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HAC News: October 31, 2019

News Formats. pdf

October 31, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 22

Senate passes USDA and HUD funding bill for FY20Comments sought on changes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve plans, and new documents releasedCIRD hosts 2019 learning cohort summit in Thomas, WVSenate’s USDA funding bill includes money to address black land lossBill to legalize farmworkers and revise H-2A program would also raise rural housing fundingFamily Unification Program vouchers availableImproving CRA for Rural AmericaThe Older Population in Rural America: 2012-2016Adversity and Assets: Identifying Rural OpportunitiesEvaluation of HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD): Final ReportLenders: To Preserve Affordable Housing, Manage Climate RiskRural Minnesota’s Lack of Shelters Make Homeless an “Invisible” PopulationUrban and Rural Homeless ComparisonsApply by Nov. 15 for HAC grants to support housing to rural veteransREGISTER BY NOV. 1 FOR 502 OR HOUSING COUNSELOR TRAINING! • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 31, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 22

November is Native American Heritage Month.

Senate passes USDA and HUD funding bill for FY20.

The Senate’s first FY20 appropriations bill passed on October 31, a “minibus” package that includes funding for HUD and USDA, along with other agencies. Amendments adopted on the Senate floor included two rural housing provisions. One, sponsored by Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Mike Rounds (R-ND), would allow owners of USDA-financed rental properties to request Rental Assistance agreements with terms of 20 years rather than one year; the funding for longer contracts would still be subject to annual appropriations. The other, from Sens. Smith and Marco Rubio (R-FL), tells USDA to prioritize rental properties’ maintenance needs. Differences between the Senate and House bills will need to be resolved, so these agencies may still be included in a second continuing resolution that is expected to fund the government after the current CR ends on November 21.

Comments sought on changes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve plans, and new documents released.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, requests input by November 15 on modifications to the enterprises’ plans for achieving their Duty to Serve obligations for manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation and rural housing. FHFA also released a strategic plan that sets out a framework for preparing to end the entities’ conservatorships, a 2020 scorecard explaining how their activities will be assessed, and a report covering their 2018 affordable housing activities. The report concludes that in 2018 both exceeded the benchmarks for all their housing goals and complied with their Duty to Serve requirements.

CIRD hosts 2019 learning cohort summit in Thomas, WV.

Working with local host partners and regional community lenders, Woodlands Development Group welcomed 34 participants from 17 states to the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design Cohort Learning Summit. CIRD is a collaboration among HAC, the National Endowment for the Arts and buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. The two-and-a-half-day event included workshops on different design and creative placemaking concepts, site visits to ongoing economic development projects in the town of Thomas, WV, and peer exchange activities that provided participants an opportunity to advance their own rural design challenges.

Senate’s USDA funding bill includes money to address black land loss.

The Senate’s FY20 USDA appropriations bill includes $5 million to launch a program authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill that will make loans to intermediaries to help resolve ownership issues for farmers with “heirs property” – land that has multiple legal owners after ownership passed through several generations without wills or clear titles. African-American farmers in the South have been deemed ineligible for USDA loans when they could not prove title to their land, and in some cases have lost the land. The issue, along with other causes of black land loss, has been covered in recent articles by the Atlantic, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the New Food Economy, the Pew Trusts and others.

Bill to legalize farmworkers and revise H-2A program would also raise rural housing funding.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, introduced on October 30 by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA), would create a process for farmworkers and their families to obtain legal status in the U.S., tweak the H-2A visa program for temporary farmworkers, increase the number of green cards available for farmworkers and establish a mandatory E-Verify system for farm employers to check their workers’ legal status. Its housing provisions include the text of the Strategy and Investment in Rural Housing Preservation Act, H.R. 3620, which passed the House on September 10, with some additions including the 20-year Rental Assistance contract provision that is also in the Senate’s FY20 USDA appropriations bill. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would also allow Rental Assistance to cover up to half the operating costs of Section 514/516 housing that is occupied by H-2A workers if the units were previously unoccupied or underutilized by other workers. Finally, it would authorize up to $200 million for Section 514 loans and $30 million for Section 516 grants, as well as $2.7 billion for Section 521 Rental Assistance, each year through fiscal year 2029.

Family Unification Program vouchers available.

