June 13, 2017

Crescent Square Apartments Help Address Homelessness in Virginia Beach

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Building marks the fifth permanent supportive housing development supported by VSH and VHDA in Hampton Roads


When Crescent Square Apartments opened in Virginia Beach in 2016, it provided 80 units for 42 individuals experiencing homelessness and 38 whose incomes are 50 percent or less than the median income.  This development marks the fifth time that Virginia Supportive Housing and the Virginia Housing Development Authority have partnered on permanent supportive housing developments in the Hampton Roads region, bringing a total of 320 of these types of units to the region.

“Crescent Square represents a tremendous collaboration with public and private partners who are vested in meeting the region’s demand for supportive and affordable housing,” said Allison Bogdanovic, executive director of VSH. “Local officials recognize that supportive housing is a proven and cost-effective model that works, as evidenced by the fact that 95 percent of our clients do not return to homelessness.”

VSH takes the “Housing First” approach to addressing homelessness by housing individuals first, then helping to address their needs with on-site case management services. Case managers assist in securing income, health insurance, healthcare services and other supports to help clients stabilize and re-establish their independence.

The units in the four-story, mixed-income development are approximately 360 square feet and contain a kitchen with full refrigerator and oven, full bathroom, and a closet. Furnishings are provided in each apartment, including a bed, dresser, table, and two chairs. In addition to apartments, the building has a community room with a kitchen and outdoor patio, fitness room, computer room, laundry facilities, a front desk, and staff offices. There is also an extensive security system and off-street parking.

Crescent Square received EarthCraft Virginia Platinum certification for resource and energy efficiency; in addition, all 80 units meet VHDA’s Universal Design requirements and 10 percent of the units are fully accessible. Also, the development incorporates a solar system designed to reduce the building's energy load and a solar thermal water heater system.

In addition to VHDA’s $2 million in SPARC financing, the project included approximately $5.5 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity as well as funding by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, the City of Norfolk, City of Virginia Beach, and several foundations. Also, the Virginia Beach Department of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation and the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority provided project-based rental assistance. Total development costs were approximately $12.4 million.

Other projects developed in Hampton Roads by VSH with VHDA financing include Gosnold Apartments in Norfolk, Cloverleaf Apartments in Virginia Beach, South Bay Apartments in Portsmouth and Heron’s Landing in Chesapeake. These four additional developments were the result of a regional partnership among Hampton Roads cities.

 Finally, a sixth property will soon be joining the mix. Church Street Station in Norfolk is currently under construction and will be completed by early 2018. Like Crescent Square, it is being developed by VSH with VHDA financing, and will be providing 80 additional units of permanent supportive housing to Hampton Roads.

In addition to the six properties in Hampton Roads, VSH and VHDA have also partnered on four other properties across the state, bringing the total to 10 permanent supportive housing developments to help fight homelessness in Virginia.  

June 7, 2017

Former Prison Reformed into Mixed-Use Residential and Commercial Community

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The historic Lorton prison in Fairfax County has thrown its doors open for some new residents. A $55 million project, financed in part by VHDA, is rehabilitating the century-old former reformatory, transforming it into a vibrant urban village with apartments, shops, restaurants, offices and more.

“Cooperation of several sources was necessary to raise the capital to convert the former Lorton prison into affordable housing,” said Brad Beaman, senior development officer at VHDA. Those sources include Housing Credits (also known as Low-Income Housing Tax Credits), historic tax credits, VHDA tax-exempt bond financing and a long-term land lease with Fairfax County.

The community includes 165 units now called Liberty Crest Apartments, plus more than 35,000
square feet of commercial space. According to Beaman, the multifamily rental units are restricted with the following income limits: 26 percent at 50 percent of the area median income; 24 percent at 120 percent of AMI; and 50 percent with unrestricted income. The commercial space will consist of the former chapel, pool and power plant on the property.

This is not the first development on the property. Parts of the 2,323-acre prison, which once housed a missile defense system, currently include a subdivision, a senior living campus, an arts center and a golf course. Phase 2 of the project will add 107 townhomes and single-family homes.

Beaman said this was the first project VHDA has done with the developer, The Alexander Company, Inc. and Southway Builders, the general contractor. VHDA provided $24.4 million in permanent financing including funds from REACH Virginia, VHDA’s pool of internally generated resources for meeting state housing needs. Other capital came from Housing Credits, state and federal historic tax credits and borrower equity.

