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HAC News: April 29, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 29, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 9

• House acts on HUD funding • USDA RD issues final 502 packaging rule • RD revises UL on tenant notifications for loan payoffs • HUD offers ICDBG funds to address mold • HUD has tenant protection vouchers for low-vacancy areas • Continuum of Care registration opens • VA requests comments on Veterans Choice Program • HUD changes Distressed Asset Stabilization Program • Broadband comments requested • HUD revising tribal consultation policy • HUD required to use procurement contracts for Section 8 funding • Administration adds new Promise Zones • GAO recommends changes in HOPWA funding formula • HUD releases Rental Market Dynamics 2009-2011 report • HAC blogs on ending rural veteran homelessness • Veterans and LIHTC subjects of HAC webinars • HAC conference on “Serving Veterans in Rural America” set for May 20

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 29, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 9

HOUSE ACTS ON HUD FUNDING. The House Appropriations Transportation-HUD Subcommittee on April 29 approved a bill to fund HUD and other programs in fiscal year 2016, beginning October 1. The bill would reduce appropriations for HOME from $900 million in 2015 to $767 million in 2016, but would make up the difference by channeling receipts from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to HOME rather than to the National Housing Trust Fund, where current law requires them to go. The bill has level funding for CDBG, Native American housing, public housing operating funds, fair housing, and housing counseling. Some other reductions and increases would also occur, as the table below indicates. A full committee mark-up is the next step in the process and will probably occur soon. The Senate committee has not yet scheduled its action on a T-HUD bill. Also not yet clear is when a final appropriations act will pass and what the impact of a required budget sequester could be. [tdborder][/tdborder]

HUD Program
(dollars in millions)

FY13
Approp.a

FY14
Approp.

FY15
Approp.

FY16 Admin. Budget
Proposal

FY16
House Subcmte. Bill

Cmty. Devel. Fund
CDBG

3,308
2,948

3,100
3,030

3,066
3,000

2,880
2,800

3,060
3,000

HOME
SHOP setaside

1,000
b

1,000
b

900
b

1,060
10

767

Self-Help Homeownshp. (SHOP)

13.5

10

10

b

10

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance
VASH setaside

18,939.4
75

19,177.2
75

19,304
75

21,123
c

19,919

Project-Based Rental Asstnce.

9,339.7

9,516.6

9,330

10,360

10,254

Public Hsg. Capital Fund

1,886

1,875

1,875

1,970

1,681

Public Hsg. Operating Fund

4,262

4,400

4,440

4,600

4,440

Choice Neighbrhd. Initiative

120

90

80

250

20

Native Amer. Hsg. Block Grant

650

650

650

660

650

Homeless Assistance Grantsd

2,033

2,105

2,135

2,480

2,185

Hsg. Opps. for Persons w/ AIDS

334

330

330

332

332

202 Hsg. for Elderly

377

385.3

436

455

414

811 Hsg. for Disabled

165

126

135

177

152

Fair Housing

70.8

66

65.3

71

65.3

Healthy Homes & Lead Haz. Cntl.

120

110

110

120

75

Housing Counseling

45

45

47

60

47

Local Housing Policy Grants

300

a. Figures shown do not include 5% sequester.
b. Recent Obama budgets have proposed making the SHOP program a setaside in HOME. Congress has rejected that proposal.
c. VASH vouchers for homeless veterans are not funded. The President’s budget proposed making VASH part of a new account of incremental rental vouchers for families, veterans, and tribal families experiencing homelessness and for victims of domestic violence.
d. Includes the Rural Housing Stability Program, which is not yet operational.

USDA RD ISSUES FINAL 502 PACKAGING RULE. Revisions to the rule proposed on August 23, 2013 (see HAC News, 8/28/13) will strengthen qualification requirements for intermediaries, require all loans to go through intermediaries unless a packaging organization gets a USDA waiver, cap fees at $1,500 initially, exempt self-help loans from packaging, and make other changes. The final rule is effective July 28. Contact Brooke Baumann, RD, 202-690-4250.

RD REVISES UL ON TENANT NOTIFICATIONS FOR LOAN PAYOFFS. An Unnumbered Letter dated April 28, 2015 supersedes one issued on January 15, 2015 (see HAC News, 2/4/15) and includes sample notifications for borrowers and tenants. Contact a USDA RD state office.

HUD OFFERS ICDBG FUNDS TO ADDRESS MOLD. Tribes and tribal organizations can apply by June 22 for Mold Remediation and Prevention grants to be used for housing units owned or operated by tribes and TDHEs or previously assisted with HUD funding. Contact Roberta Youmans, HUD, 202-402-3316.

HUD HAS TENANT PROTECTION VOUCHERS FOR LOW-VACANCY AREAS. Property owners can apply on a rolling basis for either enhanced vouchers or project-based vouchers for tenants in listed low-vacancy counties whose rents rise when a HUD-insured, HUD-held or Section 202 loan matures; a rental assistance contract expires; or HUD affordability restrictions expire. Contact HUD’s Housing Voucher Management and Operations Division, 202-708-0477.

CONTINUUM OF CARE REGISTRATION OPENS. CoC Collaborative Applicants (not project applicants) must register by May 18 in order to compete for FY15 funds. Contact a HUD CPD field office.

VA REQUESTS COMMENTS ON VETERANS CHOICE PROGRAM. Comments are due May 26 for the Veterans Choice Program interim final rule, which uses driving distance rather than straight lines to measure the distance from a veteran’s residence to the nearest VA medical facility. Contact Kristin Cunningham, VA, 202-382-2508.

HUD CHANGES DISTRESSED ASSET STABILIZATION PROGRAM. Loan servicers must now delay foreclosure for a year and evaluate borrowers for loss mitigation programs. Other changes are intended to increase HUD’s first 2015 sale is planned for June.

