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Legislative Alert: NALHFA Seeks Member Input on FHA Insurance Rules for Down Payment Assistance

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 17, 2018
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plans to issue an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in September. Through this notice, HUD will be seeking comments on potential changes to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insurance rules for down payment assistance (DPA) programs. HUD is looking for comments specifically from local housing finance agencies, entities acting in a governmental capacity, and nonprofit organizations on the use of DPA and secondary financing.
 
HUD’s FHA plays a central role in providing underserved households with affordable housing financing. The FHA mortgage insurance program insures lenders against mortgage default for single and multifamily housing for low- and moderate-income families. Unlike private originators, local HFAs are government entities, meaning they automatically qualify for FHA-insured loans to use in conjunction with their DPA programs. This means HFAs are able to help creditworthy individuals with a down payment they might not otherwise be able to obtain.
 
NALHFA will be submitting comments and will take this opportunity to highlight the importance of local HFA DPA programs to help low- and moderate-income families afford a home. NALHFA is committed to preserving the ability of HFAs to provide DPA and other secondary financing on a preferred basis with FHA single-family loans. 
 
NALHFA is currently seeking member input to include in its prepared comments. Please send any contributions by August 16 to NALHFA Policy Director, Heather Voorman at hvoorman@nalhfa.org.
 
NALHFA’s government relations team will continue to monitor this topic and will provide more information about the notice of proposed rulemaking as it becomes available.

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NALHFA Member Spotlight: Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation

Posted By Administration, Monday, July 9, 2018
Updated: Friday, June 29, 2018

During its 2018 Annual Conference, NALHFA presented the Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation (FWHFC) with the Redevelopment Excellence award in recognition of the Columbia at Renaissance Square. This contemporary development serves as a model on how developers partnering with housing finance agencies and cities can provide residents with better live-work-play lifestyle as well as to provide quality affordable housing options in planned communities built with purpose.

 

The 2013 Analysis of Impediments, a HUD required report on the current state of impediments to fair housing choice within the City of Fort Worth, stated that the City had an “overconcentration of vouchers, assisted housing, and lower-income housing in selected areas of the City”. This report also noted that residents in lower income areas did not have equal access to the transit system. One solution to these issues was for the FWHFC to award its first loan for Columbia Renaissance Square I, L.P. to develop, own and manage Phase I of Columbia at Renaissance Square in southeast Fort Worth. Financing included 2015 9% housing tax credits from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, a conventional loan, $700,000 loan from the FWHFC, and $1.2 million in HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) funds from the City of Fort Worth have ensured that the $24 million project is fully funded.

 

Columbia at Renaissance Square is located in the Berry Hill-Mason Heights Neighborhood Empowerment Zone and is designated a Purpose Built Community. A Purpose Built Community provides a holistic approach to helping make a positive impact and includes “a community quarterback”, typically an individual or nonprofit who leads the revitalization by engaging community members, building partnerships, securing funding, and ensuring implementation of the housing, education, and wellness components of the model as part of the community’s vision. The community quarterback helps to establish mixed-income housing opportunities, a cradle-to-college education pipeline, and community wellness facilities and programs to create a defined neighborhood.

 

Renaissance Heights Development Group acts as the “community quarterback” for this development. Renaissance Heights Development Group is working in collaboration with a group of community partners known as the Renaissance Heights United initiative. They are dedicated to the proposition that everyone deserves the opportunity to live and raise their children in communities where they can achieve their full potential.

 

The community leaders involved in the partnership include The Shoppes at Renaissance Square, United Communities, ACH Child and Family Services, Uplift Education, Cook Children’s, The YMCA, Texas Wesleyan University, North Texas Area Community Health Centers, Inc., UNT Health Science Center, Renaissance Heights, Columbia Residential, and Purpose Built Communities. Columbia at Renaissance Square is place-based and neighborhood-focused and has become a vibrant community where everyone will have the opportunity to thrive.

 

Within an approved Community Revitalization Plan, Columbia at Renaissance Square 

provides mixed-income housing opportunities 

within all phases of its development. The current phase includes an 11.15-acre property, consisting of 140 one, two, and three-bedroom rental units that range in size from 750 – 1,250 square feet. 119 of these units are affordable for low- to moderate income level households, specifically to households earning 60% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI) as established by HUD.