All but six of the 55 historic sites will be retained and reused in this community development initiative. There’s more to come! VHDA is also providing a loan and Housing Credits for the Lindsay Hill Senior Apartments development immediately adjacent to Liberty Crest on the Lorton site.

More info: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/liberty-opens-its-doors-for-new-residents-at-former-lorton-prison/

June 6, 2017

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

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President Donald J. Trump Proclaims June 2017 as National Homeownership Month

During National Homeownership Month, we recognize the many benefits of homeownership to our families, our communities, and our Nation.  For generations of Americans, owning a home has been an essential element in achieving the American Dream.  Homeownership is often the foundation of security and prosperity for families and communities and an enduring symbol of American freedom.

This month, we recommit to ensuring that hard-working Americans enjoy a fair chance at becoming homeowners. In the years since the Great Recession, homeownership rates have dipped to historic lows.  Many Americans are not confident they will ever own a home, a tragic consequence of a decade of weak economic growth, excessive regulations, and stagnant wages.  Many young families are unable to achieve the independence they desire because they have difficulty saving for a down payment, overcoming regulatory burdens, or gaining access to adequate credit.  These challenges are even more pronounced for minorities, whose homeownership rates remain substantially below those of their fellow Americans.

I am committed to helping hard-working Americans become homeowners.  As part of my Administration's plan to strengthen the middle class and the American housing market, I am working with the Congress on a pro-growth agenda of reducing rules and regulations, cutting taxes, and eliminating unnecessary government spending.  These policies will unshackle our economy and create and sustain high-paying jobs so that more Americans have the resources and freedom they deserve to fulfill their American Dream.


HUD Publishes FY 2017 HOME and HTF Program Income Limits

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released the FY 2017 Rent Limits and Income Limits for HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) and Housing Trust Fund (HTF).
All updated limits are effective as of June 15, 2017. They are available on the HUD Exchange at the link below:

  • 2017 HOME Income Limits
  • 2017 HOME Rent Limits
  • 2017 HTF Income Limits
  • 2017 HTF Rent Limits

https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/5333/notice-cpd-1705-guidance-for-htf-grantees-on-fy-2017-htf-allocation-plans/

CFPB Announces Upcoming Assessment of Ability-to-Repay Rule 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing that CFPB will be conducting an assessment of its Ability-to-Repay rule (ATR rule). The Notice seeks public input on CFPB's plans for the assessment and recommendations for improving it. The ATR rule, which took effect in January 2014, outlines the steps mortgage originators are required to take to obtain and verify information to determine whether a consumer can afford to repay a mortgage. It also establishes a set of criteria that a mortgage loan must meet to be considered a "qualified mortgage" (QM). If a mortgage loan meets the QM criteria, the originator is presumed to have complied with the requirements of the ATR rule. NCSHA previously summarized the ATR-QM rule in more detail on its blog after CFPB first published the final rule. HFA program loans are currently exempt from the requirements of the ATR rule, an exemption NCSHA advocated for. This exemption applies to both loans originated directly by HFAs and loans originated by HFAs' lender partners pursuant to HFA programs.


First-time Buyers Account for 60 Percent of Purchases

The share of first-time homebuyers continues to rise, now accounting for almost half of all GSE purchase loans and more than 80 percent of FHA loans, according to the May 2017 Chartbook, released by the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center. According to the Chartbook, 47.1 percent of all GSE purchases loans were first-time homebuyers in February 2017, while a whopping 82 percent of FHA loans came from first-timers. When combined, about 60 percent of all purchase loans for the month of February were from first-time buyers—just below the 2009 peak of 63 percent. For the first time in 10 years, the creation of new-owner households outpaced new-renter households. The Chartbook attributed the rise to an “improving economy, falling unemployment, and rising household formation and income.” An increase in new home construction-particularly that of smaller, less expensive homes has also helped spur first-time buyer growth.


