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Sanders Announces Vermont Secures $3 Million For Affordable Housing

Posted May 5, 2016

BURLINGTON, Vt., May 4 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders today announced Vermont will receive $3 million from the National Housing Trust Fund. The funds are part of $174 million that is being dispersed nationally to build, preserve, and rehabilitate affordable rental housing. Sanders helped lead a 15-year effort to pass and fund the National Housing Trust Fund.

“Since my time as mayor of Burlington, increasing the availability of affordable housing in Vermont has been one of my top priorities,” Sanders said. “After 15 years of fighting for the National Housing Trust Fund, I am very pleased to see all 50 states receive funds to provide housing for people who are most in need.”

The Trust Fund is the first new federal affordable housing program in decades, and the only one to provide affordable housing for extremely low-income households. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, more than 7.2 million low-income households spend more than half of their income on rent and utilities.

“When you spend half of your money on rent, that leaves very little for other necessities such as food and medicine,” Sanders said.

Sanders first introduced legislation to create the National Housing Trust Fund in 2001, based on the success of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund. Congress passed the legislation in 2008, but the Trust Fund did not receive funding until now. The National Housing Trust Fund is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is funded through a small percentage of profits made by government-sponsored agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Sheila Crowley, who retired recently after serving for 17 years as the president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said the announcement was “a great victory” for homeless and poor families. “At long last, the National Housing Trust Fund will provide states with funds to begin ameliorating the shortage of affordable housing. I am very grateful to Senator Bernie Sanders for championing the NHTF since the first days of our campaign in 2001.”

A Sanders provision in the legislation created a minimum threshold, which ensures smaller states such as Vermont receive at least $3 million from the fund.

Erhard Mahnke, coordinator of Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, said, “This is the first new funding for affordable housing in over 25 years and will create much needed homes for the poorest, most vulnerable Vermonters. We are extremely grateful to Senator Sanders for his longtime leadership role in creating the Trust Fund, which is patterned after our own successful Vermont model.”

To read more about the announcement, click here.

 



Welch Initiative to Assist Low-Income Mobile Homeowners Passes House

Posted February 9, 2016

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment introduced by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) that would expand the federal housing assistance program to cover previously ineligible expenses of low income mobile home owners.  The bipartisan initiative was approved as an amendment to the Housing Opportunities Through Modernization Act (H.R. 3700), which passed the House and will now go to the Senate for further consideration.

“Low-income Vermonters are struggling to make ends meet and stay in their homes,” Rep. Welch said. “This legislation will provide a much-needed boost in federal assistance to low-income mobile home owners in Vermont and across the country.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 8 housing choice voucher program provides financial assistance to help low-income families afford reliable housing across the country. Currently, this critical housing program disadvantages mobile home owners who are only permitted to utilize the housing voucher for the cost of the land leased underneath their home. However, the land leased is only a small portion of the cost that many mobile home owners pay for their housing.

Welch’s amendment expands the scope of the housing choice voucher program to better reflect the true costs of housing for low-income mobile homeowners. It would allow the property taxes paid on the mobile home, as well as insurances, utilities, and financing, to be included as housing costs eligible for the Section 8 payment. The amendment will also provide parity between the housing vouchers received by low-income mobile home owners and those received by low-income individuals living in rental units.

In 2010, there were an estimated 22,436 mobile homes in Vermont, according to the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

“We are extremely grateful to Congressman Welch for his leadership on this important amendment, which provides low-income mobile home owners who lease the land under their homes with comparable assistance to that of their neighbors who rent,” said Erhard Mahnke, Coordinator for the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition. “We’ve been hoping for a fix to this unfair policy for many years and are thrilled that it has passed the House as part of a bill that makes many other crucial and long awaited reforms to the Section 8 program. This will be of great and long lasting benefit to low-income and vulnerable Vermonter mobile home owners who struggle to pay for their housing costs,” said Coordinator for Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition Erhard Mahnke.

