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Four More Policy Packages for State Advocates Released

Smart Growth America has released four more policy packages for state advocates, on tax increment financing for brownfields, fix-it-first for water and sewer infrastructure, using Low Income Housing Tax Credits to create and preserve transit-accessible affordable housing, and performance-based transportation measures. Each package includes an overview of the policy, key features of successful legislation, advice on political strategy and communications, sample legislative language, and a fill-in fact sheet for advocates to distribute to state officials. Download the packages today and use them in your state!

Download the entire Brownfields Policy Package.
Download the fill-in Brownfields Fact Sheet and customize to fit your state.

Download the entire Fix-it-First Policy Package.
Download the fill-in Fix-it-First Fact Sheet and customize to fit your state.

Download the entire LIHTC Policy Package.
Download the fill-in LIHTC Fact Sheet and customize to fit your state.

Download the entire Transportation Policy Package.

New Jersey Passes Homeless Trust Fund Bill

In late October, the New Jersey Assembly approved legislation (A.3101) that would allow individual counties in the state to create their own Homelessness Trust Funds with dedicated state funding. These funds would provide qualifying community organizations and county programs with additional capital for homelessness prevention and affordable housing projects. The bill sets targets for reductions in homelessness and timetables for drawing up county and state strategic plans. For more information on the New Jersey Homeless Trust Fund bill and similar programs, visit the Ending Homelessness in New Jersey website.

PA Legislature Passes Blighted Property Bill

The Pennsylvania state legislature has approved a bill designed to give communities greater power to bring abandoned properties in line with community codes and standards. The Abandoned and Blighted Property Conservatorship Act (House Bill 2188) would allow courts to appoint conservators with the power to rehabilitate and restore qualifying blighted properties–those that have been abandoned, are in violation of community codes, and have not been on the market for a specified time period, among other requirements. Ordinarily, communities would have to track down the owner of a neglected property and administer a court order in order to enforce community codes, a process that can be difficult to complete. The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania worked for the act’s passage and has more information on its website. The bill awaits final approval from Governor Ed Rendell before becoming law.

NJ Stimulus Plan to Prioritize Infrastructure, Foreclosures

New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine’s economic recovery plan, unveiled on October 16th, includes several measures designed to add jobs, stimulate business activity, and stem the tide of home foreclosures in his state. Under the plan, $150 million in federal and state funds will go toward preventing home foreclosures through mortgage restructuring and purchasing, as well as financial counseling programs. To create an estimated 46,300 jobs, the plan calls for accelerating infrastructure projects already in development, including work on schools, roads, and transit services. Changes to the state tax policy, increased bank funds, and $3,000 credits for each new job a business creates are intended to stimulate further job growth and economic activity. The state Assembly has already passed many of these components. The Housing & Community Development Network of New Jersey, a Restoring Prosperity Initiative partner, was pleased with the plan but is pushing for further foreclosure protections by promoting the Homeownership Preservation Act, which is currently working its way through the legislature.

HUD Allocates Funds for Neighborhood Stabilization Program

As part of the newly created Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has distributed a total of $3.92 billion to states to counter the effects of housing foreclosures. The program, created under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, specially allocates Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds–ordinarily used for general neighborhood revitalization and economic development projects–to states and localities so that they may purchase, demolish, redevelop, or rehabilitate foreclosed or vacant properties. States and localities may also use the funds to assist low- to moderate- income homebuyers with down payments or closing costs. The funds were allocated according to need, determined based on the ratio and number of foreclosed, sub-prime financed, or abandoned homes in each state or locality. For more information on the NSP, see the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association summary.

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