National Discussion Focusing on Economic Mobility

Related to the conversations being held at HAND’s Annual Meeting and the issue sessions for the Neighborhoods NOW Conference, there is a national discussion about how to improve housing policy nationally.

In this Article in the National Housing Institute’s Rooflines newsletter, the author Rick Jacobus asks “What would it look like to win?”  Among the many policy suggestions, are a few very relevant to Hamilton County.  For instance, the use of smaller geographic areas in determining Fair Market Rents would increase the funding availability to subsidize more units in high cost areas.

However, this author’s conclusion rings the truest.   “When we talk about promoting economic mobility, we should focus our attention on the only strategy that can actually win: building a geographically distributed stock of affordable housing that is permanently controlled by a public or nonprofit agency.”

Local control and design of affordable housing could stimulate creative solutions appropriate in a local context.  Fortunately, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC or Section 42) provides this mechanism.  Private investors, developers and owners all work with local governments to meet and satisfy local concerns.

We only need a change in state policy, and local support for developments, so we can really participate in a housing market.  Since Spicewood Gardens was funded in 2011, a competitive tax credit application has not been awarded in Hamilton County.  By the end of this year, nearly 15,000 private housing units will have been built and virtually none will be affordable to low income residents.  As I said at the Annual Meeting, “the housing gap widens.”

Posted by Nate Lichti, 5/13/2015