August 31, 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.

Apply now for the Vibrant Community Initiative 

(RECAP: Virginia’s Vibrant Community Initiative will combine multiple funding sources from the Virginia DHCD to support local or regional comprehensive community-based projects including affordable housing and community and/or economic development components. Approximately $5 million in DHCD state and federal resources will be set aside to provide project financing for this initiative.)

Housing counseling should help with more than just homebuying

(RECAP: Foundations, financial institutions, and government programs are eager to support strategies that improve the financial health of American families. Housing counseling is a proven, powerful tool for helping families get their financial footing. It should be used to support families interested in homeownership and those who are not.)

Guide to Leveraging Brownfields Revitalization

(RECAP: In 2015, the EPA marked the 20th anniversary of the Brownfields program and launched its Next Generation Brownfields initiatives to promote improved approaches for supporting American communities in their revitalization efforts. “Setting the Stage for Leveraging Resources for Brownfields Revitalization” is a guide published by the EPA that explores how communities can prepare to successfully leverage funding and other resources for brownfields revitalization.)

Affordable Housing: ‘Not Nearly Enough’

(RECAP: The majority of rental units being built over the past several years have been high end, luxury product, and not nearly enough affordable product. Even with the expansion of the LIHTC program that the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2016 would entail, demand will continue outpacing supply.)

August 30, 2016

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

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USDA Cutting Mortgage Fees

USDA has announced that it will cut its loan fees for lenders, such as VHDA, that use the Single Family Housing Loan Guarantee Program.  These fee cuts will mean that borrowers will pay significantly less for their loan.  This program is one of VHDA’s key tools for serving homebuyers in rural areas, so the forthcoming cut in fees will help us to better serve unmet rural needs.

HARP Extended Into 2017; FHFA Plans New Refinance Program

FHFA has announced that it is extending the GSE HARP refinance program, which was set to expire at the end of September, until September 30, 2017 in order to bridge the gap until Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac release new refinance programs for high LTV borrowers later next year.  FHFA believes there continues to be a significant need to provide refinance alternatives for borrowers who are current on their mortgages but unable to refinance due to the LTV on their loan exceeding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac maximum limits.

FHA and FHFA Announce Changes to Loss Mitigation Programs

On August 25, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced changes to their loss mitigation requirements to streamline their processes and help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes.  These changes are summarized in the update from NCSHA.  The new procedures, which must be fully implemented by December 1, 2016, will impact VHDA’s loan servicing department.  A number of the procedures are already in place.  Servicing is working with compliance staff to ensure that VHDA is in full compliance prior to the deadline.  Any FHA changes that require technology enhancements will be handled through the Black Knight Servicing system.

HUD Releases FY 2017 Fair Market Rents

On August 26, HUD published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Fair Market Rents (FMRs). FMRs are used to determine payment standards for a number of housing assistance programs, including the Housing Choice Voucher and the Project-Based Section 8 programs.  The notice from NCSHA provides a brief summary of the new process being used in releasing updated FMRs and the means for public housing agencies (PHAs) such as VHDA to provide comment.

August 24, 2016

Housing Credit 2017 QAP Updates – Comment Period Now Open

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News from Housing Credits 

The public comment period for changes to the 2017 QAP began on Aug. 3, 2016 and ends on Sept. 20, 2016. If you previously submitted comments regarding changes to the 2017 QAP, please re-submit them so they can be considered part of the public record.

Calendar of Events:
  • QAP Public Forum – Comment period ends – Sept. 20, 2016 – VHDA Headquarters  
  • QAP VHDA Board Approval – Oct. 5, 2016 – VHC
  • How to Complete the Virginia Housing Credit Application – Oct. 13, 2016 – VHC
    • This hands-on workshop will go page-by-page through the Excel application and explain all requirements.
    • We’ll be providing tips and techniques on how to ensure you receive the points you want and prevent penalty points. 
    • This event is great for those who are new to Virginia’s Housing Credit program or would like to know how to avoid penalties for insufficient documentation, minor mistakes or misunderstood questions. 
  • Universal Design Seminar – Oct. 20, 2016 – VHC
    • Please remember if you previously attended this seminar prior to 1/1/12 you will not be eligible for Universal Design points for 2017 Housing Credits applications.
  • Requirements for Architect Certification and Universal Design Plans – Oct. 20, 2016 – VHC
    • This class is separate from the Universal Design seminar. It is intended to provide architects and owners with specific information on how to submit the Architect Certification and as well as required elements for Universal Design plans in order to receive all possible points.
  • QAP Workshop (Formally known as the How To Apply Seminar) 
    • This workshop will provide answers to your questions about Housing Credit Administration Policies and Procedures.
      • Dec. 8, 2016 – Fairfax Marriot
      • Jan. 4, 2017 – VHC 
      • Jan. 5, 2017 – Norfolk (new location)
Please register for classes or the focus group here.

