June 14, 2016

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

GAO Releases Report on State Housing Credit Program Administration 

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the second in its three-report series on the Housing Credit program. This report focuses on state administration of the program. Despite its title, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: Some Agency Practices Raise Concerns and IRS Could Improve Noncompliance Reporting and Data Collection, the report finds that states are administering the program in a manner largely consistent with federal laws and regulations, and in many cases, going above and beyond their requirements. The report is based on GAO's review of all agencies' 2013 Qualified Allocation Plans (QAPs) and site visits to and more extensive reviews of eight state agencies and one subrecipient agency.

Housing Industry Groups Ask Top Regulators to Resist Altering Fannie and Freddie Capital Requirements 

Several housing industry groups sent Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mel Watt and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew identical letters asking them to maintain their current policy regarding Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's capital standards until Congress passes comprehensive housing finance reform. The Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of REALTORS®, the American Bankers Association, the National Association of Home Builders, and the National Housing Conference signed the letters.

House Republicans Release Plan on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility 

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-OH) released an anti-poverty plan from the Republican Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility (Task Force). This set of proposals is part of a larger agenda entitled A Better Way: Our Vision for a Confident America that Ryan and other Republican leaders hope will provide a blueprint for what they can accomplish under a Republican president. Speaker Ryan is expected to roll out the rest of the agenda this month, with recommendations on taxes, health care, national security, regulatory reform, and Congress' constitutional authority.

Representative Jordan Introduces Bill to Eliminate Means-Tested Housing Programs 

Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, introduced H.R. 5360, the Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act, which would prohibit Congress from funding means-tested housing programs and in their place create a single state block grant for housing activities. The legislation would cap appropriations for the block grant from FY 2017 through FY 2022 at FY 2016 appropriations levels, and then cut an additional 10 percent annually from 2023 until 2028, culminating in a 50 percent reduction in funding from their total FY 2016 level.

HUD Proposes Broadband Infrastructure Requirement for Multifamily Housing  

HUD published a proposed rule, Narrowing the Digital Divide Through Installation of Broadband Infrastructure in HUD-Funded New Construction and Substantial Rehabilitation of Multifamily Rental Housing that would require owners and developers of HUD-funded multifamily housing to install broadband infrastructure at the time of construction or if the property undergoes substantial rehabilitation. This requirement is in response to recommendations made by the recently convened interagency Broadband Opportunity Council and is part of a broader set of Administration and HUD initiatives designed to address the digital divide.

HUD Seeks to Amend ConPlan Regulations to Address the Digital Divide and Climate Change  

HUD published a proposed rule, Modernizing HUD's Consolidated Planning Process to Narrow the Digital Divide and Increase Resilience to Natural Hazards, that would require jurisdictions to consider broadband access and resilience to natural hazard risks, including hazards that may result from climate change, in their Consolidated Plans (ConPlan). The ConPlan is the outcome of the comprehensive planning process that jurisdictions administering HUD Community Planning and Development programs—the Community Development Block Grant program, the HOME Investment Partnerships program, the Emergency Solutions Grants program, and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program—undertake once every five years to guide program their activities. HUD contends that requiring jurisdictions to analyze both broadband access and resilience to natural hazard risks will help ensure more complete profiles of communities' needs.

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