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.


Realtor.com: 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 realtor.com 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 
Register



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
Register



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 
Register

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 
Register



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
Register

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

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 vhda.com/VMLA, 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 kendall.cloeter@dhcd.virginia.gov.


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.

Virginia
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.

More info: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/liberty-opens-its-doors-for-new-residents-at-former-lorton-prison/

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

https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/5333/notice-cpd-1705-guidance-for-htf-grantees-on-fy-2017-htf-allocation-plans/

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 TaxCreditApps@VHDA.com

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.
http://www.instituteccd.org/news/5254

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."
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/16/the-21st-century-utopia-cities-without-slums.html

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.
https://www.zillow.com/blog/millennials-diversity-housing-209688/

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.”
https://www.citylab.com/equity/2017/04/learning-from-two-months-of-illuminating-abandoned-homes/523317/



May 17, 2017

A Partner Success Story: Former School Graduates to Vibrant, Mixed-use Community, Complete With Brewery

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Opportunity to grow affordable housing in Virginia is deeply rooted in partnerships. The Prices Fork community in Montgomery County is a stellar example. It began as a historic revitalization and renovation of a former elementary school, with plans to convert classrooms into 16 affordable apartments for people 55 years and older. Since then, the project has powered into a multi-partner effort that's expected to drive economic growth in the area.

VHDA and the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) have joined forces with the New River Valley Regional Commission, HOME Consortium and Montgomery County Board of Supervisors to expand the development into a mixed-use community including a farm-to-table restaurant, brewery and food incubator (space for entrepreneurs in the food business). VHDA will provide a Mixed-use / Mixed-income loan, part of a REACH Virginia program designed to combine commercial and residential spaces with an emphasis on revitalization. Work is expected to be finished by year's end.

"When complete, this will be the place to be -- a signature establishment that will cater to a number of community needs and also serve as a regional attraction," said Chris Thompson, director of strategic housing at VHDA. 

According to Thompson, VHDA and DHCD have a long history of working together to build communities. In this case, the team also relied on the Vibrant Communities Initiative (VCI), which allows applicants seeking financing to apply for a variety of VHDA and DHCD resources all at once with a single application, rather than having to submit multiple applications to each agency. This single application may even open the door for funding at a higher level than would normally be available through multiple individual applications.

Thompson added that the Prices Fork project is "transformational" and a great example of how multiple entities can get things done when they work together. "This has really been a team effort. It has been amazing to see the opportunities align for this project as it has evolved," said Thompson.

More about Prices Fork


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

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FHFA Requests Public Input on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's Proposed Underserved Markets Plans for Duty to Serve Program 

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has announced that it is requesting public input on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's (the Enterprises) proposed Underserved Markets Plans under the Duty to Serve program. FHFA issued a final rule on Dec. 13, 2016 to implement the Duty to Serve provisions mandated by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.  The statute requires the Enterprises to serve three specified underserved markets – manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and rural housing in a safe and sound manner for residential properties that serve very low-, low-, and moderate-income families. The rule requires each Enterprise to adopt a three-year Underserved Markets Plan to fulfill this mandate.  FHFA requests public input on the Enterprises' proposed Underserved Markets Plans through its dedicated webpage, www.FHFA.gov/DTS, by July 10, 2017.


GSE Duty to Serve Plans Include Proposals to Work with HFAs; Potential Housing Credit Investments 

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's proposed Underserved Market Plans (the Plans). The purpose of these plans is for each firm to explain how it intends to carry out its duties as outlined by FHFA's Enterprise Duty to Serve rule. As NCSHA previously reported, the Duty to Serve rule requires Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to support lending for housing for very low-, low-, and moderate-income families (those earning 100 percent of area median income or below) in three underserved segments of the housing finance market: manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and rural areas. For each underserved market segment, the Rule outlines a number of activities that the GSEs may support to fulfill their Duty to Serve Obligations. The Underserved Market Plans outline which of the activities described under the Duty to Serve Rule Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac intend to pursue over the next three years (2018-2020) to support housing in the specified markets. Both Plans can be viewed on a special website FHFA has established that focuses on the Duty to Serve rule.


