NAHT LEADS CAMPAIGN FOR RIGHT OF FIRST PURCHASE
From 1990 to 1996, HUD’s Title VI Preservation Program preserved more than 90,000 affordable apartments by requiring owners to refinance or sell their at-risk HUD developments as affordable housing. Since Congress repealed the Title VI regulatory program in 1996, the US has lost more than 400,000 affordable apartments as owners have converted to market rate housing.
NAHT opposed the repeal of Title VI in 1996, and has since led the fight to restore regulations to SAVE OUR HOMES! NAHT’s tireless efforts had resulted in a Right of First Purchase contained in a broad Preservation Bill drafted by Representative Barney Frank, Chair of the House FInancial Services Committee; but by the time the bill was filed, the Right of First Purchase had been replaced by a weaker First Right of Refusal, modeled after provisions in an owner-designed Massachusetts bill signed into law last November 2009.
The Right of First Purchase provision would allow cities, tenants and nonprofit groups to purchase and preserve at-risk housing when owners propose to end HUD contracts. Landlord lobby groups have strongly objected to the Right of First Purchase. Owners also oppose NAHT’s Tenant Empowerment proposals to give tenants Access to Information and Third Party Beneficiary status to sue to enforce HUD contracts. Landlord lobbyists have threatened to scuttle the entire bill unless these pro-tenant provisions are taken out.
NAHT and its allies sent a letter signed by 35 organizations urging Chairman Frank to keep all pro-tenant provisions in the Bill. And, Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and 12 other Financial Services Committee members sent a letter to Chairman Frank and Subcommittee Chairwoman Maxine Waters supporting NAHT’s Right of First Purchase priority and to recommend that it be put back in the bill.
Rep. Gutierrez had responded positively to a request from NAHT’s Chicago affiliates, the Metropolitan Tenants Organization and the Chicago Housing Initiative. NAHT and its local affiliates worked with Gutierrez’ office to secure the additional signers.
The 100+ page bill includes other important provisions proposed by NAHT for Troubled Housing Reform and Technical Assistance to Tenants, along with other non-controversial reforms.