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HAC News: January 7, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

January 7, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 1

• New Congress convenes • Obama announces lower FHA mortgage insurance rate • Rural housing program eligibility changes effective February 2 • HUD proposes regulatory changes for vouchers, public housing, and other programs • Changes to BIA’s Housing Improvement Program proposed • Final credit risk retention rule defines QRM as QM • Family Self-Sufficiency Programs merged • Housing tax credit properties can achieve deep affordability without vouchers, report says • Paper explores connections between rural community and rural poverty • HAC webinar on seniors set for January 13

January 7, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 1

NEW CONGRESS CONVENES. In the new 114th Congress starting this week, some of the committee leadership posts are clear. Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) continues as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) will lead the Senate appropriations panel. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) continues as head of the House Financial Services Committee, and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) will be the new chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. On the Democratic side, Reps. Nita Lowey of NY and Maxine Waters of CA will continue as the ranking minority members on House Appropriations and Financial Services. In the Senate, Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) will be the top Democrat on Appropriations. Other Democratic spots and most subcommittee leaders have not yet been announced. As reported in the HAC News, 12/10/14, Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) will continue as chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) will be the new chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation-HUD.

OBAMA ANNOUNCES LOWER FHA MORTGAGE INSURANCE RATE. The rate will drop by 0.5 percentage point from 1.35% to 0.85%. The President’s statement says the change will save an average of $900 annually for new borrowers and also reiterates support for housing finance reform.

RURAL HOUSING PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY CHANGES EFFECTIVE FEBRUARY 2. USDA RD will implement a 2014 Farm Bill’s provision making places ineligible that were formerly considered rural, but have populations over 35,000 as of the 2010 Census. See RD’s “future eligible areas” maps. Applications from these places will be processed if completed before February 2. Contact an RD office or Mike Feinberg, HAC, 202-842-8600.

HUD PROPOSES REGULATORY CHANGES FOR VOUCHERS, PUBLIC HOUSING, AND OTHER PROGRAMS. Updates would put recent statutory changes into effect and would align program requirements for Housing Choice Vouchers (tenant- and project-based) and public housing. Section 202, Section 811, and other multifamily housing programs are also affected, as well as HOME, the Continuum of Care program, and HOPWA. Comments are due March 9, 2015. Contacts for each program are listed in the notice.

CHANGES TO BIA’S HOUSING IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM PROPOSED. HIP provides grants to tribal members for repair, renovation, or replacement of existing housing. Comments are due March 6 on changes that are intended to align the program with other federal requirements, allow leveraging of housing funds, and expedite processing of waiting lists. BIA will host consultation sessions with tribes in February; for details, visit https://www.bia.gov/WhoWeAre/AS-IA/ORM/HIP/index.htm. Contact Mr. Les Jensen, BIA, 907-586-7397.

FINAL CREDIT RISK RETENTION RULE DEFINES QRM AS QM. “Qualified residential mortgages” are exempt from the Dodd-Frank Act’s requirement for lenders to retain part of the credit risk of assets that collateralize asset-backed securities. Federal regulators have adopted a definition proposed in 2013 (see HAC News, 9/25/13): a QRM is the same as a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “qualified mortgage” and need not have a 20% downpayment. Also exempt are mortgages made by state HFAs, CDFIs, CHDOs (for HOME-funded projects), small-volume nonprofits, and others. Contact Ronald P. Sugarman, FHFA, 202-649-3208.

FAMILY SELF-SUFFICIENCY PROGRAMS MERGED. Implementing a provision in its FY14 appropriations act, HUD has unified the programs, formerly separate for participants with Housing Choice Vouchers and those in public housing. Contact Anice Chenault, HUD, 202-402-2341.

HOUSING TAX CREDIT PROPERTIES CAN ACHIEVE DEEP AFFORDABILITY WITHOUT VOUCHERS, REPORT SAYS. A new National Low Income Housing Coalition publication, Aligning Federal Low Income Housing Programs with Housing Need, says Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties rarely serve extremely low-income households (at or below 30% of area median income) without vouchers, but presents five case studies of innovative strategies that do not use vouchers.

PAPER EXPLORES CONNECTIONS BETWEEN RURAL COMMUNITY AND RURAL POVERTY. “Understanding Connections between Rural Communities and Family Well-Being: A Study of Hampton, Iowa,” published by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, examines the role of “place” in shaping the futures of rural residents, particularly low-income residents.

HAC WEBINAR ON SENIORS SET FOR JANUARY 13. Register now forRural Seniors and Their Homes: Planning for a Rapidly Aging Rural America” to learn more about the demographic, economic, and housing trends of seniors and near-seniors in rural America as well as their housing options.

