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Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
News from Washington
Rep. Marcia Fudge tapped for HUD secretary role

This week, President-elect Joe Biden nominated Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) to serve as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). NHC welcomes the nomination of Rep. Fudge, who previously served as chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and has been a strong supporter of HUD’s HOME Program.
“Her background as mayor of an inner ring suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, and as a leader on education policy, would be important as HUD plays an important role in reversing the catastrophic loss of Black homeowners over the past 10 years,” said NHC’s David Dworkin in a statement this week. “Congresswoman Fudge understands the need to make housing policy work for all communities, urban, suburban and rural.”
Several other housing organizations applauded the president-elect’s pick. “We are confident that as Secretary, Marcia Fudge will have an immediate positive impact on HUD’s ability to reduce homelessness; create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities; and provide quality affordable homes for all,” said Nan Roman, president and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness
National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) President and CEO Lisa Rice said, “NFHA is extremely encouraged by President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s selection of Rep. Marcia L. Fudge to lead HUD. An unflagging advocate for civil rights, Fudge brings decades of experience as a public servant and a strong commitment to ensuring equitable access to credit, education, healthy food, clean environments, and other resources, which go hand-in-hand with access to housing.” 
NHC welcomes new members!
Champlain Housing Trust is the largest community land trust in the country and supports the people of northwest Vermont through the development and stewardship of permanently affordable homes and related community assets.

The Consortium for Housing and Asset Management (CHAM) is the national association for affordable housing asset managers. CHAM advances the financial sustainability of affordable housing and the achievement of mission goals for residents and the community.
Industry campaign focuses on at-risk homeowners

The joint industry borrower outreach campaign, “Not OK? That’s OK,” is concentrating its efforts on assisting homeowners nearing the end of their forbearance plan and homeowners who are “needlessly delinquent” – meaning they are eligible for forbearance programs, but for one reason or another have not entered forbearance. Recent analysis from Urban Institute reveals that among these needlessly delinquent homeowners the majority reside in predominately Black and Hispanic ZIP codes.
This week, the Mortgage Bankers Association convened a call with members of the coalition backing the campaign, which includes the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), American Bankers Association, Urban Institute, NeighborWorks and NHC. The campaign has also attracted lender partners like Freedom Mortgage, Quicken Loans and Wells Fargo.
The campaign, which is funded by coalition members, is designed to educate borrowers in need of relief on the programs available to them and on how to get connected to someone who can help. Lenders and servicers can access the customizable toolkit on the campaign’s website, which includes marketing materials tailored to different segments of distressed borrowers. The materials communicate a simple, but incredibly important message for homeowners struggling financially as a result of COVID-19: “Even if you’re feeling overwhelmed or don’t know where to turn, ignoring the situation will only make things worse.” All materials instruct borrowers to contact their mortgage servicer or a free HUD-approved housing counselor to find out about available relief solutions.
Dec. 31 eviction moratorium expiration nears

Congress continues to deliberate the framework of a stimulus package. Despite bipartisan support in both the House and Senate for the $908 billion proposal introduced by the Problem Solvers Caucus, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-Ky.) has yet to agree to the terms. As Congress and the White House continue negotiations, the Dec. 31 expiration of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium nears, with the fate of many households hanging in the balance.
Concerned about a wave of evictions, states like California are considering extending their individual eviction moratoria through the end of 2021. But “moratoria are not enough,” warns NHC's David Dworkin in a recent op-ed for CNN. “They simply kick the can down the road and allow the pressure to grow on both landlords and tenants.” Dworkin urged congressional leadership to come to an agreement, saying, “if Congress fails to act, millions will lose their homes during the most devastating state of the pandemic.”
Industry job announcement
NeighborWorks America is hiring. The organization is currently accepting applications for the position of Vice President of National Homeownership Programs and Lending. NeighborWorks is looking for an individual who will provide leadership and vision to continue to advance innovative solutions that address equitable access to affordable homeownership. The job is posted online and will close on Jan. 18.
CFPB finalizes changes to QM definition

