U.S. mayors representing 13 million Americans joined with a set of powerful business leaders to launch Mayors & CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment to advance public-private partnerships that tackle affordable housing and homelessness. The coalition also pledged to actively oppose funding cuts to housing programs.
“In Washington, D.C., we are committed to ending homelessness and expanding access to safe and affordable housing,” said mayor Murial Bowser. “As leaders across the country work to tackle these issues, we recognize that the best thing we can do for our residents and communities is to come together, share our solutions and investments, and support and multiply the programs and ideas that are working.”
She is among 11 mayors launching the organization. Others include Greg Stanton of Phoenix, Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, and Michael Hancock of Denver.
Mayors are on the frontlines of the housing crisis and are among the first officials to hear and see people struggling with finding an affordable place to live.
The concept for the coalition was initiated a year ago by Ed Lee, the late mayor of San Francisco.
The business leaders involved come from Airbnb, Sutter Health, and GHC Housing Partners, one of the nation’s largest affordable housing owners.
"Homelessness is a national crisis that is felt acutely within the Northern California communities that Sutter Health serves," said James Conforti, president of Sutter Health, Valley Area. "As a not-for-profit health system, we know that addressing homelessness improves individual lives and the health and well-being of whole communities. Sutter Health is committed to supporting public-private partnerships because collaboration is key to helping all of us live healthy, productive lives."
The coalition recommends four policy changes to help stabilize the current outlook:
1. Maximize funding for existing federal programs that work, including Sec. 8 housing vouchers, Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Grants, and Community Development Block Grants;
2. Issue new, competitive Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) HIIRO (Housing Innovation, Investment and Reform Opportunities) grants modeled after the Department of Transportation’s TIGER grants, designed for local communities to reward innovative thinking and collaborative, cross-sector projects to combat homelessness and affordable housing problems. These types of programs have proven to leverage local investment to provide strong social and economic returns;
3. Build on the successful HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing model through HUD- PASS (Partnerships Accelerating Supportive Services), which would pair HUD vouchers with Health and Human Services programs to help families and individuals experiencing homelessness who have mental health issues and other barriers to assistance; and
4. Create a Housing Stabilization Fund—a pool of funds within HUD that can provide one-time, short-term emergency housing assistance to households below 80% of the area median income. Funds would be initially allocated to communities by formula and subsequently on a pro rata basis adjusted for performance. There are many low-income renter and owner households that while generally able to afford their homes still lack any cushion when faced with a housing emergency. For these households, the loss of a job or a health emergency can result in eviction and a downward spiral of housing instability that often ends in homelessness.
Mayors & CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment is a 501(c)(3) coalition. It is represented by Holland & Knight in partnership with the National League of Cities and is advised by the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Objective Lab is the coalition’s communications and public affairs partner.