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HAC News: December 10, 2014

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December 10, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 24

• Congress nears final action on 2015 spending • House passes NAHASDA reauthorization • New appropriations panel chairs announced • Mensah sworn in at USDA • USDA issues limited English proficiency guidance • VA adopts final HISA program regulation • HUD extends deadline for 202/811 comments • Email list for USDA direct single-family housing loan programs launched • HAC honors rural housing leaders • HAC Rural Housing Conference materials available • Rural Voices covers poverty in rural America • New HAC report examines senior housing

December 10, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 24

CONGRESS NEARS FINAL ACTION ON 2015 SPENDING. A wrap-up spending bill for FY 2015 was unveiled by House appropriators on December 9. The bill (H.R. 83) has been labeled a “cromnibus” because it provides a continuing resolution (CR) for the Department of Homeland Security through February 27 and an omnibus for the rest of the government, including USDA and HUD, through September 30. Republicans opposed to the President’s recent actions on immigration will look further at that issue in DHS appropriations when the new Congress convenes in January. The House is expected to pass the bill this week but the current government-wide CR expires December 11, so another two- or three-day CR may be needed for final Senate consideration. Check HAC’s web site for updates.

USDA. Rejecting most of the Administration’s FY 2015 budget proposals, H.R. 83 retains funding for Section 502 direct loans and the Rural Community Development Initiative and increases Section 523 self-help. It does not adopt the Administration’s request for minimum rents but does prohibit renewal of RA contracts that use up their funding before their full 12-month terms, and directs USDA to report on RA implementation by June 1, 2015. The bill also continues the pilot packaging program for Section 502 direct loans. The table below has details. [tdborder][/tdborder]

USDA Rural Dev. Prog.
(dollars in millions)

FY13
Approp.a

FY14
Approp.

FY15
Admn. Bdgt.

FY15 Hse. Bill H.R. 4800

FY15 Sen. Bill S. 2389

FY15 Final
H.R. 83

502 Single Fam. Direct
Self-Help setaside

$900
5

$900
5

$360
0

$1,042
5

$900
5

$900
5

502 Single Family Guar.

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

504 VLI Repair Loans

28

26.3

26.3

26.4

26.3

26.3

504 VLI Repair Grants

29.5

28.7

25

27

28.7

28.7

515 Rental Hsg. Direct Lns.

31.3

28.4

28.4

28.3

28.4

28.4

514 Farm Labor Hsg. Lns.

20.8

23.9

23.9

23.6

23.8

23.6

516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grts.

7.1

8.3

8.3

8.3

8.3

8.3

521 Rental Assistanceb

907.1

1,110

1,089

1,089

1,094

1,089

523 Self-Help TA

30

25

10

30

25

27.5

533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants

3.6

3.5

0

0

3.5

3.5

538 Rental Hsg. Guar.

150

150

150

150

150

150

Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR)

17.8

20

20

20

20

17

542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers

10

12.6

8

8

8

7

Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init.

6.1

6

0

5

6

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. The bill reduces funding for some HUD programs and provides level funding for others. Only Section 202 receives an increase. CDBG, HOME, rental assistance, and public housing have mostly small reductions below FY14 appropriated levels. SHOP, VASH vouchers for homeless veterans, Native American housing, AIDS housing, and lead hazard control all received the same levels as in 2014. The table below has details.

HUD Program
(dollars in millions)

FY13
Approp.a

FY14
Approp.

FY15
Admn. Bdgt.

FY15 Hse. Bill
H.R. 4745

FY15 Sen. Bill
S. 2438

FY15 Final
H.R. 83

Cmty. Devel. Fund
CDBG

3,308
2,948

3,100
3,030

2,870
2,800

3,060
3,000

3,090
3,020

3.066
3,000

HOME
SHOP setaside

1,000
b

1,000
b

950
10

700
10

950
b

900
b

Self-Help Homeownshp. (SHOP)

13.5

10

b

b

10

10

Tenant-Based Rental Asstnce.
VASH setaside

18,939.4
75

19,177.2
75

20,100
75

19,356
75

19,562
75

19,304
75

Project-Based Rental Asstnce.

9,339.7

9,516.6

9,346

9,346

9,346

9,330

Public Hsg. Capital Fund

1,886

1,875

1,925

1,775

1,900

1,875

Public Hsg. Operating Fund

4,262

4,400

4,600

4,400

4,475

4,440

Choice Neighbrhd. Initiative

120

90

120

0

90

80

Native Amer. Hsg. Block Grant

650

650

650

650

650

650

Homeless Assistance Grantsc

2,033

2,105

2,406.4

2,105

2,145

2,135

Hsg. Opps. for Persons w/ AIDS

334

330

332

303

330

330

202 Hsg. for Elderly

377

385.3

440

420

420

436

811 Hsg. for Disabled

165

126

160

135

135

135

Fair Housing

70.8

66

71

56

66

65.3

Healthy Homes & Lead Haz. Cntl.

120

110

120

70

110

110

Housing Counseling

45

45

60

45

49

47

a. Figures shown do not include 5% sequester.
b. In FY13 and FY14 SHOP was funded under the Self-Help & Assisted Homeownership Opportunity Program account. For FY15 the Administration’s budget proposed making the program a setaside in HOME. The final FY15 bill specifically rejects that proposal.
c. Includes the Rural Housing Stability Program, which is not yet operational.

HOUSE PASSES NAHASDA REAUTHORIZATION. H.R. 4329 would authorize housing programs for Native Americans and Native Hawaiians through FY18, but would limit funding each year to not more than the current $650 million level. The Senate bill (see HAC News, 8/6/14) does not cap funding.

NEW APPROPRIATIONS PANEL CHAIRS ANNOUNCED. For the new Congress convening in January, Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) continues in another term as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) continues as chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) will be the new chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation-HUD.

MENSAH SWORN IN AT USDA. On December 5, Lisa Mensah was sworn in by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack as the new Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development.

USDA ISSUES LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY GUIDANCE. The guidance is intended to help recipients of USDA funding ensure they do not discriminate against LEP persons. Contact Anna G. Stroman, USDA, 202-205-5953.

VA ADOPTS FINAL HISA PROGRAM REGULATION. The Home Improvements and Structural Alterations program serves disabled veterans. (See HAC News, 12/4/13.) Contact Shayla Mitchell, VA, 202-461-0366.

HUD EXTENDS DEADLINE FOR 202/811 COMMENTS. A notice in the December 11 Federal Register will move the deadline for comments on suggested regulatory changes (see HAC News, 10/17/14) to January 15. A HUD webinar about the proposal is posted online. Contact Alicia Anderson, HUD, 202-708-3000.

