NETWORK has a long history of support for the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF), which would provide a reliable source of funding for construction, acquisition and rehabilitation of (mostly) rental units for very-low-income households (those earning only 50% of the area median income) and extremely-low-income households (those earning only 30% of the area median income). Many people classified as extremely-low-income face grossly inadequate housing situations. The NHTF is intended to help narrow that gap between supply and need by providing homes for those who are most in need.
Congress established the NHTF as part of the federal Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The legislation was focused on rental housing with 90% of the allocation targeted for that purpose; 75% of that amount was intended for extremely-low income households. Unfortunately, the NHTF never received a funding allocation.
In March 2013, the National Low Income Housing Coalition and Right to the City announced the launch of the “United for Homes” campaign to reshape U.S. tax policy to make affordable housing available to the nation’s 10.1 million extremely-low-income renter households. The centerpiece of the campaign is a proposal to modify the mortgage interest deduction for higher-income Americans and invest the savings in the NHTF, which would be overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Congress appears to be moving in a different direction, despite the lobbying efforts of numerous housing groups. The House, in July 2013, introduced legislation that, in part, would eliminate the NHTF and current affordable housing goals. The Senate, meanwhile, has introduced several bills, one of which seems to be gathering adherents. The “Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2013,” also referred to colloquially as the Corker-Warner bill, includes funding for the NHTF as part of the wind-down of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. However, the funding level for NHTF in the bill as written does not support the severe crisis in rental housing.
NETWORK, along with other housing advocates, is working to find other sources of funding for the NHTF. Initially, the goal is to find $1.065 billion to get the fund going. In today’s deficit reduction environment, this goal is indeed difficult to achieve.
For more information on the NHTF, see www.nhtf.org