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.

Rural Housing Initiative

(RECAP: Recognizing that rural affordable housing needs vary widely from those faced in urban areas, Housing Virginia initiated its Rural Housing Initiative in the fall of 2015 with a preliminary survey of rural providers, followed by a pre-conference session for these providers at the Governor’s Housing Conference. Housing Virginia plans to use this information, along with housing data and best practice research, to develop an action plan to assist rural providers and improve the lives of their clients.)

'Millennial dorms': A new kind of group living for urbanites

(RECAP: A WeWork/WeLive mixed-use building is located in Crystal City, with the 260 residential units having opened May 1. Though WeLive is in its earliest stage, co-founder Miguel McKelvey says the company can easily see a time when WeLive buildings include features and amenities that cater to demographics beyond millennials, such as families with young children and older adults.)

We need more apartments and houses, but the challenges differ for each

(RECAP: Between single family homes and rental apartments, the U.S. still doesn’t have enough housing to adequately meet demand. To better meet housing needs, decision makers need to understand the different challenges facing these two markets. At a July Housing Finance Policy Center data talk “Tale of Two Markets: Single-Family versus Multifamily Construction,” a panel of experts gathered to talk about both markets.)

The cost of affordable housing: Does it pencil out?

(RECAP: It turns out building affordable housing is not particularly affordable. In fact, there is a huge gap between what these buildings cost to construct and maintain and the rents most people can pay. Without the help of too-scarce government subsidies for creating, preserving, and operating affordable apartments, building these homes is often impossible. This tool helps explain why.)

Community Living Spending Continues To Rise

(RECAP: Evolving ideas about how to best serve people with developmental disabilities appear to be driving the trend toward community living, according to a new report produced for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, with 75 percent of dollars targeted to this group going to integrated care.)

August 23, 2016

VHDA’s 2017 Capacity Building Grant Funding

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VHDA is pleased to announce the opening of our FY 2017 Capacity Building Grant funding opportunity. Since 2013, this grant program has assisted Virginia non-profits and local governments with building their capacity to better meet the current and future affordable housing needs of the Commonwealth.

“VHDA’s Capacity Building Grant can provide a catalyst for community and organizational change across Virginia. We’re excited to continue VHDA’s support of the long-term sustainability of the Commonwealth’s affordable housing delivery network with a new online application process for our Capacity Building Grant,” said VHDA Managing Director of Community Outreach Mike Hawkins. “We believe this online process will be a useful tool that better serves our partners while facilitating additional grant applications.”

The Capacity Building Grant program is designed to:
  • Increase an organization’s ability to create, preserve and/or manage affordable 
  •     housing units.
  • Expand or bring new housing-related services to an underserved area.
  • Improve an organization’s ability to implement community revitalization 
  •     projects.
  • Establish or strengthen local and/or regional collaboration.
  • Support critical state housing policies (e.g. ending veteran homelessness, etc.)

To learn more about this grant funding opportunity and its eligibility requirements, please visit VHDA’s online grant portal at

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

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Delinquency Rates Hit 10-Year Low

Delinquency rates for mortgage loans on one- to four-unit residential properties fell to their lowest
level since 2006, while foreclosure rates fell to their lowest level in 16 years, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported. The MBA National Delinquency Survey for the second quarter said the delinquency rate decreased by 11 basis points to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.66 percent of all loans outstanding at the end of the second quarter, the lowest level since second quarter 2006. From a year ago, the delinquency rate fell by 64 basis points. MBA said the delinquency rate was lower than the historical average of 5.36 percent from 1979 to the present. MBA said the percentage of loans on which foreclosure actions started during the second quarter fell to 0.32 percent, down by three basis points from the first quarter and by eight basis points from a year ago. This foreclosure starts rate was at its lowest level since second quarter 2000.

Tighter Underwriting Rules Cut Portion of Mortgages to Blacks, Report Says

Blacks made up smaller share of originations in 2014 vs. 2004, African-American trade group finds
Mortgage lending to African-Americans has declined since the last housing boom, a direct result of tightened underwriting standards that persist eight years after the meltdown, according to a new report. Black borrowers accounted for a smaller share of mortgage originations in 2014, at 5%, than in 2004 when they were 7%. By contrast, white borrowers accounted for 69% of mortgages in 2014 versus 58% 10 years before then. That is based on an analysis of the most recent Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data in a report commissioned by the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, or NAREB, a trade group of African-American real-estate agents and brokers.

