NLIHC Recommends Low-Income Housing Initiatives for Inclusion in Obama Recovery Legislation

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorWashington, D.C.—In the wake of the economic crisis, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) recently submitted its recommendations to the Obama team’s economy recovery legislation to prevent the increase of homelessness.“There really isn’t anything in there for the low-income population, so we would like to see our priorities included to help a portion of the population that we feel has been neglected in this economic crisis,” Greg White, housing policy analyst for NLIHC, tells MHN.According to NLIHC, its five proposals will create 201,800 jobs, or 8 percent of the 2.5 million jobs that President-Elect Obama wants his economic recovery plan to produce. The total request from NLIHC is for $23.7 million over the next two years.“All five of our recommendations are intertwined to help to create jobs and to prevent homelessness and create infrastructure,” says White. “The five priorities will help to address the current job market, as well as to help those who are on the verge of homelessness. We seek to prevent homelessness by increasing stock and focusing on getting people into permanent housing as opposed to shelters.”The Coalition’s recommendations include providing the National Housing Trust Fund, 90 percent of whose resources are to be used for rental housing, with $10 billion over two years to rehabilitate and/or build 100,000 green rental units for low-income households and create jobs. “In terms of job creation, there are a number of programs that lack funding that the Trust Fund would provide,” says White.
Additional NLIHC priorities include issuing 400,000 new housing choice vouchers at $3.6 billion over two years to provide rent assistance to low-income families and funding the Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) program at $2 billion for two years. Many Americans who are close to homelessness would not be in this situation were it not for the current economy, says White. Funding for these projects, therefore, “will help people stay in their homes, [by helping with] transitional costs in case they have to change their units, with rent and with utility costs.”

Other recommendations include funding the Public Housing Capital Fund at $5 billion for two years to upgrade public housing units and supplying $3 billion over two years to upgrade federally assisted multifamily housing, using green standards for both.
“We want to see all five get enacted because we feel that would give the greatest amount of stimulus to the economy, but I think the funding of the Trust Fund helps to get the ball rolling for the other items because that is the one that would increase the stock of housing,” says White.
Although President-Elect Obama has stated he would like to have a stimulus package in place within two weeks of the inauguration, White believes that a more realistic goal is mid-February.