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HAC News: December 12, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 12, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 24

• Congressional committee leaders announced • Streamlining HUD’s rental assistance again considered by Senate committee • Lead paint grants offered • Final rule issued for IHBG and Title VI loan guarantees • Input sought on Native American access to capital and credit • Downpayment sources for FHA mortgages addressed • HUD report shows homelessness rate statistically unchanged • Concentration of poverty growing in nonmetro areas, ERS reports • Rural poverty and housing need persist, HAC report says • HAC honors six for rural housing work


December 12, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 24

CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE LEADERS ANNOUNCED. Key positions will change in the 113th Congress, which starts in January. On the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) will be the new chairman and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) will be the new ranking member (top Democrat). For the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) will be the new ranking member, while Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) continues as chairman. Some House subcommittee leadership spots and Senate positions will also change but have not yet been announced. The HAC News will provide further updates as available.

STREAMLINING HUD’S RENTAL ASSISTANCE AGAIN CONSIDERED BY SENATE COMMITTEE. The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee held a second hearing December 11 titled “Streamlining and Strengthening HUD’s Rental Housing Assistance Programs.” The first hearing on this subject was held in August.

LEAD PAINT GRANTS OFFERED. Applications are due February 4 for HUD’s Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Grant and Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration Grant programs, subject to congressional appropriation of program funds for FY13. States, counties, tribes, and other local governments are eligible, and funds can be used in owner-occupied or rental housing. Contact Michelle M. Miller, HUD, 202-402-5769.

FINAL RULE ISSUED FOR IHBG AND TITLE VI LOAN GUARANTEES. Changes in the regulations reflect consensus decisions by HUD and tribal representatives in a negotiated rulemaking process and implement changes enacted in several statutes, including the 2008 NAHASDA reauthorization act. Contact Rodger J. Boyd, HUD, 202-401-7914.

INPUT SOUGHT ON NATIVE AMERICAN ACCESS TO CAPITAL AND CREDIT. The CDFI Fund requests comments from tribes and others on research about access to capital and credit in Native communities, updating a 2001 study. It hopes to provide a baseline of information on the subject and to identify barriers and provide options to address them. Comments can be submitted in writing or in webcast meetings on January 15 and 17. Contact CDFI Fund staff.

DOWNPAYMENT SOURCES FOR FHA MORTGAGES ADDRESSED. Comments are due January 4 on a regulation clarifying that state and local government programs that provide funds for all or part of homebuyers’ downpayments for FHA mortgages are exempt from statutory prohibitions on some sources of downpayment funds. Contact Millicent Potts, HUD, 202-708-2212.

HUD REPORT SHOWS HOMELESSNESS RATE STATISTICALLY UNCHANGED. Data collected in January 2012 shows the number of homeless people nationwide almost the same as in January 2011, although there were increases and decreases in some states, and homeless veterans declined by 7%. The 2012 Annual Homeless Assessment Report counts people in shelters, transitional housing, safe havens, and places not intended for human habitation. Data for every state and Continuum of Care are also posted.

CONCENTRATION OF POVERTY GROWING IN NONMETRO AREAS, ERS REPORTS. An analysis of American Com-munity Survey data by USDA’s Economic Research Service found that many counties with newly high poverty rates are adjacent to those that had high poverty rates in 2000. ERS’s findings are similar to HAC’s in Taking Stock (see next article below) and HAC’s accompanying poverty map; the two analyses were conducted independently and use different definitions of rural.

RURAL POVERTY AND HOUSING NEED PERSIST, HAC REPORT SAYS. HAC’s decennial analysis of data from the Census and other sources describes demographic changes such as growth in the elderly and Hispanic populations, economic challenges like the foreclosure crisis, and ongoing housing problems including high housing costs, homelessness, and housing quality issues. HAC also looked in depth at five high needs regions and populations including the colonias near the U.S.-Mexico border, Central Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, Native American lands, and farmworkers. Taking Stock: Rural People, Poverty, and Housing in the 21st Century is free on HAC’s site or $30 from HAC, including shipping and handling.

HAC HONORS SIX FOR RURAL HOUSING WORK. At the National Rural Housing Conference last week, HAC presented the Skip Jason Community Service Award to John David, founder and director of the Southern Appalachian Labor School in West Virginia; Owyne Gardner, T&MA Regional Manager at Little Dixie Community Action Agency in Oklahoma; Al Gold, Executive Director of Community Resources and Housing Development Corporation in Colorado; and Patty Griffiths, Housing Program Manager for the Community Action Commission of Fayette County in Ohio. The Cochran/Collings Award for Distinguished Service in Housing for the Rural Poor went to Shirley Sherrod, founder of the Sherrod Institute in Georgia. Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, retiring after more than 20 years in Congress, received the Henry B. Gonzáles Award.

HAC News: November 28, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

November 28, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 23

• Congressional leadership will change for housing • Claim filing period open for Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers • CFPB to consolidate more mortgage disclosure requirements • FHFA sets new housing goals and rating system for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac • HUD reopens comment period on smoke-free policies • RUS proposes targeting changes for rural broadband program • NSP closeout requirements revised • New rating system adopted for examining GSEs • Deficit reduction without substantial revenues likely to require deep housing cuts • Census briefs show recession’s impact


November 28, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 23

CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP WILL CHANGE FOR HOUSING. The 113th Congress, which starts work in January, will have changes in key committee leadership positions and in committee rosters. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) is retiring, so his chairmanship of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee will move to someone else. Iowa’s Tom Harkin is next in line. Democratic Reps. Barney Frank and John Olver of Massachusetts are also retiring, so their ranking member (top minority party) slots on the House Financial Services Committee and the Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee will change. Maxine Waters (D-CA) on Financial Services and Ed Pastor (D-AZ) on THUD are next in line. Also on House Financial Services, Housing Subcommittee Chair Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL) lost her re-election bid. Rep. Jen Hensarling (R-TX) will be the new chair of the full Financial Services Committee, as current chair Spencer Bachus (R-AL) rotates due to term limits on chairmen. Also moving due to term limits will be Senate Banking Committee ranking member Richard Shelby (R-AL). HAC will provide further updates as information becomes available.

