December 22, 2015

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

Tax Package Makes Permanent 9 Percent Minimum Housing Credit Rate 

Late December 15, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled tax extender legislation, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, that would renew and make permanent some of the expired tax provisions, including the 9 percent minimum Housing Credit rate, and extend for either five years or two years other expired tax provisions. The bill—a major victory for NCSHA and other Housing Credit industry stakeholders—is the result of weeks of negotiations among leaders of both parties and both chambers.  We expect the House to vote on the bill either Thursday or Friday of this week and to separately consider within the same timeframe the omnibus spending bill Ryan also announced last night. The Senate will then combine the two bills for consideration soon thereafter. Both chambers are expected to pass the measures.

FY 2016 Omnibus Spending Bill Increases HOME Funding 

In the early hours of the morning on December 16, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 omnibus spending bill, providing $1.1 trillion in funding for government operations, including funding for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Housing Service programs.  The bill is a major victory for NCSHA, providing $950 million for the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program, $50 million more than its FY 2015 level. In an environment of constrained spending, an increase of $50 million is a notable accomplishment.  NCSHA and other HOME program allies have worked together this year to defeat the earlier House proposal to cut direct HOME appropriations to $767 million and transfer $133 million from the Housing Trust Fund (HTF) to HOME and the earlier Senate proposal to cut HOME by 93 percent to just $66 million. The HOME funding increase in the FY 2016 omnibus spending bill comes entirely from new appropriations, leaving the HTF intact.

MBA White Paper Cites Need for Holistic Policy Solutions on Affordable Rental Housing

The Mortgage Bankers Association yesterday released a white paper outlining the importance of--and recommendations to expand--affordable rental housing.  MBA convened a Task Force of leaders in the commercial/multifamily finance industry to study the range of issues that surround affordable rental housing and recommend steps to enhance its availability.  The Task Force sought to: (1) highlight the extent and impact of the current shortage of affordable rental housing, drawing on data and research; (2) be a catalyst for a holistic public discussion on affordable rental housing; (3) recognize the nature of the challenges and complexities associated with finding solutions to address affordable housing concerns; and (4) recommend principles that should shape how we think about affordable rental housing and improvements to existing programs that have supported the availability of affordable rental housing.  "The number of American households who rent their homes stands at an all-time high," said Task Force Chairman Hugh Frater, chairman and former CEO of Berkadia, one of the nation's largest multifamily lenders. "With a quarter of renter households paying half of their incomes on housing, the need to expand the availability of affordable rental housing has rarely been greater."

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