January 28, 2016

South Sixteen at the Bridges – Roanoke, VA

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Today’s post originally appeared in VML’s Virginia Town and City Magazine.

On a site where a mill and scrap yard once stood, there is now a vibrant community known as South Sixteen. This mixed-use development includes businesses such as Starbucks and Moe’s Southwest Grill, and 157 mixed-income apartments with rents ranging from $730 to $1,200.

South Sixteen at the Bridges, Roanoke, Va.
“I think a mix of incomes in an apartment community is healthy,” said Richard Souter, a developer with WVS Companies and Roanoke River Associates. “That’s one reason we have a mixed-income component as part of our VHDA financing. I also think including mixed-use is a great idea, because it gives apartment residents the nearby amenities they’re looking for.”

Located across Jefferson Street from the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, South Sixteen features a public promenade and a kayak launch area. And, there is more to come — South Sixteen is part of a 10-year brownfield redevelopment, which will eventually include the rehabilitation of two historic buildings, and a second phase with additional housing, retail and entertainment spaces. As the community grows, the developer is working with local businesses and others to capture and maintain the neighborhood’s unique history.

The City’s Perspective

Interview with Marc Nelson, Special Projects Coordinator for the City of Roanoke’s Department of Economic Development

What was the city’s initial response to the South Sixteen project, when first approached by the developer?
The City was very pleased when the WVS Companies informed us that mixed-use housing would be among their first undertakings on the site. South Sixteen is part of a larger redevelopment project called “The Bridges,” an ambitious repurposing of a 22-acre former industrial site.

Did the city find their part of the process (issuing permits, etc.) to be easy to manage? 
Every project has its challenges, for the developer as well as for the municipality. In the case of South Sixteen, that challenge was to ensure a portion of the building was safe and inhabitable for tenants arriving in late August to enroll in Virginia Tech Carilion’s academic programs. The City’s various permitting entities, including the Building Inspections Division and the Fire Marshall’s Office, made every effort to help the developer meet that challenge while ensuring compliance with all applicable codes and ordinances.

Now that South Sixteen is complete, would the city like to see more mixed-income housing, and if so, why?
Diverse housing options play a key role in fostering a livable and vibrant community. We would certainly welcome more mixed-income housing developments within the City of Roanoke.

Is there anything you would like to share to encourage other municipalities to work with developers on these types of developments?
My advice would be to make sure the developer has experience doing these kinds of projects, especially if performance incentives will be involved.

© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

January 27, 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.

FHFA’s Proposed Duty to Serve Rule – New Opportunities for Community Builders

(RECAP: Community housing and community development advocates could see new opportunities for financing from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2016 and beyond under a new draft rule proposed December 15, 2015. The rule directs Fannie and Freddie to provide leadership and expanded financing opportunities in three specific areas: manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation and rural areas.)

This Conceptual Design Reinvents Power Plants as Mixed-Use Megastructures

(RECAP: What if a power plant could also be a home, an office or even a park? That is the question behind Cypher CO2ling Plant. It proposes a scenario that utilizes the infrastructure of the power plant’s cooling towers to support mixed-use development, while also mitigating the less desirable aspects of energy generation.)

Introducing the Virginia Multifamily Energy Efficiency Coalition 

(RECAP: Throughout the summer, a group of energy efficiency advocates, weatherization providers, affordable housing providers and environmental organizations began meeting to find ways to improve the energy efficiency of Virginia’s multifamily housing stock. Over a series of meetings, the group agreed to form an ongoing coalition – the Virginia Multifamily Energy Efficiency Coalition.)

Opinions on Housing                                                                         

The views and opinions expressed in Opinions on Housing are solely those of the original authors, and do not necessarily represent those of VHDA, our stakeholders or any/all contributors to this blog.

The Growing Trend of Affordable Housing Impact Statements

(RECAP: CityLab looks at how and why cities across the nation are calling for "affordable-housing impact statements." City leaders in New Orleans became the most recent to call for these statements, which would force developers and government officials to first consider how new development might affect the availability of housing for low-income families.)

