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Subjects: LEG, CSR

Healthcare Leader Kaiser Permanente Joins U.S. Mayors And CEOs To Call For Increased Federal Funding For Affordable Housing

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Kaiser Permanente is joining the Mayors & CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment, a first-of-its-kind coalition of 17 local governments and five business leaders to advance public-private partnerships that tackle affordable housing and homelessness and actively oppose current funding cuts. 

"For more than 70 years, our mission has been to help improve the health of our members and the communities we serve," said Bernard J. Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. "We believe a core part of health is having a roof over one's head. Kaiser Permanente and Mayors & CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment are standing up for those who deserve access to affordable housing and homeless services."

Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor Vi Lyles, Baltimore, Maryland Mayor Catherine Pugh and Alexandria, Virginia Mayor Allison Silberberg joined the coalition alongside Oakland, California Mayor Libby Schaaf and Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler.

"Charlotte is a city with housing challenges that affect many sectors of our workforce," Mayor Vi Lyles said. "As Mayor of Charlotte, I am delighted to 'roll up my sleeves' with fellow mayors and CEOs across this country to work collaboratively to develop bipartisan affordable housing solutions that will promote opportunity and growth for all residents. By investing in diverse price point housing, we will ensure opportunities for upward economic mobility, while creating stronger neighborhoods and safer communities."

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said, "The political and business leaders of Baltimore are obligated to address the lack of affordable housing and growing homelessness in our community. These problems might happen to any of us, and when they do, they are hazards to one's own health but also the health of loved ones, friends and others around you. The good news is that we are working aggressively and collaboratively with Baltimore's developers, faith community and other local leaders to turn these problems around - but we have so much work left to do. And as we continue this important work, we need the federal government alongside us, making the same kind of strong investments, creating the same kind of powerful public-private partnerships. Baltimore and the U.S. can get this done - but only if we work together and begin right now."

Alexandria, Virginia Mayor Allison Silberberg said, "Our economy is stronger and our society is more equitable when workers can afford to live near their workplaces and families are not forced to relocate due to housing costs. Here in Alexandria, we have forged strong partnerships with nonprofit developers and appreciate voluntary contributions from private companies to build more affordable and workforce housing, and we have increased dedicated funding for this cause. The shortage of affordable housing is a national challenge, and I look forward to working toward national solutions with Mayors and CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment."

Representing her organization's 500 black mayors, African American Mayors Association Executive Director Stephanie Marsh Sykes said, "Mayors have an obligation to defend the cities they are elected to serve, and protect society's most vulnerable citizens. With affordable housing supplies dropping and homelessness increasing, mayors and businesses must step into the breach to protect those most in need. We join Mayors & CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment on behalf of 500 African American mayors to link arms with leaders in cities and businesses across America to finally turn US housing policy back in the right direction ? the direction home."

In the atmosphere of Washington's "Infrastructure Week," it was noted that coalition mayors had previously argued that affordable housing should not be seen as a cost, but instead a wise infrastructure investment ? something the U.S. does not officially recognize, unlike Canada, Australia and most European countries. "Stable and affordable housing is pro-family, pro-jobs, and allows low- to moderate-income people the opportunity to pursue financial stability, which, in turn, supports local businesses and future economic growth," Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan wrote in The Hill in March.

"Research from The National Association of Home Builders shows that building 100 affordable rental homes generates $11.7 million in local income, $2.2 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and 161 local jobs ? in the first year alone," the mayors added.

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

  1. Affordable housing should be a part of any Administration infrastructure plan.
  2. Maximize funding for existing federal programs that work, such as Section 8 Housing Vouchers, Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Grants, HUD-VASH, HOME and Community Development Block Grants.
  3. Issue new, competitive HUD-HIIRO (Housing Innovation, Investment and Reform Opportunities) grants to stand up new, innovative approaches that fit communities' capital and planning needs for affordable housing, homeless assistance and housing security.  The program would be modeled after the Department of Transportation's successful BUILD (formerly TIGER) grants and reward local governments, in partnership with private and stakeholder partners, that develop 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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.


SOURCE Mayors & CEOs for US Housing Investment

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