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HAC News: November 30, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

November 30, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 24

• HAC NEWS GOING FULLY DIGITAL • Congress working on FY16 funding measures • Tax extender negotiations include LIHTC and EITC • HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods NOFA introduces Planning and Action Grants • HUD offers equal access rule for transgender persons • New HAC resources offer data on veterans nationwide • Housing communications information available • RDLN auction online through December 13 • USDA updates Rural America at a Glance • DDAs and QCTs set for 2016

HAC News Formats. pdf

November 30, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 24

HAC NEWS GOING FULLY DIGITAL. Beginning in 2016, the print version of the HAC News will no longer be available. The News will still be published every two weeks, will still provide the same concise updates on issues important to rural housers, and will still be free. Back issues will continue to be available online at https://ruralhome.org.

Congress working on FY16 funding measures. Before the current continuing resolution expires on December 11 (see HAC News, 9/30/15), Congress is likely to pass an omnibus appropriation bill that includes most or all of the 12 federal spending bills for FY16. Passage may be stalled by attempts to add policy riders relating to refugees, health care, and other topics. If more negotiation time is needed, another CR may be used to extend spending to December 18 rather than shutting down the government. At press time, no details are available on the omnibus’s provisions related to USDA rural housing. In a Transportation-HUD bill brought to the Senate floor November 18, additional funds made available by the budget agreement (see HAC News, 10/28/15) were used to raise HOME funding to $900 million and CDBG to $3 billion, rather than the earlier $66 million and $2.9 billion (see HAC News, 6/25/15), though other HUD programs did not receive increases. The Senate did not vote on that bill because of disagreements on policy riders, but the higher numbers are likely to appear in a final bill.

Tax extender negotiations include LIHTC and EITC. This month Congress is expected to renew some tax-related programs that expired last December, including the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, New Markets Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and others. This retroactive renewal is needed to make these provisions effective for 2015.

HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods NOFA introduces Planning and Action Grants. The deadline is February 16, 2016 for PHAs, local governments, tribal entities, and nonprofits to request FY15 and FY16 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants or Planning and Action Grants. The program is intended to help communities with severely distressed public or HUD-assisted housing in developing successful neighborhood transformation plans and building the support necessary for plans to be successfully implemented. Contact HUD staff, ChoiceNeighborhoods@hud.gov.

HUD offers equal access rule for transgender persons. A proposed regulation would require entities receiving funds from many HUD programs (but not public or Indian housing) and owners and managers of facilities and services to assist transgender persons in accordance with their gender identities. Providers could ask about sexual orientation or gender identity, but could not discriminate on those bases. Comments are due January 19, 2016. Contact Norm Suchar, HUD, 202-708-4300.

New HAC resources offer data on veterans nationwide. Information about veterans’ economic and housing characteristics for every state and county is available at www.veteransdata.info. The site, developed by the Housing Assistance Council with support from JPMorgan Chase & Co., provides approximately 420 veteran-specific data indicators and over 650,000 data points. Also available on the site are fact sheets for each state, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. providing details on the veterans’ population including proportion, prevalence by county, median income, poverty levels, unemployment rate, disability, median home value, housing problems, homelessness, and other factors.

Housing communications information available. A recent brief from the National Housing Conference offers “seven effective strategies for countering community opposition” to affordable housing development. NHC has also published a Veteran’s Housing Communications Toolkit offering ways of communicating about veterans’ housing needs and solutions with three audiences: community members, policy makers, and veterans themselves.

RDLN auction online through December 13. Proceeds from the Rural Development Leadership Network’s annual fundraising auction support the organization’s work for social justice, community development, and leadership development in low-income rural communities in the U.S. Items include jewelry, books, vacations, and more.

USDA updates Rural America at a Glance. The 2015 version of this data summary reports that the pace of rural employment growth increased in 2014, although rural employment remains below pre-recession levels. Rural areas continue to experience population loss, higher poverty rates, and lower educational attainment than urban areas.

DDAs and QCTs set for 2016. The newly designated Difficult Development Areas and Qualified Census Tracts for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program are effective July 1, 2016, rather than January 1 as in the past. For the first time the metro area DDA designations use Small Area Fair Market Rents, rather than metro-area FMRs. Contact Michael K. Hollar, HUD, 202-402-5878.