Senate Banking Committee Discusses Housing Finance Reform with FHFA Director Watt 

The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing to examine the status of the housing finance system and the role in it of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This is the first in a series of hearings the Committee is expected to hold this year as it works on housing finance reform legislation.

May 11, 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.


DHCD's Blueprint for the Future Deadline Extended!


Don't delay--the deadline for DHCD's Blueprint for the Future Design Competition has been extended until Friday, May 26, 2017! Designed for students, architects and others interested in construction and home building, the purpose of the contest is to have a home designed and built that meets affordability, sustainability and accessibility criteria plus the 2012 Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code.

The open competition consists of two phases. Phase I requires a short narrative (less than two pages), a site plan and two sets of scaled drawings. The Phase I winner, a student/non-professional, will win $500 cash!

Once Phase I has closed, entries are evaluated and those who meet the requirements move to Phase II. Next steps (in Phase II) including submitting a construction estimate, a complete set of house plans, a worksheet and information to educate the resident. The Phase II winner, a student/non- professional or professional, will win $2,000 cash! In addition, the winning design from Phase II will be built in Norfolk, Virginia.

The Student/Non-professional entry fee is only $50.  The professional fee is $100. Enter today by registering and submitting plans no later than Friday, May 26 at 5 p.m. If you have questions, email ghc@dhcd.virginia.gov or submit your plans, drawings and narrative to alan.mcmahan@dhcd.virginia.gov

Guess Which Generation Is Making the Biggest Comeback in Real Estate

RECAP: Doc Martens are back in fashion. Hollywood starlets sport ’90s choker necklaces and Nirvana T-shirts. And guess what? Generation X home buyers are making their comeback, too. Gen X may not be getting as much attention these days as the (forever) up-and-coming millennial generation, but it’s making its mark on the housing market as the only generation to buy more homes last year than it did in the previous one, according to the latest National Association of Realtors® Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends survey. With a stronger economy, housing values, and job market, the tide has begun to turn. The generation of Americans forever enshrined in iconic ’90s flicks like “Reality Bites” and “Singles” is storming back into the home-buying market. “Now, they’re actually in their prime earning years,” Smoke says. “And they’re also far more likely to have families. It makes complete sense that they’re coming back.”
http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/generation-x-real-estate-comeback/

Developers' Message

RECAP: Each year, Housing Finance asks affordable housing firms around the country to take part in a survey that determines top 50 lists of the top developers and owners. This year, Housing Finance posed a new question, asking developers to share what they would like people to know about affordable housing. The answers were as diverse as the developers themselves, showing just how multidimensional affordable housing is. Several said they want people to know that their developments are a world removed from the stereotypes of low-income housing. Some emphasized that their properties are important economic developments. Others made it a point to say the cost of affordable housing is offset by the long-term economic and social impact created by the developments.
http://www.housingfinance.com/management-operations/developers-message_o

Here’s What These Companies Are Doing to Increase Hispanic Homeownership

RECAP: The Hispanic Wealth Project (HWP), a plan to triple Hispanic household wealth by 2024, announced the addition of several partners for 2017. The Hispanic Wealth Project, in collaboration with the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), today released their annual State of Hispanic Homeownership Report, which shows that Hispanics continue to outpace the overall U.S. population in homeownership gains, household formation and work force participation. Hispanics are currently the fastest growing demographic in the real estate market as the group accounted for nearly 75% of all homeownership rate growth in 2016. The HWP focuses on three component goals including advancing sustainable homeownership, improving the success of Hispanic entrepreneurs and increasing Hispanic investments in non-cash financial assets. Partners of the HWP contribute to these goals by sponsoring and fulfilling initiatives with the HWP.
http://www.housingwire.com/articles/39858-heres-what-these-companies-are-doing-to-increase-hispanic-homeownership?eid=381445623&bid=1725762