HUD will award new FUP vouchers to PHAs that partner with public child welfare agencies and Continuums of Care to administer assistance on behalf of families for whom the lack of adequate housing is a primary factor in a potential loss of custody or on behalf of young people between 18 and 24 at risk of homelessness upon discharge from foster care. Applications are due December 17. For more information, contact HUD staff.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • Improving CRA for Rural America, written by HAC researcher Keith Wiley for Shelterforce, argues that Community Reinvestment Act regulations should be recrafted to incentivize investments in underserved and economically distressed communities, many of which are rural.
  • The Older Population in Rural America: 2012–2016, a recent Census Bureau report, discusses “new and important ways” that aging populations could impact rural America including housing and public transportation options. Research shows that while seniors want to remain in their own homes, those in rural areas frequently face challenges related to having few housing options and the limited availability of nearby social services.
  • Adversity and Assets: Identifying Rural Opportunities, part of a series by the Center for American Progress, examines economic trends and indicators in counties across the rural-urban continuum.
  • Evaluation of HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD): Final Report concludes that initial implementation of HUD’s RAD program for conversion of public housing to project-based Section 8 housing accomplished its principal goals of leveraging capital, preserving affordable housing and mitigating relocation effects on tenants.
  • Lenders: To Preserve Affordable Housing, Manage Climate Risk, a National Resources Defense Council blog post, argues that disaster recovery funding favors financially better-off homeowners and needs to change to equally prioritize recovery funding for renters and homeowners.

Apply by Nov. 15 for HAC grants to support housing aid to rural veterans.

HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans initiative supports local nonprofit housing development organizations that meet or help meet the affordable housing needs of veterans in rural areas. Grants typically range up to $30,000 per organization and must support bricks-and-mortar projects that assist low-income, elderly and/or disabled veterans with home repair and rehab needs, support homeless veterans, help veterans become homeowners and/or secure affordable rental housing. This initiative is funded through the generous support of the Home Depot Foundation. Applications are due November 15 by 5:00 pm Eastern time. For more information, contact HAC staff, ahrv@ruralhome.org.

*REGISTER BY NOV. 1 FOR 502 PACKAGING OR HOUSING COUNSELOR TRAINING!*

Only a few spaces remain. Both courses will be held in Tampa, FL on November 12-14.The Section 502 packaging advanced coursetrains experienced participants to assist potential borrowers and work with RD staff, other nonprofits and regional intermediaries to deliver successful Section 502 loan packages. The housing counseling course sets you up for success in meeting HUD’s new certification requirements for housing counselors. For more information, contactHAC staff, 404-892-4824.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan funds provide low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

FHFA Publishes Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve Underserved Market Plans

Updated: December 18, 2017

FHFA Publishes Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve Underserved Market Plans

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has published Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Underserved Markets Plans for 2018-2020 under the Duty to Serve program. The Plans become effective January 1, 2018.

Fannie Mae’s Underserved Markets Plan

Freddie Mac’s Underserved Markets Plan

HAC Comments on Duty to Serve Underserved Market Plans – July 10, 2017

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) appreciates the opportunity to comment on Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve Underserved Markets Plans for Rural Markets. As a strong advocate for the Duty to Serve provisions of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, HAC appreciates the time, effort, and resources FHFA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac have undertaken to develop these underserved market plans. The core of HAC’s work for over four decades has been rural and underserved communities. HAC understands the complexities and difficulties of working in these communities. HAC also understands the promise and possibility of Duty to Serve to affect real and measurable change in these long overlooked and largely forgotten communities and people. We appreciate that FHFA and the Enterprises have not forgotten them, and we look forward to assisting you and the Duty to Serve effort generally to achieve its mandate to improve liquidity and access to affordable housing in underserved markets.

Given its organizational focus on rural housing, HAC focused largely on the Rural Markets component of the plans. HAC presents comments on each Enterprise’s plan separately. After the Enterprise-specific comments, HAC presents general comments and suggestions to the Enterprises and FHFA on issues of rural multifamily housing and preservation.

Read HAC’s full comments.