January 26, 2016

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

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Virginia to receive more than $120.5 million from National Disaster Resilience Competition
~ Funding will address sea level rise and recurrent flooding ~  
Governor Terry McAuliffe joined U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Julian Castro to announce that Virginia will receive more than $120.5 million through HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC).  Virginia competed with 40 other communities nationwide affected by natural disasters in recent years for funding from HUD’s $1 billion competition. The competition will fund the implementation of innovative resilience projects to better prepare communities for future storms and other extreme events, including climate change.  “This federal funding is great news for Hampton Roads and a testament to the hard work of the region’s municipalities, academic institutions like ODU and VIMS, Naval Station Norfolk, and leaders across the Commonwealth,” said Senator Tim Kaine.  “I’m proud of the bipartisan work we’ve done to address the impacts of sea level rise in Hampton Roads, and I’ll continue serving as a loud voice in the Senate on the importance of combatting climate change before its effects on our communities and military installations become even more extreme.”

McAuliffe administration seeks extra $110 million to boost services for disabled

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration is seeking an extra $110 million over the next three years to provide more services to residents with severe disabilities to comply with a federal court settlement.  The money would intensify the state’s efforts to move people off a waiting list for services that currently has about 10,100 names. It would fund 855 Medicaid waivers for residents who do not have them and pay for an overhaul of how the state awards those waivers to better prioritize services for people in immediate need of aid.  The state Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services (DBHDS) also plans to expand the services it offers to families of the disabled who are in crisis; shut four state-run institutions; and finance the construction of more homes or apartments for the disabled in communities where those facilities are in short supply.  “This will be a really significant step forward,” said Jack Barber, interim commissioner of the state agency for people with disabilities. “It will be very significant in moving us into compliance with the settlement agreement, but more importantly, providing the kinds of services in integrated settings that we want to provide.”

Virginia reaches $63 million settlement with 11 banks for RMBS fraud

RBS, Barclays, others accused of defrauding state’s retirement system
The Commonwealth of Virginia announced Friday that it reached a “record” settlement with 11 banks over allegations that the banks defrauded the state’s retirement system by allegedly misrepresenting the quality of residential mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the financial crisis.  According to the office of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, the $63 million settlement is the largest non-healthcare-related recovery ever obtained in a suit alleging violations of the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.  Herring’s office said that the settlement resolves all claims against the 11 banks that were accused of “harming” the Virginia Retirement System, Virginia’s taxpayers, and the pensioners of Commonwealth through “misrepresentation” of the quality of mortgage bonds sold to the VRS.

Housing Search Site Helps Housing and Community Development Office

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Today’s post originally appeared in VML’s Virginia Town and City Magazine.

VirginiaHousingSearch.com is a free online housing locator service, sponsored by the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA). Now in its sixth year of services, the website contains detailed information about more than 108,300 rental properties throughout Virginia, and helps people find the housing that best fits their needs. More than 2,500 landlords, property managers and owners use the site as well, to promote their properties at no cost to them.

Virginia Housing Search recently partnered with the Prince William County Housing and Community Development Office to help tenants find housing, and help landlords fill vacancies within the county. The results were impressive.

“Our agency used to provide a paper referral listing to our clients,” said Amanda Harris, Housing Program Specialist Supervisor. “Owners would complete a unit data form, which our front desk personnel would have to put on a spreadsheet, which we would have to continually update every Monday. Since the VirginiaHousingSearch.com website became available, we no longer use our old process for referrals. This has been a tremendous relief for our front desk staff as they can better utilize their time to assist our clients. The system is very user-friendly and it has been a success!”

For information about Virginia Housing Search, contact Community Outreach Specialist Mario Wells at 804-343-5541 or mario.wells@vhda.com.

© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

January 21, 2016

The Villages at Goose Pond – Marshall, VA

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Today’s post originally appeared in VML’s Virginia Town and City Magazine.

“I love VHDA loan programs, because as a developer, they give me the ability to get a rental complex going, fully develop it and then hold on to it for the long term — 20 to 30 years,” said Brian Selfe, a partner in the project and president of Wellworth Properties, Inc., the developer and property manager of The Villages at Goose Pond.