Why Housing Policy Should Be Health Policy

RECAP: It’s not news that where we live impacts how healthy we are. Public health is affected by many factors: neighborhood safety and walkability, nearby access to fresh food and health care, and the conditions of the homes we live in. Joseph Schilling, a senior research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center,  co-authored a new report by the Urban Institute that delves into the latest research on how urban blight—defined here as substandard housing, abandoned buildings, and vacant lots—functions as a social determinant of health. 


May 10, 2017

VHDA Promotes "Loan Combo" in New Ads

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What's a VHDA Loan Combo?
It's an affordable VHDA mortgage, PLUS a down payment grant, PLUS an MCC homebuyer tax credit, PLUS our free homebuyer's class! VHDA offers the only loans in Virginia with this combination of money-saving benefits.

To get the word out to Virginia homebuyers, we've launched a statewide ad campaign. Ads are now running on TV, radio, social media and the internet, with the following call to action: "Ask your lender if you qualify for a LOAN COMBO from VHDA!" Consumers who see our ads are directed to a landing page at vhda.com/LoanCombo, where they can use our Find-A-Lender tool to get in touch with a VHDA-approved lender.

We anticipate that consumers will ask for our Loan Combo by name as they see start to see our ads.

Watch our "Loan Combo" TV spot 




Trouble viewing the video? Watch it on YouTube

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

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Governor McAuliffe Announces More Than $8.4 Million in Affordable and Special Needs Housing Loans

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced more than $8.4 million in Affordable and Special Needs Housing loans for 15 projects in 13 localities across the Commonwealth.  These projects will create or maintain nearly 570 affordable housing units. They are focused on affordable new construction and rehabilitation housing options as well as permanent supportive housing options for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Using a streamlined and competitive application process at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), qualifying applicants are eligible to receive funding through the HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME), National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF), and the Virginia Housing Trust Fund (VHTF).  DHCD allocated more than $3.3 million in VHTF loans, nearly $2.9 million in NHTF, more than $1.7 million in HOME funding, and $500,000 in Permanent Supportive Housing funding for this round.


House Financial Services Committee Advances Dodd-Frank Reform Bill 

The House Financial Services Committee favorably reported the Financial Choice Act (The CHOICE Act, H.R. 10), which would repeal and replace a number of provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. The bill includes several provisions that could impact the rules governing HFA lending programs and ways of financing them.

Congress Passes FY 2017 Spending Omnibus 

Both the House and Senate passed the FY 2017 omnibus spending package funding government agencies, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), for the remainder of FY 2017, which ends September 30. In good news for affordable housing and HFAs, the bill level funds the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program at $950 million, the same level of funding that House and Senate appropriators had agreed to last year when negotiating an FY 2017 omnibus appropriations bill that was ultimately not enacted.

Senate Confirms Jay Clayton for SEC Commissioner 

The U.S. Senate confirmed Jay Clayton's nomination to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Clayton was previously a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, an international law firm. Clayton was officially sworn in as SEC Chair. Two of the SEC's five commissioner slots remain vacant. President Trump has not yet announced nominees for open positions.

May 5, 2017

Virginia's 2017 LIHTC Preliminary Rankings

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Virginia's 2017 LIHTC Preliminary Rankings are now available for review and general comment.

Review the Rankings

To review the Rankings, visit the Housing Credit website.

Comments

There will be a general comment period from May 3, 2017 through May 10, 2017.
Comment on the scoring categories or the amount of feasible credits for any application.
This will be followed by a rebuttal period from May 10 until May 17.
Final rankings will be posted in June following the VHDA Board meeting.

