National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials Responds to the State of the Union
WASHINGTON, January 27--
President Obama's State of the Union address comes at an indisputably challenging time for our nation and its economy. NAHRO understands that difficult choices may be necessary with regard to the 2011 federal budget. As an organization, we are concerned that the deficit (recently defined by the Congressional Budget Office at over $1.3 trillion) represents a threat to the long term interests of the nation.
However, a proposed three-year freeze on federal domestic discretionary spending-to the extent that it would affect funding for federal housing and community development programs-would, if enacted, be counterproductive to the ability of public housing agencies, redevelopment authorities, and community development agencies to spur job creation and stimulate local commerce by tackling long-deferred housing and infrastructure needs. A freeze would also disproportionately affect the country's most vulnerable populations, including homeless veterans, seniors, and families who would not find decent, affordable and safe rental housing in the private marketplace without assistance through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program.
We are also concerned that any freeze or reduction in spending below FY 2010 funding levels will reverse the progress achieved in recent years to fund programs administered by local housing and redevelopment agencies at levels proximate to actual need. For example, with public housing funding levels as low as 85% of actual need in recent years, the administration's commitment to funding public housing operations at 100% of need in FY 2010 was most welcome and critically needed. Tonight's formal announcement of a freeze on domestic discretionary spending accounts, if ultimately applied to public housing operations, will very likely result in additional staff layoffs and further reductions in critical services to those in residence. Such a spending freeze could undermine the nation's 75-year investment in public housing, and will, in the absence of measureable new production, dramatically impact our ability to preserve our current stock.
NAHRO agrees with the President's focus on job creation and we strongly support the passage of new jobs legislation this year. In doing so, we believe that this administration has an opportunity to continue to create jobs and at the same time make improvements to the nation's affordable housing stock by carefully considering the role housing and community development agencies can play in creating jobs, and by ensuring the responsible dispersement of funding to those agencies in the FY 2011 budget and in any future jobs legislation.
Specifically, in 2010 NAHRO believes that we should continue the effort initiated with the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to create or sustain construction-related jobs while addressing an estimated $30 billion public housing capital needs backlog. We recommend providing at least $5 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund in the FY 2011 budget, and we support the inclusion of $1 billion for these purposes in any future jobs legislation. We believe the track record demonstrated by local agencies relative to the use of Public Housing Capital Fund dollars provided under the Recovery Act justifies this recommendation. We also strongly support the provision of funding in any new jobs legislation to be enacted for the National Housing Trust Fund. To review other recommendations proposed by NAHRO to create jobs and to stimulate local economies, please visitwww.nahro.org/jobs_legislation.pdf.
In sum, NAHRO believes that the responsible use of housing and community development funding at levels commensurate with current needs can create jobs, stimulate local economies, and assist a wider, more economically-diverse segment of the population with critical housing needs. We urge that any effort to reduce the current federal deficit not come at the expense of the ongoing ability of local housing and community development agencies and others efforts to preserve and produce affordable housing in quality communities.
The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, established in 1933, is a membership organization of 23,000 housing and community development agencies and professionals throughout the United States whose mission is to create affordable housing and safe, viable communities that enhance the quality of life for all Americans, especially those of low- and moderate-income. NAHRO's membership administers more than 3 million housing units for 7.6 million people.