The affordable units include 9 floating HOME units on the property and there are 35 Project-Based Vouchers from Fort Worth Housing Solutions. Also included in the unit count are 10 Section 811 units, 8 of which have 1 bedroom and 2 that have 2 bedrooms. Social services for the tenants of these units will be provided by a local nonprofit and supported by the Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation.

 

This development has the potential to impact hundreds of families every year, helping their kids with involvement in nearby 

after-school activities, with a walking trail throughout the community, leading to destinations such as the YMCA as well as to Uplift Mighty. Uplift Education is a free, public, college-preparatory, charter school serving grades K-12. Uplift Mighty is located immediately adjacent to the site and residents of Columbia are given admissions priority. The community also offers onsite amenities, including a play area for kids, a clubhouse, a business center, and a library made available to residents.

 

Phase 2 of this development will include 120 affordable rental units specifically for seniors and Phase 3 of the development will add an additional 140 rental units. Additional housing typologies such as townhomes, garden homes, and single family homes will be constructed with future partners in Phases 4 and 5.

 

One of the community wellness components included an agreement with YMCA that provided funding through the City of Fort Worth, in which YMCA provides reduced fees for 50 households of the Columbia at Renaissance Square, including access to additional programs like after-school and summer programs, wellness programs, and more. Residents will also have access to the new aquatic center at the McDonald Southeast YMCA, located less than a block away from Columbia at Renaissance Square, which will be accessible to all City residents. Cook Children’s has been actively engaged to ensure access to health programs as well, saying “Becoming a part of the Purpose Built Communities Network offers us a unique opportunity to collaborate in a way that would not have been possible otherwise”.

 

Columbia at Renaissance Square is within walking distance to a stop provided by The T, Fort Worth’s public transportation system, as well as the proximity to local highways, Columbia at Renaissance Square affords residents the opportunity to be closer to work, reducing commute times and travel costs, leading to increased disposable income as well as time to enjoy the area attractions and activities.

 

Congratulations to FWHFC for their outstanding work on the Columbia at Renaissance Square development!

 

Does your organization have a success story to share? Email NALHFA Policy Director, Heather Voorman at hvoorman@nalhfa.org.

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Legislative Alert: Senate Votes Down Rescission Cuts to Affordable Housing Programs

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Earlier today, the Senate voted down the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act in a vote of 48-50. This legislation, which passed in the House, would have cut millions of previously approved funds for affordable housing programs including almost $40 million from public housing, $40 million from rural rental assistance, and $141 million from the Capital Magnet Fund.

 

The measure specifically targeted the Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency (ROSS) program, which would have prevented public housing authorities from hiring service coordinators to help residents access important resources in their communities. Additionally, the cuts would have affected rural rental assistance programs through USDA, preventing the agency from fully renewing existing contracts and harming rural families across the country. Finally, the Capital Magnet Fund would have seen significant cuts, reducing investments in affordable housing and community development.

 

Thank you for reaching out to your senators and urging a “no” vote on this harmful legislation. Your advocacy efforts have helped prevent millions of dollars in cuts to important affordable housing programs.

 

For a breakdown of the final vote count, click here

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NALHFA Member Spotlight: Home At Last—A Program of Nevada Rural Housing Authority

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 15, 2018
Updated: Thursday, June 14, 2018

During its 2018 Annual Conference, NALHFA presented the Nevada Rural Housing Authority with the Single-Family Excellence award in recognition of Home At Last™. This innovative program provides a customizable and robust set of homeownership options for rural Nevadans.

 

From homelessness to homeownership, the Nevada Rural Housing Authority (NRHA) has been getting Nevadans home since 1973. Their mission is to promote, provide, and finance affordable housing opportunities for all rural Nevadans. Home At Last provides a wide variety of services ranging from statewide homebuyer education workshops to covering pet adoption fees so homeowners can adopt a pet from a local shelter.

 

The Home At Last program analyzes the barriers homebuyers face, across the nearly 110,000 square miles of rural Nevada, and makes adjustments to what the program offers in order to meet the needs of most low to moderate income homebuyers. Some of these innovative initiatives include the following.