EMAIL LIST FOR USDA DIRECT SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSING LOAN PROGRAMS LAUNCHED. USDA will use the list to distribute information about Section 502 direct, 504, and 523. Sign up for this or for lists covering the Section 502 guarantee program at https://www.rdlist.sc.egov.usda.gov/listserv/mainservlet.

HAC HONORS RURAL HOUSING LEADERS. At the HAC Rural Housing Conference, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) received the Henry B. González Award for elected officials. The Clay Cochran/Art Collings Award for national service went to former Sen. Kit Bond. Recipients of the Skip Jason Award for community achievement were Brad Bishop, Self-Help Homes, UT; Martha Mendez, Coachella Valley Housing Coalition, CA; Retha Patton, Eastern Eight Community Development Corporation, TN; and Andres Saavedra, Rural LISC, DC.

HAC RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE MATERIALS AVAILABLE. The conference app will remain active for at least six months, offering materials from each workshop, lists of attendees and speakers, and more. Videos of the plenary sessions, as well as photos taken throughout the event, will be posted soon. Check HAC’s website for updates.

RURAL VOICES COVERS POVERTY IN RURAL AMERICA. A special edition of HAC’s quarterly magazine asks what has changed since the War on Poverty was declared 50 years ago, what has not, and what can be done. Sign up online for email notices when new issues are published.

NEW HAC REPORT EXAMINES SENIOR HOUSING. Housing an Aging Rural America: Rural Seniors and Their Homes looks at the demographic characteristics of rural elders and considers ways to provide quality, affordable housing for them.

HAC News: November 12, 2014

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November 12, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 23

• November is National Native American Heritage Month • Congress returns for lame duck sessionCongress returns for lame duck session • Judge strikes down HUD’s disparate impact rule • CFPB amends qualified mortgage regulation, HUD accepts some changes • Regulatory agencies propose flood insurance updates • Input requested for HUD Code changes • Farmworker incomes unchanged, averaging under $20,000 • HUD releases annual fair housing report • HUD reports reductions in homelessness • GAO recommends changes in program offering surplus federal property for homeless • HAC News takes a break • THERE’S STILL TIME TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE!

November 12, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 23

NOVEMBER IS NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH. President Obama’s proclamation also designates November 28 as Native American Heritage Day.

CONGRESS RETURNS FOR LAME DUCK SESSION. Both the House and Senate reconvene November 12 for a post-election session. A final FY15 spending package is on the agenda, with the current stopgap continuing resolution set to expire on December 11. Most observers are predicting a full-year continuing resolution or omnibus appropriations bill through September 30, 2015. Passage may be complicated, however, by the Obama administration’s request for $6.2 billion in emergency funds to fight Ebola. As reported in a HAC post on the Rooflines blog, some important committee positions will change in the new Congress, which takes office in January. HAC will post updates as available.

JUDGE STRIKES DOWN HUD’S DISPARATE IMPACT RULE. On November 3 a federal district court judge, ruling that HUD could not extend the Fair Housing Act’s ban on disparate treatment to include disparate impact, vacated HUD’s 2013 regulation on the subject (see HAC News, 2/20/13). During its current term the Supreme Court is expected to consider a different disparate impact case.

CFPB AMENDS QUALIFIED MORTGAGE REGULATION, HUD ACCEPTS SOME CHANGES. A final Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule adopts an April proposal (see HAC News, 5/14/14), exempting some nonprofits and loans by nonprofits from some requirements and providing a way to cure some points and fees that exceed the qualified mortgage limits. Contact CFPB’s Office of Regulations, 202-435-7700. CFPB’s nonprofit exemptions will apply also to HUD’s qualified mortgage rule, but HUD is not adopting CFPB’s new points and fees cure provision, instead providing guidance to mortgagees. Contact Michael P. Nixon, HUD, 202-402-5216, ext. 3094.

REGULATORY AGENCIES PROPOSE FLOOD INSURANCE UPDATES. The federal agencies that oversee lenders, including credit unions, suggest changes to implement statutory requirements. Comments are due December 29. Contact Rhonda L. Daniels, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, 202-649-5405.

INPUT REQUESTED FOR HUD CODE CHANGES. Proposed revisions to HUD’s Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards are due December 31 and will be reviewed by the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee as it develops recommendations to HUD. Contact Pamela Beck Danner, HUD, 202-708-6423.

FARMWORKER INCOMES UNCHANGED, AVERAGING UNDER $20,000. A new memo from Farmworker Justice examines data from the Department of Labor’s 2011-12 National Agricultural Workers Survey. One-quarter of farmworker families live in poverty but, since the survey does not include dependents outside the U.S., Farmworker Justice believes the figure should be higher. Survey responses indicated 48% of workers lack work authorization, but that figure is probably understated as well. In 2011-12, only 17% of crop workers were migrants, compared to 27% in 2007-09 and 42% in 2001-02.

HUD RELEASES ANNUAL FAIR HOUSING REPORT. Covering fiscal years 2012 and 2013, the report provides national and state level data on complaints filed and their disposition, as well as complaints initiated by HUD. Discrimination against persons with disabilities remains the largest category of complaints received.

HUD REPORTS REDUCTIONS IN HOMELESSNESS. HUD’s 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congresssays homelessness has dropped by 10% since 2010, and the number of people living on the street has declined 25%. Veteran homelessness has fallen 10.5% since 2013 and 33% since 2010. Data are available for each state and each Continuum of Care, some of which did experience increases from 2013 to 2014.

GAO RECOMMENDS CHANGES IN PROGRAM OFFERING SURPLUS FEDERAL PROPERTY FOR HOMELESS. Federal Real Property: More Useful Information to Providers Could Improve the Homeless Assistance Program (GAO-14-739) addresses HUD’s program that makes unused federal real property available to homeless assistance providers. Contact David J.Wise, GAO, 202-512-2834.

HAC NEWS TAKES A BREAK. The next issue of the HAC News is scheduled for the week of December 8, after the Thanksgiving holiday and the HAC Rural Housing Conference 2014. Check HAC’s website for news in the meantime.

THERE’S STILL TIME TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE! Register online for the HAC Rural Housing Conference 2014: Retool, Rebuild, Renew, in Washington, DC, December 3-5 with pre-conference activities December 2. Contact HAC staff, registration@ruralhome.org.

