Housing advocates are still rejoicing after the action taken by Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt to direct Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to begin sending a portion of their profits to the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) and Capital Magnet Fund (CMF) to meet the housing and community needs for very low-income families. The announcement was a long-awaited victory for housing advocates across the country who labored for six years to secure NHTF funding after the fund was established. Immediately following Watt’s announcement, however, many legislators, especially Republicans in the House, were adamant in their disapproval of Director Watt’s decision. Several lawmakers vowed to take legislative action to revoke the decision.
Congressman Keith Ellison’s “Housing Funding Strategy is Upside-Down” opinion piece, recently published in the Star Tribune, outlines how the federal government’s investment in housing is “upside-down.”
The record $162 million awarded for housing development last month by Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) will touch thousands of Minnesota households, ensuring that housing is created and preserved for people who need a place to call home. As MHP reported in a recent post, for every dollar awarded there were almost two dollars’ worth of requests that were left unfunded.
Despite the historic nature of the award package, many households in need of housing that they can afford will not benefit from this round of funding. So it seems reasonable to ask: what might the award package have looked like if Congress found a way to fund the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF)?
The 2014 legislative session might be well behind us. But this year's short session brought huge achievements for housing, and we wanted to provide a recap. The most notable accomplishment of the session was hard to miss: passage of a full $100 million in bonds for affordable housing in the Capitol Investment Bill. The Legislature also approved several other bills in 2014 to address pressing housing issues in the state, such as a workforce housing in Greater Minnesota, disparities in homeownership between households of color and white households, and others.