ID. The elderly, people of color and women are also less likely to have identifying documents. Accordingly, the proposed rule will likely affect eligible households without mixed-status, as well as those that are mixed-status.
Compliance with these regulations represents a tremendous cost and burden for housing authorities and private owners of Section 8-assisted properties. In Indiana, no protection from source of income discrimination exists, so affordable housing organizations and shelters statewide already report challenges in helping low-income individuals and families access affordable housing, particularly because landlords do not want to accept Section 8 vouchers. This rule will further deter private housing providers from participating in Section 8 programs, worsening already substantial barriers to housing affordability for low-income Hoosiers.
On behalf of our network striving to ensure more residents of Indiana can prosper and live in safe, secure housing, we urge HUD to withdraw this proposal and appreciate your consideration.
Jessica LoveExecutive Director
Thanks in part to your advocacy and response to our Action Alert, the U.S. House passed a package of FY20 funding bills on June 25 that includes critically needed increased funding for housing and community development programs within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by a vote of 227-194.
It is important for Prosperity Indiana members to note, however, that before any spending bill can go into effect, Congress must agree to lift spending caps put in place under the Budget Control Act of 2011. If that does not occur, these programs could face 10 percent cuts across-the-board. We urge members to continue speaking to your Representative and our Senators about the need to reach agreement on such a measure.
As an overview, this House bill provides urgently needed increases, in funding for Housing Counseling, Section 202 Housing for the Elderly, Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities, and Homeless Assistance Grants. It also includes enough funding to renew all existing Housing Choice Vouchers and Project-Based Rental Assistance contracts.
There were some amendments passed that found mechanisms to increase funding for Homeless Assistance Grants - one aimed at serving youth experiencing homelessness ($5 million) and another to study transitional housing grants ($1 million). Our Prosperity Indiana federal budget chart is below.
In terms of policy amendments of importance to PI members, there was one passed that would examine alternative methods for calculating Fair Market Rents in shifting markets with rapidly rising rents. Despite amendment proposals, the bill retained language that would prevent the administration from imposing it's mixed-status rule proposal and from amending the Equal Access rule to allow homeless shelters to deny equal treatment for transgender individuals experiencing homelessness.
Transportation-Housing and Urban Development
Tenant Based Rental Assistance
Project-Based Rental Assistance
Homeless Assistance Grants
Housing Counseling Assistance
Public Housing Capital Fund
Public Housing Operating Fund
Choice Neighborhoods Initiative
Family Self-Sufficiency Program
Jobs-Plus Pilot Sufficiency Program
Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity
202 (Housing for Elderly)
811 (Housing for Persons with Disabilities)
Rental Assistance Demonstration
Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard
Policy Development and Research
Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration
502 Single Family Guarantee
502 Single Family Direct
502 Self-Help set-aside
521 Rental Assistance
515 Rental Housing Direct Loans
504 VLI Repair Loans
523 Self-Help TA
538 Rental Hsg. Guar.
Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR)
Rural Community Development Initiatives
Rental Preservation TA
The House is set to consider amendments to H.R. 3055 today! This bill includes critical increases in funding for housing and community development programs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). We urge members to expand our outreach to the Indiana delegation by:
Sending this pre-dafted letter urging your Representative to support the bill as well as amendments that would increase investments in affordable housing for low-income households and oppose any amendments that would reduce funding for HUD and USDA programs.
The letter also urges Representatives to support the bill’s policy provisions, including the provision that would prevent HUD from implementing the proposal that would force mixed-status immigrant families – including children who are U.S. citizens or have legal status – to either separate or face eviction and possible homelessness.
Call your Representative directly. See below for helpful talking points. You can easily find/confirm your representative by entering your address under the "Find Politicians" box on our Advocacy Action Center. If you already know your Representative, you can dial the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
For more details, click here to read our summary of the budget bill, including a complete budget chart, or here to read a summary of the Appropriation's Committee's consideration of the bill.
Please contact Kathleen Lara at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Thank you for your advocacy!