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HAC News: April 5, 2019

News Formats. pdf

April 5, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 7

April is Fair Housing Month • Experts tell Congress federal support for rural housing is essential • Calabria confirmed for FHFA • Legislators question HUD budget requests • Special authorizations issued to help USDA use all Section 502 direct mortgage funds • HUD offers funds for development of new Section 202 housing for elders • Grants available for household water wells and water/wastewater systems • Revisions proposed to HUD’s Section 3 regulations • USDA properties again encouraged to host summer meals program • Bill introduced to target more federal funding to persistently poor areas • USDA seeks site manager and maintenance person of the year • RuralSTAT • Flooding creates emergency for South Dakota Indian reservations • President requests housing finance reform plan • Current and past USDA officials disagree on ERS/NIFA relocation • Nearly one-fourth of the most rural counties see increase in severely cost-burdened housing • HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits in May • Local solutions go national at People & Places 2019 • HAC symposium on rural veterans’ housing and services scheduled for April in Arkansas • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 5, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 7

April is Fair Housing Month.
To mark the occasion, HUD launched a new campaign against sexual harassment in housing. The House Financial Services Committee convened a hearing April 2 on “The Fair Housing Act: Reviewing Efforts to Eliminate Discrimination and Promote Opportunity in Housing.” To learn more about fair housing or to file a complaint, visit HUD’s site or call 1-800-669-9777.

Experts tell Congress federal support for rural housing is essential.
On April 2, HAC CEO David Lipsetz was one of five panelists at “The Affordable Housing Crisis in Rural America: Assessing the Federal Response,” a hearing convened by the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance. Covered topics included the need to address rental properties’ maturing mortgages, the need for local capacity building and the need for new construction of rental housing in rural areas, as well as the possibility of moving the USDA rural housing programs to HUD – an idea not supported by any of the panelists.

Calabria confirmed for FHFA.
The Senate confirmed Mark Calabria on April 4 to be Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. As a Director at the Cato Institute, and later as a Chief Economist for Vice President Pence, Calabria voiced strong views about the existing housing finance system. At his recent confirmation hearing he assured the Senate Banking Committee that as FHFA Director he would carry out the existing law, including the Duty to Serve requirements related to manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation and rural housing.

Legislators question HUD budget requests.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson testified at April 3 hearings before both the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees. Members of both parties criticized the deep funding cuts proposed in the Administration’s FY20 budget.

Special authorizations issued to help USDA use all Section 502 direct mortgage funds.
As it has done in the past, USDA is waiving some requirements for Section 502 direct applications in order to reduce processing time and help use all the funds. This year’s temporary authorizations relate to credit scores, student loan payments, and oral verification of employment. For more information, contact an RD office.

HUD offers funds for development of new Section 202 housing for elders.
For the first time since 2010, HUD has capital advances available for nonprofits and coops to develop and operate rental housing for very low-income elderly residents. Applications are due August 28. For more information, email 202CapitalAdvanceNOFA@hud.gov.

Grants available for household water wells and water/wastewater systems.
Recipients of Household Water Well System Grants can reloan the funds to individuals to construct, refurbish and service their rural household well systems. Revolving Fund Program grants can be reloaned to finance predevelopment costs or small capital projects for water/wastewater systems. For both programs, applications are due May 27 and the contact for more information is Derek Jones, RUS, 202-720-9640.

Revisions proposed to HUD’s Section 3 regulations.
Section 3 requires that employment and other economic opportunities generated by HUD assistance be directed to low- and very low-income people, especially those receiving HUD aid. Comments are due June 3 on a proposed update to the regulations and initial benchmarks for measuring compliance. Contacts for more information vary by program and are listed in the proposals.

USDA properties again encouraged to host summer meals program.
Rental properties, self-help developments with common spaces, and community facilities funded by the Rural Housing Service are invited to participate in USDA’s Summer Food Service Program. For more information, contact a USDA RD state office or Food and Nutrition Service regional office. HAC has published a new research note on USDA-financed housing developments’ summer meals participation.

Bill introduced to target more federal funding to persistently poor areas.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) have introduced a bill to expand the 10-20-30 formula, which requires at least 10% of a federal program’s funds go to communities where the poverty rate has been at least 20% over the past 30 years. Their proposal would apply the formula to additional programs and would target some resources to census tracts with current poverty rates over 20%. Sen. Booker’s announcement quotes a statement of support from HAC’s David Lipsetz.

USDA seeks site manager and maintenance person of the year.
Nominations are due May 17 for USDA Rural Development’s Multi-Family Housing Site Manager and Maintenance Person of the Year program, recognizing those who go above and beyond to assure the success of USDA-financed rental and farmworker housing properties. For more information, contact Charlene Broussard, USDA, 337-262-6611, ext. 142.