CLAIM FILING PERIOD OPEN FOR HISPANIC AND WOMEN FARMERS AND RANCHERS. Anyone improperly denied farm loan benefits by USDA between 1981 and 2000 because s/he is Hispanic or female can file a claim before March 25, 2013 for cash payment or loan forgiveness. Call 1-888-508-4429 or visit www.farmerclaims.gov.

CFPB TO CONSOLIDATE MORE MORTGAGE DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a rule in July (see HAC News, 8/22/12) proposing to integrate some disclosures required for homebuyers, as mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act. CFPB will delay some other new disclosure requirements until it finalizes its July proposal. See Federal Register, 11/23/12. Contact Michael G. Silver, CFPB, 202-435-7700.

FHFA SETS NEW HOUSING GOALS AND RATING SYSTEM FOR FANNIE MAE AND FREDDIE MAC. In a final rule the Federal Housing Finance Agency sets new levels for Fannie’s and Freddie’s purchases of affordable housing mortgages in 2012, 2013, and 2014. The existing structure of the goals remains (with targets for low- and very low-income homeowners and affordable rentals, but no specifically rural targets). The new single-family goals are lower than those for 2010 and 2011. The new multifamily goals are higher than for 2010 and 2011, but they decrease each year from 2012 through 2014. See Federal Register, 11/13/12 or FHFA’s website. Contact Paul Manchester, FHFA, 202-649-3115.

HUD REOPENS COMMENT PERIOD ON SMOKE-FREE POLICIES. The deadline is now January 22, 2013 to comment on smoke-free policies for public and multifamily housing (see HAC News, 10/10/12). See Federal Register, 11/23/12, or www.regulations.gov. Contact Shauna Sorrells, HUD, 202-402-2769.

RUS PROPOSES TARGETING CHANGES FOR RURAL BROADBAND PROGRAM. USDA’s Rural Utilities Service proposes to amend its regulations for the Community Connect Grant Program enabling it to target resources to geographical as well as technological areas of need. Comments are due January 15, 2013. See Federal Register, 11/16/12 or https://www.regulations.gov. Contact Kenneth Kuchno, RUS, 202-690-4673.

NSP CLOSEOUT REQUIREMENTS REVISED. HUD is making requirements for closing out grants under all three rounds of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program “nearly identical” to those for CDBG. See Federal Register, 11/27/12. Contact Stanley Gimont, HUD, 202-708-3587.

NEW RATING SYSTEM ADOPTED FOR EXAMINING GSES. FHFA will use a new rating system when examining Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal Home Loan Banks, and the Banks’ Office of Finance. The system will assess capital, asset quality, management, earnings, liquidity, sensitivity to market risk, and operational risk (“CAMELSO”). See Federal Register, 11/13/12 or FHFA’s website. Contact Karen Walter, FHFA, 202-649-3405.

DEFICIT REDUCTION WITHOUT SUBSTANTIAL REVENUES LIKELY TO REQUIRE DEEP HOUSING CUTS. The alternatives to sequestration could force even greater cuts in housing assistance, according to Deficit Reduction Deal Without Substantial New Revenues Would Almost Certainly Force Deep Cuts in Housing Assistance, a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

CENSUS BRIEFS SHOW RECESSION’S IMPACT. Three briefs, using statistics from the American Community Survey, describe increases in household sharing and public assistance. Poverty and Shared Households by State: 2011 reports the proportion of adults living with others who are not immediate family increased from 2007 to 2011. That paper, as well as Food Stamp/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Receipt in the Past 12 Months for Households by State: 2010 and 2011 and Public Assistance Receipt in the Past 12 Months for Households: 2010 and 2011, include data for each state as well as the United States. A Census Bureau summary is also posted online.

HAC News: November 7, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

November 7, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 22

• November is National Native American Heritage Month • November 10-18 is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week • Rural housing on Senate Majority Leader’s list • Disaster recovery information available from USDA and HAC • VA offers funds to help families’ housing stability • LIHTC can serve extremely low-income tenants, research finds • Some income exclusions apply to USDA RD multifamily occupants • USDA RD offers guidance on using Section 538 loans for Section 515 properties • Treatment of farmworkers and others by large food companies varies, research finds • CBO reports on income tax’s effect on owning and renting • Child poverty increased in rural areas and nationwide from 2010 to 2011 • National Rural Housing Conference early bird registration deadline is November 9!


November 7, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 22

NOVEMBER IS NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH. President Obama’s proclamation also names November 23 (the day after Thanksgiving) Native American Heritage Day.

NOVEMBER 10-18 IS NATIONAL HUNGER AND HOMELESSNESS AWARENESS WEEK. Information about this annual event, sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, is posted online.

RURAL HOUSING ON SENATE MAJORITY LEADER’S LIST. The National Journal published a list of unfinished legislative items compiled by the staff of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and noted there are too many to complete during Congress’s lame duck session, which will begin soon. “Rural housing” appears on the list without further explanation, probably referring to the effort to preserve eligibility for housing programs in places with growing populations. See HAC News, 9/26/12.

DISASTER RECOVERY INFORMATION AVAILABLE FROM USDA AND HAC. HAC has updated Picking up the Pieces, its guide to resources for rural housing in disaster areas, and published a Hurricane Sandy supplement. USDA is sending letters to Section 502 direct and guaranteed borrowers in and around the Hurricane Sandy disaster areas summarizing available loan servicing assistance, including possible payment moratoria for direct borrowers. Owners and renters in USDA assisted properties should contact USDA RD offices. Vacant houses and apartments with USDA financing may be available for hurricane survivors through FEMA, 800-621-FEMA. Additional federal disaster information is posted at https://www.disasterassistance.gov.

VA OFFERS FUNDS TO HELP FAMILIES’ HOUSING STABILITY. The Supportive Services for Veteran Families program makes grants to nonprofits, consumer coops, and Tribally Designated Housing Entities to provide or coordinate supportive services to very low-income veteran families to remain in or transition into permanent housing. Deadline is February 1, 2013. Contact John Kuhn, VA, 877-737-0111, SSVF@va.gov.

SOME INCOME EXCLUSIONS APPLY TO USDA RD MULTIFAMILY OCCUPANTS. An Unnumbered Letter (October 9, 2012) provides a copy of a July 24 HUD Federal Register notice (see HAC News, 7/25/12) listing exclusions to income for numerous programs, and announces that RD Handbook changes will be published soon. Contact Laura Horn, RD, 202-720-5443.

