Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
News from Washington | By Brittany Webb
Sen. Scott announces housing framework 

This week Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, announced the Renewing Opportunity in the American Dream (ROAD) to Housing Act. The housing framework offers a comprehensive view of federal housing policies with suggested reforms. ROAD does not include legislative text but outlines four key priorities of the upcoming act. These priorities include the safety and soundness of federal housing programs, encouraging competition and innovation in communities, providing housing opportunities and combatting homelessness, and holding agencies accountable and reducing regulatory barriers.

“I grew up the son of a hardworking single mother in an apartment that we rented. I didn’t achieve the dream of homeownership until later in life. But my story is not unique. Unfortunately, federal housing policy has done little to address the affordability of housing. It’s too expensive and too far out of reach,” said Scott in the announcement. “It’s past time we take a comprehensive look at how we pave the road to housing for all Americans. By providing targeted reforms across all segments of the housing market, we can empower families to achieve the dream of home ownership.”

BPC Action applauded the announcement, saying the framework recognizes the need for Congress to do more to combat housing costs and address racial and ethnic disparities in housing and also aligns with several key bipartisan priorities.
FHFA updates Duty to Serve to include all Colonia census tracts 

FHFA published a final rule amending the Enterprise Duty to Serve Underserved Markets regulation that governs Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s (the Enterprises) activities. The final rule allows the Enterprises to count all activities in all Colonia census tracts to be eligible for credit under Duty to Serve. In addition, the final rule adds a new definition for “colonia census tract,” amends the definition of “high-needs rural region,” and amends the definition of “rural area.”

“The implementation of this rule strengthens our commitment to promoting affordable, equitable, and sustainable housing in underserved and rural communities,” said FHFA Director Sandra Thompson. “FHFA will continue to ensure that Enterprise Duty to Serve activities meet the needs of people living in colonias.”
FHFA requests input on multifamily tenant protections

FHFA announced it would issue a Request for Input (RFI) on multifamily tenant protections in May as part of the stakeholder engagement process announced in the Biden Administration’s Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights. The announcement notes FHFA has “committed to a transparent process that includes broad participation from diverse voices.” It includes a signup link for details about the upcoming RFI.
Treasury announces largest CDFI grant program in history, reallocates ERA funding 

The Department of Treasury announced the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund awarded over $1.73 billion in grants to 603 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) through its competitive grant program, CDFI Equitable Recovery Program. Vice President Kamala Harris and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo made the announcement. CDFIs will use the funding to help increase financing and capital for small businesses, promote affordable housing initiatives, and increase loan accessibility in financially underserved communities.

“These grants—representing the largest CDFI grant program in history—will enable hundreds of community lenders to invest in small businesses and entrepreneurs, and also provide home loans for families, financial services for local nonprofits, and capital for community organizations,” said Harris.

Treasury also announced it would reallocate over $520 million from the Emergency Rental Assistance program to 82 state and local entities to prevent evictions. Including this new announcement, Treasury has reallocated over $4.8 billion in funds to areas with high demonstrated need, including Oakland, Calif., Gwinnett County, Ga., and Polk County, Iowa.
HUD awards $98 million in Choice Neighborhoods grants

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge announced $98 million in awards for Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants. This announcement follows a notice of funding opportunity for $10 million to support neighborhood revitalization plans. Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants redevelop severely distressed HUD-assisted properties into mixed-income communities by focusing on “Housing, People, and Neighborhood.” Along with redevelopment, this approach supports housing residents with health, education, and income in mind and invests in neighborhood improvement projects. The program has produced 11,000 new mixed-income units across 44 cities, with more than 32,000 units in development. HUD’s announcement provides additional funds to 16 grantees for constructing mixed-income housing nationwide. Applications for grant funding are due by June 6, 2023.

“Cities and public housing authorities are working tirelessly to address affordable housing shortages despite pandemic-era construction cost increases,” said Fudge. The additional Choice Neighborhoods funding represents HUD’s commitment to creating new housing for the communities that need it most. The Choice Neighborhoods approach is a comprehensive model that can be transformative for communities and we invite more communities to consider tapping into it.”
HUD makes single largest investment in affordable housing through Housing Choice Voucher program 

HUD announced $30.3 billion of funding is available for the Housing Choice Voucher program, an increase of $2.9 billion over the prior year. The money helps Public Housing Authorities address inflation-triggered rent increases. In addition, the announcement notes later this year, HUD will award $50 million in new vouchers for homeless veterans through the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program, $30 million to expand assistance for foster youth through the Family Unification Program, and $50 million for flexible new vouchers.

“We know there is a housing affordability crisis, and this funding will help people who are struggling to find a place they can afford to live, including people experiencing homelessness,” said HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge. “With the awarding of these funds for housing choice vouchers—which represents HUD’s single largest investment in affordable housing—public housing agencies throughout the country have flexible resources to offer more housing options so that no one is ever denied housing because they are unable to pay the monthly rent.”
FHA updates policy on insurance requirements for properties with accessory dwelling units

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) published an updated Mortgagee Letter on the insurance requirements for single-family homes with accessory dwelling units (ADU). Current FHA policy does permit the purchase, rehabilitation, or refinancing of properties with ADU, but these updates will offer flexibility in calculating the market rent and allow ADU rental income to qualify for FHA-insured mortgage financing. “At a time when housing supply is constrained and ADUs are gaining popularity nationwide, an updated policy has the potential to expand opportunities for low- and moderate-income homeowners to benefit from the wealth-building potential of ADUs while supporting the affordable housing needs of their communities,” said Federal Housing Commissioner Julia Gordon. Feedback for the proposal will be accepted through April 27, 2023.
Federal Reserve Board seeking members for Community Advisory Council

The Federal Reserve Board announced it is accepting applications for membership in its Community Advisory Council (CAC). The CAC is a diverse group of representatives from consumer and community development organizations and advises the Board on consumer- and community-related issues. The group meets in Washington, D.C., semiannually to provide perspective on consumers’ economic circumstances and financial services needs. Applications can be submitted here.
Chart of the week
Lower-income renters have $380 left after paying rent, a 20-year low 

A blog post from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies offers new data analysis showing lower-income households have less residual income than ever before. Renter incomes fell in the first years of the pandemic while rents simultaneously increased. The analysis found in 2021, a median renter making less than $30,000 annually only had $380 in monthly funds after paying rent. That’s the lowest amount in 20 years. The trends highlight widening income inequality among renters, with residual incomes for the lowest-income renters decreasing 35% since 2001.
What we're reading
HUD published a new LGBTQIA+ Fair Housing Toolkit to help housing providers, tenants, and other consumers advance equity goals for LGBTQIA+ individuals. The toolkit provides an overview of relevant laws and regulations, describes specific protected housing rights for individuals, and offers culturally competent definitions and terminology to use when discussing sexual orientation, as well as ways to prevent housing discrimination.

A Yahoo Finance article examines how, for the first time, some banks are losing money on mortgages they financed as housing has become unaffordable. An MBA report shows in 2022 independent mortgage banks and mortgage subsidiaries of chartered banks lost an average of $301 for every mortgage they financed, mainly due to decreases in housing activity.
The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) published a new HFA1 Affordable Homeownership Lender Toolkit. NCSHA designed the toolkit to help lenders partner with state housing finance agencies to provide affordable home mortgages and downpayment assistance options for lower-income buyers. The toolkit identifies key features of agency homeownership programs that help determine where partnerships can align to support more program participation.
The week ahead
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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