Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
January 16, 2019
President's Message I By David M. Dworkin
Dear Friend,

As the partial government shutdown crawls into its fourth week, anxiety among those housed with money from the unfunded Department of Housing and Urban Development continues to rise. This crisis is completely unnecessary and irresponsible. As I said in my note last week, no one wins in a government shutdown. Yet our “leaders” continue to negotiate by tweet and sound bite. On Tuesday, I appeared on FOX Business News and made this point with Neil Cavuto. Affordable housing advocates need to be careful to provide vitally needed facts to our constituents and avoid unnecessarily stoking the fears of innocent low-income people, especially the thousands of senior citizens and people with disabilities living in Section 202 and 811 units. 

Our must vulnerable constituents are understandably terrified that they will be put out on the street in the middle of winter and we do not need to add to their anxiety. Media reports often antagonize these fears, and some have sought to leverage them on behalf of a broader political agenda. NHC is in touch with senior officers at HUD on a regular basis to ascertain what is being done to address this unprecedented crisis in government and political leadership. There are also 800,000 federal government employees who are furloughed or working without pay who will have to make their first rent or mortgage payment without a paycheck on Feb. 1 – two weeks from now. Every day the stalemate continues, pressure increases on both the White House and Congress to reach a settlement, so there is no guarantee that the government will still be shut down in February, but we are in uncharted water and anything is possible.

Here’s what we know. There are 1,175 rental contracts that have not been renewed due to the shutdown, impacting 41,980 units – and about half of these are occupied by low-income seniors. A complete breakdown of these numbers is included in the chart below. None of these residents are currently at risk of being evicted. Not one. This could change if the crisis extends past February, but it is not the case for at least several more weeks. HUD has staff throughout the country working with landlords to ensure this does not happen. Contracts are being paid with available funds, and landlords are being told to use their reserves to cover operating expenses. Should the crisis drag on into February, another 500 contracts will be impacted, and drawing down reserves will be more common. It is a stressful time for landlords including many of our members who are struggling to deal with the many uncertainties. All landlords of Section 8 and other federally-funded tenants should refer to this important memo, which outline activities that will continue to take place during the first 30 business days of the shutdown and contact their Asset Management Division Director representative with any issues. 
It is also important to note federal workers and contractors are not at risk of foreclosure due to failure to pay their mortgages during the shutdown. All workers and contractors are urged to call their mortgage servicer. Government employees and contractors aren’t going to face their first payment without a paycheck until Feb. 1. FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have told their mortgage servicers to treat these homeowners like victims of a natural disaster.

NHC strongly recommends that if the crisis drags on another two weeks, federal employees should call their servicer on Feb. 1 if they are going to miss a payment. Servicers have also been instructed not to report these late payments to credit reporting bureaus, but homeowners should also check with the three credit reporting agencies in March to ensure that this request has been honored. Federal employees and contractors who rent, however, are not covered by these policies. They should also contact their landlord on Feb. 1 – in writing – to request forbearance during the crisis. Only the worst landlords will threaten eviction and it is highly unlikely that they will go through the expense of an eviction procedure over a late payment due to a national crisis. Communication is critical.

Homebuyers shopping for a new home this winter may be concerned about the availability of FHA mortgages. I have been told by FHA’s senior leadership that FHA endorsements on single family mortgages are being made. However, endorsements on new FHA multifamily closings are being delayed.

NHC will continue to closely monitor the situation and share resources accordingly. 

David M. Dworkin
President and CEO
National Housing Conference
News from Washington I By Tristan Bréaux
Register for the January Restoring Neighborhoods webinar

Register now to join NHC on Thursday, Jan. 24 from 3-4 p.m. EST for a webinar presentation from Ted Wartell, manager, Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Office of Housing and Community Investment, on its new proposed rule, Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBanks) Housing Goals Amendments.

The proposed rule would:

  • Set a single prospective mortgage purchase housing goal as a share of each FHLBanks’ total Acquired Member Asset purchases.
  • Set a new small member participation housing goal for participation by small institutions.
  • Eliminate the volume threshold and instead allow FHLBanks to propose different goals levels for mortgage purchases and small member participation, subject to FHFA approval.
  • Simplify and expand the eligibility criteria to enable federally backed loans to count for goals purposes.

FHFA is seeking comments on proposed amendments to the existing regulation for the new housing goals. Deadline is Jan. 31. 
House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters gives first major policy address

Housing was prominently featured in Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) first major housing address earlier today at the Center for Community Progress. Waters spoke in detail about her plans to support the mission of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, increase funding to end homelessness and address the 10 year long conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

She stated: “This country is experiencing a housing affordability and homelessness crisis. Today, there are over half a million people experiencing homelessness here in the richest country in the world, over one-fifth of whom are children. This includes veterans who we failed to support when they returned home after serving our country, women fleeing domestic violence, people who have left prison after serving their debt to society, and people who have simply fallen on hard times. It is simply shameful, and Congress has a responsibility to act.”

Waters made an appeal for bipartisanship, citing long-term reauthorization and reform of the National Flood Insurance Program, Terrorism Risk Insurance, and the reauthorization of the job-creating Export-Import Bank as areas where the committee Democrats and Republicans could work together.

A complete copy of her remarks is available here.
Kaiser Permanente and Enterprise Community Partners make major investment in health and housing 

Kaiser Permanente, the largest private integrated healthcare system in the U.S., announced that it will partner with NHC member Enterprise Community Partners in a new Housing for Health Fund. The health care giant will invest $15 million in the fund and will match up to $35 million in additional funds to be raised by Enterprise. Potentially totaling $85 million, the fund will serve more than a dozen Bay Area counties, with half of the capital designated to promote health and preserve affordable homes in the city of Oakland. Through the Housing for Health Fund, qualified developers will preserve homes that also support healthy communities. Developers will implement low-cost, high-impact energy-efficient strategies; administer  Health Action Plans to identify health gaps in surrounding communities; and conduct annual resident surveys to assess health strategies.

Also announced: a $100 million national loan fund that includes a $50 million loan from Kaiser Permanente to Enterprise Community Loan Fund, plus an additional $50 million in capital from Loan Fund over the next decade to create and preserve 3,250 affordable homes in Kaiser Permanente’s nationwide service areas.
Grounded Solutions Network launches ForEveryoneHome initiative

Grounded Solutions Network seeks applications for its new ForEveryoneHome initiative – an 18-month program that will help a select group of cities chart a path to inclusive growth through lasting affordability. With a 2-to-1 funding match from the Ford Foundation, this is a real opportunity for cities experiencing renewed growth to “get ahead of the curve” on market conditions, and to take action to protect affordability and diversity in changing neighborhoods before displacement pressures become too great. Applications are due Feb. 28, 2019. If you have any questions, contact State and Local Policy Senior Specialist Matt Weber at [email protected]
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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