Growth of Senior-Care Facilities Presents Opportunity for Lenders

United Community Banks in Blairsville, Ga., is the latest bank to focus on baby boomers, but not in the business that most people relate to that generation. Most talk about banking baby boomers has centered on wealth management as that generation ages and starts looking to transfer wealth to their children. Another growing area of business, however, centers on senior care, and that is where United is making its move. After a lengthy pursuit, the $10.4 billion-asset company hired a four-person team from Community & Southern Bank in Atlanta that specializes in financing senior care facilities.

How Land Use Regulations are Zoning Out Low-Income Families 

Social mobility and geographical mobility have historically gone hand-in-hand in America: people move to places with greater opportunity. But such moves have become steadily more difficult, in part because of the growing regulation of land use. Zoning ordinances that limit density are a particular problem, reducing the availability of affordable housing. By using local government powers to zone out lower-income families, upper middle class Americans protect the value of their homes. Federal policy helps, of course, by regressively supporting richer home owners through mortgage interest deductions. NIMBYism is motivated by a rational desire to accumulate financial capital by enhancing home values. But for parents, it is also about helping their children accumulate human capital by controlling access to local schools. Given the powerful vested interests involved in exclusionary zoning, reform will require some serious political determination.

Industry throws wet blanket on the digital mortgage revolution

GSE survey results show reality of mortgage business
Over the last few years, publications just like this one spilled a significant amount of ink, whether the old-fashioned kind or the digital kind, on the digital mortgage revolution, that is the effort to take the cumbersome, paper-intensive mortgage process online. To gauge the mortgage industry’s view on the adoption of digital mortgages (or eMortgages, in the government-sponsored enterprises’ parlance), Fannie and Freddie reached out to 130 “key industry stakeholders,” which included lenders, technology solution providers, warehouse banks, servicers, and title/settlement providers, to discuss their perceived obstacles/barriers to broader industry adoption of eMortgages. The survey identified a number of concerns that many companies in the mortgage business share, including:

  • Acceptance by a limited number of investors
  • Warehouse line availability
  • Lack of key stakeholder readiness (servicers, document providers, custodians, title/settlement agents, etc.)
  • Implementation complexity
  • Inadequate return on investment based on industry volumes
  • Lack of uniform adoption of eNotarization and eRecording
  • Resource/financial constraints
  • GSE policy alignment

August 22, 2016

VMLA 2016 Annual Convention – Special Offer for First-time Attendees

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Join us at VMLA’s Annual Convention

Oct. 6 – 7, 2016  •  Norfolk Waterside Marriott

The Virginia Mortgage Lenders Association (VMLA) annual convention is a great place to build your network and learn about issues impacting the mortgage industry. Be sure to stop by VHDA’s booth (look for our colorful “Elevate Your Game” poster), and drop your business card in our bowl — you’ll be registered to receive news updates from VHDA and be entered in our drawing to win an awesome prize! For details about the convention, visit VMLA’s website.

First time attending? Here’s your chance to win: 

As an event sponsor, VHDA will provide four first-time attendees with complimentary convention registration, plus hotel for the night of Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. One winner each will be chosen from the Richmond, Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia and Western regions. Submit your entry at

5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016

August 17, 2016

VAGHC Scholarship Applications Accepted through Sept. 2

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An Update from the Governor’s Housing Conference:

The Governor's Housing Conference connects Virginia's affordable housing providers with funders, lenders, Realtors®, nonprofits, public officials and resources to improve housing in Virginia's communities. The conference provides stimulating and thought-provoking information and educational sessions led by experts in housing, finance and development. Each year, more than 800 people from throughout Virginia participate in the Governor's Housing Conference to take advantage of excellent professional development, incredible networking and valuable training opportunities. It’s Virginia's largest and most comprehensive affordable housing event of the year.

The sponsors of this Governor's Housing Conference have set aside funds to be used as scholarships for nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit organizations are an important part of the delivery of housing and community development services, but due to budget restraints, may not be able to attend the conference. Student scholarships will be geared toward those students who are majoring or interested in the delivery of housing or sheltering services, community or economic development or other appropriate activities designed to sustain healthy and safe communities.

Scholarship Details:

Scholarships cover the cost of the conference registration only. Applications will be ranked based on financial need and statement of interest. Applicants who have not received a scholarship in the past will be given priority. The deadline for the receipt of application packets is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. Applications should be completed, signed, scanned and emailed to

Submit a Nonprofit Organization Application

Submit a Student Application

Stay up to date on the latest news from the GHC!

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.

Tiny housing in Charlottesville — is it possible?

(RECAP: Brian Haluska, neighborhood planner for the city, said city code does not explicitly prohibit tiny houses and that they are permissible if the structures meet zoning and building regulations. Although Haluska said he does not know of many tiny homes in the area, it does fit into a larger conversation about providing housing at different prices.)