BROADBAND COMMENTS REQUESTED. The Rural Utilities Service and National Telecommunications and Information Administration seek input by June 10 about federal actions to promote broadband deployment, adoption, and competition, including by identifying and removing regulatory barriers. Contact Denise Scott, RUS, 202-720-1910.

HUD REVISING TRIBAL CONSULTATION POLICY. Comments are due June 8 on changes to HUD’s government-to-government policy, which intended to enhance communication and coordination between HUD and federally recognized Indian tribes, and to outline guiding principles and procedures under which all HUD employees are to operate with regard to federally recognized tribes. Contact Rodger Boyd, HUD, 202-401-7914.

HUD REQUIRED TO USE PROCUREMENT CONTRACTS FOR SECTION 8 FUNDING. On April 20 the Supreme Court denied an appeal petition, leaving standing a lower court’s ruling that HUD cannot continue to use cooperative agreements with states and PHAs to run the Project-Based Rental Assistance (voucher) program. HUD must now use the federal procurement process, and has said it will need 18-24 months to implement the decision.

ADMINISTRATION ADDS NEW PROMISE ZONES. As PZs, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and the South Carolina Low Country, along with six cities, will receive technical assistance and some funding preferences.

GAO RECOMMENDS CHANGES IN HOPWA FUNDING FORMULA. Persons with HIV: Funding Formula for Housing Assistance Could Be Better Targeted, and Performance Data Could Be Improved recommends revising the funding formula to letter reflect the number of living persons with HIV.

HUD RELEASES RENTAL MARKET DYNAMICS 2009-2011 REPORT. The report finds that while the number of afford-able units increased nationally, their percentage of the overall rental stock decreased.

HAC BLOGS ON ENDING RURAL VETERAN HOMELESSNESS. Accounting for Our Sometimes Hidden Homeless Veterans” highlights strategies to ensure rural veterans are included in VA efforts to end veteran homelessness in 2015.

VETERANS AND LIHTC SUBJECTS OF HAC WEBINARS. “Access to Health and Homeless Services for Rural Veterans” is set for May 6. “Utilizing Low Income Housing Tax Credits: An Introduction” will be on May 13; follow the discussion online at #ruralLIHTC. Both will be at 2:00 eastern time and are free; registration is required. Contact Shonterria Charleston, 404-892-4824.

HAC CONFERENCE ON “SERVING VETERANS IN RURAL AMERICA” SET FOR MAY 20. Cosponsored by HAC and The Home Depot Foundation, this event in Washington, DC will provide information on housing, health, and employment needs and programs for rural veterans, with a special focus on successful local projects. There is no charge, but registration is requested. To register or for more information, email janice@ruralhome.org.

HAC News: April 15, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 15, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 8

• House approves bills on QM and manufactured housing • USDA expanding Section 502 direct loan intermediary pilot • CDFI Fund offers bond guarantees, eases applications for some • RHS encourages processing Section 502 direct applications • RD’s Capital Needs Assessment guidance reissued • FHFA adopts rule prohibiting pass-through of NHTF and CMF costs • Study finds administrative fees for HUD vouchers do not cover costs • Report documents innovative financing for permanent supportive housing • GAO report on government programs’ overlap includes NMTC recommendations • HUD offers healthy housing awards • Upcoming HAC webinars cover HVAC, veterans

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 15, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 8

HOUSE APPROVES BILLS ON QM AND MANUFACTURED HOUSING. On April 14 the House passed H.R. 685, the Mortgage Choice Act of 2015, and H.R. 650, the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act. Supporters say the bills would clarify provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and increase consumer options. The Obama Administration has threatened to veto both H.R. 685 and H.R. 650, saying both “would weaken key consumer protections and provisions” of Dodd-Frank.

USDA EXPANDING SECTION 502 DIRECT LOAN INTERMEDIARY PILOT. Nonprofits and public agencies can apply by May 13 to become intermediaries, which train and assist other nonprofits to package Section 502 direct loan applications. New intermediaries must work in specific states not covered by current intermediaries. For further information, contact Brooke Baumann, RD, 202-690-4250.

CDFI FUND OFFERS BOND GUARANTEES, EASES APPLICATIONS FOR SOME. Certified CDFIs or entities designated by certified CDFIs can apply by June 5 to become qualified issuers, and qualified issuers can apply by June 12 for guarantees under the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program. Contact CDFI Fund staff, 202-653-0421, option 5. Comments are due June 9 on an interim rule that would give the CDFI Fund more flexibility to approve a CDFI that is an affiliate of another CDFI for the Bond Guarantee Program only. Contact CDFI Fund staff.

RHS ENCOURAGES PROCESSING SECTION 502 DIRECT APPLICATIONS. RHS has told stakeholders, including HAC, that Administrator Tony Hernandez and USDA Under Secretary Lisa Mensah recently encouraged field staff to allocate adequate resources to process applications for Section 502 direct loans. The National Office has provided states with new tools for data analysis and management, and states are encouraged to partner with others as needed to speed loan processing and fully utilize FY 2015 allocations.

RD’S CAPITAL NEEDS ASSESSMENT GUIDANCE REISSUED. An Unnumbered Letter dated March 16, 2015 is substantially the same as a 2013 UL. It provides detail on developing a CNA, required for transactions involving USDA financed multifamily properties. Contact a USDA RD state office.

FHFA ADOPTS RULE PROHIBITING PASS-THROUGH OF NHTF AND CMF COSTS. No changes were made in the interim rule issued in December (see HAC News, 12/22/14) stating that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac cannot pass to loan originators the costs of their National Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund allocations.

STUDY FINDS ADMINISTRATIVE FEES FOR HUD VOUCHERS DO NOT COVER COSTS. Conducted byAbt Associates for HUD, the research included public housing authorities of all sizes in urban, rural, and suburban places. A draft report, Housing Choice Voucher Program Administrative Fee Study, says in 2013 the average cost of administering a voucher was $70.03 per month and the average fee from HUD was $51.64. Costs in the smallest PHAs (fewer than 50 vouchers) were 91% higher than in the largest PHAs (200 to 249 vouchers), even though rural labor costs were lower. Only 52% of the costs in those smallest PHAs were covered by fees. The report recommends a new formula for calculating fees.

