Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
News from Washington | By Brittany Webb
White House announces plan to reduce homelessness by 25 percent in two years

The Biden administration announced a new plan to reduce homelessness by 25 percent by 2025 through an initiative called All In: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. The administration believes All In will help combat systemic racism, which contributes to racial and ethnic disparities for people experiencing homelessness.
All In calls for state and local governments to use the plan as a blueprint for setting their own 2025 goals. The White House and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) will work this year with a cohort of cities that will receive full-time federal assistance, regulatory flexibility, and technical and volunteer support to implement their initiatives. USICH will host webinars this year to help communities use All In to develop local plans to address homelessness. The first webinar is scheduled for January 10.
"My plan offers a roadmap for not only getting people into housing but also ensuring that they have access to the support, services, and income that allow them to thrive," said President Joe Biden. "It is a plan that is grounded in the best evidence and aims to improve equity and strengthen collaboration at all levels."
All In is in addition to policies outlined in the administration’s Housing Supply Action Plan and the House America initiative, which seek to boost the country's affordable housing supply and find permanent housing for the more than 100,000 Americans experiencing homelessness. The administration said All In recommits the federal government to strategies to prevent homelessness and increase the housing supply, such as "Housing First."
OCC highlights trust-building efforts in 2022 Annual Report

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) released its Annual Report for 2022, highlighting the OCC's effort to build trust between financial providers, consumers, and regulators. The report also provides an overview of the federal banking system, the OCC's strategic priorities, and the OCC's financial management and condition. To foster trust, the agency worked last year on reducing inequality in banking by soliciting comments on the Community Reinvestment Act, chartering community development financial institutions and minority depository institutions, participating in the Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (PAVE) Task Force, growing Project REACH, and more.
"Banking rests on this trust," said Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu. "My key priorities at the helm of the OCC—guarding against complacency, addressing inequality, adapting to digitalization, and managing climate risk— reflect what I see as the key long-term threats to trust in banking."
CPI-W increase triggers CRA asset thresholds update

The Federal Reserve Board, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced updated asset-size thresholds used to define "small bank or savings association" and "intermediate small bank or savings association" under their Community Reinvestment Act regulations. An 8.60 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) over a 12-month period ending on Nov. 30, 2022, triggered the updated thresholds. The new thresholds went into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.
A "small bank or savings association" is now defined as an institution that, as of Dec. 31 of either of the prior two calendar years, had assets of less than $1.503 billion. "Intermediate small bank or savings association" is now defined as having assets between $376 million and $1.503 billion as of Dec. 31 of both of the prior two calendar years. 
Ginnie Mae increases single-family loan limits for most of the country

Ginnie Mae announced increased loan limits for 2023 for single-family forward mortgages eligible for pooling in its mortgage-backed securities programs for most of the country. The company said house price appreciation across the nation through 2022's first half spurred the increases, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. $726,200 is the new mortgage loan limit for one unit in the U.S., excluding Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. $929,850 is the two-unit loan limit for the same locations, $1,123,900 for three units, and $1,396,800 for four units. 
Rocket Mortgage launches program for underserved first-time homebuyers

Rocket Mortgage announced a new special purpose credit program, Purchase Plus, which seeks to make homeownership more accessible for first-time homebuyers in underserved communities. The initiative offers up to $7,500 in credits for first-time homebuyers to use toward their mortgage costs. The credits include a base credit of $5,000 plus an additional lender credit totaling 1% of the home's purchase price, up to $2,500.
Purchase Plus is currently available in specific census tracts in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, and Philadelphia. The company says the census tracts where Purchase Plus is available are where "potential homebuyers could benefit most."
Rocket Mortgage said saving for a downpayment is one of the most significant barriers to buying a home, and the company thinks Purchase Plus will alleviate this downpayment hurdle. The program does not have exclusions based on area median income, allowing a broader scope of eligibility for the program.
"Homeownership has a significant impact on strong communities and the creation of generational wealth," said Bob Walters, CEO of Rocket Mortgage. "Our Purchase Plus program is a catalyst that will help narrow the homeownership gap by addressing a concern we've heard time and again – the difficulty of saving for out-of-pocket expenses when buying a home."
Rocket Mortgage is the latest in a series of lenders launching special purpose credit programs, which have received renewed interest after HUD clarified that SPCPs are consistent with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). 
2023 FHFA scorecard focuses on affordability, equity, and more