The legislation backed by Welch is supported by the National Manufactured Home Owners Association, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, and the New England Housing Network.

For a link to this press release, click here. For more on this amendment, click here.

 



Five New England Governors Unite to Support HOME

Posted November 24, 2015

Last week, five New England governors united across party lines in support of the HOME program, which provides critical funding for rental production, rent assistance, and home ownership. Governors Baker (R-MA), Hassan (D-NH), Malloy (C-CT), Raimondo (D-RI), and Shumlin (D-VT) all signed a letter to the New England federal delegation supporting the President’s budget recommendation of $1.8 billion for the HOME program, which the U.S. House and Senate budget proposals threatened to eviscerate.

“As governors, we are particularly attuned to the problems of both housing for our workforce and for our most vulnerable citizens who in highly competitive markets across New England are too often faced with homelessness,” according to the letter. “As you consider funding priorities for Fiscal Year 2016, we speak together on a bipartisan basis in favor of an increased federal/state partnership on the issue of affordable housing,” it continues.

The HOME program was authorized in 1990 as part of the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act. Targeted to low or moderate income people, the HOME program can be used to build new houses, rehabilitate existing housing, help purchase a first home, and provide rental assistance. These funds can also be used for historic rehabilitation and transit-oriented development. According to a report from the HOME Coalition, HOME funds and leveraged public and private resources have helped build or preserve nearly 1.2 million affordable homes and provide direct rental assistance to 270,000 families at risk of homelessness since 1992. HOME is a flexible program that can be tailored to the unique housing needs in each state.

HOME funding has rapidly decreased over the past few years, creating great difficulties for states in their efforts to address affordable housing needs. Between FY11 and FY15, HOME funding was cut from $1.6 billion to $900 million. Under the most recent proposals from Congress, HOME is being recommended for $66 million under the Senate Appropriations Committee proposal (which would basically eliminate the program), and $766 million in appropriated funds under the House proposal.

On behalf of the New England Housing Network, Brenda Clement, Executive Director of Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association in Boston, MA, said, “We thank the New England governors for recognizing the importance of the HOME program to the people of our region, many of whom struggle with the high costs of housing in our states. We look forward to working with Congress to increase the funding available for this program so we can address the housing needs of our most vulnerable residents, who simply can’t find places to live for themselves and their families, at prices that they can afford.”

To view the letter, click here.

 



ACTION ALERTS: Sign on Letters Regarding CDBG and Fair Housing

Posted August 31, 2015

ACTION ALERT: SIGN ON LETTER OPPOSING SENATE AMENDMENT HARMFUL TO CDBG
Tell the Senate to Reject Language Stripping CDBG Funding from Sanctuary Cities
Deadline: Tuesday, September 8th COB
Please join the Coalition in signing on to a letter urging members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the Vitter-Grassley substitute amendment to the Stop Sanctuary Cities Act (S. 1814) that would strip CDBG funding from communities that have immigrant “sanctuary” laws and policies in place. The amendment will be offered during a bill mark-up tentatively scheduled for September 10.

The letter is open to national, state and local groups, so please circulate widely. To sign on, please fill out the web form located here: http://nlihc.org/issues/participation/cdbg-letter.  To read the letter, click here.  Questions? Contact Elayne Weiss at the National Low Income Housing Coalition: (202) 507-7462 or eweiss@nlihc.org.


ACTION ALERT: SIGN LETTER OPPOSING CONGRESSIONAL ASSAULT ON FAIR HOUSING
Tell the Senate to Reject the House Anti-Fair Housing Language in Spending Bills
Deadline: Friday, September 4th
Please join the Coalition, the National Fair Housing Alliance, and hundreds of organizations around the country in signing on to a letter asking the Senate to reject the House’s harmful anti-fair housing amendments in any final spending legislation.