REPORT DOCUMENTS INNOVATIVE FINANCING FOR PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING. Creating New Integrated Permanent Supportive Housing Opportunities for ELI Households: A Vision for the Future of the National Housing Trust Fund, released by the Technical Assistance Collaborative and the National Low Income Housing Coalition, highlights state innovations in financing for permanent supportive housing for extremely low-income (30% of area median) households, consistent with recommendations in NLIHC’s report, Aligning Federal Low Income Housing Programs with Housing Need.

GAO REPORT ON GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS’ OVERLAP INCLUDES NMTC RECOMMENDATIONS. The Government Accountability Office’s 2015 Annual Report: Additional Opportunities to Reduce Fragmentation, Overlap, and Duplication and Achieve Other Financial Benefits(GAO-15-404SP) makes no new recommendations on housing programs. It suggests the CDFI Fund issue further guidance on how other government programs can be combined with New Markets Tax Credits; ensure adequate controls to limit the risks of unnecessary duplication and above-market rates of return; and ensure that more complete and accurate data are collected.

HUD OFFERS HEALTHY HOUSING AWARDS. Applications are due April 30 for awards in three categories: public housing/multifamily supported housing, public policy, and cross-program coordination.

UPCOMING HAC WEBINARS COVER HVAC, VETERANS. “A Practitioner’s Guide to Energy Star 3.0: HVAC (Part A)” will be on April 22 at 2:00 eastern (registration available soon) and “Access to Health and Homeless Services for Rural Veterans” on May 6 at 2:00 eastern. Both are free; registration is required. Contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

HAC News: April 3, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 3, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 7

• April is National Fair Housing Month • House and Senate approve nonbinding budget resolutions • NAHASDA reauthorization passes House • USDA offers farmworker housing loans and grants • Housing counseling grants available • HUD requests comment on VAWA rule changes • Broadband demonstration in HUD housing considered • USDA approval for restructuring senior loans explained • Ways to speed agency processing of Section 502 guaranteed loans suggested • HUD sets requirements for rental assistance transfers • Update for Section 3 regulations proposed • Rural housing tenant data for 2014 now available • Homelessness has decreased, change varies widely among states, report says • CFPB updates homebuying toolkit • HAC sets Energy Star webinar for April 8

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 3, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 7

APRIL IS NATIONAL FAIR HOUSING MONTH. HUD issued a press release describing a new media campaign.

HOUSE AND SENATE APPROVE NONBINDING BUDGET RESOLUTIONS. The House passed H.Con.Res.27 on March 25 and the Senate approved S.Con.Res. 11 on March 27. Both houses would retain sequester spending caps for FY16 and make deeper cuts beginning in FY17. Differences between the two mean there may not be agreement on a joint resolution, which would not have the force of law but would guide development of appropriations bills for FY16.

NAHASDA REAUTHORIZATION PASSES HOUSE. The House passed H.R. 360, the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Reauthorization Act, on March 23. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a hearing March 18 on its bill, S. 710.

USDA OFFERS FARMWORKER HOUSING LOANS AND GRANTS. Pre-applications for construction or purchase and sub-stantial rehab of off-farm housing are due June 23. Rental Assistance and operating assistance are available. Projects serving high poverty census tracts will receive additional points. Contact an RD state office for an application package.

HOUSING COUNSELING GRANTS AVAILABLE. HUD-approved housing counseling agencies can apply by May 7. Contact HUD staff.

HUD REQUESTS COMMENT ON VAWA RULE CHANGES. A proposed rule implementing the 2013 Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act would increase protections for survivors of domestic and dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault who live in rental housing assisted by HUD. Comments are due June 1. HAC’s website provides a brief summary of the proposal. Separate contacts for HUD programs are listed in the proposed rule. HUD’s proposal covers USDA-funded rental units that have HUD Section 8 assistance, but not other USDA rentals. USDA has implemented the 2013 VAWA through Administrative Notices 4747 (February 10, 2014) and 4778 (January 5, 2015).

BROADBAND DEMONSTRATION IN HUD HOUSING CONSIDERED. HUD requests comments by May 1 on a proposed demonstration aimed at narrowing the digital divide for students in HUD-assisted housing. It wants to partner with local governments, business, and nonprofits “to accelerate broadband adoption and use in HUD-assisted homes.” HUD intends to conduct the initial demonstration in about 20 HUD-assisted communities across the country, both urban and rural, and hopes to expand it nationwide eventually. Contact Camille E. Acevedo, HUD, 202-402-5132.

USDA APPROVAL FOR RESTRUCTURING SENIOR LOANS EXPLAINED. An Unnumbered Letter dated February 27, 2015 is intended to clarify the process for obtaining official RD prior approval and permission to restructure a third-party loan to which a Section 515 loan is subordinate. Contact an RD state office.

WAYS TO SPEED AGENCY PROCESSING OF SECTION 502 GUARANTEED LOANS SUGGESTED. An Unnumbered Letter dated March 13, 2015 lists “tips and best practices for increasing operational efficiencies and to eliminate unnecessary unproductive processes.” Contact the Rural Housing Service’s National Office, 202-720-1452.

HUD SETS REQUIREMENTS FOR RENTAL ASSISTANCE TRANSFERS. A notice describes the conditions for HUD approval of requests to transfer project-based rental assistance, debt held or insured by HUD, and use restrictions from one or more multifamily housing project to another or others. Contact Nancie-Ann Bodell, HUD, 202-708-2495.

