Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
News from Washington | By Luke Villalobos
White House announces Housing Supply Action Plan progress

The White House announced Friday progress made on its Housing Supply Action Plan, along with new steps to help reduce barriers to affordable housing production. The announcement comes a week after a group of affordable housing organizations and advocates, including the National Housing Conference, met with senior Administration officials at the White House to discuss the housing affordability crisis and expansion of affordable housing production.
The announcement includes several important steps practitioners have requested to improve the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. These steps include finalizing the income averaging rule, which allows projects greater flexibility with income limitations on rent-restricted units, extending placed-in-service deadlines due to supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasing the cap on multifamily lending by $3 billion per year for Forward Commitment loans by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises).
The announcement also reviewed steps the Administration has taken since the Action Plan came out in May. These include enabling more affordable housing development and preservation through State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds by allowing long-term loans. The Administration also announced that more than 9,000 affordable rental units were funded using the Federal Financing Bank’s FHA Risk Sharing program that it relaunched last September.
The announcement noted several transit-oriented development policies as well. The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program allows sponsors creating transit-oriented development projects to borrow the maximum amount authorized in the statute—up to 49 percent rather than the previous 33 percent cap. The Department of Transportation and HUD are also partnering to launch a $30 million Thriving Communities Program. HUD also announced the availability of $5 million through the Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Program this week.
NHC issued a press release in response to the announcement applauding the actions taken by the Administration and reiterating the importance of continuing to address the housing supply deficit.

Treasury announces Advisory Committee on Racial Equity

Treasury announced on Thursday the 25 inaugural members of its new Treasury Advisory Committee on Racial Equity. The committee, which includes representatives across academia, business, and advocacy, will be responsible for providing advice and recommendations to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo on efforts to advance racial equity and lessen any existing disparities. Specifically, the Committee will help to identify, monitor, and review aspects of the economy that have created disparate impacts for communities of color. According to Adeyemo, members will also offer advice on policy areas such as taxes, modernizing the IRS, and implementing the Inflation Reduction Act. Members will serve two-year terms.
“A critical piece of executing on our racial equity goals is bringing a wide set of outside perspectives and lived experiences to the decision-making table,” Yellen said. “The Treasury Advisory Committee on Racial Equity, made up of members with wide-ranging backgrounds and expertise, will provide important insight and advice to leadership across the department to bolster and inform our equity efforts.” 
HUD, Census Bureau release 2021 American Housing Survey

Last week, HUD and the Census Bureau released the 2021 American Housing Survey (AHS), the nation’s most comprehensive housing inventory analysis. This two-year set covered the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing valuable insight into the impact the pandemic has had on the housing landscape. The data found that 2020 and 2021 were challenging years for renters but remained largely good for homeowners.
Owner-reported home values increased dramatically from 2019 to 2021, along with a sharp increase in refinancing. Median housing costs also rose significantly more for renters than homeowners, with homeowner costs increasing 5.5 percent and renter costs rising 10.6 percent. It also highlighted that inability to pay rent remained steady in 2021 rather than growing during the pandemic, likely due to emergency rent assistance programs. Homeowner ability to pay mortgages was higher in 2021 than in 2017. This AHS release included a custom table creator tool.
White House releases AI Bill of Rights

The White House released a new blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights on Tuesday, outlining ways for practitioners and developers using artificial intelligence to avert any harm or disparate impacts due to algorithmic bias. It was developed after a year-long input and consultation period from the public. The bill intends to help build and deploy automated systems that “are aligned with democratic values and protect civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy.” The framework contains five principles: safe and effective systems, algorithmic discrimination protections, data privacy, notice and explanation, human alternatives, consideration, and fallback.
“These technologies are causing real harms in the lives of Americans, harms that run counter to our core democratic values, including the fundamental right to privacy, freedom from discrimination and our basic dignity,” said a senior Administration official.
While the framework stops short of any new legislative proposals, it asks regulators to apply existing rules to their systems. It also asks companies, government agencies, and other entities adopting AI to have oversight practices and publicize results to continue addressing existing issues. 
HUD, FHA research small-dollar mortgages

HUD released a new Financing Lower-Priced Homes: Small Mortgage Loans report assessing factors of supply limitations on small mortgage loans and its impact on affordable homeownership. This report follows a request from Congress seeking to identify administrative actions to remove barriers to accessing mortgage insurance for mortgage loans with an original principal obligation of $70,000 or less. The report finds that loans with an original principal obligation of $70,000 had higher loan-to-value ratios, meaning purchases received substantial down payments. While FHA does not impose minimum loan amounts, loans for lower-priced homes are disproportionately insured at higher rates within the mortgage market. The fixed cost of loan origination and servicing makes small loans less profitable, causing a significant barrier to small mortgage lending.

