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Advocates and congressional champions secure increased affordable housing funding for 2018

From the National Low Income Housing Coalition:

The final fiscal year (FY) 2018 spending bill – released yesterday, March 21, by Congressional leaders – includes a significant increase in funding for affordable housing and community development programs at HUD and USDA, along with an increase in Low Income Housing Tax Credits and an important reform to the tax program. This successful outcome is due to the hard work of advocates across the nation and strong Congressional champions, including Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) and Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and David Price (R-NC) – the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittees – as well as Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and others.

The bill provides HUD programs with $4.6 billion in additional funding overall compared to FY17, or more than $12 billion above the president’s FY18 request. With a 10% one-year increase to HUD, many programs were funded at levels significantly above what was proposed in either the House or Senate draft bills. The spending bill renews all Housing Choice Vouchers and provides new vouchers to veterans and people with disabilities, allocates nearly $1 billion in additional funding to repair and operate public housing, and boosts funding for the HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME) to the highest level in seven years. Moreover, the final bill includes none of rent increases proposed by the president in his budget request. See NLIHC’s updated budget chart for more details.

The final FY18 spending bill is a clear repudiation of the president’s budget request, which would have cut funding for HUD by nearly 15%, or $7.4 billion, compared to FY17 levels, provided the HUD secretary with the authority to increase the financial burden on current and future tenants, eliminated 250,000 Housing Choice Vouchers, and slashed or zeroed out funding for public housing, the national Housing Trust Fund, HOME, and Community Development Block Grants.

The House is expected to vote on the bill as soon as today, March 22, followed by the Senate soon thereafter. Congress must enact the spending bill before the current stop-gap spending measure expires on Friday, March 23. Congressional leaders could turn to a short, day-long continuing resolution to provide enough time to overcome procedural hurdles. Once the bill is enacted, NLIHC and our partners in the Campaign for Housing and Community Development will turn our full attention to defeating the president’s FY19 budget request, securing the highest allocation possible for affordable housing and community development programs, and defeating harmful benefit cuts.

Read and learn more on the NLIHC’s website.

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CDC Impact: Financial Empowerment

Over the last few years, Ohio CDC Association (OCDCA) has been working hard to quantify the impact of CDCs throughout Ohio. We’ve been collecting and analyzing data from our member organizations and are excited to share our findings – especially in digestible bits.

We are pleased to state that, each year, over one million people benefit from the work of Ohio’s CDCs.

This week, we take a look at financial empowerment. Approximately 50% of Ohio CDC Association members offer a financial empowerment program. Through financial empowerment initiatives, CDCs provide education and asset building tools so low and moderate income families can become financially independent, improve credit, reduce debt and foreclosure risk, and contribute to community stability.

Did you know that, in 2016, Ohio CDCs:

  • Invested nearly $6,500,000 in financial empowerment programs to leverage $65,000,000  in assets for low-income Ohioans;
  • Conducted financial empowerment programs which improved the financial well-being of 1 out of every 2 participants;
  • Improved the financial well-being of nearly 35,000 Ohioans.

The many organizations that perform this work do so in a myriad ways.

One way is through the OCDCA Assets Ohio Individual Development Account (IDA) Program. Operated by OCDCA since 1999, IDAs are matched savings accounts for low-to-moderate income individuals to save for a first time home purchase, small business venture, or post-secondary education. The participant savers contribute earned income and receive up to an 8:1 match for their desired asset. While saving, they undergo financial education and asset specific education.

One central Ohio OCDCA member helped Deb in 2016. Deb has two sons and six grandchildren. She is a long-time dedicated Goodwill employee and was approved for a Habitat for Humanity home in 2015. After about six months in the IDA program, Deb saved enough money to reach her goal, and was ready for a down payment in March 2016.

Stories like Deb’s are sprinkled throughout the state thanks in part to the work of Ohio CDCs. Because of the work and programs of CDCs, many individuals and families are finding empowerment and economic prosperity that continues to be a challenge for many Americans.

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CDC Impact: Affordable Housing

Over the last few years, Ohio CDC Association (OCDCA) has been working hard to quantify the impact of CDCs throughout Ohio. We’ve been collecting and analyzing data from our member organizations and are excited to share our findings – especially in digestible bits.

