This past May, our company, represented on the day by SSDC President Roger Gendron, participated in the Affordable Housing Developers Counsel’s (AHDC) Spring Policy Conference, a high-profile day of talks held between industry leaders and top government policy makers. The proceedings were enriched by the presence of Secretary Ben Carson of HUD, who has made fluid communication between himself and the affordable housing industry a top priority of his secretaryship. The conference was replete with important discussions on specific policy details regarding corporate taxation and tax credit regulation, but Secretary Carson, a big-picture thinker, frequently steered talks towards more broad considerations on the role of affordable housing in the united states, the nature of poverty, and, crucially, the efficacy of HUD. To the latter point, towards the end of the conference, he put forward an offer to the industry leaders present to submit a list of HUD regulations they feel are unnecessary, overly costly, or untenably bureaucratic for review by his office.
Creating this kind of fluid contact between governing bodies and the industries they govern is a hallmark staple of the AHDC’s work. From their site:
The AHDC brings together the CEOs of the nation’s top affordable housing developers to advance federal policies that support the industry’s ability to meet the nations affordable housing needs. To meet its mission, the AHDC works closely with members of Congress, the administration, and regulators to support current and prospective initiatives that create a vibrant and strong industry.
You can find more information on the specific legislation the AHDC is working with Congress and the current administration to get ratified here.
Throughout the conference, one might have expected the key issues that are currently defining the discourse in the world of affordable housing, those revolving around the current administration’s budget proposal as it relates to apportioned spending on HUD programs such as Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and HOME funds, as well as their plan to freeze rent increases for a year, to take prominence. The Spring Policy Conference, instead, focused more on the large-scale, aspirational vision of what the administration feels is the proper philosophical and socioeconomic function of affordable housing.
As has been made clear through his public appearances and interviews, Secretary Carson’s imagining of the government’s various affordable housing programs conjures a vision of HUD programs working in concert to provide temporary relief to individuals and families who have fallen on hard times. In his telling, they should not be a permanent salve for those in abject poverty, but rather part of a larger body of infrastructure, including vocational and educational supports, whose aim would be primarily to break the cycles of intergenerational poverty that currently beset many recipients of subsidized housing by assisting individuals living in these communities in reaching higher strata of economic existence.
The secretary’s viewpoints, though controversial in some circles, bespeak a careful and thoughtful attitude towards governance that is welcomed by Gendron and the principals of SSDC. We look forward to working closely with this administration in our efforts to continue providing quality affordable housing across the country.