HAC News: November 11, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

November 11, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 23

HAC NEWS GOING FULLY DIGITAL • November is National Native American Heritage Month • Congress and USDA agree to fund Rental Assistance shortages • Two rural housing supporters resigning from Congress • USDA issues new standards for underwriting MPR preservation deals • BIA amends Housing Improvement Program rule • Public housing smoking ban proposed • Interim rule requires new tracking for CDBG grantees • Clean Power Plan can help fund energy efficiency in affordable housing • Unnumbered Letter on TRID now available • HUD reports on homelessness • A few spaces still available for HAC’s November 19-20 trainings

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 11, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 23

HAC NEWS GOING FULLY DIGITAL. Beginning in 2016, the print version of the HAC News will no longer be available. The News will still be published every two weeks, will still provide the same concise updates on issues important to rural housers, and will still be free. Back issues will continue to be available online at https://ruralhome.org.

November is National Native American Heritage Month. Read President Obama’s proclamation here.

Congress and USDA agree to fund Rental Assistance shortages. On November 5 the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees – Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) and Sam Farr (D-CA), and Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) – met with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The parties agreed to provide Section 521 Rental Assistance funds for properties that were short funded in FY15, either because they used up RA funds before their one-year contracts expired or because their contracts expired near the end of the fiscal year and USDA had run out of contract renewal monies (see HAC News, 10/28/15). At least some property owners have been told they are about to receive back payments. Congress will need to increase the $1.167 billion for RA provided in the FY16 funding bills that passed both Appropriations Committees in July 2015 (see HAC News, 6/25/15).

Two rural housing supporters resigning from Congress. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) has served as chair and ranking member of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) co-founded the Congressional Rural Housing Caucus.

USDA issues new standards for underwriting MPR preservation deals. An Unnumbered Letter dated October 26, 2015 replaces a UL dated September 30, 2013 that emphasized reducing costs to the government. The new policy stresses long-term property viability, meeting tenants’ needs for affordable housing, and completing transactions in a timely and efficient manner. Contact multifamily housing staff in an RD State Office.

BIA amends Housing Improvement Program rule. A final rule issued by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs is intended to align HIP with other federal requirements, allow leveraging of funds, and give tribes more flexibility. Contact Les Jensen, BIA, 907-586-7397.

Public housing smoking ban proposed. HUD suggests requiring PHAs to ban smoking in all indoor areas, including living units, and in outdoor areas within 25 feet of buildings. HUD’s press release says more than 228,000 public housing units are already smoke-free, and this proposal would cover another 940,000 homes. Comments will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Contact Leroy Ferguson, HUD, 202-402-2411.

Interim rule requires new tracking for CDBG grantees. Community Development Block Grant grantees will have to track their obligations and expenditures of CDBG funds by specific fiscal years. HUD also makes some technical corrections in CDBG regulations. The new rule takes effect December 14 and comments are due January 11, 2016. Contact Stanley Gimont, HUD, 202-708-3587.

Clean Power Plan can help fund energy efficiency in affordable housing. A proposed federal plan published by EPA offers opportunities to fund energy efficiency in affordable housing as part of state implementation plans. Several organizations joined to offer a primer for affordable housing advocates, as well as other resources and more information at https://energyefficiencyforall.org/. Comments on the proposed federal plan are due January 21.

Unnumbered Letter on TRID now available. The UL (dated October 6, 2015) offers guidance on compliance with new mortgage disclosure requirements for direct Section 502 and 504 loans (see HAC News, 10/14/15).

HUD reports on homelessness. The 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) Part 2 says homelessness declined by 6.3% since 2007, then increased by 4.6% from 2013 to 2014 although homeless people without shelter fell by 10% during that year. 70% of those who used shelter in 2014 were in major cities. Between 2007 and 2014, the number of people in families with children using shelters increased by 48.1% in suburban and rural areas from 2007 to 2014 and decreased by 5% in cities. Part 1 was released in October 2014 (see HAC News, 11/12/14).

A few spaces still available for HAC’s November 19-20 trainings. The cost is $75 each for these courses in North Charleston, SC. Register online for either Sharpening Your Skills: Financial Management for Rural Nonprofits or Utilizing the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program: Creating and Preserving Affordable Housing. These are concurrent sessions; register for only one. Contact Shonterria Charleston, HAC, 404-892-4824.