UPDATE FOR SECTION 3 REGULATIONS PROPOSED. HUD suggests strengthening its oversight of Section 3, which requires giving jobs and other economic opportunities generated by HUD assistance to low- and very low-income persons to the extent possible.Comments are due May 26. Contact Staci Gilliam, HUD, 202-402-3468.

RURAL HOUSING TENANT DATA FOR 2014 NOW AVAILABLE. USDA RD’s annual issuance provides figures at the national and state levels for the agency’s multifamily portfolio as a whole and separately for Section 515, Section 514/516, and Rental Assistance. There were 1,645 fewer units in 2014 than in 2013. The average income for Section 515 tenants is now $12,022 and for Rental Assistance recipients $10,258. Elderly and disabled households remain a majority in Section 515 units, at 61.65%, and the proportion of households with disabilities increased.

HOMELESSNESS HAS DECREASED, CHANGE VARIES WIDELY AMONG STATES, REPORT SAYS. The State of Homelessness in America 2015, by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, reports data for states and for subpopulations.

CFPB UPDATES HOMEBUYING TOOLKIT. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has revised its information booklet, “Your Home Loan Toolkit: A Step-by-Step Guide.” Contact Julie Vore, CFPB, 202-435-7700.

HAC SETS ENERGY STAR WEBINAR FOR APRIL 8. Register online for HAC’s upcoming webinar, “A Practitioner’s Guide to Energy Star 3.0,” to be held on April 8 at 2 pm Eastern time. Contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

HAC News: March 18, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

March 18, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 6

• Members of Congress question budget’s self-help funding, minimum rents, and more • Castro includes rural in budget testimony • House and Senate Republicans release FY16 budgets • VA expands eligibility for SSVF NOFA •HUD requests input on HOPWA for abuse victims • USDA StrikeForce Initiative adds counties in Oklahoma and Puerto Rico • Gap between supply of and demand for affordable rental units continues to grow • Housing costs increasing for employed renters • HAC releases conference report • HAC sets “Serving Veterans in Rural America” conference for May 20

HAC News Formats. pdf

March 18, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 6

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS QUESTION BUDGET’S SELF-HELP FUNDING, MINIMUM RENTS, AND MORE. Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) called the proposed reduction in funding for Section 523 self-help housing “troublesome” at a March 18 House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the Administration’s FY16 budget request. Housing Administrator Tony Hernandez said carryover from FY15 will help fund self-help contracts, and that RD’s effort to improve underwriting and automation will lead to reduced wait times for loan approvals. Subcommittee Chair Robert Aderholt (R-AL) questioned funding decreases that have “been rejected [by Congress] many times in the past,” and also asked about the proposed $50 minimum rent. Hernandez said about 36,000 households would be eligible for hardship exemptions, where a rent of $25 would likely be required, and noted USDA is asking to access HHS income verification databases to confirm program eligibility. Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) inquired about RD’s reevaluation of how “rural in character” is defined to determine housing program eligibility. Hernandez replied the requirement is currently suspended and should be reinstated by September 2015. Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) pointed out this was the only hearing addressing rural poverty.

CASTRO INCLUDES RURAL IN BUDGET TESTIMONY. On March 11, HUD Secretary Julián Castro testified on HUD’s FY16 budget request before the Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee. His written testimony, like the testimony prepared for the House Subcommittee on February 25, includes a section on rural America, focusing on Native American programs, colonias, and partnerships with USDA.

HOUSE AND SENATE REPUBLICANS RELEASE FY16 BUDGETS. Neither document includes specific spending levels for individual housing programs. The Senate Republicans’ budget proposal does not discuss housing. The House version says it will reform housing programs, without details except for positive mention of HUD’s Moving to Work program. It would also privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

VA EXPANDS ELIGIBILITY FOR SSVF NOFA. The Department of Veterans Affairs has made current Supportive Services for Veteran Families grantees with three-year, non-renewable grants eligible to apply under its February 3 NOFA (see HAC News, 2/4/15). The deadline is April 10. Contact SSVF staff, 877-737-0111.

HUD REQUESTS INPUT ON HOPWA FOR ABUSE VICTIMS. Comments are due April 13 on a demonstration that will award grants to states, local governments, and nonprofits to provide temporary housing to low-income victims of abuse or assault living with HIV/AIDS. Grantees must coordinate with local domestic violence and sexual assault service providers for client outreach and supportive services. Contact Amy Palilonis, HUD, 202-402-5916.

USDA STRIKEFORCE INITIATIVE ADDS COUNTIES IN OKLAHOMA AND PUERTO RICO. StrikeForce targets assistance to rural areas with chronic poverty. Parts of 21 states and the entire island of Puerto Rico are now included.

COMMENTS REQUESTED ON REDUCING USDA REGULATORY BURDENS. Comments are due May 18 on ways to modify regulations to streamline reporting and increase flexibility. Contact Michael Poe, USDA, 202-720-3257.

GAP BETWEEN SUPPLY OF AND DEMAND FOR AFFORDABLE RENTAL UNITS CONTINUES TO GROW. Affordable Housing is Nowhere to be Found for Millions, published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition,highlights the gaps at the national and state levels. Nationwide, only 31 affordable and available rental units exist for every 100 extremely low-income renter households. NLIHC says that, without government intervention, this gap will continue increasing.

HOUSING COSTS INCREASING FOR EMPLOYED RENTERS. Housing Landscape 2015, by the National Housing Conference’s Center for Housing Policy, reports housing affordability has improved slightly for low- and moderate-income working households, but costs continue to increase for working renters. Minority-headed households – except for American Indians and Native Alaskans – have a notably higher housing cost burden than white-headed households.

