Summer Policy Updates

Important conversations are taking place about the future of the affordable housing sector even in this election year, and Mercy Housing is joining in! Sr. Lillian recently testified in front of the Bipartisan Policy Council’s Housing Commission at a regional forum in St. Louis. She spoke on the following key points (Read her full testimony):

  1. The need to streamline the funding system to reflect the increased capacity of nonprofits like Mercy Housing.
  2. The need to support the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and make it better able to serve special needs populations.
  3. The need for federal agencies to pool their resources to save health care dollars by providing affordable housing.

Mercy housing California’s Mission Creek Senior Community’s $29,000 health care savings per person per year (compared to homelessness) received a rousing round of applause! MHI board member Barry Zigas is a member of the Commission, which will present its report on realistic and actionable policy recommendations that consider the near-term and long-term challenges in the housing sector in early 2013.

Congress also recently held a hearing on FHA insurance in the multifamily rental housing sector. Michael Bodaken, CEO of the National Housing Trust testified that “shortfunding” of Project Based Section 8 contracts, as proposed by HUD and adopted in the recent House T-HUD subcommittee markup, would put substantial risk on the FHA. 40% of Project Based Section 8 has FHA insurance, exposing FHA to over $13 billion in potential defaults. We have been working closely with NHT on this priority issue. Bodaken also praised the 221(d)(4) FHA insured loan, which NHT and Mercy are using to preserve the Pullman Wheelworks community in Chicago. The whole gamut of witnesses (from HUD to the mortgage bankers) agreed that FHA’s countercyclical increase in market share was critical for maintaining liquidity through the Great Recession, but that private capital is now coming back to the market. Michael’s enlightening testimony, with several other policy reforms that we also support, can be found here.