Your comments should be sent to JD Bondurant, Director of LIHTC Programs, by 12:00 p.m. May 10, 2017, via one of the following ways:
•          email at taxcreditapps@vhda.com
•          email at jd.bondurant@vhda.com
•          regular mail at 601 S. Belvidere Street, Richmond, VA 23220

Printing Tips

To print the preliminary rankings, you will need Acrobat Reader.
The pdf will print on both legal and letter size paper depending on your preference.

May 3, 2017

Proof of Housing's Impact on Virginia

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We already knew it, and now we have an official study to prove it: Housing is huge for Virginia's economy! The study I'm talking about was commissioned by the Governor's Housing Policy Advisory Council, and conducted by a coalition of state universities including Virginia Tech, George Mason, VCU and William & Mary. The first part of the research was completed last year and showed that housing contributed $47.8 billion dollars to Virginia's economy, including $23.3 billion in value added to gross state product, $14.2 billion in labor income, and more than 314,000 jobs. This makes housing the sixth largest private sector industry in the Commonwealth!

The researchers are also looking at other housing-related topics, such as revitalization and development, transportation, workforce issues, health and education. We expect the full study to be completed in the summer or fall of this year, and it will be available at the Governor's Housing Conference. As part of the study, the universities also created this infographic.

Susan Dewey, Executive Director of VHDA

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

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Administration Releases Tax Plan Outline 

The Trump Administration recently released a one-page outline of tax reform principles and objectives it intends to pursue this year. The document calls for reductions in individual and corporate tax rates to be paid for, at least in part, by economic growth the Administration estimates the proposed changes will create and by eliminating tax deductions and other tax "breaks." Specifically, the proposed changes include lowering the corporate tax rate (including for pass-through corporations) to 15 percent from 35 percent and the tax rate for top individual earners to 35 percent from 39.6 percent. The proposal also calls for the elimination of the estate tax, Alternative Minimum Tax, and Affordable Care Act surtax on high incomes.

The document also says the Administration proposes to double the standard deduction for all individuals, provide tax relief for families with child and dependent care expenses, "eliminate targeted tax breaks that mainly benefit the wealthiest individuals," and "protect the home ownership and charitable gift tax deductions." In its "Business Reform" section, the paper calls for the elimination of "tax breaks for special interests." The paper does not provide any information on what specific tax credits, deductions, or exemptions the Administration proposes to eliminate. It does not mention the Housing Credit, municipal bonds, or private activity bonds. During a White House briefing Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said, "we are going to eliminate on the personal side all tax deductions other than mortgage interest and charitable deductions."


Trump Nominates Pam Patenaude for Deputy HUD Secretary  

The White House announced that President Donald Trump intends to nominate Pamela Patenaude to serve as Deputy Secretary for Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Patenaude 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. Patenaude has held a variety of housing policy positions in both the public and private sectors. She served as HUD Deputy 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. Before joining the Terwilliger Foundation, Patenaude was Director of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Housing Commission. She has also served as executive vice president of the Urban Land Institute.



Homeownership Ready to Rise after Hitting an All-Time Low

  • First-quarter gain in owners was biggest in more than a decade 
  • Wage growth, rising confidence pushing more people to buy 

The U.S. homeownership rate is finally poised to rise significantly as household formations by owners grew faster in the first quarter than those by renters -- the first time that’s happened in more than a decade. While the share of Americans who owned their homes was up only slightly from a year earlier, at 63.6 percent, the number of new owners jumped by more than 850,000, compared with an increase in renter households of 365,000. The 1.1 percent year-over-year gain in owners was also the biggest since 2006, according to an analysis by Trulia of Census Bureau data.


