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14 Mayors and CEOs Across U.S. Launch New Push to Protect, Expand Federal Investment in Affordable Housing and Homeless Services

City chief executives with 13 million constituents join with CEOs for first time in new coalition

Diverse group of Republicans, Democrats, business leaders from Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania recommends four federal policy changes

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. mayors representing 13 million Americans joined with a diverse set of powerful U.S. businesses to launch Mayors & CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment, a first-of-its-kind coalition of local government and business leaders collaborating to advance public-private partnerships that tackle affordable housing and homelessness and actively oppose current funding cuts.

The concept was initiated one year ago by the late Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco and joined quickly by other launch mayors.

“In Washington, DC, we are committed to ending homelessness and expanding access to safe and affordable housing. As leaders across the country work to tackle these issues, we recognize that the best thing we can do for our residents and communities is to come together, share our solutions and investments, and support and multiply the programs and ideas that are working,” said Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “As we stand here at the John and Jill Ker Conway Residence with views of the United States Capitol, we recognize that by investing in affordable housing, we are investing in safer, stronger communities and building new pathways to the middle class for our most vulnerable residents.”

The Residence currently offers new, permanent housing for 60 formerly-homeless veterans and 64 low-and moderate- income DC residents at a time the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that more than half-a-million Americans experienced homelessness on a given night in 2017.

“Cities across the country are entering into innovative public-private partnerships with private industry to urgently, creatively and comprehensively address the homeless crisis,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “In Sacramento, Sutter Health has stepped up to provide critically needed resources for permanent housing, service-rich temporary shelters, and cutting-edge assertive outreach. Together, Mayors and CEOs are embarking on a campaign to advocate for the resources and policies we know work to address the crisis.”

“An affordable place to live should be within reach for everyone in America who dreams of making a better life for themselves their family,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Too many cities across the country are facing an unprecedented housing crisis. We are here to call on leaders in Washington to develop new revenue streams and incentives that communities need to build and preserve the affordable housing that all of our communities deserve.”

American businesses agree.

“Airbnb is built on the foundation of creating community through belonging and we’re honored to stand with a bipartisan group of mayors and businesses from across the country dedicated to improving communities by addressing affordable housing and homelessness,” said Nathan Blecharczyk, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of launch partner Airbnb. “Our experience has shown the best solutions are often the result of the public and private sectors working together, and so we are particularly proud to be working with this coalition to identify and fund innovative ideas that work.”

"Homelessness is a national crisis that is felt acutely within the Northern California communities that Sutter Health serves," said James Conforti, President of Sutter Health, Valley Area. "As a not-for-profit health system, we know that addressing homelessness improves individual lives and the health and wellbeing of whole communities. Sutter Health is committed to supporting public-private partnerships because collaboration is key to helping all of us live healthy productive lives."

The very nature of launch partner GHC Housing Partners CEO Gregory Perlman’s business gives him unique perspective, saying, “The lack of affordable housing is one of the greatest problems cities face across the nation – from young children to working adults to the elderly, the problem affects every level of our society and will only get worse if we don’t all act together as a team. There are no perfect solutions, and it will take the private sector and the public sector to come up with a lot of ingenuity to tackle this problem. As one of the largest affordable housing owners in the US, we acquire, develop, manage and operate more than 20,000 affordable units across the U.S. and we want to share our experience and expertise on how to improve the system and work with the public sector to tackle this problem together. We’ve seen what government and business can do when they work together and we believe this new coalition can be a powerful catalyst for the next phase in affordable housing investment and homeless services.”

A recent National Association of Home Builders study shows that innovative investing in, and building of, 100 affordable rental homes can generate more than $11 million in local income, $2 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and more than 160 local jobs, all in the first year. As the National Low Income Housing Coalition found, that investment bears dividends economically and socially, in that for every additional year a child spends in a better neighborhood environment, their economic outcome as an adult improves, extending benefits into their community.

“All families and children in our communities need a safe and sustainable home,” said Aurora, Colorado Mayor Steve Hogan. “As city leaders, we have the ability and obligation to help address the issue of homelessness. This new initiative will pursue partnerships and creative solutions to take the conversation in new directions to help improve the well-being of those impacted by this national problem.”

