September 26, 2017

VHDA Grant Programs and Initiatives

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VHDA's Annual Grantee Training Event
VHDA's Grant Programs & Initiatives support Virginia's Affordable Housing Network. The Community Outreach Division recently hosted its second annual Grantee Training in August. Over the course of two days, 95 individuals from 70 grantee agencies learned about VHDA grant programs, resources and statewide housing initiatives. The meeting featured 17 workshops, 24 speakers and an evening networking session. Thanks to all who attended and presented.

Learn About VHDA Grants >>

September 21, 2017

VHDA/USDA Loan Program Helps Rural Home Buyers Purchase Existing Manufactured Homes

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Previously, Only New Manufactured Homes Were Eligible

The Virginia Housing Development Authority recently partnered with a federal agency to pilot a new home loan program in Virginia that helps low to moderate-income individuals and families buy manufactured homes in rural areas.

By agreeing to join the Existing Manufactured Housing Unit Financing Pilot Program offered by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development, VHDA has been able to expand its existing VHDA/USDA loan program from financing only new manufactured housing – defined as one year old and newer – to financing existing manufactured housing that can be between one and approximately 10 years old. As a result, many more manufactured housing units are now available to be financed with the multiple benefits offered by VHDA and USDA.

“The beauty of this loan program is that it offers zero down payment, minimal cash out of pocket, a less expensive guarantee fee, and VHDA’s low interest rate – these benefits combined give rural home buyers a great deal,” said Allen Andrs, VHDA Mobile Mortgage Field Originator. “Because VHDA typically offers a below market interest rate and USDA offers the lowest loan guarantee fee available, I believe this is the best home loan program in the state, if not the country.”

Allen Andrs, VHDA Mobile Mortgage Field Originator and Tenesha Bullock, Virginia’s first borrower to use the VHDA/USDA loan program, stand beside VHDA’s Mobile Mortgage Office.

The pilot loan program became available in Virginia this year when Michael Urban, USDA Single Family Housing Program Director, transferred from Vermont and was able to have Virginia included with the eight other states in the pilot.

“This program’s out of pocket expenses are definitely less for home buyers,” said Urban. “Our financing is 100% of the appraised value, and then we allow closing costs to be rolled in if the property appraises high enough, so some of our candidates could truly get into their home with no money out of pocket, while other loan programs have down payment requirements. The bottom line is that this program is helping more people get into homeownership.

Michael Urban, Virginia’s Single Family Housing Program Director for USDA – Rural Development and Tenesha Bullock, Virginia’s first borrower to use the VHDA/USDA loan program, stand in front of her new manufactured home.

“We discussed this pilot program with VHDA, and it just so happened that at the time VHDA’s Mobile Mortgage Office was working with first-time home buyer Tenesha Bullock on the purchase of her manufactured home with another loan product,” he added.

Andrs noted that Bullock’s loan application fit the guidelines of the new program, because the house she was buying was a 14-month-old manufactured home that was a model on a dealer’s lot. “Under the current USDA Guarantee program, we can’t finance manufactured homes that are greater than 12 months old. As a result, many older units on dealers’ lots wouldn’t have qualified, so Tenesha wouldn’t have been eligible. Fortunately, she qualified under the pilot program, and we were able to help her buy that home. As a result, she became VHDA’s first borrower using the VHDA/USDA loan program,” he said.

Allen Andrs, VHDA Mobile Mortgage Field Originator, meets with Tenesha Bullock, Virginia’s first borrower to use the VHDA/USDA loan program, inside VHDA’s Mobile Mortgage Office.

“It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me,” said Bullock. “I would absolutely recommend this program to other home buyers, because it gives people who may have lower incomes a chance to obtain homeownership.”

Bullock added that the no down payment feature was key to her purchase of the house. “Instead of taking a couple of years to save the thousands of dollars needed for a down payment, I was able to pursue homeownership immediately through this program,” she said.

Andrs said that over the life of Bullock’s 30-year fixed rate loan, he estimates she will save over $18,000 as a result of Rural Development’s loan guarantee fee, which is the lowest on the market.
“I am very fortunate to be the first one in this program, and I’m glad that VHDA was able to switch me over to the VHDA/USDA loan before I closed on the other loan. They saved me a lot of money on my monthly payment – I couldn’t be happier,” Bullock concluded.

Tenesha Bullock, Virginia’s first borrower to use the VHDA/USDA loan program, stands on the front deck of her new manufactured home.  

In addition to new construction, the pilot program allows for financing to purchase an existing manufactured home, on a permanent foundation, that was manufactured after January 1, 2006.
Manufactured homes are defined as homes that are factory-built in the U.S. to federal construction standards. These homes are built on permanent chassis so they can be transported; however, they typically are not moved after they are installed. Most manufactured homes in Virginia are identified as vinyl-sided ranchers on masonry foundations.

To learn more about the VHDA/USDA loan program or find out about eligibility requirements, contact Allen Andrs, VHDA Mobile Mortgage Field Originator, at or (804) 837-1879.

Homebuyers can also use VHDA’s “Find a Lender” search on VHDA’s website ( to locate local lenders who can assist with VHDA loans and interest rates.

Upcoming Housing Credit Events

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Housing Credit Training

VHDA's Housing Credit department is offering several different training courses for developers, owners, architects and others involved in Virginia's LIHTC (Housing Credit) program. Topics include How to Complete a LIHTC (Housing Credit) Submission, Architect Certification and Universal Design Plans Submission Requirements, and Universal Design.

Info & Registration >>

Housing Credit Conference, Sept. 26 - 27, 2017

VHDA is the Platinum sponsor of this year's conference, to be held at the Omni Richmond Hotel. The keynote speaker will be Bobby Rozen, who has worked for many years in support of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (also known as Housing Credits), and was one of the five original members of Affordable Housing Finance Magazine's Affordable Housing Hall of Fame. Susan Dewey will also be speaking at the event. We hope to see you there!

Info & Registration >>

September 19, 2017

Loan Combo Proves Popular with New Homebuyers

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In April, VHDA began advertising our Loan Combo package, which consists of a VHDA mortgage, our Down Payment Assistance grant, a Mortgage Credit Certificate and our free first-time homebuyer's class. Ads directed users to our Loan Combo landing page, which had more than 56,000 visits, resulting in hundreds of inquiries to our lending partners, and borrowers are continuing to ask about VHDA's Loan Combo.

Learn More >>

September 18, 2017

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

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Congress Passes Stopgap Funding, Debt Ceiling Extension, and Disaster Aid 

On September 8, President Donald Trump signed a legislative package including provisions to provide more than $15 billion in disaster recovery aid, raise the debt ceiling, and enact a continuing resolution to fund federal programs after the September 30 end of this fiscal year until December 8, 2017. The president's signature came after House lawmakers cleared the bill (HR 601) by a 316-90 vote earlier in the day. The Senate approved the package the day before by a 80-17 vote. The legislative package clears Congress' September calendar of several battles that were expected to occur over appropriations, the debt limit, and the future of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Trump, who endorsed the package earlier in the week, urged members of Congress to now use September to work on tax reform.

