The Nebraska Housing Developers Association (NHDA), an NLIHC state coalition partner, is developing new strategies to support the Nebraska Affordable Housing Trust Fund (NAHTF) after L.B. 388, a bill that directed money out of the trust fund, passed the legislature. L.B. 388 transfers funds from the NAHTF to industrial site development. NHDA is working to strengthen their advocacy and is leading efforts to pass legislation next year to offset these losses.
The NAHTF has been in existence since 1998, and is funded through revenue generated by a real estate transfer tax. As originally introduced, L.B. 388 proposed a permanent 25% reduction in the amount of revenue directed to the NAHTF, from $1.20 to $0.90 per transaction. The bill also sought to redirect $3 million of the current NAHTF revenue to the Site and Building Development Fund. Redirecting funds will allow NAHTF dollars to be used for the development of industrial sites and buildings. L.B. 388 also expanded NAHTF eligible activities to include the demolition of existing vacant, condemned or obsolete housing, industrial buildings, or infrastructure, to make way for industrial building.
Advocates argued that industrial development is important but should not come at the expense of affordable housing. “Legislators need to keep in mind the job creation and the increased economic activity that comes with affordable housing development,” said Danielle Hill, NHDA’s Executive Director. “Industrial revitalization is crucial, but if funding for that development is taken from affordable housing, Nebraska’s economy will ultimately suffer. Any job creation that occurs will be offset by job loss in the affordable housing industry.”
Advocates’ efforts did yield some success, despite the ultimate passage of L.B. 388. Instead of the proposed $3 million being redirected in October 2011, $1 million will be redirected to the Site and Building Development Fund in January of 2012 and 2013. However, an additional $1 million of recaptured funds from the NAHTF will go into an Industrial Recovery Fund, which is designed to mitigate the economic impact of sudden industrial closures or downsizing. Advocates successfully kept the proposed cut to the real estate transfer tax from being $0.30 and it was reduced to $0.25 per transaction. With the transfer tax generating $4 million in past years, limiting the reduction of revenue for the NAHTF preserves an estimated $160,000.
NHDA is strengthening its statewide policy network with a policy committee and an effort to identify where advocates are located across the state. The mapping project will identify where affordable housing advocates are in Nebraska, and document their relationships with decision makers and the strength of those relationships. At NHDA’s annual meeting in August, the group will establish policy priorities, collect data for the mapping project, hold an advocacy workshop, and recognize advocates for their work during the 2011 legislative session.
“We rallied our troops to push back, and the trust fund wasn’t hit quite as hard as proposed,” said Hill. “We are working to develop legislation that will increase revenue to the NAHTF, with the goal of becoming more proactive instead of reactive. We are working hard to fight back, and are excited about our plans for the future. ”
To learn more, contact Danielle Hill at email@example.com.