Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
News from Washington | By Brittany Webb
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac expand equitable housing finance plans

FHFA announced updates to Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's (the Enterprises) 2023 Equitable Housing Finance Plans. Key updates include ensuring existing borrowers receive fair loss mitigation support, financial capabilities coaching to build credit and savings, supporting locally owned modular construction facilities in communities of color, and increasing Enterprise Special Purpose Credit Programs (SPCPs) supporting homeownership opportunities. Fannie Mae's updates also highlight the inclusion of a new data-based consumer journey, the Latino Housing Journey, built on lessons learned from the Black Housing Journey. FHFA also updated its Enterprise Fair Lending Data Dashboard with new data through 2022.
"Since the launch of our Plan in 2022, we have made considerable progress in identifying meaningful ways to address historical challenges faced by underserved communities, particularly for Black and Latino people," said Katrina Jones, Fannie Mae Vice President of Racial Equity Strategy & Impact. "When you add the present-day challenges of inadequate affordable housing supply and high housing costs, overcoming barriers to housing can seem harder than ever. But we are committed to making a fundamentally fairer and more equitable future for housing."
Freddie Mac released a progress report of its actions since the plans launched in 2022. The Enterprise highlighted using SPCPs and helping renters achieve homeownership through rental payment credit history and credit-building initiatives.

"As we celebrate Fair Housing Month and the 55th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, we are reminded that every step taken towards bringing more equity into the housing finance system is a step in the right direction," said FHFA Director Sandra Thompson. "In 2022, the Enterprises helped more than 834,000 households through various actions outlined in their Equitable Housing Finance Plans."
HUD kicks off Fair Housing Month, extends AFFH comment period 

HUD kicked off Fair Housing Month by commemorating the Fair Housing Act's 55th anniversary. "Though it has been 55 years since the Fair Housing Act was passed, we are still working tirelessly to fight housing discrimination. Today, we recommit to our mission to provide equality and opportunity to every person who calls America home, regardless of their race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation or gender identity), disability, or familial status," said HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge.

Choices for All Voices: Building an Equitable Future is this year's Fair Housing Month theme. HUD will raise awareness of fair housing rights and enforcement by hosting activities with partners. HUD will host an opening ceremony at 1:00 pm ET on April 11. Fudge, HUD's Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Demetria L. McCain, Lee "the Mother of Fair Housing" Porter, and the Texas Southern University Debate Team will commemorate Fair Housing Month during the event.

HUD will close Fair Housing Month by hosting Building an Equitable Future: A Housing Policy Conversation with Gen Z College Students on April 26 at 2:00 pm. The event will highlight the importance of advancing fair housing protections for the next generation.

In addition to the Fair Housing Month events, HUD announced it's extending the comment period for the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule by 14 days, to April 24. This rule aims to address the impacts of discrimination in housing by mandating AFFH.
FHFA announces second appraisal bias hearing, inaugural fintech event 

FHFA announced two new events, a second public hearing on appraisal bias with the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) and an inaugural TechSprint event. FHFA scheduled the hearing for 10:00 am to 1:00 pm ET on May 19 at FHFA headquarters and TechSprint for July 10-13.
The appraisal bias hearing will explore the current appraisal industry's regulatory framework, focusing on appraisal standards, appraiser qualification criteria, barriers to professional entry, and appraisal practices.

"Based on public comments received and information gathered during the first hearing, it was clear that additional information on the appraisal regulatory system as a whole was needed to provide necessary context to any discussion of bias," said ASC Executive Director Jim Park. "This is an opportunity to expand our understanding of the issues facing today's appraisal industry and to get a clearer picture of how current practices and the appraisal regulatory system impact lending in this country."

The TechSprint event, Velocity, will be a team-based problem-solving convening hosted by FHFA's Office of Financial Technology. The event will bring together mortgage and technology experts and practitioners to propose solutions for reducing mortgage costs and delivery times and helping create a more inclusive, transparent process. It will be a three-day, in-person event in Washington, D.C. FHFA will select participating teams who will then work on problem statements that address the question of, "How might data digitization drive transparency and increase access, fairness, affordability, and sustainability in mortgage lending?" Applications to participate in the event are due by 5:00 pm ET on May 31.
Tenney, Sewell introduce New Markets Tax Credit Extension Act of 2023