HAC RELEASES CONFERENCE REPORT. Events from the 2014 HAC Rural Housing Conference are reviewed briefly in the final report, which includes links to videos of each plenary session as well as materials from select workshops. [tdborder][/tdborder]

HAC SETS “SERVING VETERANS IN RURAL AMERICA” CONFERENCE FOR MAY 20. Cosponsored by HAC and The Home Depot Foundation, this event in Washington, DC will provide information on housing, health, and employment needs and programs for rural veterans, with a special focus on successful local projects. Confirmed speakers include Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), other government officials, and representatives of several local rural housing organizations. There is no charge, but registration is requested. To register or for more information, email janice@ruralhome.org.

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.

HAC News: February 4, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

February 4, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 3

• FY16 funding process begins • Rural housing budget requests more rental funding, less for self-help, and minimum rent for tenants • HUD proposed budget for 2016 boosts funding • HUD issues Housing Trust Fund interim rule • Property owners must notify tenants before final payment on Section 515 or 514 loans • Guidance issued to help RD staff set voucher amounts • RD announces FY15 funding policy for Sec. 523 self-help grants • CFPB hopes to facilitate small creditor and rural lending • Supportive Services for Veteran Families grantees can apply for renewals • FHFA proposes minimum financial thresholds for non-banks

[tdborder][/tdborder]HAC News Formats. pdf

February 4, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 3

FY16 FUNDING PROCESS BEGINS. On February 2 the Obama Administration released its budget request for FY16, which begins October 1, 2015. The total for discretionary programs exceeds the Budget Control Act’s caps. The next step will be congressional hearings. More details about the budget’s housing portions are on HAC’s website. HAC will present a rural housing budget webinar on February 6, which will be archived online for later listening.

RURAL HOUSING BUDGET REQUESTS MORE RENTAL FUNDING, LESS FOR SELF-HELP, AND MINIMUM RENT FOR TENANTS. The budget would keep many of USDA’s rural housing programs at or near their FY15 levels, and would increase funds for some. Only $10 million is requested for Section 523 self-help; RD officials told HAC they expect to have enough carryover funds available to renew expiring contracts. Like last year’s budget, this one proposes some changes in the Rental Assistance program, including a $50 minimum rent. Some Section 515 funds would be available for new construction. Section 542 voucher funding would be more than doubled, and vouchers would be available for tenants of Section 515 properties leaving the program for any reason, not just foreclosure.

USDA Rural Dev. Prog.
(dollars in millions)

FY13
Approp.a

FY14
Approp.

FY15 Admin. Bdgt.

FY15
Approp.

FY16 Admin. Bdgt.

502 Single Fam. Direct
Self-Help setaside

$900
5

$900
5

$360
0

$900
5

$900
0

502 Single Family Guar.

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

504 VLI Repair Loans

28

26.3

26.3

26.3

26.3

504 VLI Repair Grants

29.5

28.7

25

28.7

26

515 Rental Hsg. Direct Lns.

31.3

28.4

28.4

28.4

42.3

514 Farm Labor Hsg. Lns.

20.8

23.9

23.9

23.6

23.9

516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grts.

7.1

8.3

8.3

8.3

8.3

521 Rental Assistanceb

907.1

1,110

1,089

1,089

1,172

523 Self-Help TA

30

25

10

27.5

10

533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants

3.6

3.5

0

3.5

0

538 Rental Hsg. Guar.

150

150

150

150

200

Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR)

17.8

20

20

17

19

542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers

10

12.6

8

7

15

Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init.

6.1

6

0

4

4

a. Figures shown do not include 5% sequester or 2.5% across the board cut. b. The final FY13 appropriation for RA included a $3 million 514/516 setaside; the final appropriations for FY14 and FY15 have no setasides.

HUD PROPOSED BUDGET FOR 2016 BOOSTS FUNDING. The budget proposes increases above 2015 appropriated levels in almost all HUD programs. CDBG would be cut, but it and many others are proposed at the same levels as in the President’s FY15 budget. The maximum CDBG setaside for Southwest border colonias would increase to 15% from the current 10%. No funds are requested for the Rural Innovation Fund or the Rural Housing and Economic Development program. For the third year in a row, the budget proposes to make SHOP a $10 million setaside within HOME. Also proposed is a new $300 million “Local Housing Policy Grants” program for localities “to support new policies, programs, or regulatory initiatives, such as design options, process changes, and land use regulations.”

HUD Program
(dollars in millions)

FY13
Approp.a

FY14
Approp.

FY15
Admin. Bdgt.

FY15
Approp.

FY16
Admin. Bdgt.

Cmty. Devel. Fund
CDBG

3,308
2,948

3,100
3,030

2,870
2,800

3,066
3,000

2,880
2,800

HOME
SHOP setaside

1,000
b

1,000
b

950
10

900
b

1,060
10

Self-Help Homeownshp. (SHOP)

13.5

10

b

10

b

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance
VASH setaside

18,939.4
75

19,177.2
75

20,100
75

19,304
75

21,123
c

Project-Based Rental Asstnce.

9,339.7

9,516.6

9,346

9,330

10,360

Public Hsg. Capital Fund

1,886

1,875

1,925

1,875

1,970

Public Hsg. Operating Fund

4,262

4,400

4,600

4,440

4,600

Choice Neighbrhd. Initiative

120

90

120

80

250

Native Amer. Hsg. Block Grant

650

650

650

650

660

Homeless Assistance Grantsd

2,033

2,105

2,406.4

2,135

2,480

Hsg. Opps. for Persons w/ AIDS

334

330

332

330

332

202 Hsg. for Elderly

377

385.3

440

436

455

811 Hsg. for Disabled

165

126

160

135

177

Fair Housing

70.8

66

71

65.3

71

Healthy Homes & Lead Haz. Cntl.

120

110

120

110

120

Housing Counseling

45

45

60

47

60

Local Housing Policy Grants

300

a. Figures shown do not include 5% sequester. b. In FY13, FY14, and FY15 SHOP was funded under the Self-Help & Assisted Homeownership Opportunity Program account. Recent Obama budgets have proposed making the program a setaside in HOME. Congress has rejected that proposal. c. VASH vouchers for homeless veterans would be part of a new $177.5 million account of incremental rental vouchers for families, veterans, and tribal families experiencing homelessness and for victims of domestic violence. d. Includes the Rural Housing Stability Program, which is not yet operational.

