Tag Archive for: housing matters

New Hollywood Campaign Urges America To Open the Door to Better Homes & Communities

#OpenTheDoor, a campaign by Home Matters, was just launched and features a stop-motion animated video, created by LA-based Jesse Dylan’s Wondros firm, to creatively bring to life – via the eyes of a child playing with her dollhouse – the importance of home’s role in unlocking a person’s potential. Research proves safe homes and communities are linked to better health, education, public safety and local economies. Watch video: https://ow.ly/4nquPa.


The campaign also features a national search tool that will connect people who want to donate, volunteer or are in need of help, to more than 330 Home Matters supporting organizations across America.

The campaign plans to spark a conversation about the lack of safe homes and livable communities, nationally and locally. America has significant work to do in building better homes and communities. Witha national election looming, Home Matters hopes the video will not only help motivate Americans to care passionately about this critical social issue but also elevate it among policy-makers, and galvanize the private-sector to get more involved.

The MacArthur Foundation and US Bank have sponsored the video.

HAC News: March 4, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

March 4, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 5

• First hearing for FY16 housing funding held • USDA offers rural vouchers • Section 502 guarantee rule changes offered • RD sets national square footage for modest housing • Supportive Services for Veteran Families regulations completed • HUD issues guidance on service to LGBT and transgender individuals • State CDBG program guide updated • HUD compares Housing Trust Fund and HOME • Section 8 guidance covers Davis-Bacon’s applicability to existing housing • Study shows how energy efficiency in rental housing helps affordability • “How Housing Matters” website launched • Interactive map shows racial/ethnic diversity by age for counties

HAC News Formats. pdf

March 4, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 5

FIRST HEARING FOR FY16 HOUSING FUNDING HELD. On February 25, HUD Secretary Julián Castro testified before the House Appropriations Committee’s Transportation-HUD Subcommittee about the Administration’s FY16 budget request (see HAC News, 2/4/15). Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) asked how much of HUD’s funding goes to rural places and how HUD can serve rural America. Castro responded with the proportions of CDBG and HOME dollars used in rural areas. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) asked about HUD activities in the colonias. Castro described the budget request to increase the CDBG setaside for colonias to 15% from the current 10%. The subcommittee will hold another hearing on HUD funding for housing and one for community development. The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee has scheduled a March 18 hearing on USDA Rural Development, including the rural housing programs.

USDA OFFERS RURAL VOUCHERS. Section 542vouchers are for tenants of RD-financed Section 515 properties where the RD loan has been prepaid or foreclosed on after September 30, 2005. A notice will be published in the March 9 Federal Register. Contact an RD office or Stephanie B.M. White, RD, 202-720-1615.

SECTION 502 GUARANTEE RULE CHANGES OFFERED. USDA RD proposes to amend its regulations for the single-family guaranteed loan program on the subjects of lender indemnification, principal reduction, refinancing, and qualified mortgage requirements. Comments are due May 4. Contact Lilian Lipton, USDA, 202-260-8012.

RD SETS NATIONAL SQUARE FOOTAGE FOR MODEST HOUSING. In recent years, regional guidelines have been used for square footage, which is one factor in determining what homes are “modest” and eligible for the Section 502 direct and 504 programs. An Unnumbered Letter dated March 3, 2015 sets a nationwide guideline at 1,800 square feet. State Directors can approve exceptions. Contact Chris Ketner, RD, 202-690-1530.

SUPPORTIVE SERVICES FOR VETERAN FAMILIES REGULATIONS COMPLETED. The VA issued final regulations for the program, which makes grants to entities that provide supportive services to very low-income veterans and families who are at risk for becoming homeless or who have recently become homeless. Contact John Kuhn, 877-737-0111 (toll-free).

HUD ISSUES GUIDANCE ON SERVICE TO LGBT AND TRANSGENDER INDIVIDUALS. Notice H 2015-01 reminds stakeholders that regulations prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identify, or marital status apply to housing financed or insured by HUD. To ask questions about this notice, contact the FHA Resource Center, 800-CALLFHA (800-225-5342). Notice CPD-15-02 addresses appropriate placement for transgender persons in single-sex emergency shelters and other facilities, telling providers they should generally place individuals in shelters serving the gender with which they identify. Submit questions on this notice online.

STATE CDBG PROGRAM GUIDE UPDATED. Guide to National Objectives and Eligible Activities for State CDBG Programs, published by HUD, describes and provides examples of eligible activities and details the process for selecting activities that properly address a national objective.

HUD COMPARES HOUSING TRUST FUND AND HOME. A brief table highlights the key differences in the programs.

SECTION 8 GUIDANCE COVERS DAVIS-BACON’S APPLICABILITY TO EXISTING HOUSING. In the March 9 Federal Register HUD will publish information supplementing its rules on applying the Davis-Bacon Act’s wage requirements to existing housing involved in the Section 8 project-based voucher program. Contact Becky Primeaux, HUD, 202-708-2815.

STUDY SHOWS HOW ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN RENTAL HOUSING HELPS AFFORDABILITY. A report on research conducted for Housing Virginia by Virginia Tech’s Center for Housing Research states that residents of energy-efficient Low Income Housing Tax Credit developments, both urban and rural, saved an average of $54 a month on electricity bills, and those apartments outperformed new standard construction by over 40% with respect to energy consumption.