Trump Nominates Brian Montgomery to Lead FHA 

President Trump nominated Brian Montgomery to serve as commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and HUD assistant secretary for housing. Montgomery previously served as FHA commissioner/assistant secretary for housing from 2005 to mid-2009 after working on President George W. Bush's White House staff. He is currently vice-chairman of the Collingwood Group, a housing finance consulting firm he co-founded.

Senate Confirms Pam Patenaude for Deputy HUD Secretary 

The U.S. Senate confirmed Pamela Patenaude's nomination to serve as Deputy Secretary for Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The final vote approving Patenaude's nomination was 80-17, with all Republicans and most Democrats voting in favor. Three Senators did not vote. As NCSHA has previously reported, Patenaude has held a variety of housing policy positions in both the public and private sectors. She served as HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development under President George W. Bush and as HUD's White House liaison under President Reagan. She also previously administered the Section 8 program for the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority. She is currently president of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for America's Families, an organization that seeks to elevate housing's place on the political agenda.

Report: Housing Bond Issuance Soared in 2016 

Private activity Housing Bond issuance increased nearly 60 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to the Council of Development Finance Agencies' (CDFA) latest Annual Volume Cap Report for 2017. The report, which CDFA released, presents data on how states allocate and utilize their private activity bond (PAB) cap each year. All but two states submitted data for 2016, a higher participation rate than achieved for previous reports. The report finds that state and local governments issued $18.47 billion in Housing Bonds, including single-family Mortgage Revenue Bonds (MRBs) and Multifamily Bonds, in 2016, compared to $10.91 billion in 2015. Housing Bonds accounted for 91 percent of total PAB issuance in 2016. This is the third consecutive year that Housing Bonds have made up at least 80% of all PABs issued. Total PAB issuance was $20.38 billion in 2016, a substantial increase from $12.98 billion in 2015.

Is Housing Affordable If It Means Spending More on Commuting?

Many Virginians struggle to find a home in their budget that's also close to their job. The Housing and Commuting Affordability Index on SOURCEBOOK identifies the percentage of income needed to afford the average home in their community, plus the average cost of commuting to and from work. A household is considered housing and transportation cost burdened if it spends over 34% of household income on rental or mortgage and commuting costs combined. The Index is available statewide, for metro regions, and all localities - and shows the difference between income levels. In Virginia, the average low-income household making 60% of AMI spends nearly half (47%) of their income just for their home and for getting to work. These stats again demonstrate the need for greater harmony between economic development and housing strategies.

HUD Publishes 2018 Difficult Development Areas and Qualified Census Tracts 

On September 11, HUD published a Notice in the Federal Register designating Difficult Development Areas (DDA) and Qualified Census Tracts (QCT) for 2018 for purposes of the basis boost allowed under Low Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) program. DDAs are areas with high construction, land, and utility costs relative to area median income, and QCTs are areas in which at least 50 percent of the households have an income which is less than 60 percent of area median income or which have a poverty rate of at least 25 percent. As it has for the last two years, HUD DDA designations are set at the zip code level, rather than designations covering full metropolitan statistical areas, as was HUD's previous practice.

September 14, 2017

Recent Ribbon Cuttings

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Summer Haven, Virginia Beach 

Summer Haven is a new affordable apartment community for working families in Virginia Beach, financed by VHDA.

Watch the Video on YouTube >>

On hand to cut the ribbon were VHDA Executive Director Susan Dewey, Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms, Steve Lawson of The Lawson Companies and Sarah B. Stedfast of NewTowne Mortgage (also VHDA's Board of Commissioners).

Highland Park Senior Apartments, Richmond 

Highland Park was originally a school, built in 1909. It's now 77 apartments for low-income seniors, and part of the Six Points neighborhood revitalization. VHDA awarded Housing Credits to help ensure its affordability. Learn More >>

CPDC, Grimm + Parker Architects, KBS, Inc., Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Capital One, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), City of Richmond Economic & Community Development, VCU School of Nursing and VHDA partnered to renovate this historic property.

September 11, 2017

Board of Commissioners Update

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VHDA is pleased to welcome Sarah Stedfast of Virginia Beach as our new chair and Clarissa McAdoo Cannion of Suffolk as vice chair. Tim Chapman has completed his two-year term as chair, and we thank him for his service as he continues to serve on the executive committee.

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

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Black Knight: Hurricane Harvey Could Cause up to 300,000 Mortgage Delinquencies

Hurricane Harvey swept through South Texas and Louisiana, bringing an unprecedented amount of rain and flooding with it. Now, Black Knight Financial Services predicts the mortgage industry could see up to 300,000 new delinquencies as a result of the storm, with 160,000 borrowers becoming seriously past due. Before the storm hit, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced they were suspending foreclosures and evictions in wake of the hurricane. “Thankfully, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration have all announced temporary moratoria on evictions and foreclosure sales in Harvey-related disaster areas,” said Ben Graboske, Black Knight Data and Analytics executive vice president. “With these three organizations accounting for nearly 900,000 of mortgaged properties, the moratoria should help temper the negative effects.”

For Homeowners Affected by Hurricanes Harvey or Irma 

Federally regulated Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have come together to get the word out about mortgage relief options for those affected by natural disasters, including Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. If you are affected by the recent hurricanes, you are eligible to temporarily stop making your monthly mortgage payment for up to 12 months. At the end of this temporary payment break:
  • You won’t have late fees.
  • You won’t have delinquencies reported to the credit rating agencies.
  • You won’t have to catch up on all of your payments at once.
  • You can work with your servicer to resume making a mortgage payment that is similar to what you paid before the disaster. Or if you need additional assistance, you can work with your servicer on options to keep your home.

  1. Contact your mortgage servicer (the company where you send your monthly payments) as soon as possible to let them know about your current circumstances. The telephone number and mailing address of your mortgage servicer should be listed on your monthly mortgage statement. You also can look it up on the Mortgage Bankers Association website at
  2. If you are having difficulty contacting your mortgage servicer, contact the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline at 1-888-995-HOPE (4673) for assistance and FREE confidential support from a HUD-approved housing counselor.

National Flood Insurance Program Granted 3-month Extension

Previously set to expire Sept. 30

President Donald Trump signed a three-month extension to the National Flood Insurance Program on Friday, giving Congress more time to come up with a long-term financial solution for the program. Trump signed the extension, which was included in H.R. 601, after the House passed the extension in a legislative package that also provides funding for hurricane relief and other priorities. With this new extension, the program will now expire on Dec. 8, 2017.

Trump’s Immigration Crackdown Is Making New Homes More Expensive

Since taking office, Trump has rousted illegal immigrants, overseeing a 145 percent jump in the arrest of noncriminal undocumented workers, and backed plans to squeeze legal ones by letting only English speakers in. He threatened Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto with a 35 percent tax on the country’s exports to the U.S., raised duties on imported Canadian lumber and continues to rattle China, South Korea and other parts of Asia with tough trade talk. All carry costs for the new U.S. home, a global melting pot of labor and parts. Trump’s policies could add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of a house.

