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HAC News: January 23, 2013

HAC News Formats. pdf

January 23, 2013
Vol. 42, No. 2

• OMB tells agencies to plan for sequester, CBPP reports smaller cuts • Administration’s FY14 budget will be late • Congressional leadership changes still in process • Secretaries Vilsack and Donovan to remain in new Administration • NOFAs issued for Housing Counseling, ICDBG, Healthy Homes, YouthBuild, SHOP • Some rural mortgages exempt from new escrow rule • New poverty guidelines released • HUD compiles environmental training webinars • Many Blacks and Latinos would be impacted by sequestration • Smart Growth America supports reexamination of priorities • HAC blog post tackles Native American homelessness

January 23, 2013
Vol. 42, No. 2

OMB tells agencies to plan for sequester, CBPP reports smaller cuts. A memo from the Office of Management and Budget advises federal agencies to intensify planning for possible sequestration, but not to take action yet. Unless Congress changes the law, federal funding will be cut on March 1. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculates that because of changes made in the tax deal (see HAC News, 1/10/13) the cut for non-defense discretionary programs including housing will be 5.1% rather than the previously expected 8.2%.

Administration’s FY14 budget will be late. OMB informed House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan on January 11 that delays in congressional action on the “fiscal cliff” delayed the Administration’s FY14 budget preparations and the budget will be submitted after the February 4 due date. OMB does not give a specific release date.

Congressional leadership changes still in process. In the 113th Congress, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) is the new chair of Senate Appropriations. For House Appropriations, Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ) is the new ranking member (top Democrat) on the Transportation-HUD Subcommittee. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) continues as ranking member on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. The new chair of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee has not yet been announced, nor have the top Senate Republicans on both Appropriations and Banking. All committees also have some new members, as in any new Congress.

Secretaries Vilsack and Donovan to remain in new Administration. Tom Vilsack will continue to serve as Secretary of Agriculture and Shaun Donovan as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

NOFAs issued for Housing Counseling, ICDBG, Healthy Homes, YouthBuild, SHOP. Housing Counseling applications are due March 18; contact HUD staff, housing.counseling@hud.gov. Indian Community Development Block Grant applications are due March 18; contact Roberta Youmans, HUD, 202-402-3316. Academics, nonprofits, for-profits, state and local governments, and tribes can apply for Healthy Homes Technical Studies funds by March 19; contact Dr. Peter Ashley, HUD, 202-402-7595. YouthBuild applications from nonprofits, state and local governments, and tribes are due to the Employment and Training Administration by March 19; contact Kia Mason, ETA, 202-693-2606. Intermediaries can apply by April 24 for Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program funds to be loaned to others; contact Ginger Macomber, HUD, 202-402-4605.

Some rural mortgages exempt from new escrow rule. Effective June 1, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will require private mortgage lenders to maintain escrow accounts for “higher-priced” loans for five years rather than one year. Small portfolio lenders that serve primarily rural or underserved areas and do not escrow for other mortgages are exempt. “Rural” is defined on a county basis: “a county is rural if it is neither in a metropolitan statistical area nor in a micropolitan statistical area that is adjacent to a metropolitan statistical area.” CFBP will publish a list of these counties. Contact David Friend, CFPB, 202-435–7700.

New poverty guidelines released. The Department of Health and Human Services has adjusted its poverty guidelines to account for a 2.1% increase in the cost of living from 2011 to 2012. For programs that use this benchmark, the 2013 poverty line for a family of four in the continental U.S. is $23,550.

HUD compiles environmental training webinars. Online sessions from 2011 and 2012 covering a variety of topics related to environmental reviews are at www.onecpd.info/learning-center/environmental-review-training/.

Many Blacks and Latinos would be impacted by sequestration. A study by the Center for Social Inclusion found higher numbers (not percentages) of Blacks and Latinos than Whites will be impacted if sequestration goes into effect. Based on program funding cuts of 8.2% (not the 5.1% currently estimated by CBPP; see first item in this HAC News) to non-defense discretionary programs, about 115,000 Black and Latino individuals would lose HUD tenant-based vouchers, 90,000 would lose homelessness assistance, and almost 850,000 would lose LIHEAP home energy aid. Falling Off the Fiscal Cliff? Race, Opportunity and Sequestration also includes data for a few individual states.

Smart Growth America supports reexamination of priorities. Federal Involvement in Real Estate: A Call for Examination reports that in 2008 federal housing spending (direct and through taxes) averaged $6,253 for households with incomes of $200,000 and above, $254 for those with incomes in the $30,000-40,000 range, and $833 for those with incomes under id=”mce_marker”0,000. It also notes that 84% of federal real estate funding supports home-ownership while 35% of households are renters. SGA suggests that federal policy be targeted to support balanced housing choices; reinvest in existing places and properties; provide a safety net; and help more Americans reach the middle class.

HAC blog post tackles Native American homelessness. Based on a forthcoming guide from HAC and the Corporation for Supportive Housing, “Counting Better: A Step Toward Addressing Native American Homelessness” recommends local counts of homeless people on Native lands to document the need for assistance.


HAC News: September 26, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

September 26, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 19

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


September 26,2012
Vol. 41, No. 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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