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Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
News from Washington I By Quinn Mulholland
Calabria says FHFA won’t provide servicer liquidity facility

In an interview on Tuesday with HousingWire discussing a liquidity facility for mortgage servicers to address an increase in forbearance, FHFA Director Mark Calabria said, “we don’t have the resources at Fannie and Freddie.” Despite urgent calls for such a facility from mortgage industry groups, Calabria said that the GSEs can “deal with any servicers that may be distressed, so that we can either turn them into subservicers or transfer their servicing to other parties.” In response, mortgage industry leaders panned Calabria’s comments, arguing that mortgage servicers need immediate help. “The FHFA Director's recent statements send a troubling message to borrowers, lenders, and the mortgage market,” Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) President and CEO Robert Broeksmit said in a statement , adding that given the flood of forbearance requests faced by mortgage servicers as a result of the CARES Act, Calabria “should advocate for the creation of a liquidity facility at the Fed to ensure the stability of the housing finance market.” A recent MBA report showed that mortgage forbearance requests grew by 1,270% between the week of March 2 and the week of March 16, and another 1,896% between the week of March 16 and the week of March 30. A bipartisan group of senators joined the push for federal liquidity help on Wednesday, sending a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urging him to direct federal funding toward addressing mortgage servicers’ liquidity challenges. And Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell left the door open for the Fed to provide additional support for mortgage servicers in a Brookings Institution webcast , saying Fed officials are “watching carefully the situation with the mortgage servicers.”
Save the date
FHFA Director Mark Calabria will join NHC for a webinar on the FHFA's response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, April 23 at 2pm ET . Stay tuned for more details on the webinar in the coming days.
NHC submits CRA comment letter

On Wednesday, NHC submitted comments in response to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC)’s and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) on Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulations. In the letter, NHC expressed concern that the proposed rule will likely reduce the number of investments in underserved communities, harm low- and moderate-income people, and make both bank performance and government enforcement less transparent and predictable. In a statement following the submission, NHC President and CEO David Dworkin called for both agencies to postpone regulatory action on CRA and all other regulatory processes not directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Although CRA regulatory action is important to better serve communities throughout the nation and adapt to an evolved banking industry, now is not the time to divert any of our nation’s resources away from the urgent task at hand—combating COVID-19,” Dworkin said. Several other organizations and public officials, including House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) , also called for the halt of non-essential rulemaking.
LIHTC investors back off amid turmoil in housing market

Some Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) investors are pausing their investing until there is more certainty in the market, according to a recent report by Globe St. This could have an impact on the number of LIHTC projects that can be completed, as Deirde Robinson, a partner at Sullivan & Worcester, told Globe St: “If investors stop investing, deals will not get done, or they will get done at a much slower pace.” LIHTC property owners are already facing a decline in short-term rental receipts, according to Novogradac . A group of housing industry stakeholders sent a letter to officials at the IRS and the Treasury Department requesting deadline extensions and other regulatory relief for the LIHTC program in light of the disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic. The ACTION Campaign, which NHC is a part of, also published a list of proposals to shore up the LIHTC market, including enacting a minimum 4 percent rate.
States, cities enact further protections for renters

California and Florida were among the latest states to enact bans on evictions and foreclosures as local officials continued to act to protect renters impacted by the Coronavirus crisis, many of whom were not protected from eviction under the CARES Act. Tenant advocates in places like California, however, warned that eviction moratoriums do not go far enough to address the needs of vulnerable renters, as they still face eviction after the crisis subsides. These concerns come as some landlords reportedly continue to evict tenants despite the moratorium. Washington, D.C. was among several cities that went further than moratoriums last week, passing a rent freeze throughout the city for the duration of the crisis. Meanwhile, data began to emerge last week on how many renters were not able to pay their rent for April. The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) reported that almost one-third of renters did not pay any April rent during the first week of the month. With landlords facing lower revenue streams, multifamily industry groups like NMHC are amplifying calls for relief for rental property owners in addition to renters.

In a  recent op-ed , NHC President and CEO David Dworkin called for congressionally-provided rental assistance and raised concerns about rent strikes rather than rent relief. Renters who have not lost their jobs, or are receiving full unemployment insurance, should not stop paying rent, Dworkin said. He cautioned that that they “will not qualify for rental assistance provided by Congress and as soon as eviction moratoriums are inevitably lifted will face the insurmountable burden of months of unpaid rent, and find themselves without a home. Participating in a rent strike is like drinking poison and expecting your landlord to die.”
Chart of the Week
Universal voucher program would cost $62 billion

In a recent blog post , Urban Institute Vice President for Metropolitan Housing and Community Policy Mary Cunningham argued for an expansion of the housing voucher program to cover all eligible households given the imperative of ensuring everyone has access to a safe, affordable home during the pandemic. According to the blog post, the cost of providing housing assistance to all low-income renters who qualified before the pandemic would be $61.9 billion; such assistance would benefit almost 20 million individuals.
What we're reading
In a recent article, NBC News examined the “perfect storm” posed by Coronavirus for LGBTQ homeless youth. Beyond the risks resulting from not having shelter during the pandemic, this population also faces shutdowns of schools and youth programs, and diminished office hours at LGBTQ community centers. Read the article here .

Vox explored how the Coronavirus is exposing America’s housing crisis in an article published Wednesday. According to the article, the affordable housing crisis has contributed to and compounded the public health crisis now faced by many. Read the article here .

In an op-ed in Affordable Housing Finance , Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition Executive Director Emily Cadik argued that additional relief is needed to help ensure LIHTC remains a tool for affordable housing production during the pandemic. “Without legislative and regulatory intervention,” Cadik wrote, “many housing credit properties currently in service and in the construction and development pipeline face threats to their feasibility, limiting our ability to contribute to the economic recovery that will be needed.” Read the op-ed 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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