Freddie Mac: Unaffordability Everywhere

Freddie Mac announced a new enhanced relief refinancing offering intended to aid borrowers who are making their mortgage payments on time, but are unable to participate in the GSE’s “no cast-out” refinance program due to having a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio above maximum requirements. The new program will be effective for mortgages with applications on or after November 1, 2018.

How Could Tax Reform Hurt the Housing Market?

Tax reform is one of the major ticket items on the current administration’s agenda, a measure that Congress hopes to tackle now that they are back from summer recess. When President Donald Trump first announced his modified tax plan—the first comprehensive change in 30 years—one of the main amendments was the elimination of itemized tax deductions, which would be replaced by doubling the standard deduction.  However, two subgroups in the housing industry that could stand to lose on this change rather than benefit: real estate agents, and residential builders.

September 6, 2017

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

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HUD Extends Disaster Relief to Hurricane Harvey Victims

Estimates 200,000 FHA-insured homeowners live in disaster area
The Houston area continues to see heavy rainfall due to Hurricane Harvey and the heaving flooding plaguing the city is only expected to worsen as rain continues to fall. Some areas could eventually see up to 50 inches of rainfall, and five people have died due to the Category 4 hurricane with another 12 reported injured. Now, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it is offering mortgage and foreclosure relief as well as other assistance to some families, including to the 200,000 FHA-insured homeowners, living in the impacted areas.

Harvey Flooding Focuses Attention on Troubled Flood Insurance Program

Hurricane Harvey's ghastly flooding in the Houston area is sure to focus political attention on the National Flood Insurance Program, a controversial government benefit that makes home ownership affordable to many in south Louisiana. It's $24 billion in debt, and unless Congress acts in the next 34 days, it will expire. Whether Congress reforms the troubled program -- forcing more expensive premiums, for example, or discouraging rebuilding in high-risk areas -- or merely extends it despite its structural problems, is the big question.

New Research Dispels Common NIMBY Myth

One of the most common arguments put forth by opponents of affordable housing is that it will reduce property values and increase crime. The Center for Urban and Regional Analysis at VCU just released a study that answers this concern. The verdict? Homes built for modest-income households have no impact on surrounding property values or crime rate. Researchers looked at six affordable communities, both apartments and for sale townhomes, in the City of Richmond and three surrounding counties. Property values, sales prices, and crime rates were studied for at least the previous three years and up to ten years after construction. VCU concluded that there is "no evidence" that these affordable communities had "any significant impact on property values, sales prices, or crime rates in the immediately surrounding neighborhoods."

Changes to Popular Deduction Wouldn't Have Big Effect on Housing Market

There may be rumblings about lowering the cap on mortgage interest rate deductions, but it would have a "rather small effect" on the housing market, Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller told CNBC. He thinks what's driving the real estate market is our sense of where we're going and the uncertainty with the new administration in Washington. He believes lowering the cap would have more of a psychological effect on home prices than a calculated one.

Diversity: Influencing the Mortgage Industry

Making homebuyers’ dreams a reality is the goal of every great lender, and in the past few years, how that goal is achieved has changed—influenced by laws, technology and an emerging homebuyer demographic. This is where many articles go down the path of discussing “millennials”, but in the spirit of DS News' upcoming September Diversity issue, will highlight another trend: female homebuyers. According to the 2017 National Association of Realtors Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report, single women are buying more houses than single men today. While the majority of total homebuyers are married couples (66 percent), 17 percent were single females (compared to single men, who comprise seven percent of the total).

Fannie Mae: Mortgage Lenders Shift Focus to Enhancing Consumer Experience

The company's Economic & Strategic Research Team surveyed lenders about their 2017 business priorities and risk concerns, based on results from its second quarter Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey, in which lenders reported subdued mortgage demand growth, a pessimistic profit margin outlook and strong concerns about increased competition.The survey found mortgage lenders are refocusing their efforts to address challenges of the post-crisis era--in particular, providing a better experience for consumers.

August 28, 2017

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

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Urban Institute: Here’s How Rising Interest Rates will Impact the Mortgage Market  

Interest rates have fallen not just since 2007, but consistently over the past 35 years, according to a new report from Laurie Goodman, Urban Institute co-director of the Housing Finance Policy Center. The 10-year Treasury note peaked at more than 15% in 1981, but fell to just 1.83% in November 2016. Primary mortgage rates followed this pattern, falling from more than 18% in 1981 to 3.54% in November. Now, mortgage rates are increasing once more as the Treasury yield and the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage are up 44 basis points and 49 basis points consecutively as of July this year. Data from Freddie Mac and the Federal Reserve, demonstrates the falling interest rates from the early 1980s until 2016.

Everything You Need to Know About Fannie, Freddie Appraisal-Free Purchase Mortgages

Freddie Mac announced it would be extending its appraisal-free mortgage program to purchase loans starting September 1, 2017. That same day, Fannie Mae also announced their appraisal-free purchase mortgage, offering its product effective immediately. But what does that mean exactly? Who qualifies? Are the GSEs moving to take appraisers out of the home buying process? For starters, why move to the purchase market to begin with? And how many Fannie and Freddie financed loans will qualify? Both GSEs already had a program in place for appraisal free refinances. Freddie Mac began their program earlier this summer, while Fannie Mae began offering appraisal-free mortgages on some of its refinances through its Day 1 Certainty program back in 2016. The answer from both companies was the same: After rising interest rates shifted the market from a refi market and more to purchase, the GSEs extended their programs to meet the needs of the shifting market.

The Game Changer for End-to-End Digital Mortgages: eClosings 

Nearly everything about the industry’s prized digital mortgage is streamlined except for the final, and one of the most important, steps at the end. The entire online process comes to an abrupt halt when it's time to close a loan, forcing borrowers to still meet up and cross the T’s and dot the I’s on an official document with a notary present. And while this process is evolving digitally, as noted here, it wasn’t until recently that the process truly became end-to-end thanks to a new company: Notarize. Notarize took the current eClosing process and brought it to the next level by allowing buyers to never have to leave their home or wet sign a single document.

August 25, 2017

How 61 Mixed-income Lofts Help Lynchburg’s Downtown Renaissance

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Lynchburg had a good problem. With a growing population, the independent city needed more housing. The challenge was how to balance the affordable housing needs of moderate-income residents with the demand generated by a growing, highly skilled workforce with an appetite for downtown, waterside living on the banks of the James.
Photos courtesy of Altus Group

The Lynchburg Office of Economic Development took stock of its abandoned downtown factories and hit upon the solution: converted loft living. With support from VHDA, the process began to transform an old tobacco warehouse into a residential space that would combine history with modern design. The result of that effort is the Imperial Tobacco Lofts, a mixed-income, 61-unit community in the heart of downtown.