HAC News: October 29, 2014

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October 29, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 21

• Rent aid kept over 3 million people out of poverty in 2013 • Regulatory agencies align QRM with QM, drop requirement for large downpayments • HUD posts general section of FY15 NOFAs • Electronic signatures now accepted for Section 502 guaranteed loans • CFPB lists rural and underserved counties for 2015 • Public housing demolition and disposition proposal corrected • HUD provides guide to establishing smoke-free properties • GAO offers framework for assessing housing finance reform • Guide helps nonprofits to preserve Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties • 2013 American Housing Survey data released • Household participation in banking system increased, 2011 to 2013 • Have you investigated HAC’s Rural Data Portal? • HAC News e-mail subscribers get news faster

October 29, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 22

RENT AID KEPT OVER 3 MILLION PEOPLE OUT OF POVERTY IN 2013. The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2013, published by the Census Bureau, presents data with adjustments that are not taken into account in the official poverty measure (see HAC News, 9/17/14), including the impact of government programs assisting low-income people. A Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of the data shows that rental assistance alone kept 3 million people out of poverty, and all assistance programs lifted 39 million people above the poverty line.

REGULATORY AGENCIES ALIGN QRM WITH QM, DROP REQUIREMENT FOR LARGE DOWNPAYMENTS. As proposed in September 2013 (see HAC News, 9/25/13), final credit risk retention regulations define “qualified residential mortgages” the same way as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau defines “qualified mortgages.” Private mortgage lenders are expected to focus on QRM lending when the rule takes effect in October 2015, so a 2011 proposal that included a 20% downpayment in the QRM definition would have made it more difficult for low-income, minority, and first-time homebuyers to obtain mortgages. USDA Section 502 mortgages are all considered QRMs until USDA issues its own regulations on the subject. Contact Ronald P. Sugarman, FHFA, 202-649-3208 or Mike Feinberg, HAC, 202-842-8600.

HUD POSTS GENERAL SECTION OF FY15 NOFAS. As in the past, the general section will apply to all of HUD’s funding announcements for individual programs when they are issued. Contact HUD’s Office of Strategic Planning and Management, 202-708-0667.

ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES NOW ACCEPTED FOR SECTION 502 GUARANTEED LOANS. Administrative Notice 4776 (September 23, 2014) “clarifies that lenders may use electronic signatures as long as the lender perfects and maintains a first lien position, an enforceable promissory note, and meets all other agency requirements.” Contact USDA RD’s Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Division, 202-720-1452.

CFPB LISTS RURAL AND UNDERSERVED COUNTIES FOR 2015. The designations apply to several Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulations.

PUBLIC HOUSING DEMOLITION AND DISPOSITION PROPOSAL CORRECTED. The proposed rule (see HAC News, 10/17/14) included an erroneous definition. Comments are still due December 15.

HUD PROVIDES GUIDE TO ESTABLISHING SMOKE-FREE PROPERTIES. Change is in the Air: An Action Guide for Establishing Smoke-Free Public Housing and Multifamily Properties provides reasons, best practices, and step by step guidance.

GAO OFFERS FRAMEWORK FOR ASSESSING HOUSING FINANCE REFORM. Housing Finance System: A Framework for Assessing Potential Changes (GAO-15-131) describes and analyzes market developments since 2000 that have led to changes in the federal government’s role in the single-family housing finance system, and proposes a way to assess potential changes to the system. Contact Matt Scirè, GAO, 202-512-8678.

GUIDE HELPS NONPROFITS TO PRESERVE LOW INCOME HOUSING TAX CREDIT PROPERTIES. Beyond Year 15: Preserving Housing Credit Projects & Portfolio, published by Enterprise Community Partners, includes organizational procedures for preparing for Year 15 events as well as strategies for repositioning communities for the long term. It covers all types of LIHTC projects but focuses on issues around the most challenging projects and approaches to address those challenges.

2013 AMERICAN HOUSING SURVEY DATA RELEASED. HUD’s press release highlights the findings from questions on new subjects including neighborhood involvement, disaster planning, and use of public transportation. AHS data also include housing conditions, ownership rates, costs, and more. Nationwide, from 2011 to 2013, costs for renters rose slightly, while owners’ costs fell. Summary tables are posted in Excel format.

HOUSEHOLD PARTICIPATION IN BANKING SYSTEM INCREASED, 2011 TO 2013. A report on the 2013 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households credits changes in economic conditions and household demographics for the decline in “unbanked” households. In both 2011 and 2013, FDIC’s survey found the highest unbanked rates among non-Asian minorities and households who were lower-income, younger, or unemployed, though the unbanked rate for Hispanics dropped from 2011 to 2013. The report includes data at the national, state, and metro levels.

HAVE YOU INVESTIGATED HAC’S RURAL DATA PORTAL? The Rural Data Portal is an easy-to-use, on-line resource that provides essential information on the social, economic, and housing characteristics of communities in the United States. It is targeted toward rural communities, but a wide range of information is presented for the nation, states, and counties for rural, suburban, and urban areas.

HAC NEWS E-MAIL SUBSCRIBERS GET NEWS FASTER. Subscribe to the HAC News by e-mail and receive it sooner, plus updates when important news occurs between issues.

HAC News: October 17, 2014

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October 17, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 21

• USDA unable to spend all single-family appropriations in FY14 • HUD has Jobs Plus funds available • Rule changes suggested for Section 202 and 811 programs • 2015 DDAs and QCTs announced • Final Fair Market Rents set • HUD publishes new OCAFs • Most children in HUD-assisted renter households still live in high-poverty neighborhoods • Rural Voices wonders “What does affordable housing mean to you?” •HAC analysis of mortgage data now available • Farmworker housing and health conference set for November • Webinar to cover protecting seniors and other RD tenants from displacement • REGISTER FOR CONFERENCE BEFORE OCTOBER 31!

October 17, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 21

USDA UNABLE TO SPEND ALL SINGLE-FAMILY APPROPRIATIONS IN FY14. HAC’s analysis of USDA RD data for FY14 determined that 90% of Section 502 direct loan funds were obligated. (See HAC News, 9/17/14.) Very low-income borrowers received 33.2% of the obligations, consistent with past RD difficulties in meeting the requirement to loan 40% of its Section 502 direct dollars to VLI households, and all the unobligated FY14 funds were in the VLI setaside. A 2010 HAC report examined possible reasons and solutions to achieve the 40% requirement. Other FY14 obligation levels include 80% for Section 502 guaranteed loans, 53% and 98% for Section 504 loans and grants, and 73% for Section 523 self-help grants. Well over 100% of the amounts appropriated for Section 514/516 farmworker housing and Section 533 Housing Preservation Grants were obligated, along with 96% of Section 515 loans and 112% of Section 542 vouchers. A percentage could not be calculated for the MPR rental preservation program. HAC’s early analysis is posted now and a more detailed report will be published also. Contact Michael Feinberg, HAC, 202-842-8600.

HUD HAS JOBS PLUS FUNDS AVAILABLE. Public housing agencies can apply by December 17 for grants to provide job support to public housing residents. Contact Anice Chenault, HUD, JobsPlus@hud.gov.

