Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
March 6, 2018
President's Message I By David M. Dworkin
Dear Friend,

Welcome to the new NHC Member Brief, our weekly newsletter for members covering news and developments in housing policy. This email covers all the congressional and agency news you came to expect from its predecessor, the Washington Wire, with periodic added features on research, events and the accomplishments of you, our members. Like the Washington Wire before it, the NHC Member Brief will appear in your inbox every Tuesday afternoon (Wednesday when Monday is a holiday). I welcome your feedback and hope you find this newsletter to be a valuable benefit of your NHC membership.

The National Housing Conference has been defending the American Home since 1931. Our members represent a broad spectrum of housing advocates, investors, practitioners, lenders and builders. Working together, we can be a powerful force on behalf of our shared priorities. Your membership is critical, and I thank you for being part of NHC. If you have thoughts or questions for me, please be in touch.

David M. Dworkin
President and CEO
News from Washington I By Kaitlyn Snyder
NHC submits comments on HUD’s plan to delay implementation of AFFH rule

NHC submitted our comments    in response to HUD’s plan to extend the deadline for submission of Assessments of Fair Housing (AFH). NHC’s strong preference is that HUD continue to implement the rule and not institute a delay. Since HUD has determined a delay is necessary, NHC encourages HUD to use the extension period to pursue how to improve the AFH process and move towards complete implementation of the AFFH rule and the AFH requirement.

For more on this topic, the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies recently published a blog post that highlights four papers, each of which examine the potential for HUD's Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule to meaningfully increase inclusion. 

FHFA issues proposed rule amending FHLBanks’ AHP regulation

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) seeks comments on a proposed rule amending the Federal Home Loan Banks’ (FHLBanks) Affordable Housing Program (AHP). The proposed amendments would:

  • Provide the FHLBanks additional authority to allocate their AHP funds.
  • Authorize the FHLBanks to establish special competitive funds that target specific affordable housing needs in their districts.
  • Provide the FHLBanks authority to design and implement their own project selection scoring criteria, subject to meeting certain FHFA-prescribed outcome requirements.
  • Remove the requirement for retention agreements for owner-occupied units.
  • Further align the project monitoring requirements with those of other federal government funding programs.
  • Clarify the provisions on remediating AHP noncompliance.
  • Clarify certain operational requirements.
  • Streamline and reorganize the regulation.

NHC is engaged on this issue and plans to submit comments. Comments are due 60 days from publication in the federal register, which is likely tomorrow, March 7, meaning comments will be due on May 6, 2018.
Senate likely to vote on re form bill from Banking Committee this week

The Senate is poised to pass a bill ( S. 2155) this week that would relax banking regulations for small and medium-sized banks. The legislation would exe mpt banks with less than $250 billion in assets from automatic designation as systemically important financial institutions and repeal the Volcker Rule, which prohibits banks from using their own money to make high-risk trades in financial derivatives and futures contracts and other major regulations. This Politico article predicts that the bill will pass the Senate.

The bill also includes the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Act ( S.1344/ H.R. 4258), of which NHC is a strong supporter. The bill would permanently authorize FSS programs in privately owned properties with project-based rent assistance. The bill also makes streamlining improvements to the FSS statute and creates incentives for innovation and high performance. 

Sign onto flood insurance letter

NHC is urging Congress to fully address the National Flood Insurance Program with long-term reauthorization and comprehensive reform. NHC remains concerned that the program continues to operate without reforms needed to better protect people in harm's way, the environment and taxpayers. The program needs more accurate mapping, affordability assistance for low-income homeowners and more funding and support for mitigation. These changes would protect vulnerable communities, help property owners better understand their risks, give families and businesses ways to protect themselves and ensure better environmental outcomes. Join the sign-on letter here by Friday, March 9.

NHC joins Section 4 letter
NHC joined over 1,000 other organizations in a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development asking them to provide no less than $40 million for Section 4 in FY 2019. The Section 4 Capacity Building and Affordable Housing program supports local nonprofit organizations in developing affordable housing, financing small businesses, revitalizing commercial corridors and addressing local healthcare, childcare, education and safety needs.

Treasury releases information on Opportunity Zones

Last week, the Treasury Department released an information resource on Opportunity Zones, created in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The new resource lists all census tracts eligible for designation as  Qualified Opportunity Zones. The areas include all census tracts that meet the New Markets Tax Credit program definition and contiguous census tracts. Governors have until March 21 to designate opportunity zones in their state unless they request an extension. If approved by Treasury, the designations will remain in place for 10 years.

FHA extends foreclosure moratorium for Hurricane Maria victims

Last week, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced the extension of its 180-day foreclosure moratorium for FHA-insured homeowners in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for an additional 60 days. Under the expanded moratorium, FHA is instructing lenders and servicers to suspend all foreclosure actions against insured borrowers in these Presidentially-Declared Major Disaster Areas until May 18, 2018.

Rep. Waters requests GAO study on state of homelessness in America

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Committee on Financial Services, recently sent a letter to the comptroller general of the U.S. Government Accountability Office requesting a comprehensive study on the state of homelessness in America. In the letter, Ranking Member Waters calls attention to the recent increase in homelessness nationwide, as well as the ongoing challenges that certain coastal communities and large cities, including her district, have faced in recent years.

HUD awards Choice Neighborhoods planning grants

Last week, HUD awarded six communities nearly $5 million to create plans to redevelop severely distressed HUD-assisted housing and revitalize neighborhoods. The awardee communities are Los Angeles, California; Chicago Heights, Illinois; Lewiston, Maine; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Huntington, West Virginia. These grants will help local leaders to craft comprehensive, homegrown plans to revitalize and transform these neighborhoods. If enacted, the president’s FY 2019 budget request for HUD would zero out the Choice Neighborhoods program. 

House Appropriations holds hearing on Treasury’s budget

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin appeared before the full House Committee on Appropriations to defend the department’s budget as proposed in President Trump’s FY 2019 budget request. A recording of the hearing is available here
Everyone in America should have equal opportunity to live in a quality, affordable home in a thriving community. The National Housing Conference educates decision makers and the public about housing policies and practices to move housing forward together. NHC convenes and collaborates with our diverse membership of housing stakeholders including tenant advocates, mortgage bankers, nonprofit and for-profit home builders, property managers, policy practitioners, real estate professionals, equity investors and more to advance our policy, research and communications initiatives to effect positive change at the federal, state and local levels. Founded in 1931, we are a nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
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