Located in Fauquier County, this 71-townhouse complex is a mixed-income community that fits well into its small town surroundings. The first tenant moved into the $15 million property last November. Current residents earn, on average, 80 percent of the area median income. Three- and four-bedroom apartments are available, each with a two-car garage. According to Selfe, some Goose Pond tenants who have lower-paying jobs receive Housing Choice Vouchers for tenant-based rental assistance.

“Goose Pond provides nice housing people can rent until they’re ready to buy,” Selfe said, adding, “Some tenants, especially millennials, are renters by choice, who may never buy a house but still want a great place to live that’s perfectly located and priced right.”

© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

January 20, 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.

Helping Hands Blog

(RECAP: This blog promotes the highlights, accomplishments and success stories of HAND members, in addition to areas of need and critical updates to the affordable housing and community development field.)

A Briefing on the Family Options Study

(RECAP: In 2008, Congress directed HUD to look at and analyze the effects of various services and interventions intended for homeless families. After years observation, researchers have released the preliminary results of their study in the report Family Options Study: Short-Term Impacts of Housing and Services Interventions for Homeless Families.)

What is New Urbanism?

(RECAP: The walkable, vibrant, beautiful places that New Urbanists build work better for businesses, local governments and their residents. Anyone who works to create, restore or protect a great place can join in the New Urbanism movement.)

Promoting Accessibility in Disaster Relief Housing

(RECAP: For individuals with mobility limitations, natural disasters can be even more destabilizing if their temporary housing does not adequately meet their needs. “Design Details for Accessible Disaster Relief Housing,” describes the design considerations that enable accessibility for survivors of a disaster.)

Threats to LIHTC’s Mojo Loom

(RECAP: Labor shortage, rising development costs may thwart deals in the year ahead.)

Opinions on Housing                                                                         

The views and opinions expressed in Opinions on Housing are solely those of the original authors, and do not necessarily represent those of VHDA, our stakeholders or any/all contributors to this blog.

The place for research in housing policy: The Center looks back and ahead

(RECAP: NHC’s Center for Housing Policy is an important part of ensuring research has a place in policy discussions. Key to the work of the Center—and a characteristic that differentiates NHC’s research work from that of other housing research organizations—is providing a bridge between research and practice through accessible and relevant research and outreach to practitioners and policymakers.)

January 19, 2016

VHDA Renter Education

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Today’s post originally appeared in VHDA’s Fall 2015 Community Outreach Report.

VHDA has offered homebuyer education since 1996. Recognizing that information and resources to help consumers make financially sound and informed decisions are essential to Virginia’s rental housing market, VHDA decided to expand our housing education beyond homeownership. To help focus attention on the importance of rental housing, our Housing Education department developed a user-friendly “How to be a Successful Renter” eBook. It concentrates on three core principles: pay rent on time, maintain the property and abide by all lease provisions. This free eBook is available on vhda.com/RenterEd.

We began by identifying over 700 industry professionals to verify the need for, and possible use of, a rental education manual. Across Virginia, those providing rental counseling, group workshops, locator services, and financial and legal assistance were surveyed. In addition, VHDA associates facilitated regional roundtable discussions in Abingdon, Emporia, Exmore, Hampton, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Manassas and Richmond.

These sessions provided an opportunity for stakeholders and partners to examine the feasibility of a rental education manual as a useful tool for consumers, landlords and educators. VHDA associates also met with staff from the Richmond HUD office, the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation’s Fair Housing office, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and the Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia.

Development of the eBook took survey results and roundtable comments into consideration. The result is an in-depth renter tool that spells out Virginia’s laws and regulations in a consumer-friendly format. Both the renter’s rights and responsibilities are detailed, as well as common misunderstandings, challenges, barriers, landlord-tenant issues and fair housing concerns.

The importance of being a knowledgeable renter is reinforced with information that includes tips, alerts, examples and additional resources.