RULE CHANGES SUGGESTED FOR SECTION 202 AND 811 PROGRAMS. HUD’s proposal would implement statutory amendments made in 2011 to both programs, and would “streamline” the programs. Comments are due December 8. Contact Alicia Anderson, HUD, 202-708-3000.

HUD PROPOSES REGULATIONS ON DEMOLITION AND DISPOSITION OF PUBLIC HOUSING. Comments are due December 15 on updates that would increase HUD’s oversight of demolition and disposition of public housing and make other changes. Contact Kathleen Szybist, HUD, 401-277-8310.

2015 DDAS AND QCTS ANNOUNCED. For the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, HUD designates Difficult Development Areas every year, and this year is also making new designations of Qualified Census Tracts to incorporate recent income and poverty measures. Contact Michael K. Hollar, HUD, 202-402-5878.

FINAL FAIR MARKET RENTS SET. FMRs for FY15 are used for HUD’s voucher and moderate rehabilitation programs, and to calculate Flat Rents for public housing. Contact local HUD program staff.

HUD PUBLISHES NEW OCAFS. These operating cost adjustment factors will be used to adjust Section 8 rents in some HUD-assisted properties, effective February 11, 2015. Contact Stan Houle, HUD, 202-402-2572.

MOST CHILDREN IN HUD-ASSISTED RENTER HOUSEHOLDS STILL LIVE IN HIGH-POVERTY NEIGHBORHOODS. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that only 15% of children with HUD rental assistance live in low-poverty neighborhoods, while 18% are in extreme-poverty neighborhoods. Families with vouchers are more likely to escape concentrations of poverty than those in public housing or receiving Section 8 project-based aid, but a quarter of a million children in the Housing Choice Voucher program do live in extreme-poverty neighborhoods. “Creating Opportunity for Children: How Housing Location Can Make a Difference” states that this problem exists in nearly every state and in rural as well as urban areas, though it is most prevalent east of the Mississippi and in California.

RURAL VOICES WONDERS “WHAT DOES AFFORDABLE HOUSING MEAN TO YOU?” The fall issue of HAC’s magazine presents the perspectives of rural families, the challenges they faced when living in unaffordable or substandard conditions, and how they used federal resources to obtain quality housing. Sign up online for email notices when new issues are published, or request one free print subscription per organization from Dan Stern, HAC, 202-842-8600.

HAC ANALYSIS OF MORTGAGE DATA NOW AVAILABLE. “Rural Mortgage Activity Declines,” a Rural Research Note, is now available on HAC’s site and is also covered in a story on the Daily Yonder. (See HAC News, 10/1/14.)

FARMWORKER HOUSING AND HEALTH CONFERENCE SET FOR NOVEMBER. “Farmworker Housing Quality and Health: A Transdisciplinary Conference” will be held November 11 in Arlington, VA. Registration is $70.

WEBINAR TO COVER PROTECTING SENIORS AND OTHER RD TENANTS FROM DISPLACEMENT. The National Housing Law Project will offer a free webinar on October 21 at 2:00 pm Eastern time/11:00 am Pacific on “Prepayments, Maturing Mortgages, and Foreclosures: Protecting Seniors and Others from Rural Development Rental Housing Displacement.

REGISTER FOR CONFERENCE BEFORE OCTOBER 31! Register online for the National Rural Housing Conference 2014: Re-tool, Rebuild, Renew, in Washington, DC, December 3-5 with pre-conference activities December 2. Until October 31, the rate is $350 for nonprofits and government, $400 for for-profits. Contact HAC staff, registration@ruralhome.org.

HAC News: October 1, 2014

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October 1, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 20

• Changes in rural housing eligibility definition delayed by CR • USDA RD offers multifamily preservation and revitalization assistance • Preservation Revolving Loan Fund monies available for intermediaries • Funding offered to CDFIs and Native American CDFIs • Promise Zone initiative opens second round • Changes proposed to affordable housing goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac • CDFI Fund seeks comments on its capacity building initiative • HUD asks for input on Native American data • National Housing Trust Fund lawsuit dismissed • Mortgage data show drop in refinancing from 2012 to 2013 • A majority of manufactured housing borrowers have expensive loans • Webinar to cover protecting seniors and other RD tenants from displacement • REGISTER FOR CONFERENCE BEFORE OCTOBER 31!

October 1, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 20

CHANGES IN RURAL HOUSING ELIGIBILITY DEFINITION DELAYED BY CR. USDA RD says the continuing resolution that extends FY14 funding levels through December 11 also extends the provision in FY14 appropriations law that prohibited declaring any communities ineligible for the rural housing programs if they were eligible on September 30, 2013. In effect, the CR means previously eligible places cannot become ineligible yet, even if their populations now exceed 35,000.

USDA RD OFFERS MULTIFAMILY PRESERVATION AND REVITALIZATION ASSISTANCE. Pre-applications are due November 24 for the MPR program, which helps preserve properties with Section 514 or 515 loans. MPR properties cannot displace tenants because of increased rents. No additional Rental Assistance units are available. Contact Sherry Engel, RD, 715-345-7677.

PRESERVATION REVOLVING LOAN FUND MONIES AVAILABLE FOR INTERMEDIARIES. PRLF recipients establish revolving loan funds for preservation of Section 515 and 514/516 housing. RD has eliminated the $1 million cap on subsequent loans for current intermediaries. Deadline is December 22. Contact Sherry Engel, RD, 715-345-7677.

FUNDING OFFERED TO CDFIS AND NATIVE AMERICAN CDFIS. Lending funds and technical assistance funds are available for Community Development Financial Institutions, potential CDFIs, and Native American CDFIs. Deadline is November 24. Contact CDFI Fund staff, 202-653-0421.

PROMISE ZONE INITIATIVE OPENS SECOND ROUND. HUD and USDA will designate at least 8 Promise Zones across urban, rural, and tribal communities to receive technical assistance to apply for existing federal programs; the designation itself does not include funding. Apply by November 21. Contact Brooke Bohnet, HUD, 202–402–6693.

CHANGES PROPOSED TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING GOALS FOR FANNIE MAE AND FREDDIE MAC. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates the GSEs, published a proposed rule and a correction suggesting updates and changes, including establishment of a new housing subgoal for small multifamily properties affordable to low-income families. Comments are due October 28. FHFA. Contact Dr. Nayantara Hensel, FHFA, 202-649-3122

CDFI FUND SEEKS COMMENTS ON ITS CAPACITY BUILDING INITIATIVE. Suggestions for improving the initiative’s effectiveness are due October 24. Contact CDFI Fund staff, 202-653-0421.