“HOW HOUSING MATTERS” WEBSITE LAUNCHED. The site, funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and created by the Urban Land Institute Terwilliger Center for Housing, is intended to be “the go-to place for the most rigorous research and practical information on how housing can contribute to better educational opportunities and outcomes for children; stronger economic foundations for families and communities; healthier people and neighborhoods.”

INTERACTIVE MAP SHOWS RACIAL/ETHNIC DIVERSITY BY AGE FOR COUNTIES. A Brookings Institution online map illustrates the racial composition of different age groups for each county and metropolitan area. Brookings notes that youth are considerably more diverse than elders. Detailed data are also provided.

HAC News: February 18, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

February 18, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 4

• February is National African American History Month • USDA offers Household Water Well System grants • HUD-VASH vouchers will expand to Native American communities • Regulators request input on CRA and other banking rules • HUD announces Annual Adjustment Factors • USDA RD revamps website • Worst case housing needs drop • Changes in housing and other policies could reduce child poverty by 60% nationwide • HUD reports on ways housing matters to children • Affordable housing can improve educational outcomes • Sequestration and its impacts described • Economic recovery is bypassing millions of Americans, CFED reports • Regulatory costs may drive small bank mergers

HAC News Formats. pdf

February 18, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 4

FEBRUARY IS NATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH. President Obama’s proclamation is online.

USDA OFFERS HOUSEHOLD WATER WELL SYSTEM GRANTS. Nonprofits can apply by April 13 for grants to establish lending programs enabling homeowners to borrow up to $11,000 to construct or repair household water wells for existing homes. Contact Joyce M. Taylor, RUS, 202-720-9589.

HUD-VASH VOUCHERS WILL EXPAND TO NATIVE AMERICAN COMMUNITIES. HUD has announced it will dedicate $4 million to make vouchers for about 650 homeless veterans available in Native communities for the first time. Comments on program design are due February 25 to tribalhudvashcomments@hud.gov. Contact HUD’s Office of Native American Programs.

REGULATORS REQUEST INPUT ON CRA AND OTHER BANKING RULES. Comments are due May 14. The Federal Reserve, FDIC, and Comptroller of the Currency pose questions about ways to reduce regulatory burden, particularly on community banks and small lenders.

HUD ANNOUNCES ANNUAL ADJUSTMENT FACTORS. The FY15 AAFs will be used to adjust Section 8 rents on contract anniversaries. Contact Becky Primeaux, HUD, 202-708-1380.

USDA RD REVAMPS WEBSITE. The new site, https://www.rd.usda.gov, moves regulations, handbooks, and other guidance documents to https://www.rd.usda.gov/publications/regulations-guidelines.

WORST CASE HOUSING NEEDS DROP. From 2011 to 2013 the number of worst case needs – very low-income renter households who do not receive government housing assistance and who pay more than one-half of their income for rent, live in severely inadequate conditions, or both – fell from 8.5 million to 7.7 million. Increases in renter incomes and limited increases in rents are probably responsible, according to the executive summary of HUD’s annual worst case needs report. In 2013 there were still 1.6 very low-income households with worst case needs for every very low-income household that received rental assistance, HUD says. The full report will be released this spring.

CHANGES IN HOUSING AND OTHER POLICIES COULD REDUCE CHILD POVERTY BY 60% NATIONWIDE. Child poverty in nonmetro places could be cut by 68.2%, according to Reducing Child Poverty in the U.S., prepared by the Urban Institute for the Children’s Defense Fund. The report examines the poverty reduction impact of nine policies, ranging from expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to increasing SNAP benefits. Expanding the availability of housing vouchers would reduce child poverty by 21.3% in metro areas and 16.4% in nonmetro places. The report, a summary of recommendations, and a blog post are available online.

HUD REPORTS ON WAYS HOUSING MATTERS TO CHILDREN. An issue of HUD’s Evidence Matters newsletter focuses on how housing matters for children’s physical and emotional health, achievement in school, and economic opportunity. A HAC Rural Research Note summarizes some of the research’s implications for rural children.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING CAN IMPROVE EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES. An updated literature review by the National Housing Conference’s Center for Housing Policy presents key findings from research showing that stable, affordable housing may foster educational success by supporting family financial stability, reducing mobility, providing safe, nurturing living environments, and providing a platform for community development.

SEQUESTRATION AND ITS IMPACTS DESCRIBED. The government spending reductions required by the 2011 Budget Control Act are now achieved through spending caps, not across-the-board cuts as in FY13. A new paper by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities describes the mechanisms established in the law, how policymakers subsequently modified them, and the resulting effects on non-defense appropriations. It notes that under the BCA “in inflation-adjusted terms, the 2016 cap would be 17 percent below the 2010 level.”

ECONOMIC RECOVERY IS BYPASSING MILLIONS OF AMERICANS, CFED REPORTS. Excluded from the Financial Mainstream presents the main findings from CFED’s 2015 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, which evaluates 135 different policy and outcome measures in five categories including housing. Infographics and interactive maps are also available online.

REGULATORY COSTS MAY DRIVE SMALL BANK MERGERS. The State and Fate of Community Banking, a Harvard Kennedy School working paper, reports that community banks play a major role in rural areas and in agriculture, small business, and residential mortgage lending. Since 2010 the total share of bank assets held by community banks, especially small ones, has fallen significantly, and the report concludes the increased costs of regulation under the Dodd-Frank Act are a likely cause.