Can We Count to 60?

Politics’ Basic Math Revisited

by David M. Dworkin, NHC President & CEO

My first introduction to the hard mathematics of politics was in a meeting of the Republican Leadership of the House of Representatives in 1990. My boss, Secretary of State James A. Baker III, was presenting his plan to end the war in Nicaragua and the conservatives weren’t happy. One of them accused Secretary Baker of betraying the principles of former President Ronald Reagan. Secretary Baker let him finish and then, in his calm but cold Texas accent, quietly said, “our problem isn’t my ideological purity; it’s your inability to count.” The bottom line was we didn’t have the votes and we all knew it.

Counting votes is the lost art of American politics. When Illinois Republican Dennis Hastert became Speaker of the House in 1999, he instituted a policy within the Republican Conference known as the Hastert Rule, which required that any legislation brought to the House floor must have majority support within the Republican Conference—even if a significant majority of the members of the full House would vote to pass it. In doing so, it weakened the speakership and ended the influence of moderates in either party. Dennis Hastert is gone, but his rule has lived on in both houses of Congress and both parties.

Not anymore. A closely divided House, an evenly divided Senate, and an historic health and economic crisis may have mortally wounded the Hastert Rule. It’s time to bury it once and for all. As I said in last week’s member note, incoming Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will have to decide how he will address Rule 22. Known as the filibuster rule, it requires 60 votes to bring legislation to the Senate floor. Many progressives will urge him to use the “nuclear option” and eliminate the filibuster altogether. That would be a big bet on perpetual control of the Senate and several Senate Democrats and all Republicans are likely to object. As a result, anyone who wants to get legislation passed is going to have to learn how to count to 60.

Several senators are already promising prospects for housers. Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) are cosponsors of the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), who voted for the last stimulus bill, is the incoming Ranking Republican of the Senate Banking Committee, and has been outspoken against President Trump since the election. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has been a strong supporter of several housing programs. Other potential allies include Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.V.), among others.

All of us should plan on spending a lot of time with their staffs, their most influential constituents and donors, and with them, both on Zoom and, when safe again, in their offices. Our politics have become toxic, but they don’t have to be. Housing can be the issue where we find common ground. We combine progressive social policy goals with business growth and job creation. With unemployment hovering above 9%, housing affordability being tough as ever, and millions of Americans struggling to pay their rent and mortgages, we bring a lot to the table. Trillion dollar spending bills are great while they last, but soon enough, we are all going to have to learn how to count to 60.

Rental Assistance Info

THDA has established a portal for COVID-19 Rental Assistance. Funding for residents of Davidson, Knox and Shelby counties will be administered through those cities, and not THDA. Persons outside those counties are invited to register here.

 Amazon's $2B housing equity pledge 

By Jake Perez, Editor at LinkedIn News

Amazon is investing $2 billion in affordable housing near its facilities in three U.S. cities. The tech giant says its Housing Equity Fund will create or maintain 20,000 affordable homes in the Puget Sound region of Washington, Nashville, and Arlington, Virginia, "through below-market loans and grants to housing partners, public agencies, and minority-led organizations." An initial $567 million will go toward 1,300 apartments in Arlington and 1,000 others near Puget Sound. Amazon's push comes on the heels of Apple and Google's moves to address affordable housing shortages on the West Coast.

Director of Asset Management

Urban Housing Solutions, Nashville's leading nonprofit affordable housing and community developer, is looking for an experienced and mission-oriented Director of Asset Management to oversee our growing portfolio of nearly 1,600 apartments and roughly 27,000 SF of neighborhood commercial space in Davidson County.  Since 1991, UHS has provided quality, affordable apartment homes in supportive communities across Nashville.  In the last 10 years, we have nearly doubled in size to 34 apartment properties, including mixed-use developments and active and upcoming Low Income Housing Tax Credit projects.  https://tnahc.org/assets/UHS%20ADirector.pdf

First Notice of NHC Solutions for Housing Communications

March 18, online convening. To get an idea of what to expect, take a look at the 2020 #Solutionscomms recap report.