HUD ASKS FOR INPUT ON NATIVE AMERICAN DATA. Comment by October 27 about options to the use of Census data in the funding formula for the Indian Housing Block Grant program. Contact Rodger Boyd, HUD, 202-401-7914.

NATIONAL HOUSING TRUST FUND LAWSUIT DISMISSED. On September 29 a court dismissed a suit filed by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition and others against the Federal Housing Finance Agency seeking financing for the National Housing Trust Fund (see HAC News, 7/17/13). The dismissal was based on procedural grounds, not on the merits of the case. The plaintiffs continue to urge FHFA action and are considering an appeal.

MORTGAGE DATA SHOW DROP IN REFINANCING FROM 2012 TO 2013. Newly released Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data show 2013 mortgage lending activity declined from 2012 levels. Home purchase loans actually increased, but refinancing loans dropped substantially. In rural areas and small towns, refi lending declined by 23%. The rates of denials and high cost loans continue to be higher for rural and small town borrowers. Particularly for economically depressed, high needs rural regions, such as Central Appalachia, the rural Southeast and the Lower Mississippi Delta, high cost loans represent a large percentage of all originations. HAC will post a more detailed analysis soon.

A MAJORITY OF MANUFACTURED HOUSING BORROWERS HAVE EXPENSIVE LOANS. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that manufactured home owners typically pay higher interest rates for their loans than borrowers whose homes were built onsite. Manufactured-housing Consumer Finance in the United States also states that manufactured home residents are more likely to be older, live in a rural area, or have lower net worth than residents of other types of homes.

WEBINAR TO COVER PROTECTING SENIORS AND OTHER RD TENANTS FROM DISPLACEMENT. The National Housing Law Project will offer a free webinar on October 21 at 2:00 pm Eastern time/11:00 am Pacific on “Prepayments, Maturing Mortgages, and Foreclosures: Protecting Seniors and Others from Rural Development Rental Housing Displacement.”

REGISTER FOR CONFERENCE BEFORE OCTOBER 31! Register online for the National Rural Housing Conference 2014: Re-tool, Rebuild, Renew, in Washington, DC, December 3-5 with pre-conference activities December 2. Until October 31, the rate is $350 for nonprofits and government, $400 for for-profits. Contact HAC staff, registration@ruralhome.org.

HAC News: September 17, 2014

HAC News Formats. pdf

September 17, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 19

• Sept. 15-Oct. 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month • Congress to pass continuing resolution for early FY15 • Vilsack responds to congressional letter about 502 spending • Senate committee advances Mensah nomination • Rural poverty decreases, yet remains higher than U.S. poverty • HUD offers economic development funds for Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta • USDA posts amended maps showing future area eligibility • Regulators seek comments on proposed revisions to CRA questions and answers • HUD revises model standards for manufactured home ground anchoring • GAO report says HUD can do more on manufactured housing • Broad access to mortgage financing recommended to help reduce income inequality • Farmworker housing and health conference set for November • Webinar to cover protecting seniors and other RD tenants from displacement • Please nominate national or local rural housing leaders for HAC awards!

September 17, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 19

SEPT. 15-OCT. 15 IS NATIONAL HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH. President Obama’s proclamation includes a call for comprehensive immigration reform.

CONGRESS TO PASS CONTINUING RESOLUTION FOR EARLY FY15. The House is expected to pass a CR on September 17 and the Senate soon after that. It will fund the federal government at FY14 levels until December 11. In a post-November-elections session Congress will have to complete work on FY 2015 appropriations or pass another CR.

VILSACK RESPONDS TO CONGRESSIONAL LETTER ABOUT 502 SPENDING. Responding to concerns about USDA’s ability to use all available Section 502 direct funds before FY14 ends September 30 (see HAC News, 8/6/14), USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack wrote to House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee leaders explaining steps being taken this year (see HAC News, 7/23/14) and planned for next year.

SENATE COMMITTEE ADVANCES MENSAH NOMINATION. The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing September 10 on the selection of Lisa Mensah as USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development (see HAC News, 5/14/14). A confirmation vote by the full Senate has not yet been scheduled.

RURAL POVERTY DECREASES, YET REMAINS HIGHER THAN U.S. POVERTY. The number of rural Americans living in poverty decreased last year, according to a new Census Bureau report. Overall, the official U.S. poverty rate was 14.5% in 2013, a decline from 15% in 2012. Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013 says there was no statistically significant change in either the number of people living in poverty or real median household income. State and local data will be released September 18. A HAC Rural Research Note provides more details.

HUD OFFERS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FUNDS FOR APPALACHIA AND THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA. Both programs aim to increase access to capital for business lending and economic development, and applications are due November 3. For Appalachia, the only eligible applicants are state community and economic development agencies. For Delta funds, nonprofits and tribal governments are eligible. Contact Thann Young or Monica Wallace, HUD, 877-787-2526.

USDA POSTS AMENDED MAPS SHOWING FUTURE AREA ELIGIBILITY. Maps now available on RD’s website (under the Future Eligible Areas heading) eliminate “rural in character” changes (see HAC News, 9/3/14). A disclaimer indicates slight alterations may be made before the maps take effect on October 1.

REGULATORS SEEK COMMENTS ON PROPOSED REVISIONS TO CRA QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS. The Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Community Reinvestment, revised periodically, supplement the Community Reinvestment Act regulations issued by the Federal Reserve board, the FDIC, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Comments are due November 10. Contact Bobbie Kennedy, OCC, 202-649-5470.

HUD REVISES MODEL STANDARDS FOR MANUFACTURED HOME GROUND ANCHORING. A final rule amends the Manufactured Home Model Installation Standards, establishing a uniform test method to determine and rate ground anchor performance in different soil classifications. Contact Pamela Beck Danner, HUD, 202-708-6423.

GAO REPORT SAYS HUD CAN DO MORE ON MANUFACTURED HOUSING. Manufactured Housing: Efforts Needed to Enhance Program Effectiveness and Ensure Funding Stability (GAO-14-410) recommendations related to the HUD Code updates, FHA insurance, and fees. Contact Matthew Scirè, GAO, 202-512-8678.

BROAD ACCESS TO MORTGAGE FINANCING RECOMMENDED TO HELP REDUCE INCOME INEQUALITY. Continued government provision of affordable housing and financing is among the recommendations of Responding to Rising Inequality: Policy Interventions to Ensure Opportunity for All, a brief published by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of California at Berkeley.

FARMWORKER HOUSING AND HEALTH CONFERENCE SET FOR NOVEMBER. “Farmworker Housing Quality and Health: A Transdisciplinary Conference” will be held November 11 in Arlington, VA. Registration is $50 until October 1.

