Trump administration could imperil affordable housing, group says

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Diane Yentel speaks at a June press conference held in conjunction with the release of a report by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. (Photo by Lois A. Bowers)
Diane Yentel speaks at a June press conference held in conjunction with the release of a report by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. (Photo by Lois A. Bowers)

A Donald Trump presidential administration could bring billions of dollars in cuts to affordable housing and other anti-poverty programs, Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said Monday in a letter to members and others.

Trump's campaign trail commitment to increase defense spending at the expense of nondefense spending could be problematic for affordable housing, Yentel wrote. “In addition, Mr. Trump has said he wants to cut nondefense spending by 1% every year, which would be devastating to affordable housing programs including Section 8 vouchers, public housing and project-based rental assistance,” she added, noting that as a candidate, Trump said he would roll back fair housing rules and requirements.

A Republican-led Congress, Yentel said, could reduce or eliminate the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, dismantle Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and eliminate the national Housing Trust Fund. The mortgage interest deduction could be reformed as well, she predicted. “We'll need to pull out all the stops to ensure that savings from MID reform are reinvested into affordable rental housing programs,” Yentel wrote.

The person who is appointed to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development will hold much influence over how the next president approaches affordable housing, she said. The short list, Yentel noted, includes Pam Patenaude, president of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America's Families, and former Sen. Scott Brown of Maine, who serves on the Terwilliger Foundation's executive committee. “Both Ms. Patenaude and Sen. Brown have deep knowledge of, experience with, and proven commitments to, affordable housing,” she said. “Both would be excellent choices.”

Also on the list, however, Yentel said, are Westchester County, NY, Executive Rob Astorino, “who has spent over a decade fighting his obligations under the Fair Housing Act,” and Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council.

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