Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
News from Washington | By Luke Villalobos
Housing leaders react to eviction moratorium overturn

Throughout last week, housing groups and industry leaders have reacted to the Supreme Court's overturn of the eviction moratorium. The decision sparked immediate calls to action from various agencies to avoid a landslide of evictions, including the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. U.S. Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge also issued a statement expressing disappointment. TheNational Multifamily Housing Council supported the Supreme Court decision, stating that “a long-term eviction moratorium was never the right policy. It does nothing to speed the delivery of real solutions for America’s renters and ignores the unsustainable and unfair economic burden placed on millions of housing providers, jeopardizing their financial stability and threatening the loss of affordable housing stock nationwide. 

The latest ruling to overturn the CDC’s eviction moratorium “makes it all the more important to disburse the funds that have been allocated to communities to provide rent assistance to qualified renters and landlords,” David Dworkin, the CEO of the National Housing Conference, said in a statement. “For over a year, many apartment owners have covered the expenses and lost rent for renters unable to pay due to the pandemic. Most are small ‘mom and pop’ landlords who depend on rental income to get by. State and local governments must do whatever is necessary to move this historic amount of support or return funds for reallocation to grantees who are successfully getting the money out.” According to Goldman Sachs, the overturn could impact 750,000 renters by the end of this year alone. 

Last Friday, Secretary Fudge, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, and Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice Merrick Garland collectively sent a letter to state and local governments urging them to utilize the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funds to prevent unnecessary evictions however possible. This includes enacting local moratoriums, working with local courts to promote ERA, staying procedures during pending ERA applications, and other strategies. 
HUD announces disaster measures for Louisiana and California

HUD announced this week that it would implement several disaster assistance measures for Louisiana and California in the wake of natural disasters in both states.

In Louisiana, HUD is responding to Hurricane Ida by offering several forms of housing relief to residents of parishes where President Biden declared a state of emergency on August 29. These include protections for FHA-insured homeowners, such as a 90-day foreclosure moratorium and insurance for mortgages and home rehabilitation. They also include offering flexibility to local governments and housing agencies that will be unable to meet administrative requirements in the wake of the storm.

In California, HUD approved the state government's plan to use disaster mitigation funds to build resilience against future wildfires. California's plan proposes spending nearly $70 million in Community Development Block Grant Mitigation funds to protect communities against future wildfires through ecological management and improving evacuation routes, and conducting public outreach on fire risk management. 
White House to address housing supply shortage

The White House unveiled a plan of action on Wednesday to address the shortage of entry-level homes in the housing market. Over the summer, the housing market has been significantly overheated, with home values reaching record highs. Investors and cash buyers have had a disproportionate impact on the market, pricing out many first-time homebuyers. The plan is expected to create 100,000 affordable homes over the next three years.

The plan includes steps to increase the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) market, expand grants for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and increase financing for manufactured housing. The plan also includes measures to boost purchases of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) distressed properties by owner-occupants and nonprofits. Finally, the plan reestablishes the Federal Financing Bank and HUD Risk Sharing Program, allowing local housing finance agencies access to the Federal Finance Bank low-cost financing if they share 50% of the risk with FHA on multifamily properties.
HUD announces funding for lead abatement, Indian housing and fair housing enforcement

On August 26, HUD announced that it would distribute just under $95 million available for state and local lead abatement programs. The funding, disbursed through HUD's Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction and Healthy Homes Supplemental Funding programs, was awarded to 27 local governments and the State of Ohio to clean up hazardous lead in older residences. Federal lead abatement programs are expected to get a boost from the bipartisan infrastructure bill currently under consideration, which dedicates $15 billion to replace lead pipes across the country. However, that figure is a third of the $45 billion experts estimate would be necessary to remove all the nation's lead pipes, and some science suggests that drinking water contamination is not the most important avenue of lead exposure.