VHDA’s eBook is designed as a replicable model to support Virginia’s rental industry professionals, who are encouraged to share it with applicants, renters and colleagues. “How to be a Successful Renter” information is supported by a quiz, certificate and partner PowerPoints for each chapter. Those providing counseling, education and other renter services can implement all or part of the nine-chapter eBook to enhance their housing services and programs.

The free eBook is available for download at vhda.com/RenterEd. For more information, send an email to RentalEducation@VHDA.com.

© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

January 14, 2016

The Law Building – Norfolk, VA

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Today’s post originally appeared in VML’s Virginia Town and City Magazine.

“Most of the people renting our apartments are of the millennial generation [those born between 1980 and the mid-2000s]. It seems like every time we show a unit, they ask about light rail and public transportation. Downtown Norfolk is in a perfect position to benefit from what these folks are looking for,” said Buddy Gadams, a developer with Marathon Development Group.

Once filled with the offices of lawyers and bankers, today this 100+ year-old building is home to 136 of the most modern apartments in Hampton Roads, with rents ranging from $905 to $1,700 a month.

Apartment options in The Law Building include studio and one- and two-bedroom floor plans that are popular with Norfolk’s young professionals; plus the monthly rent includes one parking space per unit. Also attractive is the location, a short walk from the light rail stop, Town Point Park, MacArthur Center and Nauticus. Commercial tenants include The Vineyards and Smoothie King, and the largest Starbucks on the East Coast will open there in February 2016.

© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

January 13, 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.

Property value in low-income housing debate

(RECAP: A professor of economics of Stanford University looked into what happened to housing values in towns and cities across the country when low-income homes were built nearby.)

Geeky solutions for affordable housing

(RECAP: An expert in the nuts and bolts of affordable housing lays out wonky strategies that just might work.)

Three Innovative Ways to Preserving Workforce and Affordable Housing

(RECAP: The shrinking supply of workforce and affordable rental housing in cities across the United States has sparked innovative financing vehicles from an array of real estate firms to preserve the units, helping stem the loss of an urgently needed product, according to a report released by ULI and NeighborWorks America.)

Opinions on Housing                                                                

The views and opinions expressed in Opinions on Housing are solely those of the original authors, and do not necessarily represent those of VHDA, our stakeholders or any/all contributors to this blog.

Here’s a bold proposal to make renting more affordable

(RECAP: Homeowners have enjoyed a tax deduction and incentives to buy properties for years now. But as even as more young Americans become homeowners, income inequality and a growing wage and skills gap mean this generation is facing dramatically different realities. The Center for American Progress has a radical proposal: create an “opportunity agenda” for renters.)

January 12, 2016

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

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What’s Ahead in the Housing Market for 2016?

Let’s consider the major macroeconomic trends in 2016 that will significantly impact those stakes. Homeowners should enjoy another year of solid gains in house prices. Prices have been moving steadily higher since the housing bust hit bottom four years ago and should post another gain in the middle single digits. With a bit of luck, prices nationwide could reach close to the all-time peaks seen in the housing bubble a decade ago.  First-time home-buyers, in particular, should have an easier go of it. The Federal Housing Administration, the government agency that primarily helps first-timers get mortgages, cut its fees last year and may do so again soon as its finances continue to improve.  For renters, 2016 will be a difficult year, as rents continue to rise strongly in most parts of the country. The problem is that demand for rental units has been outstripping supply, and vacancy rates are now about as low as they have been in 30 years. Fueling demand are the millennials who are finally finding jobs and striking out on their own, along with households that have lost their homes in foreclosure, and more empty-nesters looking to downsize and simplify.