In June, the House of Representatives approved FY 16 spending bills for the Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development with several amendments attached that severely undercut local fair housing enforcement and prohibit the federal government from using its authority to advance the Fair Housing Act’s mission of supporting diverse, inclusive communities where everyone has access to the resources they need to succeed.  No one should be denied a home because of who they are.  We must do everything in our power to prevent housing discrimination from occurring.  Stand with us in opposition to this assault on fair housing by signing on to the letter.

Click here to read the letter and sign your organization on.  Click Here for a brief fact sheet about the House’s anti-fair housing amendments.  Questions? Contact Jorge Andres Soto at the National Fair Housing Alliance: (202) 898-1661 ext 139, jsoto@nationalfairhousing.org.

 



ALERT: Last call to sign letter v. Sequestration – deadline TODAY Fri 8/21

Posted August 21, 2015

Friends,

Please join the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition and many other VT organizations TODAY to help: 

STOP SEQUESTRATION NOW!!

Sign Letter Urging Congress to Replace Unfair Sequestration with a Balanced Approach to Deficit Reduction 

Sequestration in FY16 imposes deep cuts to important non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs, including HUD and Rural Housing Service housing programs. Join advocates from around the country in calling on Congress to stop sequestration. Sign your organization on by COB TODAY, Friday, August 21 at: http://nlihc.org/issues/participation/ndd_letter.

BACKGROUND
In 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act, which resulted in 6% across-the-board cuts to housing and most other discretionary programs in 2013. Those cuts resulted in 100,000 fewer housing choice vouchers being in use in 2014, as well as cuts to every other HUD and Rural Housing Service program.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 negotiated by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) provided partial, temporary relief from sequestration in FY14 and FY15. However, sequestration has returned in FY16 with a devastating impact on appropriations bills for NDD programs.

For example, the HUD spending bills either passed by the House or passed by the Senate Committee on Appropriations, which comply with the sequester spending caps, would:

  • Effectively eliminate the HOME program with a 93% funding cut (Senate bill).
  • Empty the National Housing Trust Fund in 2016 and forever after (House bill).
  • Fail to renew existing vouchers (House bill would not renew 28,000 existing vouchers, Senate bill would not renew 50,000 existing vouchers).
  • Insufficiently fund the renewal of all project-based rental assistance contracts (House bill).
  • Cut public housing capital funds (House and Senate bills).
  • Eliminate increases sought by HUD for Homeless Assistance Grants (House and Senate bills).

If Congress fails to replace sequestration with a balanced approach to deficit reduction that achieves parity in relief for NDD and defense programs, legislators will be locked into passing final spending bills with these severe cuts.

See NLIHC’s budget chart for more information about cuts to housing: http://bit.ly/1Hi0YA9

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION
Join advocates from many sectors around the country by signing a letter urging Congress to replace sequestration with a balanced approach to deficit reduction. The deadline is COB TODAY, Friday, August 21.

Sign the letter at http://nlihc.org/issues/participation/ndd_letter

View the letter at http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/NDD_Sign-On_Fall-2015.pdf

 



HOME Coalition Sign On Letter – Deadline TOMORROW Friday, July 24

Posted July 23, 2015

If you haven’t done so already, please sign onto a national letter supporting the HOME Program. As you may know, the Senate Appropriations Committee T-HUD bill virtually eliminates HOME by cutting it down to $66 million – a shocking 93% cut. The House bill provides only $767 million for HOME and also contains a highly objectionable transfer that essentially eliminates the National Housing Trust Fund—the first new housing resource since the early 1990’s—in an attempt to bring HOME up to last year’s record low $900 million level. All this comes on top of the 50% cut the program already has already sustained since 2010, when its funding was at $1.8 million.

We all know how important HOME is for developing new, and rehabbing existing, rental housing. It helps seniors, people with disabilities, low-income families with children, veterans and people experiencing homelessness access safe, decent, and affordable housing. Under the Senate bill, Vermont stands to lose $3.25 million, the six New England states a total of $52.5 million. With a 1% rental vacancy rate statewide and persistent homelessness among families with children, youth and single adults, Vermont cannot afford these drastic cuts. Without HOME, our affordable housing production will slow further and homelessness will once again increase.