RuralSTAT.
Taxpayers in counties outside metropolitan areas filed 13.5% of all tax returns in 2015 but accounted for just 8.5% of filers claiming a mortgage interest deduction. For more information on the mortgage interest deduction in rural America, see HAC’s Rural Research Note on the subject.

Income Tax Returns Claiming Mortgage Interest Deduction, 2015

Flooding creates emergency for South Dakota Indian reservations.
Storms and flooding in March struck not only Nebraska and Iowa, where the federal government has declared states of emergency, but also tribes in South Dakota. Tribal officials for the Cheyenne River, Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Standing Rock reservations have declared states of emergency. The Red Cross is assisting people on those reservations. Media stories report the National Guard distributed water on Pine Ridge, the Red Cross delivered supplies on Pine Ridge, dozens of Cheyenne River residents were evacuated during record-breaking floods, flooding was imminent at Standing Rock, and Pine Ridge families were trapped for days without access to food or medical care.

President requests housing finance reform plan.
A memorandum from President Trump tells the Secretary of the Treasury to develop a housing finance reform plan to end the conservatorships of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, facilitate competition in the housing market, increase the private sector’s participation in the mortgage market and more. It tells the HUD Secretary to develop a reform plan emphasizing FHA and Ginnie Mae, reducing taxpayer exposure and more. Both plans must be submitted “as soon as practicable.” Meanwhile, the Senate held hearings March 26 and March 27 on an outline for housing finance reform released by Senate Banking Committee Chair Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) in February.

Current and past USDA officials disagree on ERS/NIFA relocation.
Kristi J. Boswell, Senior Advisor to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, defended the proposed relocation of the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture at a House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on March 27. Four past ERS administrators and USDA Under Secretaries testified against the idea. Subcommittee members’ support or opposition to the move and the budget’s proposed cuts in ERS funding split along party lines, though some supporters criticized the current list of possible new locations.

Nearly one-fourth of the most rural counties see increase in severely cost-burdened housing.
Articles by the Pew Trusts and Curbed cited HAC data and interviewed HAC staff to report that nearly one-fourth of the nation’s most rural counties have seen a sizeable increase this decade in the number of households spending at least half their income on housing. Many rural areas are facing increased pressure on rental market from economic revivals, bringing in new workers and pushing up rental prices. Meanwhile, federal investments in housing support and affordable housing construction have been limited in rural areas.

HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits in May.
This three-day advanced course trains experienced participants to assist potential borrowers and work with RD staff, other nonprofits, and regional intermediaries to deliver successful Section 502 loan packages. The training will be held May 7-9 in Kansas City, MO. For more information, contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

Local solutions go national at People & Places 2019.
HAC is a co-host of People & Places 2019 on April 15-17 in Arlington, VA and has organized a workshop titled “Rural Arts & Design: A Proven Strategy Toward Equity, Affordable Homes and Stronger Local Economies.” Register by April 9.

HAC symposium on rural veterans’ housing and services scheduled for April in Arkansas.
HAC’s 5th Annual National Symposium on Veterans Housing Issues will be held April 18-19 at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, sponsored by the Home Depot Foundation. This year’s theme centers on addressing the critical needs around housing, homelessness and aging solutions for rural veterans, within the context of the Delta Regional Authority’s eight-state service area. There is no fee to attend, but space is limited and advance registration is required. For more information, contact Cheryl Cobbler, HAC.

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: April 12, 2018

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 12, 2018
Vol. 47, No. 8

Executive Order addresses work requirements • Draft Farm Bill includes SNAP work requirements • CRA recommendations released by Treasury Department • Opportunity Zones designated in 18 states and territories • HUD invites Choice Neighborhood Planning Grants applications • Stakeholders suggest Rural Development provisions for Farm Bill • RD clarifies asset management fee for nonprofits • Section 538 industry calls planned • HUD income limits set • CFPB requests comments on its guidance and its consumer financial education • Appraisal threshold increased • Comments requested to improve FHFA regulations • Wage gap for rural women quantified • Disaster survivors’ stories sought

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 12, 2018
Vol. 47, No. 8

Executive Order addresses work requirements.
On April 10 President Trump issued an “Executive Order Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility.” It establishes “Principles of Economic Mobility” that include strengthening or imposing work requirements for those receiving means-tested federal aid; increasing state and local flexibility in administering aid; combining or eliminating “duplicative or ineffective” programs; and involving the private sector in poverty solutions. Cabinet departments that run assistance programs, including USDA and HUD, must submit reports within 90 days recommending changes consistent with these principles. They must also list which programs restrict benefits to lawful U.S. residents and which do not.