Fannie Mae Rural Purchase Activity, 2013-2015

dts-fannie-mae

Freddie Mac Rural Purchase Activity, 2013-2015

dts-freddie-mac


The Federal Housing Finance Agency issued a final rule to implement the Duty to Serve provisions which require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to serve three specified underserved markets – manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation and rural housing – by improving the distribution and availability of mortgage financing in a safe and sound manner for residential properties that serve very low-, low- and moderate-income families.

Visit FHFA.gov/DTS for the press release, final rule, fact sheet, public listening session details, timeline and more.

HAC Will provide a summary of the Duty to Serve Rule soon.

Stakeholder Webinar

FHFA will provide a high-level overview of the final rule and answer stakeholder questions via webinar on Monday, Dec. 19 at 2 p.m. ET.

You may submit questions in advance by emailing DutyToServeStakeholders@FHFA.gov with “webinar question” in the subject line. Please submit your questions by COB Thursday, Dec. 15.


The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 mandates that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have a ‘Duty to Serve’ three traditionally underserved markets of:

  • Rural Housing
  • Manufactured Housing
  • Affordable Housing Preservation

The GSEs are tasked with increasing liquidity and investment capital in these markets.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued a Proposed Rule on Duty to Serve on December 15, 2015. Comments to the Rule were due on March 17, 2016.

Link to Proposed Rule sent to Federal Register

HAC Resources on Duty to Serve

HAC Comments on Proposed Duty to Serve Rule – March, 17 2016

HAC Comments on Proposed Duty to Serve Rule – July 22, 2010

HAC Comments on Duty to Serve Advanced Notice of Rule Making – September 18, 2009

HAC Webinar on Duty to Serve

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) convened an interactive e-learning experience to assist housing providers and policymakers better understand the Duty to Serve Rule, and what it may mean for Rural America. The session was also intended to help inform comments to the Duty to Serve Rule.

Introduction | Power Point Presentation (22 MB) |Webinar Recording

Additional Resources on Duty to Serve

Interactive Map of Proposed Duty to Serve Rural Area

screen-capture-of-mapping-rural-america map

HAC’s Rural and Small Town Typology Database – Technical Documentation

Map of HAC’s Recommended Changes to FHFA Proposed Rural Area

DutyToServeMap FHFA HAC Recommended Changes

Map of GSE Loan Activity in Rural Areas

GSE Activity 2012 2014  Map

Map of FHFA Proposed Rural High-Need Areas and Persistent Poverty Counties

High Need Persistent Poverty Map

List of Suburban Tracts in FHFA Proposed Duty to Serve ‘Rural Areas’

List of Rural and Small Town Tracts Omitted From FHFA Proposed Duty to Serve ‘Rural Areas’

HAC News: November 17, 2017

HAC News Formats. pdf

November 17, 2017
Vol. 46, No. 23

November is Native American Heritage Month • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac approved for LIHTC equity investments • House and Senate tax bills advance • House passes flood insurance bill • USDA announces Rural Development state directors • CFPB director Cordray resigns • VA offers per diem assistance • Input requested on free access to credit scores • Section 504 handbook revised • Annual Adjustment Factors released for FY18 • Fannie and Freddie met most affordable housing goals in 2016 • 40,000-120,000 HUD Housing Choice Vouchers could be unfunded in FY18 • Research shows federal housing assistance widespread but insufficient — NEED CAPITAL FOR YOUR AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECT? —

HAC News Formats. pdf

November 17, 2017
Vol. 46, No. 23

November is Native American Heritage Month.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac approved for LIHTC equity investments. FHFA, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has announced that, effective immediately, it will permit their limited re-entry into the LIHTC market as equity investors. The announcement said most of their investments will be used to facilitate transactions that support underserved markets and complement their Duty to Serve rural housing, affordable housing preservation, and manufactured housing.

House and Senate tax bills advance. On November 16, before adjourning for Thanksgiving, the full House approved its Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, H.R. 1 (see HAC News, 11/6/17), and the Senate Finance Committee approved its version of the bill. The Senate bill would keep the mortgage interest deduction and, unlike the House bill, would preserve the New Markets Tax Credit through 2019. Both bills retain the LIHTC, and the Senate – but not the House – also protects the use of private activity bonds that make 4% tax credits possible. Neither bill makes adjustments to prevent a negative impact on affordable housing investments that would be created by their substantial decrease in the corporate tax rate. In addition, aside from direct programmatic changes to housing-related programs, because the tax bills reduce revenue to the federal government they are expected to result in later funding cuts for domestic discretionary programs including housing.

