Author Archive for: H.A.N.D.

We Thank You For Your Life’s Work, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.!

January 18, 2022
January 18, 2022

 

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
– Letter from a Birmingham Jail
 

On Monday, January 17, 2022 we commemorated the birthday, life, and work of one of the most prominent African-American civil rights activists, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many remember King as a Civil Rights Movement leader, but fewer are familiar with the role he played in the fair housing movement. During King’s time, black Americans were systematically excluded from living in certain areas. This process of redlining relegated black people to low-income areas with poor quality housing. In his role as a Civil Rights leader, King recognized that housing was a core component of racial injustice in the United States and decided to take action!

 
In the late 1960s, King began leading a campaign to advocate for open housing, to grant black Americans to buy homes anywhere. After King’s assassination, The Fair Housing Act was enacted in honor of his work and made it illegal to discriminate in the buying, selling, or renting of housing because of a person’s race, color, religion, or national origin. It has been over 50 years since the passing of The Fair Housing Act and there is still a lot of work to be done. While we have made strides, the need for such advocacy has far from disappeared – especially within black and brown communities. As we wrap up our celebrations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. let us not leave behind some of the lessons he taught us. Let’s carry King’s message of “whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” Let that message frame how and why you work to aid the people who are living in the communities that we collectively serve.

ATTN Developers | Prince George’s County DHCD Request for Qualifications

January 6, 2022
January 6, 2022

 

Request for Qualifications: Right of First Refusal

The Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development is seeking responses (“Qualification Statements”) from qualified non-profit and mission-oriented for-profit developers (“Developers”) with strong affordable rental housing track records and demonstrated experience in acquiring, owning, operating, rehabilitating, and developing quality rental housing with affordability covenants who are interested in serving in a pool of qualified parties to serve as assignees or designees (the “Roster of Responders”) to exercise DHCD’s Right of First Refusal (“ROFR”). For more information on the ROFR and to respond to this request, please review the ROFR developer bench application. The proposal closing date is January 31, 2022.

 

 

Didn’t Meet the District’s Building Energy Performance Standards? Help is Available

December 13, 2021
December 13, 2021

 

Didn’t Meet the District’s Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS)? Help is Available.

The DC Sustainable Energy Utility, in partnership with the District Department of Energy & Environment and the DC Green Bank, launched an Affordable Housing Retrofit Accelerator program offering enhanced technical and financial assistance to owners and managers of qualifying District affordable multifamily buildings that do not meet the District’s Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS). Apply today to find out if your building qualifies for the program, for the program, and join the DCSEU and DOEE for a webinar on December 15 to find out more.

 

 

Five Minutes With Evelyn Immonen

November 22, 2021
November 22, 2021

The HAND network is hard at work to address the growing housing affordability challenge across the Capital Region. Five Minutes With is a series highlighting these members and other stakeholders. This informal conversation delves into their recent projects, the affordable housing industry, and more. This month, in honor of November being American Indian Heritage Month, we are excited to share this special edition of Five Minutes With. In this edition, we had a conversation with Evelyn Immonen, a Program Officer for Enterprise Community Partners’ Rural and Native American Programs. Check out our dialogue below to learn more about the importance of having Native Americans in places of leadership, the recent movement to reauthorize NAHASDA, and advice on how you can help support the continuing of this important work beyond November!

HAND: Can you tell us about Enterprise Community Partner’s Rural and Native American Programs and about how you landed in this space? 
EI: Enterprise Community Partner’s Rural and Native American Programs provides resources, capacity building support, and technical assistance to organizations to help create safe, decent, green, affordable homes in both rural and Native communities. Enterprise is one of several national intermediaries in the affordable housing space, and I joined them from the Housing Assistance Council which focuses exclusively on rural America. I’m proud to see the work Enterprise does in these geographies growing.