According to Wally Robinson, Strategic Lending Officer at VHDA, the adaptive reuse of the 19th century (1898) space required extensive renovations. It was important to preserve the building’s original character, so the design incorporates raw industrial materials and historical structures, complimented by polished contemporary finishes and appliances, and every floor plan in the building is unique.

The Lofts are home to residents with a range of incomes: 30 percent of units are reserved for those making 80 percent or less of the area median income (AMI), 20 percent are for those who make 120 percent or less of AMI, and the remaining units are available to residents with unrestricted income levels.

VHDA provided permanent financing with a Mixed-use / Mixed-income (MUMI) loan through our REACH program. (REACH, also called REACH Virginia, is VHDA’s internally generated resource that provides vital funding for affordable housing. Each year VHDA contributes a substantial portion of net revenues into this program.) The project also received historic tax credits.

The developers of the project, Blair Godsey of Altus Construction and George Stanley of Cityscape LLC, have been involved in other projects in downtown Lynchburg that combine historic charm with modern design. The developers also manage the Lofts and act as leasing agents.

The Imperial Tobacco Lofts are now fully occupied. The addition of this stylish, affordable mixed-income community has helped bring life back to Lynchburg's downtown and riverside area. Residents enjoy the area’s finest shopping, dining, entertainment and recreation, as well as lively festivals, a farmers market, walking trails and of course, the river.

As more people choose to live downtown, the energy continues to grow in Lynchburg’s urban core. According to Frances Stanley, Research and Policy Analyst at VHDA, the population has grown an estimated 14 percent within a half-mile radius of the Imperial Tobacco Lofts over the past seven years. VHDA is pleased to be a part of the revitalization that is happening in downtown Lynchburg.

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August 22, 2017

5th VCU “Plan-Off” Supports Sustainable, Healthy Communities

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Beams of sunlight peered through the second-story glass windows of the two-story brick building as a young woman dressed in black business attire calmly approached the podium. In front of her sat an audience of classmates, professors and community leaders eager to listen to her presentation. Across the hall, PowerPoints were lighting up screens as more students prepared their pitches, hoping to advance to the next round.

May 21, 2017 marked the fifth consecutive year that VHDA sponsored Virginia Commonwealth University’s annual Plan-Off event. Twelve graduate students from the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program faced off with one another in a tournament-style competition, each presenting their takes on solutions for real-world issues. After the presentations, a panel of judges chose the winner to advance to the next round.
2017 Plan-Off winners
Photos courtesy of the L. Douglas Wilder School  

“The Plan-Off is one of the signature events of the Wilder School's MURP program,” explained Dr. Meghan Gough, Program Chair of the Urban Planning major. “This exciting format provides an opportunity for students to translate their year-long effort in designing a plan into an ‘elevator speech’ which they present to a panel of leading planning professionals.”

The event doubles as the final project for these students as they prepare to wrap up their graduate education. Participants had the option of either writing a thesis paper or creating a presentation and pitching it at the Plan-Off. Gough believes that this innovative approach to a final gives graduates a hands-on experience in urban planning. “Our students work closely with their clients and stakeholders, and as a result many recommendations in the plans are implemented by organizations and communities,” said Gogh. “As a result of this intensive professional experience, Wilder School MURP students develop strong work portfolios that make them especially competitive in job placement.”

VHDA Managing Director of Community Outreach Mike Hawkins echoed these sentiments, saying “VHDA is happy to sponsor an event that strengthens the knowledge, skills and abilities of new planners to engage the community and promote positive planning outcomes. It’s great that we can expose them to the state housing finance agency, and communicate the importance of affordable housing in the context of good land use policy.”

Events such as VCU’s Plan-Off are important in today’s world. In the past, urban issues such as transportation, housing, beautification and economic development were often approached as separate problems. Planners have come to realize that all of these issues are interconnected, and that it takes a joint effort between specialists and leaders in many different fields to build quality and equitable communities for all of its citizens. VHDA’s investment in programs such as the Plan-Off exemplify our commitment to creating sustainable and healthy communities while promoting affordable housing opportunities.

A MURP student discussing his project

A MURP student pitching to the panel
Contestants display their projects on large posters which are
available for the public to read on their own. 

Mike Hawkins, VHDA Managing Director of Community Outreach
 and John Accordino, Dean of the L Douglas Wilder School

A graduate student explains her ideas on revitalization to Mike Hawkins and
Meghan Gough, Chair of the Urban and Regional Planning program at VCU

August 16, 2017

Advisory Councils Discuss Housing Opportunities

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The Northern Virginia Advisory Council met in
Alexandria's City Hall.
Affordable housing in Virginia looks different in every region and for every community. To ensure a
holistic perspective, VHDA relies on our Advisory Boards and Councils to provide guidance on our programs and services. Members offer insight into industry challenges so that VHDA can continue to make a positive impact on the diverse affordable housing needs across the state.  

This summer we convened two Advisory Council meetings. VHDA’s Northern Virginia Advisory Council met on June 19, 2017 to discuss housing issues related to the Northern Virginia area. The cross-section of government, nonprofit, developer, lender and Realtor partners made for rich conversation. Later in the meeting, we divided into groups to discuss Rental and Homeownership topics and dive deeper into the nuances of the Northern Virginia market. Alexandria City Hall was the backdrop of this productive dialogue, highlighting the vibrancy of King Street. VHDA would like to thank the City of Alexandria for hosting the event!

On July 12, VHDA hosted the first summer meeting of our Supportive Housing Solutions Council at the Virginia Housing Center in Glen Allen. This council provides guidance and expertise in housing policy areas related to senior adults, homelessness and individuals living with disabilities. One of the main topics of discussion was aging in place.

We look forward to seeing both groups again at our Annual Holiday Luncheon this winter.

August 15, 2017

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

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HUD Report Finds Worst Case Housing Needs Continuing to Grow  

HUD recently released its biannual Worst Case Housing Needs Report to Congress. The report finds that, despite continued signs of a strengthening national economy, 8.30 million households had worst case needs in 2015, up from 7.72 million in 2013 and approaching the record high of 8.48 million in 2011.

Why We Still Struggle to Disassociate Race and Risk in Housing 

A recent study by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity examines the implicit bias against minorities found in housing and credit outcomes today. Although we like to assume that lending decisions are conducted in an objective manner, this is a misconception.

Home Equity Used to Start Seven Percent of U.S. Businesses 

Equity in a home was used as a source of capital to start 284,618 businesses—7.3% of all businesses in the U.S.—according to a new source of data released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau. The new data source is the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, (ASE), which collects economic and demographic information on businesses and business ownership in all major U.S. industries. Here’s Why Baby Boomers Keep Millennials from Buying Homes

Housing inventory shortages continue to plague the real estate market, and the generation that’s most to blame is Baby Boomers. In fact, the new Housing Shortage Study from shows there are two major reasons for the housing shortage: Boomers’ reluctance to sell and the fact that homes already fit current family needs.