House passes flood insurance bill. Passed by the full House on November 14, H.R. 2874 would reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program, which expires December 8, for five years. It would also make changes, including alterations intended to introduce private market competition. Senators are still negotiating terms of their own NFIP bill.

USDA announces Rural Development state directors. A complete list of state directors for RD (and for the Farm Service Agency) was announced by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

CFPB director Cordray resigns. Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau since its inception, plans to leave his post by the end of the month. It is not clear yet what this will mean for the agency, created by the Dodd-Frank Act and repeatedly attacked in efforts to repeal or revise that law.

VA offers per diem assistance. Nonprofits, state and local governments, tribal governments, and faith-based and community-based organizations are eligible for Per Diem Only funds under the Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program. Applicants can apply by February 21, 2018 to continue providing Transition in Place grants or to begin a TIP housing model to facilitate housing stabilization. For more information, contact Jeffery Quarles, VA, 877-332-0334.

Input requested on free access to credit scores. To learn more about the experiences of consumers, counseling providers, and others regarding access to free credit scores, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau requests comments by February 12. For more information, contact Irene Skricki, CFPB, 202-435-7181.

Section 504 handbook revised. Several changes to USDA RD’s single-family program handbook impact Section 504 home repair loans and grants for homeowners. For more information, contact an RD state office.

Annual Adjustment Factors released for FY18. HUD’s AAFs are used to adjust Section 8 contract rents on their anniversaries. Contact people vary by program and are listed in the notice.

Fannie and Freddie met most affordable housing goals in 2016. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported recently that Freddie Mac met its single-family and multifamily goals in 2016, while Fannie Mae met its multifamily goals and some of its single-family goals. (The affordable housing goals are separate from the entities’ Duty to Serve requirements.)

40,000-120,000 HUD Housing Choice Vouchers could be unfunded in FY18. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has calculated that, due to rising rents and other factors, neither the House nor Senate appropriations bills for FY18 provides enough funding to renew all HUD vouchers currently in use or lost due to shortfalls in FY17. Both bills would add vouchers for specific populations, but not enough to offset the losses.

Research shows federal housing assistance widespread but insufficient. “Federal Rental Assistance Provides Affordable Homes for Vulnerable People in All Types of Communities,” published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in partnership with HAC, covers the scope and limitations of federal rental assistance programs. The analysis uses HAC’s definition of “rural” places, which is based on Census tracts rather than on entire counties, as metropolitan and nonmetro designations are. Due primarily to funding levels for federal housing programs, the research found that, for every assisted household in the U.S., roughly three renter households pay half or more of their income for housing. Assistance is distributed proportionally, relative to need, across rural, suburban, and urban places. In rural areas, 70% of federal rental assistance is from project-based programs, while in urban and suburban places, use is evenly split between tenant-based and project-based.

NEED CAPITAL FOR YOUR AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECT?

HAC’s loan funds provide low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, farmworker, senior, and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, and construction/rehabilitation. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

HAC News: March 2, 2017

HAC News Formats. pdf

February 2, 2017
Vol. 46, No. 5

Trump FY18 budget outline expected March 16 • Senate approves Ben Carson as HUD Secretary • Task forces forming to consider reducing regulations • CDFI funds offered, including for CDFIs serving Native American communities • Comments sought on standards for federal data on race and ethnicity • Research shows severity of affordable housing shortage for lowest-income renters • New data on U.S. farmworkers published • HUD offers Manufactured Home Dispute Resolution Program • Duty to Serve overview video posted • Webinar, March 6: “How President Trump’s First Budget Could Impact Affordable Housing”

HAC News Formats. pdf

March 2, 2017
Vol. 46, No. 5

Trump FY18 budget outline expected March 16. The Administration wants to keep the 2011 Budget Control Act spending caps, but change the requirement that cuts in defense and non-defense funding must be proportional. It will request a $54 billion (10%) increase in defense spending. To stay under the cap, the same amount would have to be cut from non-defense funding; that calculation does not take account of tax cuts, deficit reduction, and mandatory spending on programs like Social Security. A more detailed budget proposal will be released in May.

