Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
News from Washington | By Luke Villalobos
FHFA releases report on FHLBanks housing activities

The FHFA released its annual report on housing and community development activities of the Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBanks) on Tuesday. The report analyzes the FHLBanks' performance throughout last year, including the Affordable Housing Program (AHP), the Community Investment Program (CIP), the Community Investment Cash Advance Program (CICA), Community Development Financial Institution membership, and purchases of Acquired Member Assets of the bank system. It also highlights the banks' affordable housing goals. The report comes after FHFA announced it would conduct a comprehensive review of the FHLBanks beginning this fall.

"The Federal Home Loan Banks provided more than $2.7 billion in 2021 for targeted economic development and housing advances," said FHFA Director Sandra Thompson. "As FHFA begins its comprehensive review of the Federal Home Loan Bank System, we recognize its long-term importance in providing liquidity in the housing finance market and funding for community investment projects."

Key takeaways from the report show that in 2021 FHLBanks awarded approximately $352.4 million in total contributions to the AHP, which assisted over 32,000 low- and moderate-income households—more than 17,000 of which were very low-income households. In addition, FHLBanks funded approximately $1.7 billion in targeted housing and economic development advances through the CIP, which assisted about 8,000 households in 2021. Targeted economic development advances from the CICA Program were approximately $1 billion. And ten FHLBanks purchased AMA mortgages that met the mortgage purchase and community-based AMA user goals.
Fannie Mae, FHA launch rent reporting activities

Fannie Mae announced on Tuesday it is launching its new Multifamily Positive Rent Payment Reporting program. This pilot program seeks to help renters build credit history through timely rent payment data. Eligible multifamily property owners can begin sharing, through a network of three major credit bureaus, timely rent payment data that will then be incorporated into the consumer's credit profile. The initiative is "positive-only," meaning any renters who miss a payment will be automatically unenrolled to preserve their credit standing.
“By enabling easier and more expansive adoption of positive rent payment reporting, we can knock down this long-standing barrier to building credit and help more consumers begin to establish a strong financial and credit foundation," said Fannie Mae Executive Vice President and Head of Multifamily Michele Evans.

The same day, the FHA announced it would begin permitting the inclusion of positive rental payment history in the credit assessment of first-time homebuyers. The Technology Open to Approved Lenders Mortgage Scorecard, an algorithm that evaluates borrower credit history, will assess the new data to determine eligibility for an FHA-insured mortgage.

"If you're regularly paying your rent on time, that's a good indication you will also pay your mortgage on time," said FHA Commissioner Julia Gordon.

NHC strongly supports including rental history in credit reporting to help build credit for unbanked families, particularly communities of color who have experienced historic disinvestment. Including this new payment data will help make credit scores more equitable and open new homeownership opportunities to renters. Fannie Mae began its pilot on Sep. 27. FHA will begin its reporting on Oct. 30 for case numbers assigned on or after Sep. 20, 2021.
FHFA proposes new Colonias definition

FHFA announced a proposed amendment to its Duty to Serve Underserved Markets regulation on Thursday, which will alter the definition of Colonia to serve rural markets better. The revision would add a definition of "Colonia census tract" as a proxy for "Colonia" and amend the definition of "high-needs rural region" by substituting "Colonia census tract" for "Colonia." It would also update the "rural area" definition to include all Colonia census tracts, making all Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) activities in these tracts eligible for Duty to Serve credit.

Colonias areas have previously lacked a formal definition in Duty to Serve plans. As a result, NHC recommended the Enterprises address specific Colonias issues rather than using rural regions or persistent poverty counties as proxies in a comment letter on Duty to Serve last year.

FHFA is soliciting feedback on this amendment. Comments are due within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register.
Agency goals published

On Thursday, performance.gov released its quarterly update on agency goals and progress. The update provides an overview of the federal government's approach to performance management, including agency priority goals. Additionally, the release includes a new search feature for exploring agency goals and curating results for different topics across agencies.  
HUD awards 19,000 new housing vouchers

Last week, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge announced the agency is awarding more than 19,000 new Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) to nearly 2,000 public housing agencies. These vouchers are among almost 100,000 new HCVs provided through the American Rescue Plan and fiscal year 2022 budget, reaching a total award of $214,519,250. The award marks one of the largest voucher allocations of flexible new rental assistance in 20 years.

