October 2, 2017

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

Joint Administration-Congress Tax Reform Framework Preserves Housing Credit 

The Administration and Republican leaders in both the House and Senate together released their Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code, a broad tax reform outline intended to serve as a template for the tax-writing committees to develop tax reform legislation. We are excited to report that the Administration and congressional leaders propose to retain the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, saying that "the framework explicitly preserves business credits in two areas where tax incentives have proven to be effective in promoting policy goals important in the American economy: research and development (R&D) and low-income housing."
The Framework does not speak to municipal bonds; however, NCSHA has learned from both congressional and industry sources that, when asked explicitly about the authors' intentions regarding municipal bonds, a White House spokesperson speaking at a press briefing yesterday said that the authors of the Framework intend to protect them. NCSHA is working to clarify whether private activity bonds, which are type of municipal bonds, would be preserved.

IRS Proposes Changes to PAB Public Notice Requirements; Special Standards for MRBs 

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published in the Federal Register a proposed rule that would simplify the public approval requirements that apply to tax-exempt Housing Bonds and other private activity bonds (PABs). The proposal also includes an NCSHA-supported special exemption from certain public approval requirements for single-family mortgage revenue bonds (MRBs). Under current IRS regulations, issuers of Housing Bonds and other PABs are required to hold a public hearing on a potential PAB issuance before the issuance can be approved. The issuer is required to notify the community impacted by the PAB issuance of the public meeting via either newspaper, television, or radio at least 14 days before the public meeting is to take place. The proposed rule would amend this requirement to allow HFAs and other issuers to meet the public notice requirement through electronic sources, as long as such methods comply with a state's open meeting requirements.

FHFA Proposed Strategic Plan for 2018-2022 Would Direct GSEs to Work with HFAs 

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its proposed Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2018-2022. The plan outlines FHFA's goals and priorities for overseeing Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs). The proposal identifies three major performance goals: ensuring safe and sound regulated entities; ensuring a liquid, stable, and accessible housing finance market; and managing the enterprises' ongoing conservatorship.

NLIHC and PAHRC Launch Updated National Housing Preservation Database

NLIHC and the Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC) released a major update to the National Housing Preservation Database (NHPD). The update includes new data and a new user interface, as well as profiles of the federally funded affordable housing preservation needs for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. There are almost 5 million federally assisted rental homes nationally. Nearly 500,000 of these rental homes will reach the end of their current subsidy contracts and affordability restrictions for low income families in the next five years. About one in four of these homes are funded by Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs), and three-fifths are funded by HUD Project Based Rental Assistance (Section 8) contracts.

Report Finds Direct Link between Housing and School Segregation in Richmond Region  

As the Richmond region continues to get more diverse, schools and housing continue to be segregated, a new report has found. “As part of our legacy of discrimination, students and their families from minority segregated communities face higher levels of poverty, higher unemployment rates, lower levels of educational attainment and worse health measures,” the authors of the report wrote. “Compounded, these differences have lasting influences on students’ educational attainment and future success.” The report, which was completed this summer after about three years of work, is being presented to local officials by the authors: Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, an education professor at Virginia Commonwealth University; Brian Koziol, the director of research and consulting services at Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) of Virginia; John Moeser, a fellow at the University of Richmond; Taylor Holden, a technician in the Spatial Analysis Lab at the University of Richmond; and Tom Shields, the chair of graduate education at the University of Richmond.

New Poll Shows Virginians Strongly Favor Policies that Make Housing More Affordable

A majority of Virginians want to expand state funding for affordable housing and require utility companies to support efficiency upgrades that help families save on energy bills. The Campaign for Housing and Civic Engagement (CHACE), a statewide network of housing advocates spearheaded by the Virginia Housing Alliance and the Virginia Poverty Law Center working to elevate housing issues for the 2017 elections, revealed the results of a statewide public opinion survey on housing and energy efficiency issues conducted by the Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. The poll’s findings demonstrate that, by a wide margin, Virginians want a full spectrum of housing opportunities for all their neighbors. 82% of voters strongly believe that people who work in their community should be able to find a home there. 56% of voters agree that housing affordability is vital to their community’s economic success. 58% of voters also believe that ending homelessness is an important government priority.

Lessons from Past Storms Should Guide Mortgage Industry in Post-Storm Recovery

Homeowners in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico have returned to their homes and have begun to assess the damage caused by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. As mortgage servicers begin to address the concerns of these homeowners, they should pay heed to lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy, which damaged or destroyed more than 650,000 homes in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut five years ago. The total estimated $71.4 billion cost of Sandy included not only repairs to homes but also significant repairs to public infrastructure and projects designed to prevent future storm damage. Moody’s Analytics estimates that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused between $75 and $95 billion in residential property damage alone and there are an estimated 4.3 million mortgage-encumbered homes in the Harvey and Irma-related FEMA disaster area counties. The impact of the 2017 hurricane season is thus likely to rival, if not dwarf, that of Sandy. Lenders and servicers can prepare by considering the immediate, short term and longer term impact of prior hurricanes, such as Superstorm Sandy, on their business.

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