The FHFA released its 2023 scorecard for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), and their joint venture,  Common Securitization Solutions (CSS), this week. This year's scorecard focuses on affordability, fair lending, equity, appraisal modernization, and climate risk. In addition, the scorecard outlines FHFA's assessment criteria for the Enterprises and their products on safety and soundness, fostering liquidity in the housing market, and building resilient and sustainable homeownership and rental housing. The scorecards weigh two categories equally at 50 percent: promoting equitable access to affordable and sustainable housing and operating the business in a safe and sound manner.
"The annual Scorecard is an important tool for ensuring that the Enterprises operate in a safe and sound manner and fulfill their mission requirements," said FHFA Director Sandra L. Thompson. "The 2023 Scorecard builds on the progress made in 2022 to strengthen the Enterprises' capital position while advancing equitable and sustainable access to homeownership and rental housing."
Brown introduces bill to fund HUD heat mitigation program

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chair of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, introduced on Dec. 22 the Excess Urban Heat Mitigation Act. The legislation would create a HUD program for providing funding to local governments and nonprofit organizations addressing excessive heat through heat mitigation. The legislative text cites extreme heat as a public health threat and notes that extreme heat disproportionately impacts underserved communities. For example, low-income census blocks have 15.2 percent less tree cover and hotter average land surface temperatures than other census tracts. The bill's endorsers include the Holden Arboretum, the Ohio Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the American Foresters, and the Davey Tree Expert Company.
"Extreme heat is devastating our most disadvantaged communities, which are also least likely to have adequate tree canopy. This urgently-needed legislation will help bring relief by coupling tree planting with other green infrastructure, empowering local decision-making while advancing Tree Equity to make enduring changes for our most vulnerable populations," said Joel Pannell, Vice President of Urban Forest Policy for American Foresters.
Chart of the week
Black immigrant trends show increased diversity needs in homeownership

A new paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University examines Black immigrant homeownership and national trends in Black homeownership. The paper finds the demographic composition of Black households has changed in recent decades and that, in many states, immigrants make up high shares of all Black households. For example, in 2019, one in eight households headed by a Black person in the U.S. was someone who was born in another country and later migrated to the U.S. In a coinciding blog post, researchers show the high shares that immigrants make up of Black households in some states, particularly in New York, Florida, Texas, and New Jersey. The paper calls for special attention to reducing the racial homeownership gap for Black immigrant households. 
What we're reading
A Bloomberg Markets and Finance interview with Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi determined three things that need to happen to ease the affordability crisis in housing: lower mortgage interest rates, lower house prices, and rising incomes. Moody also said the cycle peaked when mortgage interest rates topped 7 percent, based on six consecutive weeks of dropping rates.
Fannie Mae published new research on variations in mortgage loan costs. The Enterprise said the average cost for the 1.1 million loans they acquired from 2017 to 2019 was $7,200. According to the paper, the research represents the most extensive detailed mortgage closing cost study ever, based on the scope of data used. The research found meaningful differences in cost paid across borrower groups. For example, researchers learned that Asian borrowers had lower mortgage costs than other groups, while Black and Hispanic borrowers tended to have higher loan costs.
HUD published its 2022 Fact Sheet showing its year in review and the agency's actions to ease housing cost burdens, expand the nation's housing supply, and keep families housed. It highlights efforts that helped increase access to affordable housing and rental assistance, increase supply through building and preservation, boost wealth-building opportunities, and encourage equitable disaster recovery. 
The week ahead
Monday, January 9
2023 Commissioners’ Conference (PHADA), January 8-11 in person in Lake Buena Vista, FL 
HFA Institute (NCSHA), January 8-13 in person in Washington, DC
Tuesday, January 10
Wednesday, January 11
2023 PIT Count Office Hours (HUD), 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM ET
Thursday, January 12
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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