HUD ISSUES HOUSING TRUST FUND INTERIM RULE. HUD will request public comments on the interim rule after funding is available and states gain experience administering the HTF. Contact Marcia Sigal, HUD, 202-708-2684. HUD has also launched an HTF resource page and an email list. HTF funding is expected to be available from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (see HAC News, 12/22/14), although H.R. 574, introduced in Congress, would block those monies.

PROPERTY OWNERS MUST NOTIFY TENANTS BEFORE FINAL PAYMENT ON SECTION 515 OR 514 LOANS. An Unnumbered Letter dated Jan. 16, 2015 provides a form letter for property owners, requiring them to notify tenants 12 months before a USDA loan will be paid off in the regular course of business. (It does not apply when a loan is prepaid.) The form letter lists provisions to be included in the letter to tenants. HAC recommended this action in a letter to USDA last August (see HAC News, 8/20/14). Contact Laura L. Horn, 386-328-5051, ext. 100.

GUIDANCE ISSUED TO HELP RD STAFF SET VOUCHER AMOUNTS. Section 542 vouchers – for tenants in properties with prepaid or foreclosed Section 515 mortgages – are based on rents for modest apartments in the same market area. An Unnumbered Letter dated Jan. 16, 2015 explains how to calculate these comparable market rents. Contact Thomas Ale, USDA, 202-720-1620.

RD ANNOUNCES FY15 FUNDING POLICY FOR SEC. 523 SELF-HELP GRANTS. A message sent to USDA RD’s single-family email list explains that grantees funded in FY14 at 90% of their request can request the remaining 10%. Existing grantees performing satisfactorily may renew at the same amount as their current grants. One new grantee will be selected in each region and new grantees can also replace grantees that have left the program. Contact an RD office.

CFPB HOPES TO FACILITATE SMALL CREDITOR AND RURAL LENDING. Comments are due March 30 on a proposed rule that would expand the definitions of small creditors and rural places in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s mortgage regulations. It would also make some time frames more flexible for small creditors and those serving rural or underserved places. Contact Amanda Quester, CFPB, 202-435-7700.

SUPPORTIVE SERVICES FOR VETERAN FAMILIES GRANTEES CAN APPLY FOR RENEWALS. Nonprofits and consumer cooperatives with existing SSVF programs can apply by March 17 for grants to prevent veteran homelessness. Contact the VA’s SSVF staff, 877-737-0111, SSVF@va.gov.

FHFA PROPOSES MINIMUM FINANCIAL THRESHOLDS FOR NON-BANKS. These new eligibility requirements include net worth, capital, and liquidity criteria for mortgage seller/servicers to do business with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. FHFA is accepting comments before finalizing the criteria in the second quarter of 2015, but has no specific deadline.

HAC News: January 21, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

January 21, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 2

• State of the Union message addresses broad themes, touches on housing • President’s FY16 budget expected February 2 • Rural housing program eligibility changes effective February 2 • Congressional committee leadership takes shape • Fair housing comments reopened on one issue for small entities • EPA suggests altering lead paint training rule • HUD proposes changes for project-based Section 8 and for Section 202 • New USDA notice issued on domestic violence • USDA RD reminds staff of prepayment requirements • RD gives lead paint guidance • Map shows FHA premium cuts by county • LIHTC tenants described in HUD publication •

January 21, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 2

STATE OF THE UNION MESSAGE ADDRESSES BROAD THEMES, TOUCHES ON HOUSING. President Obama’s January 20 speech began with the story of a Minnesota family who recently were able to buy their first home. A later mention of “lower mortgage premiums” apparently referred to the President’s recent action to lower HUD FHA mortgage costs (see HAC News, 1/7/15).

PRESIDENT’S FY16 BUDGET EXPECTED FEBRUARY 2. For the first time in several years, the Administration’s budget request will be released on time. The Budget Control Act’s spending caps will apply to final appropriations for FY16. Check ruralhome.org on February 2 for details.

CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE LEADERSHIP TAKES SHAPE. Chairs and ranking minority members of the housing-relevant committees in the new 114th Congress are mostly in place. In the Senate, Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have been named chairman and ranking minority member on the Banking Committee. For the Appropriations Committee those spots are held by Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). New Senate Appropriations subcommittee chairmen and ranking members are Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) on Agriculture and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) on Transportation-HUD. In the House, Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) continue as the chairman and ranking member of the Financial Services Committee. For that panel’s Housing and Insurance Subcommittee, Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) are the new leaders. Harold Rogers (R-KY) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) continue as chairman and ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) will continue as chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) will be the new chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation-HUD. Ranking minority members are Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) continuing on the Agriculture Subcommittee and Rep. David Price (D-NC) as the new ranking on T-HUD.

FAIR HOUSING COMMENTS REOPENED ON ONE ISSUE FOR SMALL ENTITIES. In response to comments received on its July 2013 proposed rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, HUD is considering giving states, insular areas, small PHAs, and small entitlement jurisdictions more time than others to prepare their first Assessments of Fair Housing. Comments on this specific topic are due February 17. Contact Camille Acevedo, HUD, 202-708-1793.

EPA SUGGESTS ALTERING LEAD PAINT TRAINING RULE. Intended to reduce burdens on industry and the EPA, a proposed rule would eliminate the requirement that refresher training for renovators have a hands-on component, remove jurisdiction-specific certification and accreditation requirements, and clarify requirements for training providers. Comments are due February 13. Contact Marc Edmonds, EPA, 202-566-0758.

