July 27, 2016

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

Governor McAuliffe Announces 10.5 Percent Decrease in Overall Homelessness in Virginia

~ $14.7 million awarded in Virginia Homeless Solutions Program grants ~
Governor Terry McAuliffe recently announced that overall homelessness in the Commonwealth declined 10.5 percent in 2016 versus 2015, with a 17 percent decrease in family homelessness in the same period. In addition, more than $14.7 million was recently awarded in Virginia Homeless Solutions Program (VHSP) grants to combat homelessness in Virginia. The new preliminary numbers originate from annual point in time data collected by local Continuum of Care groups across Virginia in January each year and compiled by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. “Virginia is leading fight to end homelessness by expanding access to safe, affordable housing for families who need it,” said Governor McAuliffe, speaking at today’s announcement. “Last year, I announced that Virginia was the first state to effectively end veteran homelessness and vowed to work to make all forms of homelessness in Virginia rare, brief, and non-recurring. These new numbers show that we are moving in the right direction and demonstrate the success of our collaboration between local, state, and federal organizations. Moving forward, we will continue to invest in our successful housing programs and partnerships, as we work to end chronic homelessness and homelessness among youth and families altogether in Virginia.”

FHA Issues Guidance on Insuring Properties with PACE Assessments 

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) recently issued a mortgagee letter clarifying the conditions in which it will insure mortgages on properties that have Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) assessments. While PACE structures vary, states generally treat PACE assessments on properties as they do other special assessments, such as property taxes. Under this structure, the owner of the property with a PACE assessment pays off the obligation to the local government, not the party who provided funding for the improvements. In some cases, PACE assessments generate a lien on the property. This has created a conflict between PACE loans and FHA because federal law prohibits FHA from insuring any property that has any liens attached to it other than the FHA-insured mortgage. In its announcement of the mortgagee letter, FHA acknowledged the importance of improving energy efficiency in residential homes and said the PACE program is an effective way to do so.

Castro Details HUD Actions to Address Lead Poisoning 

At an event hosted by the Center for American Progress (CAP), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro outlined steps HUD is taking to protect children from lead exposure, including developing procedures to contain lead hazards more effectively, improving lead-prevention policies, and partnering with other leaders and agencies to protect residents from lead poisoning. When asked why a lead problem still exists in 2016, Castro responded, "we have not dedicated the kind of resources that ought to be dedicated to the problem." David Fukuzawa, Managing Director of the Health and Human Services Program of the Kresge Foundation, who also participated in the event, stated that this is a "fixable, finite problem." He argued for increased resources for lead abatement programs, saying lead abatement is a solid investment that will reduce exposure to lead while lowering costs in housing, healthcare, and education systems throughout the country.

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