September 27, 2016

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

Report on HUD's RAD Program Shows It has Generated Significant Investment in Public Housing 

HUD recently released an independently conducted report evaluating its Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, which finds that by October 2015, Public Housing Authorities (PHA) participating in the program had generated $2.5 billion in investment to preserve and rehabilitate public housing properties. RAD allows PHAs to leverage public and private sources of financing by converting public housing to project-based Section 8 contracts. Another component of RAD allows Rent Supplement, Rental Assistance Payment, and Mod Rehab properties to convert to project-based Section 8 assistance.  The report finds that nearly 40 percent of the financing for RAD projects, the largest source of financing at approximately $977 million, has come from the Housing Credit, including $503 million from 4 percent Credits and $474 million from 9 percent Credits. Approximately $686 million in RAD financing has come from various soft money sources, including HOME, the Federal Home Loan Banks' Affordable Housing Program, grants, deferred development fees, or other sources of gap financing. The report attributes another $564 million in investment to mortgage financing and other third-party debt. The remainder of the financing for RAD—approximately $250 million, or 10 percent of total financing—has come from PHAs' resources.

Senate Banking Committee Examines HUD Monitoring of PBRA Properties  

The Senate Banking Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development held a hearing recently, titled "Oversight of the HUD Inspection Process" to highlight concerns with HUD's monitoring of project-based rental assistance (PBRA) properties in the wake of federal and local investigation of three properties in Florida managed by Global Ministries Foundation. Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said he hoped that by discussing these specific properties during the hearing, Congress could more broadly shed light on this type of housing and improve HUD's role in responding to troubled assets.

Senator Wyden Releases Draft Legislation to Enact Middle-Income Housing Tax Credit Program 

The Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) recently released a discussion draft of legislation that would create a new tax credit program to stimulate the development of rental housing for middle-income households earning up to 100 percent of area median income (AMI). The legislation would create a new section of the tax code for the new program, which would be modeled after the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) and administered by state agencies.  The proposal envisions a state middle-income credit cap of $1 per capita with a small state minimum of $1.14 million, adjusted for inflation in future years. Any middle-income credit authority unused after the first year in which it is received by the state would be carried over into the Housing Credit program for use in developing low-income rental housing.

House Financial Services Committee Considers Efficiency and Upward Mobility in the Voucher Program 

The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance recently held a hearing titled "The Future of Housing in America: A Better Way to Increase Efficiencies for Housing Vouchers and Create Upward Economic Mobility" to discuss changes to federal housing assistance that would improve upward mobility and good stewardship of federal funds.  Subcommittee Chairman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) said he hoped the hearing would follow in the spirt that allowed Congress to pass commonsense reforms in the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act, which became law in July.

Lenders Need to Help Borrowers with Limited English Skills, HUD Says

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is taking a harder look at how mortgage lenders treat borrowers with limited English language skills. The agency issued new guidance last week emphasizing that the Fair Housing Act also protects home buyers with limited English proficiency, or LEP.  The guidance specifically mentions mortgage brokers and lenders in relation to providing LEP borrowers with access to mortgage programs, according to Amy Glassman, a partner at the Ballard Spahr law firm in Washington D.C. It also clarifies HUD's position that discrimination against persons with limited English proficiency can be considered discrimination based on national origin.

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