Senate approves Ben Carson as HUD Secretary. The Senate confirmed Carson on March 2 by a 58-41 vote. The Senate Agriculture Committee has not yet scheduled a hearing on Sonny Perdue’s nomination to be USDA Secretary.

Task forces forming to consider reducing regulations. In a February 24 Executive Order, President Trump expanded on his January 30 Executive Order requiring elimination of two existing regulations for each new one (see HAC News, 2/2/17). The head of each agency is required to designate a Regulatory Reform Officer and create a Regulatory Reform Task Force to evaluate existing regulations and recommend repeal, replacement, or change. Each task force must seek input from stakeholders. Each task force must report to its agency head within 90 days.

CDFI funds offered, including for CDFIs serving Native American communities. The CDFI Program makes Financial Assistance awards (in the form of loans, grants, equity investments, deposits, or credit union shares) to Certified CDFIs and Technical Assistance grants to Certified, Certifiable, and Emerging CDFIs to build their organizational capacity. The Native American CDFI Program offers the same to CDFIs serving Native communities. For each program, the application process has two steps with deadlines of March 24 and April 28. For more information, contact the CDFI Fund Help Desk, 202-653-0421.

Comments sought on standards for federal data on race and ethnicity. OMB requests comments by May 1 on a report drafted by a federal interagency working group suggesting revisions to OMB’s Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. The standards are used in the decennial census, other surveys, forms such as mortgage applications, and more. This notice lists specific questions, including whether to add a “Middle Eastern or North African” classification and what sub-categories to use for American Indian or Alaska Native, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, and other major classifications. For more information, contact Jennifer Park, OMB.

Research shows severity of affordable housing shortage for lowest-income renters. The GAP: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, released March 2 by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, reports there are only 35 affordable and available units for every 100 extremely low-income renter households nationwide, and 71% of ELI renters are severely cost-burdened, spending more than half their income on rent and utilities. ELI renters are those with incomes below 30% of area median or below the poverty level, whichever is higher. The report includes recommendations for better targeting of federal housing expenditures, including reform of the mortgage interest deduction and Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

New data on U.S. farmworkers published. Findings from the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) 2013-2014: A Demographic and Employment Profile of United States Farmworkers, recently released by the Department of Labor, covers housing as well as other topics. Thirteen percent of all farmworkers surveyed lived free in employer-provided housing. Among all those who paid for housing, 74% paid less than $600 per month, but the report does not compare rent to income. Those without work authorization were less likely than authorized workers to live in single-family homes, and more likely to live in mobile homes (23% and 15% respectively) or apartments (23% and 11%). Migrant workers lived in crowded dwellings more often than settled workers (40% compared to 29%), and unauthorized workers were twice as likely as authorized workers to be overcrowded (41% and 21%). Nationwide, only 3.3% of homes are overcrowded.

HUD offers Manufactured Home Dispute Resolution Program. The program resolves disputes between manufacturers, retailers, and installers when the parties cannot agree on a solution to a construction and/or safety defect within the first year of the first installation of a manufactured home. HUD’s DRP functions in 24 states; the other 26 have state programs. For more information visit https://www.huddrp.net, email info@huddrp.net, or call 571-882-2928.

Duty to Serve overview video posted. The three-minute video covers the basics of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve program. Data and other tools from the Federal Housing Finance Agency are also available online.

Webinar, March 6: “How President Trump’s First Budget Could Impact Affordable Housing” The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding will hold a webinar on Monday, March 6 at 3-4:00 Eastern time, about the significant threats facing affordable housing and community development programs, including USDA rural housing, and how you can help protect them. At the webinar, CHCDF will also launch a new report and new information tools, including factsheets, sample op-eds, and statewide data on the economic impact of HUD and USDA rural housing investments

HAC News: January 19, 2017

HAC News Formats. pdf

January 19, 2017
Vol. 46, No. 2

Perdue nominated for USDA Secretary, RD staff acting in administrative positions • Carson pledges to enforce laws, supports rental assistance • USDA offers rural broadband loans, loan guarantees, and grants • RD updates handbooks on multifamily ownership transfers and single-family housing • 2016 data show continuing trends for USDA tenants • Administration for Children and Families requests input from Native Americans • HUD revises Rental Assistance Demonstration • Register for notice of calls on Section 538 program • RD updates multifamily loan payoff guidance • FHFA proposes evaluation guidance for Duty to Serve • Duty to Serve Listening Sessions scheduled • OMB approves two fair housing assessment tools • Changes to blood lead level rule adopted • Final rule issued for HECM reverse mortgage program • HOTMA changes to project- and tenant-based vouchers implemented • Rural Voices magazine covers rural housing innovations • HAC seeks proposals for housing projects serving rural veterans