HAC News: December 22, 2014

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 22, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 25

• FY15 spending bill signed into law • Tax extenders bill includes LIHTC and NMTC • FHFA activates obligation to National Housing Trust Fund • FHFA interim rule prohibits pass-through of NHTF and CMF costs • Preliminary assessment tool released for USDA multifamily transfers • Regulations issued to replace several OMB circulars • RUS offers rural broadband grants • USDA prohibits age discrimination • Regulations change rural definition for single-family housing programs • Half of Native American mortgage applicants were denied in 2013 • New report suggests housing policy consider changes over time • Rural nonprofits have broad impact, report says • HAC summarizes data on homelessness • Conference photos and other materials now online

December 22, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 25

FY15 SPENDING BILL SIGNED INTO LAW. The “cromnibus” final spending bill for FY15 funds the Department of Homeland Security through February 27 and the rest of the government, including USDA and HUD, have full-year appropriations through September 30. For housing programs’ spending levels, see HAC News, 12/10/14.

TAX EXTENDERS BILL INCLUDES LIHTC AND NMTC. H.R. 5771, passed by the House and Senate, provides a minimum 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credit rate and authorizes the New Markets Tax Credit for calendar year 2014. Since 2014 LIHTC allocations have already been distributed, the bill has little impact on that program.

FHFA ACTIVATES OBLIGATION TO NATIONAL HOUSING TRUST FUND. On December 11, Federal Housing Finance Agency director Mel Watt instructed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to begin setting aside funds for the National Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund. The NHTF will fund housing, mostly rental and mostly for extremely low-income households. The CMF provides funds to CDFIs and nonprofits to finance affordable housing and related economic development and community service facilities. HUD, which will operate the NHTF program, published proposed regulations in October 2010; Secretary Julián Castro announced final rules will be issued soon. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates the first NHTF funds will be allocated to states in early 2016.

FHFA INTERIM RULE PROHIBITS PASS-THROUGH OF NHTF AND CMF COSTS. A Federal Housing Finance Agency interim final rule provides that the cost of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s NHTF and CMF allocations may not be transferred to mortgage originators. Comments are due January 15. Contact Alfred M. Pollard, FHFA, 202-649-3050.

PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT TOOL RELEASED FOR USDA MULTIFAMILY TRANSFERS. Applicants are asked to use this tool before requesting ownership transfers and MPR-related transfers, to gauge if the proposed transactions will conform to USDA RD’s underwriting standards. Accompanying policy clarifications are being drafted for RD’s hand-book HB-3-3560. A separate tool will be provided for stay-in owner transactions. RD will conduct a webinar in January; HAC will report details when they are available. Request the tool from, or send comments to, Beverly Casey or an RD state office.

REGULATIONS ISSUED TO REPLACE SEVERAL OMB CIRCULARS. All federal award-making agencies, including USDA RHS, HUD, and VA, jointly issued an interim final rule that will apply to future federal awards. The rule implements the Office of Management and Budget’s Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, superceding several circulars including A-110, A-122, and A-133. Comments are due February 17. Contact Victoria Collin or Gil Tran, OMB, 202-395-3993. More resources are at https://cfo.gov/COFAR./.

RUS OFFERS RURAL BROADBAND GRANTS. Nonprofits, for-profits, coops, limited liability companies, tribes, states, and local governments can apply by February 17 for Community Connect grants to provide broadband service to currently unserved areas. Contact Shawn Arner, RUS, 202-720-0800.

USDA PROHIBITS AGE DISCRIMINATION. Recipients of USDA funds may not discriminate based on age, except when age distinctions are necessary to achieve a program’s purpose. Comments are due January 9. Contact Anna G. Stroman, 202-205-5953.

REGULATIONS CHANGE RURAL DEFINITION FOR SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSING PROGRAMS. The amendments implement revisions adopted in the 2014 Farm Bill (see HAC News, 2/5/14). Contact Shantelle Gordon, RHS, 202-205-9567.

HALF OF NATIVE AMERICAN MORTGAGE APPLICANTS WERE DENIED IN 2013. An Indian Country Today article reports that Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data show 51% of Indians and Native Alaskans applying for mortgages received them, while the rate for Native Hawaiians was 57%.

NEW REPORT SUGGESTS HOUSING POLICY CONSIDER CHANGES OVER TIME. Housing More People More Effectively through a Dynamic Housing Policy, published by the Bipartisan Policy Center, recommends moving from a static, transaction-focused housing policy to one that focuses on a broader time horizon and considers how things change over time at the property, household, and neighborhood levels.