USDA RD OFFERS GUIDANCE ON USING SECTION 538 LOANS FOR SECTION 515 PROPERTIES. Section 538 guaranteed loans can finance revitalization of existing properties with Section 515 direct loans. An Unnumbered Letter (October 9, 2012) instructs USDA staff on reconciling procedural differences between the programs. Contact Tammy Daniels, RD, 202-720-0021.

TREATMENT OF FARMWORKERS AND OTHERS BY LARGE FOOD COMPANIES VARIES, RESEARCH FINDS. Worker Equity in Food and Agriculture, published by the Tellus Institute and Sustainalytics, examines wages and working conditions (not housing) at the 100 largest U.S. companies in food and agriculture. “Worker equity” is evaluated at the farm, factory, retail, and restaurant stages.

CBO REPORTS ON INCOME TAX’S EFFECT ON OWNING AND RENTING. A Congressional Budget Office working paper, “Taxation of Owner-Occupied and Rental Housing,” concludes that federal income tax advantages tend to make owning more advantageous than renting for higher-income households, but lower-income households can find renting cheaper than owning. The paper also examines how four different possible changes to the tax code (including repealing the mortgage interest deduction) would affect these calculations. Contact Larry Ozanne, CBO, larry.ozanne@cbo.gov.

CHILD POVERTY INCREASED IN RURAL AREAS AND NATIONWIDE FROM 2010 TO 2011. The Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire reports that American Community Survey data show 45% of U.S. children live below 200% of the poverty level, and 10.1% live below 50% of poverty. “Over Sixteen Million Children in Poverty in 2011” includes data for urban/rural/suburban geographies, regions, and states.

NATIONAL RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS NOVEMBER 9! The 2012 conference, “Promises to Keep in Challenging Times,” will be December 6-7, with pre-conference activities on December 5, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Register now to take advantage of the special early bird discount! Start networking in advance – join the conference LinkedIn group. Questions? Contact Dan Stern, HAC, dan@ruralhome.org or 202-842-8600.

HAC News: October 24, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 24, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 21

• October 21-27 is National Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week • HAC invites applications for rural veterans assistance • Section 8 OCAFs announced • Federal homelessness plan amended • Toolkit offered for Independent Foreclosure Review outreach • LIHTC can serve extremely low-income tenants, research finds • Census reports on sheltered population • HUD launches app for FMRs and Income Limits • LIHEAP assistance to older manufactured homes higher per square foot • GAO raises concerns about air exchange standards in HUD Code • National Rural Housing Conference early bird registration deadline is November 9!


October 24, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 21

OCTOBER 21-27 IS NATIONAL CHILDHOOD LEAD POISONING PREVENTION WEEK. Details and resources are available from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leadinfo@cdc.gov.

HAC INVITES APPLICATIONS FOR RURAL VETERANS ASSISTANCE. A new HAC initiative will provide grants of up to $30,000 to support bricks-and-mortar projects that help rural low-income, elderly, and disabled veterans and active military personnel with housing needs. Send a letter of intent by 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on October 31. Application guidelines are posted on HAC’s website. Contact Janice Clark, HAC.

SECTION 8 OCAFS ANNOUNCED. HUD’s new Operating Cost Adjustment Factors apply to project-based assistance contracts with an anniversary date on or after February 11, 2013. See Federal Register, 10/16/12. Contact Stan Houle, HUD, 202-402-2572.

FEDERAL HOMELESSNESS PLAN AMENDED. In September the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness amended Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, its plan to end homelessness among families, children, and youth by 2020. The amendment offers strategies and supports to improve educational outcomes for children and youth and steps to assist unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness. Contact USICH, 202-708-4663.

TOOLKIT OFFERED FOR INDEPENDENT FORECLOSURE REVIEW OUTREACH. The Federal Reserve Board has made materials available to help local nonprofits reach residents whose homes were foreclosed in 2009-2010 by any of 14 mortgage servicers and who are eligible for an independent review. Call 888-952-9105.

LIHTC CAN SERVE EXTREMELY LOW-INCOME TENANTS, RESEARCH FINDS. The Furman Center and Moelis Institute at New York University examined data from urban, suburban, and rural Low-Income Housing Tax Credit properties in 16 states and found that 40% of the units are occupied by extremely low-income tenants (with incomes below 30% of area median). Because almost 70% of those ELI tenants receive some form of rental assistance, researchers concluded that “rental assistance is currently an indispensable part of the equation to serve those households.” The results are reported in “What Can We Learn about the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program by Looking at the Tenants?”

CENSUS REPORTS ON SHELTERED POPULATION. The Emergency and Transitional Shelter Population: 2010 summarizes data on age, sex, and race/ethnicity for the 209,000 people counted in such shelters nationwide by the 2010 Census (not the entire homeless population). Data are aggregated by state and a map shows the number of people in shelters in every county. Over 60% of counties have no sheltered population.

HUD LAUNCHES APP FOR FMRS AND INCOME LIMITS. The map-based app for Android and iPhone allows users to search Fair Market Rents and Income Limits.

LIHEAP ASSISTANCE TO OLDER MANUFACTURED HOMES HIGHER PER SQUARE FOOT. A Government Accountability Office study found that the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provided about 33¢ per square foot of assistance to pre-1976 manufactured homes compared to about 20¢ per square foot for site-built homes. About 3% of total LIHEAP funds went to older manufactured homes. The study used data for 2005, the most recent available. Worker and Family Assistance: Home Energy Assistance for Low-Income Occupants of Manufactured Homes (GAO-12-848R) is available online or from GAO, 866-801-7077. Contact Frank Rusco, GAO, 202-512-3841.

GAO RAISES CONCERNS ABOUT AIR EXCHANGE STANDARDS IN HUD CODE. Standards for placement of air intake and exhaust vents are outdated and ventilation systems are not tested, GAO reports, in manufactured homes built after 1976 under HUD’s Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. Manufactured Housing Standards: Testing and Performance Evaluation Could Better Ensure Safe Indoor Air Quality (GAO-13-52) is available online or from GAO, 866-801-7077. Contact Mathew J. Scirè, GAO, 202-512-8678.