Facebook Ventures into Zillow’s Territory with Targeted Real Estate Advertising

Facebook has launched its first ad product designed specifically for residential real estate brokerages. “Dynamic Ads for Real Estate,” first reported by real estate news site Inman News, allow real estate brokers and agents to advertise directly to Facebook and Instagram users who have already searched for properties on that brokerage’s website. The product goes after a key money maker for Seattle-based Zillow, which allows real estate professionals to advertise to prospective home buyers and sellers on its site.

August 10, 2017

Housing Credit Program Offers Upcoming Training

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VHDA's Housing Credit Department invites you to register for the following classes.

EarthCraft Building Professional Training

This seven-hour builder training provides a comprehensive overview of best practices for sustainable construction and design and explores how the EarthCraft program can help you get started in the green building sector. Whether you’re a single-family homebuilder, developer, architect, HVAC/insulation contractor, property owner/manager, or Housing Development Authority, you’ll learn cost-effective ways to improve the energy efficiency, indoor air quality, comfort and durability of homes, enhancing overall client appeal. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the EarthCraft program and benefits of EarthCraft certification, as well as how to effectively market the advantages of EarthCraft certification to your prospective buyers. This class is worth six self-reported continuing education credits with the AIA.

Aug. 24, 2017  |  9 a.m. - 4 p.m.  |  Cost: $175 (Includes Lunch & Training Materials)
VHDA's Virginia Housing Center, 4224 Cox Rd., Glen Allen, VA 23060 

How to Complete an LIHTC Application 

VHDA wants your deal to get all the points it deserves! This class, presented by VHDA's LIHTC Allocation department, provides vital information for new and experienced developers, as well as any staff members involved in Virginia’s LIHTC program. We’ll provide page-by-page instruction on the mandatory items and reservation, allocation and 8609 application, which are required for applying to VHDA for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (also known as Housing Credits). You’ll learn tips and tricks to avoid penalty points for common errors such as insufficient documentation, minor mistakes or misunderstood questions. You’ll also have an opportunity to ask questions and receive answers straight from the staff that will be reviewing your application. This class will provide the information you need to ensure you get the points your development deserves. There will be a new application format for 2018, don’t miss these updates!

Oct. 12, 2017  |  1 - 4 p.m.  |  Cost: Free 
VHDA’s Virginia Housing Center, 4224 Cox Rd., Glen Allen, VA 230600

Universal Design Seminar 

Certificate holders who completed VHDA's Universal Design Seminar prior to Jan. 1, 2013, must re-attend in order to be eligible for Universal Design points in the 2018 Tax Credit Application. The seminar will be offered on two different dates for your convenience; please choose the date / location that works best for you.

Charlottesville Class (space is limited):
Nov. 7, 2017  |  12:30 - 3:30 p.m.  |  Cost: $60  (Includes Lunch & Training Materials)
The Omni Charlottesville, 212 Ridge McIntire Rd., Charlottesville, VA 22903 

Richmond Area Class:
Jan. 25, 2018  |  8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.  |  Cost: $60 (Includes Lunch & Training Materials)
VHDA’s Virginia Housing Center, 4224 Cox Rd., Glen Allen, VA 23060 

Architect Certification and Universal Design Plans Submission Requirements 

This new class, presented by VHDA's LIHTC Allocation department, will cover every item required on the Architect Certification and the required elements needed in the Universal Design plans. We’ll provide a question-by-question explanation of the architect certification as well as the format you must use to present your plans, including examples. This class should be attended by owners and architects who plan to submit an LIHTC reservation application, because the better you understand the requirements, the less likely you are to receive penalty points for incorrect information or errors in your submission. This class will be offered on two different dates for your convenience; please choose the date / location that works best for you.

Charlottesville Class (space is limited):
Nov. 7, 2017  |  3:30 – 5 p.m.  |  Cost: Free
The Omni Charlottesville, 212 Ridge McIntire Rd., Charlottesville, VA 22903

Richmond Area Class:
Jan. 25, 2018  |  1 - 3 p.m.  |  Cost: Free
VHDA’s Virginia Housing Center, 4224 Cox Rd., Glen Allen, VA 23060

August 1, 2017

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

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The Housing Collapse Hit Minorities Hardest — and the Impact is Still Being Felt Across America

The housing market collapse that started in 2006 and led to the deepest recession and worst financial crisis in generations had a disproportionate impact on minority communities that still hampers the ability of low-income households to fully participate in the economy. That’s according to a new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis that highlights the lasting impact of the nation’s historic housing downturn on the country’s most vulnerable. Two key factors amplified the effects of the housing slump on minority households — home prices often tumbled even more than average in urban, low-income areas, and minorities often held a larger share of their wealth in housing than whites.

These Four Trends in Rental Housing Have Big Implications for the Growing Affordable Housing Crisis

The rental housing landscape in America is rapidly changing: new people are becoming renters and many properties are aging. Meanwhile, the pace at which new rental housing supply is being created can’t meet growing demand. This supply shortage is particularly acute for affordable housing, leading to an ongoing crisis. Tens of millions of Americans live in housing they cannot afford. A recent report on the huge housing cost burden felt by renters and homeowners indicated: almost 20 million households are extremely cost burdened, meaning they spend at least half of their income on their rent or mortgage.
1. Renters don’t look like they used to.
2. Supply isn’t keeping pace with demand.
3. Beyond building new supply, we need to fix what we already have.
4. Single-family rentals are gaining popularity.

House Committee Unanimously Approves Bill to Classify Municipal Bonds as High-Quality Liquid Assets 

The House Financial Services Committee on July 25 unanimously voted to report the Municipal Finance Support Act of 2017, H.R. 1624, to the full House of Representatives for consideration. The legislation, introduced by Representative Luke Messer (R-IN), would allow large banks to count some of their municipal bond investments, including tax-exempt housing bonds, as high-quality liquid assets (HQLAs) under federal bank liquidity standards. NCSHA and several other state and local organizations supported the bill. H.R. 1624 would modify a regulation the Federal Reserve, the Department of Treasury, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) released in October 2014 to ensure that large banks hold enough liquidity to continue making payments during periods of financial stress. Under the rule, banks with at least $250 billion in assets (or $10 billion in foreign exposure on their balance sheet) must maintain a minimum liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) comprised of certain financial investments that are considered HQLAs. The rule took effect at the beginning of 2017.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Approves FY 2018 HUD Funding Bill 

On July 25, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) approved by voice vote its Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 funding bill. Though the bill is not yet publicly available, the Subcommittee's press release says the bill fully funds Section 8 rental assistance and funds the HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME) at $950 million, the same as its enacted FY 2017 funding level. The Senate Subcommittee-approved THUD bill includes $40.2 billion in discretionary funding for HUD programs, an increase of $1.4 billion above the FY 2017 enacted level. During the markup, Subcommittee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) explained that much of this increase was needed to renew existing rental assistance contracts, which now consume more than 84 percent of the HUD budget.

