It is my belief that the affordable housing gap can be assuaged by creating a climate of competition fostered by public/ private partnership as a joint effort between HUD and the SBA. The partnership could offer access to capital, protection in- struments to safeguard investments, improved investment returns, protections against unintended consequences, educa- tion resources, and incentives for responsible landlording. A competitive landscape encourages quality that will often meet or exceed government standards, simply because it’s good business practice. The key mandate of this joint office? Improve and streamline Government operations and services to this market of small business landlords, and evaluate and eliminate superfluous cost burdens. Further, embracing natural market drivers that can encourage and stabilize investment by small business and independent landlords could help assuage the affordable housing gap. The SBA and HUD can play a critical role in supporting investment in properties that are fewer than four units, likely responsible for the majority of available units of affordable housing. It’s my understanding that change would require an act of Congress. If enacted, the SBA could: •  Create a specialized office specific to rental housing that caters to the small business independent landlord, similar to what it has put in place for government contracting; •  Encourage investment and redevelopment in housing units that are four units or fewer through newly created lending and grant programs; •  Facilitate existing owner-occupied conversion to rental properties to support the small business independent landlord; •  Bring forth innovation in rental housing and management through SBIR funding; •  Aid in the creation or endorsement of responsible landlording programs; •  Qualify sole proprietor small business and independent landlords for services offered by the SBA; and •  Commission a study to better understand the market and needs, as current data is partial at best. Combining internal staff resources with the private sector’s innovation and creativity could allow the Federal Government to better serve America’s housing needs. Just imagine an abundance of affordable housing that could be available to serve the growing low- and fixed-income housing markets in a naturally competitive landscape. Federal Government funding could influence restrictive state and local level laws, to ease unnecessary burdens to allow more affordable housing providers. Further, Federal influence could encourage fair play on the distribution of block grant funding to recognize that landlord organizations which encourage responsible landlording are equal- ly as important as tenant advocacy groups. I’m hopeful ideological lines can meld on issues worth solving, and that nobler minds will prevail. As a represen- tative of a grassroots movement for this community, I’d be grateful for an opportunity to detail more thoughts on this topic with you.


by Carole VanSickle Ellis


n this issue’s section of “Industry Voices,” one of our fea- tures is an open letter that a magazine contributor, Brian Wojcik of, sent the secretary of housing and urban development (HUD), Ben Carson. Wojcik provided plenty of context for his letter in terms of legislation and policy revolving around landlords, but we wanted to provide a slightly broader overview of HUD activity in the past 10 months. Think Realty Magazine makes no political statements or judgements on any policies proposed or enacted. While not a comprehensive timeline, this list highlights monthly activity for the purpose of education and context. MARCH: NEWLEADERSHIP AND BUDGET RUMORS Retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson took his position as HUD Secretary and arrived at the Department of Housing and Urban Development headquarters for his first day of work on March 6, 2017, amid rumors that the next fed- eral budget would cut about $7 billion from HUD’s operating budget, nearly 15 percent. APRIL: $4 BILLION BENCHMARK REACHED IN PUBLIC-PRIVATE INVESTMENT IN DISTRESSED PUBLIC HOUSING On May 11, 2017, HUD announced that its Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), a tool intended to help public housing authorities find funding to preserve and improve public housing properties in order to create more affordable housing, surpassed $4 billion in capital investments.

about $3 billion in these areas’ disaster recovery efforts to date.


allocate $2 billion to local home- less programs and $50 million toward housing counseling grants. In August, HUD allocated an additional $179 million to state recovery from 2015 and 2016 disasters.

AUGUST: A NEW ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR FAIR HOUSING AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY, HURRICANE HARVEYASSISTANCE, AND A STATEMENT ON TAX REFORM Former HUD director for the Center for Faith-based and Community Initiatives and HUD assistant secretary for grant programs in the Office of Community Planning and Devel- opment Anna Maria Farías was sworn in as HUD’s assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity in August 2017. That month, HUD allocated $38 million to fight housing discrimination, awarded disaster assistance in Texas and West Virginia, and allocated $5 million to support safety and security in public housing. Carson also issued a statement in support of President Trump’s proposed tax reforms, encouraging the federal government to “fix our broken tax code…[to] promote strong job and wage growth, putting more money in the pockets of Americans of modest means.” •

Respectfully yours, Brian Wojcik National Association of Independent Landlords

Cc: President of the United States

Secretary Linda McMahon, SBA Administrator


A CALL TO ACTION FOR YOU, THE READER: SIGN THE PETITION AT NAIL411.ORG. It will take less than five minutes individually. In aggregate, it will speak volumes in the halls of Washington and show that we have strength in numbers. Independent landlords, this is our time to get in the game, double down and play to win! We can be the cause to improve our situation. By doing good work, we can help assuage the

effects on us due to the affordable housing gap. It is in our best interests to be a part of the solution. It’s time to be at the source and cause of change. •

In June 2017, HUD allocated an additional $163 million to help Louisiana, West Virginia, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida recover from 2015 and 2016 disasters. This allocation stemmed from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 that included $400 million “to support recovery from major disasters in 2015 and later.” In total, HUD has invested

Carole VanSickle Ellis is the editor of Think Realty Magazine. She can be reached at

BrianWojcik is the founder of and and a regular contributor to Think Realty Magazine. He may be reached at

106 | think realty magazine :: november 2017

thinkrealty . com | 107

Made with FlippingBook Learn more on our blog