National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials Responds to the State of the Union

 

Contact: Mary Barron at 202-289-3500 or mbarron@nahro.org

January 25, 2010, Washington, DC: As expected, President Obama’s State of the Union address focused heavily on the economic challenges facing our nation and the need to sustain the fragile recovery that now appears to be underway. In particular, we were encouraged to hear the President’s plans to repair and restore the nation’s infrastructure. The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) agrees that decisive and swift action is needed now to boost our economy, create jobs and undertake necessary infrastructure improvements. In doing so, however, we cannot forget that housing—specifically decent, safe and affordable rental housing, including that which is federally-assisted—is as vital a part of our nation’s infrastructure as mass transit, bridges, roads, and railways. Federally-assisted housing in particular is home to nearly 7 million Americans, and its preservation and construction should and must be considered in any economic recovery plan.

NAHRO agrees with the President’s focus on job creation, and believes 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. Housing and community development agencies have already played a role in this regard: local authorities’ use of Recovery Act dollars to address the backlog of long-deferred maintenance needs of the nation’s public housing inventory has in fact created jobs, stimulated local economies and improved living conditions for public housing residents nationwide. Congress and the administration should carefully consider the role these agencies can continue to play in the coming year by ensuring a responsible FY 2012 housing and community development budget that addresses current unmet needs. At the same time, we recognize the importance of the President’s efforts to get our fiscal house in order and understand that joining these two important mandates in the coming year will be challenging.

To that end, NAHRO believes that the burden of deficit reduction should not fall on programs that provide critical support for the nation’s most vulnerable families, nor should our efforts to revitalize local communities be undermined. We believe that deficit reduction efforts should focus on the long term and not the short term, as immediate deep cuts in spending could threaten the fragile economic recovery.

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--all of which are stated administration priorities. We are concerned that the budgetary freeze announced this evening will inhibit efforts of local agencies to meet this growing demand for affordable housing. We urge that any effort to reduce the current federal deficit not inhibit or negatively affect the efforts of local housing authorities to preserve and produce affordable housing in quality communities, nor should any such effort diminish our ability to meet the housing needs of America’s families and the redevelopment needs of our nation’s communities large and small, rural and urban.

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.