The DOJ Hearing Scheduled for Tuesday, January 12 Has Been Canceled  

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Commonwealth of Virginia are currently negotiating specific implementation schedules, including time frames, interim steps, and performance indicators, for specific areas of the agreement.  The United States described its concerns about delays in the implementation of the Settlement Agreement, ECF No. 112, August 23, 2012 (“Agreement”), including delays in developing a functional crisis system, integrated day and supported employment programs, and integrated housing.  The United States’ concerns were amplified by delays in the Commonwealth of Virginia’s restructuring of its Home and Community-Based Services Waivers (“HCBS Waivers).  Moreover, the Parties have committed to continue to negotiate schedules for the remaining areas identified in the United States’ motion, including: integrated housing options, children in nursing facilities and large intermediate care facilities, individuals with complex medical needs, and quality and risk management. The Parties intend to submit similar implementation schedules for those areas during the next several months. In addition, since the October hearing, the Commonwealth has submitted a budget to the General Assembly that, if approved, should enable the Commonwealth to proceed with the restructuring of its HCBS Waivers to help continue efforts to implement the Agreement.

Adaptive Reuse for Mixed-use Development

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Today’s post originally appeared in VHDA’s Fall 2015 Community Outreach Report.

Vast natural resources and easy accessibility are just a few of the assets that Southern Virginia offers. Recognizing their collective strengths, in the past few years the region’s localities have developed greater regional partnerships to facilitate economic development.

Planters Brick Tobacco Sales Warehouse
This approach to economic development focuses on local communities and entrepreneurship, in addition to efforts to recruit large employers. As a part of this strategy, and building on years of effort to combat blight and declining investment in small towns, two Mecklenburg County towns partnered with the Southside Planning District Commission and VHDA to look at downtown residential development as an opportunity for economic growth.

The Town of South Hill used VHDA’s Mixed-use/Mixed-income (MUMI) planning grant to explore the potential for the adaptive reuse of four vacant downtown properties and to identify other potential properties.

The Town of Clarksville is using a MUMI planning grant to look at the opportunity for redevelopment of a significantly historic, but severely dilapidated, former tobacco warehouse. In addition to physical assessments of the buildings, the town is studying the market for affordable rental housing, and assembling potential designs for adapting the properties to include downtown rental housing.

Both studies will provide the municipalities with strategies to achieve their development priorities and help them identify potential developers with the interest and experience to take on these types of projects.

For more information on VHDA’s MUMI program, contact Director of Community Housing Beth Seward at 804-343-5615 or Elizabeth.Seward@vhda.com.

© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

January 7, 2016

Virginia Housing Coalition and Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness Merge to Create Virginia Housing Alliance

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The Virginia Housing Coalition (VHC) and Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH) recently merged to create the Virginia Housing Alliance (VHA). The merger was approved by members of VHC and VCEH on October 15, 2015. VHA officially began operations on January 1, 2016.

“It’s a new day for efforts to expand housing opportunity and end homelessness in Virginia,” said Courtney Gardner, Chair of the VCEH Board of Directors and member of the new VHA Board. “The Virginia Housing Alliance recognizes the fundamental connection between expanding housing opportunity and ending homelessness, which cannot be addressed separately.”

VHA will focus on expanding affordable housing opportunities and ending homelessness through advocacy, education and collaboration. Based in Richmond, VHA will have a truly statewide focus given the broad spectrum of services and local partners in Virginia that it will support.

Bob Newman, the Chair of VHC, stressed the greater impact that will be created by the merger of these two 30-year-old organizations. Newman noted, “Housing costs have been rising faster than incomes and we have nearly one million Virginia households that are paying more for housing than they can afford. The Alliance will be a stronger voice in support of policies that increase access to good housing.”

VHA also announced that the organization’s first Executive Director will be Sim Wimbush. She previously served as the Associate Director of Housing Development for Virginia Veteran and Family Support at the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. In that position, she was co-lead in providing statewide and regional coordination and technical assistance on veteran housing resources and housing policy in Virginia. Wimbush also has several years of professional experience in the nonprofit sector conducting community based advocacy and providing case management and crisis intervention services, as well as developing and maintaining interdisciplinary partnerships.

“I’m thrilled to join VHA’s incredible team as its first executive director,” Wimbush said. “Our statewide organization will help to end homelessness and expand housing opportunities across Virginia.”

The new organization will focus its efforts on three key areas: advocacy, education and training and resources. VHA will help organizations and communities expand housing opportunities and end homelessness.