Strong HOME and Section 8 Outcomes in Senate Appropriations Committee-Approved FY 2018 THUD Funding Bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee recently unanimously approved its Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) funding bill, providing $950 million for the HOME Investment Partnerships program, the same as its enacted FY 2017 funding level—a strong outcome NCSHA and other program stakeholders helped achieve in a difficult fiscal environment.  The Committee adopted the THUD Subcommittee-approved bill with only minor amendments that did not change HUD program funding levels. The Senate Appropriations Committee-approved THUD bill and accompanying report language are still not publicly available; however, the Committee’s press release confirms the HOME outcome, says the bill fully funds Section 8 rental assistance, and reports other program funding levels.

July 27, 2017

Hit the Road to Success With a Free Convention Package!

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Networking and learning about industry issues at the annual VMLA convention is a great way to ride the road to success — and winning a free convention package could be another milestone for new attendees. That’s why VMLA partner sponsor VHDA is giving away complimentary VMLA convention registration, plus hotel room for the night of Sept. 21, to four first-time attendees. One winner each will be selected by random drawing from the Central, Western, Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia regions.

To enter for your chance to win, go to, fill in the entry form and submit it by 5 p.m. ET on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. If you’re a winner, you’ll be notified by 5 p.m. ET on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. No purchase is necessary to enter or win.

July 26, 2017

VAGHC Scholarship Applications Now Being Accepted

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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 is 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.

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. Applications should be completed, signed, scanned and emailed

Apply by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. 

Nonprofit Organization Application

Student Application

July 11, 2017

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

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Senate Committee Hearing Examines Housing Finance Reform Goals

The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing June 29 titled "Principles of Housing Finance Reform" to examine goals for housing finance reform legislation and priorities for any new or revised housing finance system. The hearing included testimony from leading industry experts representing the Mortgage Bankers Association, the Financial Services Roundtable, and the Center for Responsible Lending. In his opening statement, Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) said that housing finance reform is one of his key priorities for this session of Congress and laid out a series of principles for reform legislation that he suggested enjoyed bipartisan support. These include: preserving the to-be-announced (TBA) mortgage securitization market so borrowers can continue to access 30-year fixed-rate mortgages; providing all loan originators, regardless of size, access to the system on a level playing field; establishing strong capital standards for mortgage guarantors participating in the system; and placing a layer of private risk ahead of a government guarantee to minimize the risk of a taxpayer bailout.

House THUD Appropriations Subcommittee Markup Tuesday, July 11

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) will mark up its Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 funding bill on Tuesday, July 11. Federal spending limits and some congressional leaders are putting considerable pressure on appropriators to cut non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs, which include HUD programs, this year.  The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 that provided temporary relief from statutory spending caps in FYs 2016 and 2017 does not apply in 2018.  Without another bipartisan agreement, current law limits NDD funding to $516 billion in FY 2018, 3 percent less than FY 2017 enacted levels.  Also, the House Budget Committee is developing an FY 2018 Budget Resolution that reportedly would cut NDD funding $5 billion below this spending cap to $511 billion.

19 HFAs Awarded HUD Housing Counseling Grants for FY 2017

HUD recently announced the recipients of just over $47 million in Housing Counseling program grants for fiscal year (FY) 2017. The funding will go to 255 different housing counseling agencies, including 19 state HFAs, who combined will receive just over $7.8 million in grants. HUD also released a list of counseling agencies that were awarded funding and a comprehensive summary of each grant award. These grants will support programs that provide low- and moderate-income consumers with a variety of counseling services, including educating first-time home buyers about their options, helping families secure affordable rental housing, and offering financial literacy training to those who have experienced credit troubles. Many HFAs also offer foreclosure prevention counseling to help struggling borrowers remain in their homes. HFAs often act as HUD counseling intermediaries for their states, partnering with locally based organizations to assist low and moderate-income borrows in communities throughout their states.

Alexandria: Catholic Charities USA - $1,117,080
Richmond : Virginia Housing Development Authority - $1,225,258
Virginia Total: $2,342,338

Freddie Mac Breaks Down Homeownership Gap in Hispanic Population

The homeownership rate among Hispanics in the U.S. is significantly lower than non-Hispanic whites, and a new report from Freddie Mac explains why. The homeownership rate among Hispanics currently stands at about 45%, more than 20 percentage points lower than the rate among non-Hispanic whites. The gap can be traced to differences in age, income, education and other factors, the report showed. Most of the White/Hispanic gap can be traced to population differences in the characteristics that influence homeownership in the U.S. – age, English proficiency, income, education, etc. If these differences are reduced in the future, some of the homeownership gap can be eliminated.

How a Home Purchase Boosts Consumer Spending

Using the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES) data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), NAHB Economics research shows that a home purchase triggers additional spending on appliances, furnishings, and remodeling. NAHB’s most recent estimates are based on the 2012-2014 data and show that during the first two years after closing on the house, a typical buyer of a newly-built single-family detached home spends on average $4,500 more than a similar non-moving home owner. Likewise, a buyer of an existing single-family detached home tends to spend over $4,000 more than a similar non-moving home owner, including close to $3,700 during the first year.

June 13, 2017

Crescent Square Apartments Help Address Homelessness in Virginia Beach

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Building marks the fifth permanent supportive housing development supported by VSH and VHDA in Hampton Roads

When Crescent Square Apartments opened in Virginia Beach in 2016, it provided 80 units for 42 individuals experiencing homelessness and 38 whose incomes are 50 percent or less than the median income.  This development marks the fifth time that Virginia Supportive Housing and the Virginia Housing Development Authority have partnered on permanent supportive housing developments in the Hampton Roads region, bringing a total of 320 of these types of units to the region.

“Crescent Square represents a tremendous collaboration with public and private partners who are vested in meeting the region’s demand for supportive and affordable housing,” said Allison Bogdanovic, executive director of VSH. “Local officials recognize that supportive housing is a proven and cost-effective model that works, as evidenced by the fact that 95 percent of our clients do not return to homelessness.”

VSH takes the “Housing First” approach to addressing homelessness by housing individuals first, then helping to address their needs with on-site case management services. Case managers assist in securing income, health insurance, healthcare services and other supports to help clients stabilize and re-establish their independence.

The units in the four-story, mixed-income development are approximately 360 square feet and contain a kitchen with full refrigerator and oven, full bathroom, and a closet. Furnishings are provided in each apartment, including a bed, dresser, table, and two chairs. In addition to apartments, the building has a community room with a kitchen and outdoor patio, fitness room, computer room, laundry facilities, a front desk, and staff offices. There is also an extensive security system and off-street parking.

Crescent Square received EarthCraft Virginia Platinum certification for resource and energy efficiency; in addition, all 80 units meet VHDA’s Universal Design requirements and 10 percent of the units are fully accessible. Also, the development incorporates a solar system designed to reduce the building's energy load and a solar thermal water heater system.

In addition to VHDA’s $2 million in SPARC financing, the project included approximately $5.5 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity as well as funding by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, the City of Norfolk, City of Virginia Beach, and several foundations. Also, the Virginia Beach Department of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation and the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority provided project-based rental assistance. Total development costs were approximately $12.4 million.