Fannie Mae Announces New Programs to Break through Student Loan Roadblock

Cash-out refinance, new debt-to-income calculations spur homeownership
Fannie Mae announced a significant expansion of its student loan cash-out refinance program and introduced new policies to help borrowers with student loan debt get qualified for mortgage loans. “We understand the significant role that a monthly student loan payment plays in a potential home buyer’s consideration to take on a mortgage, and we want to be a part of the solution,” said Jonathan Lawless, vice president of customer solutions at Fannie Mae. “These new policies provide three flexible payment solutions to future and current homeowners and, in turn, allow lenders to serve more borrowers.” The level of student debt in the U.S. has spiraled over the last decade to $1.4 trillion, effectively locking out millions of potential homebuyers from the market. The new Fannie Mae programs address specific roadblocks that these borrowers face, providing a jump-start to a whole generation of homebuyers.

April 25, 2017

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

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Financial Services Committee Chair Introduces Draft Financial Regulatory Reform Bill 

House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensalring (R-TX) recently released a discussion draft of comprehensive financial regulatory reform legislation he intends to introduce soon. The Committee has scheduled a hearing on this legislation, titled the CHOICE Act, for April 26 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time. Hensarling introduced similar legislation last Congress. The discussion draft includes several provisions that may have affect rules governing HFA bond programs. Specifically, the bill requires the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to consider several factors when proposing and finalizing new regulations, including an identification of the need for the regulation and the regulatory objective; an analysis of the adverse impacts regulated entities and other market participants could experience; and a quantitative and qualitative assessment of all anticipated direct and indirect costs and benefits of the regulation.


MBA Offers Detailed GSE Reform Proposal

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released a white paper GSE Reform: Creating a Sustainable, More Vibrant, Secondary Mortgage Market which provides a detailed picture of a reformed and revitalized secondary mortgage market. It also attempts to shed light on two critical areas that have tested past reform efforts - the appropriate transition to the reformed system and the role of the secondary market in advancing an affordable housing strategy.

"This paper not only lays out a detailed end state solution that will work for the residential and multifamily markets, but also the transition steps to accomplish this goal," said Rodrigo Lopez CMB, Executive Chairman of NorthMarq Capital and Chairman of MBA. "We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to find a permanent, sustainable solution to the government's role in housing finance that doesn't repeat the mistakes that led to the crisis."


Report: “CFPB Offers Much-Needed Protection”

The Trump administration entered the White House on a promise to examine and possibly eliminate many Obama-era initiatives, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Trulia wanted to know a few things about the CFPB‒‒namely  where consumers have asked the bureau for help in resolving mortgage disputes, who’s doing the asking, and what types of loans the CFPB deals with‒‒before the CFPB comes under more intense scrutiny or sees its mission changed. What Trulia found was that if the bureau is eliminated or even streamlined , it “could be a blow for thousands of mortgage borrowers who have used the CFPB’s dispute resolution to act as an intermediary in their cases," according to a report issued Wednesday. In its first five years, Trulia reported, CFPB has returned more than $11.8 billion from financial institutions on behalf of 29 million consumers.


The Rewards of Green Financing

Fannie Mae’s multifamily chief explains how dedicating capital to measures that save energy and water pay off, especially in the affordable sector. Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies says utility costs represent some 15 percent of income for renters with incomes below $15,000, but just one percent for those with incomes of $75,000 or more.
Green financing allows owners to cut operating expenses and extend the life of the property. Over 80 percent of the units we finance are affordable for working families, and greening those buildings can mean lower utility bills for tenants.

April 20, 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.


Millennials Desire Affordable Homeownership In the Suburbs

RECAP: The idea that young adults value urban living and the flexibility of renting above all else is a misconception. The Los Angeles Times says that affordability is the main driver of decisions made by millennial households. Reports by Zillow and Harvard found that Millennials want to live in the suburbs, where homeownership makes more financial sense than renting an expensive apartment in an urban center. Nearly half of all millennial homeowners live in the suburbs, compared to 33 percent who live in the city. The idea was if millennials could afford to purchase a home, they would, and did so in low-cost markets like Birmingham, Detroit, Minneapolis and St. Louis.
https://www.probuilder.com/millennials-desire-affordable-homeownership-suburbs

