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NACo Community & Economic Development Committee Report - 2012 Annual Conference


Posted Date: 
July 23, 2012
Contact: 
Cynthia Johnson, Pondera County Commissioner

The Housing Subcommittee began their day at 9:00 on Saturday, July 14, 2012 with a presentation from the National Association of Home Builders Vice President of Government Affairs, Steve Gallagher.

Gallagher shared results of a nationwide survey done with homeowners who indicated a “Renewed sense of hope and pockets of success around the country that the media isn’t reporting.”

 The US is enduring year five of the housing downturn.  We need to replace the housing starts which occurred in those years prior to 5 years ago.  There is very little new inventory for those who are shopping and there is concern for a second “bubble burst” because of potential shortages of both houses and labor.  Prices will once again rise to unsustainable levels and immigration must be addressed in order to help the lack of skilled labor issue.  Gallagher is encouraged by the increased activity in Washington D.C. toward finding solutions to these housing issues.

The appraisal problem isn’t going away and hasn’t been settled in most states – foreclosed and distressed properties are affecting neighborhoods and appraisals and are still being used as comparables during the appraisal process.

The Improving Markets Index (IMI) is showing consistent improvement on three indicators – housing permits, employment, and home prices and Gallagher is encouraged that recovery is beginning to happen.  Access to credit continues to be an impediment for both builders and buyers.

HR1755 – NAHB is working on this legislation to address AD&C lending issues and attempt to reconcile the access to credit problem for builders/contractors.

S2078- NAHB is also working on this Senate version.

NAHB is concerned about the Lame Duck Congress which they expect to return to Washington, D.C. after November.  Any combination of control is possible and anticipated changes to any current control of Congress could create significant havoc for the housing and lending industries. 

The Housing Subcommittee then considered several resolutions dealing with the housing industry and economic development. Cyndi Johnson voted against the resolution to restore HUD, HOME, and CDBG funding to 2011 levels simply because it is not affordable or sustainable.  Other resolutions dealing with the finalization of regulations on the government sponsored entities’ duty to serve obligation for manufactured housing, limiting closures of post office facilities, and the re-authorization of EDA funding received affirmative votes.

The Economic Development Subcommittee met immediately following the housing subcommittee with a very upbeat presentation by Jack Exler, Deputy Director of Alleghany County Economic Development, regarding two Brownfields Redevelopment projects in Western Pennsylvania and the related investments in adjacent distressed communities.  The county, through the Redevelopment Authority, used a $30 million Tax Improvement Financing District to match both CDBG and Brownfields funding to create a business (office and light manufacturing) district along the Alleghany River.  The net result was an increase in property market values from $15,900,000 to $214,560,000 within the business district.  With the success of the initial Business District, impacts to local communities were also very positive – additional business, housing and infrastructure development.  Plans are in the works for additional office development and low to moderate income housing construction.  While communities adjacent to the Alleghany River Project have lost 60% of their population since 1950, the Brownfields Redevelopment and Community Revitalization projects have helped to stabilize them.  The County’s ultimate investment in these redevelopment projects ($44,938,601) has been from CDBG funds and a County Trust Fund created many years ago they call the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.  The Affordable Housing Trust Fund is funded with a simple flat rate fee ($58) assessed on every home sale in the county.   

The toughest roadblocks to the redevelopment project were the age of the residents – older residents didn’t see the value in development, and the resistance of the local governments – the city councils weren’t prepared for the amount of work and rapid change.  Those folks were still waiting for the “old days” of steel mills to return.   The population of the adjacent communities ranged from 1900 to 8000 residents.

The Economic Development subcommittee then considered all resolutions proposed and affirmed a recommendation to pass those resolutions on to the full committee for final consideration.

The NACo Community and Economic Development Steering Committee met Saturday afternoon.  The first presentation of the afternoon was by Peter Kovar, Assistant Secretary of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations for Housing and Urban Development.   Mr. Kovar discussed the current HUD budget and status of economic development support in Washington, D.C.  Conversations are ongoing in regard to the HUD budget and programs but Kovar doesn’t expect resolution prior to the election.   He did encourage all Commissioners contact their Congressmen/women and/or Senators to discuss those programs which are meaningful to those commissioners specific counties or states.

The House version of the HUD funding bill is about at the same level as the last fiscal year.  The Senate has requested approximately $1.4 Billion more than last year.  The House version does not fund Sustainable Communities, parts of the HOME program and some of the low income housing programs and the President does not support it.  The Sustainable Communities Grants which have already been awarded (11 county consortium in North Central Montana), are not in jeopardy. 

The proposed Affordable Housing Self Sufficiency and Improvement Act of 2012 is poised to make several minor changes in HUD programming, should it pass.  Commissioners should take a few    moments and read the proposal to see if their local communities or constituents could be affected.

The second presentation of the afternoon was given by Eleanor Blume, Associate from Intergovernmental Affairs Consumer Financial Protection Board.  Ms. Blume works closely with local   and tribal governments.  The IACFP is a new, one year old Agency charged with building a consumer financial marketplace that is balanced and fair.  They enforce Federal Financial Protection Law and write the rules relative to that law and offer protection for consumers.  The IACFP has jurisdiction over mortgage markets, payday loans, student loans, banking services like debit and credit cards, money transfer markets, and consumer loans.  If a consumer has difficulty with any of these products, they can contact the Intergovernmental Affairs Consumer Financial Protection Board at the following e-mail or phone number:   consumerfinance.gov   or   855-411-2372.  The Agency also has resources for specific populations such as military, seniors, and people facing foreclosure.

Following the presentations, NACo staff gave an update on legislative issues, the Large Urban Caucus and the Rural Action Caucus reported on their activities and lobbying efforts since the last meeting.

NACo re-emphasized the need to maintain good contact with our Congressional Delegations. 

The Community and Economic Development Steering Committee reviewed their platform and adopted several updates, deletions, and clarifications.   They also considered all resolutions previously forwarded from the subcommittees and sent them on to the general membership with a do pass recommendation.

Cynthia Johnson | pococo@3rivers.net | (406) 271-3725