The State of The Nation’s Housing – 2021

Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University
Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies - 2021 Cover

Even as the US economy continues to recover, the inequalities amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic remain front and center. Households that weathered the crisis without financial distress are snapping up the limited supply of homes for sale, pushing up prices and further excluding less affluent buyers from homeownership. At the same time, millions of households that lost income during the shutdowns are behind on their housing payments and on the brink of eviction or foreclosure. A disproportionately large share of these at-risk households are renters with low incomes and people of color. While policymakers have taken bold steps to prop up consumers and the economy, additional government support will be necessary to ensure that all households benefit from the expanding economy.

HAC is a proud sponsor of Harvard’s State of the Nation’s Housing report.

HAC and rural CDFIs receive “massive” $353 million investment

The US Treasury announced it is investing $1.25 billion of COVID-19 relief funds in Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). We are excited to announce that the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) has received the maximum award: $1,826,265.

HAC will invest our $1.8 million award through our Loan Fund to support affordable housing organizations across rural America. As Eileen Neely, director of HAC’s Loan Fund explains, “$1.8 million means we can invest in more rural communities and help more low-income Americans get housed.”

Overall, the US Treasury is awarding $353 million to rural CDFIs. “This massive investment in rural CDFIs will help unlock the potential of rural communities,” said David Lipsetz, President & CEO of the Housing Assistance Council. “We are thrilled for the opportunity to expand our work for disinvested rural communities.”

Everyone deserves a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home. This award strengthens HAC’s work to make that vision a reality for rural America.

In memory of Gordone Cavanaugh

HAC Honors the Memory of Gordon Cavanaugh

Last week, the affordable housing community lost a luminary. Gordon Cavanaugh was an inspiring leader and a fierce advocate, committed to serving the poorest of the poor. Throughout his long career in affordable housing, he served as Philadelphia’s housing director, head of the Farmers Home Administration, chairman of Global Communities (formerly CHFInternational) and a Partner at the leading affordable housing law firm Reno & Cavanaugh. Here at the Housing Assistance Council, we will also remember him as our first Executive Director.

Gordon came to HAC in 1971, quickly assembling a diverse and experienced staff of housing experts and advocates. He created our Southwest and Southeast regional offices, marshalled federal investment in rural housing, and laid the foundation for programs that continue to build homes and community in rural America today.

HAC stands on the shoulders of giants —Gordon’s commitment to serving the poorest of the poor still lies at the heart of our work. Every loan we close, every wall we raise, and every family we help house is a part of his legacy.

The entire HAC family sends our sincere condolences to Joan—Gordon’s wife of 61 years—and their children and grandchildren.

In memory of Gordone Cavanaugh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Policy News from the Administration

Biden’s USDA Housing Budget Proposes Increases in Section 502 Mortgages and Rental Preservation

The Biden administration’s first full budget request, covering the fiscal year that begins on October 1, 2021, would maintain this year’s spending levels on rural housing programs and make available more loans for rural homebuyers. The Section 502 direct loan program, though which USDA makes loans directly to first-time purchasers, would be raised from $1 billion to $1.5 billion. The Section 502 guarantee program, which guarantees mortgages made by banks, would increase from $24 billion to $30 billion.

Fiscal year 2022 funding for most rural housing programs would remain at the same levels as in fiscal year 2021, with modest increases for self-help housing, rental assistance, and rental vouchers. The budget also indicates that the American Jobs Plan – the administration’s infrastructure proposal – would provide an additional $2 billion in rural housing spending. It does not give any details about how that money would be used.

The budget proposes to eliminate some protections for Section 521 Rental Assistance (RA). It would delete a requirement that recaptured RA be reused for rehab, preservation, or RA, and it would eliminate longstanding provisions requiring a 12-month delay before recapturing unused RA from Section 514/516 farmworker housing and mandating that farmworker housing RA be reused in other farmworker housing if possible. Language that allows recaptured RA to be used for “current needs” would be left in place.

Also deleted would be a provision from FY20 and FY21 appropriations that allows owners to request RA renewals for 20-year periods, subject to annual appropriations, which fund RA contracts for one year at a time.

The Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization (MPR) program, the Section 542 voucher program, and both farmworker housing programs would be shifted to new places in the budgetary scheme, an administrative move that would not alter the functioning of any of these programs.