RURAL NONPROFITS HAVE BROAD IMPACT, REPORT SAYS. The National Rural Housing Coalition’s Impact Report: The Economic and Human Impact of Nonprofit Organizations on Rural America estimates that in 2013 alone, nonprofit organizations generated $380 million in economic activity and created over 40,000 jobs in rural communities.

HAC SUMMARIZES DATA ON HOMELESSNESS. “Homelessness Declines but is Still Difficult to Assess in Rural Areas” is based on data released by HUD (see HAC News, 11/12/14).

CONFERENCE PHOTOS AND OTHER MATERIALS NOW ONLINE. Visit https://Ruralhome.org/calendar/nrhconf/1061-materials-from-the-2014-hac-conference for links to workshop materials via the conference app, photos, and videos.

HAC News: December 10, 2014

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 10, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 24

• Congress nears final action on 2015 spending • House passes NAHASDA reauthorization • New appropriations panel chairs announced • Mensah sworn in at USDA • USDA issues limited English proficiency guidance • VA adopts final HISA program regulation • HUD extends deadline for 202/811 comments • Email list for USDA direct single-family housing loan programs launched • HAC honors rural housing leaders • HAC Rural Housing Conference materials available • Rural Voices covers poverty in rural America • New HAC report examines senior housing

December 10, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 24

CONGRESS NEARS FINAL ACTION ON 2015 SPENDING. A wrap-up spending bill for FY 2015 was unveiled by House appropriators on December 9. The bill (H.R. 83) has been labeled a “cromnibus” because it provides a continuing resolution (CR) for the Department of Homeland Security through February 27 and an omnibus for the rest of the government, including USDA and HUD, through September 30. Republicans opposed to the President’s recent actions on immigration will look further at that issue in DHS appropriations when the new Congress convenes in January. The House is expected to pass the bill this week but the current government-wide CR expires December 11, so another two- or three-day CR may be needed for final Senate consideration. Check HAC’s web site for updates.

USDA. Rejecting most of the Administration’s FY 2015 budget proposals, H.R. 83 retains funding for Section 502 direct loans and the Rural Community Development Initiative and increases Section 523 self-help. It does not adopt the Administration’s request for minimum rents but does prohibit renewal of RA contracts that use up their funding before their full 12-month terms, and directs USDA to report on RA implementation by June 1, 2015. The bill also continues the pilot packaging program for Section 502 direct loans. The table below has details. [tdborder][/tdborder]

USDA Rural Dev. Prog.
(dollars in millions)

FY13
Approp.a

FY14
Approp.

FY15
Admn. Bdgt.

FY15 Hse. Bill H.R. 4800

FY15 Sen. Bill S. 2389

FY15 Final
H.R. 83

502 Single Fam. Direct
Self-Help setaside

$900
5

$900
5

$360
0

$1,042
5

$900
5

$900
5

502 Single Family Guar.

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

504 VLI Repair Loans

28

26.3

26.3

26.4

26.3

26.3

504 VLI Repair Grants

29.5

28.7

25

27

28.7

28.7

515 Rental Hsg. Direct Lns.

31.3

28.4

28.4

28.3

28.4

28.4

514 Farm Labor Hsg. Lns.

20.8

23.9

23.9

23.6

23.8

23.6

516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grts.

7.1

8.3

8.3

8.3

8.3

8.3

521 Rental Assistanceb

907.1

1,110

1,089

1,089

1,094

1,089

523 Self-Help TA

30

25

10

30

25

27.5

533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants

3.6

3.5

0

0

3.5

3.5

538 Rental Hsg. Guar.

150

150

150

150

150

150

Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR)

17.8

20

20

20

20

17

542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers

10

12.6

8

8

8

7

Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init.

6.1

6

0

5

6

4

a. Figures shown do not include 5% sequester or 2.5% across the board cut.
b. The final FY13 appropriation for RA included a $3 million 514/516 setaside; the final appropriations for FY14 and FY15 have no setasides.

HUD. The bill reduces funding for some HUD programs and provides level funding for others. Only Section 202 receives an increase. CDBG, HOME, rental assistance, and public housing have mostly small reductions below FY14 appropriated levels. SHOP, VASH vouchers for homeless veterans, Native American housing, AIDS housing, and lead hazard control all received the same levels as in 2014. The table below has details.

HUD Program
(dollars in millions)

FY13
Approp.a

FY14
Approp.

FY15
Admn. Bdgt.