HUD PROPOSES CHANGES FOR PROJECT-BASED SECTION 8 AND FOR SECTION 202. Comments are due March 16. One proposed rule would amend HUD’s regulations for Management and Occupancy Reviews (MORs) at project-based Section 8 properties, and reduce payments HUD makes to owners for vacant project-based Section 8 or Section 202 units. Another would reduce the frequency of MORs. Contact Lauryn Alleva, HUD, 202-708-3730.

NEW USDA NOTICE ISSUED ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Administrative Notice 4778 (Jan. 5, 2015) clarifies and updates AN 4747 (Feb. 10, 2014) (see HAC News, 8/20/14), applying the Violence Against Women Act to USDA’s multifamily programs. Contact Barbara Chism, RD, 202-690-1436.

USDA RD REMINDS STAFF OF PREPAYMENT REQUIREMENTS. An Unnumbered Letter dated Dec. 17, 2014 tells field staff that owners of multifamily properties cannot avoid the prepayment process by intentionally defaulting on loan payments. Contact an RD state office.

RD GIVES LEAD PAINT GUIDANCE. Administrative Notice 4780 (Nov. 12, 2014) provides guidance on RD compliance with HUD’s rule on preventing lead-based paint poisoning. Contact an RD state office.

MAP SHOWS FHA PREMIUM CUTS BY COUNTY. HUD reported that recently announced premium cuts (see HAC News, 1/7/15) will save FHA borrowers an average of $900 annually. To break down that average, realty information company Realtytrac mapped data showing the savings for median priced homes in many metro counties, ranging from $118 to over $7,900. HousingWire lists the counties with the lowest and highest savings.

LIHTC TENANTS DESCRIBED IN HUD PUBLICATION. HUD compiled data from state housing agencies on Low Income Housing Tax Credit tenants’ race and ethnicity, disability status, family composition and age, household income, monthly rental payments and use of rental assistance. Understanding Whom the LIHTC Program Serves presents the information nationally and for each state.

HAC News: January 7, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

January 7, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 1

• New Congress convenes • Obama announces lower FHA mortgage insurance rate • Rural housing program eligibility changes effective February 2 • HUD proposes regulatory changes for vouchers, public housing, and other programs • Changes to BIA’s Housing Improvement Program proposed • Final credit risk retention rule defines QRM as QM • Family Self-Sufficiency Programs merged • Housing tax credit properties can achieve deep affordability without vouchers, report says • Paper explores connections between rural community and rural poverty • HAC webinar on seniors set for January 13

January 7, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 1

NEW CONGRESS CONVENES. In the new 114th Congress starting this week, some of the committee leadership posts are clear. Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) continues as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) will lead the Senate appropriations panel. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) continues as head of the House Financial Services Committee, and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) will be the new chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. On the Democratic side, Reps. Nita Lowey of NY and Maxine Waters of CA will continue as the ranking minority members on House Appropriations and Financial Services. In the Senate, Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) will be the top Democrat on Appropriations. Other Democratic spots and most subcommittee leaders have not yet been announced. As reported in the HAC News, 12/10/14, Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) will continue as chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) will be the new chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation-HUD.

OBAMA ANNOUNCES LOWER FHA MORTGAGE INSURANCE RATE. The rate will drop by 0.5 percentage point from 1.35% to 0.85%. The President’s statement says the change will save an average of $900 annually for new borrowers and also reiterates support for housing finance reform.

RURAL HOUSING PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY CHANGES EFFECTIVE FEBRUARY 2. USDA RD will implement a 2014 Farm Bill’s provision making places ineligible that were formerly considered rural, but have populations over 35,000 as of the 2010 Census. See RD’s “future eligible areas” maps. Applications from these places will be processed if completed before February 2. Contact an RD office or Mike Feinberg, HAC, 202-842-8600.

HUD PROPOSES REGULATORY CHANGES FOR VOUCHERS, PUBLIC HOUSING, AND OTHER PROGRAMS. Updates would put recent statutory changes into effect and would align program requirements for Housing Choice Vouchers (tenant- and project-based) and public housing. Section 202, Section 811, and other multifamily housing programs are also affected, as well as HOME, the Continuum of Care program, and HOPWA. Comments are due March 9, 2015. Contacts for each program are listed in the notice.

CHANGES TO BIA’S HOUSING IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM PROPOSED. HIP provides grants to tribal members for repair, renovation, or replacement of existing housing. Comments are due March 6 on changes that are intended to align the program with other federal requirements, allow leveraging of housing funds, and expedite processing of waiting lists. BIA will host consultation sessions with tribes in February; for details, visit https://www.bia.gov/WhoWeAre/AS-IA/ORM/HIP/index.htm. Contact Mr. Les Jensen, BIA, 907-586-7397.

FINAL CREDIT RISK RETENTION RULE DEFINES QRM AS QM. “Qualified residential mortgages” are exempt from the Dodd-Frank Act’s requirement for lenders to retain part of the credit risk of assets that collateralize asset-backed securities. Federal regulators have adopted a definition proposed in 2013 (see HAC News, 9/25/13): a QRM is the same as a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “qualified mortgage” and need not have a 20% downpayment. Also exempt are mortgages made by state HFAs, CDFIs, CHDOs (for HOME-funded projects), small-volume nonprofits, and others. Contact Ronald P. Sugarman, FHFA, 202-649-3208.

FAMILY SELF-SUFFICIENCY PROGRAMS MERGED. Implementing a provision in its FY14 appropriations act, HUD has unified the programs, formerly separate for participants with Housing Choice Vouchers and those in public housing. Contact Anice Chenault, HUD, 202-402-2341.

HOUSING TAX CREDIT PROPERTIES CAN ACHIEVE DEEP AFFORDABILITY WITHOUT VOUCHERS, REPORT SAYS. A new National Low Income Housing Coalition publication, Aligning Federal Low Income Housing Programs with Housing Need, says Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties rarely serve extremely low-income households (at or below 30% of area median income) without vouchers, but presents five case studies of innovative strategies that do not use vouchers.