The administration’s budget is the first step in the annual appropriations process. Each house of Congress will now craft its own proposal and differences will be worked out in the months to come.

USDA Rural Dev. Prog.

(dollars in millions)

FY20 Final Approp. FY21 Final Approp. Amer. Rescue Plan Act FY 22 Admin. Budget
502 Single Fam. Direct $1,000 $1,000 $656.6 $1,500
502 Single Family Guar. 24,000 24,000 30,000
504 VLI Repair Loans 28 28 18.3a 28
504 VLI Repair Grants 30 30 30
515 Rental Hsg. Direct Lns. 40 40 40
514 Farm Labor Hsg. Lns. 28 28 28
516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grts. 10 10 10
521 Rental Assistance 1,375 1,410 100 1,450
523 Self-Help TA 31 31 32
533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants 15 15 15
538 Rental Hsg. Guar. 230 230 230
Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR) 28 28 32
542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers 32 40 45
Rental Prsrv. TA 1 2 0
Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init. 4 6 6

a The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides $39 million in budget authority to refinance Section 502 direct loans and Section 504 loans for homeowners impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. USDA expects this funding to generate $656.6 million in Section 502 direct loans and $18.3 million in Section 504 loans.

 

Census 2020 Logo

The First Figures from the 2020 Census Are Released

The U.S. Census Bureau announced that the population of the United States on April 1, 2020, was 331,449,281. The U.S. population increased by 22,703,743 or 7.4 percent from 2010. The U.S. population growth from 2000 to 2010 was 9.7 percent.

 

 

All but four states and territories gained population over the last decade with Utah, Idaho, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas experiencing more than 15 percent population growth. Puerto Rico, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Illinois lost population between 2010 and 2020.

The initial Census release was highly anticipated for implications on Congressional apportionment. According to the Census Bureau, six states will gain seats in the U.S. house of representatives: Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon will all gain one Congressional representative. Texas will gain two seats. Seven states, including California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia will each lose a seat in Congress.

The April 26, announcement was the first release 2020 Census data. The Housing Assistance Council will continue to update and analyze data from Census 2020 and its implications for rural America and rural people in the United States. Stay tuned.

Coronavirus news

Agencies Extend Housing Relief

Federal housing agencies put many special provisions into effect early in 2020 to help people deal with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and have extended them repeatedly. This table was updated on April 6, 2021 with new dates for the CDC eviction moratorium, HUD Section 184 and 184A loan guarantees, and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac owner-occupied homes. More details about actions taken in March 2021 are available here. This table will continue to be revised as more changes are announced.

 

