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HAC News: December 14, 2018

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 14, 2018
Vol. 47, No. 25

2018 HAC Rural Housing Conference educates, inspires, and advances the rural housing community. • Federal Reserve Board of Governors chairman Jerome Powell addresses HAC conference • HAC awards recognize national, local and federal leadership for rural housing • USDA and HUD spending now expiring December 21 • Congress passes Farm Bill • Increased staff specialization planned for USDA Rural Development • Mark Calabria named to lead Federal Housing Finance Agency • Kathy Kraninger becomes head of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau • Perdue announces RD initiative for broadband and e-connectivity • Executive Order encourages development in Opportunity Zones • HAC’s Rural Voices magazine covers capacity building • Census Bureau releases new data for counties, towns, Native lands and more • Study examines trust lands and manufactured homes in Indian Country

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 14, 2018
Vol. 47, No. 25

2018 HAC Rural Housing Conference educates, inspires, and advances the rural housing community.
Over 600 registrants from 48 states heard from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell (see item below), Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Rusty Smith from Rural Studio , HAC CEO David Lipsetz, former HAC Executive Director Moises Loza and former Deputy Director Joe Belden, as well as USDA and HUD staff and dozens of other experts. Materials from conference sessions are available through the conference app . Check out photos, comments and daily wrap-up videos on HAC’s social media: Twitter , Facebook , and YouTube . Watch HAC’s website and the HAC News for announcements as additional items, including videos of plenary sessions, become available.

Federal Reserve Board of Governors chairman Jerome Powell addresses HAC conference.
Speaking at the HAC Rural Housing Conference on December 6, Chairman Powell discussed the strength of the economy while acknowledging that not everyone has enjoyed the benefits of the strong economy equally. He stressed the importance of the Community Reinvestment Act and praised HAC’s research on the subject as beneficial to the Fed’s plans around potential CRA reform. His remarks garnered press coverage from the New York Times and Reuters.

HAC awards recognize national, local and federal leadership for rural housing.
At the 2018 HAC Rural Housing Conference, the Cochran/Collings Award for Distinguished Service in Housing for the Rural Poor went to Starry Krueger, President of the Rural Development Leadership Network. Four local leaders received the Skip Jason Community Service Award: Salvador Estrada (Tierra del Sol, NM), Cassie Hicks (University of Southern Mississippi Institute for Disability Studies, MS), Dennis Lalor (South County Housing, CA) (posthumous) and Joe Myer (NCALL Research, DE). Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) received the Henry B. González Award for an elected official.

USDA and HUD spending now expiring December 21.
The deadline for negotiations on FY19 appropriations was extended to December 21 because congressional activity was slowed by the death of former President George H.W. Bush on November 30. Various end results, including a government shutdown, are still possible.

Congress passes Farm Bill.
House and Senate conferees reached an agreement on a new five-year Farm Bill, dropping provisions that would have imposed stricter work requirements on food stamp recipients. The Senate passed it on December 11 and the House on December 12. President Trump is expected to sign it into law. The bill requires USDA to have an Under Secretary for Rural Development and requires the appointee be confirmed by the Senate. The Under Secretary position had been eliminated in a 2017 reorganization, replaced by an Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development. Anne Hazlett has served in that role since June 2017. The bill also maintains local eligibility for USDA rural housing programs after the 2020 Census, so long as a place’s population does not exceed 35,000 and it remains “rural in character.” The bill authorizes a new Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) grant program, a concept HAC supported, to create rural job accelerators and related programming. HAC and others suggested additional improvements to the bill’s Rural Development title, but in general the 2018 RD title is much like the 2014 version.

Increased staff specialization planned for USDA Rural Development.
At the 2018 HAC Rural Housing Conference, RD officials explained some staffing changes, which are also described in letters from Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to members of the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees. An October 10 letter says that applications for the Section 538 rental guarantee program and Section 515 rental loan program will no longer be processed or underwritten in each state office. Twenty-five staff, who will remain in their current state office locations, will work exclusively on either 538 or 515. According to a November 30 letter, instead of handling the Section 502 guaranteed program in each of the 47 state offices, the agency will create a single unit, so the program will be delivered by 275 employees rather than 300. In addition, appraisers, architects, engineers, and others will be “realigned” into the RD Business Center. The November letter says that affected staff will remain in their current locations and implies that unneeded staff will be reassigned rather than laid off. The November letter enumerates other changes being made in the RUS, RBS, and Community Facilities staffs, and additional changes are described in the HAC News, 11/30/18.