In addition, VHA will become a clearinghouse for news and resources about housing and homelessness. The nonprofit also will publish reports such as Home Matters and The State of Permanent Supportive Housing in Virginia. Legislative and public policy efforts remain a key focus for the newly merged organization too. VHA will develop an annual legislative and policy agenda that addresses state and federal issues, and provide direct education for legislators in Washington D.C. and Richmond. VHA staff will conduct education and provide supporting materials for members, housing providers, advocates and other stakeholders as well.

VHDA has long counted both the Virginia Housing Coalition and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness as key partners in our Community Outreach mission, and we are excited to continue this partnership with the Virginia Housing Alliance now and in the future. Congratulations to all involved with this merger!
© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Promoting Community Housing Options

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Today’s post, by Mike Hawkins, Managing Director of VHDA's Community Outreach Division, originally appeared in VHDA's Fall 2015 Community Outreach Report

As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 30th anniversary of the Virginians with Disabilities Act, VHDA is engaged in an important partnership involving several state agencies and regional teams. The goal is to advance housing options and choice for the Commonwealth’s intellectually and/or developmentally disabled (ID/DD) citizens covered by the 2012 Settlement Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Whereas Virginia had previously focused on institutions as the primary approach to serve the ID/DD population, the ADA and subsequent Olmstead decision by the U.S. Supreme Court require a broader array of housing and service options which enable disabled citizens to be more fully integrated into our communities.

VHDA’s Community Outreach Division has supported this movement toward greater choice in several ways:
  • Establishing a set-aside through our Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program to serve the ID/DD population while helping create the framework with HUD to leverage the participation of other local HCV programs.
  • Using resources through our Capacity Building program to strengthen the ability of organizations and regional partnerships to foster collaboration among local housing and services providers.
  • Working to design programs funded by VHDA REACH resources that can help identify and enhance housing units to serve the ID/DD population.
Our Community Outreach Report elaborates on these efforts, as well as on the work of VHDA-supported non-profit organizations that promote affordable housing options for people with disabilities.

© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

January 6, 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.

NAR HOME Survey: Desire to Buy Strong Despite Affordability, Economic Concerns

(RECAP: The National Association of Realtors® inaugural quarterly household survey, Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME), reveals an overwhelming majority of current renters who are 34 years of age or younger want to own a home in the future (94 percent). Overall, 83 percent of polled renters have a desire to own, and 77 percent believe homeownership is part of their American Dream.)

Urban Management's Abundant Technology Toolbox

(RECAP: In a world of interconnected systems, there are plenty of platforms that can help decision-makers see the big picture. While the tool mix must be specific to local needs, three driving concepts should be kept front and center: fluidity, interconnectivity and technology.)

A coming of age crisis: Can the U.S. meet the housing challenges of an aging population?

(RECAP: Given the number of people expected to hit senior status in the next 25 years, standard housing options might not be enough. Along those lines, homesharing is an option gaining popularity among seniors.)

New Research: Planning for Cars That Drive Themselves

(RECAP: Fully autonomous buses and cars will likely be driving themselves on city streets in the next 20 years—well within a long-range planning horizon. Here’s how large Metropolitan Planning Organizations are preparing for what is potentially the most transformative transportation technology since the internal combustion engine and mass-produced automobile.)

January 5, 2016

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

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Here are Freddie Mac's five housing predictions for 2016
Prognostications on interest rates, house prices and more
Freddie Mac is looking towards 2016 and trying to predict just what’s going to happen in housing over the next 12 months.  Freddie Mac is already on the record stating that it doesn’t think mortgage interest rate will increase immensely in 2016, despite the Federal Open Market Committee recent announcement that it is raising the federal funds rate for the first time since June 2006.  In the wake of that announcement, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, Sean Becketti, said that interest rates should remain at “historically low levels” throughout 2016, in spite of whatever moves the Federal Reserve is expected to make.
Here are five more housing predictions for 2016, courtesy of Freddie Mac:

