December 7, 2016

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

The Art of Deal Negotiation

(RECAP: While negotiation is an important skill set for any professional, it’s critical for those in the affordable housing space when navigating transactions with developers, agencies and other organizations. On December 15, HAND will host a training titled “The Art of Deal Negotiation” featuring Charles Craver, Freda H. Aversion Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School. For a complete outline of topics to be discussed, click here.)

Feds Seek Input On Expanding Community-Based Services

(RECAP: In a notice published in the Federal Register this month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, known as CMS, said it is seeking suggestions about reforms and policy changes that the agency could pursue in order to grow availability of community-based services. CMS is accepting public comments through Jan. 9.)

Old buildings are made for you and me

(RECAP: The Atlas of ReUrbanism examines a wide range of cities and aligns the historic preservation movement more closely with that of urbanism. It makes the case that historic buildings are critical to supporting human activity in cities. Areas with older and smaller buildings with a wide age range have more density, diversity, small businesses and entrepreneurial activity. The also have more affordable housing.)

Paycheck To Paycheck 2016

(RECAP: School workers provide essential services to their communities, yet many are unable to afford to live near where they work. The 2016 edition of “Paycheck to Paycheck” focuses on the affordability challenges faced by both teachers and non-instructional school workers by highlighting five of the 81 occupations in the Paycheck to Paycheck database: bus driver, child care teacher, groundskeeper, social worker and high school teacher.)

A data-driven way to build resilience in cities

(RECAP: Building “resilience” in cities is a hot topic among city leaders. Yet even to many who agree with that goal, the concept of urban resilience remains vague and the act of creating more of it hard to measure. The City Resilience Index is a tool that breaks “resilience” down into recognizable parts — and gives local leaders a way to assess where their city stands.)

December 5, 2016

In Case You Missed It: A Look at Recent National Housing Policy News

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Trump Picks Ben Carson to Head HUD 

President-elect Donald Trump's transition team announced this morning that he has selected Dr. Ben Carson to be his Administration's Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Carson is former Republican candidate for President and served as the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland from 1984 until his retirement in 2013. A Trump statement released today says, "Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities." It also says, "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up."

Trulia Report Finds Housing Credit Development has no Significant Impact on Surrounding Home Values  

Real Estate aggregator Trulia released a report titled, "There Doesn't Go the Neighborhood: Low-Income Housing Has No Impact on Nearby Home Values." The report studied the impact of new Low Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) developments on nearby home values between 1996 and 2006. The report compared the price per square foot of homes at two separate distances from new Housing Credit developments. Homes within 2,000 feet were considered close to the development for the purpose of the study, and were compared to homes between 2,000 and 4,000 feet from the development. The authors state that using linear distance as the studied factor is common in property value studies and reduces the idiosyncratic impact of neighborhoods.

The Impact of the 2016 Elections on GSE Reform

Recap and Release: Many of the president-elect’s advisors are strong opponents of the Treasury Department’s net worth-sweep, and include a plaintiff in ongoing litigation about the legality of the third amendment to the Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements. One might surmise that this should increase the new administration’s support for enabling the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) to rebuild capital as a possible prelude to their eventual re-privatization. While eliminating the sweep could be done without an act of Congress, it would require approval by the new Treasury secretary and the current director of Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Mel Watt, whose term has two more years to run. Director Watt has suggested he wants to replenish the GSEs’ diminishing capital buffers, but there is no indication he supports recap and release as a reform strategy. Further muddying the waters is that we are only half-way through a congressionally-imposed two-year cooling off period that would make it very hard to execute recap and release.

FHA Announces Increased Single-Family Loan Limits for 2017 

Earlier today the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced the county loan limits for its single-family mortgage programs for 2017 and issued a Mortgagee Letter that increases the minimum loan limit for low-price areas and the maximum loan limit for high-cost areas. FHA currently sets the loan limit for most counties at 115 percent of the county's median home price. Mortgages that exceed the limit are not eligible for FHA insurance. In addition, FHA also establishes a "floor" for low-cost areas, which it defines as counties where the median home price is 65 percent or less of the Federal Housing Finance Agency's (FHFA) conforming loan limit. Similarly, FHA also establishes a maximum loan limit for high-cost areas, where the median home price reaches or exceeds 150 percent of the conforming loan limit.

