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Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
News from Washington I By Quinn Mulholland
Congress passes third Coronavirus relief package

After being passed by the House of Representatives , President Trump signed into law a massive $2 trillion package to stimulate the economy amidst the Coronavirus crisis on Friday. Leaders in the Senate  reached an agreement  on the bill earlier in the week, and passed it Wednesday night after hours of contentious debate.
The bill includes several measures advocated for by housing stakeholders to help homeowners, renters and the homeless, including provisions to ban evictions and provide mortgage forbearance for homeowners with federally backed mortgages. The bill also commits new funds to several housing programs , including $5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program, $1.25 billion in tenant-based rental assistance, $685 million for public housing, and $4 billion in Emergency Solutions Grants for homeless shelters and outreach workers.
Members of Congress are already planning for the fourth Coronavirus relief package , focusing on further stimulating the economy and providing relief to impacted workers.
FHFA, GSEs announce eviction, mortgage relief plans

FHFA announced plans on Monday to provide protections against evictions for renters in multifamily properties with federally-backed mortgages. The agency said it would offer multifamily property owners mortgage forbearance on the condition that they “suspend all evictions for renters unable to pay rent due to the impact of Coronavirus.” National Multifamily Housing Council President Doug Bibby welcomed this move in a statement , calling it “a necessary step.” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac subsequently announced their own eviction protection plans on Tuesday.

With many cities at risk of mortgage delinquency spikes, the GSEs also announced a plan on Wednesday to allow borrowers facing hardship to defer two months of mortgage payments. Meanwhile, several other government agencies and private companies unveiled plans to help struggling homeowners, with USDA Rural Development announcing a 60-day foreclosure moratorium and California Governor Gavin Newsom announcing five large banks in the state agreed to a 90-day foreclosure freeze.

Industry advocates are also calling for relief for mortgage lenders, servicers, and landlords as more cities enact eviction and mortgage relief measures . In response to these calls, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced on Thursday it will provide flexibility for regulated entities, including waiving HMDA reporting requirements for certain lenders.
Federal Reserve, FHFA announce new efforts to support liquidity in mortgage market

On Monday, the Federal Reserve announced new measures to support the economy, including the purchasing of unlimited amounts of U.S. government bonds and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) “to support smooth market functioning.” MBA President and CEO Bob Broeksmit praised the Fed’s announcement, saying it “will not only protect consumers by stabilizing mortgage rates for home purchases, but it will also help homeowners to refinance their loans and support multifamily real estate markets.”

The New York Federal Reserve announced on Thursday that it will buy as much as $1 billion in commercial MBS – the first time the Fed has ventured into this market segment.

FHFA also made two announcements last week, authorizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to enter into additional dollar roll transactions and directing them to provide alternatives to satisfy appraisal and employment verification requirements. These moves are part of an effort by the FHFA to facilitate liquidity in the primary and secondary mortgage market.

The impact of these actions on the housing market is yet to be seen as mortgage applications continue to fall and non-QM lending disappears from the market. Several industry groups are calling on the Fed to take further action to help mortgage servicers and lenders, including the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, which sent a letter to the Fed on Wednesday requesting emergency assistance for nonbank servicers.
Lawmakers introduce additional legislation to help homeless, renters, homeowners

Beyond the $2 trillion stimulus package passed last week, lawmakers on Capitol Hill introduced several other Coronavirus relief measures related to housing. Several lawmakers introduced legislation to protect public housing residents during the crisis. Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.)  introduced  a bill that would require public housing agencies (PHAs) to inform all residents when a COVID-19 outbreak is detected in their building and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio)  introduced  a bill to require PHAs to establish protocols to mitigate the spread of the disease.
Lawmakers also addressed vulnerable renters. Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.)  introduced  legislation to provide emergency rental assistance through the Emergency Solutions Grant program and Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) introduced  a bill to temporarily suspend rent contributions owed by federally assisted renters. Rep. Jesύs “Chuy” García (D-Ill.)  introduced legislation to enact a nationwide eviction moratorium.
Other housing-related legislation introduced last week included  a bill  from Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) to provide $15.5 billion in emergency grants to homeless communities and service providers and  a bill  from Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) to create a $35 billion Homeowner Assistance Fund as part of  a larger package of bills  introduced by House Financial Services Committee Democrats in response to the Coronavirus crisis.
Chart of the Week
NAHB map shows states where home builders and contractors may continue working

The  National Association of Home Builders  released  a map  on Tuesday showing which states have deemed construction workers, including those working on home building, essential. As the map illustrates, the majority of states that have issued an order to close non-essential businesses, with exemptions for home builders and contractors.
What we're reading
In an interview published on Tuesday, Low Income Investment Fund President and CEO Daniel Nissenbaum and former President and CEO Nancy Andrews examined the evolution of the community development sector. During their conversation, the pair discussed how community development leaders are attempting to change their organizations and the broader structures within which they operate to prioritize racial and gender equity.  Read the interview here .

PBS recently aired a documentary on East Lake Meadows, a former public housing project in Atlanta. The documentary, which was produced by Ken Burns, delves into the history of the housing project, its demolition, and the broader lessons it provides for public housing across the country.  Watch the documentary here

Undark Magazine delved into the issue of mold in public housing around the country in a recent article. Exposure to mold is linked to health issues like asthma, and with climate change increasing the frequency and severity of flooding across the country, according to the article, mold is affecting public housing units from New York to New Orleans.  Read the article here .
The week ahead
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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