January 24, 2017

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

Trump Administration Suspends Mortgage Premium Rate Cut
The freshly-inaugurated Trump administration has halted a cut to the FHA mortgage insurance premium that Obama's team announced during his final days in office. The Department of Housing and Urban Development said Friday that the reduction to the annual mortgage insurance premiums borrowers pay when taking out government-backed home loans has been "suspended indefinitely." On Friday night, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus released a memorandum to all executive departments and agencies to freeze new and pending regulations from the previous administration. The cut, at a quarter of a percentage point, would have saved homeowners an average of $500 this year, according to the Federal Housing Administration. Borrowers with larger home loans would have seen an even bigger drop in their premium rate. The mortgage-fee reduction was originally announced January 9 and was supposed to go into effect on January 27.

FHFA Requests Public Input on Duty to Serve Program  
Seeks Input on Chattel Loan Pilot Initiatives and Proposed Evaluation Guidance
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is requesting public input on chattel loan pilot initiatives for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) and the proposed Evaluation Guidance under the final rule on Duty to Serve Underserved Markets. FHFA issued a final rule on Dec. 13, 2016 to implement the Duty to Serve provisions mandated by the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992, as amended 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 – by improving the distribution and availability of mortgage financing in a safe and sound manner for residential properties that serve very low-, low-, and moderate-income families in these markets.  The rule requires each of the Enterprises to adopt three-year Underserved Markets Plans to fulfill this mandate.

House and Senate Tax Writing Committees Welcome New Members for 115th Congress 
As the 115th Congress gets underway, new members have joined both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. Representatives David Schweikert (R-AZ), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Terri Sewell (D-AL), and Suzan DelBene (D-WA) all will serve on the House Ways and Means Committee. New members of the Senate Finance Committee include Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

HUD Issues Interim Fair Housing Guidance Pending Issuance of Final Fair Housing Assessment Tools 
On January 19, HUD published interim guidance on how states should comply with the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule until HUD finalizes the state Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) Tool. HUD also provided an update on its efforts to finalize the state Assessment Tool and the other assessment tools it is developing for other HUD program participants.
The AFFH final rule required state agencies to submit an AFH no later than 270 calendar days prior to the start of the program year beginning January 1, 2018, for which a new consolidated plan is due. However, it also stated that no AFH will be due before the publication of the Assessment Tool applicable to the program participant, and that HUD must provide program participants a minimum of nine months after the publication of their Assessment Tool before their AFH is due. Because HUD has not yet finalized the state Assessment Tool, it is directing states that would otherwise have an AFH due to HUD prior to nine months after it publishes the final state Assessment Tool to instead conduct an update of the state's Analysis of Impediments (AI), as opposed to an AFH. HUD encourages states updating their AI pending the final state Assessment Tool to consider the framework set forth in the AFFH rule and draft state Assessment Tools in updating their AI.

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