WEBINAR TO COVER PROTECTING SENIORS AND OTHER RD TENANTS FROM DISPLACEMENT. The National Housing Law Project will offer a free webinar on October 21 at 2:00 pm Eastern time/11:00 am Pacific on “Prepayments, Maturing Mortgages, and Foreclosures: Protecting Seniors and Others from Rural Development Rental Housing Displacement.”

PLEASE NOMINATE NATIONAL OR LOCAL RURAL HOUSING LEADERS FOR HAC AWARDS! Nominations are due September 30 for the Cochran/Collings Award for national rural housing service and the Skip Jason Community Service Award. The honors will be presented at the National Rural Housing Conference in December. Complete the online nomination form. Questions? Contact Lilla Sutton, HAC, 202-842-8600.

HAC News: September 3, 2014

HAC News Formats. pdf

September 3, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 18

• RD suspends rural in character eligibility changes • National Office agreement required for some RD prepayment incentives • New guidelines apply to extensions and deobligations of unused Section 515, 514, and 516 funds • Online homeownership education provider approved for Section 502 borrowers • RD addresses thermal standards for manufactured housing • Guidance provided for rural multifamily design/build and construction management proposals • Reminder issued about Section 515 borrowers who received litigation damages • FHFA proposes new housing goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac • Changes to HMDA regulations suggested • New report covers challenges of housing seniors • Drop in homeless veterans estimated • Shortage of affordable rentals remains • CONFERENCE REGISTRATION IS OPEN!

September 3, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 18

RD SUSPENDS RURAL IN CHARACTER ELIGIBILITY CHANGES. In response to public concerns about changes in eligibility for rural housing programs based on determinations that some places are no longer “rural in character,” USDA has suspended use of this factor to alter a community’s rural status. No changes will be made until October 2015 at the earliest, and a new procedure will provide a 90-day public comment period on proposed modifications. This issue is not related to eligibility changes based on population growth (see HAC News, 2/5/14).

NATIONAL OFFICE AGREEMENT REQUIRED FOR SOME RD PREPAYMENT INCENTIVES. An Unnumbered Letter dated July 11, 2014 requires RD state offices to obtain advance approval before offering additional Rental Assistance or equity loans to Section 515 borrowers who want to prepay their loans. The UL says it is “an interim step” while regulatory changes are developed. Contact Tiffany Tietz, RD, 616-942-4111 ext. 126.

NEW GUIDELINES APPLY TO EXTENSIONS AND DEOBLIGATIONS OF UNUSED SECTION 515, 514, AND 516 FUNDS. An Unnumbered Letter dated July 30, 2014 provides timeframes and processes for USDA staff. Limited extensions may be permitted. Contact Mirna Reyes-Bible, 202-720-1753 (Section 514/516) or Melinda Price, 614-255-2403 (Section 515).

ONLINE HOMEOWNERSHIP EDUCATION PROVIDER APPROVED FOR SECTION 502 BORROWERS. An Unnumbered Letter dated August 22, 2014 announces the agency has approved Framework to provide online education, which can be used only when other formats are not available. Contact Shantelle Gordon, RD.

RD ADDRESSES THERMAL STANDARDS FOR MANUFACTURED HOUSING. The HUD Code specifies minimum thermal standards for each state, while RD applies them by county. Administrative Notice (AN) 4772 (Aug. 4, 2014) lists the standards for specified counties. Contact William Downs, RD, 202-720-1499.

GUIDANCE PROVIDED FOR RURAL MULTIFAMILY DESIGN/BUILD AND CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT PROPOSALS. AN 4770 (July 11, 2014) requires National Office approval to use Section 514 or 515 loans for design/build or construction management arrangements. Contact Sherry Engel, RD, 715-345-7677, or William Downs, RD, 202-720-1499.

REMINDER ISSUED ABOUT SECTION 515 BORROWERS WHO RECEIVED LITIGATION DAMAGES. An Unnumbered Letter dated June 24, 2014 instructs RD staff about servicing the accounts of borrowers who received damages payments pursuant to the May 21, 2007 agreement that settled a lawsuit against USDA regarding prepayments. Those owners cannot prepay their loans (unless USDA determines a property is no longer needed) and cannot receive incentives to discourage prepayment. Contact Tiffany Tietz, RD, 616-942-4111 ext. 126.

FHFA PROPOSES NEW HOUSING GOALS FOR FANNIE MAE AND FREDDIE MAC. Comments are due October 28 on possible changes to be in effect from 2015 through 2017, including a new subgoal for financing small multifamily rental properties (5-50 units). No rural subgoal is proposed. Contact Dr. Nayantara Hensel, FHFA, 202-649-3122.

CHANGES TO HMDA REGULATIONS SUGGESTED. Comment by October 29 on a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposal to implement a portion of the Dodd-Frank Act. Lenders subject to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act would have several new reporting requirements, some existing requirements would be clarified, and some institutional and transactional coverage would be changed. Contact CFPB’s Office of Regulations, 202-435-7700.

NEW REPORT COVERS CHALLENGES OF HOUSING SENIORS. Housing America’s Older Adults – Meeting the Needs of an Aging Population, published by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, analyzes the ability of the existing U.S. housing stock to meet growing needs for affordability, accessibility, social connectivity, and supportive services.

DROP IN HOMELESS VETERANS ESTIMATED. HUD, VA, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) estimate that as of January 2014 veterans’ homelessness nationwide had declined by 33% since 2010.

SHORTAGE OF AFFORDABLE RENTALS REMAINS. A new Housing Spotlight report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows that nationwide there are only 31 affordable and available units for every 100 extremely low-income renters (with incomes at or below 30% of area median) and only 16 for every 100 deeply low-income renters (below 15% of area median). The report provides data for states and for 50 large metro areas.

CONFERENCE REGISTRATION IS OPEN! Register online for the National Rural Housing Conference 2014: Retool, Rebuild, Renew, in Washington, DC, December 3-5 with pre-conference activities December 2. Until October 31, the rate is $350 for nonprofits and government, $400 for for-profits. Contact HAC staff, registration@ruralhome.org.

HAC News: August 20, 2014

HAC News Formats. pdf

August 20, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 17

• USDA RD to revise guidance on domestic violence • Section 502 direct processing improvements scheduled • RD to delay implementing new rule for Section 502 guaranteed loans • HAC recommends notice to tenants about maturing USDA mortgages, asks for dialogue • Amendments proposed to reserve account rules for properties with 515 and 538 loans • Fair Market Rents for FY15 proposed • HUD to change environmental review form • Manufactured housing label fee increased • FHFA requests comments on its strategic plan • Study documents digital divide for tribal libraries • Permanent supportive housing found to reduce chronic homelessness • Conference on farmworker housing and health set for November • Please nominate national or local rural housing leaders for HAC awards!