HUD Publishes Small Area Fair Market Rent Final Rule 

HUD published in the Federal Register a final rule regarding the use of small area fair market rents (SAFMR) in certain metropolitan areas, and replacing HUD's existing 50th percentile fair market rent (FMR) policy for the Housing Choice Voucher (voucher) program. SAFMRs reflect rent standards in zip code areas while traditional FMRs reflect a single rent standard for an entire metropolitan region. According to HUD, 50th percentile FMRs—the current policy for addressing high voucher concentration – have been largely ineffective. HUD expects that SAFMRs will better address high levels of voucher concentration in certain communities and give voucher holders access to areas of high opportunity by providing a subsidy that is adequate to cover rents in those areas.

U.S. Will Ban Smoking in Public Housing Nationwide

Smoking will be prohibited in public housing residences nationwide under a federal rule. Officials with the Department of Housing and Urban Development said that the rule would take effect early next year, but that public housing agencies would have a year and a half to put smoke-free policies in place. The rule will affect more than 1.2 million households, the officials said, although some 200,000 homes already come under smoking bans adopted voluntarily by hundreds of public housing agencies around the country.

December 2, 2016

Housing Credit Q.A.P. Workshops start Dec. 8, New Session Offered for How to Complete a LIHTC Application

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Housing Credit Q.A.P. Workshop

Our first Housing Credit Q.A.P. Workshop (formerly known as the How to Apply Workshop) will be held in Fairfax next Thursday, Dec. 8. This workshop will also be held in:

Richmond on Jan. 4, 2017 – with a simultaneous web broadcast available for viewing at VHDA’s Southwest Virginia Housing Center in Wytheville.

Norfolk on Jan. 5, 2017

Space is still available. Register now.

New ‘How to Complete a Virginia LIHTC Application’ Workshop

Due to popular demand, we’ve added a ‘How to Complete a Virginia LIHTC Application’ workshop to our calendar. This workshop will be held at the Virginia Housing Center in Glen Allen on Jan. 19, 2017.

With all the changes to the Q.A.P. and the application, we encourage your staff to attend this informative training session. If you haven’t registered and plan to attend any of our upcoming events, please click here for our registration calendar.

December 1, 2016

VHDA’s New Mortgage Loan: For First-Time AND Repeat Buyers

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VHDA has a new mortgage loan that may be a great option for first-time and repeat homebuyers. It’s called the VHDA Fannie Mae (FNMA) HFA Preferred with Reduced Mortgage Insurance (MI) and it comes with the following benefits:

  • Lowest conventional mortgage insurance payments.
  • Eligible for VHDA Down Payment Assistance grant (DPA) and Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC).
  • Flexible down payment sources – gifts, FNMA Community Seconds, and VHDA DPA grant funds.
  • No mortgage insurance required with down payments of 20% or more.

There is a 3% minimum down payment amount, so homebuyers will want to find out if they qualify for our Down Payment Assistance grant. There is also a minimum credit score of 660. To talk to a VHDA-approved lender who can provide more information about this new loan option go to

November 30, 2016

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

FHLBank Atlanta’s AHP Competitive Round to Open in Early 2017

(RECAP: Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta  recently announced that its 2017 Affordable Housing Program Competitive round will open on January 3, 2017. Up to $500,000 will be awarded per project to its member financial institutions and their community housing partners through a competitive application process. The deadline for submitting applications is February 2, 2017.)

Five Approaches to Reviving Aging Mall Sites

(RECAP: Aging shopping malls—many burdened with high vacancy rates or even abandoned—are being transformed into vibrant, mixed-use destinations that are connected to their surrounding communities. By transitioning mall sites to a mix of uses, developers can help create consumer demand within the vibrant, modern micro-economies that will become the non-malls of the future.)

Baby Boomers Rapidly Becoming The New Hipsters Fueling Unprecedented Apartment Demand

(RECAP: The National Multifamily Housing Council’s research shows that aging boomers will represent a larger share of growth in the apartment market as millennials begin to marry, have children and buy homes. From affordable senior rentals to luxury living, the demand for age-qualified apartment homes is higher than ever. And with 10,000 people a day turning 65 through 2030 that demand will continue to grow.)