PAPER EXPLORES CONNECTIONS BETWEEN RURAL COMMUNITY AND RURAL POVERTY. “Understanding Connections between Rural Communities and Family Well-Being: A Study of Hampton, Iowa,” published by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, examines the role of “place” in shaping the futures of rural residents, particularly low-income residents.

HAC WEBINAR ON SENIORS SET FOR JANUARY 13. Register now forRural Seniors and Their Homes: Planning for a Rapidly Aging Rural America” to learn more about the demographic, economic, and housing trends of seniors and near-seniors in rural America as well as their housing options.

HAC News: December 22, 2014

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 22, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 25

• FY15 spending bill signed into law • Tax extenders bill includes LIHTC and NMTC • FHFA activates obligation to National Housing Trust Fund • FHFA interim rule prohibits pass-through of NHTF and CMF costs • Preliminary assessment tool released for USDA multifamily transfers • Regulations issued to replace several OMB circulars • RUS offers rural broadband grants • USDA prohibits age discrimination • Regulations change rural definition for single-family housing programs • Half of Native American mortgage applicants were denied in 2013 • New report suggests housing policy consider changes over time • Rural nonprofits have broad impact, report says • HAC summarizes data on homelessness • Conference photos and other materials now online

December 22, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 25

FY15 SPENDING BILL SIGNED INTO LAW. The “cromnibus” final spending bill for FY15 funds the Department of Homeland Security through February 27 and the rest of the government, including USDA and HUD, have full-year appropriations through September 30. For housing programs’ spending levels, see HAC News, 12/10/14.

TAX EXTENDERS BILL INCLUDES LIHTC AND NMTC. H.R. 5771, passed by the House and Senate, provides a minimum 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credit rate and authorizes the New Markets Tax Credit for calendar year 2014. Since 2014 LIHTC allocations have already been distributed, the bill has little impact on that program.

FHFA ACTIVATES OBLIGATION TO NATIONAL HOUSING TRUST FUND. On December 11, Federal Housing Finance Agency director Mel Watt instructed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to begin setting aside funds for the National Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund. The NHTF will fund housing, mostly rental and mostly for extremely low-income households. The CMF provides funds to CDFIs and nonprofits to finance affordable housing and related economic development and community service facilities. HUD, which will operate the NHTF program, published proposed regulations in October 2010; Secretary Julián Castro announced final rules will be issued soon. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates the first NHTF funds will be allocated to states in early 2016.

FHFA INTERIM RULE PROHIBITS PASS-THROUGH OF NHTF AND CMF COSTS. A Federal Housing Finance Agency interim final rule provides that the cost of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s NHTF and CMF allocations may not be transferred to mortgage originators. Comments are due January 15. Contact Alfred M. Pollard, FHFA, 202-649-3050.

PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT TOOL RELEASED FOR USDA MULTIFAMILY TRANSFERS. Applicants are asked to use this tool before requesting ownership transfers and MPR-related transfers, to gauge if the proposed transactions will conform to USDA RD’s underwriting standards. Accompanying policy clarifications are being drafted for RD’s hand-book HB-3-3560. A separate tool will be provided for stay-in owner transactions. RD will conduct a webinar in January; HAC will report details when they are available. Request the tool from, or send comments to, Beverly Casey or an RD state office.

REGULATIONS ISSUED TO REPLACE SEVERAL OMB CIRCULARS. All federal award-making agencies, including USDA RHS, HUD, and VA, jointly issued an interim final rule that will apply to future federal awards. The rule implements the Office of Management and Budget’s Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, superceding several circulars including A-110, A-122, and A-133. Comments are due February 17. Contact Victoria Collin or Gil Tran, OMB, 202-395-3993. More resources are at https://cfo.gov/COFAR./.

RUS OFFERS RURAL BROADBAND GRANTS. Nonprofits, for-profits, coops, limited liability companies, tribes, states, and local governments can apply by February 17 for Community Connect grants to provide broadband service to currently unserved areas. Contact Shawn Arner, RUS, 202-720-0800.

USDA PROHIBITS AGE DISCRIMINATION. Recipients of USDA funds may not discriminate based on age, except when age distinctions are necessary to achieve a program’s purpose. Comments are due January 9. Contact Anna G. Stroman, 202-205-5953.

REGULATIONS CHANGE RURAL DEFINITION FOR SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSING PROGRAMS. The amendments implement revisions adopted in the 2014 Farm Bill (see HAC News, 2/5/14). Contact Shantelle Gordon, RHS, 202-205-9567.

HALF OF NATIVE AMERICAN MORTGAGE APPLICANTS WERE DENIED IN 2013. An Indian Country Today article reports that Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data show 51% of Indians and Native Alaskans applying for mortgages received them, while the rate for Native Hawaiians was 57%.

NEW REPORT SUGGESTS HOUSING POLICY CONSIDER CHANGES OVER TIME. Housing More People More Effectively through a Dynamic Housing Policy, published by the Bipartisan Policy Center, recommends moving from a static, transaction-focused housing policy to one that focuses on a broader time horizon and considers how things change over time at the property, household, and neighborhood levels.

RURAL NONPROFITS HAVE BROAD IMPACT, REPORT SAYS. The National Rural Housing Coalition’s Impact Report: The Economic and Human Impact of Nonprofit Organizations on Rural America estimates that in 2013 alone, nonprofit organizations generated $380 million in economic activity and created over 40,000 jobs in rural communities.

HAC SUMMARIZES DATA ON HOMELESSNESS. “Homelessness Declines but is Still Difficult to Assess in Rural Areas” is based on data released by HUD (see HAC News, 11/12/14).

CONFERENCE PHOTOS AND OTHER MATERIALS NOW ONLINE. Visit https://Ruralhome.org/calendar/nrhconf/1061-materials-from-the-2014-hac-conference for links to workshop materials via the conference app, photos, and videos.