Reps. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) and Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) introduced the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Extension Act of 2023. The bipartisan act would make the NMTC permanent, index the allocation to inflation in future years, and exempt NMTC investments from the Alternative Minimum Tax. The bill included 24 original co-sponsors. In Feb., Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Steven Daines (R-Mont.) introduced the companion bill in the Senate to permanently authorize the NMTC.
"Now more than ever, it is essential that we work to create investments in our rural and low-income communities," said Tenney. "Congress must make the New Markets Tax Credit permanent to allow our rural communities to continue accessing this important resource which helps to create jobs and stimulate economic growth. As a small business owner from rural America, I will always be a tenacious advocate for investments in our rural communities and businesses in Congress."
Scott urges DOE to reconsider energy standards for manufactured housing

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Ranking Member, sent a letter to Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer Granholm criticizing the DOE's decision to publish a final rule imposing new manufactured housing energy standards. Scott argues that, as currently written, the standards will increase housing costs and reduce affordable housing opportunities.
"Manufactured housing is truly one of the best opportunities for helping families realize the dream of homeownership, accounting for roughly six percent of housing stock and being the largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing in the country. The DOE Standards are overly broad, unduly burdensome, and undermine commonsense efforts to increase supply and assist families looking for affordable housing opportunities," the letter reads.
The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) called for, at a minimum, delaying implementing the rule. MHI released a statement that the industry "wants to work with DOE and HUD to find a workable and affordable solution but under the current status."

However, MHI further notes that "DOE set an arbitrary and unrealistic 1-year deadline and the proposed requirements are not ready for implementation on May 31. DOE failed to consult with HUD, and the standards do not align with the HUD code, contain inaccurate cost estimates, do not take current manufactured home construction methods into consideration, and fail to address testing, inspection and certification."
HUD announces disaster assistance for Arkansas

HUD announced federal disaster relief assistance for Arkansas to assist recovery efforts in areas impacted by severe storms and tornadoes on March 31, 2023. This assistance provides a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures on FHA mortgages and foreclosures of mortgages of Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee for Native American borrowers. HUD's Section 203(H) program will provide FHA insurance to disaster victims. Eligible borrowers may be approved for 100% financing, including closing costs. The Section 203(k) loan program allows individuals to finance the rehabilitation of their existing homes and finance purchases or refinancing through a single mortgage. See the full list of disaster relief options here.
MSHDA seeking a Director of Homeownership 

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority seeks a Director of Homeownership, primarily focusing on single-family programs. This includes the Single-Family Mortgage Loan Program, the Michigan Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) program, the federally funded Michigan Homeowner Assistance Program (MIHAF), and the Property Improvement Program. Additional responsibilities include the administration of the Housing Education Program. Interested candidates can apply here.
Chart of the week
FHLBank advances susceptible to economic events

The FHFA Office of the Inspector General published a new white paper, "An Overview of the Federal Home Loan Bank System," that provides the history, current state, and risk areas of the FHLBank System. The paper examines FHLBank's advances and shifts during the COVID-19 pandemic. It found that in the first quarter of 2020, advances for the banks grew 26% due to uncertainty of financial markets, and by the second quarter, the advances fell sharply by 31%. The decline continued through the end of 2021, and overall advances decreased by 56% between Q1 2020 and Q4 2021. It notes that at the end of 2022, advances reached $819 billion, more than double the amount at the end of 2021. The paper concludes that the FHLBank risk landscape is susceptible to sudden shifts driven by economic events and notes the importance of mitigating such risk. 
What we're reading
An article by DCist covers Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bower's proposal to increase tax breaks for owners of office buildings who are willing to convert their spaces into housing. The proposal received mixed reactions. Some called it a giveaway of tax breaks to property owners, while others support finding creative ways to increase housing production. Some experts claim the incentives are insufficient to revive D.C.'s downtown area.

Up for Growth announced a new Policies to Watch database that provides an interactive tool for tracking and analyzing housing legislation at the state and local levels. The database includes bills introduced to city councils, county commissions, state legislatures, and more to help broaden the conversation around housing and build momentum for housing goals.

A new Realtor.com study found that LGBTQ+ and BIPOC buyers spend more of their income to own a home, with nearly two-thirds of the buyers (65%) putting down 20% or less of a home's purchase price compared to about half (53%) of white, non-LGBTQ+ buyers. The survey also found that LGBTQ+ and BIPOC buyers face more challenges during the mortgage process and are 1.7 times more likely to receive two or more mortgage rejections.
The week ahead
The National Housing Conference is a diverse continuum of affordable housing stakeholders that convene and collaborate through dialogue, advocacy, research, and education, to develop equitable solutions that serve our common interest.
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