HAC News: October 28, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 28, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 22

• Budget deal raises spending caps • USDA has funds to renew expired Rental Assistance contracts • Senate subcommittee questions USDA on Rental Assistance funds • House panels hold hearings on new legislation and HUD • HUD launches Tribal HUD-VASH program • New Markets Tax Credits allocations available • CFPB updates lists of rural counties • Additional fair housing regulations proposed • HMDA regulations revised • HUD offers training to qualify manufactured housing installers • New report supports HOME program • Rural Voices celebrates 20 years • Two HAC trainings offered November 19-20

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 28, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 22

Budget deal raises spending caps. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 will add $25 billion to the Budget Control Act’s cap for non-defense discretionary spending in FY16 and $15 billion in FY17. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees will divide the $25 billion among agencies, so it is not yet clear how the increases will impact specific programs.

USDA has funds to renew expired Rental Assistance contracts. Using funds from the Continuing Resolution (see HAC News, 9/30/15), USDA is renewing RA contracts that have expired (not contracts that used up funds before their expiration dates). Renewals are for a full year, not just the term of the CR. Priority goes to those that expired after FY15 RA funds ran out in August. The agency is using a new RA Obligation Tool, which it expects will improve accuracy and reduce the number of RA contracts using up their funds before the end of their terms; each contract’s funding will be based on that property’s spending rather than a statewide average.

Senate subcommittee questions USDA on Rental Assistance funds. An October 21 hearing, “Review of Rural Development in the 21st Century,” covered many topics, including the FY15 shortfall in Section 521 Rental Assistance funding. Subcommittee chair Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and ranking member Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) were particularly surprised to hear RHS Administrator Tony Hernandez say the CR does not give it the authority to use FY16 funds to cover amounts not paid in FY15 to “re-renew” RA contracts that used up their dollars before they expired. (See HAC News, 9/2/15 and 9/30/15.)

House panels hold hearings on new legislation and HUD. A subcommittee and the full Financial Services Committee considered “The Future of Housing in America: Federal Housing Reforms that Create Housing Opportunity and “The Future of Housing in America: 50 Years of HUD and its Impact on Federal Housing Policyon October 21 and 22. The subcommittee focused on H.R. 3700, which would make changes in many programs (see HAC News, 10/14/15), while the committee examined HUD’s history and accomplishments.

HUD launches Tribal HUD-VASH program. The program will fund Indian tribes and tribally designated housing entities to provide rental assistance and supportive services to Native American veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness living on or near reservations or other Indian areas. Contact Randall Akers, HUD, 202-402-7914.

New Markets Tax Credits allocations available. Applications for Calendar Year 2015 NMTCs are due December 16. Applicants not yet certified as Community Development Entities must submit apply for CDE status by November 6. Contact the CDFI Fund’s NMTC Program Manager, cdfihelp@cdfi.treas.gov, 202-653-0421.

CFPB updates lists of rural counties. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s listsof “rural counties” and “rural or underserved counties” identify areas where some mortgage activity regulations are waived.

Additional fair housing regulations proposed. Comments are due December 21 on HUD’s suggested standards for evaluating complaints of quid pro quo harassment and hostile environment harassment. The proposed rule also clarifies the operation of traditional principles of direct and vicarious liability under the Fair Housing Act. Contact Lynn Grosso, HUD, 202-402-5361.

HMDA regulations revised. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued a final rule adding some new reporting requirements for Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data. There are other changes as well, and the rule also provides compliance guidance. Contact CFPB’s Office of Regulations, 202-435-7700.

HUD offers training to qualify manufactured housing installers. HUD training and licenses are available in 13 states that do not operate their own installation programs. Contact Pamela Beck Danner, HUD, 202-708-6423.

New report supports HOME program. On October 28 the HOME Coalition released “Building HOME: The HOME Investment Partnerships Programs Impact on America’s Families and Communities,” analyzing HOME’s economic impact at the national level and in all 50 states.

Rural Voices celebrates 20 years. The Fall issue of HAC’s quarterly magazine updates some of the more than 500 articles published since 1995. Sign up online for email notices when new issues are published.

Two HAC trainings offered November 19-20. The cost is $75 each for these courses in North Charleston, SC. Register online for either Sharpening Your Skills: Financial Management for Rural Nonprofits or Utilizing the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program: Creating and Preserving Affordable Housing. These are concurrent sessions; register for only one. Advance registration is required. Contact Shonterria Charleston, HAC, 404-892-4824.