NATIONAL RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS NOVEMBER 9! The 2012 conference, “Promises to Keep in Challenging Times,” will be December 6-7, with pre-conference activities on December 5, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Register now to take advantage of the special early bird discount! Start networking in advance – join the conference LinkedIn group. Questions? Contact Dan Stern, HAC, dan@ruralhome.org or 202-842-8600.

HAC News: October 10, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 10, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 20

• Presidential candidates’ and parties’ positions limited on rural and housing • USDA and BIA commit to work together for Indian Country housing improvement • Continuum of Care comment deadline extended • HUD requests comment on smoke-free policies • FY12 Fair Market Rents finalized • Difficult Development Areas announced • Additional instructions provided on RAD • Poll Finds Support for Modifying Mortgage Interest Deduction


October 10, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 20

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES’ AND PARTIES’ POSITIONS LIMITED ON RURAL AND HOUSING. The candidates on rural issues: On October 9 the Romney campaign released “Agricultural Prosperity: Mitt Romney’s Vision for a Vibrant Rural America,” which addresses taxes, trade, regulation, and energy as they relate to farmers and ranchers. The Obama campaign’s web page entitled “Rural America” mentions agriculture, rural businesses, rural veterans, and energy and another post responds to Romney’s rural paper. The parties on rural issues: The Republican platform discusses agriculture but does not include other rural issues. The Democratic platform mentions rural small business, education, and infrastructure – though not housing – in addition to agriculture and energy. The candidates on housing: Romney’s white paper on housing, “Securing the American Dream and the Future of Housing Policy,” covers the housing finance crisis and the Romney-Ryan plan to “revitalize the private sector’s role in the housing market.” The issues section of Obama’s campaign website does not include housing, although a site search retrieved information about Administration initiatives on foreclosure and housing finance. The parties on housing and poverty: The Republican Party platform supports homeownership and mortgage finance reform, and acknowledges a role for government in “enforcing non-discrimination laws and assisting low-income families and the elderly with safe and adequate shelter, especially through the use of housing vouchers.” Its anti-poverty plank calls for “the federal government’s entire system of public assistance [to] be reformed to ensure that it promotes work.” The Democratic Party platform sup-ports homeownership and foreclosure relief, but does not mention rental housing. It states, “We must make ending poverty a national priority” through jobs, safety net programs, lending, an increased minimum wage, a strong labor movement, education, and attention to inequality. The parties on Native peoples: Both parties acknowledge the federal government’s special relationship with American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Both support tribal self-governance and respect Native culture.

USDA AND BIA COMMIT TO WORK TOGETHER FOR INDIAN COUNTRY HOUSING IMPROVEMENT. Two Memoranda of Understanding, effective for five years, apply to housing as well as other rural development programs, farm programs, and conservation. They pledge better understanding and coordinated processes related to housing. Contact Tedd Buelow, RD, 720-544-2911.

CONTINUUM OF CARE COMMENT DEADLINE EXTENDED. Interim CoC regulations were published July 31 with comments due October 1. The deadline is now November 16. See Federal Register, 9/28/12, or regulations.gov. Contact Ann Marie Oliva, HUD, 202-708-4300.

HUD REQUESTS COMMENT ON SMOKE-FREE POLICIES. The department requests best practices and practical strategies from housing providers who have implemented smoke-free policies and input from housing providers that have decided not to implement such a policy and from those impacted by that decision. Comments are due November 5. See Federal Register, 10/4/12 or regulations.gov. Contact Shauna Sorrells, HUD, 202-402-2769.

FY12 FAIR MARKET RENTS FINALIZED. See Federal Register, 10/5/12, or HUDUser.org. Contact local HUD program staff.

DIFFICULT DEVELOPMENT AREAS ANNOUNCED. HUD designates DDAs for purposes of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. Adoption of small area DDAs (see HAC News, 11/1/11) has been delayed. Qualified Census Tracts for 2013 were designated in April 2012 (see HAC News, 5/2/12). See Federal Register, 9/28/12 or HUDUser.org. Contact Michael K. Hollar, HUD, 202-402-5878.

ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS PROVIDED ON RAD. HUD’s information is for PHAs and owners applying under the Rental Assistance Demonstration to convert public and assisted housing to long-term, project-based Section 8 rental assistance. See Federal Register, 9/28/12, or HUD’s website. Contact HUD RAD staff.

POLL FINDS SUPPORT FOR MODIFYING MORTGAGE INTEREST DEDUCTION. A poll conducted in August for the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that 56% of Americans favor replacing the mortgage interest deduction with a tax credit that would provide the same percentage benefit for all households regardless of income. Nearly two-thirds (63%) support capping the size of mortgage for which one can get a tax break at $500,000. In addition, 68% believe that not being able to find affordable housing is a large or very large national problem. Strong majorities support federal programs to build or rehabilitate affordable rental housing (69%) and federal programs to help low-income families pay their rent (59%). When asked how to use the savings the federal government would gain from the proposed modifications to the mortgage interest deduction, 63% of those polled would make ending homelessness a top or high priority use. Contact Amy Clark, NLIHC, 202-662-1530, ext. 227.

HAC News: September 26, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

September 26, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 19

• September 15-October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month • Continuing resolution to fund government for six months • USDA delays changes to rural definition for housing programs • Sequester remains in place • Farm Labor Housing applications now due October 31 • “Dynamic servicing strategies” notice for USDA multifamily properties reissued • New Capital Needs Assessment guidance issued for USDA multifamily properties • RESPA and TILA input requested • HUD seeks nominations for NAHASDA committee • USDA discontinues Rural Energy Plus for 502 direct • GAO report emphasizes similarities between USDA, FHA, and VA guarantee programs • Slightly fewer USDA tenants are cost burdened • Rural veterans’ housing covered in new Rural Voices


September 26,2012
Vol. 41, No. 19

SEPTEMBER 15-OCTOBER 15 IS NATIONAL HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH, proclaimed by President Obama.

CONTINUING RESOLUTION TO FUND GOVERNMENT FOR SIX MONTHS. Both the House and Senate passed H.J. Res. 117, keeping housing programs and almost all others at FY12 funding levels through March 27, 2013. President Obama is expected to sign it.

