By Christopher Ptomey
Habitat for Humanity International’s
Director of congressional relations
As Habitat’s director of congressional relations, it’s my job to help Habitat work with the federal government on housing issues. Throughout our history, Habitat has worked hard to develop strong relationships with members of the U.S. Congress across the political spectrum, and this Congress is no different. We are already reaching out to newly elected members to educate them about Habitat’s work in their districts and the organization’s priorities in Washington.
With a federal budget that allows little room for compromise, the 112th Congress seems unlikely to pass many major pieces of legislation beyond the budget and appropriations measures required to keep the government running. With regard to housing policy, we feel that the legislative arena will be quiet when compared to the last several years, during which the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the National Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund were authorized and funded. The notable exception may be the area of housing finance, as both parties are seeking to reform government housing enterprises, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan banks.
From an international perspective, comprehensive foreign aid reform, which has been a major focus for the past 2 years, seems less likely. One possible shift in the direction of U.S. foreign assistance could relate to spending levels, with some members of Congress interested in cutting international affairs spending levels. This could impact Habitat efforts around the world, such as housing programs for orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS and reconstruction efforts in Haiti, among other critical priorities.
We remain focused on advocating for U.S. policies that help improve access to adequate and affordable housing around the world. And we need your help. For more information on Habitat’s government relations and advocacy work, including information on how to support our federal priorities, please visit habitat.org/gov .