HAND: Can you speak on how you approach your work in this space? Also, can you touch on the importance of having Native Americans in positions where they affect the issues facing their communities?
EI: My family has heritage with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and we have family ties on Standing Rock as well. I have always felt a connection to that history and sought to give back when I went to grad school for public policy. In my career, it wasn’t so important what issue I was working on so long as it was improving Native communities: I had an opportunity to work in affordable housing and now I’m happy to dive deeper into that. There are so many professionals in this sector that are incredibly knowledgeable, especially on the Rural and Native American team. Still, it’s rare to see organizations support Native people who have really been raised on the reservation and in ceremony—but that ought to be their core constituents, since it’s the communities who are most remote and most entrenched in generational poverty that need the greatest resources. There should be more Native Americans in positions where they can make a change simply because we will always hold a flame under the issues and not let anyone off the hook. That’s often what it takes in these spaces. Coastal elitism is quite real and it’s easy to tokenize without doing real work. I hope that I’m able to effectively bridge those two cultures, but at the same time I consider it a great obligation and responsibility.

HAND: Do you believe there is a “secret sauce” to providing both affordable and culturally relevant housing on tribal lands? What do you think is the most significant obstacle?
EI: Well, every housing development on tribal lands should start with the tribe themselves. If not the elected tribal council, then the housing authority they have appointed in their place. This is probably the clearest path to an affordable housing development that’s culturally relevant: by stepping aside to allow leaders from the community make decisions and direct priorities. Tribes are the most likely to be their own developers on their own lands, but even in cases of partnership with another developer, its not only respectful to defer to the tribe, but often they will have access to additional funding or be able to expedite approvals that make the project’s success possible. That leads me to the obstacle, though, because Native tribes are overburdened with many obligations and staff capacity is constantly an issue. Of course, these issues are quite complex and its difficult to make generalizations about all the different circumstances, but I think bringing more resources and assistance to a tribe-directed project is really the secret sauce.

HAND: Last month, in an article you reflected on how the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) has transformed the landscape of Indian Country. Can you discuss the recent movement to reauthorize NAHASDA in both the House Financial Services Committee and Senate, and how the affordable housing community can continue to support the NAHASDA for the next 25 years?
EI: Reauthorizing NAHASDA and funding it in full is absolutely critical. Without authorization, there is nothing holding Congress accountable to funding the program each year, despite the over 40,000 single family and 25,000 rental homes developed over the last 25 years that prove how effective the legislation is. Reauthorization bills would also move the Tribal HUD-VASH program out of demonstration, and restructure HUD to better prioritize Native Housing. There has been legislation introduced to reauthorize NAHASDA in every Congress since it expired in 2013, and this year there is movement in both the House and Senate, but I don’t think it will ever come to fruition without pressure from advocacy organizations.

I’m optimistic to see that NAHASDA was funded at $875 million this last round of appropriations, which is the highest it has ever been. At the same time, if we consider inflation over the years, this still does not set up the program with the same resources it had in the first year of its existence. Now the cost burden of homeownership is rising, the population of Native Americans are rising, and the cost of construction materials post-2020 are rising. Every policy actor who works in the affordable housing space should be applying pressure to our legislators to prioritize NAHASDA.

HAND: Enterprise Community Partners recently completed the first Native Homeownership Learning Communities Cohort (NHLCC). What are some of the lessons learned from this?
EI: While I didn’t get the chance to work with the cohort while it was ongoing, I was really optimistic about what I saw in the Impact Report, which I helped put together. Enterprise’s team has really built up their expertise in homeownership in Indian Country over the years, through the Enhancing and Implementing Native Homeownership curriculum. What was different about NHLCC was that it was not geared just towards one tribe’s homeownership program but worked with 18 different groups for over a year. I think participants really valued the peer-learning component and the chance to learn from more experienced tribes as opposed to disengaged federal agencies. There was also a unique emphasis on collaboration with CDFIs, and groups expressed that they learned more about each other through NHLCC than working together on the same reservation for years. I would recommend checking out the Impact Report for more information, which also includes a profile of each tribal housing organization’s accomplishments over the cohort period.

HAND: What are you most looking forward to at the Rural and Native American Program over the coming months? Are there any projects or programs you are particularly excited about?
EI: I just mentioned Enterprise’s expertise in tribal homeownership, but I’m really looking forward to being a part of expanding our Native expertise into multi-family and rental as well. Enterprise is authoring a Native Developers Guide which will assist developers of multi-family and rental homes on Native land. It’s going to be comprehensive and include every stage of development so that TDHEs, Housing Authorities, and Non-profits have all the information they need in one place. At the same time, I’m excited to make this about more than just one publication and to hopefully have a hands-on, collaborative approach to making sure this is a useable and useful document for tribes.

