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NACCED Holds 43rd Annual Educational Conference and Training

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 12, 2018
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2018

NACCED held its 43rd Annual Educational Conference and Training in Minneapolis, MN September 23-26, 2018. Hosted by Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington Counties, the event brought together housing, community and economic development professionals from counties and cities across the country discussing topics as diverse and timely as missing middle housing, community land trusts, Opportunity Zones, gentrification and much more.

The conference kicked things off with two training workshops: ZoomGrants 201 and Housing Counseling Certification Rule Training. These deep dive educational offerings provided attendees with an opportunity to bring additional practical information back to their communities. Following the workshops, NACCED held its standing committee meetings including the Education, Housing, Community Development, Economic Development and Membership Committees. The committees discussed several best practices, tools, and resources for local governments to utilize. Committee presentations included an update on Opportunity Zones, a look into a regional affordable housing study from Orange County, FL, and an intro and conversation on HUD’s Section 108 Loan Guarantee program.

Day two of the conference was packed with interesting and innovative topics. Attendees were welcomed by Hennepin County Board of Commissioners Chair, Janis Callison and through a video message from Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. The opening general session featured a briefing from HUD Headquarters’ Peter Huber, Deputy Director for the Office of Affordable Housing Programs and Steve Johnson, Director of Entitlement Communities Division in the Office of Block Grant Assistance. The session featured information on new guidance coming from HUD, and what grantees should prepare for in the coming months. The session also included a robust question and answer section where attendees asked all the burning HUD questions they’ve been holding onto. Next, national housing experts Bob Simpson, Vice President of Multifamily Affordable and Green Housing at Fannie Mae and Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, presented on Housing is Infrastructure. They also provided attendees with helpful information about how local governments can help frame the housing conversation to get community support for affordable housing investment.

The afternoon sessions featured several panels split into three tracks: Housing, Policy and Planning, and Community and Economic Development. Topics included naturally occurring affordable housing, comprehensive planning strategies, innovations in economic development, community land trusts, disaster prevention, and small business growth. The day ended with the John C. Murphy Scholarship Fund Silent Auction sponsored by Dominium. The auction had a number of highly sought-after items and raised over $2100 for the scholarship fund!

Day three of the conference kicked off with a welcome from Michael Langley, CEO for Greater MSP, the Minneapolis and St. Paul Economic Development Partnership. Langley spoke about the incredible economic development work being done in the region. Minneapolis-St. Paul is home to 19 of the Fortune 500 Companies including Target, Best Buy, 3M, General Mills and more! The morning general session included a panel from the region speaking about the Dorothy Day Place and Higher Ground, a two-building campus designed to prevent and end homelessness. The session provided attendees with a primer for the Higher Ground conference tour held the following day.

The Tuesday morning concurrent session topics included alternative housing and the missing middle, the Twin Cities section 3 collaborative, and a telling your story workshop. The concurrent sessions were followed by the annual awards luncheon and NACCED business meeting. Attendees heard from keynote speaker Ben Austen, author of the book High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing. Ben Austen was also a guest on the NACCED Holistic Housing Podcast earlier in the month. Attendees were able to purchase Austen’s book and have it signed during the luncheon.

Following the keynote speech, a number of awards and honors were announced as part of the annual NACCED business meeting.

Roy Hoover award recipient: Margaret Kish, Pima County, AZ

The Roy Hoover Award, named for NACCED’s co-founder and first Board president, is presented to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions and achieved significant accomplishments in his or her service to NACCED, to the housing, community development and economic development profession, and to county government.

John C. Murphy Scholarship recipient: Andrew Fackler

Andrew is a former DuPage County, IL intern and current Iowa State University student.  

NACCED 2018 Awards of Excellence Recipients:

In the category of Community Development – Cuyahoga County, OH, “Community Development Supplemental Grants”

In the category of Economic Development – Nassau County Office of Housing and Community Development, “Farmingdale Village Downtown Revitalization”

In the category of Homeless Coordination/Assistance – Anoka County Community and Government Relations, “Stepping out of Homelessness”

In the category of Affordable Housing – The Community Development Commission/Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles, “Promoting Healthy Communities for Older Adults”

In the category of Planning/Policy/Program Management – Orange County, City of Orlando, Seminole County, Osceola County, “Central Florida – Regional Affordable Housing Initiative”

In the category of Innovation – DuPage County, IL, “GIS Interactive Story Map”

A new slate of officers was also voted on during the business meeting. NACCED’s 2018-2019 Board of Directors is as follows:

For Directors, to serve a two-year term ending in 2020:

  • Jennifer Daniels, Arlington County, VA
  • George Serio, Essex County, NJ
  • Linda Jenkins, Los Angeles County, CA
  • David Sacks, Henrico County, VA

For Officers, to serve a one-year term expiring in 2019:

  • President: Mitchell Glasser, Orange County, FL
  • Vice President: Mary Keating, DuPage County, IL
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Cheryl Markham, King County, WA
  • NACCED Representative to the NACo Board: Patricia Ward, Tarrant County, TX
  • Immediate Past President: Karen Wiley, Salt Lake County, UT

The balance of the Board with a term expiring in 2019 includes:

  • Jim Johnston, Allegheny County, PA
  • Tonja West-Hafner, Hennepin County, MN
  • Samantha Whitley, Clark County, WA
  • Israel Henry, Shelby County, TN

The day finished with more concurrent sessions coving topics including in-house vs. third party administration, special presentations from the University of Minnesota Center for Urban and Regional Affairs students, and putting a low-income housing tax credit deal together using CDBG and HOME funding.