L.A. Finally Has The Money To Fight Homelessness. Here's How Architecture Can Help The Cause

RECAP: In the last two elections, Los Angeles voters overwhelmingly supported both Proposition HHH and Measure H, which combined will permanently rehouse thousands of people living on L.A.’s streets and provide services to keep tens of thousands more from falling into homelessness in the first place. Lingering NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard) combined with soaring housing costs will make acting on the promise of Proposition HHH and Measure H a challenge. It is here where architecture may be able to provide some assistance. Together two USC professors developed “Homes for Hope” — a flexible, affordable and code-compliant solution for bridge housing.  This isn’t permanent supportive housing. It’s a steppingstone — a dignified place to get one’s bearings and stop the free fall.
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/livable-city/la-ol-homeless-measure-h-architecture-nimby-20170310-story.html


In Chicago and Philadelphia, the Difference a Park Makes

RECAP: Occupying 21 acres in the middle of this city’s largest Mexican-American neighborhood, called Little Village, the park used to be a brownfield and illegal dump. Back then, the site leached toxins into hundreds of nearby basements. Sickened residents protested for years. The federal cleanup, finally completed in 2012, became the largest urban Superfund project in America. EPA’s Superfund program is responsible for cleaning up some of the nation’s most contaminated land and responding to environmental emergencies, oil spills and natural disasters. To protect public health and the environment, the Superfund program focuses on making a visible and lasting difference in communities, ensuring that people can live and work in healthy, vibrant places.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/12/arts/design/chicago-philadelphia-parks-rahm-emanuel.html?_r=3

Trulia gives pets the whole “pawspective” with new For Sale and Rental pawperty detail pages

RECAP: The cat is officially out of the bag! Just like their two-legged companions, pets want to live in a place that suits their individual lifestyle and sense of self. They want to put paws down close to their fur friends in a forever home. Finding the right home quickly and easily is crucial to living a long and happy life, for any species. Our goal at Trulia is to make finding a home easy and enjoyable, so we’re excited to announce the launch of for sale and rental listings for pets on Trulia. Trulia added neighborhood petmenities, like big climbing trees for cats and fire hydrants for dogs, so pets can easily get the scoop on how a pawperty’s neighborhood stacks up against the rest. Each petmentity is given a rating, so our feline friends can see that bird watching in a pawperty’s neighborhood is “above average,” or that the amount of “needy humans” in the area is “lowest,” cluing them in to so much more than just the home.
https://www.trulia.com/blog/tech/pet-listings-april-fools/#sthash.k7F6oZOY.dpuf

VHDA Creates New Rural Housing Advisory Council

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VHDA recently created a new Rural Housing Advisory Council, which will provide guidance and expertise about housing issues in rural Virginia. In addition, the council will provide input on modifying existing VHDA programs and developing new programs to address identified housing needs in rural areas.

“Rural housing is an important priority for VHDA; in fact, the issue was a central theme at the Governor’s Housing Conference this past fall,” said VHDA Executive Director Susan Dewey. “VHDA will be relying greatly on the expertise of our Rural Housing Advisory Council members as they provide guidance for our programs so that we can continue to make a positive impact on the affordable housing needs across the state.”

The Council will typically meet three times a year – once in the spring, once in the fall, and at an annual holiday luncheon in December with other forms of communication used throughout the year if necessary.

The first meeting of the Rural Housing Advisory Council was held on April 19, 2017 at VHDA’s Virginia Housing Center in Glen Allen. The fall meeting will be held at VHDA’s Southwest Virginia Housing Center in Wytheville.

“VHDA has been actively engaged in addressing rural housing opportunities in the Commonwealth for a number of years,” said VHDA Managing Director of Community Outreach Mike Hawkins. “For example, the Homeownership Division recently became part of a pilot project to address manufactured housing under a USDA Rural Development Program. Also, the Rental Division has been very involved over the last several years in the preservation of USDA Rural Development-financed affordable multifamily developments. Finally, the Community Outreach Division has been very engaged in promoting homeownership education in rural communities and providing capacity building grants to rural housing organizations. We look forward to continuing and expanding upon this work with the help of our new Rural Housing Advisory Council members.”

