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HAC News: October 21, 2019

News Formats. pdf

October 21, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 21

Senate may begin considering FY20 spending bills the week of October 21 • Apply by November 15 for grants to support housing aid to rural veterans • HUD offers funds for new Section 811 housing and rental aid for persons with disabilities • USDA obligated all Section 502 direct funds for FY19, but not Section 504 • USDA to begin accepting Section 538 rental guarantee applications continuously • Lawsuit charges Texas’s Hurricane Harvey recovery discriminates against low-income renters of color • Executive Orders increase scrutiny of agency guidance • Administration tells agencies to pay as they go • Senate committee considers homeownership in Indian Country • USDA names Deputy Administrator for rental housing office • Threshold raised for single-family appraisal requirements • HUD sets expediated process for PHAs in disaster countries • NEW! HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, Nov. 12-14 in Tampa • HAC training for housing counselors set for November in Tampa • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 21, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 21

Senate may begin considering FY20 spending bills the week of October 21.

The first FY20 appropriations bill to be debated on the Senate floor may be a package that includes funding for HUD and USDA, along with other agencies. Even after the Senate passes its measures, differences between its bills and the House’s will need to be resolved, as will differences with White House priorities.

Apply by November 15 for grants to support housing aid to rural veterans.

HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans initiative supports local nonprofit housing development organizations that meet or help meet the affordable housing needs of veterans in rural areas. Grants typically range up to $30,000 per organization and must support bricks-and-mortar projects that assist low-income, elderly and/or disabled veterans with home repair and rehab needs, support homeless veterans, help veterans become homeowners and/or secure affordable rental housing. This initiative is funded through the generous support of the Home Depot Foundation. Applications are due November 15 by 5:00 pm Eastern time. For more information, contact HAC staff, ahrv@ruralhome.org.

HUD offers funds for new Section 811 housing and rental aid for persons with disabilities.

For the first time since 2010, capital advances and rental assistance contracts are available for nonprofits to develop permanent supportive rental housing for very low-income adults with disabilities. For the first time since 2013, project-based rental subsidies are also offered to state agencies, to be used for existing, rehabilitated or new permanent supportive housing units that do not have capital advances from HUD’s Section 811 or 202 programs. Applications for both funding pools are due February 10, 2020. For more information, contact HUD staff at FY18811NOFA@hud.gov.

USDA obligated all Section 502 direct funds for FY19, but not Section 504.

Despite the federal government shutdown early in the fiscal year, USDA obligated all available funds for Section 502 direct loans this year, using just over $1 billion for a total of 6,194 mortgage loans to new low-income homebuyers. About 37% of the loans and 42% of the dollars went to very low-income applicants. HAC appreciates RHS Administrator Bruce Lammers’s approval of overtime for field staff and other special authorizations, which made this possible.

There was, however, a significant shortfall in the agency’s use of Section 504 loans and grants for repairs to homes owned by very low-income people. USDA obligated 2,735 Section 504 loans, representing $17.4 million of the $28 million available, and 3,908 grants, using $24.8 million of the $30 million appropriated. The remaining grant funds can be used in FY20, but the loan monies cannot.

Use of resources for rental housing preservation exceeded last year’s performance, with 85 loans from Section 515 and 205 loans and three grants from the MPR program.

More information is provided in HAC’s obligation report, and HAC will also publish a more detailed FY19 performance report.

USDA to begin accepting Section 538 rental guarantee applications continuously.

As proposed in December, USDA will no longer publish annual NOFAs for the Section 538 rental housing guarantee program. It will publish an announcement when funds are available and will then accept applications at any time. For more information, contact Monica Cole, RD, 202-720-1251.

Lawsuit charges Texas’s Hurricane Harvey recovery discriminates against low-income renters of color.

Low-income Hispanic and African-American renters have sued HUD and the state of Texas alleging discrimination in the distribution of CDBG Disaster Recovery funds after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The suit claims that the state’s decision to target aid to homeowners, landlords and developers while excluding renters is discriminatory because low-income renters are more likely to be African-American or Hispanic.

Executive Orders increase scrutiny of agency guidance.

On October 9 President Trump signed two Executive Orders, one requiring federal executive agencies such as USDA and HUD to increase transparency around their use of guidance documents and the other limiting agency reliance on past enforcement activities to establish standards of compliance with laws or regulations. The Office of Management and Budget is given authority to implement the provisions on guidance documents, including to require OMB review of “significant” guidance documents. The Executive Order does not refer to OMB review authorities announced in an April 11, 2019 memo from OMB’s Acting Director Russell Vought, though the two seem to overlap.

Administration tells agencies to pay as they go.

An Executive Order issued on October 10 intends to “reinvigorate administrative PAYGO,” requiring federal departments and agencies to reduce spending in one area when they propose a spending increase in another area unless a law requires the increase. OMB is given authority to waive the requirements and to issue instructions for implementing the order.

