New Developments: No Time To Wait

3 min read

As I write this month’s column, there are 81 days until the mid-term elections (probably closer to 60 by the time you read it) and only about 35 remaining legislative working days through the end of the year. This is not much time to complete what I consider to be a lot of critical unfinished affordable housing and Historic Tax Credit related legislative business.

Once the 115th Congress gavels out for the last time this December, our significant legislative progress essentially resets, and we must return to the starting line as we renew our efforts. Of course, it is not as though Congress fires off a starting gun and we are off to the races either. There is a ponderous and time-consuming shuffle that occurs at the beginning of any new Congress, made more painful when majorities in one or both chambers change. (And if history is our guide, it is likely that the Republican majority in the House of Representatives will narrow or be lost entirely and the possibility of the Senate flipping from Republican to Democratic party control is not unthinkable).

Some things are relatively mundane, like the assignment of new offices and the hiring of new staff. New committee and subcommittee assignments are negotiated over time and can have significant consequences on a piece of legislation’s prospects and our own advocacy strategies. The legislative process must begin anew – legislation must be reintroduced, co-sponsors recruited, committee hearings and votes scheduled, and so on.

Whether or not the House or Senate flips, when you consider resignations, retirements, lost primaries and your typical electoral churn there will likely be more than 100 new Representatives and Senators walking the halls of Congress next year and the vast majority of them will likely have never heard of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit or HTC. This is a lot of ground to cover. As advocates, our strategy has always been reflective of the Taoist approach to gardening: You plant the tree.

What happens in the future is anybody’s guess (few of us correctly predicted the last election so and I won’t be making any bold proclamations just yet). But we know that the LIHTC and HTC have unprecedented support in this Congress and, with several tax or spending bills on the docket this fall, we have a unique opportunity over the next three months to push for the passage of impactful legislation to improve and expand both programs.

Now is the time to step on the gas of our advocacy and be available and visible when the legislative opportunity arises. As you return from your summer vacations, be sure to take some time to connect with your Senators and Representatives. Thank them for their support and urge them to stand up for the LIHTC and HTC this fall.

I’ll leave you with a closing thought from Carol Deppe, author of Tao of Vegetable Gardening, (Now you know a little bit more about my summer reading and hobbies), “There are three reasons to do something: It is the right thing to do, it is the right time to do it, and you are the right person to do it.” Let’s get to work!

Thom joined National Housing & Rehabilitation Association (NH&RA) in 2004 and currently serves as its as Executive Vice-President and Executive Director. NH&RA is a national trade association and peer-network for affordable housing and tax credit developers and related professionals including: investors, lenders, public agencies and professional advisers. Thom directs the association’s day-to-day operations including legislative and regulatory advocacy, committee activities, conferences and events, publications, financial management and strategic planning. Thom also serves as the Executive Director of the Tennessee Developers Council, a state-wide trade association for affordable housing developers and professionals active in Tennessee. In 2013 he spearheaded the launch of NH&RA's Preservation through Energy Efficiency Project, a major educational initiative supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Thom also serves on the Board of Directors for International Center for Appropriate & Sustainable Technology (iCAST) as well as the Advisory Board for its ResourceSmart program, a turn-key, cost-effective, green rehab provider for multifamily affordable and market-rate housing communities and nonprofit facilities. Thom is a frequent speaker at affordable housing, sustainable development and tax credit industry events and has been published in a variety of industry journals including Tax Credit Advisor, Independent Banker, and the Novogradac Journal of Tax Credit Housing. Thom also serves as the Associate Publisher of Tax Credit Advisor, a monthly magazine for tax credit and affordable housing professionals and is an Executive Vice-President at Dworbell Inc., a boutique association management and communications firm in Washington, DC. Thom was previously employed at a national lobbying firm focusing on financial services and technology issues. Prior to moving to Washington, Thom worked in media relations in the New York State Assembly and as a research assistant for New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen. Thom graduated Magna Cum Laude from Tufts University with a double major in Political Science and History.