“We are working tirelessly to make our housing market work for everyone who calls our city home, and we need to pull on every lever we can to offer more affordable options to our people,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. “By coming together to advocate for more investments in affordable housing here in Denver and across the country, we can better provide individuals, families and those in need of a good home to call their own with the support they need to build their lives and build their futures.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton focused on the diversity of the campaign when he said, “I am proud to join the Mayors and CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment coalition in our bipartisan campaign effort representing geographically diverse urban, rural and suburban municipalities. A lack of affordable housing can put a local economy at a competitive disadvantage as many employers have reported that a lack of affordable housing makes it more difficult and costly to recruit and retain employees. Affordable housing payments can significantly increase the residual income that households have at their disposal, which allows local businesses to gain from the increased buying power.”

His fellow Arizonan, Mesa Mayor Brian Giles, said, “Unfortunately, and all too often, too many people in our cities struggle to know where they will next find a roof to sleep under or food to eat. I’m excited to join with the Mayors & CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment initiative to shine a powerful light on these challenges and work towards solutions that will empower those in need while ensuring strong, safe communities.”

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said, “We’re building a Philadelphia that works for every neighborhood - and that begins with the opportunity for a safe roof over your head. Decades of work unfortunately show that government cannot solve homelessness and the need for affordable housing alone – and neither can business. Now the two are joining forces to make what we hope will be substantial progress in these related and vexing issues.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf added that “Mayors and business leaders have a unique understanding of the needs in the community, and the economic barriers which hold cities back from reaching their goal of creating stable and thriving communities. The creation of a bipartisan coalition made up of elected officials and CEOs, working in concert with nonprofit leaders and policy experts, will send the strong message to our federal government that investing in affordable housing and programs to prevent homelessness, will lead to economic growth, a better trained and prepared workforce, and stronger, more resilient cities.”

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer recognizes the issue’s multifaceted complexity, saying, "In San Diego, our approach to reducing homelessness is housing first but not housing only. As cities like San Diego are taking new and different approaches to address homelessness, we are also investing significant local resources. More dedicated investment from Washington will make a tremendous impact on our ability to improve the lives of thousands of our most vulnerable residents.”

Mayor Mark Stodola, president of launch partner National League of Cities (NLC) and mayor of Little Rock, offered dual perspectives in closing, saying, “Every day, mayors in cities and towns across the country are faced with the acute realities of homelessness and the dire need for affordable housing. The National League of Cities and the city of Little Rock are committed to working with mayors and business leaders to put an end to homelessness and create permanent solutions to our housing crisis. The energy and support of these leaders gathered here under the banner of Mayors & CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment is an important tool to achieve these ends.”

Mayors & CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment recommends four policy changes to help stabilize the current outlook:

  1. Maximize funding for existing federal programs that work, like Section 8 Housing Vouchers, Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Grants and Community Development Block Grants.

  2. Issue new, competitive HUD-HIIRO (Housing Innovation, Investment and Reform Opportunities) grants modeled after the Department of Transportation’s successful TIGER grants, designed for local communities to reward innovative thinking and collaborative, cross-sector projects to combat homelessness and affordable housing problems. These types of programs have proven to leverage local investment to provide strong social and economic returns.

  3. Build on the successful HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing model through HUD-PASS (Partnerships Accelerating Supportive Services), which would pair HUD vouchers with Health and Human Services programs to help families and individuals experiencing homelessness who have mental health issues and other barriers to assistance.

  4. Create a Housing Stabilization Fund – a pool of funds within HUD that can provide one-time, short-term emergency housing assistance to households below 80% of AMI. Funds would be initially allocated to communities by formula, and subsequently on a pro rata basis adjusted for performance. There are many low-income renter and owner households which, while generally able to afford their homes, still lack any cushion when faced with a housing emergency. For these households, the loss of a job or a health emergency can result in eviction and a downward spiral of housing instability that often ends in homelessness. Unfortunately, there is no consistent housing program, fund or tool to help prevent such losses.

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About Mayors & CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment (@mayorsandceos): Mayors & CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment is a 501(c)(3) coalition advocating for federal investment in affordable housing and homeless services. It is represented by Holland & Knight LLP in partnership with the National League of Cities and is advised by the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Objective Lab is the coalition’s communications and public affairs partner.