On Thursday, CFPB published two final rules related to the “Qualified Mortgage” (QM) definition created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The first final rule amends the general QM definition and the second confirms the addition of a new Seasoned QM category. The amendments to the general QM definition include replacing the current debt-to-income (DTI) threshold with a new limit on loan pricing. This approach reflects the recommendations put forth by NHC and other housing organizations in a comment letter submitted in September, in which NHC said, “CFPB should adopt a price-based approach to QM rather than a DTI-based approach.”
“Through this general QM final rule, we are working to create an appropriate, more flexible general QM loan definition,” said CFPB Director Kathleen Kraninger. “Our final rule’s price-based approach strikes the best balance between assessing consumers’ ability to repay and promoting access to responsible, affordable mortgage credit.”
However, NHC, along with the Center for Responsible Lending, NAACP, National Community Reinvestment Coalition and other organizations, urged CFPB to refrain from adopting the seasoning approach. Under the new Seasoned QM category, mortgages will have to be first-lien, fixed-rate and meet performance requirements, including no more than two 30-day delinquencies and no 60-day delinquencies, over a 36-month period. Director Kraninger said, “this Seasoned QM final rule will ensure access to responsible, affordable credit in the mortgage market through responsible innovation.”
Facebook invests $150 million in Bay Area affordable housing 

Facebook announced the allocation of $150 million towards the creation of the new Community Housing Fund. The funds will be used to develop 2,000 affordable homes for households making less than 30% of the area median income in California. This allocation represents the largest private commitment to housing for extremely low-income households. This week’s announcement follows Facebook's $1 billion commitment last year to create as many as 20,000 affordable housing units in California.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom applauded Facebook’s contribution. “Facebook has stepped up to invest in success,” said Gov. Newsom. “This investment is part of Facebook’s $1 billion commitment they announced last year — and there is no better time to put this money to work. The COVID crisis demands we all step up and do more to protect the most vulnerable. I challenge other private sector corporations to follow suit and provide additional low-cost capital to create thousands more homeless housing units all across California.”
FHA announces appraisal updates and new FHA Catalyst capabilities

A temporary waiver issued by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) grants mortgage lenders more flexibility in adhering to requirements for field reviews of appraisals. Citing social distancing requirements, FHA’s announcement permits lenders to use third-party tools as an alternative. The policy waiver will remain in effect until further notice.
FHA also released a new version of the Electronic Appraisal Delivery Module for FHA Catalyst – FHA’s ongoing IT modernization initiative. The appraisal delivery functionality allows lenders to submit appraisals electronically, and updates in the module allow lenders to see hard stop and error messages without having to download a submission summary report. 
Chart of the week
Chart of the week: 48% of major cities have exhausted rent relief funds

With a national eviction crisis looming, Brookings warns that cities need to strengthen their rent relief programs. A recent article from Brookings points out that nearly half of the 25 largest U.S. cities have already exhausted the funds they set aside for rent relief. To improve program effectiveness for existing and future assistance, Brookings recommends local leaders think through “policy goals, tradeoffs and potential challenges upfront.” 
What we're reading
A new $10 million investment into D.C.’s Housing Stabilization Grants will allow smaller landlords to apply for rent relief on behalf of their tenants, according to Commercial Observer. “The Housing Stabilization Grants will help us protect our affordable housing stock and keep residents in their homes,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Under the program, landlords will be reimbursed 80% of the rent arrears covered by a grant (up to $2,000), and must forgive the remaining 20%.
The global pandemic has widened the achievement gap between White students and students from minority households, says Housing Partnership Equity Trust CEO and NHC Board Chair Anne McCulloch in her op-ed for the Washington Business Journal. Businesses can make a difference, however, in improving social equity, says McCulloch, who recommends businesses form partnerships with community groups and housing nonprofits, assess the needs of local school-age children and tailor their support accordingly.

New York City budget cuts could hurt low-income residents, Bloomberg reports. Declining revenues have led to spending cuts across many programs and services, including a reduction in the city’s capital commitment for affordable housing from $1.2 billion down to $741 million. Bloomberg also points out that the 16% decrease in rents in October does “little to provide housing for low-income New Yorkers.”
The week ahead
Monday, December 14
Tuesday, December 15
Wednesday, December 16
Thursday, December 17
The National Housing Conference has been defending the American Home since 1931. We believe everyone in America should have equal opportunity to live in a quality, affordable home in a thriving community. NHC convenes and collaborates with our diverse membership and the broader housing and community development sectors to advance our policy, research and communications initiatives to effect positive change at the federal, state and local levels. Politically diverse and nonpartisan, NHC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
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