This letter from the HOME Coalition has been circulated widely by several national networks, but if you haven’t yet signed on, I highly encourage you to join us in doing so! The deadline is tomorrow, Friday the 24th. Here’s a link to the letter: http://bit.ly/1Dfilul.

Also, please contact your colleagues in other states and through your own networks and ask them to let their congressional delegations know how important HOME is. We have heard repeatedly from our congressional staff and through some of our national networks that other state delegations have not heard a significant outcry against the proposed cuts.

For more information and resources, please visit the HOME Coalition’s website.

 



Proposed FY 2016 HUD Budget Stakeholder Briefing Invitation

Posted January 28, 2015


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Please join Secretary Julián Castro at a stakeholder briefing on
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Proposed FY 2016 Budget
Monday, February 2, 2015
4:00 – 5:00 pm EST (please adjust for your local time)
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Brooke-Mondale Auditorium
451 7th St SW
Washington, DC 20410
To attend in person, please RSVP HERE before 12:00pm EST, Monday, February 2, 2015.
*For security purposes, RSVPs must be received prior to the deadline
For those unable to attend, please view the briefing via webcast HERE.
*Note the webcast link will not be active until minutes prior to the start of the event.
This briefing is for stakeholders and not for press purposes.
For additional information, contact Yvonne Hsu (Yvonne.F.Hsu@hud.gov or 202-402-2316)

 



Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Vermont Annual Report – State Fiscal Year 2014

Posted September 9, 2014

The 2014 Year End Report for the Emergency Solutions Grant program is now available. Vermont’s Emergency Solutions Grants program, administered by the Vermont State Office of Economic Opportunity, provides a blend of state and federal (HUD) funding to support operations, staffing and homelessness prevention and re-housing assistance at approximately 40 non-profit emergency shelter, transitional housing and prevention programs serving all regions of the state. The State Office of Economic Opportunity works in close partnership with both HUD-recognized Homeless Continua of Care – Chittenden and the Balance of State (i.e., Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition) – to consult on performance measurement, data management and developing coordinated entry and assessment systems within both systems of care. The chart below shows a breakdown of the percentage of this funding used for each program component:

emergencysolutionsgrant

 

Approximately $1.6 million in state and federal funding was awarded under the Emergency Solutions Grant program. Just over half of funds supported direct service staff, such as case managers or housing counselors. Approximately one-third of funds supported basic shelter operations, such as utilities, rent, building insurance, shelter supplies or basic maintenance. The remaining funds (approximately $300,000) provided client financial or rental assistance such as security deposit, rental or utility arrearages, or short-term rental assistance.

To view the full report, including details on the population served and analysis of performance, click here (PDF file).

 



Vermont’s housing authorities feel the impacts of sequestration

Posted June 17, 2013

Public housing authorities in Vermont are feeling the effects of sequestration on already stressed budgets. This results in fewer issued vouchers, reducing access to housing for low-income Vermonters. Representatives from several housing authorities across the state comment on limited funding and losing vouchers in articles from VTDigger and The Commons Online.

Link to VTDigger article 

Link to PDF of Full VTDigger.org article

Link to Full Commons Online Article

Update, 6/26/2013: VPR transcript and audio recording of “Housing Assistance Cuts Affect Low-Income Vermonters”, June 25, 2013

Update, 7/12/2013: St. Albans Messenger, June 20, 2013

 



Webinar: President’s FY 2014 Budget Briefing

Posted April 17, 2013

On Thursday, April 11, the Alliance hosted a webinar on  the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 Budget Proposal. The Alliance’s policy team provided a brief overview of the federal budget and appropriations process and an analysis of the Administration’s proposed funding levels for key programs.

The webinar also officially launched the Alliance’s FY 2014 advocacy campaigns, and offered advocates a great opportunity to hear about what to expect and how to get involved in FY 2014.

Link to Webinar recording
View PDF of Webinar 

 



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