HAC News Formats. pdf

January 19, 2017
Vol. 46, No. 2

Perdue nominated for USDA Secretary, RD staff acting in administrative positions. On January 19, President-elect Trump named former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue, who has a background in agriculture, to become Secretary of Agriculture. Career employees will run RD and its agencies until appointments for those posts are made. Roger Glendenning will serve as Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development, Rich Davis as Acting Administrator for RHS, Chad Parker as Acting Administrator for the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, and Chris McLean as Acting Administrator for the Rural Utilities Service.

Carson pledges to enforce laws, supports rental assistance. At his January 12 confirmation hearing, HUD Secretary nominee Ben Carson advocated for a holistic approach connecting housing with economic development, health, and more. He hopes to enhance HUD’s lead exposure programs to prevent chronic illnesses. He spoke positively about VASH and other rental assistance. When asked about his commitment to fair housing requirements, Carson stated he would “enforce all the laws of the land.” Responding to questions from Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Jon Tester (D-MT), he expressed concern about Native American housing conditions. His written testimony mentions rural areas once, saying lead is a problem in urban, suburban, and rural places. None of the hearing questions focused on rural housing specifically. The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee is scheduled to vote on January 24 whether to send his nomination to the full Senate for approval.

USDA offers rural broadband loans, loan guarantees, and grants. Loans and loan guarantees from the Rural Broadband Access program can be used for the construction, improvement, and acquisition of facilities and equipment to provide broadband service for rural areas. There are two application windows this year: March 1-31 and September 1-30. The Community Connect Grant Program offers grants to provide broadband service to all premises in currently unserved, lower-income, and extremely rural areas, with priority for places that demonstrate the greatest need for broadband. Its application deadline is March 13. For more information, contact Shawn Arner, Rural Utilities Service, 202-720-0800.

RD updates handbooks on multifamily ownership transfers and single-family housing. In HB-3-3560, the Project Servicing Handbook for Sections 515 and 514/516, Chapter 7 on ownership transfers has been completely revised, including (among other changes) updated underwriting requirements, incorporation of the Preliminary Assessment Tool, and use of industry-based underwriting standards where possible. There are a number of changes throughout HB-1-3550, which covers the Section 502 direct and Section 504 programs. For more information, contact an RD office.

2016 data show continuing trends for USDA tenants. In its annual release of data on tenant characteristics, RD reports slight changes: a drop in the number of rental units in the portfolio, a decline in the proportion of tenants who are white, an increase in low-income households (and a corresponding decrease in very low-income), and an increase in disabled tenants within the elderly/disabled category. There were 4,220 fewer units in the portfolio in September 2016 than in September 2015, a drop of almost 1%, and more than half the lost units had two bedrooms. The same proportion of Section 515 tenants receive Section 521 Rental Assistance (67%) as in 2015, and the same proportion are cost-burdened (13%).

Administration for Children and Families requests input from Native Americans. ACF, part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, hopes to identify issues and challenges facing American Indian and Alaska Native populations and to gather recommendations for addressing the needs. Comments are due March 10. For more information, contact Camille Loya, ACF, 202-401-5964.

HUD revises Rental Assistance Demonstration. RAD allows the conversion of public housing and other HUD-assisted properties to project-based Section 8. Send comments to rad@hud.gov by February 21. For more information, contact HUD staff at rad@hud.gov.

Register for notice of calls on Section 538 program. RD will continue holding periodic calls or web meetings with stakeholders about the Section 538 guaranteed rental housing program. To receive notices when calls are scheduled – even if you registered for these calls in the past – contact Monica Cole, USDA, 202-720-1251.

RD updates multifamily loan payoff guidance. An Unnumbered Letter dated December 28, 2016 discusses the options available for handling properties where a Section 515 or 514 mortgage has reached its maturity date. For more information, contact an RD state office.