  • Expect the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to average below 4.5% for 2016 on an annualized basis
  • Gradually higher mortgage interest rates will present an affordability challenge, but expect a strengthening labor market and pent-up demand to carry 2015's home sales momentum into 2016
  • Expect house price growth to moderate a bit to 4.4% in 2016 driven in part by the reduction in homebuyer affordability and reduced demand as a result of Fed tightening
  • Housing activity will grow in 2016 despite monetary tightening. Expect total housing starts to increase 16% year-over-year and total home sales to increase 3%
  • While home purchases will increase next year, higher interest rates will reduce the refinance volume pushing overall mortgage originations lower in 2016 than in 2015

GSE Reform Talks 'Reignited' with Key Budget Provision: Corker

"Jumpstart was very important to make it clear that the responsibility is going to lie with Congress" to enact housing finance reform, Sen. Bob Corker told American Banker on Wednesday.
In the controversial budget deal lawmakers unveiled earlier this week there's one bright spot for advocates of housing finance reform.  The spending package included a key provision from a bipartisan bill that would prohibit the Treasury Department from selling its stake in Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac until at least Jan 1., 2018. The Jumpstart GSE Reform Act, co-authored by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ensures that Congress will lead any efforts to unwind the government-sponsored enterprises over the next two years.  It also includes a "sense of Congress" that lawmakers should determine the future of Fannie and Freddie and that Treasury should not sell or otherwise get rid of its preferred shares in the housing giants until after that time.

FHFA Issues Proposed Rule on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Duty to Serve Underserved Markets  

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is seeking comments on a proposed rule to implement the Duty to Serve provisions of the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992, as amended by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.  This statute requires Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) to serve three specified underserved markets:  manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation and rural markets.  The proposed rule would require the Enterprises to adopt plans to improve the distribution and availability of mortgage financing in a safe and sound manner for residential properties that serve very low-, low-, and moderate-income families in the three specified underserved markets.

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing

We all want the same basic things for our families: a safe, affordable place to call home, a quality education for our kids, and access to transportation, jobs, retail and services. But the reality is that not everyone has equal access to those things. Despite genuine progress and transformation in the 47 years since the Fair Housing Act was enacted, the zip code in which a child grows up remains a strong predictor of that child’s success.  The Civil Rights Act of 1968 obligates the federal government and certain recipients of federal funds to affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH) as a means of ensuring equal access to opportunities for all people. The AFFH Rule was published to equip communities with the data and tools they need to meet the obligation and address significant disparities in housing needs and in access to opportunity.

The Rules Have Changed - New Flexibility In Mixed-Use/Mixed-Income Loans Sparks Revitalization Efforts Statewide

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Today’s post originally appeared in VML’s Virginia Town and City Magazine.

For those who develop mixed-income and mixed-use properties, there’s cause to celebrate. New, flexible financing options have become available, allowing local governments and developers to better serve the unique housing needs, demographics and preferences of their communities. The days of limited, one-size-fits-all financing are over.

An enhanced Mixed-use/Mixed-income loan program, launched earlier this year by the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA), is changing the way local governments and developers look at revitalization and housing opportunities. That’s because the properties they finance under the new program can serve a broader range of incomes than ever before. In fact, all of VHDA’s mixed-income options now allow for a significant percentage of units to be rented to households with unrestricted income levels; the balance can serve low- to moderate-income households (in most cases, those with 80 to 100 percent of the area median income). This increased flexibility allows for more income diversity, which is vital for addressing local economic development and revitalization objectives.

To take advantage of the new program, local governments must designate areas or specific properties as revitalization areas, in accordance with the VHDA Act.* If such a designation already exists, then no additional action is needed. Local governments across the state have already taken this first step toward enhancing housing opportunities in their communities.

“Seeing so many towns and cities take on this important revitalization really is a story worth telling,” said VHDA’s Director of Rental Housing, Dale Wittie. “These new financing options are creating possibilities for developers all over the state. Our goal is to work closely with those developers and localities, and help them make their vision a reality — as well as a beautiful, welcome addition to the community.”
* Virginia Code 36-55.30:2.

© 2013 VHDA, All Rights Reserved. Please Review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.