Agency
and
Program 
 Policy  Expiration date Contact for more information
Centers for Disease Control Moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent  – applies to all tenants unable to pay rent because of coronavirus impacts 6/30/21 Landlord, state housing agency, community housing organization, local government, legal aid. Report Evictions that violate the moratorium to the CFPB, 855-411-2372.
USDA RD Section 502 direct loans and Section 504 direct loans Moratorium on foreclosures and evictions – USDA will not initiate foreclosures or complete foreclosures in process and will not evict residents  6/30/21 USDA RD service center
USDA RD Section 502 direct loans and Section 504 financing Temporary authorization to accept appraisals from local appraisers  9/30/21 USDA RD state office
USDA RD Section 502 guaranteed loans Moratorium on foreclosures and evictions – lenders that made loans guaranteed by USDA cannot initiate foreclosures or complete foreclosures in process and cannot evict residents  6/30/21
USDA RD service center
USDA RD Section 502 guaranteed loans Temporary exceptions related to appraisals, inspections and employment verifications  6/30/21 USDA RD service center
USDA RD Section 523 self-help Flexibilities for self-help housing organizations until further notice Self-help TMA provider or USDA RD service center
USDA RD Compilation of measures related to RD programs
HUD HOME program Waivers and suspensions of various requirements  9/30/21 HUD CPD Field Office
HUD Public and Indian housing programs, including HUD vouchers Waivers and suspensions of various requirements  6/30/21 HUD staff,  PIH-COVID@hud.gov
HUD Section 184 and 184A mortgage guarantees Moratorium on foreclosure and eviction of borrowers, as well as loan forbearance for borrowers, loan processing flexibilities, loss mitigation  6/30/21  HUD staff,  OLGINFO@hud.gov
FEMA Individuals and Households Program Remote inspections for disaster survivors until further notice
FEMA Helpline, 1-800-621-3362
Federal Housing Finance Agency/Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – single-family Moratorium on single-family foreclosures and evictions – lenders that are servicing single-family mortgages owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac cannot foreclose on homeowners or tenants, or evict residents from properties previously foreclosed on (“real estate owned” or “REO”)  6/30/21 Fannie MaeFreddie Mac
Federal Housing Finance Agency/Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – single-family homebuyers Flexibilities in connection with mortgage loan originations – related to appraisals, documenting income and verifying employment, using power of attorney at closing  4/30/21 Fannie MaeFreddie Mac
Federal Housing Finance Agency/Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – multifamily Mortgage forbearance – owners of multifamily rental property whose mortgages are owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (check here and here to find out) can contact the mortgage servicer and request a temporary delay in making payments  6/30/21 Mortgage servicer
CARES Act Mortgage forbearance – homeowners whose mortgages are owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (check here and here to find out if yours is) or are backed by a government entity (USDA, VA, FHA, HUD Native American Programs) can contact the mortgage servicer (the office or company you send mortgage checks to) and request a temporary delay in making payments  See relevant agency in this table
Mortgage servicer; HUD housing counseling agencyConsumer Financial Protection Bureau, 855-411-2372
Federal Housing Administration (FHA) single-family mortgage insurance programs Foreclosure and eviction moratorium – lenders that made loans insured by FHA cannot initiate foreclosures or complete foreclosures in process and cannot evict residents  6/30/21 FHA Resource Center, 1-800-CALL-FHA
Department of Veterans Affairs Moratorium on foreclosures and evictions from properties secured by VA-guaranteed loans  6/30/21 VA loan staff, 1-877-827-3702

 

To provide additions, updates or corrections for this page, please contact  HAC staff.

Coronavirus news

Rural-Related Coronavirus Media Coverage

News reports on the pandemic often focus on big cities, but rural places are getting a share of the attention too. Check out the coverage here.

Check out all of HAC’s coronavirus resource pages here.

 THESE SOURCES HAVE ONGOING RURAL COVERAGE

MEDIA COVERAGE (please let us know what we’ve missed!)

WANT TO SUGGEST AN ADDITION FOR THIS PAGE? Please email Leslie Strauss at HAC.

Round-up of Recent Housing Announcements Related to Coronavirus

This page summarizes a number of announcements from federal agencies on housing policies related to the coronavirus pandemic, most of which were issued in March 2021. It is current as of April 5, 2021. HAC has posted a table here that shows the deadlines for many federal agencies’ provisions.

If you have a correction or an addition, please contact Leslie Strauss on HAC’s staff.

