2019 will be an important year for protecting and expanding the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF), the first new resource in a generation dedicated to building and preserving homes affordable to the lowest income people in America. More than 1,900 national, statewide, regional, and local organizations have signed onto a letter calling on Congress to dramatically increase funding to the HTF. If your organization is not already a signatory, endorse the campaign and sign the letter by filling out the online form below. Please note that this is an ORGANIZATIONAL sign-on letter, and your organization, not your individual name, will be listed as an endorser.
Both the Senate Banking Committee and the Trump administration are likely to unveil new proposals in March to reform the U.S. housing finance system. These proposals will include dramatically altering or replacing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the funding sources for the HTF. There will also be calls this year for significant new infrastructure investments, another opportunity to expand funding for the HTF. Housing – especially for the lowest income households – is infrastructure. Advocates should sign your organizations onto the letter and send the email below to your senators and representatives today, urging them to commit to expanded funding for the HTF as part of a broader commitment to housing affordability in any housing finance reform legislation and in any new infrastructure investment legislation.
There are also threats to ongoing funding for the HTF. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and new FHFA Acting Director Joseph Otting recently signaled he would be considering “all options” when asked about funding for the HTF. Mark Calabria, President Trump’s nominee for FHFA director, gave promising answers to questions about protecting HTF funding at his confirmation hearing on February 14, but until Dr. Calabria is confirmed and beyond, it remains crucially important for advocates to demonstrate robust support for the HTF.
The campaign letter reads as follows:
To Members of Congress,
We, the undersigned organizations, write to express our support for the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF) and to urge Congress to protect and expand this critical resource.
The HTF is the first new federal housing resource in a generation, and it is exclusively targeted to help build and preserve housing that is affordable to people with the lowest incomes. In the first three years of HTF, $659.8 million has been allocated to states. Because the HTF is administered as a block grant, each state has the flexibility to decide how to best use HTF resources to address its most pressing housing needs. Most states have chosen to use their HTF investment to build and preserve affordable rental housing for extremely low income veterans, seniors, people with disabilities or special needs, and people experiencing homelessness. While these initial rounds of funding are an important first step, far more resources are necessary to meet the need.
In every state and community, growing numbers of extremely low income renters are struggling to make ends meet. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is a shortage of 7.2 million rental homes affordable to the nation’s 11.2 million extremely low income renters. This means that for every 100 extremely low income households, there are just 35 rental homes that are affordable and available to them. As a result, 71% of extremely low income households are severely cost burdened, paying more than half of their limited income on rent. These families are forced to make difficult choices between paying rent and buying groceries, seeing a doctor, or saving for college or a rainy day. In the worst cases, they become homeless.
In 2014, Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee voted in support of housing finance legislation, known as Johnson-Crapo, which included a provision to increase funding for the HTF to an estimated $3.5 billion annually, making a significant contribution to ending homelessness and housing poverty without competing with other important HUD programs for appropriated funds. To continue to build bipartisan support for housing finance reform legislation, the HTF must be protected and expanded and the HTF provision included in the Johnson-Crapo bill should be the starting point for any future legislation considered by Congress.
Investments through the HTF are more important now than ever before. We urge you to work with your colleagues to protect and expand the HTF in housing finance reform legislation, as part of a broader commitment to access and affordability throughout the housing market, to serve more families with the greatest needs.