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National Initiatives

S1619 Livable Communities Act

A Senate panel has backed legislation that would provide billions of dollars in federal grants to help communities better plan for affordable housing and public transit. The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee approved the bill (S1619) by voice vote August 3rd, 2010. It would establish within the Department of Housing and Urban Development an office to develop initiatives to help urban, suburban, and rural communities plan for and create affordable places to live and work.

"Older industrial cities that served as the backbone of our nation's manufacturing economy are poised for new economic development and growth. Whether it's brownfield redevelopment or investments in public transportation that spur transit-oriented economic development, the innovative programs in this legislation are vital for Ohio," bill sponsor Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said. "The Livable Communities Act of 2010 will help make our communities places where people want to live and work - places that can attract and retain our home-grown young people."

The Livable Communities Act of 2010 would improve the coordination between housing, community development, transportation, energy, and environmental policies to help create better places to live, work and raise families.  The bill will promote sustainable development and enable communities to cut traffic congestion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption, protect farmland and green spaces, revitalize existing Main Streets and urban centers, spur economic development, and create more affordable housing.

"This bill is about helping our communities meet vital future needs, in a flexible, fiscally responsible and environmentally sustainable way, while also increasing transportation and housing choices for our citizens," said committee chairman and bill sponsor Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn. 

The bill, as amended by a Dodd substitute amendment, would authorize $475 million over four years to make grants for the development of plans that would integrate land use, housing, and transportation to create livable communities. It also would authorize $2.2 billion over three years for grants to enable communities to develop and preserve affordable housing, support transit-oriented developments as well as improve public transportation. As originally drafted, it would have authorized $400 million for the planning grants and $3.75 billion for the development grants. 

"There is great demand for the kind of integrated planning and location-efficient investments that the bill makes possible," Dodd said. "Hundreds of communities from all 50 states have submitted expressions of interest in applying for HUD's Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program, which is closely modeled on the planning program authorized in this legislation."

Brown discussed how communities could utilize funds in the legislation to demolish abandoned properties, find innovative uses for old structures, and create green space. Vacant housing blight slows neighborhood rejuvenation, reduces surrounding property values, and displaces resources from local firefighters and law enforcement.  In many cities, vacant properties account for half of the fires and one-third of the arson cases.

To view the Livable Communities Act (S1619) bill summary, click here.


Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 (including NSP3)

Grey houseThe Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, which was sponsored by U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and U.S. Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), was signed into law July 21, 2010. In part, the Act provides an additional $1 billion for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

NSP provides emergency assistance to states and local governments to acquire and redevelop foreclosed, vacant and abandoned properties that lead to blighted neighborhoods and declining property values.  In 2008, $3.92 billion in NSP funding was included in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. An additional $2 billion for NSP was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The latest round of $1 billion in funding brings the total NSP funding to $7 billion.

The Restoring American Financial Stability Act permits the purchase and redevelopment of vacant properties to count toward the requirement that 25% of funds be spent on families with very low incomes.  This change will make it easier to leverage NSP funds with private dollars, reduce the per-unit cost to rehabilitate and sell low-income homes, and return more vacant properties to productive neighborhood assets.  

To find out more about NSP 1, 2 and 3, click here.

To view a list of NSP3 grantees and awards, click here.

To view the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, click here.


The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Including NSP2

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, abbreviated ARRA and commonly referred to as the Stimulus or The Recovery Act, is an economic stimulus package enacted by Congress in February 2009. 

The $787 billion economic stimulus package included $2 billion in additional funding for NSP.  This allocation is commonly referred to as NSP2, and has the same authorized uses as NSP1.  Unlike NSP1, NSP2 was awarded through a competitive application process, which allowed nonprofits to apply as well as local and state governments. NSP2 also provided $50 million for technical assistance providers to build the capacity of local communities receiving NSP1 or any entity receiving NSP2 funding to carry out neighborhood stabilization. 

To view a breakdown of NSP2 awards, click here.

To view a summary of NSP2 grantees, click here.


Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009

Large brick apartment buildingThe Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA), enacted in 2009, provides renters federal protections when landlords lose rental units to foreclosure. Prior to PTFA, renters in most states had their leases extinguished at foreclosure, and thus had limited rights relative to evictions initiated by succeeding property owners. In fact, some states permitted evictions with as little as three days’ notice.  PTFA will override less protective state laws, while not preempting laws that afford tenants stronger protections.


Under PTFA, tenants living in foreclosed rental units must be given a minimum 90-day pre-eviction notice by the “successor of interest” – the entity that takes clear legal title after foreclosure. This covers renters with “month-to-month” leases, renters with leases terminable at-will, and even renters without formal leases but verifiable rent payment history. However, if the tenant has more than 90 days left on the lease, the tenant must be allowed to stay until the lease ends, except if the new owner will occupy the property as a primary residence.

In rental units occupied by Section 8 voucher holders, the successor in interest takes the property subject to the Section 8 lease and the subsidy contract as long as the new owner will not occupy the unit as a primary residence.

Restrictions and Limitations

  • The law applies to leases enacted prior to the transfer of title caused by foreclosure.
  • The law limits protections to “bona fide” leases. A lease is bona fide when:
    • the tenant is not the mortgagor, the mortgagor’s child, spouse, or parent;
    • the lease is the result of an arms-length transaction, and
    • the rent due under the lease is not substantially less than market rent, unless the rent is reduced by a subsidy.
  • PTFA does not specify the kind of notice that must be issued by the successor of notice; here, state law applies.
  • The law does not expressly make the new owner responsible for a tenant’s security deposit.
  • If a bank takes ownership of the property and honors a bona fide lease, it is not obligated to renew the lease.
  • The law will expire on December 31, 2012.


The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA)

neighborhoodThe Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) includes almost $4 billion in grants through a new Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) to provide grants to every state and certain local communities to purchase foreclosed or abandoned properties and to rehabilitate, resell, or redevelop these homes in order to stabilize neighborhoods and stem the decline of housing values. This crucial investment of federal resources is estimated to encourage:

  • Increase in investment activity of $10 billion nationwide
  • creation of more than 32,000 jobs
  • generation of $800+ million in one-time revenue for all levels of government
  • restoration of nearly $60 million per year in real estate tax collections by local governments
  • The Save America’s Neighborhoods Coalition has worked with HUD to make sure the funding formula is fair and that these funds are distributed to the areas with the greatest need. The coalition’s Fact Sheet of Emergency Assistance is a useful summary of the program.
  • The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 also contains a provision for the establishment of a National Housing Trust Fund. The National Low Income Housing Coalition considers this “a major victory for low-income housing advocates and the lowest income people in our country with the most serious needs.” However, since the Fund’s resources are to come from contributions by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it is difficult to determine how the emergency legislation passed in October 2008 will affect available resources.