 

Manufactured Housing

In 2017, Home At Last opened the door to manufactured home financing for HFA programs nationwide by working with U.S. Bank on an agreement with Fannie Mae to purchase loans with “Ineligible” findings after an increase to 105% combined-loan-to-value (CLTV) caused loan processing delays with Desktop Underwriter.

 

“HAL Pals” Pet Adoption

Home At Last recently launched the “HAL Pals” Pet Adoption program that provides homebuyers with down payment assistance and pet adoption. By offering a pet adoption fee to prospective homeowners, the “HAL Pals” program promotes responsible pet ownership that begins with adopting a homeless pet from a local shelter and brings a key benefit to homeownership as many renters are unable to adopt pets due to lease restrictions.

 

Homebuyer 101 Workshops

Like many places in the country, purchasing a home has many challenges due to lack of affordable housing inventory, market demands, and strong buyer competition. The Home At Last homebuyer workshops provide prospective homebuyers with comprehensive education to help them successfully transition from renter to homeowner, and learn how to navigate the complex homebuying process. Home At Last, in collaboration with Lender and Realtor partners, provides expert guidance through Homebuyer 101 workshops, offered in both English and Spanish, throughout Nevada.

 

Options for Homebuyers

Home At Last also provides a robust number of options for homebuyers, including exclusive features for veterans and multiple enhancements tailored for rural homebuyers. These programs are designed to benefit homebuyers, lenders and real estate agents, especially as the region faces a significant spike in housing costs.

 

“NRHA’s focus is to remove barriers to homeownership,” said Gary Longaker, NRHA executive director. “The staff at NRHA is doing just that by opening doors to help thousands of families in rural Nevada achieve their homeownership dreams. We are honored that NALHFA recognizes the mission-driven passion and accomplishments of the agency and its dedicated staff.”

 

Congratulations to NRHA for their outstanding work on the Home At Last program!

 

Does your organization have a success story to share? Email NALHFA Policy Director, Heather Voorman at hvoorman@nalhfa.org.

 

 

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Legislative Alert: Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Strong HUD Funding for FY19

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 8, 2018

Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to approve the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) spending bill. The bill provides $1.1 billion in increased spending above FY2018 enacted levels and sailed through the committee with a vote of 31-0.

 

The Senate bill provides over $12 billion more than the President’s FY19 request, over $1 billion more than the House bill, and $1.8 billion more for HUD programs than was appropriated in FY18. This action by the Committee shows a strong commitment to investing in affordable housing programs and rejects recent proposals for drastic cuts to affordable housing funding, harmful rent increases, and work requirements for HUD program recipients.

 

Funding Levels for Key Programs:

  • The HOME Investment Partnerships and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs were level funded from FY18 at $1.362 and $3.3 billion respectively;
  • The bill provides the increases necessary to continue assistance to all families and individuals currently served by rental assistance programs. These numbers include: $22.8 billion for tenant-based Section 8 vouchers; $7.5 billion for public housing; $11.7 billion for project-based Section 8; $678 million for Housing for the Elderly; and $154 million for Housing for Persons with Disabilities.
  •  Homeless assistance programs received a boost at $2.6 billion along with several provisions to better serve vulnerable populations including veterans, youth, and survivors of domestic violence.

The bill was the product of strong bipartisan cooperation, with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) leading the charge. The bill will soon be considered on the Senate floor.

 

NALHFA Members Take Action:

 

If you have a member of Congress on the Senate Appropriations Committee, please reach out to them and thank them for investing in affordable housing programs. A full list of Appropriations Committee members can be found here

Please also reach out to your senators and urge them to approve the bill when it comes up for consideration on the Senate floor. Click here to look up your senator’s office and call them today.

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NALHFA Member Spotlight: New York City Housing Development Corporation

Posted By Administration, Monday, June 4, 2018
Updated: Friday, June 1, 2018

 

During its 2018 Annual Conference, NALHFA presented the New York City Housing Development Corporation with the Multifamily Excellence award in recognition of the Alvista Towers, also known as the Jamaica development. This innovative affordable housing development merges much needed housing with important policy goals, including transit oriented development, inclusionary zoning, permanent affordability, and access to opportunity for very low to middle-income families.