Enterprise has a lot more on the horizon as well, and our team is continuing to educate the organization as a whole on working with tribes, including through a new Native American Advisory Council that’s forming with other Native nonprofits. We’re also expanding out of the lower 48 with new work in Alaska and Hawaii, so stay tuned!

HAND: We want to help support the continuing of this work beyond November, so what advice would you give someone who doesn’t know where to start and is seeking to make an impact? On the other end of the spectrum, what are some next steps for someone looking to advance the work they’re already doing work in this space
EI: First, you have to know your history, especially working in Native spaces. That doesn’t mean just the history of genocide and displacement, but also the legal history. The law is a living and breathing entity, and Indian Law has a number of complicated twists and turns in the fight for recognition of tribal sovereignty—several of these are covered in this blog post by my colleague Dustin Baird.

Then, its important to make change in your organization so that that history is recognized today. Land acknowledgements are a good way to start doing that, because it sets the intentions of any given meeting to focus on the land, its original inhabitants that still to this day consider it sacred, and our obligations to be good stewards to that land and to each other.

Finally, my advice to anyone currently working with Native communities: if you’ve been to one reservation, you have been to one reservation. Every Native Nation has their own land, treaty, history, culture, and government, and no two are the same. Make no assumptions, stay humble, and show up consistently. We need more of you.

Build Back Better Act Update

November 4, 2021
November 4, 2021
Last month, President Biden announced a final framework for the Build Back Better Act. The once $3.5 trillion plan now $1.75 trillion, outlines $150 billion in affordable housing investments including: 
  • $25 billion in rental assistance
  • $65 billion to preserve the public housing infrastructure
  • $15 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to build and preserve over 150,000 homes affordable to extremely low-income households
Last week, an amended version of the Build Back Better reconciliation legislation was released. Despite pressure to bring down the cost of the legislation, the amended version proposes a historic investment and key measures to strengthen the Housing Credit. The following Housing Credit production proposals were included in the updated version:
  • Lowering the bond-financing threshold from 50 percent to 25 percent for five years, from 2022 to 2026,
  • Increasing the annual Housing Credit allocation at a rate of 10 percent per year plus inflation from 2022 to 2024, which amounts to a roughly 41 percent increase over current levels in 2024, followed by inflation adjustments after 2025,
  • Providing a permanent 50 percent basis boost for properties serving extremely low-income (ELI) households, along with an 8 percent minimum set-aside for properties taking advantage of the ELI basis boost, as well as a limitation on the amount of allocation and volume cap that can be used for properties receiving the ELI boost, and
  • Providing a permanent 30 percent basis boost for properties in Indian areas.
Read the NLIHCEnterprise and AHTCC e-blasts for more details. 

We invite you to participate in a survey about DC’s housing market!

November 2, 2021
November 2, 2021
Judith Keller, a research scholar from Heidelberg University, is conducting a housing survey focusing on the Washington DC region. She aims to gain new insights into residents’ experiences on the housing and rental markets. If you are interested in participating, please find the link to her survey below. The survey will take less than 10 minutes to complete. Your help is very much appreciated! 
 
 

DC Green Buildings: The 2021 Market Leaderboards

November 2, 2021
November 2, 2021

Building Innovation Hub Released its 2021 Market Leaderboards 

Lowering building energy use is a key component to meeting local and global climate action goals. DC’s housing development community has produced some of the country’s most sustainable buildings and continues to model what’s possible. With support from Yardi Matrix, the Building Innovation Hub (Hub) took publically available benchmarking data and information from private industry to identify which buildings and companies lead in performance based on their ENERGY STAR score. The Hub’s team used that data to create the 2021 Market Leaderboards and identified the top 10 performers in each of the following categories: Top Office Buildings Overall, Top Office Buildings Class B & C Office, Top Office Buildings Built Prior to 1970, Top Office Buildings Larger than 400,000 Square Feet, and Top Multifamily Residential Buildings.