USDA DELAYS CHANGES TO RURAL DEFINITION FOR HOUSING PROGRAMS. Administrative Notice 4679 (September 25, 2012) announces that current area eligibility will remain unchanged until March 27, 2013, when the continuing resolution ends. After that date, USDA will use 2010 Census data to determine what places fit the definition of rural, unless Congress extends grandfathering of housing program eligibility for growing rural communities. Before Congress adjourned two new bills were introduced: S. 3541 would grandfather currently eligible places for ten years, H.R. 6416 for one year. New HAC research found that in 2011 as many as one-third of Section 502 direct loans and 40% of Section 502 guaranteed loans were made in these areas.

SEQUESTER REMAINS IN PLACE. Before adjourning Congress did not change the “sequestration” – cuts in federal funds – required in January, although a variety of bills have been introduced. The Administration’s sequestration report to Congress indicates how each agency will implement the requirement to cut 8.2% of nondefense discretionary funding, including housing programs. USDA and HUD will cut each housing program account by 8.2%. (Some program accounts encompass one program while others include several.)

FARM LABOR HOUSING APPLICATIONS NOW DUE OCTOBER 31. A notice in the Federal Register, 9/23/12, also makes other changes to the NOFA. (See HAC News, 7/25/12.) Contact an RD state office.

“DYNAMIC SERVICING STRATEGIES” NOTICE FOR USDA MULTIFAMILY PROPERTIES REISSUED. An Unnumbered Letter dated August 31, 2012 repeats instructions to RD field staff regarding prompt action on troubled multifamily properties. Contact Stephanie White, USDA, 202-720-1615.

NEW CAPITAL NEEDS ASSESSMENT GUIDANCE ISSUED FOR USDA MULTIFAMILY PROPERTIES. See Unnumbered Letter dated August 7, 2012. Contact Carlton Jarratt, USDA, 804-287-1524.

RESPA AND TILA INPUT REQUESTED. Comment by October 9 on changes the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposes in Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and Truth in Lending Act regulations on mortgage loan servicing and disclosures. See CFPB’s web site or regulations.gov. Contact Jane Gao, CFPB, 202-435-7700.

USDA PROVIDES RESPA GUIDANCE FOR SECTION 502 DIRECT. Administrative Notice 4676 (August 27, 2012) instructs RD staff on implementation of RESPA disclosure and accuracy requirements, and on good faith estimates and the HUD-1 “Settlement Statement.” Contact Migdaliz Bernier, USDA, 202-690-3833.

HUD SEEKS NOMINATIONS FOR NAHASDA COMMITTEE. The negotiated rulemaking committee will review the Indian Housing Block Grant funding formula. Nominations are due November 19. See Federal Register, 9/18/12 or regulations.gov. Contact Rodger Boyd, HUD, 202-401-7914.

USDA DISCONTINUES RURAL ENERGY PLUS FOR 502 DIRECT. The program, which makes it easier for homebuyers to qualify for loans for energy-efficient homes, remains in effect for Section 502 guarantee borrowers. See Unnumbered Letter dated September 10, 2012. Contact Christopher Ketner, USDA, 202-690-1530. HAC has learned from RD that a replacement program will be implemented in 2013.

GAO REPORT EMPHASIZES SIMILARITIES BETWEEN USDA, FHA, AND VA GUARANTEE PROGRAMS. Housing Assistance: Opportunities Exist to Increase Collaboration and Consider Consolidation (GAO-12-554) reiterates previous findings (for example, see HAC News, 3/7/12) and adds new data. In 2009, FHA guaranteed more single-family and multifamily loans, even for low-income residents of remote rural areas, than USDA. Detailed data on income levels and other characteristics are not included in the report. GAO suggests improving an Administration task force evaluating coordination or consolidation of single-family programs and recommends the agencies identify specific programs for consolidation. Contact Mathew Sciré, GAO, 202-512-8678.

SLIGHTLY FEWER USDA TENANTS ARE COST BURDENED. USDA’s annual occupancy survey shows 2,135 fewer units and 1,254 fewer occupied units (households) in Section 515 and 514/516 properties in 2012 than 2011, as well as 1,243 more households receiving Section 521 RA, 931 fewer with rental aid from other sources, and 1,562 fewer experiencing cost burdens. Contact Janet Stouder, USDA, 202-720-9728.

RURAL VETERANS’ HOUSING COVERED IN NEW RURAL VOICES. Stories of successful local efforts are highlighted in HAC’s quarterly magazine. Contact Dan Stern, HAC, 202-842-8600.

HAC News: September 12, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

September 12, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 18

• Congress back in session, CR introduced • Administration’s sequestration report delayed, CBO predicts recession • Poverty remains high in rural America • HAC to make grants for planning and capacity • HUD will offer vouchers for at-risk households in low-vacancy areas • USDA announces Farm Labor Housing technical assistance funds • Continuum of Care registration open • USDA announces loan-to-cost ratio for Section 538 continuous guarantee • FAQs clarify Section 202 prepayment and refi • CFBP proposes changing loan originator compensation • CFPB extends deadlines for comments on HOEPA and mortgage disclosures • HUD reports on affordable housing in energy boom areas • Deadline looms for rural housing award nominations!


September 12,2012
Vol. 41, No. 18

CONGRESS BACK IN SESSION, CR INTRODUCED. A continuing resolution to fund federal programs for the first six months of FY13, starting October 1, is scheduled for votes in the House September 13 and in the Senate next week. H. J. Res. 117 would give most programs, including housing, increases in subsidy (budget authority) needed to remain at FY12 program levels. It does not address grandfathering of housing program eligibility in growing rural communities; the National Rural Housing Coalition continues to work for an extension of current language.

ADMINISTRATION’S SEQUESTRATION REPORT DELAYED, CBO PREDICTS RECESSION. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters the Administration needed more time to prepare the report to Congress required by the Sequestration Transparency Act, due on September 6, so the estimates on the impact of Budget Control Act funding cuts will be released later this week. Separately, An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022, by the Congressional Budget Office, projects that policy changes scheduled for January 2013, including sequestration, “will lead to economic conditions in 2013 that will probably be considered a recession.”

POVERTY REMAINS HIGH IN RURAL AMERICA. An annual Census Bureau report released September 12 shows the overall number of Americans living in poverty is at its highest level in decades, with the official national poverty rate of 15% statistically unchanged from 2010. In nonmetro areas 8 million people (17%) are poor. Median household income declined from 2010 to $50,054 nationwide and is now $40,527 in nonmetro areas, compared to $41,440 in 2010. More information on rural poverty and housing is available on HAC’s website.