Senate committee considers homeownership in Indian Country.

On October 16, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a hearing entitled “Lending Opportunities: Opening the Door to Homeownership in Indian Country.” Witnesses included HUD Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing Hunter Kurtz, Governor Max Zuni of the Pueblo of Isleta, Council Member Nate Mount of the Ft. Belknap Indian Community, BIA Director Darryl LaCounte and Patrice Kunesh from the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Discussions focused on the need for capital in Indian Country, the role Native CDFIs can play in bringing lending capacity to tribal areas and potential modernizations to the HUD Section 184 program. For more on challenges and opportunities for mortgage finance in Indian Country, review HAC’s recent report here.

USDA names Deputy Administrator for rental housing office.

Nancie-Ann Bodell, who became Acting Deputy Administrator for Multi-Family Housing several months ago, has been selected to fill the position on a permanent basis. She oversees USDA’s programs for the production and preservation of rental housing as well as the existing portfolio of affordable rental housing and farm labor housing.

Threshold raised for single-family appraisal requirements.

The agencies that regulate banks and thrifts are raising the threshold level at which appraisals are not required for single-family (one to four units) real estate transactions from $250,000 to $400,000. Some rural properties are exempt from the appraisal requirement altogether. When appraisals are not required, lenders must obtain evaluations, consistent with safe and sound banking practices. For more information, contact G. Kevin Lawton, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, 202-649-7152.

HUD sets expedited process for PHAs in disaster counties.

HUD has established an expedited process to review requests for relief from HUD regulatory and/or administrative requirements for public housing agencies in counties that are included in major disaster declarations in calendar year 2019. For more information, contact HUD staff, PIH_Disaster_Relief@hud.gov.

*NEW!* HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, Nov. 12-14 in Tampa.

This three-day advanced course trains experienced participants to assist potential borrowers and work with RD staff, other nonprofits and regional intermediaries to deliver successful Section 502 loan packages. The training will be held in Tampa, FL on November 12-14. For more information, contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

HAC training for housing counselors set for November in Tampa.

HUD’s final rule on new certification requirements for housing counselors requires that by August 1, 2020 counseling for or in connection with any HUD programs must be provided by HUD Certified Housing Counselors. Get ready! Elevate your knowledge in the six essential competency areas, including financial management, housing affordability, homeownership, avoiding foreclosure, tenancy and fair housing. Set yourself up for success in meeting HUDs counselor certification requirements by starting your prep with this three-day course scheduled for Tampa, FL on November 12-14. The registration fee is $500. For more information, contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan funds provide low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

HAC News: 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).

Rural Voices: Meeting Native American Housing Needs

This issue of Rural Voices focuses on the progress being made in improving the housing conditions of Native Americans. Considerable challenges, including substandard conditions, overcrowding, insufficient funding, and persistent poverty, face Indian Country, but tribes and their housing organizations are equally persistent in working to overcome them. Rural Voices authors share what readers need to know when working with tribes, highlight innovative projects, discuss funding opportunities, and further describe challenges for a diverse population of Native American tribes across the country. The Wells Fargo Housing Foundation has provided generous support for this issue of Rural Voices, and for HAC’s other work on Native American housing needs and solutions.

VIEW FROM WASHINGTON

Building a Stronger Indian Country: The BUILD Act and Indian Housing
by Senator John Hoeven

The BUILD Act aims to improve the development of tribal housing projects and reauthorize critical Indian housing programs.

FEATURES

Creating Sustainable Homelands through Homeownership on Trust Lands
by Patrice H. Kunesh

A multifaceted approach can help leverage resources to improve housing and economic development in Indian Country.

Partnering with Tribes to Address Housing Needs
by Deana Around Him and Yvette Roubideaux

Open communication, cultural humility, and respect go a long way when working together with tribes.

Important Considerations for Working with Tribes
by Twila Martin Kekahbah

Understanding tribal governance,sovereignty, and the barriers to tribal development is critical to doing business with American Indian tribes.

Housing Solutions that Work for Native Americans
by Anthony Walters

The Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act is an important tool in meeting tribal housing needs.

Helping Native Americans Become Homeowners through Section 184
by Jeff Bowman and Tanya Krueger

This Native-owned bank has what it takes to successfully use HUD’s Section 184 program to meet tribal members’ housing needs.

Native Community Finance Serves Native Americans in New Mexico
by Marvin Ginn

Native CDFIs provide funds and services to improve Native American housing conditions.

Housing for Holistic Rez Living
by James “JC” Crawford

Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate has had major success in integrating housing and community needs.

INFOGRAPHIC

American and Alaska Native (AIAN) Communities at a Glance InfographicAmerican and Alaska Native (AIAN) Communities at a Glance


Rural Voices would like to hear what you have to say about one, or all, of these issues. Please feel free to comment on this story by sending a tweet to #RuralVoicesMag, discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.