March 6, 2017

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

Senate Confirms Dr. Ben Carson Nomination as HUD Secretary  

The U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Ben Carson's nomination to be Secretary of HUD by a vote of 58 to 41. The Senate Banking Committee on January 24 voted unanimously to favorably report Carson's nomination to the Senate. At his Banking Committee nomination hearing, Carson said he intended to conduct a national listening tour shortly after he became HUD Secretary to gain input as he develops what he said he hopes will be a "world-class housing plan." Carson's staff is developing plans to begin this tour soon. During the nomination hearing, Carson complimented the Housing Credit, emphasized the strong connection between housing and health, stressed the importance of deregulation, praised homeownership, supported continued efforts to tackle homelessness, and said he hoped he could help revitalize cities. Carson also said that he plans to examine FHA's then-recent mortgage insurance premium reduction, which FHA later rolled back.

Trump Administration Sends FY 2018 Budget Framework to Agencies 

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent federal agencies February 27 a preliminary FY 2018 budget framework, identifying its top-line funding amounts for the agencies and asking them for feedback within a few days on how they will achieve these targets. OMB officials said the budget framework identifies a $54 billion increase in defense and security spending and suggests the Administration intends to fully offset this amount with nondefense program funding cuts. The Administration is expected to then prepare a high-level budget blueprint for release on or about March 16. It expects to send Congress its detailed budget plan in early May. OMB has not released the budget guidance publicly, and no information about HUD or other housing programs is available. The Administration said the guidance does not address tax policy, Social Security, or Medicare, but that the Administration's future budget releases will address these areas, including a tax reform plan.

GAO Releases Report on the Role of Syndicators in the Housing Credit Program 

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the third in a series of four reports on the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, Low Income Housing Tax Credit: The Role of Syndicators. In its report, GAO identified 36 active syndicators as of October 2015. It worked with the accounting, tax, and advisory firm CohnReznick to survey those syndicators for data on their activities and interviewed representatives of various organizations, including NCSHA, to obtain background for the report. The report is descriptive in nature, providing information on the characteristics of syndicators, their activity in the market between 2005 and 2014, the role they play in the industry, and factors that influence their use. The report does not include any recommendations for action. The report considered foreclosure rates of properties in syndicators' portfolios, finding that approximately 1 percent of properties had undergone foreclosure. HUD officials told GAO that foreclosure of multifamily developments, including Housing Credit developments, is generally rare because lenders often try to restructure loans to avoid foreclosure. The report also notes that, "syndicators conduct additional underwriting and may assist struggling properties," resulting in low foreclosure rates.

NLIHC's 2017 Gap Report Shows Massive Shortage of Affordable and Available Housing for Lowest Income Households in America

The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, a new report released today by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), finds a shortage of 7.4 million affordable and available rental homes for extremely low income (ELI) renter households, those with incomes at or below the poverty guideline or 30% of their area median income. The report calls for rebalancing federal housing expenditures to serve households with the greatest needs. NLIHC conducts this research each year to assess the availability of housing affordable to different income levels throughout the country. This year's analysis continues to show that the poorest households in our nation face the largest shortage of affordable and available rental housing and have more severe housing cost burdens than any other group. The shortage disappears for households higher up the income ladder. The study finds there are just 35 affordable and available units for every 100 ELI renter households nationwide and that 71% of ELI renter households are severely-cost burdened, spending more than half of their income on housing. After paying their rent, these households have insufficient resources left for other necessities like food, medicine, transportation, or child care. They are often one financial set-back away from eviction and homelessness.

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