Mark Calabria named to lead Federal Housing Finance Agency.
President Trump will nominate Calabria, currently chief economist for Vice President Mike Pence, to serve a five-year term as director of FHFA, which regulates Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Bank system. The term of Melvin Watt, the current director, ends in January. FHFA director nominees must be confirmed by the Senate.

Kathy Kraninger becomes head of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Kraninger, most recently an associate director at the Office of Management and Budget, was confirmed by the Senate on December 6 and sworn in on December 10. She takes over from Mick Mulvaney, head of OMB, who has been CFPB’s acting director.

Perdue announces RD initiative for broadband and e-connectivity.
On December 13 Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a new ReConnect Program to provide broadband infrastructure in rural areas with populations under 20,000. State and local governments, tribes, nonprofits, for-profits, limited liability companies, and coops are eligible for funding. Applications for grants are due April 29, for loan and grant combinations May 29, and for low-interest loans June 28. For more information, contact Chad Parker, RUS, 202-720-9555.

Executive Order encourages development in Opportunity Zones.
On December 12, President Trump signed an order creating a White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, to be comprised of 13 federal agencies and chaired by HUD Secretary Ben Carson. The council is charged with targeting existing federal programs to “urban and economically distressed areas,” including Opportunity Zones, and to engage with all levels of government on revitalizing low-income communities. A list and map of all Opportunity Zones are available on the CDFI Fund’s website. A supportive statement issued by Anne Hazlett, USDA Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, says “USDA Rural Development programs will award priority points on applications from private sector intermediaries for projects built in opportunity zone census tracts as well as in other select programs for projects that directly benefit communities located in Opportunity Zones.”

HAC’s Rural Voices magazine covers capacity building.
The conference issue of Rural Voicesdescribes what it means to build the capacity of rural housing organizations, why it is important, who does it, how it is done and how it is financed.

Census Bureau releases new data for counties, towns, Native lands and more.
The newest American Community Survey data has been released on the Census Bureau’s American Fact Finder website. This five-year data provides estimates of demographic characteristics, income, housing, education and other subjects for states, counties, and smaller areas such as zip codes, census tracts, and American Indian Areas/Alaska Native Areas/Hawaiian Home Lands. For the first time, broadband-related data is included.

Study examines trust lands and manufactured homes in Indian Country.
The Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has released new research, reported in a blog post titled “Race, Location, and Manufactured-Home Loans on American Indian Reservations.” They examine the statistically higher rate of loan applications at the intersection of manufactured housing, American Indian identity, and reservation trust land. Much of this research was shared at the 2018 HAC Rural Housing Conference session “Homeownership in Indian Country – Creating the Opportunity for Choice.”

Happy holidays from HAC!
The board and staff of the Housing Assistance Council wish peace, prosperity and affordable housing to all! HAC’s offices will be closed from December 24 to January 1.

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).

Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell to speak at HAC Conference

powell jerome PUBThe Housing Assistance Council is pleased to announce that Jay Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors will provide remarks at the upcoming HAC Rural Housing Conference.

Jerome H. Powell took office as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on February 5, 2018, for a four-year term. Mr. Powell also serves as Chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee, the System’s principal monetary policymaking body. Mr. Powell has served as a member of the Board of Governors since taking office on May 25, 2012, to fill an unexpired term. He was reappointed to the Board and sworn in on June 16, 2014, for a term ending January 31, 2028.

Prior to his appointment to the Board, Mr. Powell was a visiting scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., where he focused on federal and state fiscal issues. From 1997 through 2005, Mr. Powell was a partner at The Carlyle Group. Read more

For more information on the conference or to register, visit https://www.cvent.com/d/rgqxcd.

Senator Cortez Masto to speak at HAC Conference

Catherine Cortez Masto official portraitThe Housing Assistance Council is pleased to announce that Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (NV) will provide remarks at the upcoming HAC Rural Housing Conference.

Born and raised in Las Vegas, Catherine Cortez Masto has spent her career fighting for Nevada’s working families. She served two terms as Attorney General of Nevada and, in November 2016, became the first Latina and the first woman from Nevada ever elected to the United States Senate.

