“Habitat on the Hill” — We highlight the #CostOfHome in D.C. visit
February 2020 saw Habitat chapters from across the United States gather in Washington D.C. to lobby representatives and senators on housing affordability for working families. More than 400 Habitat homeowners and staff members began the day with a rally on Capitol Hill before fanning out to meet with legislators and urge them to back key legislation and support housing priorities in the upcoming budget. Adding to the sense of occasion, were the bright teal-colored scarves worn by everyone which made for an impossible-to-ignore sight in office buildings throughout the Capitol during the day.
Habitat was urging lawmakers to support the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act (NHIA) that has been introduced in to the House by Representatives Brian Higgins and Mike Kelly. This bipartisan legislation will help revitalize distressed neighborhoods by using federal income tax credits to mobilize private investment to build and substantially rehabilitate homes for moderate income homeowners.
We also made the case for critical funding in FY 2021 for housing and community development programs:
The Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) funded at $15 million. Habitat affiliates use SHOP funds to purchase land and vacant homes, and to develop infrastructure, enabling even more first-time homebuyers the opportunity to own a Habitat home.
SHOP is the only housing and urban development department program that provides funding exclusively for homeownership projects serving low income working families. Habitat affiliates use SHOP funds to buy land and vacant homes, and to develop infrastructure, enabling more families the opportunity to own a Habitat home.
The HOME Investment Partnerships Program funded at $1.5 billion. HOME provides formula grants to states and localities that communities use in partnership with local nonprofits, including Habitat affiliates, to fund a range of affordable housing activities. Because of HOME’s successful track record of supporting homebuilding, Habitat supports a $150 million increase in this program to $1.5 billion.
The Section 502 Direct Loans Program funded at $1.2 billion. This is the only federal homeownership loan program that exclusively targets working families living in rural areas. The loan funds may be used to build, renovate, or relocate a home in a rural area.
And, finally, funding for The Corporation for National and Community Service at $1.2 billion. This program funds AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Vista programs — whose members are an essentially component of Habitat programs across the country. AmeriCorps work on construction sites, marshal our volunteers, and work with homeowner families. We simply couldn’t do what we do without them.
Moving from office to office, the high regard in which Habitat is held by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle was clear to see. As we approach federal elections in November 2020, Habitat Greater San Francisco — and our fellow affiliates in California and country-wide — will be working hard to keep housing on the top of the agenda.
Take a look at Habitat’s federal policy agenda and stay up to date with our advocacy work by following us on Twitter @HabitatGSF.