The new 2023 Fair Market Rents (FMRs) published on Sep. 1 will go into effect on Oct. 1, increasing accessibility for families to use vouchers for affordable housing. Adjustment of the FMRs will enable recipients of the voucher program to remain competitive with rent increases in the private market. The President's fiscal year 2023 budget includes a request for 200,000 additional new housing vouchers, ten times the number of vouchers awarded today.

"HUD is committed to ensuring people have access to the resources and tools they need to get a decent and safe home," Fudge said. "That is what everyone in this country deserves."
HUD awards funding for veterans, lead hazards

In partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, HUD awarded $5 million to five nonprofits in support of the Veterans Housing Rehabilitation and Modification Pilot Program, which supports low-income or disabled veterans by alleviating the cost of home maintenance repairs, adaptive housing, and utilities. The awardees include Habitat for Humanity International, Rebuilding Together, Coalition for Home Repair, Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, and Family and Community Services. Funds for this program are estimated to support 330 low-income and disabled veterans.

On Wednesday, HUD awarded 26 state and local agencies over $125 million to address home health and lead-based paint safety hazards. HUD's Healthy Homes Supplemental funding is providing the funding. These investments are expected to protect over 4,000 low-income homes across the nation. "HUD is making clear, through these grants, that it prioritizes healthy and safe homes in communities around the Nation," said Matthew Ammon, Director of HUD's Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes.

HUD seeks comments on green retrofitting

Following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, HUD announced a Request for Information to gather public input on its Green Resilient Retrofit Program (GRRP). GRRP is a new program to provide grant and loan funding for retrofitting properties participating in the Multifamily assisted housing programs for greater energy efficiency. "Implementing the GRRP will provide much-needed funding to reduce water and utility costs and keep the homes of the nation's low-income individuals and families safe in the face of climate change," said Assistant Secretary for Housing Julia Gordon. Properties eligible to participate will include Section 8 Project-based Rental Assistance, Section 202 Supportive Housing for Low-Income Elderly, and Section 811 Supportive Housing for Low-Income Persons with Disabilities programs.
Chart of the week
Neighborhood density and car-free living linked

New National Multifamily Housing Council research examines the relationship between apartment households in dense neighborhoods and vehicle usage. The findings show a positive relationship between the share of car-free apartment households and the use of public transportation, particularly in high-density areas where 10,000 or more households exist per square mile. The findings support what many in the industry have long believed: there is a direct relationship between housing and transportation, and local governments should reconsider prohibitive parking requirements in denser neighborhoods. Further, residents in walkable neighborhoods with access to public transit save money by not having vehicle expenses.
What we're reading
Housing Partnership Network (HPN) released a new report titled The Pivotal Role of Nonprofits in Emergency Rental Assistance Delivery. The report examines how nonprofits helped distribute emergency rental assistance funding during the COVID-19 pandemic and offers two case studies for overcoming documentation barriers and reaching the most vulnerable residents. NHC co-hosted a webinar with HPN earlier this year to discuss the topic in detail.

An article by The New York Times details the fall of the "starter home" in present-day real estate, showing small, detached homes have nearly disappeared from the market. Only 8 percent of newly constructed single-family homes are 1,400 square feet or less compared to 70 percent in the 1940s. The article attributes high land costs and local zoning requirements as two primary drivers for the "starter home" decrease.

A blog post from Urban Institute examines the ownership patterns of rental units, with an emphasis on analyzing investor purchases of properties. The research shows small "mom-and-pop" owners have a shrinking share of ownership of the available rental stock, and large-scale LLC ownership companies make it difficult to be transparent about ownership entities.
The week ahead
Monday, October 3

Tuesday, October 4

Wednesday, October 5

Thursday, October 6
Friday, October 7
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.
Defending Our American Home since 1931
Copyright © 2022. All Rights Reserved.