Housing Credit Improves Lives, Boosts Economy and Saves Government Money

(RECAP: In addition to providing much-needed affordable rental homes and giving the economy a boost, recent research suggests yet another positive benefit of LIHTC development is government savings. As the LIHTC is the primary capital resource for creating all types of affordable rental housing–from permanent supportive housing to family housing–these savings would help offset the cost of expanding LIHTC.)

4 BIG Ideas for SMALL Downtown Revitalization

(RECAP: Does your community have a historic downtown that seems to be neglected? Despite the local history, interesting architecture, and walkable streets, many businesses locate elsewhere. On the surface, it can sometimes feel like a hopeless situation. But many small communities are discovering what works in big cities can work in their little towns, too.)

New Resources for Local Food Systems Planning

(RECAP: Food systems planning is becoming an ever-more important topic in our communities. There are a number of approaches and tools available to help communities tackle food systems planning issues. One new resource targeted at planners and local governments in particular is the Planning and Policy Briefs series from the Growing Food Connectionsproject.)

Disability Housing: What’s Happening? What’s Challenging? What’s Needed?

(RECAP: Case studies profile four providers with differing approaches to housing and service delivery, and how they face common challenges in staffing, meeting regulatory requirement, and serving a population with diverse needs.) _ga=1.200466350.1419865461.1468931471

August 10, 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.

Housing Virginia: Directory of Rural Housing & Service Providers

(RECAP: Housing Virginia has begun developing a directory of rural housing and service providers by region with data provided by the Virginia Housing Development Authority. Click here to see the first publication of the directory. If you’d like to update or add an entry, please contact with the information you would like added to a finalized digital version to be uploaded to Housing Virginia’s website.)

City of Falls Church Moves Forward with Play Streets Program

(RECAP: The City officially sanctioned the program as an opportunity for residents to get outside, making streets playgrounds. Stephanie Rogers, the program’s coordinator, said that “streets are for everybody, not just cars.)

What Is A Yimby?

(RECAP: Nimbyism, which is an acronym for “not in my backyard,” has become the routine resistance against new construction in America. Now there is a backlash to these arguments. Over the last few years, a host of self-described “Yimby” organizations (“yes in my backyard”) have popped up in different cities where the housing prices are highest and the anti-development sentiment is strongest.)

Affordable Housing is the Glue that Holds Everything Together

(RECAP: Former HUD secretaries Henry Cisneros and Mel Martinez call for a LIHTC expansion. Responding to the need for more affordable rental homes is a critical national priority. It’s becomes doubly important when the health and well-being of so many older adults are at stake.)

Managing Community Change: A Dialogue on Gentrification

(RECAP: Gentrification presents both challenges and opportunities for planners. Smart policies that can take advantage of HUD tools such as the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule and Community Development Block Grants, however, can begin to capture the gains that change brings and create “equitable gentrification.”)

August 9, 2016

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

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President Signs Housing Assistance Reform Bill Into Law

President Obama signed into law H.R. 3700, the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (HOTMA), which will streamline and reform several federal housing assistance programs. NCSHA and a broad coalition of housing stakeholders have strongly advocated for this bipartisan legislation over the past year. As previously reported, HOTMA will streamline Housing Choice Voucher program inspections, make project-basing vouchers more flexible, and provide public housing agencies (PHAs) greater flexibility to transfer funding between their operating and capital funds. HOTMA also makes several adjustments to federal single-family housing programs, including provisions designed to make it easier for condominium mortgages to be insured by the Federal Housing Administration and directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to adopt procedures allowing certain lenders to directly endorse loans through the Section 502 Guaranteed Rural Housing Loans program. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that HOTMA will save the government $311 million over five years.

CFPB Releases Loss Mitigation Principles

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently released a set of suggested principles for foreclosure prevention activities. The guidelines are not legally binding but are intended to act as guidance for mortgagees' and investors' loss mitigation efforts. The four principles outlined by CFPB are accessibility, affordability, sustainability, and transparency. These same principles were identified in a white paper released last month by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Treasury, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) that examined the future of loss mitigation efforts after the upcoming expiration of federal homeowner assistance programs, including the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

Agencies Get a New Playbook for Managing Risks

The General Services Administration, in cooperation with the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, recently launched a new “playbook” for enterprise risk management that aims to improve decision-making and planning across government. The “Playbook: Enterprise Risk Management (ERM)” is the action plan for complying with the Office of Management and Budget’s recent update of Circular A-123. Bylined by the Chief Financial Officers Council and the OMB-led interagency Performance Improvement Council, the playbook “was developed as part of an interagency effort convened by the Office of Executive Councils to bring together risk practitioners and cross-functional representatives from more than 20 federal agencies to gather, define, and illustrate practices in applying ERM in the federal context,” GSA said in a release.