March 30, 2017

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.

Bank of America- Merrill Lynch: Low Income Housing Challenge

RECAP:  Building strong communities is an enduring commitment at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. For 25 years, the Low Income Housing Challenge has helped drive innovation and commitment among college students, and empowered new generations of affordable housing leaders. Students form teams and enlist an academic advisor and developer sponsor. They work together to create a forward-looking, and feasible project that addresses all aspects of an affordable-housing development, including community needs, building design and financing.
https://www.bofaml.com/en-us/content/low-income-housing-challenge.html


Using Data to Make Better Decisions: Norfolk Selected to Join ‘What Work Cities’ Initiative

RECAP: Norfolk has been selected to participate in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Work Cities initiative – one of the largest-ever national philanthropic efforts to enhance the use of data and evidence in the public sector. Norfolk will work to improve its ability to make data more consumable and readily available for city staff and residents. And, Norfolk will work to develop performance metrics to measure progress towards the city’s priority of safe, healthy and inclusive communities. With Norfolk’s selection, the growing national initiative, launched in April 2015, is now partnering with 67 mid- sized U.S. cities. All together, these cities come from 35 states, represent more than 21 million residents and have annual budgets exceeding $70 billion.
http://altdaily.com/using-data-to-make-better-decisions-norfolk-selected-to-join-what-work-cities-initiative/

Alternative Spring Break group heads to Virginia

RECAP: This year, 24 Butler students and two staff advisors made the eight-hour bus ride to Roanoke, Virginia to work on an affordable housing project. Alternative Spring Break was founded in 2005. For the last 11 years, Butler students travel to a location in the United States during spring break to work on affordable housing projects and provide disaster relief for communities in need. These Bulldogs will pair with a service organization called Renovation Alliance. This group typically works to restore the housing of families, veterans, the disabled and the elderly. https://thebutlercollegian.com/?p=28003

The Continued Growth of Multigenerational Living

RECAP:  A substantial number and share of older Americans are living in “multigenerational” households, according to our analysis of recently released 2015 American Community Survey (ACS) one-year population estimates. In total, 20.3 percent of all non-institutionalized adults aged 65 and over – about 9.4 million people – live in multigenerational households that include at least two generations of adults (individuals over the age of 25). The ACS data also show large differences in the prevalence and composition of multigenerational homes by age, race, and ethnicity. The new data not only reflect the fact that there are a growing number of older Americans, but also that the share of older Americans living in multigenerational homes has been growing steadily since the 1980s. These trends are likely to continue as baby boomers age.
http://housingperspectives.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-continued-growth-of.html

March 28, 2017

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

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FHFA Delays Implementation of GSE Single Security and Platform 

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released a report providing an update on its efforts to develop a common structure and Common Securitization Platform (CSP) for mortgage-backed securities (MBS) guaranteed and sold by the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. FHFA is developing the common security and trading infrastructure to facilitate more efficient trading of GSE MBSs and to eliminate pricing disparities between Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac MBSs.  The report notes that the first phase of the transition, referred to as "Release 1," was finished on time late last year when Freddie Mac began to trade its current MBSs (known as Participation Certificates and Giants) through the newly developed CSP. The CSP is designed to support the GSEs' single-family securitization activities.

FHFA hopes that other market participants will able to utilize CSP as well sometime in the future. FHFA's report says it is now working to complete the second phase of the transition (Release 2), in which both GSEs will adopt and begin issuing the new Uniform Mortgage-Backed Securities (UMBS), instead of their current separate MBSs, and sell the new securities through CSP. The report announces that the deadline for completing this phase has been extended from 2018 to the second quarter of 2019 so FHFA may seek more input from market participants and they have more time to prepare.