The evening featured a conference-wide event and networking reception at the Mill City Museum sponsored by ZoomGrants. This unique museum focuses on the growth of Minneapolis featuring some of the major industries in the area, especially flour milling, and is built around the ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill.

The conference closed out Wednesday with a tour of Higher Ground, an overnight emergency shelter in St. Paul with social services provided through collaboration with Ramsey County. Staff from the facility guided attendees around and explained the many services the shelter provides homeless adults in the region.

Thank you to our Minnesota hosts and the incredible sponsors, presenters and attendees who made this conference a success. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone next year in Tucson, Arizona for the 44th Annual Educational Conference and Training hosted by Pima County, Arizona, October 13-16, 2019. More details to come! 


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Who should attend the NACCED Annual Conference?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Who should attend the NACCED Annual Conference?

We are now less than two months away from NACCED’s biggest event of the year, the NACCED Annual Educational Conference and Training. Hosted by five NACCED member counties in Minnesota - Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, Anoka and Washington – this year’s meeting is themed “Charting Our Future.” 

We’ll gather in Minneapolis, MN September 23-26 to learn about topics as diverse as disaster preparedness, early childhood education, missing middle housing and more, while enjoying networking and social events.

Attendees to the conference are county and city government coordinators, managers, analysts and directors with special knowledge of the federal grants that empower communities’ housing, community and economic development programs. With a range of education for those early in their career and those more experienced, it is a good idea to bring several members of your staff in order to maximize your educational experience. 

This year’s program has several highlights including general sessions, a keynote address and breakout sessions.

This year’s general sessions, designed for all attendees, include:

 - A briefing on policy and program updates from Washington, DC HUD Headquarters Staff (CPD, HOME)

 - Diane Yentel, CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition and Bob Simpson, VP of Multifamily Affordable and Green Finance for Fannie Mae, discussing housing as a critical component of a community’s infrastructure

 - A presentation on Higher Ground St. Paul, which offers more than 500 people experiencing homelessness permanent homes, dignified shelter, and pathways to opportunities

 - A closing general session by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve that will provide an overview of the Fed’s involvement in community development and economic research that makes the case for investing in young children

The breakout sessions address topics along three tracks: Housing, Policy & Planning and Community & Economic Development. Session titles include:

- Alternative Housing, ADUs and the Missing Middlle

- Open to Business: Growing Small Businesses in Your Community

- Community Land Trusts

- Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing

- Innovations of Economic Development Investment (CDFIs and Opportunity Zones)

- and more!

We’re especially excited about our keynote speaker, Ben Austen, the author of bestseller High Risers: Cabrini Green and the Fate of Public Housing

What do attendees have to say about the NACCED conference?

“Anyone who administers HUD funds should attend the conference.  It may be the only place where you come in contact with professionals from all over the country who face the same issues as you do on a daily basis.  The knowledge gained from both the sessions and networking are invaluable.” Jim Johnston, Allegheny County, PA

“I love attending the NACCED conference each year because I get the chance to talk to people in my field, who are solving many of the same challenges that I have in my community. I always come away with new ideas, clever strategies, and a renewed sense of inspiration and motivation for my work!” Samantha Whitley, Clark County, WA

“The NACCED Conferences have been an invaluable resource for me and my team.  In addition to the networking opportunities with colleagues throughout the nation, we hear from our HUD leaders from Washington, DC and the speaker lineup never disappoints.  The sessions include professionals that speak to the most critical needs and innovative tools that help us better serve the residents of our county.” Karen Wiley, Salt Lake County, UT 

“This will be my fourth year attending the NACCED Annual Conference and in addition to the committee meetings, variety of training opportunities, and guest speakers, the conference has provided an opportunity to establish and maintain relationships with professionals from across the country.  I also look forward to this event each year to reminisce on past stories such as the convertible bus tour, hungry giraffes, and anything that has to do with the famous Chuck Robbins from Clackamas County!” Chris Ragona, DuPage County, IL

Register today! And don’t forget to book your hotel and check out the overall draft agenda. We look forward to seeing you in Minneapolis!

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Guest Blog Post: A Local Government’s Guide to Successful Marijuana Regulation & Licensing

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Updated: Monday, July 23, 2018

This article was originally published by ViewPoint Cloud, a NACCED Platinum Associate member. 

ViewPoint Cloud is the industry’s leading software platform for permitting, licensing, inspections, & code enforcement operations. Built with the idea that local and state governments deserve the same design and technology standards as the private sector, ViewPoint Cloud offers a seamless, user-friendly experience for public applicants, fully integrated with powerful workflow automation for department staff. Serving 150+ municipalities and 7 million+ citizens nationwide. 

A Local Government’s Guide to Successful Marijuana Regulation & Licensing

Marijuana regulation remains a controversial subject across all levels of government, but there’s no denying the fact that the tides are changing in favor of legalization. The 2016 election season—where a historic number of states passed ballot initiatives legalizing marijuana—seems to have been a tipping point, and the pro-legalization movement is showing no signs of slowing down.

