Ideas. Action. Results.

Housing Expert Forum: Setting Priorities and Identifying Opportunities for Action

Monday, April 8, 2013

Welcome to the BPC Housing Commission expert forum! This forum is intended to foster interactive and substantive discussion about pressing housing issues. Each month contributors from different parts of the housing sector will be invited to respond to a discussion topic.

Guest posts are shared regularly with Housing Commissioners to help inform their work.

Have a pressing question you’d like us to consider? Please leave it in the comments section. We encourage you and our expert bloggers to add comments, contributing to the national dialogue on solutions for the future of the housing sector.

Expert bloggers are not members of the BPC Housing Commission. Any views expressed on this forum do not necessarily represent the views of the Housing Commission, its Co-Chairs, or the Bipartisan Policy Center.

QUESTION: Which of the recommendations in the BPC Housing Commission’s report should receive highest priority?

Performance-Based Management: An Important Tool in Tight Budgetary Times

By Barbara Sard

Among the recommendations in the BPC Housing Commission’s report, the highest priority for immediate action should be to evaluate the performance of administrators of all federal rental assistance programs based on outcomes. Why highlight something so seemingly bureaucratic? Because a shift to outcome-based performance measurement — if accompanied by real consequences for poor performance — is the most potent tool to ratchet up the effectiveness of current programs that is relatively low cost and largely within HUD’s control.

Read the full post here.

Addressing the Housing Needs of Rural America

By Joe Belden

The BPC’s Housing Commission issued an excellent report on February 25. All parts of the report are important, balanced and well-researched, and all should receive the highest priority. But for rural housing practitioners such as the Housing Assistance Council, Chapter 5 of the report, “The Importance of Rural Housing,” includes very significant information and recommendations.

We congratulate the Commission and especially commend Senator Bond for his support for rural housing and his very strong presentation at the release event.

Read the full post here.

BPC’s Recommendation to Expand Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Key to Addressing Affordable Housing Crisis

By Emily Cadik

Among the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) Housing Commission’s proposals for creating a balanced housing policy, one stands out as the most critical in meeting the needs of low-income renters. The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) is responsible for virtually all affordable apartment development, and BPC’s recommendation to expand it by 50 percent recognizes its unmatched record of success and the increasing need for the program in today’s housing landscape.

Read the full post here.

Elevating Performance Over Process

By Amy Anthony

Among its comprehensive package of prescriptions for addressing America’s housing challenges, the BPC Housing Commission report offers one powerful, low-cost, readily implementable recommendation which could quickly and measurably improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the federal rental assistance programs now serving some 5 million Americans: Refocus from process to performance.

Historically, most federal rental programs have emphasized housing providers’ compliance with prescriptive, often burdensome regulations, with very little reference to the programs’ actual impacts on residents’ lives. The BPC report suggests this old compliance model should be traded in for “a new performance-based system for delivering federal rental assistance that focuses on outcomes for participating households, while offering high-performing providers greater flexibility.”

Read the full post here.

Protecting Senior Housing

By Brian Montgomery

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s recent white paper, Housing America’s Future, raised some familiar discussion topics in the housing debate such as how to reform our current government-dependent housing finance system into one that moves us more toward private capital. The study also rightfully highlighted the challenges of meeting our growing affordable rental housing needs. But the study’s highlight of the situation of the Echo Boom generation (our senior citizen population) provided a fresh and unique insight into the housing needs and desires of this growing demographic.

Read the full post here.

Keeping Faith: Preserving Housing Options for Low-Income Families

By Jonathan T.M. Reckford

Habitat for Humanity congratulates the Housing Commission for its extraordinary work embodied in Housing America’s Future: New Directions for National Policy. It is particularly encouraging that the report highlights the continuing value of homeownership to American households at all income levels as well as the benefits of stable housing to the health of neighborhoods and communities.

Read the full post here.

Revamping Assisted Housing Programs

By Bill Kelly

The Commission’s recommendations include ambitious efforts that would entail significant new or redirected resources, and those are critical to meeting the long-term housing needs of the very poor and those with special needs. But we should not downplay the importance of the recommendations that call upon our housing institutions inside and outside of government to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our ongoing assisted housing programs. In short, the Commission should push not just the visionary steps but also those that need not wait for an overarching consensus in Congress on major new initiatives.

Read the full post here.

Balancing Long-Term Strategic Goals with Near-Term Objectives

By Kent Watkins

Americans pride themselves on being able to fulfill what they have called the American Dream since the founding of the nation – whether in owning land or a home, the best health, equal justice for all, economic mobility, the best education, the best conditions of freedom and safety to pass on to their family, etc. This has been limited for many of them however, because of various discriminations, along with the politics of power with its economic, legal, and social distribution of preferences. Policy makers frequently find themselves in the middle of choices and trade-offs, and the BPC Housing Commission is no different in trying to set a course between strategic goals and low-hanging fruit of near-term pragmatic objectives with the present demands and needs as expressed by the interest groups represented on the Commission.

Read the full post here.

More Evidence of the Impact of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit

By Tracy Kaufman

BPC’s proposal to increase funding to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) by 50 percent presents an exciting opportunity to preserve and improve even more housing for low-income populations across the nation. For every new affordable apartment created, two are lost due to deterioration, abandonment or conversion to more expensive housing. Without preserving existing affordable housing, we fall two steps back for every step we take forward. The LIHTC saves homes while simultaneously creating jobs and tax revenue. Increasing its funding merits the highest priority among BPC’s recommendations.

Read the full post here.


A Responsible Path Forward on GSE Reform

By Joseph Ventrone

As a professional is the field of federal housing policy for nearly 40 years, I wish to commend the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) Housing Commission for crafting a package of realistic and actionable policy recommendations that respond to both the near-term and long-term challenges facing the housing sector. While the comprehensive report touches on major sectors of our federal housing framework, I believe the future of housing finance should receive the highest priority.

Read the full post here.

Read the Report

Housing America’s Future: New Directions for National Policy

Past Forums

November 2012: What have we learned from past disaster recovery efforts that could be applied in the way of housing assistance following Hurricane Sandy?

October 2012: What should be the interaction (if any) between state and local policies that impact housing availability and affordability?

September 2012: What statement(s) related to housing—policy, or otherwise—would you want to hear in the presidential debates?

August 2012: What is the role of housing education and counseling in the future housing economy and finance system?

July 2012: Do alternative forms of homeownership, such as shared equity models and rent-to-own programs, present viable alternatives for future homeownership?

June 2012: What are the best options for the millions of single-family homes that may be left behind by Baby Boomers as they age, many of which are in suburban or exurban communities?

May 2012: What can we learn from current or previous efforts to link evidence-based outcomes to policy or program development?

April 2012: What lessons can the U.S. learn from housing programs, policies, or regulatory frameworks in other countries?

March 2012: How can housing policy be responsive to today’s urgent needs and simultaneously address long-term trends?

February 2012: What are some of the key characteristics of a healthy housing system? And how can the success of these features be measured?

January 2012: What should the federal government do to address the inventory of foreclosed properties?

December 2011: What are the most pressing issues in housing policy today?

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