Other projects developed in Hampton Roads by VSH with VHDA financing include Gosnold Apartments in Norfolk, Cloverleaf Apartments in Virginia Beach, South Bay Apartments in Portsmouth and Heron’s Landing in Chesapeake. These four additional developments were the result of a regional partnership among Hampton Roads cities.

 Finally, a sixth property will soon be joining the mix. Church Street Station in Norfolk is currently under construction and will be completed by early 2018. Like Crescent Square, it is being developed by VSH with VHDA financing, and will be providing 80 additional units of permanent supportive housing to Hampton Roads.

In addition to the six properties in Hampton Roads, VSH and VHDA have also partnered on four other properties across the state, bringing the total to 10 permanent supportive housing developments to help fight homelessness in Virginia.  

June 7, 2017

Former Prison Reformed into Mixed-Use Residential and Commercial Community

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The historic Lorton prison in Fairfax County has thrown its doors open for some new residents. A $55 million project, financed in part by VHDA, is rehabilitating the century-old former reformatory, transforming it into a vibrant urban village with apartments, shops, restaurants, offices and more.

“Cooperation of several sources was necessary to raise the capital to convert the former Lorton prison into affordable housing,” said Brad Beaman, senior development officer at VHDA. Those sources include Housing Credits (also known as Low-Income Housing Tax Credits), historic tax credits, VHDA tax-exempt bond financing and a long-term land lease with Fairfax County.

The community includes 165 units now called Liberty Crest Apartments, plus more than 35,000
square feet of commercial space. According to Beaman, the multifamily rental units are restricted with the following income limits: 26 percent at 50 percent of the area median income; 24 percent at 120 percent of AMI; and 50 percent with unrestricted income. The commercial space will consist of the former chapel, pool and power plant on the property.

This is not the first development on the property. Parts of the 2,323-acre prison, which once housed a missile defense system, currently include a subdivision, a senior living campus, an arts center and a golf course. Phase 2 of the project will add 107 townhomes and single-family homes.

Beaman said this was the first project VHDA has done with the developer, The Alexander Company, Inc. and Southway Builders, the general contractor. VHDA provided $24.4 million in permanent financing including funds from REACH Virginia, VHDA’s pool of internally generated resources for meeting state housing needs. Other capital came from Housing Credits, state and federal historic tax credits and borrower equity.

All but six of the 55 historic sites will be retained and reused in this community development initiative. There’s more to come! VHDA is also providing a loan and Housing Credits for the Lindsay Hill Senior Apartments development immediately adjacent to Liberty Crest on the Lorton site.

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June 6, 2017

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

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President Donald J. Trump Proclaims June 2017 as National Homeownership Month

During National Homeownership Month, we recognize the many benefits of homeownership to our families, our communities, and our Nation.  For generations of Americans, owning a home has been an essential element in achieving the American Dream.  Homeownership is often the foundation of security and prosperity for families and communities and an enduring symbol of American freedom.

This month, we recommit to ensuring that hard-working Americans enjoy a fair chance at becoming homeowners. In the years since the Great Recession, homeownership rates have dipped to historic lows.  Many Americans are not confident they will ever own a home, a tragic consequence of a decade of weak economic growth, excessive regulations, and stagnant wages.  Many young families are unable to achieve the independence they desire because they have difficulty saving for a down payment, overcoming regulatory burdens, or gaining access to adequate credit.  These challenges are even more pronounced for minorities, whose homeownership rates remain substantially below those of their fellow Americans.

I am committed to helping hard-working Americans become homeowners.  As part of my Administration's plan to strengthen the middle class and the American housing market, I am working with the Congress on a pro-growth agenda of reducing rules and regulations, cutting taxes, and eliminating unnecessary government spending.  These policies will unshackle our economy and create and sustain high-paying jobs so that more Americans have the resources and freedom they deserve to fulfill their American Dream.

HUD Publishes FY 2017 HOME and HTF Program Income Limits

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released the FY 2017 Rent Limits and Income Limits for HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) and Housing Trust Fund (HTF).
All updated limits are effective as of June 15, 2017. They are available on the HUD Exchange at the link below:

  • 2017 HOME Income Limits
  • 2017 HOME Rent Limits
  • 2017 HTF Income Limits
  • 2017 HTF Rent Limits

CFPB Announces Upcoming Assessment of Ability-to-Repay Rule 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing that CFPB will be conducting an assessment of its Ability-to-Repay rule (ATR rule). The Notice seeks public input on CFPB's plans for the assessment and recommendations for improving it. The ATR rule, which took effect in January 2014, outlines the steps mortgage originators are required to take to obtain and verify information to determine whether a consumer can afford to repay a mortgage. It also establishes a set of criteria that a mortgage loan must meet to be considered a "qualified mortgage" (QM). If a mortgage loan meets the QM criteria, the originator is presumed to have complied with the requirements of the ATR rule. NCSHA previously summarized the ATR-QM rule in more detail on its blog after CFPB first published the final rule. HFA program loans are currently exempt from the requirements of the ATR rule, an exemption NCSHA advocated for. This exemption applies to both loans originated directly by HFAs and loans originated by HFAs' lender partners pursuant to HFA programs.

First-time Buyers Account for 60 Percent of Purchases

The share of first-time homebuyers continues to rise, now accounting for almost half of all GSE purchase loans and more than 80 percent of FHA loans, according to the May 2017 Chartbook, released by the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center. According to the Chartbook, 47.1 percent of all GSE purchases loans were first-time homebuyers in February 2017, while a whopping 82 percent of FHA loans came from first-timers. When combined, about 60 percent of all purchase loans for the month of February were from first-time buyers—just below the 2009 peak of 63 percent. For the first time in 10 years, the creation of new-owner households outpaced new-renter households. The Chartbook attributed the rise to an “improving economy, falling unemployment, and rising household formation and income.” An increase in new home construction-particularly that of smaller, less expensive homes has also helped spur first-time buyer growth.

Carson Touts Importance of Homeownership at HUD Forum 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) held a housing forum, "A New Era of Homeownership," to mark the beginning of National Homeownership Month, as declared by President Trump. The social and financial benefits of homeownership for Americans and the economy was a common thread throughout the entire forum. In his opening remarks, HUD Secretary Ben Carson emphasized the significance of homeownership, stating, "The importance of homeownership is apparent to all of us: security, certainty, safety, wealth creation, a path forward, self-sufficiency, a place to live with loved ones, to raise our families, the location of our neighborhood." Secretary Carson continued his remarks by expressing the "good news" of a steadily improving homeownership rate in the country, despite the rate remaining at a near historic low. In the second quarter of last year, the national homeownership rate, 62.9 percent, was at its lowest point in over fifty years. Carson announced that the current homeownership rate is 63.6 percent, saying "These figures represent more than paper, facts, titles, and mortgages. We can see the hopes and dreams, the aspirations and excitement of homeownership."