Marijuana: A Growing Industry

According to BDS Analytics, the cannabis industry generated nearly $9 billion in sales in the US last year, equivalent to the entire snack-bar industry. More than 121,000 people work in cannabis-related jobs, and there are at least 9,397 active licenses for marijuana businesses, according to Cannabiz Media. Most importantly, public opinion is fueling this shift. As a recent Gallup survey shows, support for legalization rose from 31% in 2000 to 64% in 2017.

While marijuana has been listed as a Schedule 1 drug at the federal level since the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, individual states have passed their own laws legalizing the production and sale of marijuana in various forms, uses, and under the umbrella of different business types. 

Growing evidence of the medical benefits of marijuana may lead to the federal government changing its Schedule 1 drug classification. However, even if this does’t happen in the near future, industry pressure and international legalization efforts (like Canada’s recent legislationare paving the way for more cannabis-friendly regulation. There’s even a bipartisan bill currently facing the Senate that would explicitly allow states to pass their own marijuana laws without interference from the federal government.

So the question now is, how are local governments going to respond? While legalization is first enacted at a state level, individual municipalities define the lines of how cannabis businesses can operate within their borders.

In California, for example, cannabis businesses must prove they have permission to operate from their local government before they can get a license to operate from the state.  Permitting, local fee collections, and enforcement also fall to the municipality, making proactive and intentional regulations all the more important.

There Is No One Solution: Local Context is Key

Regulating cannabis businesses isn’t just a question of legality—the minutia of what types of businesses, what types of products, and other regulatory limits have to be established by both state and local governments. These decisions aren’t black and white, and there is no standard blueprint. Reviewing best practices within the local context of your individual community is the best plan for creating an effective, sustainable regulatory environment.

In cases where state legalization has already occurred, local governments have responded to varying degrees. Some outright ban all marijuana-related businesses, some allow medical dispensaries but not recreational, some only allow home growers, and others open their doors to all components of the marijuana industry.

When considering incorporating cannabis businesses into the local tax base and economy, it’s also crucial to think about how to structure licensing in a way that can scale with a rapidly growing market. This process should be accessible and user-friendly, so business owners are encouraged to register correctly and in a timely manner. This ensures the city or town collects all possible tax revenue, has an accurate picture of the spread of new businesses, and can oversee a smooth rollout with minimal complications.

If you’re thinking, this research is jumping the gun because legalization hasn’t occurred in my state (yet)— understanding these details before the market opens sets you lightyears ahead. The more organized and structured you can be ahead of time, the more success you’ll find in practice and be able to see the industry evolve in the ways you planned.

Understanding the Full Scope: Cannabis Business Types

In figuring out where to begin, it’s important to understand the full scope of marijuana-related establishments as approaches to licensing, planning and zoning, and taxation will differ accordingly.

State laws recognize three main categories of marijuana use:

  • Medical marijuana: prescribed or recommended by a doctor to treat a medical condition
  • Recreational marijuana: for use by anyone over the age of 21
  • High CBD/Low THC: marijuana plant or products with no or low THC (psychoactive ingredient) and high amounts of CBD (non-psychoactive ingredient), typically useful for medical treatments without the associated ‘high’.

Regulating commercial businesses is most commonly the primary focus, but even within ‘commercial’ types, municipalities need to decide what types of operations are appropriate for their community. For example, some communities may not allow cooperatives or delivery businesses because they are harder to regulate, while others will be more concerned with odors coming from manufacturing sites.

Permitting and licensing is the most important consideration when it comes to how municipalities regulate marijuana. What requirements and guidelines each business type entails has to be determined by what fits for your unique community.

Read More

To view this guide in full, including Cannabis Permitting and Licensing Considerations, click here.

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NACCED Meets for 2018 Annual NACo Conference in Nashville

Posted By Administration, Monday, July 23, 2018
Updated: Sunday, July 22, 2018

NACCED met July 12-15 for its summer meeting in conjunction with the 2018 Annual National Association of Counties (NACo) Conference in Nashville/Davidson, County, TN. NACCED kicked off the event on July 12th with its board and committee meetings. Below is a summary of the meetings:

  • Economic Development Committee: Members heard from Kipp Kranbuhl, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Financial Institutions at Treasury and Dan Kowalski, Counselor to the Secretary at Treasury and were able to ask questions about the new Opportunity Zones program. 
  • Community Development Committee: The committee discussed the potential CDBG program move to Bureau of Economic Growth and reviewed the committee reports developed from the IDIS survey conducted earlier this year.
  • Membership Committee: The committee reviewed the latest membership report and outlined the rollout for the new student membership category.
  • Resolutions Committee: NACCED reviewed its new resolution on housing infrastructure being submitted to the NACo Community, Economic & Workforce Development Steering Committee. The group also received a legislative update from NACCED Policy Director, Heather Voorman reviewing the status of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget and appropriations process and an update on relevant federal legislation.

The NACCED Board of Directors wrapped up the day with their meeting reviewing the committee actions, a financial report, an update from Patricia Ward, NACCED representative to the NACo Board, and a report from NACCED’s Executive Director, Laura DeMaria.