FY15 Hse. Bill
H.R. 4745

FY15 Sen. Bill
S. 2438

FY15 Final
H.R. 83

Cmty. Devel. Fund
CDBG

3,308
2,948

3,100
3,030

2,870
2,800

3,060
3,000

3,090
3,020

3.066
3,000

HOME
SHOP setaside

1,000
b

1,000
b

950
10

700
10

950
b

900
b

Self-Help Homeownshp. (SHOP)

13.5

10

b

b

10

10

Tenant-Based Rental Asstnce.
VASH setaside

18,939.4
75

19,177.2
75

20,100
75

19,356
75

19,562
75

19,304
75

Project-Based Rental Asstnce.

9,339.7

9,516.6

9,346

9,346

9,346

9,330

Public Hsg. Capital Fund

1,886

1,875

1,925

1,775

1,900

1,875

Public Hsg. Operating Fund

4,262

4,400

4,600

4,400

4,475

4,440

Choice Neighbrhd. Initiative

120

90

120

0

90

80

Native Amer. Hsg. Block Grant

650

650

650

650

650

650

Homeless Assistance Grantsc

2,033

2,105

2,406.4

2,105

2,145

2,135

Hsg. Opps. for Persons w/ AIDS

334

330

332

303

330

330

202 Hsg. for Elderly

377

385.3

440

420

420

436

811 Hsg. for Disabled

165

126

160

135

135

135

Fair Housing

70.8

66

71

56

66

65.3

Healthy Homes & Lead Haz. Cntl.

120

110

120

70

110

110

Housing Counseling

45

45

60

45

49

47

a. Figures shown do not include 5% sequester.
b. In FY13 and FY14 SHOP was funded under the Self-Help & Assisted Homeownership Opportunity Program account. For FY15 the Administration’s budget proposed making the program a setaside in HOME. The final FY15 bill specifically rejects that proposal.
c. Includes the Rural Housing Stability Program, which is not yet operational.

HOUSE PASSES NAHASDA REAUTHORIZATION. H.R. 4329 would authorize housing programs for Native Americans and Native Hawaiians through FY18, but would limit funding each year to not more than the current $650 million level. The Senate bill (see HAC News, 8/6/14) does not cap funding.

NEW APPROPRIATIONS PANEL CHAIRS ANNOUNCED. For the new Congress convening in January, Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) continues in another term as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) continues as chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) will be the new chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation-HUD.

MENSAH SWORN IN AT USDA. On December 5, Lisa Mensah was sworn in by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack as the new Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development.

USDA ISSUES LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY GUIDANCE. The guidance is intended to help recipients of USDA funding ensure they do not discriminate against LEP persons. Contact Anna G. Stroman, USDA, 202-205-5953.

VA ADOPTS FINAL HISA PROGRAM REGULATION. The Home Improvements and Structural Alterations program serves disabled veterans. (See HAC News, 12/4/13.) Contact Shayla Mitchell, VA, 202-461-0366.

HUD EXTENDS DEADLINE FOR 202/811 COMMENTS. A notice in the December 11 Federal Register will move the deadline for comments on suggested regulatory changes (see HAC News, 10/17/14) to January 15. A HUD webinar about the proposal is posted online. Contact Alicia Anderson, HUD, 202-708-3000.

EMAIL LIST FOR USDA DIRECT SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSING LOAN PROGRAMS LAUNCHED. USDA will use the list to distribute information about Section 502 direct, 504, and 523. Sign up for this or for lists covering the Section 502 guarantee program at https://www.rdlist.sc.egov.usda.gov/listserv/mainservlet.

HAC HONORS RURAL HOUSING LEADERS. At the HAC Rural Housing Conference, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) received the Henry B. González Award for elected officials. The Clay Cochran/Art Collings Award for national service went to former Sen. Kit Bond. Recipients of the Skip Jason Award for community achievement were Brad Bishop, Self-Help Homes, UT; Martha Mendez, Coachella Valley Housing Coalition, CA; Retha Patton, Eastern Eight Community Development Corporation, TN; and Andres Saavedra, Rural LISC, DC.

HAC RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE MATERIALS AVAILABLE. The conference app will remain active for at least six months, offering materials from each workshop, lists of attendees and speakers, and more. Videos of the plenary sessions, as well as photos taken throughout the event, will be posted soon. Check HAC’s website for updates.

RURAL VOICES COVERS POVERTY IN RURAL AMERICA. A special edition of HAC’s quarterly magazine asks what has changed since the War on Poverty was declared 50 years ago, what has not, and what can be done. Sign up online for email notices when new issues are published.

NEW HAC REPORT EXAMINES SENIOR HOUSING. Housing an Aging Rural America: Rural Seniors and Their Homes looks at the demographic characteristics of rural elders and considers ways to provide quality, affordable housing for them.