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
CARES Act eviction moratorium expires, leaving tenants vulnerable

The eviction moratorium established under the CARES Act expired on Friday, leaving millions of renters across the country at risk of eviction. Landlords of the 12.3 million rental units in federally-backed properties covered by the moratorium can now give tenants 30 days’ notice before filing an eviction. “We are looking at an eviction cliff, and once we fall over it, it will be hard to climb back,” NHC President and CEO David Dworkin told the Washington Post. Reports are already emerging of landlords beginning to file evictions even before the federal moratorium ended. Several cities across the country, including Boston and Richmond, California, extended local eviction moratoriums last week, and others, including Toledo, Austin and Fort Bend County, Texas, rolled out rental assistance programs to help local renters make housing payments. Advocates argue that these local rental assistance programs are not enough, with some being almost immediately overwhelmed by demand, and that a federal rental assistance program is needed. A group of Democratic Sens. led by Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), meanwhile, raised concerns that landlords were illegally evicting tenants despite moratoriums and called for stricter enforcement of the federal moratorium in a letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson.
Senate Democrats propose $350 billion investment in communities of color

On July 16, Senate Democrats led by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) unveiled the Economic Justice Act, which would invest $350 billion in Black communities and other communities of color. These investments include a $40 billion new homeowner down payment tax credit, $115 billion in infrastructure investments including affordable housing, $25 billion in renters tax credits, and $5 billion in Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). “The Economic Justice Act is a needed step in a long journey to address systematic racism and historic underinvestment in communities of color,” Minority Leader Schumer said in a statement.

Several other senators also recently introduced housing-related legislation. On July 16, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) introduced the RELIEF Act, which would extend and expand the eviction and foreclosure moratorium for a year and prevent utility cut-offs, rent increases and negative credit reporting to help renters and homeowners stay in their homes. On Wednesday, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced the Promoting Access to Credit for Homebuyers Act, which would bar Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from charging lenders fees for loans in forbearance. Meanwhile, House Democrats continued to urge their colleagues in the Senate to pass the HEROES Act, passed in the House in May, with the House Financial Services Committee holding a hearing on the importance of the legislation, including the $100 billion in emergency rental assistance included in the package.
New study shows racial disparity in mortgage interest payments

A study released by on Monday showed that homebuyers in predominantly Black communities were issued mortgage loans with interest rates that were 13 basis points higher than those issued to homebuyers in predominantly White communities. The study is based on an analysis of mortgage data from 2018 and 2019 from real estate company Optimal Blue. It comes as housing industry stakeholders are increasingly scrutinizing the ways that systemic racism manifests itself in the housing sector in the wake of the national protests spurred by the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. On Tuesday, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) sent a letter to the leadership of the House Financial Services Committee calling on the committee to take action to increase the Black homeownership rate in order to ensure that the COVID-19 crisis does not lead to a further widening of the racial wealth gap.

NHC convened leaders from across the housing industry for its Black Homeownership Working Group on Thursday to discuss a 10-point plan to increase the Black homeownership rate to 50% by 2025. If you would like to be a part of this Working Group, email
Carson terminates fair housing rule

On Thursday, Secretary Carson announced that HUD will terminate the Obama-era Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. The rule, which was adopted in 2015, provides mechanisms for enforcing the Fair Housing Act of 1968 in local communities that fail to address continuing racial segregation. In a statement, Secretary Carson said that after reviewing public comments on the agency’s proposed changes to the rule, HUD determined it was “unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with, too often resulting in funds being steered away from communities that need them most.” The announcement came after President Trump tweeted on June 30 that the rule is “having a devastating impact on these once thriving suburban areas” and threatened to revoke it. NHC joined fair housing advocates and housing industry groups to strongly condemn Secretary Carson’s announcement. In a statement, Dworkin said, “Eliminating the AFFH regulation is an invitation to do nothing to address the impact local policies and practices can have on increasing racial inequality.” NAR President Vince Malta issued a statement saying the termination of the AFFH rule “significantly weakens the federal government’s commitment to the goals of the Fair Housing Act.”
FHFA proposes 2021 housing goals for GSEs

On Monday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) proposed its 2021 housing goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The proposed goals extend the GSEs’ current benchmarks and only apply to 2021, rather than the normal three-year period, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The goals for single-family homes include that 24% of mortgages purchased by the GSEs are for low-income borrowers and 14% of the mortgages are for homes in low-income areas. On the multifamily side, the goals include that at least 315,000 federally financed rental units are available to low-income tenants, and at least 60,000 available to very low-income tenants.
Chart of the Week
Mortgage rates reach record lows

A recent NPR analysis of mortgage rate data from Freddie Mac showed that mortgage rates continued to reach record lows in the week ending on July 16, dropping below 3% for the first time since records began in 1971. According to the analysis, record-low mortgage rates will likely spur a spike in refinancing activity but are unlikely to provide much of a boost to the broader economy.
What we're reading
A recent report by Laurie Goodman and Michael Neal for the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center examines a new FHFA mortgage penalty on lenders whose loans go into forbearance before they are delivered to Ginnie Mae or the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) to be packaged into securities. This penalty, according to the report, is blocking homeownership and refinancing opportunities for 255,000 borrowers. Read the full report here.

In an article published Wednesday, Politico’s Katy O’Donnell examined how the housing market has been relatively stable amidst the wider economic turmoil resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the article, this is due to the housing market’s “enormously pent-up demand,” which has been stoked by the crisis. Read the article here.

On Wednesday, the ACTION Campaign published updated national, state and district fact sheets on the impact and benefits of LIHTC. The campaign reports that since the program’s inception, LIHTC has financed the development or preservation of over 3.3 million homes across the country. Read the fact sheets 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.
Defending our American Home since 1931
Copyright © 2020. All Rights Reserved.