On July 13th, NACCED members attended the NACo Community, Economic & Workforce Development Steering Committee’s resolutions meeting to support several resolutions sponsored by NACCED. In addition to NACCED’s newly proposed resolution on housing infrastructure, NACCED sponsored two resolutions being added to the committee’s platform including a resolution in support of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and another in support of New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC). Other resolutions discussed during this meeting included protecting the health and safety of sober home residents, funding for HUD-VASH vouchers for homeless veterans in FY 2019 budget, FY 2019 appropriations for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, preservation and expansion of affordable housing stock, FY 2019 appropriations for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), registered apprenticeships program flexibility, and the reauthorization and appropriations for the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. Click here for the full text of the resolutions. The Committee also hosted a variety of informational presentations on community, economic and workforce development tools being used by counties across the country.

The Large Urban County Caucus met on July 14th. This caucus represents many NACCED county members and provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and solutions that help urban counties address their most pressing issues. The committee hosted Senator Lamar Alexander, the Senior U.S. Senator from Tennessee. Senator Alexander discussed the pressing legislative issues facing Congress. The meeting also featured an update on the implementation of the Opportunity Zones program from Jeremy Keele, Senior Advisor at Maycomb Capital, Donnie Charleston, Director of State and Local Fiscal Policy Engagement for the Urban Institute, and former NACCED Holistic Housing Podcast guest Ja’Ron Smith, Special Assistant to the President for the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.

Finally, on July 15th, NACCED had the opportunity to participate in the NACo Affordable Housing Forum. This forum brought together counties and stakeholders to discuss cutting-edge solutions and available resources to address the worsening shortage of affordable housing in counties of all sizes. The event featured an address from Neal Rackleff, Assistant Secretary, Community Planning & Development (CPD), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Rackleff discussed the work being done in HUD’s CPD office and the progress of Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) 2017 funds rollout.

In the afternoon, county attendees were able to examine best practices and participate in “speed networking” with numerous housing focused groups including NACCED.

The following organizations also participated in the "speed-networking" session:

The Barnes Housing Trust Fund

Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH)

Enterprise Community Partners

Housing Assistance Council

National Association of Home Builders

National Low-Income Housing Coalition

Rural Housing Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development

The speed-networking event was a great opportunity for NACCED to connect with counties looking for new ideas and resources for their housing and community development programs.

The NACCED committees will next meet in person on Sunday, Sept. 23rd for the 2018 NACCED Annual Conference and Training. These meetings are open to all attendees, so mark your calendars for this opportunity to get more involved in NACCED!

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Meet with Your Lawmakers Over August Recess

Posted By Administration, Monday, July 23, 2018
Updated: Sunday, July 22, 2018

The House of Representatives is currently taking its traditional August Recess from July 27 to September 3 and the Senate will have a week-long recess August 6-10. Take action over the congressional break by meeting with your Members of Congress in the communities they represent.

Now is a great time to contact your local House and Senate offices and invite them to tour your projects. NACCED is happy to help in providing you with the tools you need to engage your elected officials during the extended break. Check out our 2018 advocacy toolkit here

When you do make your appointments make sure to let us know, and after the meeting please send your pictures to

We encourage NACCED members to focus their outreach on the following areas:

FY2019 HUD Appropriations: President Trump proposed deep cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in his budget this year with over $8.8 billion in cuts to HUD’s funding. The cuts closely resemble the budget request put forward by the President for 2018, including the elimination of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program, the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, and the Public Housing Operating Fund. The White House claims these programs are ineffective and outdated, a claim that was also made in the President’s FY 2018 budget request.

The budget proposal would also reduce Housing Choice Vouchers to $19.3 billion, and provide $17.b billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) contract renewals, merge the Public Housing Capital Fund with the Public Housing Operating Fund, and reduce funding for public housing to $2.8 billion, reduce funding for Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities to $132 million, reduce funding for Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS to $330 million, and slightly increase Project-Based Rental Assistance to $10.952 billion.

These cuts would have detrimental effects on affordable housing availability across the country, but the President’s Budget is just one part of many in a complex negotiation process.

Congress has shown they are willing to provide adequate resources to HUD’s housing programs through the FY 2019 THUD Appropriations bills recently passed at the committee level in both the House and the Senate. The bills that came out of the Appropriations Committees provide funding levels far beyond the President’s requested budget levels to these programs that combat homelessness, house low-income families, and provide crucial services and facilities to under-served populations.

  • The HOME Investment Partnerships and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs were level funded from FY18 at $1.362 and $3.3 billion respectively in the Senate.
  • The HOME program received a small decrease in the House going from $1.36 billion to $1.2 billion, and CDBG was level funded at $3.3 billion.
  • The Senate bill provides the increases necessary to continue assistance to all families and individuals currently served by rental assistance programs. These numbers include: $22.8 billion for tenant-based Section 8 vouchers; $7.5 billion for public housing; $11.7 billion for project-based Section 8; $678 million for Housing for the Elderly; and $154 million for Housing for Persons with Disabilities.
  • There is concern in the House bill that the Housing Choice Vouchers ($20.1 billion) and the Project-Based Rental Assistance ($11.35 billion) would fall short of renewing all existing contracts. This shortfall could mean fewer families will be served by the program over the next year. Housing for the Elderly ($632 million) and Housing for People with Disabilities ($154 million) funding levels would renew existing contracts.
  • The Homeless Assistance Grants program saw a modest increase to $2.5 billion in the House and $2.6 billion in the Senate and includes several provisions to better serve vulnerable populations including veterans, youth, and survivors of domestic violence.

The Senate version of the legislation provides more robust funding for HUD programs, so NACCED is urging members of Congress to support this version of the legislation.