Consumer Group Warns on Trump Budget Cut of Flood Map Funds

A proposal by the Trump administration to cut $190 million in funding for updating U.S. maps of flood-prone areas would trigger higher insurance rates or more homebuilding in risky locations, a consumer group said. Flood-mapping provides important details about where it is safe to build, whether flood insurance is needed and how to price coverage, Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, said in a statement. Slashing funding for the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) retooling of U.S. flood maps will lead to relying on old maps and construction in areas that are now flood prone, or hiking insurance premiums to pay for new maps, Hunter said.



Former HUD Senior Advisor Richard Green: Here are the Issues with Trump's Budget

Ginnie Mae staffing levels and FHA infrastructure will both suffer
Richard Green, who currently serves as director and chair of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate and served as HUD Senior Advisor on housing finance from July 2015-June 2016, said that the cuts come at a potentially dangerous time. Green, who took over as HUD Senior Advisor for Edward Golding when Golding became head of the Federal Housing Administration, identified three issues with Trump’s budget proposal. Specifically, Green said that there are three operations within HUD that need more money, not less - first, Green said that the FHA needs money to update its systems, second, Green argues that Ginnie Mae is understaffed, especially considering the market share of the FHA, and third Green identifies issue of the lack of funding for housing assistance.


GSE Reform Could Significantly Impact Home Finance 

Report suggests wide-reaching implications
A ratings agency report indicates that reforming the government-sponsored enterprises could have wide-reaching implications for a range of sectors and entities. A potential reform of the U.S. housing finance that is centered around Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is possible but not likely imminent. The pair of secondary mortgage lenders were at the center of the financial crisis and thrust into conservatorship in September 2008 by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. But more than eight years later, both GSEs remain in conservatorship, and their resolution  remains one of the largest pieces of unfinished business remaining from the global financial crisis, according to Reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Has Potential to Reshape US Mortgage Markets from Moody's Investors Service.


IRS Publishes MRB Purchase Price Limits and Safe Harbors for 2017

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Revenue Procedure 2017-27, which establishes the nationwide average purchase price limits and average area purchase price safe harbors for the Mortgage Revenue Bond (MRB) and Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) programs. The Revenue Procedure sets the national average purchase price at $276,100, an increase of around 3.5 percent from last year's limit of $266,400. HFAs and other MRB and MCC issuers must use the national purchase price figure when computing the housing cost/income ratio, which provides for an upward adjustment to the percentage limitation in high housing cost areas. The average area purchase price safe harbors are based on the Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) program loan limits for each metropolitan statistical area (MSA) as of December 1, 2016. If FHA adjusts the loan limit for an MSA, housing bond issuers can calculate a new safe harbor by dividing the new limit by .9775.


Representatives Introduce Bill to Classify Muni Bonds as High-Quality Liquid Assets 

Representative Luke Messer (R-IN) introduced the Municipal Finance Support Act of 2017 (H.R. 1624). The legislation would allow large banks to count some of their municipal bond investments, including tax-exempt housing bonds, as high-quality liquid assets under federal bank liquidity standards. H.R. 1624 would modify a regulation the Federal Reserve, the Department of Treasury, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) released in October 2014 to ensure that large banks hold enough liquidity to continue making payments during periods of financial stress. Under the rule, banks with at least $250 billion in assets (or $10 billion in foreign exposure on their balance sheet) must maintain a minimum liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) comprised of certain financial investments that are considered "High-Quality Liquid Assets (HQLAs)." The rule took effect at the beginning of 2017.


Representatives Tiberi and Neal Introduce Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act 

Senior Ways and Means Committee member Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017, H.R. 1661. The bill is companion legislation to the bill Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced earlier this month. While the House bill does not contain the 50 percent phased-in cap increase, which is part of the Senate version of the bill, it includes all the other provisions of the Senate legislation. It would significantly strengthen the Housing Credit program by providing increased flexibility, simplifying program requirements, supporting the preservation of existing affordable housing, and facilitating Housing Credit development in challenging markets and for hard-to-reach populations.