Carson Touts Importance of Homeownership at HUD Forum 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) held a housing forum, "A New Era of Homeownership," to mark the beginning of National Homeownership Month, as declared by President Trump. The social and financial benefits of homeownership for Americans and the economy was a common thread throughout the entire forum. In his opening remarks, HUD Secretary Ben Carson emphasized the significance of homeownership, stating, "The importance of homeownership is apparent to all of us: security, certainty, safety, wealth creation, a path forward, self-sufficiency, a place to live with loved ones, to raise our families, the location of our neighborhood." Secretary Carson continued his remarks by expressing the "good news" of a steadily improving homeownership rate in the country, despite the rate remaining at a near historic low. In the second quarter of last year, the national homeownership rate, 62.9 percent, was at its lowest point in over fifty years. Carson announced that the current homeownership rate is 63.6 percent, saying "These figures represent more than paper, facts, titles, and mortgages. We can see the hopes and dreams, the aspirations and excitement of homeownership."

June 1, 2017

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

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The 2017 State of the Nation's Housing Report Will be Released on Friday, June 16

The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies will release its 2017 State of the Nation's Housing report with a live webcast from the National League of Cities in Washington, DC on Friday, June 16. The report, which has been released annually since 1988, describes key trends in both national and metropolitan-level homeownership and rental markets, reviews key economic and demographic trends that are shaping current and future demand in those markets, discusses growing challenges in housing affordability and the rise of concentrated poverty throughout metropolitan areas, and examines access to mortgage finance.


FHFA Seeks Stakeholder Impact on Expanding Mortgage Credit Access for Borrowers with Limited English Proficiency  

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued a Request for Input on how the single family housing market can better serve qualified borrowers with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). FHFA published this request to advance one of the goals of its 2017 Scorecard for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Common Securitization Solutions, which calls on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to identify obstacles impacting LEP borrowers and formulate plans for increasing such borrowers' access to mortgage credit. FHFA specifically requests information on what tools mortgage lenders, servicers, housing counselors, and other mortgage industry participants currently use to assist LEP borrowers and whether they are effective. The Request also asks about the specific barriers that make it difficult for LEP borrowers to access the mortgage market.


Fannie Mae Program Encourages Healthier Home Design

Healthy Housing Rewards is a financial incentive which will, in its first phase, include a price break to borrowers who incorporate designs which improve air quality, encourage physical activity, and feature common space, community gardens and playgrounds.  "When we strengthen the connection between affordable housing and the long-term health and stability of the people and families who live there, we help create more sustainable communities across the country,” explained Jeffery Hayward, Executive Vice President, Multifamily, Fannie Mae.
Conditions of eligibility include meeting affordability standards set by Fannie Mae with at least 60% of units for those that are earning 60% of median income or less.  Criteria for healthy housing must also be met according to the Center for Active Design's Healthy Housing Index, with a score of 90 required for eligible borrowers.



Fannie Mae Updates Requirements for Green Building Financing Option

Fannie Mae has made some revisions to its popular Green Financing program to improve the processing of green mortgage loans.  On Monday May 22nd, it issued a modified standard Guidance Form 4099 and 4099.H that updates the scope and format of the High Performance Building (HPB) Report, which is a requirement of Fannie Mae’s Green Rewards Program and implemented a delegated review process where Lenders are authorized to review and approve HPB reports.  Other recent changes include the price break given to assets with Green Building Certifications. The changes are effective immediately and aim to improve the speed and quality of its green programs.

May 31, 2017

Governor's Housing Conference 2017: Fostering Inclusive Communities

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Each year, the Governor's Housing Conference is packed full of educational sessions led by experts in housing, finance and community development, plus some great networking opportunities with colleagues from across the state. This year's theme is Fostering Inclusive Communities.

Registration is open for the Conference, scheduled for Nov. 15-17 in Norfolk.

Register Now 

May 26, 2017

Housing Credit Program Final Rankings Announced

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The Final Rankings for the Housing Credit Program (also known as Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program) Reservation Applications requesting 2017 credits are available on our website

Should you have any questions regarding the rankings, please contact the Housing Credit Program at TaxCreditApps@VHDA.com

May 24, 2017

Brainstorming Affordable Housing

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About 100 professionals from the housing industry met recently in Botetourt County to help prime the pump of housing development in the area. A study commissioned by the county shows that while new jobs are coming into town, there is a lack of affordable housing for the people who will be taking those jobs. The housing summit brought together landowners, banks and developers to discuss possible solutions.

The keynote speaker for the event was Kit Hale, a member of VHDA's Board of Commissioners as well as principal broker at MKB Realtors and chairman of Housing Virginia.