Low Income Housing Tax Credit Legislation: Although LIHTC was preserved in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the lower corporate tax rate along with other provisions will make the tax credit less valuable. An analysis done by Novogradac estimates the final version of the tax reform legislation would reduce affordable rental housing production by nearly 235,000 homes over the next decade. There have been efforts to include the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (or also known as the Cantwell-Hatch legislation) into various legislation throughout 2018. This legislation would increase LIHTC allocation by 50 percent, establish a minimum 4 percent rate, and include other provisions that would strengthen and enhance the LIHTC program. The 50 percent allocation increase alone would finance approximately 400,000 more affordable homes over the next decade that otherwise would not be possible. NACCED urges Congress pass the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act or to include the legislation in the next tax legislation that Congress advances in the 115th Congress.

Private Activity Tax Exempt Bonds are vital to the success of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) program, helping to finance approximately 40 percent of all Housing Credit production. Preserving the tax exemption on housing bonds is critical to tackling the affordable housing crisis, as the elimination of the bonds would mean 38,000 fewer affordable homes created every year. Additionally, the cap on the amount of private activity tax exempt bonds is a major limiting factor for a growing number of states and localities as they seek to preserve existing affordable and public housing and create new housing to meet the growing need. NACCED urges Congress to preserve all tax-exempt housing bonds and seek opportunities to increase private activity tax-exempt bond volume cap so that local HFAs can better meet the needs for affordable housing creation and preservation.

Ways to Take Action During August Recess:

  1. Invite your elected officials on tours of projects in the district. This is a good time to highlight successful projects that have already been completed, but also projects that are still in development.
  2. Plan meetings with your members of Congress at their district offices. Invite stakeholders and other individuals who can help tell your story. Elected officials like to see the humanity side of these projects, so it is very helpful to bring along families and individuals who have been helped by your programs.
  3. Attend a town hall or other local event hosted by a member of Congress. These meetings may not be heavily attended and are another way for you to speak with your elected officials.   


Template Letters:

Don't have time to connect with your Members of Congress in person? Use these template letters to send to them via email or to their district offices while they're in town. Feel free to personalize these and include local projects and success stories.

 Have questions or need help in making appointments?

Contact NACCED’s Policy Director, Heather Voorman at 202.367.2405 or email at  


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Member Spotlight: NACCED’s Economic Development Chair on Navigating the New Territory of Opportunity Zones

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, July 10, 2018
By Cheryl Markham, Strategic Policy Advisor, Department of Community & Human Services, King County, WA

I have to admit I was initially surprised to hear that a provision of the new tax act (Public Law 115-97, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017), commonly referred to as “Opportunity Zones Program” could potentially be a benefit to distressed communities in the United States. And I was not alone – as I started talking to local colleagues and national NACCED colleagues about the news – most people responded with “Say what?”

I was further surprised – and not alone here either - to learn that there had been some pretty impressive bi-partisan cooperation beginning in 2015 to develop the Opportunity Zone concept and to advance bi-partisan legislation called the “Investing in Opportunity Act” (IIOA) during the 114th Congress. Lead sponsors included Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Time Scott (R-S.C.), Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio). A number of the elements of the IIOA are present in the Opportunity Zones Program adopted in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, however a number of strong protective provisions were not included. A number of colleagues have expressed concerns regarding the potential for negative consequences without protective program elements.

What are the concerns for potential negative consequences you may ask? In a nutshell the Opportunity Zone Program provides a tax relief incentive to persons and corporations who have enough wealth to be required to pay capital gains taxes. In exchange for making investments in Opportunity Zones (OZs), capital gains tax payments may be deferred or reduced for up to ten years and the investor is allowed to keep any returns made on their investments in OZs over the investment period. Therein lies the conundrum – there is potential for investments to provide benefits and opportunities for both current community residents and future residents, and there is also potential for investments to maximize investor return, leave existing community residents and businesses behind and cause displacement. Finally, there is potential for little effect if investors decide that the risks of investment are too great in some areas and/or zones.

In King County, the potential for negative consequences weighed heavily on the minds of one our community partners, and we did not include their community in the OZ designation because they were strongly opposed to it.  The community is very vulnerable to displacement near a new high capacity transit station, had not yet made progress on securing property and were concerned that the OZ benefit to investors would fuel the snapping up of properties in the vicinity of the station. We will continue to support this particular community’s strategy for inclusive development outside the OZ program, while we work to support other communities that desired to be an OZ to make the best of the program.

NACCED’s Economic Development Committee (EDC) is helping our members share and understand OZ information and resources so that we may realize as many positive benefits for communities in our OZs as possible, and mitigate potential negative consequences. In late May the EDC took up the issue of providing a NACCED comment letter to Treasury regarding the rules for “Opportunity Funds”, which are the private investment vehicles that will aggregate and deploy capital in OZs for eligible investments. The letter encouraged the development of: 1) rules that define “abuse” of vulnerable communities; 2) rules that require protections in the form of community benefits for existing residents of the zones, including community and local jurisdiction engagement; and 3) rules that require annual reporting of specific metrics by each Fund. The letter further encouraged that the recommended rules be required for continued certification of all Opportunity Funds. The Committee also created a template comment letter for counties and others to add local context information and send to Treasury (see template letter at the end of this post.)