HAC TO MAKE GRANTS FOR PLANNING AND CAPACITY. The Rural Housing Project Planning and Capacity Building Initiative will make grants of approximately $20,000 to 10 experienced affordable housing organizations to plan housing activities or build staff capacity. Deadline is October 2. Contact Jeff Mosley, HAC, 202-842-8600.

HUD WILL OFFER VOUCHERS FOR AT-RISK HOUSEHOLDS IN LOW-VACANCY AREAS. Notice PIH-2012-39 has details, including a list of low-vacancy areas. Comments are invited, due on October 10. Then a final notice will be published, providing an application deadline. Contact HUD’s voucher management office, 202-708-0477.

USDA ANNOUNCES FARM LABOR HOUSING TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FUNDS. USDA will fund three regional contractors to provide technical assistance to those seeking to develop Section 514/516 Farm Labor Housing. Deadline is November 5. See Federal Register, 9/6/12 or grants.gov. Contact Mirna Reyes-Bible, 202-720-1753.

CONTINUUM OF CARE REGISTRATION OPEN. CoCs (not project applicants) must register on e-snaps by October 1. HUD expects to issue the FY12 CoC NOFA in mid- to late October. See HUD’s Homelessness Resource Exchange. Submit questions through the HUD HRE Virtual Help Desk.

USDA ANNOUNCES LOAN-TO-COST RATIO FOR SECTION 538 CONTINUOUS GUARANTEE. To be eligible for a single continuous Section 538 rental housing guarantee for construction and permanent loans, the property’s loan-to-cost ratio must be under 50%. See Federal Register, 9/6/12. Contact Monica Cole, USDA.

FAQS CLARIFY SECTION 202 PREPAYMENT AND REFI. A new Frequently Asked Questions document from HUD supplements Notice 12-08, “Updated Requirements for Prepayment and Refinance of Section 202 Direct Loans.”

CFBP PROPOSES CHANGING LOAN ORIGINATOR COMPENSATION. Comment by October 16 on a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposal to implement Dodd-Frank Act provisions on compensation and restrictions on fees. See Federal Register, 9/7/12 or CFBP’s website. Contact CFBP’s Office of Regulations, 202-435-7700.

CFPB EXTENDS DEADLINES FOR COMMENTS ON HOEPA AND MORTGAGE DISCLOSURES. Comments are now due November 6 instead of September 7 on two specific parts of two broader requests for input: the impact of a more inclusive finance charge on Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act coverage, and the proposed definition of a finance charge in combined mortgage disclosures (see HAC News, 8/22/12). See CFBP’s website.

HUD REPORTS ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN ENERGY BOOM AREAS. In some rural places increased oil and gas drilling has led to significantly higher rents, and some companies are housing employees in camps or lodges, HUD research found. “New Oil and Gas Drilling Technologies Bring Significant Changes and Challenges to Housing Markets,” an article in U.S. Housing Market Conditions (2nd quarter 2012), includes photos and is available online or from HUD User, 800-245-2691.

DEADLINE LOOMS FOR RURAL HOUSING AWARD NOMINATIONS! Nominations are due September 28 for the Cochran/Collings Award for national rural housing service and the Skip Jason Community Service Award. Use the online nomination form or request a paper form from Lilla Sutton, HAC, 202-842-8600, lilla@ruralhome.org

HAC News: August 22, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

August 22, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 17

• USDA to use FY12 Section 515 funds for prepayment incentives • CBS News airs story on Section 502 guarantee foreclosures • Grants offered for senior volunteers in specific places • HUD releases general section for FY13 NOFAs • Funds exhausted for Section 502 guarantee program refinances • FHFA requests comments about eminent domain for foreclosures • Public Housing Assessment System scoring process explained • CFPB proposes regulations on high cost mortgages and homeownership counseling • Some mortgage disclosures to be combined • Blueprint for better farmworker housing published • HAC Seeks Nominations for Rural Housing Awards • Register Now for the National Rural Housing Conference!


August 22,2012
Vol. 41, No. 17

USDA TO USE FY12 SECTION 515 FUNDS FOR PREPAYMENT INCENTIVES. An email message from USDA to congressional offices explains that the department has canceled its NOFA for new construction funding. A Supreme Court ruling in a different context (Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter) required the government to pay amounts to fulfill contractual obligations even if Congress did not appropriate enough funds. Owners of over 100 Section 515 properties have been on a waiting list for incentives (equity loans and/or Rental Assistance) from USDA to keep these properties in the program, so the FY12 funds will be used for those incentives.

CBS NEWS AIRS STORY ON SECTION 502 GUARANTEE FORECLOSURES. Like a May 25 Wall Street Journal article, the August 16 CBS story criticizes USDA’s collection tactics when a borrower with high medical bills fell behind on mortgage payments.

GRANTS OFFERED FOR SENIOR VOLUNTEERS IN SPECIFIC PLACES. The Corporation for National and Community Service requests letters of intent by September 10 from public agencies, tribes, nonprofits, and institutions of higher education interested in Retired and Senior Volunteer Program funding. RSVP grants can be used to cover expenses such as volunteer recruitment, training, and travel for purposes including low-income housing. Partial matching funds are required. Applications are due October 11. A draft NOFA, list of program areas, information about technical assistance calls, and more are posted on CNCS’s site.

HUD RELEASES GENERAL SECTION FOR FY13 NOFAS. The general section’s information applies to next year’s NOFAs and does not itself offer funding. Contact HUD’s grants management office, 202-402-4802.

FUNDS EXHAUSTED FOR SECTION 502 GUARANTEE PROGRAM REFINANCES. USDA has used all its FY12 money for this program. Lenders can submit loan applications reflecting FY13 fees (upfront guarantee fee of 2% and annual fee of 0.4%) to USDA, which will hold them until FY13 funding becomes available. Contact an RD office.

FHFA REQUESTS COMMENTS ABOUT EMINENT DOMAIN FOR FORECLOSURES. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Bank system, is considering taking action on its “significant concerns” about the impact on lenders when local governments use eminent domain powers to seize properties before foreclosure in order to provide affordable housing. Comments are due September 7. See Federal Register, 8/9/12. Contact FHFA, eminentdomainOGC@fhfa.gov.