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge announced the report and Request for Information to receive recommendations to increase access to small mortgage loans through the Single Family mortgage insurance programs. “The input we receive through this RFI will help us better understand how FHA can make small mortgages more broadly available and affordable for those who need them,” said Federal Housing Commissioner Julia Gordon. Comments are due by Dec. 5.
HUD celebrates The Office of Housing Counseling anniversary

Oct. 3 marked the tenth anniversary of HUD’s Office of Housing Counseling. Throughout October, the office will celebrate the contributions of the housing counseling program, which reports directly to the Assistant Secretary for Housing-Commissioner. Over the past decade, the counseling office has assisted 12.2 million households through housing counseling provided via HUD-approved agencies. More than $450 million in grant funding has been allocated to HUD-approved agencies and intermediary organizations. The HUD office has certified 4,000 counselors through the development and implementation of an intensive certification program. Using online and telephonic tools, more than 4,800 consumers access and connect with local agencies daily.
A new partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions was recently launched to provide grant funding to match HUD-approved counseling agencies. This program has served 50 participants in partnership with 16 intermediary organizations, HFA’s, and local housing counseling organizations. “This month, we recognize not only our role in helping people stay in their homes during times of crisis, but also in supporting a network of HUD Certified Housing Counselors who serve some 3,000 clients a day,” said HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Housing Counseling David Berenbaum.
HUD announces Section 202 Project Rental Assistance contract renewals

HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs announced the issuing of Section 202 Project Rental Assistance Contracts. Previously held to one-year renewal terms, these contracts will extend renewal terms by up to five years. “Our aim is to help housing providers focus more on providing affordable homes and supportive services to residents and less on administrative efforts to maintain funding streams,” said HUD Office of Multifamily Housing Deputy Assistant Secretary Ethan Handelman. The new five-year contracts will be phased in during renewals from 2023-2025.  
HUD announces disaster assistance and emergency conditions funding

Federal disaster assistance will be provided to the State of Alaska serving state, tribal, and local recovery efforts following environmental disasters which took place Sep. 15-20, and relief for the State of Florida following Hurricane Ian beginning Sep. 23. The disaster relief includes a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of FHA-insured homes, which also applies to borrowers under Section 184 of the Indian Home Loan Guarantee program. In addition, Home Equity Conversion Mortgages received an automatic 90-day extension beginning Sep. 29.
Homes destroyed or damaged to the extent of reconstruction or buying a new home will receive FHA insurance—borrowers participating with FHA-approved lenders will be eligible for 100 percent financing, including closing costs. Through HUD’s section 203(k) loan program, borrowers can purchase or refinance a home or any repairs required. The program will also enable financing for home rehabilitation for existing homes. Community Planning and Development Grantees, Public Housing Agencies, and Tribes are eligible for administrative flexibility by submitting regulatory waivers.
HUD dedicates funds to fight housing discrimination

Last Friday, HUD announced it would make $28 million available to support fair housing education, outreach, testing, and enforcement through the Fair Housing Initiatives Program. This funding will support fair housing organizations through three main initiatives: the Education and Outreach Initiative will fund $9.4 million in grants to develop education and outreach programs aimed at informing the public on rights and obligations under the provisions of the Fair Housing Act; $500,000 will be dedicated to Test Coordinator training under the Education and Outreach Initiative to fund training courses in fair housing testing; and the Fair Housing Organizations Initiative will provide $3.7 million to organizations in support of expanding capacity and engaging in fair housing work through activities and the establishment of new support organizations in underserved communities. Additionally, $15 million in grants will fund testing and investigations on violations of the Fair Housing Act or state or local laws under the Private Enforcement Initiative. The application deadline for the Private Enforcement Initiative is Dec. 5. Applications for the Education and Outreach and Fair Housing Organization initiatives are due by Dec. 6.
Chart of the week
Polls show public interest in housing legislation

The Bipartisan Policy Center commissioned a Morning Consult survey on recent housing issues. The polling sought to understand the impact of the pandemic on the ability to pay housing expenses, sentiment toward housing policy, and support for housing legislation. The polling shows that most adults believe it should be important for the federal government to address housing issues, specifically those regarding homelessness and housing costs. Interestingly, many did not identify housing supply as very important, showing a potential disconnect in messaging from housing advocates on how supply impacts housing affordability. 
What we're reading
New Urban Institute research examines what’s driving variation in the nation’s housing supply. The study found two primary trends across municipalities: significant housing underproduction in undervalued communities that can’t attract development, and high housing-cost communities that leverage land-use regulations to prevent new construction.

Bank of America issued a press release saying it will invest an additional $100 million to support minority depository institutions, doubling their current commitment. The investment acts as a critical resource to underserved communities by helping to facilitate lending, housing, neighborhood revitalization, and other banking services in minority communities. 

An article by The Wall Street Journal discusses the United Nation’s warning to the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of pushing the global economy into a recession if they continue raising interest rates. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development cautioned that rapid rate rises from rich countries risk harming developing countries’ economic output. The European Central Bank and the Bank of England have also raised their key interest rates

New research from Urban Institute using recently published American Community Survey data shows that Black and Latino homeownership rates increased during the pandemic. Moreover, both groups saw increased homeownership rates despite being hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19, with Black homeownership rising two percentage points and Latino homeownership increasing between .9 and 2.5 points, depending on which data set is used. 
The week ahead

Tuesday, October 11

Wednesday, October 12

Thursday, October 13
NMHC Women in Multifamily Networking Series, 12:30 – 3:00 PM EST in Washington, DC
Ethics for Management (NAHRO), 1:30 – 4:00 PM EST
Friday, October 14
Students Experiencing Homelessness in Missouri (Housing Matters), 2:00 – 3:00 PM
The National Housing Conference is a diverse continuum of affordable housing stakeholders that convene and collaborate through dialogue, advocacy, research, and education, to develop equitable solutions that serve our common interest.
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