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Ron Terwilliger is Chairman Emeritus of Trammell Crow Residential Company, a national residential real estate company and the largest developer of multifamily housing in the U.S. for several decades during his tenure as CEO. Ron is an honor graduate of the United States Naval Academy. After serving five years in the Navy, he received his MBA degree with High Distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Business where he was elected a Baker Scholar.

Ron currently chairs Habitat for Humanity’s Global Development Council and previously chaired the organization’s International Board of Directors. He also currently serves as Chairman of the Enterprise Community Partners Board of Trustees as well as Chairman of the Board of the U. S. Naval Academy Foundation. Ron is past Chairman of the Urban Land Institute.

J.Ronald Terwilliger
“We can no longer afford the continued silence about the crisis in housing. An America with so many of its citizens living in unstable housing situations is an America that is failing to live up to her great potential.”
Ron Terwilliger

Advisory Committee

Headshot of Henry Cisneros
Former Secretary, Housing and Urban Development
shaun-donovan
Former Secretary, Housing and Urban Development; Former Director, Office of Management and Budget
Headshot of Sean Duffy
Former U.S. Representative
Headshot of Renee Lewis Glover
Founder and Managing Member, The Catalyst Group, LLC
Headshot of Pamela Hughes Patenaude
Former Deputy Secretary, Housing and Urban Development
Headshot of Egbert L. J. Perry
Chairman and CEO, The Integral Group, LLC

OUR VISION

An America where every family, regardless of wealth or background, can live in a decent, safe and affordable home.

OUR MISSION

To advance public policies that support broad access to affordable housing. Achieving this goal requires comprehensive, sustained action at all levels of government to address the severe shortage of affordable homes for both rent and sale, while ensuring that America’s lowest-income families can obtain the housing assistance they need.

LET’S GET TO WORK

Housing matters – a lot. The shelter that a home provides is, of course, a basic necessity of life. But the home is much more: it is the very platform from which we engage our neighbors and the wider community. Stable, affordable housing can lead to significant social benefits like better health and improved academic performance by children. Affordable homes located in good neighborhoods can serve as the springboard for upward mobility. For millions of Americans, the home is likely to become an essential workplace, one of the enduring legacies of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, securing decent, safe and affordable housing continues to be a struggle for far too many families. Millions of low-income households pay unsustainable rents, often in excess of 50 percent of their income. Millions of other families, frequently working multiple jobs, simply cannot afford to buy their first home. Each day, hundreds of thousands of Americans live on the streets as part of a growing homeless population. As one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful countries, America can and must do better.

In passing the 1949 Housing Act, members of both political parties came together and set forth a clear national objective: “the achievement as soon as feasible of a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family.” Today, more than 70 years later, isn’t it time that this powerful aspiration finally became a reality?  Let’s get to work!

Headshot of Dennis C. Shea
Executive Director, J. Ronald Terwilliger Center for Housing Policy
Headshot of Andy Winkler
Director, Housing and Infrastructure Project

PROMISING SOLUTIONS

Increase Support for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is the largest and most effective federal program to encourage the development and rehabilitation of affordable rental homes. The program competitively awards tax credits to offset construction costs in exchange for reserving a significant number of rent-restricted units for low-income households. LIHTC makes affordable housing economically feasible by providing a subsidy to make up the difference between what it costs to develop a property and the income that can be generated to support those costs. Increasing LIHTC funding, and enhancing the program through reforms, would increase the preservation and construction of much-needed affordable rental housing units, disrupt patterns of segregation and concentrated poverty, and improve health outcomes for low-income Americans.

Eliminate Restrictive Land Use and Zoning Policies

Zoning restrictions by state and local governments, such as restrictions on multifamily homes or parking requirements, can unnecessarily curb the supply of affordable housing. Exclusionary land use and “not in my back yard” sentiments entrench patterns of segregation and concentrate both wealth and poverty. While the federal government is not in charge of local zoning decisions, it can incentivize communities to reform their land use policies and spur affordable housing development, reward communities that eliminate restrictive policies, and limit funding to communities that continue exclusionary land use practices. Federal agencies could also offer technical assistance and provide guidance for policies to remove these barriers.

Preserve Public Housing

About 2.2 million people in nearly 1 million households live in public housing. While additional funding is needed to address the backlog of repairs, funding should also lift up programs that bring in private capital to support revitalization and modernization efforts. HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program allows public housing agencies (PHAs) to convert public housing units to properties with long-term contracts, designated for low-income residents. When public housing units are converted under RAD, PHAs can maintain ownership or the properties can be transferred to new public, nonprofit, or for-profit owners. RAD aims to preserve and modernize affordable housing stock, while incentivizing public-private partnerships to facilitate access to private sources of capital by PHAs.