Importantly, it includes provisions that would significantly strengthen the 4 percent Credit and tax-exempt bond portion of the program by setting a minimum 4 percent rate for bond-financed units and providing states with the authority to give a 30 percent basis boost to those units. The only other difference between the House and Senate bills is a modification to the provision regarding taking certain energy tax credits for Housing Credit properties. Specifically, both the Senate and House bills would eliminate the basis reduction associated with taking the Section 48 investment credit used to finance solar panels; however, only the Senate bill also eliminates the basis reduction associated with the Section 45L Energy Efficient Home Credit and Section 179D Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Deduction. This section-by-section description of the bill provides more details on the bill's provisions.

March 27, 2017

Congressional Update: Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017

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On March 7, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017 (S. 548), a comprehensive bill to expand and strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.

The legislation would increase Housing Credit authority by 50 percent, taking a meaningful step towards addressing our nation’s vast and growing affordable housing needs. It would also strengthen the Housing Credit by providing states with additional flexibility, making the financing of affordable housing more predictable and streamlined, facilitating Housing Credit development in challenging markets like rural and Native American communities, increasing the Housing Credit’s ability to serve extremely low-income tenants, and supporting the preservation of existing affordable housing.

The legislation also contains important provisions that would support development of rental homes using the Housing Credit coupled with multifamily housing bonds, which currently provide critical financing to roughly 40 percent of housing credit apartments.

Similar legislation was introduced in the House by Representatives Pat Tiberi (D-OH) and Richard Neal (D-MA), H.R. 1661, which includes many of the same program improvements contained in S. 548 with the exception of the 50% credit authority increase.

VHDA is working with members of the Virginia Delegation to garner support for this important legislation. For more information, contact Demas Boudreaux, VHDA Government Relations, at Demas.Boudreaux@VHDA.com or (804) 343-5958.

March 22, 2017

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

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Trump Administration Releases FY 2018 Budget Blueprint with Deep Cuts to HUD and Elimination of HOME  

The Administration sent Congress its Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget blueprint, "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again," proposing deep cuts to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and other federal agencies, with the exception of the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs, which would see funding increases. The Administration proposes to reduce the HUD budget by $6.2 billion by eliminating the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program and other community development programs and seeking cost savings in rental assistance programs. This confirms what was reported last week after several media outlets published information from leaked Administration budget documents.

Housing Finance Prepares for Wave of New Interest Rate Hikes

Next rate hike could arrive before end of summer
The Federal Reserve raised rates for the first time in 2017, but the market expects it to be the first of many. After raising rates in December, when the Fed moved to raise rates from a range of 0.5% to 0.75%, the Fed elected to raise them another 25 basis points to a range of 0.75% to 1%. The Federal Funds Rate represents the overnight rate which financial institutions, such as banks, provide short-term lending to one another, and is a basis for capital markets liquidity. Only one official voted against the action, Neel Kashkari, who preferred to maintain the existing target range for the federal funds rate during the March meeting, according to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. And now, experts say the increases will continue throughout 2017, with the next hike occurring as soon as this summer.

Credit Changes Set to Improve Score for Roughly 12 Million Consumers

Equifax, Experian, TransUnion to make changes
The three credit rating agencies will soon exclude tax liens and civil judgments from credit reports for many people, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal by Annamaria Andriotis. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion will remove the tax-lien and civil-judgment data starting around July 1, helping omit negative information from the financial scorecards, the article noted. The unusual move by the influential firms comes partially in response to regulatory concerns. The three reporting bureaus rarely tinker with the information that goes on credit reports and that lenders consult to gauge consumers’ ability and willingness to pay back debts.

Atlanta Fed Selects Former HUD Assistant Secretary Raphael Bostic as New President

Served as HUD assistant secretary for policy development and research
The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta announced Monday that it selected Raphael Bostic to serve as its new president and chief executive officer, replacing Dennis Lockhart, who retired from the Atlanta Fed at the end of February. As president of the Atlanta Fed, Bostic will represent the Sixth Federal Reserve District at meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee. Bostic brings significant housing experience to the position. From 2009 to 2012, Bostic served as assistant secretary for policy development and research at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In that Senate-confirmed position, Bostic was a principal adviser to the secretary on policy and research, with the goal of helping the secretary and other principal staff make informed decisions on HUD policies and programs, as well as on budget and legislative proposals, the Atlanta Fed said in its announcement.