During her time as Nevada’s top prosecutor, Cortez Masto became well known as an advocate for seniors, women, and children. She worked closely with local law enforcement to keep Nevada’s communities safe. She also created a senior protection unit to safeguard older Nevadans from identity theft, exploitation, and abuse. Read more

For more information on the conference or to register, visit https://www.cvent.com/d/rgqxcd.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson to speak at HAC Conference

HUD Secretary Ben CarsonThe Housing Assistance Council is pleased to announce that Ben Carson, Secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, will provide remarks at the upcoming HAC Rural Housing Conference.

On March 2nd, 2017, Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., M.D., was sworn in as the 17th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

For nearly 30 years, Secretary Carson served as Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, a position he assumed when he was just 33 years old, becoming the youngest major division director in the hospital’s history. In 1987, he successfully performed the first separation of craniopagus twins conjoined at the back of the head. He also performed the first fully successful separation of type-2 vertical craniopagus twins in 1997 in South Africa. Read more

For more information on the conference or to register, visit https://www.cvent.com/d/rgqxcd.

Skip Jason Awardee Earl Pfieffer Honored by County Commissioners

The Hillsborough County Commissioners recognizes Earl Pfieffer, Executive Director of Florida Home Partnership, Inc. for receiving the Housing Assistance Council’s Skip Jason Award on Thursday, Jan 26 at 1:30 pm as part of its quarterly awards ceremony recognizing individual county residents for their achievements. The award, named for Robert M. “Skip” Jason, recognizes individuals whose efforts have improved the housing conditions of the rural poor in their communities.

Earl accepted the award the HAC 2016 Rural Housing Conference in Washington, D.C. During his acceptance speech, Earl took a moment to recognize every member of his organization that attended the event, stressing “I didn’t do this alone.” Watch Earl accept his award during the 2016 Rural Housing Awards banquet.

The ceremony takes place at the Hillsborough County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33602.

HAC News: October 06, 2016

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 06, 2016
Vol. 45, No. 19

• Federal government funded through December 9 • Temporary preference given to certified packaged 502 loans • USDA suggests above-code standards for single-family housing • Administration housing toolkit addresses local barriers • GAO recommends improvements for services in HUD Section 202 properties • RAD may not be reaching rural places well • Black-white wage gaps are larger today than in 1979 • Register by October 21 for the 2016 HAC Rural Housing Conference!

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 06, 2016
Vol. 45, No. 19

Federal government funded through December 9. A continuing resolution, passed along with the full Military Construction/VA appropriations bill and emergency funding for the Zika virus, provides FY16 funding levels for federal programs and an 0.5% across-the-board cut. As expected (see HAC News, 9/8/16), it allows USDA to spend a disproportionate amount of Section 521 Rental Assistance funds early in the fiscal year in order to renew contracts when they expire. Congress is now in recess until November 14, after the election.

Temporary preference given to certified packaged 502 loans. USDA is temporarily classifying Section 502 direct applications submitted through the certified loan application packaging process as its fourth funding priority because funds are insufficient to serve all program-eligible applicants. This reclassification will remain in effect until further notice. The priority does not apply to certified packaging bodies working without an intermediary. Contact Tammy Repine, USDA, 360-753-7677.

USDA suggests above-code standards for single-family housing. In an Unnumbered Letter dated October 4, 2016, RD recommends – but does not require – that Section 502 and 504 homeowners, lenders, and others use building standards that exceed building codes. It provides information about standards that could be used for wind hazard resistance and water efficiency, and also discusses “location efficiency.” That refers to a home’s nearness to jobs, schools, and essential goods and services, impacting the greenhouse gas emissions generated by transportation. Contact a USDA RD state office.

Administration housing toolkit addresses local barriers. A Housing Development Toolkit issued by the White House focuses on ways states and localities can “promote healthy, responsive, affordable, high-opportunity housing markets.” It provides examples of “modern housing strategies” such as taxing vacant land or donating it to nonprofit developers, streamlining permitting processes and timelines, eliminating off-street parking requirements, allowing accessory dwelling units, employing inclusionary zoning, and using property tax abatements.

GAO recommends improvements for services in HUD Section 202 properties. To review how Section 202 properties connect residents to services and HUD’s related monitoring efforts, the Government Accountability Office researched the presence of service coordinators, how properties without coordinators connect residents with services, and HUD’s monitoring of Section 202 properties’ efforts to connect residents with supportive services. Elderly Housing: HUD Should Do More to Oversee Efforts to Link Residents to Services(GAO-16-758) recommends that HUD improve the accuracy of relevant data, develop written guidance on assessing compliance with supportive services requirements, and develop procedures for verifying and analyzing performance data.

