Did you catch the news clips of the House and Senate leadership holding hands and singing during the “Kumbaya” moment at the recent ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? (Check it out on YouTube if you have not seen it.) The looks on Members’ faces’ were truly “priceless”. Some of you may start looking for evidence that Hell has, in fact, frozen over.
We can joke about it, but truth be told, even with the heightened level of partisan bickering over the last few years, nothing in Washington gets done without some level of bi-partisan cooperation – period. History shows that housing has always been an issue that has had bi-partisian support, despite perceptions to the contrary. Most of the important Federal housing initiatives over the last 50 years have only happened with strong support from both sides of the aisle. The Section 8 programs, Community Development Block Grant, HOME and HOPE VI are just a few examples that come to mind.
The Bi-Partisan Policy Center, a Washington-based think tank, demonstrated this brilliantly in its February 2013 report “Housing America’s Future: New Directions for National Policy“. The BPC report was written by a bi-partisan group of housing experts from around the country who held listening sessions, commissioned research and developed a detailed blueprint for addressing the housing challenges facing our nation in the coming years. The final product is a great read thanks to the great work of Pamela Hughes Patenaude, BPC’s Director of Housing Policy, and her amazing team. Not only does the Commission’s report clearly make the case for the importance of a strong, cohesive housing policy for bettering the lives of all Americans, but it lays out specific steps that our policymakers (and in some cases, our lawmakers) can take to achieve this goal. On September 15-16, 2014, BPC will host it’s first Housing Summit to promote constructive, bi-partisan discourse on housing policy in an effort to move forward the agends set forth in its report. Ballard Spahr LLP is very pleased to be a sponsor for the event. This promises to be a “roll up your sleeves” session where leaders from across the country will discuss ways to resolve the housing issues facing local, State and Federal government. I encourage you to register for the conference through the BPC website at www.bipartisanpolicy.org. BPC has recently added a reduced fee for government and non-profit attendees of $ 195.00. I’m really looking forward to participating in the discussion on the Rental Assistance Demonstration Program (RAD), alongside a great group of housing experts. In preparation for the panel, each of the presenters has been asked some very pointed questions about their topic, as well their views on housing policy generally. My responses, including my belief that housing is not a “red” issue or a “blue” issue, are posted on the BPC website. I hope to see you in September. I will be wearing purple.