March 16, 2017

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.

Competition Announcement- Blueprint for the Future: A Home for Everyone

RECAP: The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is pleased to announce a competition to design a home that meets affordability, sustainability and accessibility criteria. The Mission of DHCD is to make Virginia’s communities safe, affordable, and prosperous places in which to live, work and to meet the needs of low- and moderate-income residents and to maximize collaborative efforts and use innovative ways to partner and collaborate in achieving the mission. DHCD sees this competition as an innovative way to promote that mission. The competition is open to all Virginians, including full-time students enrolled in a Virginia high school or institution of higher learning. Entrants may be students, amateurs or professionals, licensed or unlicensed, individuals or teams. Phase One submission deadline is May 1, 2017.
http://www.vagovernorshousingconference.com/index.php/vaghc-annoucements/blueprint-for-the-future-design-competition

New Report Examines Housing Trends In Rural Virginia

RECAP: A growing senior population and aging housing stock are creating new challenges for communities in rural Virginia. A new report from Housing Virginia titled “Meeting Housing Needs in Rural Virginia: Trends, Needs, Gaps, Solutions” highlights the unique challenges of housing needs in the Commonwealth’s less populated regions. “There are significant differences between Virginia’s urban cores and its rural areas,” the report states. “Even more, rural Virginia is not a homogeneous entity – different regions have different housing needs, gaps and trends that warrant unique approaches.
http://www.cfrv.org/single-post/2017/01/16/New-report-examines-housing-trends-in-rural-Virginia


Introducing the 2017 HW Tech100

RECAP: Inclusion on this list is a truly special honor — and here’s why: the HW TECH100 is the only list of tech innovation that captures the entire U.S. housing economy, spanning from real estate to mortgage lending, servicing and investments. Making the cut puts these companies into unique territory as a tech leader in the housing economy. From dot-coms and start-ups to established technology giants, each year the HW TECH100 features the most innovative technology firms driving the U.S. housing economy forward.
http://www.housingwire.com/blogs/1-rewired/post/39457-introducing-the-2017-hw-tech100

Help Us Take The Pulse Of Affordable Housing In Virginia

RECAP: How are YOU feeling about affordable housing in your city, county or town? Housing Virginia wants to take a snapshot of what people on the ground are seeing, thinking, and feeling about housing affordability in their own communities. Housing Virginia has developed a very short and simple survey to test the waters of housing affordability in Virginia with several very broad questions. Housing Virginia wants to know how members of the affordable housing industry perceive the shifting challenge of affordable housing. Let Housing Virginia know how you feel your community is faring – please take TWO MINUTES to help “take the pulse” of affordable housing in Virginia: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HV-Pulse-2017
http://www.housingvirginia.org/news/help-us-take-pulse-affordable-housing-virginia/

March 14, 2017

Arlington County’s Union on Queen Offers Affordable Apartment Homes

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In alignment with Arlington County’s vision to become an inclusive world-class community with attractive residential and commercial neighborhoods, the county has adopted its first Affordable Housing Master Plan. The plan is the culmination of a three-year effort that will prepare Arlington for the next generation of sustainable and affordable housing.

Union on Queen, a development in downtown Arlington, is one of the pieces to the affordable housing puzzle. This 12-story building offers both market-rate and affordable apartments. Of the 193 apartments, 78 will be designated as affordable housing units. These units are open to households earning 50 to 60 percent of the area’s median income.

Photo credit: Jeffrey Sauers 

Union on Queen’s nonprofit developer, Wesley Housing Development Corporation, believes that stabilized neighborhoods create quality living arrangements for residents with at differing income levels. These residents include teachers, police officers and firefighters, who can now potentially live in the neighborhoods where they work.