Draft Farm Bill includes SNAP work requirements.
The House Agriculture Committee released the text of H.R. 2, the 2018 Farm Bill, on April 12. It proposes new requirements for SNAP participants to work or enroll in work training. The only housing provision updates the definition of rural areas eligible for the RHS housing programs so that it refers to the 2020 Census as well as 2010. The bill reauthorizes several RUS and RBS programs. It also reauthorizes the Delta Regional Authority and the Northern Great Plains Regional Authority, but cuts the authorized funding for the DRA from the current $30 million per year to $12 million and for the NGPRA from $30 million to $2 million. (The DRA’s FY18 appropriation is $25 million. The NGPRA has never received an appropriation.)

CRA recommendations released by Treasury Department.
Treasury published a report on April 3 identifying regulatory and administrative improvements for the Community Reinvestment Act. The suggestions would broaden bank assessment areas to account for technological access in places without physical branches, expand the range of eligible CRA activities, clarify rating criteria and subjective terms such as “excellent,” require timely examinations, and strengthen incentives for banks to avoid low performance ratings.

Opportunity Zones designated in 18 states and territories.
The first round of Opportunity Zones were announced by the Treasury Department and the IRS for the states and territories that nominated areas by March 21. Other states requested 30-day extensions and must make their submissions by April 20. The IRS invites comments as it develops guidance for the program on topics including the certification of Qualified Opportunity Funds and eligible investments in Qualified Opportunity Zones. It does not provide a deadline.

HUD invites Choice Neighborhood Planning Grants applications.
Nonprofits, PHAs, local governments, and tribal entities are eligible for planning grants or planning and action grants focusing on transforming a neighborhood by redeveloping at least one severely distressed public or HUD-assisted housing project. Applications are due June 12.

Stakeholders suggest Rural Development provisions for Farm Bill.
HAC and other interested organizations sent a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees listing recommendations for provisions related to USDA Rural Development that could be included in this year’s Farm Bill. Among the suggestions are incentives for investing in the rural communities with the greatest need, including those with populations under 10,000; authorization for the multifamily housing preservation technical assistance program; and support for infrastructure, including broadband.

RD clarifies asset management fee for nonprofits.
An Unnumbered Letter dated March 30, 2018 explains that nonprofit and cooperative owners of Section 515 and 514/516 properties are eligible for a $7,500 asset management fee per property, rather than per owner. For more information, contact a USDA RD state office.

Section 538 industry calls planned.
During 2018 and 2019, USDA will hold a series of teleconference and/or web conference meetings regarding the Section 538 guaranteed rental housing program. To register to receive information when calls are scheduled, contact Monica Cole, USDA, 202-720-1251.

HUD income limits set.
FY18 median area incomes and income limits for metro areas and nonmetro counties are available online.

CFPB requests comments on its guidance and its consumer financial education.
Comments to help CFPB assess the overall effectiveness and accessibility of its guidance materials and activities (including implementation support) to members of the general public, including regulated entities, are due July 2. For more information, contact Kristin Switzer, CFPB, 202-435-7700. Comments on CFPB’s consumer financial education programs are due July 9. For more information, contact Davida Farrar, CFPB, 202-435-9523.

Appraisal threshold increased.
Effective on April 9, the federal agencies that regulate banks and savings and loans require appraisals for lenders’ real estate transactions above $500,000. The previous threshold was $250,000. Loans secured by residential properties with one to four units are exempt from the appraisal requirement; for those, lenders must instead obtain evaluations that are consistent with safe and sound banking practices. Contacts for further information vary by regulatory agency.

Comments requested to improve FHFA regulations.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency invites comments by June 4 on how its regulations can be made more effective and less burdensome, except for rules of agency organization, procedure, or practice, or regulations adopted or substantially amended since April 2016. For more information, contact Ellen S. Bailey, FHFA, 202-649-3056.

Wage gap for rural women quantified.
The Center for American Progress reports that rural women who work full time, year round, make 76 cents for every dollar that rural men make. Rural African-American and Hispanic women make 56 cents for every dollar made by rural white, non-Hispanic men, while Rural Native American women make 69 cents and rural Asian American and Pacific Islander women make 75 cents.

Disaster survivors’ stories sought.
The Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition developed an online tool to capture disaster survivors’ individual stories. These accounts of unmet need will be used to illustrate the unique housing challenges low-income survivors face after a disaster and to build support for solutions. The coalition asks organizations serving disaster survivors from the hurricanes and wildfires of 2017 to fill out the online questionnaire for any client/individual with a compelling need for direct rental assistance.

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).

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.