The new political landscape is continuing to take shape: two factors are likely to impact our field most immediately. The first is the direct aim taken at our most vulnerable communities in President Trump's "Skinny Budget" proposal for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, which proposed billions of dollars in cuts to HUD. The second is the volatile relationship between the Administration and Congress and the challenges this poses to the execution of a coherent legislative and appropriations agenda.
Throughout the past several months, NHT and Enterprise have been working closely with our existing coalitions to drive awareness of this challenging environment and the threat that it poses. For example, NHT has mobilized members of the national Preservation Working Group (PWG), and Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA) to demand that members of Congress pass the already negotiated FY 2017 HUD spending bill, firmly reject the Trump Administration's proposed budget, and negotiate new budget agreements that protect parity for the non-defense discretionary expenditures with defense spending.
We believe that this work can have even greater impact. Subject to funding availability, throughout the next six to nine months, NHT and Enterprise will lead a mobilization action, entitled "Where Will We Live," that organizes residents, community members and local leaders, and other community groups to support full funding for PBRA, vouchers, HOME and support the expansion of the Housing Credit. This mobilization will engage NHT, Enterprise, and partner organizations to target and coordinate residents, affordable housing owners, and stakeholders in select states and congressional districts where NHT, Enterprise and our partners own affordable housing supported by PBRA, vouchers, and/or Housing Credits. We will secure robust support for federal housing resources from residents, owners, and stakeholders in target states, including but not limited to congressional representatives from Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
This is hardly the first time that NHT has led a mobilization engagement to prevent the termination of project-based rental subsidies. For example, NHT provided national leadership in its "Where Will They Live?" campaign to stop proposed drastic cuts to project-based Section 8. This movement helped to secure full funding for PBRA, preventing low-income residents from being displaced from assisted housing.
We will carry out this mobilization in several ways:
- Our partners on the ground will work with our team and with residents to obtain positive local media coverage regarding the benefits of stable housing for low-income Americans and the communities in which they live.
- We will develop targeted content for local print and social media that focuses on not only housing, but the non-housing benefits attributable to affordable housing, including jobs created, property taxes paid, health benefits, and educational dividends.
- We are currently working on placing op-eds and other opinion pieces by key thought leaders and elected officials and have secured the commitment of both Republican and Democratic former HUD officials.
All the above will be supported by and connected to existing PWG, ACTION, and EEFA campaigns and our existing local networks, including the Enterprise Community Leadership Council and the High-Cost Cities Housing Forum. Join us, and mobilize your existing networks to fight for housing.