Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
January 23, 2019
President's Message I By David M. Dworkin
Dear Friend,

As the partial shutdown of the federal government continues to drag on, housers across the country are feeling its impact and consumers are increasingly concerned that this unprecedented crisis of governing could literally impact them where they live. While the National Housing Conference (NHC) is not aware of anyone who has lost their home as a result of the shutdown yet, anxiety is high and multifamily property managers and owners are under increasing pressure as their reserves shrink. If the shutdown continues into February, the situation will deteriorate due to non-payments to owners of federally subsidized properties, as was noted in a comprehensive legal analysis written by the National Housing Law Project (NHLP) staff. 
As part of our ongoing efforts to provide succinct and nonpartisan information to our members and the general public we have issued a new press release on the impact of the shutdown on residents of federally subsidized housing. I will also be appearing on WUSA’s Off Script at 7 p.m. EST to discuss how federal employees and contractors should prepare to deal with their February housing payment. WUSA is the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C. and a great platform to begin informing those who have not been paid in January and are likely to miss their next paycheck on Friday how to communicate with the mortgage servicer or landlord, most of whom may not know they are federal workers. Our staff is also preparing detailed FAQs for federal workers and contractors on these issues with the help of several of our members. As this crisis continues, NHC is committed to being a practical resource for all those impacted.
As noted by the NHLP, “most residents should see little to no disruption in housing services at this time because rental assistance payments are expected to continue through February. HOWEVER, if the shutdown continues past the end of February, the situation dramatically deteriorates due to non-payments to almost all owners.” A recent article in the Huffington Post stated that “some renters in Arkansas are already facing eviction, thanks to the partial government shutdown.” The fact checking website Snopes.com quoted Representative Colling Peterson (D-Minn.), the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, which oversees the USDA, who said, “there is no way they can evict anybody.” That is true now, but not forever. In the meantime, fear and confusion – by landlords and tenants, serves no one. While Arkansas law allows for a three-day eviction notice, followed by removal without cause at the end of the lease term (in the case of month-to-month tenants, that would be Feb. 28), USDA regulations supersede state law according to the office of the Arkansas Attorney General. Last week, NHC contacted senior federal officials who intervened in these cases.
This tragic failure of government and governance can’t go on forever, but it is already significantly longer than any in history. As a nation, we are so much better than this. To whatever extent NHC can model an alternative to this zero sum game, we will continue to do so. 
David M. Dworkin
President and CEO
National Housing Conference
News from Washington I By Tristan Bréaux
Microsoft pledges $500 million for affordable housing initiatives

Microsoft announced plans for a major investment in King County in Washington over a three-year period to preserve existing affordable housing and spur new affordable housing construction. The announcement accompanies a joint declaration from the mayors of nine of the largest cities around Seattle to take steps to increase affordable housing capacity, including zoning changes, using public land, tax incentives and updating permitting processes.

Microsoft’s pledge includes three components: First, is for $225 million in investments at below market rate returns, focused on preserving and developing new middle-income housing on King County’s Eastside. The second is a $250 million investment at market rate returns to support low-income housing across the King County region. Finally, the company will provide $25 million in grants to address homelessness.
Fed studies show student debt impact on housing market

The Federal Reserve (Fed) released two papers describing the impact of student debt on the housing market. Student debt has more than doubled in real terms in the last decade, with average student loan debt for those ages 24 to 32 rising from about $5,000 in 2005 to $10,000 in 2014. The Fed’s study shows that “roughly 20 percent of the decline in homeownership among young adults can be attributed to their increased student loan debts since 2005.” Their work also documents a “rural brain drain” with a decline in college graduates living in rural areas.
Reminder: Participate in webinar tomorrow on FHLBanks Housing Goals Amendments Proposed Rule

Join NHC and Ted Wartell, manager, Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Housing and Community Investment, tomorrow at 3 p.m. EST to discuss the Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBanks) Housing Goals Amendments Proposed Rule.

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.

Housing market updates from Fannie Mae and the MBA

Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research Group predicts home prices will stabilize despite a slowdown in overall economic growth, according to their January 2019 Economic and Housing Outlook. They attributed this stabilization to the Federal Reserve’s decision to slow the pace of rate hikes. The result should be increased “affordability and buyer confidence.” Additionally, researchers predicted strong labor market conditions and demographic trends to provide a buffer against slowing multifamily construction. 
Currently, however, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA)’s weekly Mortgage Applications survey reported that mortgage applications fell by 2.7 percent last week. Despite this moderate decline, MBA Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting Joel Kan said, mortgage applications “remained at healthy levels, with the purchase index remaining close to a nine-year high, and the refinance index hovering near its highest level since last spring.” Borrowers saw increased rates for most loan types, Kan added, citing an increase in Treasury rates.
Member Highlight
NHC member receives recognition for leadership in affordable housing

by Andrea Nesby

On Jan. 15, John O’Callaghan, president and CEO of NHC member the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP), Inc. was presented the Beverly Faull Affordable Housing Leadership Award by Down Payment Resource. The award, which is named after successful real estate veteran Beverly Faull, recognizes an individual who has demonstrated leadership in providing more access to homeownership and affordable housing finance solutions. O’Callaghan is the first recipient.

“It is an honor to receive an award in Beverly Faull’s memory. She was of a pioneer in the housing sector. Her commitment to homeownership leaves a legacy that will continue to touch countless families. We share her commitment to increasing homeownership and treasure the work of Down Payment Resource,” said O’Callaghan in a news release by Down Payment Resource.

O’Callaghan was previously recognized by NHC at our Annual Housing Visionary Awards Gala in 2015 for leading ANDP's role in the Piece by Piece Regional Foreclosure Response Initiative in Atlanta, Ga. This initiative coordinated strategies to reduce metro Atlanta's underwater rate to pre-Recession levels so that hard-hit neighborhoods could finally begin to recover and thrive. He currently co-chairs NHC’s Policy Committee. 
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 © 2019. All Rights Reserved.