FHFA proposes evaluation guidance for Duty to Serve. The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s draft guidance indicates FHFA’s expectations for developing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve Underserved Markets Plans, and the process for evaluating their performance. Comments on the evaluation guidance are due May 12. For more information, email DutyToServeStakeholders@fhfa.gov.

Duty to Serve Listening Sessions scheduled. FHFA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac will co-host a series of public listening sessions in early 2017 on Duty to Serve. The dates and locations are: January 25, Chicago; February 1, San Francisco; February 8, Washington, DC; February 9, Webinar. For more information and to register visit https://www.fhfa.gov/PolicyProgramsResearch/PROGRAMS/Pages/Duty-to-Serve.aspx.

OMB approves two fair housing assessment tools. The tools will be used by public housing agencies and by local governments that receive CDBG, HOME, ESG, or HOPWA funding when conducting and submitting their Assessments of Fair Housing. PHAs with 1,250 or fewer combined public housing and voucher units will provide less information than those with larger programs. For more information, contact Krista Mills, HUD, 866-234-2689.

Changes to blood lead level rule adopted. A final rule adopts a revised definition of “elevated blood lead level” in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. (See HAC News, 9/8/16.) It also establishes more comprehensive testing and evaluation procedures for housing where children under age six reside and makes some other changes. For more information, contact Warren Friedman, HUD, 202-402-7698.

Final rule issued for HECM reverse mortgage program. The Federal Housing Administration’s changes are intended to strengthen the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program and increase its sustainability. For more information, contact Karin Hill, HUD, 202-402-3084.

HOTMA changes to project- and tenant-based vouchers implemented. A HUD notice implements several provisions of the 2016 Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act. (See HAC News, 11/3/16.) Comments are due March 20. For more information, contact HOTMAquestionsPIH@hud.gov.

Rural Voices magazine covers rural housing innovations. Tiny houses, super energy efficiency, intensive planning, and more are included in the winter issue of HAC’s magazine. Sign up online to receive email notices when new issues are published.

HAC seeks proposals for housing projects serving rural veterans. Supported by The Home Depot Foundation, grants will go to nonprofits, tribally designated housing entities, and housing authorities serving veterans at or below 80% of area median income in rural areas. Projects may be new construction or rehab, temporary or permanent housing, in progress or beginning within 12 months. Grants will not normally exceed $30,000. Several smaller requests may be granted rather than a few larger ones. Letters of Interest are due February 3. For more information contact Shonterria Charleston, HAC, 404-892-4824.

Duty to Serve Final Rule Issued

The Federal Housing Finance Agency issued a final rule to implement the Duty to Serve provisions which require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to serve three specified underserved markets – manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation and rural housing – by improving the distribution and availability of mortgage financing in a safe and sound manner for residential properties that serve very low-, low- and moderate-income families.

Visit FHFA.gov/DTS for the press release, final rule, fact sheet, public listening session details, timeline and more.

HAC Will provide a summary of the Duty to Serve Rule soon.

Stakeholder Webinar

FHFA will provide a high-level overview of the final rule and answer stakeholder questions via webinar on Monday, Dec. 19 at 2 p.m. ET.

You may submit questions in advance by emailing DutyToServeStakeholders@FHFA.gov with “webinar question” in the subject line. Please submit your questions by COB Thursday, Dec. 15.

Materials Posted: Duty to Serve And What it Means for Rural America (Webinar)

Materials Posted:

Introduction | Power Point Presentation (22 MB) | Webinar Recording | Mapping Utility

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is convening an interactive e-learning to assist housing providers and policymakers better understand the Duty to Serve Rule, and what it may mean for Rural America. The session is also intended to help inform comments to the Duty to Serve Rule.

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 mandates that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have a ‘Duty to Serve’ three traditionally underserved markets of:

  • Rural Housing
  • Manufactured Housing
  • Affordable Housing Preservation

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is currently accepting comments on how to implement the Duty to Serve Rule. The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is convening an interactive e-learning to assist housing providers and policymakers better understand the Duty to Serve Rule, and what it may mean for Rural America. The session is also intended to help inform comments to the Duty to Serve Rule.

While all three underserved markets extremely are important, this particular session will primarily focus on the Rural Housing component of Duty To Serve (but the other areas for comment will also be discussed).