Close to several Metro Stations, Union on Queen gives an all-access pass to the best that Northern Virginia has to offer. The building’s apartments are spacious, welcoming, and part of a sustainable community that addresses the needs of all residents. With sustainability in mind, Union on Queen has LEED Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Financing for the development came from Housing Credits (also known as Low-Income Housing Tax Credits) as well as Capital One, Hudson Housing, and Walker & Dunlop. Union on Queen is a welcome addition to the affordable housing stock in Northern Virginia. In addition, the development fits in well with VHDA’s Strategic Goals, which focus on ways to increase affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income families while helping to ensure an ongoing inventory of affordable housing that supports strong and viable communities.

For more information about Union on Queen, including leasing details, please email uniononqueen@bozzuto.com.

March 13, 2017

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

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Leaked Internal HUD Budget Document Proposes $6 Billion Cut in FY 2018 

Various news sources, including the Washington Post and The Hill, published troubling reports about leaked documents indicating that the Trump Administration is considering more than $6 billion in cuts to HUD programs in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. According to these reports, the Administration may propose the elimination of several HUD programs, including HOME. The leaked budget document proposes to cut HUD funding overall by 14 percent to $40.5 billion in FY 2018. In addition to HOME, reports indicate that the draft budget request also would eliminate the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative and cut $1.3 billion from the public housing capital account; $600 million from the public housing operating fund; $300 million from Section 8 tenant-based rental assistance, including Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing; $42 million from Section 202 Housing for the Elderly; and $29 million from Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities.

Senators Cantwell and Hatch Introduce Legislation to Enhance and Strengthen the Housing Credit 

On March 7, Senate Finance Committee member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017, S. 548. The bill would increase Housing Credit authority by 50 percent over a five-year period and enact approximately 20 modifications to the program that would strengthen it by providing states new flexibility, simplifying program requirements, supporting the preservation of existing affordable housing, and facilitating Housing Credit development in challenging markets and for hard-to-reach populations. It includes all of NCSHA's Housing Credit-related board-adopted legislative priorities.

LendingHome Rolls Out Online Mortgage for First-Time Homebuyers

Users can complete a mortgage application within minutes
LendingHome, a marketplace lender and HousingWire 2017 Tech100 winner, announced its new one-stop online mortgage designed with the needs of first-time homebuyers in mind.
Matt Humphrey, LendingHome’s co-founder and CEO, and his team built the end-to-end online technology platform and infrastructure to create a smoother customer experience on the front-end and operational efficiencies on the back-end. “With the power of our technology, we designed the next-generation digital mortgage specifically for the needs of digital natives so that they feel confident and in control when financing their first home,” he stated. Through the online mortgage, borrowers can complete a mortgage application within minutes, keep track of their progress in real-time and lock their rate. The new launch also includes educational articles, advice and tools for first-time homebuyers.

MBA Letter Urges Support of Flood Insurance Modernization Bills

The Mortgage Bankers Association, in a letter to leaders in the Senate and House, urged support for two bills that would make key adjustments to the National Flood Insurance Program.
The bills address two primary impediments to development of a private flood insurance market: lack of clarity as to what constitutes acceptable private flood insurance; and uncertainty about the effect of private insurance on the continuous coverage requirement. MBA Senior Vice President of Legislative and Political Affairs Bill Killmer noted while the intent of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, also known as BW-12, was for private flood insurance to satisfy the mandatory purchase requirement, lack of clarity in the statutory language had the unintended effect of making it more difficult for lenders to accept private flood insurance policies.

Freddie Mac Considers Backing Single-Family Home Rentals

Freddie Mac is considering backing loans that finance single-family rental homes for the first time, mirroring a controversial transaction that Fannie Mae disclosed in January, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The company’s regulator is looking to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to experiment with a limited number of transactions, to better understand if the U.S.-backed housing finance companies should be allowed to do more, according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is not public. A spokesman for Freddie Mac declined to comment, as did a spokesman for their regulator at the Federal Housing Finance Agency.