Brent Elrod Takes the Reins

Brent has been named Managing Director with as Urban Housing Solutions founder Rusty Lawrence steps away from the day-to-day. Congrats, Brent! And Rusty for that matter!  From their webpage: As Nashville’s largest non-profit provider of affordable housing, Urban Housing Solutions develops creative alternatives for individuals and families seeking attractive, accessible communities. Practicing sustainable construction, we rehabilitate aging structures and build new ones to offer decent, affordable options for Nashvillians and surrounding Middle Tennessee residents.

COVID Housing Campaign 

Materials are posted here for you to share throughout your network. 

BLDG Memphis is ready for the next Executive Director!

With John Paul's departure the Executive Director position at BLDG Memphis is vacant. Nature abhors a vacuum. See the posting on their site

It's the Renewal Season

We have two new corporate members - Clarksville Housing Authority and Wilson Bank & Trust. See the full list to the right (depending on how wide your page view is!). Our corporate members and sponsors are important to us and they want to do business with you. There's a new membership list posted for members on the Resources page.

The Feds are Speaking!

https://The Federal Reserve has its third session of Racism and the Economy set for January 12. Please register here.


Housing is Out of Reach

The Coalition has signed and disseminated a opinion piece to Tennessee media outlets in support of the findings and call to action in the annual NLIHC "Out of Reach" report. The opion piece is found here. The report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition is found here. Check with Patricia (info@TNAHC.org) for the person who received your paper's email so you can call to urge its printing.

You are invited!

The Middle Tennessee Council has opened its virtual July 24 meeting to all attendees. We will have a panel discussion on Housing as Part of the Economic Development Puzzle. Thank you to MT Chair Angie Hubbard for designing it and Khandra Smalley and F&M Bank for providing the WebEx connection. It was emailed to you July 13.

What is Housing? “It is your homeschooling classroom, your elder-care facility, and your telework office,” Anne S. McCulloch (HPET) says. “Folks who have a safe, secure, affordable place to call home are better positioned to avoid exposure to the disease, to take care of their children and their parents, to telework where that is possible, and to rejoin the workforce as jobs open up. So stable access to affordable housing is fundamental to restarting the economy and is critical to building a robust post-pandemic economy.” https://www.housingfinance.com/news/what-role-can-affordable-housing-play-in-the-economic-comeback_o

Extensive Resource Guide from Green & Healthy Homes Initiative

We celebrate our 2020 Hall of Fame Inductees!

From left are Steve Baldwin, Johnson City; Kay Bowers, Nashville; Harold Nance, Jackson and Paul Young, Memphis


THDA Memo on Multifamily Guidance regarding COVID-19 

Please see Program Announcements here: https://thda.org/business-partners/lihtc

Atlanta Fed Prepares Detailed Resource List: 


Members - We will be postponing our Council meetings until the health situation clears. Please use the membership list to build and continue to build effective connections with other housing advocates. The list is updated on the Resources page.

Our Coalition Connects!


Kevin Hicks of Emory Valley Center posted this on the TNAHC LinkedIn page. Join him!

Our Coalition Advocates!

The Coalition sent a letter to Governor Lee about continuing to use the state's tax-exempt bonding authority for affordable housing development. You can read the letter here

Our Coalition Educates!

Our April Newsletter is in planning. What do you have to add?

Synergy Supports Success

Overton Colton, member and Truxton Trust representative, seated at right, hosted a CRA Consortium 12/9 and invited the Coalition to detail Coalition membership benefits to the CRA officers. Here Tyane Powell and Carla Jarrell, both of Pinnacle Finance Partners, take one more moment with speaker Jim Darter, Cumberland Capital Partners, and Overton.

Doug Demosi, planning director for Rutherford County and president of TAPA, tells the Board of Directors that communication between developers and planners leads to better outcomes. The Board asks that Council members invite their local planners to join the Coalition and attend meetings. Paul Morris, MAAG, agrees!



Coalition Members at Work

Coalition members attended and presented at the HUD Summit Nashville on August 29. From left, Rebecca Lopez of the Clarksville Housing Authority; Coalition Board member and Summit presenter, Keith Lampkin, Clarksville Housing and Community Development; Coalition Board member Sernorma L. Mitchell, HUD Nashville Field Office Director; and Michael Daniels of the Clarksville Housing Authority review the learning after the meeting.