The full 2021 Market Leaderboards are now public at www.buildinginnovationhub.org/local-leaders/market-leaderboards. All the data is from 2020 and this information will be updated annually or as required.  It is an accomplishment to be recognized for being a contributor in helping the District’s buildings lead the way in improving their building energy use and reducing associated emissions. Congratulation to the HAND members who were recognized by HUB for having the highest performing buildings in DC:

  • Bozzuto Group
  • JBG Smith Properties

For additional details, view Hub’s press release. To view an interactive map of all buildings in the District’s benchmarking program, visit EnergyBenchmarkingDC.org. An array of additional benchmarking resources for property owners and operators is available on the Hub website at www.buildinginnovationhub.org

You’re invited to attend! Rent Reporting Implementation 101

October 19, 2021
October 19, 2021

As you know, unlike homeowners, renters don’t typically get credit for their largest bill: rent. Rent reporting, the reporting of resident’s rental payments to one or more of the main credit bureaus, addresses this disparity head on. Gaining traction across the country, affordable housing providers are well poised to offer rent reporting as an impactful economic mobility strategy for their residents, yet, many don’t know where to start. That’s why Kaiser Permanente and Credit Builders Alliance (CBA) are partnering to share the fundamentals of rent reporting. Join them for a 45-minute interactive informational session about rent reporting. They will cover:

  • The benefits of rent reporting
  • Indicators that your agency could be a good fit
  • Initial steps needed to undertake a rent reporting program
  • Future funding opportunities for affordable housing providers seeking to offer rent reporting to their tenants

Learn more about rent reporting and CBA’s why here. Register to join one of two info sessions linked below:

  • Monday, November 8 | 2:00pm – 2:45pm ET | Register here
  • Wednesday, November 10 | 3:30pm – 4:15pm ET | Register here

 

Richmond Racial Equity Essays

October 6, 2021
October 6, 2021

Richmond Racial Equity Essays is happy to announce the content of the Richmond Racial Equity Essays project. Richmond Racial Equity Essays is a multimedia project focused on advancing racial equity in Richmond, Virginia.  Click HERE to take a look.

Inspired by The Just City Essays, DEI consultant and urban planner, Ebony Walden teamed up Meghan Gough from VCU’s Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs and urban farmer and activist Duron Chavis, to create The Richmond Racial Equity Essays, a multimedia project comprised of a collection of 24 essays, 7 video interviews and an 8-episode podcast series focused on racial equity in Richmond, Virginia. The project captures nearly 50 voices from all walks of life and sectors that explore what an equitable Richmond would look like, especially as it relates to racial equity, and highlights the strategies that will help us get there. The hope is for this project to lead Richmond (the former capital of the Confederacy) toward a solid framework for how to advance racial equity and be a model for discussion in other cities.

Visit www.richmondracialequityessays.com for more information. Sign up for the newsletter and follow us on Twitter, FacebookInstagram and YouTube as well.

Maryland DHCD’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program

September 28, 2021
September 28, 2021

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development is administering federal emergency rental funding in two ways, directly to local jurisdictions through the Maryland Eviction Partnership Program and to property management on behalf of tenants residing in affordable rental properties​ that received federal or state financing through the Assisted Housing Relief Program. Local jurisdictions are operating rental assistance programs independently, see here for each counties’ program details and directions for how to apply for assistance. As of July 31 2021, more than $58 million has been provided through Maryland DHCD’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to nearly 10,000 renters in the state of Maryland. Maryland will also receive an additional $352 million through a second phase of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and is currently making plans for distribution. 

Interested in Maryland’s relief fund distribution data? The Maryland DHCD launched its’ Emergency Rental Assistance Data Dashboard to track the progress local jurisdictions are making in distributing relief funds for tenants and landlords affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The dashboard which will be updated on a monthly basis to show progress focuses on the first round of funding through the federal ERAP that was launched in Maryland in May 2021. The dashboard has information on specific county programs, demographics and data on marketing and outreach efforts. To access the dashboard, visit rentrelief.maryland.gov and click on “Data Dashboard.”