Build and Rehab Owner-Occupied Housing in Distressed Neighborhoods

To promote first-time homeownership and potentially help close the racial gap in homeownership rates, there is an urgent need to address a key problem: development costs often exceed market values for owner-occupied homes in distressed neighborhoods. A federal tax credit could help close this “appraisal gap” by incentivizing private investment to build and rehabilitate homes in these neighborhoods for low- and middle-income families. The bipartisan Neighborhood Homes Investment Act (NHIA), S.98, establishes such a credit with the goal of building and rehabilitating 500,000 homes over the next 10 years. Each $1 billion in NHIA investment is estimated to support 25,000 homes built or rehabilitated and over 33,000 jobs in construction and construction-related industries.

  • Enhancing Supply

    Increase Support for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

    The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is the largest and most effective federal program to encourage the development and rehabilitation of affordable rental homes. The program competitively awards tax credits to offset construction costs in exchange for reserving a significant number of rent-restricted units for low-income households. LIHTC makes affordable housing economically feasible by providing a subsidy to make up the difference between what it costs to develop a property and the income that can be generated to support those costs. Increasing LIHTC funding, and enhancing the program through reforms, would increase the preservation and construction of much-needed affordable rental housing units, disrupt patterns of segregation and concentrated poverty, and improve health outcomes for low-income Americans.

    Eliminate Restrictive Land Use and Zoning Policies

    Zoning restrictions by state and local governments, such as restrictions on multifamily homes or parking requirements, can unnecessarily curb the supply of affordable housing. Exclusionary land use and “not in my back yard” sentiments entrench patterns of segregation and concentrate both wealth and poverty. While the federal government is not in charge of local zoning decisions, it can incentivize communities to reform their land use policies and spur affordable housing development, reward communities that eliminate restrictive policies, and limit funding to communities that continue exclusionary land use practices. Federal agencies could also offer technical assistance and provide guidance for policies to remove these barriers.

    Preserve Public Housing

    About 2.2 million people in nearly 1 million households live in public housing. While additional funding is needed to address the backlog of repairs, funding should also lift up programs that bring in private capital to support revitalization and modernization efforts. HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program allows public housing agencies (PHAs) to convert public housing units to properties with long-term contracts, designated for low-income residents. When public housing units are converted under RAD, PHAs can maintain ownership or the properties can be transferred to new public, nonprofit, or for-profit owners. RAD aims to preserve and modernize affordable housing stock, while incentivizing public-private partnerships to facilitate access to private sources of capital by PHAs.

    Build and Rehab Owner-Occupied Housing in Distressed Neighborhoods

    To promote first-time homeownership and potentially help close the racial gap in homeownership rates, there is an urgent need to address a key problem: development costs often exceed market values for owner-occupied homes in distressed neighborhoods. A federal tax credit could help close this “appraisal gap” by incentivizing private investment to build and rehabilitate homes in these neighborhoods for low- and middle-income families. The bipartisan Neighborhood Homes Investment Act (NHIA), S.98, establishes such a credit with the goal of building and rehabilitating 500,000 homes over the next 10 years. Each $1 billion in NHIA investment is estimated to support 25,000 homes built or rehabilitated and over 33,000 jobs in construction and construction-related industries.

  • Supporting Households

    Expand and Reform the Housing Voucher Program

    HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher program, which helps cover the cost of rent for private, market-rate units above 30% of a voucher holder’s income, has been highly effective at improving housing stability and economic opportunity for the families they serve. Housing vouchers allow low-income households to live in communities they may not typically be able to afford, offering them a chance to move out of high-poverty, low-opportunity neighborhoods and access good schools, jobs, and other amenities. Expanding funding for the Housing Choice Voucher Program would limit the number of eligible households on voucher waitlists, while significantly reducing poverty and helping keep millions of families more stably housed. Additionally, reforms could ensure voucher recipients are treated fairly and not subject to “source of income” discrimination.

    Create a Permanent Emergency Rental Assistance Program

    Many families with modest incomes can generally afford rent in their communities without assistance but, with limited savings, may be unable to manage sudden financial shocks or income volatility. Emergency rental assistance programs are designed to provide short-term relief for families temporarily unable to pay rent and other costs. Local emergency rental assistance programs exist in some communities across the country and are generally available to lower-income households with an eviction filing or utility shutoff notice due to circumstances beyond their control. The federal government established a temporary emergency rental assistance program to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, but no permanent program exists that is available nationally. There is a need for a permanent, federally-funded program that can be scaled up quickly during any future economic crisis that results in widespread job and income losses.

    Support Sustainable Homeownership

    Incentivizing homeownership is not sufficient—federal policies must facilitate sustainable homeownership to protect consumers and ensure new homebuyers are fully prepared to assume the obligations of homeownership for the long-term. For example, increasing funding for pre-purchase and post-purchase counseling as well as other financial literacy and coaching programs can empower a greater number of first-generation homebuyers and help them benefit from the wealth-building opportunities that homeownership can offer.

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