For more information about the Rural Housing Advisory Council or VHDA’s programs and services, please contact Mike Hawkins, Managing Director of Community Outreach, at mike.hawkins@vhda.com or 804-343-5654.

April 18, 2017

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

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HUD Releases Housing Credit Tenant Data Report 

HUD recently published Understanding Whom the LIHTC Program Serves: Data on Tenants in LIHTC Units as of December 31, 2014, providing demographic and economic data about Housing Credit tenants, including race, ethnicity, family composition, age, income, use of rental assistance, disability status, and monthly rent burden of tenants. The median annual income of Housing Credit tenant households was $17,152. Approximately 47 percent of tenants were extremely low-income, earning 30 percent or less of area median income (AMI); 34 percent of households were very low-income, earning between 30 and 50 percent of AMI; and the remaining 19 percent earn more than 50 percent of AMI.

Approximately 56 percent of Housing Credit households pay 30 percent or less of their income for rent, while 9.5 percent pay over 50 percent of their income for rent. Nearly 38 percent of tenants reported receiving rental assistance, 43 percent reported not receiving rental assistance, and 20 percent did not report whether they receive rental assistance. According to the report, 23 percent of tenants identified their race as white, 23 percent identified as black or African American, 9 percent identified as Hispanic, 2 percent identified as Asian, and 1 percent identified as either American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander. Approximately 40 percent of respondents did not report on race or ethnicity, as allowed under fair housing laws.


New Hensarling CHOICE Act to Include Further Changes to CFPB, FHFA 

House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) earlier this week released a chart outlining several new provisions he intends to include in comprehensive financial reform legislation (The CHOICE Act) that he plans to introduce by the end of the month. The chart highlights areas of the new bill that will differ from similar legislation Hensarling introduced last Congress. Several of the new provisions could have a direct impact on those regulations that affect HFA housing programs. Specifically, the revised bill would severely constrict the power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which oversees much of the mortgage lending industry.

The bill would rename the CFPB as the Consumer Financial Opportunity Agency (CFOA) and limit it to enforcing current consumer protection laws. The bill would also prohibit the agency from writing new consumer protection rules, exerting supervisory authority over financial firms, or enforcing fair lending laws. The bill would establish a single director as head of the new CFOA, the same model that now applies to the CFPB. Unlike current CFPB law, however, the bill would authorize the President to remove the CFOA director at will (currently, the President can only remove the CFPB director for cause). This is a departure from the original CHOICE Act, which would have replaced CFPB's single director structure with a bipartisan commission.


Find Out What Virginia’s Housers are Thinking about Current and Future Affordable Housing Needs

Housing Virginia Survey

We asked and you answered, and the results are in! We’ve checked the pulse of the affordable housing industry with a short survey of housing affordability in the Commonwealth. We wanted to know how members of the affordable housing industry perceive the shifting challenges of affordable housing.

Reminder: this is just a snapshot of how the survey respondents are feeling about several issues – it’s not a rigorously selected sample of opinion. With that, let’s take a look at the results.

Major Findings
Responses were provided by 145 individuals from across the state and from a diverse range of industries.

  • 73% of respondents think that affordable housing has become “much more” or “slightly more” difficult to find in their community over the past year.
  • Over half (58%) of respondents felt that the amount of housing resources in their community has “significantly” or “somewhat” decreased over the past year.
  • Only 9% of respondents feel “somewhat” or “very” optimistic about the future of housing affordability.
  • The most challenging housing problem identified by respondents was high rental costs. 
  • Urban respondents were more concerned about rental costs than average, while rural respondents said that poor housing quality was just as challenging.