RAD may not be reaching rural places well. HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration program, which began in 2012, allows PHAs to convert public housing units to project-based Section 8 contracts in order to attract additional financing. An interim report on RAD by HUD consultant Econometrica presents early results on subjects such as PHAs’ choices whether to participate and what external capital sources they used. Small PHAs had a low participation rate. Among the reasons given for not taking part were lower area rents and a perceived lack of investor interest in small towns and rural areas. Econometrica recommended HUD offer examples of successful use of RAD in rural places. A final report will be issued in three years, after RAD has been in effect long enough for its impacts to be studied.

Black-white wage gaps are larger today than in 1979. Research by the Economic Policy Institute found that the gaps grew during the early 1980s, shrank in the late 1990s – due in part to tighter labor markets and minimum wage increases – and have grown again since 2000. As of 2015, relative to the average hourly wages of white men with the same education, experience, metro status, and region of residence, black men make 22.0% less, and black women make 34.2% less. Black-White Wage Gaps Expand with Rising Wage Inequality notes the gaps have expanded most for college graduates, so education alone is not a solution. EPI attributes the increase to discrimination and the growth in income gaps in general, and suggests policy solutions. Another study on this topic was covered in the HAC News, 8/10/16.

Register by October 21 for the 2016 HAC Rural Housing Conference! Registration fees rise after October 21. The national conference will be held November 30-December 2 in Washington, DC with pre-conference activities on November 29. Information about registration, scholarships, exhibiting, and more is now online.

HAC News: September 22, 2016

HAC News Formats. pdf

September 22, 2016
Vol. 45, No. 18

• Continuing resolution likely to run to December 9 • Census Bureau surveys yield differing conclusions about nonmetro economic growth • USDA releases database of rural multifamily loans and projected “exit” dates • Final rule addresses harassment in housing • HUD mandates program access based on gender identity • House and Senate hearings consider HUD changes • Tenant services are not allowable RD project expenses • Nonprofits and public bodies can buy some Section 502 homes • Report addresses rural affordable housing credit • Research finds disconnect between experts’ and public’s understandings of healthy housing • Guidance set for independent students’ access to Section 8 • REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR THE 2016 HAC RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!

HAC News Formats. pdf

September 22, 2016
Vol. 45, No. 18

Continuing resolution likely to run to December 9. Congressional leaders are still working to resolve differences regarding the contents of a CR to keep the government operating when the fiscal year ends on September 30. The measure will also fund other items such as Zika virus control and Louisiana flood relief; a letter from OMB Director Shaun Donovan to key members of Congress requests $2.6 billion in emergency CDBG funding for Louisiana.

Census Bureau surveys yield differing conclusions about nonmetro economic growth. On September 13 the Census Bureau released Income and Poverty in the United States: 2015, showing improvements in poverty rates and median incomes from 2014 to 2015 both nationwide and in metro areas, but no statistically significant change in nonmetro areas. The data came from the Current Population Survey, which used different boundaries for metro and nonmetro areas in 2014 than in 2015, making the year-to-year comparison unreliable. On September 16, a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of data from the American Community Survey, a larger sample that used consistent boundaries, showed incomes grew 3.4% in nonmetro areas and 3.6% in metro. CBPP found poverty rates dropped by almost 1% in both, to 17.2% in nonmetro places and 14.3% in metro areas.

USDA releases database of rural multifamily loans and projected “exit” dates. HAC recently published an analysis of data on maturity dates of mortgages in USDA’s multifamily portfolio and an interactive map of the properties (see HAC News, 9/8/16). Now USDA has released the loan level data to the public in spreadsheet form.

Final rule addresses harassment in housing. HUD has set formal standards in its fair housing regulations to be used when someone complains of harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability. The rule specifies how HUD will evaluate complaints of quid pro quo harassment and hostile environment harassment under the Fair Housing Act, defines the terms, and clarifies direct and vicarious liability in the Fair Housing Act context. Contact Lynn Grosso, HUD, 202-402-5361.

HUD mandates program access based on gender identity. A final rule, effective on October 21, requires providers that operate single-sex projects using funds from HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development to provide all individuals with access to programs, benefits, services, and accommodations in accordance with their gender identity without being subjected to intrusive questioning or being asked to provide documentation. Contact Norm Suchar, HUD, 202-708-4300.