In the Seattle/King County region (King County, Washington) we have begun coordinating across jurisdictions, with our Economic Development Council, with our regional Enterprise Community Partners’ office and other CDFI’s and with our state to employ a number of strategies that support our existing residents and community partners in OZs to thrive in place. Strategies include acquiring and land banking properties for future community benefit and affordable housing projects to the extent possible, and actively encouraging the adoption of inclusionary zoning in jurisdictions with OZs that don’t currently have it. We are considering other strategies for local and state partnership such as certification and incentives for the creation of local and socially responsible Opportunity Funds that can be aligned with our other funding sources.

I am excited to be chairing the NACCED Economic Development Committee this year as we collaborate in a national partnership to learn from each other and help to steer this program towards the production of outcomes that are inclusive of direct and sustained benefits for existing residents of OZs. Please feel welcome to join NACCED and our monthly Economic Development Committee calls focused on the Opportunity Zone Program this year.

For more information on Opportunity Zones, visit NACCED's Advocacy Toolkit page here. You can also access NACCED's template comment letter to Treasury here. 

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Member Spotlight: DuPage County, IL Uses CDBG-DR to Build Resilient Communities

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, June 13, 2018
By: Chris Ragona, Community Development Manager, DuPage County, IL

On April 18, 2013, the lives of thousands of DuPage County, Illinois residents were affected by devastating flooding that was caused by a record setting thirteen inches of rain occurring in less than twenty-four hours.  Homes were flooded, roads were made impassable, numerous residents were rescued, and damage was estimated in the millions.  For the next several weeks some residents were forced to live in shelters, salvage what remained of their possessions in basements, and wondered if their lives would ever be the same.  Natural disasters affect the lives of millions every year and the devastation can occur without warning.  Hurricanes, wildfires, flooding, blizzard, earthquakes, and even volcanic eruptions can devastate populations across the U.S.


In response to this disaster, DuPage County was declared a Presidentially Declared Disaster Area and received $31,526,000 in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds from the Federal Government due to the flooding that took place throughout the County in April 2013. In order to determine the best use of funds and meet the regulations of the CDBG-DR program, the Community Development department initiated a comprehensive needs assessment for input from residents, business owners, and elected officials. Staff also looked for opportunities to leverage dollars in order to maximize the impact of the disaster recovery funds received and identified two main objectives. These were to remove residential structures and residents from flood prone properties, and to focus on long term recovery by constructing new infrastructure to prevent flooding in future events, all with a focus on areas and residents qualifying as low-income. Project costs ranged from $150,000 to $9.4 million dollars. Due to the changing needs of the County, a total of five amendments have been completed to incorporate additional activities and to conform to meet the regulations of the CDBG-DR program.

Armstrong Park Stormwater Facility, Carol Stream Illinois – Project Cost -  $9,400,000

Improvements made to store stormwater by adding two reservoirs and then slowly siphoning the water back to Klein Creek, while preventing flooding in residential neighborhoods. This neighborhood experienced flooding and has been impacted by multiple storm events over the past several years.

Neighborhood Flooding – April 18, 2013

Completed Stormwater Facility – Armstrong Park – Carol Stream, Illinois

George St. Culvert Replacement Project, Bensenville Illinois – Project Cost - $200,000

The Village of Bensenville replaced an approximately 45-year-old Corrugated Metal culvert, which had significantly deteriorated over the years and was on the verge of collapsing. The Village removed and replaced the old culvert with a new Portland Cement Concrete culvert.  This project is also part of a larger long term to solution to localized flooding in the Village.

Neighborhood Flooding – April 18, 2013


Completed Culvert Replacement – Bensenville, Illinois


An estimated forty-four residential flood-prone properties will be purchased by DuPage County, demolished, and returned to open space to prevent future flooding of residential properties. DuPage County Stormwater Management identified properties that were located in floodplains or were classified as flood-prone, and an estimated $5.6 million in CDBG-DR funds will be invested into these properties.


Additionally, ten infrastructure improvements have been completed and a number of activities are scheduled for completion in the spring of 2019 with an estimated investment of $24,000,000.  DuPage County Community Development will continue to look for investment opportunities and identify needs if additional funds become available.


Finally, three planning documents were completed as part of long term recovery efforts for future flood mitigation projects including a partnership with the Army Corp of Engineers.  A total of $600,000 was invested into these planning documents.


For a complete review of the DuPage County CDBG-DR and other grant programs, please visit the following link below:

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NACCED Holds Housing is Infrastructure Briefing

Posted By Administration, Monday, May 21, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC – May 21, 2018 - The National Association for County Community and Economic Development (NACCED) hosted the first ever “Housing is Infrastructure!” briefing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, May 15th, as part of the official Infrastructure Week calendar of activities. The briefing featured a panel of national housing experts that discussed their various perspectives of housing as infrastructure. This briefing was the first affordable housing event featured during the official Infrastructure Week.

NACCED Executive Director Laura DeMaria said, “NACCED and our coalitions have been working hard to raise the profile of housing as infrastructure. Affordable housing investment is an essential piece of our country’s infrastructure strategy, and any infrastructure conversations happening on Capitol Hill – and especially those occurring during Infrastructure Week -  need to include a significant affordable housing component.”

The briefing kicked off with speaker Jim McDonough, County Commissioner from Ramsey County, MN. McDonough provided attendees with an overview on the importance of investing in the development and preservation of affordable housing resources in the country. McDonough additionally outlined the impact of these investments for local governments.