August 20, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 17

USDA RD TO REVISE GUIDANCE ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. HAC and a number of other organizations signed on to a letter from the National Housing Law Project to USDA rural housing administrator Tony Hernandez requesting changes in AN 4747, which applies the Violence Against Women Act to USDA’s multifamily programs (see HAC News, 3/5/14). In a response dated August 6, Hernandez agreed to make most of the changes.

SECTION 502 DIRECT PROCESSING IMPROVEMENTS SCHEDULED. Administrator Tony Hernandez gave HAC a summary showing that in FY15 USDA will automate underwriting for Section 502 direct loans, revise its packaging regulations, allow packagers to submit applications electronically, and establish an imaging system for documents.

RD TO DELAY IMPLEMENTING NEW RULE FOR SECTION 502 GUARANTEED LOANS. An email sent to stakeholders on August 19 says a notice will be published in the Federal Register delaying the rule’s effectiveness to December 1, 2014 rather than September 1, the date originally scheduled. Contact USDA, 202-720-1452.

HAC RECOMMENDS NOTICE TO TENANTS ABOUT MATURING USDA MORTGAGES, ASKS FOR DIALOGUE. In an August 9 letter to Tony Hernandez, HAC expressed concern about tenants who will lose Section 521 Rental Assistance when USDA mortgages end. HAC urged USDA to ask owners to notify tenants well in advance of mortgage maturities, and suggested further discussions about ways to maintain the affordability of these units.

AMENDMENTS PROPOSED TO RESERVE ACCOUNT RULES FOR PROPERTIES WITH 515 AND 538 LOANS. USDA’s countersignature would no longer be required for rental projects that have both Section 538 guaranteed loans and Section 515 direct loans; the Section 538 regulations would apply. The change would also clarify that loan guarantee fees must be paid from operating accounts, not reserve accounts. Comments are due October 14. Contact Tammy S. Daniels, USDA, 202-702-0021.

FAIR MARKET RENTS FOR FY15 PROPOSED. Comments are due September 15 on the FMRs HUD will use in FY15. Contact local HUD program staff.

HUD TO CHANGE ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW FORM. A final rule allows HUD to develop a single form to be used by HUD employees and other responsible entities. Contact Danielle Schopp, HUD, 202-402-4442.

MANUFACTURED HOUSING LABEL FEE INCREASED. The increase, proposed in May (see HAC News, 5/14/14), is effective September 12, 2014. Manufacturers will pay $100 for each new transportable section produced. Contact Pamela B. Danner, HUD, 202-708-6423.

FHFA REQUESTS COMMENTS ON ITS STRATEGIC PLAN. The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s plan “reflects the agency’s priorities as regulator of the Federal Home Loan Bank System and as regulator and conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac” and is the first under new director Mel Watt. Comments are due September 15.

STUDY DOCUMENTS DIGITAL DIVIDE FOR TRIBAL LIBRARIES. Digital Inclusion in Native Communities: The Role of Tribal Libraries, a report by the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, provides the first comprehensive data on the subject. Research found that 89% of tribal libraries offer access to the internet and 86% have public computer workstations, compared to 100% of public libraries. At least 40% of tribal libraries studied do not have a broadband internet connection. Contact Susan Feller, ATALM, 405-401-8293.

PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING FOUND TO REDUCE CHRONIC HOMELESSNESS. An examination of data at the community level confirms findings at the individual level: over time, increased investment in permanent supportive housing is associated with decreased rates of chronic homelessness. “The Relationship between Community Investment in Permanent Supportive Housing and Chronic Homelessness” was published in Social Service Review 88.2 (2014).

CONFERENCE ON FARMWORKER HOUSING AND HEALTH SET FOR NOVEMBER. “Farmworker Housing Quality and Health: A Transdisciplinary Conference” will be held on November 11 in Arlington, VA. Registration is $50 until October 1 and $70 after that date.

Please nominate national or local rural housing leaders for HAC awards! Nominations are due September 30 for the Cochran/Collings Award for national rural housing service and the Skip Jason Community Service Award. The honors will be presented at the National Rural Housing Conference in December. Complete the online nomina-tion form. Questions? Contact Lilla Sutton, HAC, 202-842-8600.

HAC News: August 6, 2014

HAC News Formats. pdf

August 6, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 16

• Ryan plan would include USDA Rental Assistance in block grant to states • Members of Congress write to USDA about 502 spending • VA reform bill can help rural veterans • House committee passes NAHASDA reauthorization bill • Castro and Donovan sworn in, HUD PIH nominee announced • USDA vouchers available • HUD offers funds for fair housing • Changes suggested for HMDA rules • No pooling for 502 direct funds this year • Data show how well-being of U.S. children has changed over 25 years • Please nominate national or local rural housing leaders for HAC awards

August 6, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 16

RYAN PLAN WOULD INCLUDE USDA RENTAL ASSISTANCE IN BLOCK GRANT TO STATES. On July 24 Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chair of the House Budget Committee, released a “discussion draft” of an anti-poverty proposal called Expanding Opportunity in America. Among other changes, it would fold several safety net programs into a new block grant to states: USDA’s Section 521 Rental Assistance; HUD’s Section 8 vouchers and project-based aid, public housing funds, and CDBG; and HHS’s weatherization, LIHEAP, Child Care and Development Fund, WIA Dislocated Workers, SNAP (Food Stamps), and TANF. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculates the plan would reduce food and housing assistance overall.

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS WRITE TO USDA ABOUT 502 SPENDING. Concerned that available Section 502 direct funds may not all be spent by the end of the fiscal year on September 30, the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on July 31, asking for a report in two weeks on steps to increase the program’s obligations.

VA REFORM BILL CAN HELP RURAL VETERANS. A key portion of the veterans bill approved by Congress will help rural veterans have better access to health care. Among many provisions, the legislation would allow veterans who live at least 40 miles away from a VA facility, and those who face long delays in getting VA appointments, to seek medical care outside of the VA health system. It authorizes $10 billion in emergency mandatory funding to subsidize the outside medical care. The House passed the bill (H.R. 3230) by a 420 to 5 vote on July 30. The Senate approved the bipartisan legislation 91 to 3 on July 31 and sent it to the President, who is expected to sign it.

HOUSE COMMITTEE PASSES NAHASDA REAUTHORIZATION BILL. On July 30 the House Financial Services Committee approved H.R. 4329, which would renew the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act for five years. The Senate version, S. 1352, passed the Indian Affairs Committee in January but has not yet been considered by the full Senate. Meanwhile, NAHASDA programs continue operating because Congress has continued to appropriate funds for them.