REQUEST FOR COMMENTS
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed changes that are intended to delay foreclosures on homeowners who have not been able to pay their mortgages for pandemic-related reasons. Comments are due May 10, 2021. (CFPB’s press release somewhat confusingly says comments are due “before May 11.”) Forbearance (permission to delay making mortgage payments) will end for almost 1.7 million homeowners in September and the following months, CFPB states, with many of them a year or more behind on their mortgage payments. The proposed rule changes would require lenders and servicers to wait until after December 31, 2021 before starting most foreclosures, to offer loan modifications to borrowers, and to take other steps. A separate bulletin for lenders advises them to prepare early for the wave of homeowners exiting forbearance.
DEADLINE EXTENSIONS
  • The Centers for Disease Control has extended the nationwide eviction moratorium through June 30, with some changes in wording. CDC also posted a new checklist version of the Eviction Protection Declaration for tenants to use. USDA RD announced that the moratorium applies to tenants in USDA-assisted properties. For more information, property owners and management agents can contact their RD servicing representative (on the linked page, click the Contact tab). Tenants can request information from HUD-certified housing counseling agencies.
  • The application deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses (including nonprofits) was extended to May 31 by the PPP Extension Act of 2021.
  • HUD has revised and extended provisions for the Section 184 Native American and Section 184A Native Hawaiian mortgage guarantee programs. Moratoriums on foreclosure and eviction of borrowers are extended through June 30, 2021. Other date changes and expansions apply to loan processing flexibilities, borrower requests for forbearance, borrower eligibility for loss mitigation, and more.
  • Some flexibilities related to new single-family mortgage loans, put in place by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac earlier in the pandemic, have been extended until April 30. These include alternative appraisals, alternative methods for documenting income and verifying employment before loan closing and expanded use of power of attorney.
  • Forbearance options for owners of rental property whose mortgages are held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are extended through June 30. Landlords who are experiencing financial hardship because of the pandemic can request mortgage forbearance and must agree to certain tenant protections. For more information, contact a mortgage lender or servicer.
  • The Federal Housing Administration has extended some temporary policies through June 30, 2021. The policies provide flexibility in using exterior-only appraisals, re-verifying employment, verifying self-employment income, verifying rental income and use of escrow accounts for some borrowers in forbearance.
EXPIRATION
  • One of the Federal Housing Administration’s temporary policies expired on March 31, 2021. Mortgagee Letter 2020-16, issued in June 2020 and then extended, allowed FHA-approved lenders to endorse mortgages that had received forbearance because of the pandemic. FHA explained that fewer than 3 percent of FHA-approved mortgagees had requested endorsement of such mortgages, so it expected little impact from the provision’s expiration. Homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages can still request forbearance; currently that policy is in place through June 30, 2021.
OTHER TENANT-RELATED ANNOUNCEMENTS
  • The Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced in a joint statement that “both agencies will be monitoring and investigating eviction practices, particularly by major multistate landlords, eviction management services, and private equity firms, to ensure that they are complying with the law.” Evictions that violate the moratorium, as well as other unlawful debt collection practices, can be reported to the CFPB at www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/ or 855-411-2372.
  • USDA reminded owners and managers of USDA-financed multifamily properties that the CARES Act instituted a required 30-day notice before evicting a tenant, and that provision has no expiration date. The agency also noted that a lease cannot be terminated or not renewed as an alternative to eviction. USDA has also mailed letters to all Section 514 and 515 tenants about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program support that is being distributed through states and localities. For more information, contact an RD state office.
  • USDA’s multifamily housing office reminded stakeholders that tenants displaced by disasters are eligible for priority access to available units at RD rental properties. Their status may be documented by either an RD-issued Letter of Priority Engagement (for tenants from RD properties) or a registration letter issued by FEMA (for tenants from any properties). For more information, or to request a temporary waiver, property owners and management agents should contact their RD servicing representative (on the linked page, click the Contact tab). Tenants impacted by disasters can locate RD properties here and register with FEMA here or at 800-621-3362.

HAC and NEA team up to celebrate rural stories – in photos

With support from the National Endowment for the Arts, HAC is launching “There is More Work to Be Done,” a virtual exhibition celebrating the work of acclaimed photographer George “Elfie” Ballis (1925-2010), a long-time friend of HAC and rural housing, along with photos and stories from contemporary photographers who worked with our local partners in California, Kentucky, and Mississippi to capture our collective progress while exposing the work that must continue. As HAC approaches 50 years, these photos are a perfect opportunity to both reflect and look forward.

There is More Work to be Done

Our thanks to the partner organizations and photographers who shared their communities and talents with us.

Coronavirus news

CDC Eviction Moratorium Extended through June

On March 29, 2021 the Centers for Disease Control extended its moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent. Tenants will now be protected through June 30 so long as they meet the moratorium’s requirements, including providing their landlord with a declaration form about their inability to pay rent.

The moratorium was first imposed in September 2020 and has faced several expiration dates but has been renewed repeatedly. The most recent deadline was March 31.

The ban’s applicability in USDA Rural Development rental housing was confirmed in a March 29 press release.

Federal consumer protection agencies now seem to be willing to take a more active role in enforcing the moratorium than they have previously. A statement from the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, issued on March 29, asserts that “both agencies will be monitoring and investigating eviction practices, particularly by major multistate landlords, eviction management services, and private equity firms, to ensure that they are complying with the law. Evicting tenants in violation of the CDC, state, or local moratoria, or evicting or threatening to evict them without apprising them of their legal rights under such moratoria, may violate prohibitions against deceptive and unfair practices.”

Low-income tenants who cannot afford their rent because of the coronavirus epidemic’s impacts may wish to seek help from a legal aid office.