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Affordable Housing-Related Reforms Worth Considering

As researchers, as well as policymakers and government officials, look at effective ways to ensure the construction of affordable housing in neighborhoods of opportunity, especially during and after the COVID-19 pandemic and a time of unprecedented inventory shortages, the Urban Institute examines potential federal reforms, outlined in a recent report, that meet certain criteria.

One, the Institute reports, said reform should be rooted in some empirical basis, two, it appears in more than one public policy platform, and, three, said reform has been prioritized by housing experts Urban Institute engaged in the Opportunity for All workshop and essay series.

In their recent brief, research associates discuss each of the proposed federal policy reforms and their evidence base, and explore considerations for federal policymakers when implementing the reforms.

As part of the Opportunity for All project, the institute's latest study examines how the federal government can help all
neighborhoods become places of opportunity and inclusion, the researchers wrote in their summary.

The following are the known proposed reforms, which the Institute, in its brief, provides further data supporting implementation.

1. Increase funding for Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers.
2. Restore and expand funding for the Public Housing Capital Fund.
3. Expand the National Housing Trust Fund.
4. Restore and enforce the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) fair
housing rules.
5. Clarify and enforce fair housing requirements for new Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) construction.
6. Provide funding for legal representation to tenants facing eviction.
7. Support shared-equity homeownership.
8. Implement a national renter tax credit.

The authors concluded that their data and recommendations are "widely supported by housing experts" adding that, demonstrably, these reforms could provide promise of improving stability, housing affordability, and neighborhood choice.

Putting these reforms into practice would require varying amounts of difficulty, the authors noted.

They say: "For example, most reforms would require increased federal appropriations or a combination of appropriations and regulatory reform (e.g., expanding the National Housing Trust Fund and restoring and enforcing HUD’s fair housing rules), and others would require legislation to create new programs entirely (e.g., providing funding for legal representation to tenants facing eviction and implementing a national renter tax credit)."

The brief goes on to address further barriers and considerations to implementation, concluding that "the racial equity concerns surfaced by the COVID-19 pandemic should be considered as part of any regulatory reform decisions or prioritization of this list."

Read the entire report at Urban.org.

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others. Contact Christina at christina.hughesbabb@thefivestar.com.

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