On August 27, HUD announced another disbursement of $171 million to maintain and create affordable housing in Native American communities. The funding bundles two separate opportunities, one through the Indian Housing Block Grant and one through the Indian Community Development Block Grant, which primarily benefits working-class residents of Native communities.

On Thursday, HUD awarded over $47 million to 120 fair housing groups through its Fair Housing Initiatives program. $34 million will go toward the organizations' enforcement of fair housing laws through fair housing testing and reporting suspected discrimination to HUD. The remainder of the funds will go toward administrative costs and awareness activities.
FHFA announces two staffing changes

On Monday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) named Laura Thrift as the new director of its Office of Congressional Affairs, and Alexei Alexandrov as its new chief economist. Thrift formerly worked on Capitol Hill for 15 years in the offices of Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). Alexandrov worked for several years in the private sector, including as a Senior Manager at Amazon, and served as Senior Economist at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

In a statement, Acting FHFA Director Sandra Thompson said, "[Thrift's] experience will help FHFA continue to be transparent about our policies and rationale with members of Congress, stakeholders, and the press." Thompson noted Alexandrov's central role in determining how FHFA can balance risk management with equity. "The research he will lead, using the latest techniques in econometrics and machine learning, will help inform policy decisions that allow FHFA to maintain the safety and soundness of our regulated entities while promoting equitable access to safe, decent, and affordable housing opportunities throughout the nation," she said.
Former SunTrust CEO will head Truist

NHC member Truist Financial announced on August 17 that its President and COO William Rogers would succeed Kelly King as the bank's CEO on September 12. Rogers, the former CEO of SunTrust, has been scheduled to take over the company since its creation through the merger of SunTrust and BB&T in 2019. King has served as CEO since the merger, and before that was the longtime CEO of BB&T as well as the director of the Richmond Federal Reserve.

As part of his transition to the role of CEO, Rogers named a new executive leadership committee, most composed of longtime BB&T and SunTrust employees. "It will be an honor to serve as the next CEO of Truist and succeed Kelly, whose inspirational leadership has made an enduring, positive impact on our clients, teammates, communities and me personally," Rogers said.
NAR seeks Federal Housing and Fair Lending Policy Representative

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is currently seeking a Federal Housing and Fair Lending Policy Representative to join their team. The position will primarily handle legislative affairs related to fair lending and federal housing issues, and work collaboratively on regulatory policy. Interested candidates can apply on NAR's applicant portal.
Chart of the week
Chart of the week: Remote work hurt service workers but could lower housing costs

working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that remote work was most common in the country's most densely populated cities because they had the highest concentration of workers whose jobs were easily done from home (known as "skilled scalable services" or SSS). The authors find that this trend negatively impacted service workers in these cities, who found themselves suddenly without their customer base, but posit that future trends toward remote work could lower housing prices in expensive urban cores.
What we're reading
Vox published an article and the corresponding video explaining the impact of zoning regulations and how they have ultimately made housing more expensive. The explanation includes issues of historical segregation and persisting inequalities in the housing market based on local and state zoning laws. 

CityLab covers a study that finds that cities characterized by large skyscrapers are not as effective at limiting carbon emissions as cities with a large inventory of missing middle housing. According to CityLab, "a densely packed city of low-rises — think central Paris, where buildings typically stay below 10 stories — may be the best kind of urban environment for curbing carbon, even if they use more land than a high-rise-filled one that accommodates the same number of people."
As most jurisdictions struggle to distribute federal emergency rental assistance funds, Shelterforce covers Santa Fe's use of CARES Act funds in late 2020 to provide timely rent assistance to families with minimal documentation requirements. Santa Fe was ultimately able to distribute $5.2 million to 12,462 households in six weeks.

The Wall Street Journal covers the stifling of mobility in the United States as movement patterns across state lines have slowed down in recent years. Since 2007, geographic mobility has dropped one-third, and fewer than 4% of Americans move across counties annually. A combination of factors, including the pandemic, land use regulations, and growing home prices, are to blame. 
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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