PUBLIC HOUSING ASSESSMENT SYSTEM SCORING PROCESS EXPLAINED. HUD provides additional information about the process for issuing scores under the Physical Condition Indicator of the PHAS under a February 23, 2011 notice, applicable to HUD-assisted multifamily and public housing properties. See Federal Register, 8/9/12 or HUD’s site. Contact Claudia J. Yarus, HUD, 202-475-8830.

CFPB PROPOSES REGULATIONS ON HIGH COST MORTGAGES AND HOMEOWNERSHIP COUNSELING.Comments are due September 7 on Consumer Financial Protection Bureau changes to implement provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act that expand the types of mortgage loans subject to the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act of 1994, revise triggers for HOEPA coverage, impose other restrictions on HOEPA mortgages, including a counseling re-quirement, and impose homeownership counseling requirements in connection with the Truth in Lending Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. See CFPB’s site or regulations.gov. Contact Paul Seja, CFPB, 202-435-7700.

SOME MORTGAGE DISCLOSURES TO BE COMBINED. To implement another Dodd-Frank provision, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposes to combine some of the disclosures and forms required by the Truth in Lending Act and RESPA. Comments are due November 6. See CFPB’s site or regulations.gov. Contact David Friend, CFPB, 202-435-7700.

BLUEPRINT FOR BETTER FARMWORKER HOUSING PUBLISHED. The report summarizes policy and research changes identified at a California Rural Legal Assistance forum, and a working group on health and housing will continue the effort. Contact spodesta@crla.org.

HAC SEEKS NOMINATIONS FOR RURAL HOUSING AWARDS. Nominations are due September 28 for the Cochran/Collings Award for national rural housing service and the Skip Jason Community Service Award. The honors will be presented at the National Rural Housing Conference in December. Complete the online form to submit a nomination or contact Lilla Sutton, HAC, 202-842-8600, lilla@ruralhome.org to request a paper form.

REGISTER NOW FOR THE NATIONAL RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!
HAC has opened registration for the 2012 National Rural Housing Conference, which will take place December 6-7, with pre-conference activities on December 5, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Register now to take advantage of the special early bird discount! Start networking in advance – join the conference LinkedIn group. Questions? Contact Dan Stern, HAC, dan@ruralhome.org or 202-842-8600.

HAC News: August 8, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

August 8, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 16

• Leaders agree on continuing resolution, Congress recesses • House members plan letter requesting rural definition extension in CR • OMB tells agencies to continue spending, advises Congress to change sequestration • Fees for some Section 502 loan guarantees to increase October 1 • FEMA requests comments on emergency housing assistance • Interim Continuum of Care rule issued • IRS proposes rule on submetered utilities in LIHTC properties • Circular A-133 Compliance Supplement for 2012 available • Federal regulators release 2012 list of distressed or underserved tracts for CRA • Senate subcommittee considers changes to HUD’s rental assistance programs • Job growth slower in rural places than urban ones • Different skills result in different wages in rural and urban places, study concludes • Study examines potential for increasing energy efficiency in manufactured homes

August 8, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 16

LEADERS AGREE ON CONTINUING RESOLUTION, CONGRESS RECESSES. In late July Republicans and Democrats in Congress, along with the White House, announced they will develop a continuing resolution to fund the government for the first six months of FY13, starting October 1, 2012. Most programs will remain at FY12 funding levels. Congress has recessed until September 10, so the CR will be considered in September.

HOUSE MEMBERS PLAN LETTER REQUESTING RURAL DEFINITION EXTENSION IN CR. The National Rural Housing Coalition reports Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and others will send a letter to House leadership asking that the FY13 CR include an extension of language keeping growing rural communities eligible for USDA rural housing programs. Background information on this issue is posted on HAC’s website.

OMB TELLS AGENCIES TO CONTINUE SPENDING, ADVISES CONGRESS TO CHANGE SEQUESTRATION. A July 31 memo from OMB’s Acting Director tells heads of federal departments and agencies to continue normal spending and operations since Congress has over five months to change the January 1 spending cuts required by the Budget Control Act. On August 7 President Obama signed into law the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012, which requires an Administration report within 30 days estimating sequestration’s impact on programs.

FEES FOR SOME SECTION 502 LOAN GUARANTEES TO INCREASE OCTOBER 1. An email has notified stakeholders that, while the upfront fee for purchase transactions will remain at 2%, the upfront fee for refinances will rise from 1.5% in FY12 to 2% in FY13. Annual fees for both purchases and refinances will rise from 0.30% in FY12 to 0.40% next year. Contact Debbie Terrell, RD, 918-534-3254.

FEMA REQUESTS COMMENTS ON EMERGENCY HOUSING ASSISTANCE. Comments are due September 28 on proposed revisions to regulations on FEMA’s housing repair, replacement, and construction assistance. The changes are intended to clarify eligibility criteria and implement legislative changes enacted in 2006, not to create new eligibility requirements or add burdens for applicants. Contact Lumumba T. Yancey, FEMA, 202-212-1000.

INTERIM CONTINUUM OF CARE RULE ISSUED. The regulation takes effect August 30 and comments are due October 1. Contact Ann Marie Oliva, HUD, 202-708-4300.

IRS PROPOSES RULE ON SUBMETERED UTILITIES IN LIHTC PROPERTIES. The change would clarify that utility costs paid by a tenant based on actual consumption in a submetered rent-restricted unit are treated as paid by the tenant directly to the utility company. IRS will hold a public hearing on November 27 in Washington, DC. Comments are due October 9. Contact David Selig, IRS, 202-622-3040.

CIRCULAR A-133 COMPLIANCE SUPPLEMENT FOR 2012 AVAILABLE. The supplement provides guidance on audits of federally funded nonprofits and government entities. Comments are due October 31.

FAIR MARKET RENTS PROPOSED FOR FY13. Comments are due September 4 on FMRs that will take effect October 1. Contact local HUD program staff or HUD User, 1-800-245-2691.

FEDERAL REGULATORS RELEASE 2012 LIST OF DISTRESSED OR UNDERSERVED TRACTS FOR CRA. Lender activities in these distressed or underserved nonmetropolitan middle-income geographies can receive credit in Community Reinvestment Act evaluations.

SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE CONSIDERS CHANGES TO HUD’S RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS. On August 1 the Banking Committee’s Housing Subcommittee held a hearing titled “Streamlining and Strengthening HUD’s Rental Housing Assistance Programs.” Witnesses discussed provisions of several reform bills introduced in Congress.

JOB GROWTH SLOWER IN RURAL PLACES THAN URBAN ONES. The Daily Yonder examined changes in counties’ numbers of jobs from June 2011 to June 2012. Jobs increased by 1.77% in urban counties and by 0.86% in rural counties. One-third of rural and exurban counties lost jobs during this 12-month period.

DIFFERENT SKILLS RESULT IN DIFFERENT WAGES IN RURAL AND URBAN PLACES, STUDY CONCLUDES. “Workforce Skills across the Urban-Rural Hierarchy,” by New York Federal Reserve Bank staff and others, is a preliminary report on research that examined job skills and income levels across a spectrum of places from urban to rural. Researchers found that jobs clustered in urban areas require higher levels of skills than those clustered in rural areas, and that these differences help explain the higher wages in urban areas. Contact Kevin Stolarick

STUDY EXAMINES POTENTIAL FOR INCREASING ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN MANUFACTURED HOMES. Noting that energy efficiency in manufactured homes lags behind that of site-built homes, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy reports that improvements can be made in new construction and existing homes. Contact Patrick Kiker, ACEEE, 202-507-4043.

HAC News: July 11, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

July 11, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 14

• Ag spending bill up next • House committee considering Farm Bill • Reserve account regulation revised for new USDA multifamily developments • USDA RD rule confirms annual fees for Section 502 guarantees • CFPB requests public comment about reverse mortgages • CFPB study on reverse mortgages identifies risks to consumers • Data access could help USDA monitor Rental Assistance payments, GAO says • Report highlights uses of American Community Survey data • Guide describes programs of Administration for Children and Families • HAC provides more rural poverty resources • SAVE THE DATE! 2012 National Rural Housing Conference! Promises to Keep in Challenging Times


July 11, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 14

AG SPENDING BILL UP NEXT. Following a July 4 recess at home, the House may take up 2013 appropriations for USDA soon. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) is expected to offer an amendment to keep growing rural communities eligible for RD housing programs. Similar amendments passed in the Senate as part of the Farm Bill in June and its USDA appropriations bill in April. There will be a continuing resolution to begin FY13 on October 1, 2012. Final budget decisions for 2013 will come in a post-election session, or in the new Congress next year.

HOUSE COMMITTEE CONSIDERING FARM BILL. The House Agriculture Committee began marking up its Farm Bill on July 11. The bill differs from S. 3240, approved by the Senate, and does not include housing provisions.

RESERVE ACCOUNT REGULATION REVISED FOR NEW USDA MULTIFAMILY DEVELOPMENTS. A final rule published in the Federal Register, 7/9/12, applies only to new construction Section 515 or 514/516 properties. Their reserve account deposits must be based on life-cycle analyses or Capital Needs Assessments prepared by third parties, rather than on the total development cost, as required in the past. Contact Michael Steininger, RD, 202-720-1610.

USDA RD RULE CONFIRMS ANNUAL FEES FOR SECTION 502 GUARANTEES. Implementing a provision of USDA’s FY12 appropriations act, a final regulation in the Federal Register, 7/11/12, enables RD to charge an annual fee as well as an up-front guarantee fee, in order to make the program self-supporting (see HAC News, 11/1/11). The fee amount will be announced each fiscal year. Contact an RD office or Cathy Glover, RD, 202-720-1460.

CFPB REQUESTS PUBLIC COMMENT ABOUT REVERSE MORTGAGES. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which regulates reverse mortgage transactions, seeks “detailed information from the public on the factors that influence reverse mortgage consumers’ decision-making, consumers’ use of reverse mortgage loan proceeds, longer-term consumer outcomes of a decision to obtain a reverse mortgage, and differences in market dynamics and business practices among the broker, correspondent, and retail channels for reverse mortgages.” Comments are due August 31. Contact Monica Jackson, CFPB, 202-435-7275.

CFPB STUDY ON REVERSE MORTGAGES IDENTIFIES RISKS TO CONSUMERS. In a report required by Congress, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau surveys the reverse mortgage market, identifies consumer protection concerns, and describes new challenges. It concludes that reverse mortgages are complex and hard for consumers to understand, misleading advertising and other scams occur, and the currently available consumer counseling may not be sufficient. It identifies roles for itself including regulation, education, and complaint resolution. Complaints on reverse mortgages can be submitted through CFPB’s website or by phone, 1-855-411-CFPB (2372).

DATA ACCESS COULD HELP USDA MONITOR RENTAL ASSISTANCE PAYMENTS, GAO SAYS. To identify RA payment errors due to unreported tenant income, legislation is needed to allow USDA to match tenant data with federal income data collected by other departments, according to a new GAO report, Rural Housing Service: Efforts to Identify and Reduce Improper Rental Assistance Payments Could Be Enhanced (GAO-12-624). GAO also suggests internal improvements that do not require legislation. For print copies, contact GAO, 866-801-7077 (toll free).

REPORT HIGHLIGHTS USES OF AMERICAN COMMUNITY SURVEY DATA. The Census Project compiled “Eliminating America’s Playbook,” a collection of case studies and comments from a range of organizations about the ACS’s importance to both government and business. The House voted in May to eliminate ACS funding from the Commerce Department’s FY13 appropriations bill (see HAC News, 5/16/12); the Senate has not yet voted on its bill.

GUIDE DESCRIBES PROGRAMS OF ADMINISTRATION FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES. ACF is part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services. It offers Assets for Opportunity IDA grants and resources for economic development, health care, refugee assistance, and other needs. Its program guide also includes basics for those new to requesting federal funding from any agency as well as links to capacity building resources.

HAC PROVIDES MORE RURAL POVERTY RESOURCES. In addition to its decennial rural poverty map (see HAC News, 6/27/12) HAC has issued a Rural Research Note on “Poverty in Rural America” and posted a recording of a recent webinar on the subject.

SAVE THE DATE! 2012 NATIONAL RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!
PROMISES TO KEEP IN CHALLENGING TIMES

December 6-7 with pre-conference activities December 5
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC
Registration information will be announced here and at www.ruralhome.org when available.