June 1, 2017

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

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The 2017 State of the Nation's Housing Report Will be Released on Friday, June 16

The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies will release its 2017 State of the Nation's Housing report with a live webcast from the National League of Cities in Washington, DC on Friday, June 16. The report, which has been released annually since 1988, describes key trends in both national and metropolitan-level homeownership and rental markets, reviews key economic and demographic trends that are shaping current and future demand in those markets, discusses growing challenges in housing affordability and the rise of concentrated poverty throughout metropolitan areas, and examines access to mortgage finance.

FHFA Seeks Stakeholder Impact on Expanding Mortgage Credit Access for Borrowers with Limited English Proficiency  

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued a Request for Input on how the single family housing market can better serve qualified borrowers with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). FHFA published this request to advance one of the goals of its 2017 Scorecard for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Common Securitization Solutions, which calls on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to identify obstacles impacting LEP borrowers and formulate plans for increasing such borrowers' access to mortgage credit. FHFA specifically requests information on what tools mortgage lenders, servicers, housing counselors, and other mortgage industry participants currently use to assist LEP borrowers and whether they are effective. The Request also asks about the specific barriers that make it difficult for LEP borrowers to access the mortgage market.

Fannie Mae Program Encourages Healthier Home Design

Healthy Housing Rewards is a financial incentive which will, in its first phase, include a price break to borrowers who incorporate designs which improve air quality, encourage physical activity, and feature common space, community gardens and playgrounds.  "When we strengthen the connection between affordable housing and the long-term health and stability of the people and families who live there, we help create more sustainable communities across the country,” explained Jeffery Hayward, Executive Vice President, Multifamily, Fannie Mae.
Conditions of eligibility include meeting affordability standards set by Fannie Mae with at least 60% of units for those that are earning 60% of median income or less.  Criteria for healthy housing must also be met according to the Center for Active Design's Healthy Housing Index, with a score of 90 required for eligible borrowers.

Fannie Mae Updates Requirements for Green Building Financing Option

Fannie Mae has made some revisions to its popular Green Financing program to improve the processing of green mortgage loans.  On Monday May 22nd, it issued a modified standard Guidance Form 4099 and 4099.H that updates the scope and format of the High Performance Building (HPB) Report, which is a requirement of Fannie Mae’s Green Rewards Program and implemented a delegated review process where Lenders are authorized to review and approve HPB reports.  Other recent changes include the price break given to assets with Green Building Certifications. The changes are effective immediately and aim to improve the speed and quality of its green programs.

May 31, 2017

Governor's Housing Conference 2017: Fostering Inclusive Communities

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Each year, the Governor's Housing Conference is packed full of educational sessions led by experts in housing, finance and community development, plus some great networking opportunities with colleagues from across the state. This year's theme is Fostering Inclusive Communities.

Registration is open for the Conference, scheduled for Nov. 15-17 in Norfolk.

Register Now 

May 26, 2017

Housing Credit Program Final Rankings Announced

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The Final Rankings for the Housing Credit Program (also known as Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program) Reservation Applications requesting 2017 credits are available on our website

Should you have any questions regarding the rankings, please contact the Housing Credit Program at

May 24, 2017

Brainstorming Affordable Housing

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About 100 professionals from the housing industry met recently in Botetourt County to help prime the pump of housing development in the area. A study commissioned by the county shows that while new jobs are coming into town, there is a lack of affordable housing for the people who will be taking those jobs. The housing summit brought together landowners, banks and developers to discuss possible solutions.

The keynote speaker for the event was Kit Hale, a member of VHDA's Board of Commissioners as well as principal broker at MKB Realtors and chairman of Housing Virginia.

May 19, 2017

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.

The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes

RECAP: For low-income and extremely low-income renters, this shortage is nothing less than a crisis. Families with limited economic means must either settle for lower-quality housing or spend far more than 30% of their income on housing costs. For many families, both of these conditions are true. The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) takes a yearly look at the supply of rental housing affordable to extremely low-income renters (defined by the federal government as households with income at or below the Poverty Guideline or 30% of their Area Median Income, whichever is greater). In their affordable housing gap analysis for 2017, NLIHC researchers looking at housing affordable to renters at different income levels nationwide, in every state and in the 50 largest metro areas.  The study’s authors urge greater investment in the production of housing affordable to ELI renters, offering policy guidance on specific tax reforms and public funding that could help fund the cost of such production.

The 21st-Century Utopia: Cities without Slums

RECAP: You might have missed it, but there's a quiet revolution beginning in a corner of business that until now has been relatively untouched by technology: construction. In the past decade or so, new technologies, including better land mapping, prefabricated construction and cheaper solar power, have begun bringing the costs of housing down 20 percent to 30 percent, say experts. The new technology is enabling feats of architecture and design, like an eight-story wooden apartment building in Finland and more affordable apartments in cities like New York, where the city has financed housing for 160,000 people making less than $40,800 a year. "Technology is a game changer for this," said Jonathan Woetzel, senior partner at McKinsey Global Institute. "Technology creates a set of solutions that we didn't have before. It will make housing cheaper and land use better."

Our Racially Divided Housing Market is Changing, Thanks to Millennials

RECAP: Racial covenants and other practices from the housing market’s racist past carry forward in the form of segregated neighborhoods and diminished wealth. They laid the groundwork for the terrible financial toll that black and Hispanic communities, in particular, paid during the Great Recession. Even redlining, a common practice from decades ago in which lenders denied loans in minority communities, has made a bit of a comeback in the wake of the housing crisis. For more than a century, there has been a persistent gap between white and minority homeownership rates. The most recent data show that 71 percent of whites own homes, compared with 41 percent of blacks, 45 percent of Hispanics and 58 percent of Asians, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The good news is that the youngest generation of homeowners — millennials — is more diverse. And they’re driving the housing market more than people realized, according to Zillow Group’s Consumer Housing Trends Report.

Learning From Two Months of Illuminating Abandoned Homes

RECAP: For two months last fall, Breathing Lights wove through New York’s Capital Region. Using gently pulsing lighting to humanize abandoned buildings, it was frequently perceived as a celebration, a sales pitch, or a call to action, but rarely as just art. “The lights had to be short lived to draw attention to the longer-lasting things,” says Adam Frelin, the upstate New York artist who helped conceive and lead the project. The idea of temporarily lighting vacant houses in Albany, Troy, and Schenectady took shape as a group of community leaders and artists mobilized to win a $1 million Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge grant in 2015. Breathing Lights was one of four proposals selected from more than 200. It ended up being one of the largest temporary public art works ever installed—requiring as much as seven hours for one person to see it all. “In community development, you put resources into rehabbing buildings and there is never quite enough money,” says Patrick Madden, mayor of Troy and former head of a non-profit housing rehabilitation organization. “Here, artists came in and saw them as an asset and started telling stories about neglected buildings. You could almost smell the Sunday dinners cooking,” he adds. “These buildings were cradles of ambition. The future needs to be written about this but we can say this is a very new way to look at this.”