CASTRO AND DONOVAN SWORN IN, HUD PIH NOMINEE ANNOUNCED. On July 28, Julián Castro was sworn in as Secretary of HUD and Shaun Donovan as Director of OMB. On July 31, President Obama announced he will nominate Lourdes Castro Ramirez, President and CEO of the San Antonio Housing Authority, to be HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing.

USDA VOUCHERS AVAILABLE. Section 542 vouchers can be used by tenants of Section 515 buildings whose mortgages were prepaid or foreclosed after September 30, 2005. Tenants in these properties should receive notice from USDA RD after the prepayment or foreclosure occurs, offering vouchers and providing application information. Contact Stephanie B.M. White, RD, 202-720-1615.

HUD OFFERS FUNDS FOR FAIR HOUSING. Applications are due September 2 for three Fair Housing Initiative Program components: Fair Housing Organization Initiative Grants, Education and Outreach Initiative Grants, and Private Enforcement Initiative Grants. Contact Myron P. Newry, HUD, 202-402-7095.

CHANGES SUGGESTED FOR HMDA RULES. Comments are due October 22 on a proposal to revise Home Mortgage Disclosure Act regulations. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests revising the tests determining which financial institutions and housing-related credit transactions are covered under HMDA, collecting additional data, requiring some quarterly data submissions, and more. Contact CFPB’s Office of Regulations, 202-435-7700.

NO POOLING FOR 502 DIRECT FUNDS THIS YEAR. HAC has learned that USDA does not plan to pool and redistribute funds for Section 502 direct loans in FY14, since every state has funds available.

DATA SHOW HOW WELL-BEING OF U.S. CHILDREN HAS CHANGED OVER 25 YEARS. The 25th edition of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count Data Book reports positive gains in child health and education since 1990, but a decline in the economic well-being of children and their communities. Data are presented at the national and state levels.

PLEASE NOMINATE NATIONAL OR LOCAL RURAL HOUSING LEADERS FOR HAC AWARDS! Nominations are due September 30 for the Cochran/Collings Award for national rural housing service and the Skip Jason Community Service Award. The honors will be presented at the National Rural Housing Conference in December. Complete the online nomination form. Questions? Contact Lilla Sutton

HAC News: July 23, 2014

HAC News Formats. pdf

July 23, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 14

• Congress starts recess on August 1 • Continuum of Care registration open • USDA issues nondiscrimination rule • HUD proposes revisions to PHA consortium rules • USDA hopes to speed processing of Section 502 direct loans • Meetings and webinars set to discuss Keepseagle funds distribution • HUD guidebook discusses housing-transportation strategies • Data show characteristics of HUD-assisted households • Rural Voices magazine asks, “Is the Housing Crisis Over?” • Some spaces remain in workshops on new HOME rule • Register now for upcoming HAC trainings • Nominate national or local rural housing leaders for HAC awards

July 23, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 15

CONGRESS STARTS RECESS ON AUGUST 1. Legislators will return to work on Monday, September 8.

CONTINUUM OF CARE REGISTRATION OPEN. Applicants for FY14 CoC funds must register by August 6.

USDA ISSUES NONDISCRIMINATION RULE. The final rule is effective immediately. USDA’s complaint office is now required to offer alternative dispute resolution services. Each USDA agency is required to collect, maintain and annually compile data (when provided voluntarily by applicants and program participants) on the race, ethnicity, and gender of program applicants and participants by county and state. Also, two new categories are protected: political beliefs and gender identity. Contact Anna Stroman, 202-205-5953.

HUD PROPOSES REVISIONS TO PHA CONSORTIUM RULES. The changes are intended to increase administrative efficiencies associated with forming a consortium and to help ensure maximum family choice in locating suitable
housing. Comments are due September 9. Contact Michael Dennis, HUD, 202-402-3882.

USDA HOPES TO SPEED PROCESSING OF SECTION 502 DIRECT LOANS. An Unnumbered Letter dated July 7, 2014 authorizes three temporary steps to speed processing of Section 502 direct loans before the fiscal year ends on September 30. (See HAC News, 6/25/14.) USDA Rural Development field staff can now approve and obligate 502 direct loans subject to receipt of an appraisal, make new loans rather doing loan assumptions, and refinance existing loans in some circumstances when there is a high risk of foreclosure. Contact a USDA Rural Development office.

MEETINGS AND WEBINARS SET TO DISCUSS KEEPSEAGLE FUNDS DISTRIBUTION. About $380 million from the settlement of the Keepseagle v. Vilsack suit, which charged that USDA farm loan programs discriminated against Native Americans, will be distributed to nonprofits that work with Native American farmers and ranchers. To provide input about this process, attend in-person meetings or webinars/conference calls to be held between July 30 and August 26, or email indianfarmclass@gmail.com. For general information contact the Claims Administrator, 1-888-233-5506.

HUD GUIDEBOOK DISCUSSES HOUSING-TRANSPORTATION STRATEGIES. Creating Connected Communities: A Guidebook for Improving Transportation Connections for Low- and Moderate-Income Households in Small and Mid-Sized Cities intends to provide localities with transportation strategies for residents of affordable housing. It targets places up to 250,000 population, but at least one case study is from a city of 8,500.

DATA SHOW CHARACTERISTICS OF HUD-ASSISTED HOUSEHOLDS. The National Housing Conference’s Center for Housing Policy has begun analyzing “Picture of Subsidized Households” figures recently released by HUD. Nationwide, 39% of households receiving assistance are families with children, 34% percent are non-senior disabled (there is overlap in these categories), and 33% are seniors age 62 and older. Forty-four percent are African-American, 17% are Hispanic, 4% Asian or Pacific Islander, and 1% are Native American. About 6.3% live in places with urban centers under 10,000 population or without urban centers.

RURAL VOICES MAGAZINE ASKS, “IS THE HOUSING CRISIS OVER?” Experts write about the crisis and its impact on rural America. This issue also covers CRA, foreclosures, and housing counseling, and RHS Administrator Tony Hernandez describes his priorities.

SOME SPACES REMAIN IN WORKSHOPS ON NEW HOME RULE. HUD will offer “CHDO Workshop: Understanding the 2013 HOME Final Rule” in August and September. Registration is free for CHDO staff. HUD has some travel scholarships available, funded partly by HAC. Contact Rachael Ballard, rballard@ tdainc.org, 203-241-2410.

Register now for upcoming HAC webinars:

and place-based trainings:

Nominate national or local rural housing leaders for HAC awards.
Nominations are due September 30 for the Cochran/Collings Award for national rural housing service and the Skip Jason Community Service Award. The honors will be presented at the National Rural Housing Conference in December. Complete the online nomination form or request a paper form from Lilla Sutton, HAC, 202-842-8600.

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