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Congressman David Joyce learns about importance of HUD funding

OCDCA is working with the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) to make the long-term case to key Ohio congressional officials about the importance of adequately funding community development and affordable housing in the HUD budget.

Congressman David Joyce (R – Geauga County) recently attended an educational convening with COHHIO and OCDCA members at the offices of Extended Housing in Painesville and learned about how housing is foundational to success and how federal programs work together to leverage resources to uplift the community.

From L to R – Gina Wilt (COHHIO), Karen McLeod (Extended Housing), Congressman David Joyce, Nate Coffman (OCDCA), Bill Faith (COHHIO)

Our organizations will continue to make the case in DC and throughout Ohio. We greatly thank Representative Joyce for spending the day with us, and our members who helped demonstrate their critical work.

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What’s happening? Budget vote, HUD

A brief sample of our August 2017 newsletter: What’s Happening in Ohio Community Development?

House Plans to Vote on FY18 Housing Appropriations in Early September 

The US House plans to vote on the FY18 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (THUD) spending bill in the first few days of September after members of Congress return from their month-long recess. The current plan is for the THUD bill to be combined with seven other domestic spending bills to form a larger package. Because of tight federal spending limits, the THUD bill would eliminate more than 140,000 housing vouchers and reduce flexible resources used by states and localities to build and preserve affordable homes and address community needs.

Even if the House passes the spending package, the Senate is unlikely to consider the bill. Because of the low domestic spending levels and conservative policy riders in the House spending bills, Democrats are expected to oppose them. Without some Democratic support, the Senate does not have the 60 votes it needs to approve the spending bills. The Senate continues to work on its spending bills, which exceed the Budget Control Act caps. This sets the stage for bipartisan negotiations. Congress and the administration will need to reach an agreement on final FY18 spending bills – or enact a short-term Continuing Resolution – before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1 or risk a government shutdown.

Given the limited time remaining before the start of the next fiscal year, Congress will likely need to rely on at least one short term stopgap spending bill to keep the government open when FY18 begins on October 1. Click here for an updated budget chart covering a variety of community development and housing programs.

Read the whole newsletter or subscribe!

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Call to protect CDBG & HOME funding for community development week

This week, April 17-22, is community development week where we celebrate the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Home Investment Partnership (HOME) programs.

Unfortunately, the President’s proposed budget has called for eliminating both CDBG and HOME. Because of this, it is essential that our Members of Congress hear from all of us why we must not only keep, but expand these programs.

Use these CDBG and HOME flyers

To help tell the story of CDBG and HOME in Ohio, we’ve created flyers for each of the programs. View the CDBG flyer and HOME flyer.

You can use these flyers when talking about these programs. The flyers are editable PDFs that allow you to enter your organization’s contact information on the back.

Please call or email your US House Rep and Senators Portman and Brown.

We realize advocacy is not easy for everyone, so feel free to use our sample script below. It only takes 30 seconds to make this call! To prove how easy it is, check out this video of our executive director, Nate Coffman, calling Senator Portman’s office:

 Sample call or email script

Feel free to tweak this script for your own community or use different points from the above flyers.

“Hi, my name is ________ and I’m calling to let you know about the importance of federal community development programs to my local community in zip code, _____.

Specifically, the Community Development Block Grant or CDBG program has created or retained 353,000 permanent jobs.The HOME Investment Partnership or HOME program has generated nearly 5 billion in Ohio local income since 1992 while providing much needed access to affordable housing.

CDBG, HOME, and other federal community development programs work and need to be substantially increased. Thank you!”

Find your Congressperson’s contact information

US House of Representatives – Click here to contact your representative
US Senator Rob Portman – Click here to contact Senator Portman
US Senator Sherrod Brown – Click here to contact Senator Brown

Engage on social media

If you want to keep the conversation going on social media, please use the hashtags #CDBG #HOME and #CDWeek2017. Share pictures and stories of projects you’ve done with these funds. Find us on Facebook (we’ll share your posts!) and follow us on Twitter at @OhioCDC and @NateTCoffman.

If you need help explaining community development, you can use these short Ohio videos that answer:
What is Community Development?
What is the Impact of Community Development?

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. Thanks for your advocacy!

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Action Alert: Sign on to Tell Congress to Lift Harmful Spending Caps

Please take just five minutes to sign-on in support of federal community development (THUD) and non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending.

Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD)

Groups concerned about transportation, housing, community development, and homelessness are working together to circulate a letter urging Congress to lift the caps on federal spending and to ensure affordable housing, community development, and transportation programs receive the highest allocation of discretionary funds possible for fiscal year (FY) 2018.

Request 1: Please sign your organization on today to support THUD!

Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD) Funding

NDD United, a broad group of stakeholders interested in protecting federal non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding, is coordinating a sign-on letter urging Congress to end the harmful sequester caps which return in full-force for the FY18 appropriations process. These spending caps will force lawmakers to make deep cuts to community development programs.

Request 2: Please sign your organization on today to support NDD Funding!

The deadline to sign the letter is January 27. This sign-on letter is for national, state, and local signatures ONLY.

Request 3: Please share this message to encourage others to sign on!

Thank you for your advocacy!

Photo by kconnors at Morguefile.com

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A last minute gift for urban agriculture from Ohio’s longest serving representative

From the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition blog:

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture honored Cleveland’s Ohio City Farm by naming it a national model of successful urban agriculture. Spanning nearly 6 acres, Ohio City Farm is one of the nation’s largest contiguous farms and a prime example of how traditionally rural activities like farming can revitalize and reinvigorate urban areas.

Representative Marcy Kaptur, who has represented Ohio’s 9th Congressional district for thirty-two years, has witnessed first hand the emergence of the local food movement and interest in urban agriculture. Ohio has a thriving agricultural sector, but is also home to several large urban districts – including Cleveland and Toledo, both in Representative Kaptur’s district. Recognizing the potential to turn a seeming dichotomy into a symbiotic relationship, Representative Kaptur has long been a champion in Congress for farmers markets, entrepreneurial farming and urban agriculture.

Ohio City Farm

Urban agriculture gives city dwellers a chance to purchase foods from farmers not just in their state, but sometimes right in their very own neighborhoods. In addition to providing a local resource for fresh and healthy food, urban agriculture also creates prime opportunities for food and farm business development, skill training, and a way to educate urban communities about the realities of farming and life in rural America.

As the 114th Congress winds to a close, Representative Kaptur has one final gift for the urban agriculture community– on December 8, 2016 Rep. Kaptur introduced H.R.6481, the Urban Agriculture Production Act of 2016. Viewed as a starting point for discussions of how urban agriculture might be represented in the 2018 Farm Bill, Kaptur’s legislation seeks to address the unique needs of urban farmers while also building deeper connections between urban and rural communities.

The Urban Agriculture Production Act seeks to improve outreach and assistance to current and prospective urban agriculture practitioners by establishing a new Urban Farmers and Ranchers group within USDA’s Office of Advocacy and Outreach. The Urban Farmers and Ranchers Group would be tasked with improving Department coordination, related outreach efforts and administering a new competitive grants program called the Urban Agriculture Outreach Program. The outreach program is designed to support infrastructure development, land acquisition and conservation, education and training and other similar urban agriculture activities.

Rep. Kaptur’s bill would also establish a new Urban Agriculture Research Initiative, which would provide $20 million a year in mandatory funding for competitive research grants for scientific and community-based research that promotes and enhances agricultural production in urban areas.

In addition, to the creation of new programs and initiatives, the Urban Agriculture Production Act would amend and improve a number of existing USDA programs to better support farmers markets and urban agriculture. The following are a few highlights of those provisions:

  • Expand credit opportunities by giving USDA’s Farm Service Agency authority to make loans and loan guarantees for the construction of new farmers markets, rehabilitation of existing farmers markets, acquisition of equipment and other related infrastructure, and the purchase or acquisition of land for use as a farmers market and other related activities.
  • Increase mandatory funding from $30 million to $35 million per year for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program.
  • Provide a major increase in funding for the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, from $20 million to $100 million per year in mandatory funding.
  • Remove the stipulation that only projects with a one-time contribution are eligible for a Community Food Projects Grant Program award, and increase funding for that program from $9 million to $10 million per year in mandatory funding.
  • Amend the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program to include urban farmers and ranchers as an eligible group.

Earlier this fall, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, also introduced legislation to support the budding urban agricultural movement – S. 3420, the Urban Agriculture Act of 2016.

Safe and healthy food access is important for communities throughout Ohio.