Land Banks & Community Land Trusts: Not Synonyms or Antonyms. Complements

(RECAP: Land banks and community land trusts (CLTs) are often perceived as “off mission” or antithetical tools that are not suited for the same environments. Conversely, they also tend be conflated as one and the same. Neither perception, however, reflects reality. In this blog post, Center for Community Progress and Grounded Solutions Network come together to help set the record straight and explore how land banks and community land trusts can coordinate to optimize equitable development outcomes.)

Affordable Housing Advisory Council at FHLBank Atlanta Seeks Maryland and Virginia Nominations

(RECAP: The Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta is soliciting nominations from North Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia for individuals to serve on the Bank’s Affordable Housing Advisory Council. Nominations can be made by completing and returning the nomination form and application certification to FHLBank Atlanta by 5 p.m. Thursday, December 15, 2016.)

VHDA Managing Director of Rental Housing Art Bowen currently serves on the Bank’s Affordable Housing Advisory Council, which meets quarterly to advise the Bank’s board of directors on ways the Bank can better carry out its housing finance and community lending mission. 

November 28, 2016

In Case You Missed It: A Look at Recent National Housing Policy News

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The Nation's Housing: Congress could play The Grinch this Christmas for homeowners

Could popular deductions for mortgage insurance premiums and energy-efficient home improvements abruptly vanish? That’s the way things are shaping up in the closing weeks of the post-election lame duck congressional session. Republicans controlling the tax-writing committees in the House and Senate say they have no plans to extend expiring tax code provisions such as mortgage debt forgiveness for financially troubled owners, mortgage insurance write-offs used by moderate-income first-time buyers, and deductions for purchases of energy-saving windows, insulation and other improvements. All three benefits terminate Dec. 31. Unlike previous years, when Congress extended them, this year is different. There is strong sentiment, especially in the House, that a comprehensive overhaul and simplification of the tax code should be the priority, rather than piecemeal, end-of-the-year extensions of special interest provisions that complicate that objective.

FHFA Announces Increase in Maximum Conforming Loan Limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2017  

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2017 will increase.  In most of the country, the 2017 maximum loan limit for one-unit properties will be $424,100, an increase from $417,000.  This will be the first increase in the baseline loan limit since 2006.  In higher-cost areas, higher loan limits will be in effect. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) established the baseline loan limit of $417,000 and requires this limit to be adjusted each year to reflect the changes in the national average home price.  However, after a period of declining home prices, HERA also made clear that the baseline loan limit could not rise again until the average U.S. home price returned to its pre-decline level.  Until this year, the average U.S. home price remained below the level achieved in the third quarter of 2007 and thus the baseline loan limit had not been increased.

FDIC Releases Second Part of Affordable Mortgage Lending Guide 

Community bankers can learn more about grant and mortgage loan programs offered nationwide with the help of The Affordable Mortgage Lending Guide, Part II: State Housing Finance Agencies, recently published by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). This publication is focused on first-lien mortgage products, downpayment and closing assistance, mortgage tax credit certificates, and homeownership education and counseling programs that can facilitate mortgage lending by insured depository institutions. It includes individual summaries of each state housing finance agency, complete with a listing of programs offered and web links for easy reference by bankers operating in that state or territory.

November 24, 2016

Beyond Bricks and Sticks

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A weekly digest of current trends in housing and community development. The discussion examines topics from infrastructure to community fabric.

Maggie Walker Community Land Trust Hopes to Preserve Affordable Homeownership in Richmond

(RECAP: Virginia now has two Community Land Trusts: the Thomas Jefferson Community Land Trust, which serves the Greater Charlottesville MSA (City of Charlottesville and the Counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson) and now the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust in the City of Richmond. The Maggie Walker CLT was created to help address the issue of tax delinquent properties in the City of Richmond by converting these properties into affordable homes for members of the community to purchase.)

What Planners Can Learn From Improv

(RECAP: Approaching things with an open mind, seeing opportunities rather than mistakes, and above all, maintaining a sense of humor are important lessons planners can learn from the world of improv.)

Apple Doubling Down On Accessibility

(RECAP: As tech-giant Apple rolls out its newest products, the company is placing a special emphasis on people with disabilities. Apple used the event to debut a new accessibility website highlighting various built-in options on the company’s devices and how people are applying these features in their lives.)