In light of COVID-19, we are temporarily making our Member Brief available to non-members. If you wish to join, click here.
Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
News from Washington
CDC issues eviction moratorium guidance  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday released new resources on its eviction moratorium, including a declaration template and FAQs, prepared in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Justice.

The FAQs answer common questions, including how struggling renters can access the protections provided by the order, the impact on renters that were recently evicted and whether or not the CDC is also providing rental assistance. State supreme courts and legal organizations across the country continue to interpret and implement the CDC order to halt evictions for certain renters.
The FAQs cover a wide range of topics applicable to landlords, renters, state courts and legal aid organizations, such as “What is CDC’s legal authority for issuing this order?” and “How does the federal government intend to enforce this order?” For questions not answered by the FAQs, the CDC instructs individuals to “seek the assistance of a legal aid program or private legal counsel.”
As part of the COVID-19 Housing Resource Center, NHC has also compiled dozens of resources related to the CDC’s eviction moratorium and its implementation in several states including Alaska, Georgia, Iowa, Oklahoma, Michigan, Texas and more.
Flood insurance program preserved by last-minute extension

The stopgap spending bill signed by the president last week included a last-minute extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The resolution extends this important program through Sept. 31, 2021, however, falls short of a long-term reauthorization. The last time NFIP was reauthorized occurred in 2012, which expired in 2017. Since then, the program has operated on short-term extensions.

NFIP has more than 5 million flood insurance policies, representing more than $1.3 trillion in insurance coverage. The program takes on increasing significance in the midst of a hurricane season that continues to break records, including 22 storms with the earliest formation date ever recorded, the highest number of hurricane landfalls in over 100 years and the most storms formed in a single day.

Housing organizations applauded the extension. "NAR thanks lawmakers for including a one-year extension of the National Flood Insurance Program in this Continuing Resolution, but the job is not done,” said Vince Malta, president of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR)."As the 116th Congress nears its end, the House and Senate are missing a golden, bipartisan opportunity to move meaningful NFIP reform legislation authored by Chairwoman Maxine Waters and Ranking Member Patrick McHenry, which addresses the program’s viability and affordability. NAR urges Congress to make long-term reform a priority moving forward."

Members of Congress from areas of the country impacted by severe flooding expressed their support of the extension. "This NFIP extension means that those who flood will have support to recover. I will continue to work to make NFIP more affordable and accessible," said Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), who’s home state incurred an estimated $12 billion in damages as a result of Hurricane Laura in August.
Status of stimulus negotiations in flux

On Tuesday, President Trump instructed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to cease negotiations around a phase IV stimulus package. While he left the door open to piecemeal relief legislation, such as stimulus checks, the president instructed the Senate GOP to focus on confirming his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
The announcement followed weeks of discussions between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and comes after the House voted in the prior week to approve a slightly smaller version of the Heroes Act. The House’s new legislation would provide $2.2 trillion in new stimulus spending, including $50 billion in much-needed emergency rental assistance and $21 billion for states and localities to support struggling homeowners. 
Several members of Congress criticized the decision, including Speaker Pelosi and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who said in a statement, “Our economy is in a deep recession. Yet, the President is walking away from efforts to provide folks who are struggling with the relief they need to survive.”

However, following renewed interest in additional stimulus from the White House, particularly for the airlines, small businesses and individual households, Secretary Mnuchin and Speaker Pelosi resumed discussions on Thursday.
In his remarks before the National Association for Business Economics this week, Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell warned that “too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses.” He added, “By contrast, the risks of overdoing it seem, for now, to be smaller. Even if policy actions ultimately prove to be greater than needed, they will not go to waste.”
HUD expands waiver of certain program requirements during COVID-19

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) continues to expand temporary waivers of certain program criteria to ease underwriting and legal requirements during the pandemic. In addition to its flexibilities for reverification of employment and exterior-only or desktop-only appraisals, which remain in effect through Oct. 31, HUD recently announced two new waivers.

The first waiver allows non-borrowing spouses (NBS) in Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM) to enter a deferral period if they’re unable to meet the 90-day requirement to establish legal ownership of their property in the event of their spouse’s death. “FHA recognizes the National Emergency declaration and resulting closures of courthouses, government offices, and other businesses may make it difficult for an eligible NBS to obtain the needed documents to establish legal ownership or legal right to remain in the property securing the HECM,” HUD said in an announcement. The provision will help NBS avoid unnecessary foreclosure.

The second waiver complements existing appraisal flexibilities allowing exterior-only or desktop-only inspections by pausing the requirement for photographs of a property’s interior during COVID-19.
$1 billion affordable housing fund would create or preserve 10,000 homes

This week, the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF) and National Affordable Housing Trust (NAHT) announced a new joint venture to raise $1 billion to construct or preserve roughly 10,000 affordable homes over the first five years of their partnership.

“Public health is not only threatened by COVID-19, but by the recession that is sure to follow, which in the past prompted private equity to gobble up distressed real estate assets at bargain prices, dramatically increasing rents and deepening the inequities in our nation’s housing system,” said LIIF President Kimberly Latimer-Nelligan, SAHF President and CEO Andrea R. Ponsor and NAHT President and CEO Lori Little in an op-ed for Affordable Housing Finance. “It is urgent to combat this momentum by preserving and building new affordable housing so this does not happen again.”

Citing the fallout after previous recessions, such as the 2008 financial crisis, Little said, “We will proactively equip affordable housing developers with financing solutions that will allow them to be competitive. We will challenge the status quo to ensure an equitable recovery.”
Chart of the Week
Chart of the week: All states hit hard by economic recession

No region of the country has been spared from the economic fallout of COVID-19. The National Association of Home Builders reported on recent data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which found that real gross domestic product (GDP) declined dramatically from the first quarter to the second quarter of this year in all 50 states. The Rocky Mountain region saw the smallest retreat in GDP, with a 27.6% decline, whereas the Mideast region saw the greatest losses, declining 34%.
What we're reading
Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index for September reflected an increasingly optimistic economic and housing outlook. Consumers reported improved expectations for the housing market, home price gains and the job market. Citing the recent purchase demand, Fannie Mae’s Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Doug Duncan said, “We believe the wild card to be whether enough sellers enter the market to continue to meet the strong homebuying demand. The home purchase market requires the proper mix of home price growth and continued economic recovery to achieve sustainable levels of housing activity.”

Eviction filings in New York City remain well below normal levels because of the CDC agency order, as well as the state’s own eviction moratorium. NYU’s Furman Center reported that there were roughly 10,000 evictions from mid-March to mid-September, whereas the city would typically see 77,000 eviction filings over this period. The Furman Center credited eviction moratoriums, the automatic suspension of eviction filings, and the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, recently signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, for the sustained low rate of evictions.

Could COVID-19 actually improve affordable housing? A recent analysis from the Washington Post suggests that the experiences of the past six months have “shifted the debate” around affordable housing as policymakers and lawmakers at every level of government consider new ideas such as rent subsidies, eviction and foreclosure protections, incentivizing construction with tax credits and rethinking where people live.
The week ahead
Monday, October 12

Tuesday, October 13
NLIHC: COVID-19 working group call, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. ET

Wednesday, October 14

Thursday, October 15

Friday, October 16
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.
Defending our American Home since 1931
Copyright © 2020. All Rights Reserved.