Sarah Mickelson, National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), Emily Cadik, Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition (AHTCC), Elizabeth Strojan, New York City Housing Development Corporation (NYCHDC), and Ellen Lurie Hoffman, National Housing Trust (NHT) served as panelists for the briefing. The panel covered topics including the economic impact of a housing shortage, the backlog of public housing maintenance, private activity bonds as a tool for a wide range of infrastructure needs—including housing, and the importance of enhancing affordable housing resources.

Emily Cadik, Executive Director of AHTCC said of the briefing, “While we often talk about the need for affordable housing and the success of the different programs that provide it, it's important during Infrastructure Week to also reflect on the benefits to local economies that result from building and preserving affordable housing. Through job creation and the stimulative effect on local economies, affordable housing has far-reaching benefits beyond just those who live in it."

A video summary of the briefing is available on NACCED’s YouTube channel here

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What is the NACCED summer meeting?

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 10, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 8, 2018

What is the NACCED summer meeting?

With the hotter months fast approaching, the NACCED staff and Board are looking forward to our upcoming summer meeting, held in conjunction with the NACo Annual Conference. This year, on July 12-14, we’ll be headed to Nashville (Davidson County), TN for a weekend of networking and education in the Music City.

Some of our members, especially the newer ones, may be wondering what this meeting is all about. Is it a conference? What’s the focus? Should I attend? Read on to find out!

Who should attend?

The summer meeting is open to all NACCED members – counties, cities, nonprofits and private sector partners. Because the focus is on the work of our Committees and Board, many NACCED members mistakenly believe they cannot attend if they do not serve on a committee or Board. Wrong! In fact, we encourage all members to attend, even those not officially affiliated with a committee, in order to make your voice heard on association business and to learn more about the issues driving our organization, especially at the national level. Plus, you’ll get to network with other smart community development leaders from across the country. By the way, did you know that committee membership is open to all members? Our committees are Housing, Community Development, Economic Development, Education and Membership. And you can join as many as you’d like!

What does it cost?

Nothing! Nada! Zip! Zilch! There is no registration fee to attend this meeting.

What will I do there?

You can check out the draft agenda found on the registration page here. We’ll kick off Wednesday evening 7/11 with a networking event (fancy speak for beers and hanging out at a local pub) followed the next day, on Thursday, 7/12, by all the committee meetings and the Board meeting at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. During the committee meetings, we review work plans and goals, as well as hear from speakers on relevant topics. The Board meeting is open to all attendees.

On Friday, 7/13, we have the distinct honor of participating in NACo’s Workforce, Economic and Community Development Steering Committee (WECD) meeting. NACCED has a seat on the WECD, which is responsible for “all matters pertaining to housing, community and economic development, public works, and workforce development including the creation of affordable housing and housing options for different populations, residential, commercial, and industrial development, and building and housing codes.” There, we put forth resolutions which are ultimately voted on and adopted by the NACo Board. There are always interesting presentations during this meeting, from Congressmen to local social sector leaders. NACCED’s President typically also makes a presentation during the WECD meeting.

Most people will probably try out the downtown Nashville scene Friday night, though that’s not on the official schedule.

On Saturday, 7/14, the NACCED staff, Executive Committee and dedicated members stick around for the Large Urban County Caucus (LUCC) meeting. The LUCC “is the premier forum for urban county leaders and is the voice for America’s metropolitan counties before Congress and the Administration. Comprised of county executives, governing board members and other senior elected officials, LUCC members focus on urban challenges and solutions, engage in peer-to-peer information exchanges and inform national policy discussions.” Many of NACCED’s member counties are large urban entitlements and are represented by their commissioners on the LUCC. Similar to the WECD, this (much larger) meeting always has interesting presentations from an arrange of speakers both locally, nationally and internationally on issues as diverse as prisoner reentry to infrastructure.

How do I sign up?

It’s easy! Check out the schedule and register here.

Where should I stay?

NACCED does not have a room block for this meeting, though we compiled a list of hotels you can choose from. Staff and Executive Committee will be staying at the Hyatt Place Nashville/Opryland Hotel. You can call the hotel to make the reservation and you can get the government rate of $162.00. The phone number is 615-872-0422.

What else?

That’s it! This is another opportunity for our members to have fun, meet other community development and housing professionals, and get their learnin’ on. And this year, we’ll be doing it surrounded by music, whiskey, something called hot chicken, and all the other things one finds in Nashville. You are welcome to wear a cowboy hat to any of the meetings, naturally. And if you still have questions, you can contact NACCED Executive Director Laura DeMaria at (202) 367-2364 or

We hope you will join us!

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What Can Communities Learn from HUD’s Assessment of Fair Housing?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 10, 2018
By Crystal LaTier, Housing & Community Development Senior Analyst,                        El Paso County, Colorado

Due to the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule, communities receiving federal housing and community development funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) were required to approach fair housing planning in a new way. The new way came in the form of a planning tool known as the Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH). This tool was implemented to assist communities with taking meaningful actions, in addition to combating discrimination, that overcome patterns of segregation and foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity based on protected characteristics.