We are pleased to state that, each year, over one million people benefit from the work of Ohio’s CDCs.

Did you know that, in 2016, Ohio CDCs:

  • Invested over $350 million in their communities and served more than 39,000 households through their affordable housing development, housing counseling, and home repair programs;
  • Developed or rehabilitated over 2,300 affordable housing units for low and moderate income families, senior citizens and veterans and;
  • Repaired or improved nearly 20,000 homes.

There are so many various ways in which this happens across the state.

For example, in 2016, a CDC near Cleveland coordinated 356 volunteers for 46 volunteer projects, hosted 23 housing educational workshops with 782 attendees, and engaged 526 people in some type of service provision including overseeing a bed bug issue intake program, home visits, or housing court advocacy.

Another CDC in Cincinnati provided 486 families energy education to learn how to reduce their usage and save money on their utility bills.

Affordable housing is a critical need in Ohio as well as the rest of the country. The work of Ohio CDCs is truly important in meeting this need.

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How ‘Not in my backyard’ became ‘Not in my neighborhood’

Emily Badger of The New York Times:

In Seattle, the neighbors don’t want apartments for formerly homeless seniors nearby. In Los Angeles, they don’t want more high-rises. In San Jose, Calif., they don’t want tiny homes. In Phoenix, they don’t want design that’s not midcentury modern.

Homeowners in each of these places share a common conviction: that owning a parcel of land gives them a right to shape the world beyond its boundaries.

The roots of this idea are as old as nuisance laws that have tried to limit how one property owner can harm another. Over the decades, though, homeowners have expanded their claim on the world beyond their lot lines. This means they look out for schools and streets in ways that are vital to American communities. But increasingly it also means the senior affordable housing, the high-rises and the tiny homes — also arguably vital to the larger community — are never built.

“One of the reasons why we always justified the mortgage interest deduction was we wanted people to be rooted in their communities,” said Vicki Been, the faculty director of New York University’s Furman Center and a former commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development in New York City.

The idea was for people to be invested in the quality of nearby schools, the safety of neighborhood parks and the outcomes of local elections. In one sense, the triumph of this idea should be celebrated, she said. But the danger of it is becoming more apparent, too.

“Communities always need to be changing,” she said, “and we can’t have a process that gives every individual sort of a veto over change.”

Read the full piece here, which details NIMBYish and how it has changed over time.

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Fix a house, learn job skills in this Middletown program

Ed Richter of The Journal-News:

Starting Feb. 12, the newest Build-Up Academy will start its next class to rehab a house in Middletown.

The Build-Up Academies is a program operated by the nonprofit Supports to Encourage Low-Income Families that provides job training for people looking to get into a construction trade by rehabbing or flipping property.

John Post, SELF’s housing coordinator, said the program is a natural outgrowth of the nonprofit’s other activities and programs, which include various volunteer work camps in the summer, and community blitzes throughout the year helping low-income people with home repairs and other maintenance issues.

Post said the Build-Up Academies, now in its third year, provides free construction skills training to classes of nine to 18 students, ages 18 to 40, who meet for nearly four hours a night, four nights a week for nine weeks on the project.

The students also receive construction technology or construction management certificate through an agreement with Cincinnati State. The program offers opportunities to network with local employers or apply for apprenticeships in the construction field upon graduation. In addition there are incentives, employment and life skills training, emergency supports and even steel-toed boots and a starter tool set upon graduation from the program.

“It’s been a great program for us,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of great success stories.”

Read the whole story here.

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County gets $1.55 million housing grant from state

Daniel Carson of The News-Messenger:

“Sandusky County has received a $1.55 million community affordable housing grant that will help homeowners and rental property owners fix up dozens of homes in the county.

The county’s Community Housing Impact and Preservation Program grant is funded by the Ohio Housing Trust Fund, federal Community Development Block Grant and HOME programs, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.

Sandusky County is one of 30 communities statewide to receive one of the grants.

County Administrator Theresa Garcia said WSOS is administering the community housing grant locally and has been doing so for at least a decade.

Garcia said the $1.55 million grant is for the next two years and is meant to assist residents with repairs that include installing new windows and other home upgrades.

She said WSOS takes and reviews applications for the grant funding and makes decisions on which homeowners will receive money for home repairs.