House and Senate hearings consider HUD changes. On September 21 the House Financial Services Committee’s Housing Subcommittee held a session called “The Future of Housing in America: A Better Way to Increase Efficiencies for Housing Vouchers and Create Upward Economic Mobility,” and a Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee hearing was entitled “Housing Vulnerable Families and Individuals: Is There a Better Way?” Both focused largely on ways to reduce administrative costs and facilitate tenant self-sufficiency. Some members pointed out that small rural PHAs may face particular challenges to consolidating or forming consortia.

Tenant services are not allowable RD project expenses. In an August 8, 2016 Unnumbered Letter USDA RD reminds stakeholders that tenant services cannot be charged against project income in the operating budgets of Section 514 and 515 properties. It encourages service provision using other funding sources. Contact an RD State Office.

Nonprofits and public bodies can buy some Section 502 homes. An Unnumbered Letter dated August 26, 2016 explains when these organizations can purchase in voluntary short sales by homeowners or RD REO sales. Community Facilities financing may be an option for properties in communities with populations up to 20,000. Contact Barry Ramsey, RD, 202-720-5378.

Report addresses rural affordable housing credit.Opportunities for Promoting Credit for Affordable Housing in Rural America” follows a May roundtable convened by the White House Rural Council and USDA’s Rural Housing Service and facilitated by the Center for American Progress. HAC was among the participants. Identified opportunities fell into categories such as addressing issues of scale, providing capital, preserving and producing affordable rental housing, providing rental assistance, promoting manufactured housing, supporting CDFIs, and distributing more information to affect outcomes.

Research finds disconnect between experts’ and public’s understandings of healthy housing. The complex set of cultural models the public uses to make sense of housing does not always match experts’ views, according to the FrameWorks Institute’s “A House, a Tent, a Box”: Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of Healthy Housing. Experts in the field explain housing problems based on structural or systemic factors, FrameWorks reports, while members of the public focus on individual responsibility. The researchers suggest that a change in how the media portrays and frames the issue of housing could foster better understanding of housing issues, raise the salience of these issues in public thinking, and generate support for needed policies.

Guidance set for independent students’ access to Section 8. HUD’s revisions to guidance issued in 2006 expand the definition of “independent student” consistent with the Department of Education’s definition. Contact Rebecca L. Primeaux, HUD, 202-402-6050.

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR THE 2016 HAC RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE! This year’s national conference will be held November 30-December 2 in Washington, DC with pre-conference activities on November 29. Information about registration, scholarships, exhibiting, award nominations, and more is now online.

A look back at the 2014 HAC Conference

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is pleased to share with you a report on the 2014 HAC Rural Housing Conference held in Washington, DCin December 2014. The Conference was a tremendous success, according to evaluation results that are summarized in the Conference Report.

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is pleased to share with you a report on the 2014 HAC Rural Housing Conference held in Washington, DC this past December. The Conference was a tremendous success, according to evaluation results that are summarized in the Conference Report. The Report briefly reviews the plenary sessions, workshops and other Conference events. Links to videos of each plenary session as well as materials from select workshops are also made available in the Report.

Hope to see you at the 2016 HAC Rural Housing Conference!

Download the Report

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Watch the Plenaries

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Materials from the Conference

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Conference program now available

The HAC Rural Housing Conference is only 12 days away! Get a preview of what to expect at the conference by downloading the newly released Conference Program. Review the conference activities ahead of time and make sure to download the HAC Trainings App so you can access a more expansive and dynamic program.

Discussion Topics, HAC National Rural Housing Conference 2014

Conversation is one of the best things about HAC’s Rural Housing Conference. Every two years the Conference offers a unique opportunity for discussion among hundreds of rural housers from across the U.S. who are not often in the same place at the same time. Many exchanges are informal, during meals or in the halls between workshops. Others are more structured, and in 2014 HAC will provide an opportunity for facilitated discussions on six topics. HAC asked expert rural housing practitioners to write two-page papers on each of these subjects. On the second day of the conference, attendees will choose among these topics and participate in discussions during a working lunch. Each discussion group will report its thoughts and recommendations to the conference as a whole.

PDF containing all six papers

You do not need to attend the conference to contribute your thoughts! The discussions are beginning now on LinkedIn.