The timing of the submission requirement for the AFH was directly tied to a community’s Consolidated Plan schedule. The AFFH Rule required that a community must have a HUD accepted AFH before HUD would review your next Consolidated Plan. This was a substantial change to how past fair housing planning- Analysis of Impediments (AI) - were administered and enforced. The new rule ensured that communities had local fair housing plans implemented with very specific components, before even considering how to plan and prioritize federal housing and community development funds from HUD. Furthermore, all communities nationwide had to complete the same planning template (AFH) and include analysis of HUD provided nationally uniform demographic, housing and mapping data. The AFH was very prescriptive and communities had to focus on four important components of the plan: a community participation process; assessment of past goals and actions; fair housing analysis to include: demographic summary, segregation and integration, racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty (R/ECAPs), disparities in access to opportunity, disproportionate housing needs, publicly supported housing analysis, disability and access analysis, and fair housing enforcement, outreach capacity and resource analysis; and fair housing goals and priorities. Like any new public policy, the AFH was met with much anticipation, political controversy, and confusion on the best way to implement.

El Paso County, Colorado was the first community in HUD Region VIII who was required to submit an AFH with a submission date of early October 2016. Our experience was unique in that we were part of the first nationwide group complying with the new rule and tool. While ultimately, El Paso County’s AFH was accepted by HUD in December 2016, there were challenges along the way that provided opportunities for learning, professional development, and a well informed fair housing plan.  Below you will note six of the most significant challenges El Paso County faced during the development of their Assessment of Fair Housing:

  • Public/Political Perception of the AFFH Rule and AFH Tool: Depending upon the political and demographic makeup of your community, you may need to have preemptive discussions with elected officials, community organizations, and residents.
  • HUD’s Involvement & HUD HQ’s encouragement to complete regional plans: Strong communication with your regional HUD FHEO Office is encouraged.  HUD also strongly encouraged communities to create regional plans. While this can produce well informed regional plans, there are a number of factors including political and legal issues (how will you structure MOUs, responsible program participants, local policies and investment, etc…) that can arise.
  • Resources Needed for Completion: HUD estimated 200 hours of staff time with no additional planning and administration funding. We tallied more than double the estimated hours.
  • Guidance with Supplied/Needed Resources: Mapping/Data Tool (nationally uniform data), Secured Systems Interface, AFFH Rule Guidebook (219 pages), AFH Tool Template, Access to Local Data. While the systems and templates were intuitive and prescriptive (in our opinion), the need to access a robust amount of other local data and the accuracy of rural data can prove to be problematic. Additionally, differing staff capacity levels with new resources may be problematic.
  • Public Participation/Community Involvement: The AFH Tool requires robust public participation/community involvement. How will that look for our community? This is imperative for developing an effective AFH, but it requires significant staff time being spent on creative planning efforts, consultations, and public meetings.
  • Effective and Realistic Ways to Turn Fair Housing Goals and Priorities into Meaningful Actions: This is a strong theme throughout both the AFFH Rule and AFH Tool and this is the step that most communities had the challenges with. Discussions about successful ways to implement goals would be very helpful to any and all communities. Components to consider are: goals; contributing factors; fair housing issues; and metrics, milestones and timeframe for achievement.

In January 2018, HUD issued a notice extending the deadline for submission of the Assessment of Fair Housing for Consolidated Plan Participants. This notice explained that program participants would not be required to submit an AFH until after 2020, but that they must continue to comply with existing obligations to affirmatively further fair housing and update their AI. According to the FAQs released from HUD the extension occurred because:

To date, 49 Assessments of Fair Housing (AFHs) have been submitted to HUD using the new format established by the AFFH Final Rule and the Assessment of Fair Housing Tool for Local Governments. HUD’s analysis of these AFHs shows that more than one third (35%) of all AFH submissions were non-accepted by HUD on first submission.

HUD’s analysis identified several reasons that merit a delay of AFH submission deadlines, including program participants’ need for additional technical assistance. HUD determined that many program participants struggled to meet the regulatory requirements of the AFFH rule, such as developing goals that could be reasonably expected to result in meaningful actions to overcome the effects of contributing factors and related fair housing issues. Further, program participants struggled to develop metrics and milestones that would measure their progress as they affirmatively furthering fair housing. HUD determined that program participants’ frequent misunderstanding of how to set clear goals, metrics, and milestones that addressed their identified contributing factors and related fair housing issues often resulted in non-accepted AFHs.

With the release of the extension notice many communities have been left wondering: What is next? Numerous communities were already months into the AFH planning process and many had already hired consultants to help them meet the requirement of the AFFH Rule. As of now, communities are encouraged to complete an updated Analysis of Impediments while continuing to affirmatively further fair housing. As a community which has completed both the Analysis of Impediments and an Assessment of Fair Housing (in-house), we see areas of overlap and would recommend that communities closely examine the following components of the fair planning process regardless of the plan template they are using:

  • HUD’s Mapping and Data Tool- with special attention given to racially/ethnically concentrated areas of poverty (R/ECAPs)
  • Embrace the Robust Public Participation/Community Involvement Guidance
  • Implement Fair Housing Goals (which directly tie to identified fair housing issues and include metrics/milestones and timeframe for achievement)

Links included within the article

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule

A Notice Extending the Deadline for Submission of the Assessment of Fair Housing

FAQs: Federal Register Notice: Extension of Deadline for Submission of Assessment of Fair Housing for Consolidated Plan Participants

HUD’s Mapping and Data Tool

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