Housing / Infrastructure

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Recent Updates
Recent Updates

How You Can Resist
How You Can Resist

Actions Taken by the Federal Government
Actions Taken by the Federal Government

Legislation

Bills to Support

  • HR 1146 Minnesota representative Keith Ellison (D) proposed a bill on February, 16th 2017 which requires the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to establish a pilot program to make grants to eligible organizations to provide legal assistance to low-income families regarding housing disputes, and for other purposes.
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Bills to Oppose

  • Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act (S 103 / HR 482) was proposed in both the House and the Senate to nullify regulations designed to address the segregation created by redlining policies. The bill also prohibits federal funds from being used for the HUD database that tracks community racial disparities and disparities in access to affordable housing.[1]
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See also the State and Local Pages for state-by-state legislative tracking.

Executive / Administrative Actions

  • 1/20/2017 President Trump issued an administrative order to "indefinitely suspend"[2] a pending reduction to the premium on FHA mortgage insurance that was set to take effect on loans insured on or after January 27. The proposed cut would have saved new FHA borrowers an average of $500 nationally per year.[3]
  • 01/19/2017: Recent reporting states that as part of budget cuts, the Trump team plans to cut funding for civil rights, which includes the Fair Housing Act.[4]

Projected Impact
Projected Impact

Infrastructure

Donald Trump's administration is likely to bring about major cuts to all federal housing programs, specifically by cutting funding intended to desegregate neighborhoods, reform and revitalize housing projects, and improve Section 8 housing. [5] Trump's infrastructure plan is a tax-cut plan for utility-industry and construction-sector investors, along with a corporate welfare plan for contractors. [6] This plan fails to directly invest in roads, water systems, or bridges, and instead simply provides tax breaks to private-sector investors who back profitable construction projects. The plan does not require that tax breaks be used for constructions efforts. It is very possible that the tax breaks could just fatten the pockets of investors in previous planned projects.

Many infrastructure projects are simply not attractive to private investors. Water system overhauls, existing roads repairs, and non-toll roads are unlikely to result from Trump's plan because there is no return on the investment.

This plan will not create the number of jobs Trump claims it will. The plan subsidizes investors, not projects, so there is no guarantee that these projects will prompt any new hiring. Investors could simply shift their capital from unsubsidized projects to subsidized ones and retain money from tax breaks that they had already planned to spend. [7]

There is also no proposed funding mechanism for Trump's tax breaks.[8] These budget expenditures could be used in the future as reasons to cut social services.

Housing

Reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

There may once again be an effort to change the way the federal government provides a backstop to home mortgages. One proposed and popular bill in 2014 included funding for the National Housing Trust Fund, as does the current system of government-sponsored enterprise, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.[9]] There remain basic disagreements in Congress, however, so the prospects for legislation remain unclear.[10]

Housing Programs and the National Housing Trust Fund
Congressional leaders have expressed some interest in block granting HUD's large housing programs, particularly the housing choice voucher program. However, this program gets good results and is based firmly in the private market. States generally have little or no experience running large rent subsidy programs, making it unlikely that they could improve the program. Another danger would be an attack on the National Housing Trust Fund, which just this year is finally producing funding for states to use for affordable housing development.[11][12]

Trump / GOP Strategy
Trump / GOP Strategy

Infrastructure Donald Trump's infrastructure plan consists of a massive tax break [13] to corporations to encourage the construction of projects they deem profitable. This will likely result in construction projects (such as electrical grid modernization or energy pipeline expansion) that might already be planned or even underway, rather than filling infrastructure needs that have been unmet by corporations.

There is also great concern that President Trump will not enforce the American with Disabilities Act to ensure accessibility for people with disabilities, given that Trump's properties have been sued eight times over 19 years for violating the Act, with three cases currently pending.[14] Enforcement concerns are exacerbated by the fact that in 2001 Jeff Sessions, now attorney general, defended a decision stating that individuals could not sue states for failing comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.[15]

Housing Donald Trump has nominated retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Carson described his suitability for a cabinet role as "like a fish out of water." [16] The Department of Housing and Urban Development manages low-income housing, facilitates financing for homeownership, and administers fair housing policies. Ben Carson has opposed [17] existing protections against housing discrimination. This is especially concerning given that the housing crisis of 2008 continues to impact communities of color.[18]

Given that Trump has been sued multiple times for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not ensuring accessibility in his properties,[19] there is cause for concern that his administration will not ensure that affordable housing for people with disabilities is a priority.[20] These concerns are exacerbated by the fact that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has actively worked against protecting the rights of people with disabilities,[21] and Trump's nominee for Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson, has caused a lot of uncertainty about the future of affordable housing.[22]

There is no plan to improve housing for rural homeowners who are struggling with affordability and made up a large part of Trump's constituents. Ruralaffmap15.png

Vulnerabilities in Their Strategy
Vulnerabilities in Their Strategy

Senate Democrats submitted a proposal that would spend $1 trillion over the next 10 years on infrastructure. This plan would devote $210 billion to repairing roads and bridges, $110 to local water and sewer systems, $180 billion to expanding bus and rail systems, $75 billion to rebuilding schools, $70 billion to ports, airports, and waterways, $20 billion to expanding broadband access, and $100 billion for energy infrastructure. This plan differs from Trump’s infrastructure plan in that it would be directly funded (likely through corporate tax reform). Trump’s infrastructure proposal is funded by $137 billion in tax breaks to private investors.[23]

From Food & Water Watch: Water privatization—when private corporations buy or operate public water utilities—is often suggested as a solution to municipal budget problems and aging water systems. Unfortunately, this more often backfires, leaving communities with higher rates, worse service, job losses, and more.

Past Updates
Past Updates

  • 1/31/2017: The two main tax benefits for promoting home ownership (the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction and the Real Estate Tax Deduction) disproportionately benefit the wealthy and cost the government more than $100 billion annually. Households in the top 5% for income receive more than 100 times the benefits that go to households in the bottom 25%. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has a plan to eliminate the deduction for real estate taxes.[24] Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s nominee to lead the Treasury Department, has suggested maintaining mortgage interest deductions, but lowering the cap on them.[25]
  • 01/19/2017: Trump's Treasury Secretary nominee, Steven Mnuchin, will have to defend his record in housing foreclosures during his confirmation hearing today.[26]