“They maintain the whole program,” Garcia said.

The Ohio Development Services Agency awarded the grant, which will be used to rehabilitate, repair and construct affordable housing for low-income Ohio residents as well as provide homeownership and rental assistance.”

Congratulations for the two year award, OCDCA member WSOS Community Action! This is a great acknowledgement of the benefit of OHTF, CDBG, and HOME.

Read the whole story here.

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The Nutz & Boltz of IDAs

Join OCDCA next month as we discuss the nutz & boltz of starting an Individual Development Account (IDA) Program through OCDCA’s Assets Ohio Project. IDAs are matched savings account for low-to-moderate income individuals to save for a first time home purchase, post-secondary education, or small business.

Who Should Attend?

  • Organizations considering or developing an IDA Program
  • Organizations that have an IDA program but have new hires
  • New IDA subsites

Agenda:

  • IDAs as a Strategy for Asset Building: Why and How do IDAs Work
  • The Building Blocks of Program Design
  • Assessing your Community’s Needs: Defining your Target Population
  • Funding Resources and Opportunities Explained
  • IDA Program Management
  • Integration of IDAs into Other Agency Programs

This training will be facilitated by Jerolyn Barbee, former Assets Ohio Program Manager.

Nutz & Boltz of IDAs
June 22, 2017
10 AM – 4 PM
Columbus Metropolitan Library
96 S. Grant Avenue
Room 3A
Columbus, OH 43215
Register Here!

Cost: $35 for OCDCA members, $45 for non-members, OCDCA AmeriCorps VISTAs are free
Lunch is provided.

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Realtors’ donation helps Community Development 4 All People rehab homes

By Jim Weiker of The Columbus Dispatch:

Great news this past week from Columbus-based OCDCA member, Community Development 4 All People.

“The charity’s efforts to buy and renovate South Side eyesores received a boost Wednesday when the Columbus Realtors Foundation announced a $300,000 donation to the group, the largest donation in the Realtors’ history.

“This donation is allowing South Side Renaissance to go to another level of scale,” said John Edgar, executive director of Community Development for All People, who welcomed a string of politicians and others to the announcement.

South Side Renaissance bought and renovated 15 homes last year, most of them in the struggling Hungarian Village and Reeb-Hosack neighborhoods, which are both just south of Merion Village. The group plans to renovate 15 more homes each of the next three years, at an average cost of about $80,000 a home.

White’s new home, on Innis Avenue, was one of the agency’s biggest challenges, said Nathaniel Towns, owner of Reliable Remodeling & Home Design, which has renovated many homes for South Side Renaissance.”

Read the whole article here.

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From condemned to rehabbed: German Village home on market (on OCDCA member SELF)

By Wayne Baker of Hamilton Journal News:

Supports to Encourage Low-Income Families (SELF) has launched a pilot program designed to rehab houses that are on the verge of being torn down so they can be restored and sold to low-income families that might otherwise not have an opportunity to own a home.

The SELF Neighbors Who Care: Home Repair Renovation initiative program for home rehab just completed its first project in Hamilton at 426 N. 3rd St. in German Village, a property that was on the city’s condemned list. The home is now available for purchase for low-income buyers.

John Post, who runs Neighbors Who Care for SELF, walked the property with the Journal-News and said 200 volunteers gave 1,500 hours of their time in order to complete the rehab project.

“This house was built around 1910, and it needed a lot of work,” Post said. “We bought it a little over a year ago and really put an effort in to get this into great condition.”

This, he explained, was “your typical fixer-upper,” as the tour revealed that a two-bedroom, one-bath home had been transformed into a three-bedroom, two-bath beauty, with 10-foot ceilings, modern appliances, central air and a new roof. Many of the fixtures and appliances were either donated or were found in Middletown from homes that were being demolished.

“We did some foundation work, and you can see that we have a high-efficiency furnace and all updated electrical and plumbing work,” Post said, as he showed off the basement and bathroom in the house. “We updated everything.”

Rebecca Palen of SELF said the home rehab program’s first completed project is something that is positive for the community.

“We wanted to show the great things happening for low-income individuals and German Village,” she said. “This is an historic area, so there are a lot of permits and things needed when you complete something like this, but it was well worth it.”

Read the entire article here.