With weeks until the presidential election, AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE is featuring its Election Guide starting on page 30 of this issue. We've highlighted some of the housing issues at stake and called out a dozen mustwatch congressional races.
We're also featuring a variety of voices from the industry, from advocacy group leaders and a former Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary to the heads of a public housing authority and a state housing finance agency. And one overarching theme emerged in the responses we received on what's at risk this election, political fears for 2013, and housing priorities for the 113th Congress: The importance of bipartisanship.
The stakes are high, with the likelihood of dramatic cuts in federal spending and tax reform. Bipartisanship is needed to solve the nation's housing problems and continue to create and preserve affordable housing.
The status quo is not the answer, says Sister Lillian Murphy, CEO of nonprofit Mercy Housing. Her biggest political fear? “That we continue the unproductive, uncompromising, and partisan stance in Congress and that efforts to reduce and balance the national budget will disproportionately impact those with the least means and consequently reduce funds and social supports that enable lower-income populations to enter the middle class.”
But one shining example of bipartisanship is found in the backing of veterans housing, which we're also highlighting in this issue. We look at the efforts from HUD and Veterans Affairs to aid formerly homeless vets as well as some innovative developments.
Nan Roman, president and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness and a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Housing Commission, says the political capital to address homeless veterans has been tremendous and should continue in the 113th Congress. “We need to build on this bipartisan foundation to create similar political will to solve the housing problems of other vulnerable people: elderly people, those with disabilities, families with children, and people who are homeless.”
And now is the time to build political support for the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) as well as other housing policies, says Richard Goldstein, a partner at Nixon Peabody, LLC. “What is at stake in this election is for all housing industry participants to work with the candidates to strengthen their support for the LIHTC and to obtain commitments to continue their support if they are elected.”
In addition to industry efforts on the Hill, the Housing Commission, which is chaired by leaders from both sides of the aisle and two former HUD secretaries, has been hosting public forums and is crafting policy recommendations. Cochair Henry Cisneros says the bipartisan report will be released in early 2013 in the timeframe when the new administration is thinking through policies for the next four years.