News from Naceda
National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations — May 20, 2019  


As the legislative season wrapped up in some states, NACEDA members report significant victories for affordable homes and stronger communities.


Washington Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day

More than 650 advocates converged at the Washington State Capitol for Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day.



Historic Budget & Tenant Protection Victories 

On April 28, Washington state lawmakers passed legislation to increase the supply of affordable homes and protect tenants. The legislative package included an unprecedented $175 million allocation to the state's Housing Trust Fund along with additional investments in affordable housing production, homelessness prevention, and supportive housing operations. The legislation also included robust eviction reform measures and zoning incentives for municipalities. For details, read the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance press release.

The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance led an advocacy campaign which included members of the Resident Action Project and a diverse coalition of housing, environmental, racial justice, and faith-based advocates. “Advancing tenant protections, funding affordable homes, and passing policies to end to homelessness were held as central issues to an overall justice agenda," stated Policy Director Michele Thomas.

NACEDA members throughout Washington state mobilized advocates in their regions: The Housing Consortium of Everett & Snohomish County, Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County, and Spokane Low Income Housing Consortium. Thomas gave an extra shout out to Mark Smith of Everett & Snohomish County who organized his board and members through the interim and throughout the session, held countless lawmaker meetings, and testified several times.

Seattle Adopts Mandatory Housing Affordability Zoning

On March 18, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved three bills to increase development capacity in 27 neighborhoods, hard-wiring requirements for affordable housing. Developers and builders can choose to build on-site or pay into a city fund. The legislation will implement those zoning changes, amend the city’s comprehensive plan to accommodate those changes, and prepare one neighborhood for transit-oriented development. The Housing and Development Consortium of Seattle-King County was instrumental in mobilizing advocates. As a part of Seattle for Everyone, the consortium turned out hundreds of people in every Seattle district to attend the public meetings and public hearing. The new zoning policy will allow for 6,300 additional affordable homes in Seattle over the next decade. View the Curbed Seattle article.


Gianna Baker addresses Just Action Press Conference
Gianna Baker of Housing Action Illinois and advocates speak out at the Just Housing press conference.


Cook County Bans Housing Discrimination Against People With Records

The Cook County Board of Commissioners passed the Just Housing Amendment on April 25. The measure will ensure that housing providers and housing authorities do not consider certain aspects of criminal records — such as arrests, juvenile records, and sealed and expunged records — when making housing determinations. Housing Action Illinois co-chaired the steering committee for the Just Housing Intitiative advocacy campaign with the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. More than 100 organizations endorsed the amendment.

"Our message is that stable housing reduces recidivism," said Gianna Baker, Outreach Manager for Housing Action Illinois. She recalled a critical aspect of the campaign that helped secure the support of legislators. "Returning citizens and their families became leaders in the forefront of the campaign. Hearing about their lived experiences was incredibly powerful." Learn more from Housing Action Illinois and Next City.



Bill To Expand Predatory Lending Defeated

Prosperity Indiana led a diverse coalition that successfully advocated to defeat a bill to expand payday lending products considered criminal loansharking under current state law. "I credit the defeat of high cost loan expansion legislation again this year to the persistence of our coalition in the ways the bill would undermine our community development efforts and Hoosiers' financial security," said Kathleen Lara, policy director for Prosperity Indiana. "In every community throughout Indiana, legislators received calls, emails, and questions in meetings about this legislation from our members alongside others representing a diverse network of faith, veterans, and civil rights organizations." Learn more from Prosperity Indiana.


New Jersey

Governor Signs Package of Bills to Address Foreclosure Crisis

On April 29, Governor Phil Murphy signed a bipartisan legislative package of nine bills into law that will help New Jerseyans struggling with the state's highest-in-the-nation foreclosure rate. The new laws will assist homeowners facing the prospect of foreclosure and pave the way for community revival by addressing blight. The Housing & Community Development Network of New Jersey worked with legislators and the governor's office to advance policies on foreclosure prevention.

"As New Jersey’s largest HUD housing counseling intermediary, the Network is thrilled that New Jersey’s leaders are now working with us and our members to keep people in their homes and helping to protect the single largest investment working families can make," stated Network President & CEO Staci Berger. "Residents and neighborhoods have suffered needlessly because the prior Administration failed to take important steps like these. During that time, residents and communities of color were disproportionately impacted by the crisis, losing so much of their housing equity," Berger noted.

Emergency Assistance Legislation Enacted

Governor Murphy signed two bills into law on April 30, establishing an Office of Homelessness Prevention with $3 million in new funding. The legislation also allows individuals to receive additional lifetime emergency assistance under certain circumstances. Up to $5 million will be made available to cover the cost of the case management services. The Housing & Community Development Network of New Jersey worked with the Governor's office and legislators to craft these bills.

Learn about this legislation and other Housing & Community Development Network of NJ legislative priorities.



Victories on Tax Sales, Opportunity Zones, and Comprehensive Plans 

The 2019 Maryland General Assembly ended April 8, with the passage of several legislative priorities of the Community Development Network of Maryland. Victories included bills requiring county and municipal comprehensive plans to include affordable housing, as well as legislation incentivizing transparency in reporting on projects in Opportunity Zones using state credits, funding or financing. The legislature also passed bills facilitating the sale of vacant and abandoned properties, providing homeowner protections to avoid tax sale, creating an Ombudsman to help homeowners navigate the tax sale system, and waiving fees on certain estates. Most of the bills were signed by Governor Hogan and he has until the end of the month to act on the others. No vetoes are anticipated. The governor could sign them or let the bills become law without his signature.

Odette Ramos, executive director of Community Development Network of Maryland commented on the package of tax sale bills. “Maryland’s tax sale system has led to vacant properties becoming a drag on neighborhoods. Investors don’t bid on properties that have liens higher than the home is worth. This legislation allows use of an alternate system to extinguish liens and make properties available for redevelopment. Maryland’s tax sale system is also confusing and predatory. The new legislation builds on the work we did last year to ensure more protections for homeowners and enable them to pay their liens.“

To learn more about these bills and other legislation, view the Community Development Network of Maryland's General Assembly Report.