 

The development, located in the New York City neighborhood of Jamaica, Queens, provides affordable, mixed-income housing in a community facing both intense affordability needs and serious displacement pressures. In 2013, the New York University Furman Center reported that nearly half of the district’s low-income households are severely rent burdened. While Jamaica has long been considered an economically depressed community, there has been significant development over the past 10-15 years, which has driven up market rate rents. As the cost of living continues to rise, Alvista Towers ensures that residents can stay in their community thanks to a long-term regulatory agreement locking in affordability for at least 40 years.

 

The development is also a significant investment in transit oriented development, ensuring that very low to middle New Yorkers have access to job centers and economic opportunities. This mixed-income project fosters greater economic diversity and community revitalization in the transit-rich area of downtown Jamaica. The multi-modal transportation hub offers quick access to Midtown and Lower Manhattan as well as JFK Airport. Alvista Towers sits adjacent to multiple sources of transportation including the Long Island Rail Road commuter rails, Mass Transit Authority subway lines, and more than 18 bus routes.

 

Alvista Towers contain 380 mixed-income homes and will provide 95 very low- and low-income

families with homes. Residents will enjoy amenities including a lounge, children’s play room,

fitness center, courtyard, laundry room, tenant storage, and rooftop access. The development is near completion and is anticipated to be finished by mid-2018.

 

The project is financed under HDC’s Mixed-Middle (M2) Program, which combines a first mortgage, funded with proceeds from the sale of variable or fixed rate tax-exempt bonds, with a second mortgage, funded with HDC corporate reserves and a third mortgage subsidy loan from the NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). These funding sources are combined to finance multi-family rental housing affordable to a diverse spectrum of low, moderate and middle-income families. The program also requires developer equity contribution equal to a minimum of 10% of the total developments cost, which is supported by the moderate and middle income rents. The funding for Alvista Towers includes a $65.6 million HDC First Mortgage, a $30.4 million HCD Second Mortgage from Corporate Reserves and $30.4 million HPD Third Mortgage.

 

Alvista Towers is the result of a public-private partnership model. The co-developers from the private side are Artimus Construction, Inc., Phoenix Realty Company, LLC, HP 94th Avenue HDFC (NYC Housing Development Fund Company, Inc.), 94th Avenue Jamaica LLC (147-20 94th Jamaica Investors, LLC, and GSG 94 Jamaica Investor LLC (wholly owned by Goldman Sachs). These co-developers have provided equity and will build and manage the development.

 

This project is the first new construction development in the nation to participate in the HFA Federal Financing Bank Pilot Program. Under this program, at the conversion phase, the tax-exempt bond loan and accompanying bank loan will be paid off entirely with a loan funded from the Corporation’s reserves. The loan is then sold to the Federal Financing Bank (FFB). As such, the development is insured under FHA Risk Share (50/50) credit enhancement.

 

Congratulations to NYCHDC and their partners for their outstanding efforts in developing the Alvista Towers project. Does your organization have a success story to share? Email NALHFA Policy Director, Heather Voorman at hvoorman@nalhfa.org

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NALHFA Commends Senate Confirmation of Brian Montgomery as FHA Commissioner

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Senate voted today to confirm Brian Montgomery as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner. Montgomery was confirmed by a vote of 74-23. The confirmation comes after a long wait since the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee approved Brian Montgomery’s nomination to lead the Federal Housing Administration last fall. Montgomery will replace acting commissioner Dana Wade.

 

"NALHFA commends the confirmation of Brian Montgomery as FHA commissioner. During his tenure as commissioner under President George W. Bush and President Obama, FHA led legislative efforts to preserve the nation's affordable rental housing stock and to provide much needed affordable housing financing to develop more than 300,000 rental units throughout the country,” said Jonathan Paine, NALHFA Executive Director. “Montgomery brings tremendous knowledge and experience to the position and will be a true asset to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.” 

 

This would be Montgomery's second time holding the position as FHA commissioner. He was previously commissioner under Former President George W. Bush and served six months into the Obama Administration. Montgomery most recently served as the vice chairman of The Collingwood Group, a business consulting, risk management, and compliance focused advisory firm located in Washington, DC.

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Legislative Alert: Brian Montgomery's Senate Confirmation Vote to Occur this Week

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Senate vote on Brian Montgomery's confirmation for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner is scheduled to occur this week. Senate leadership recently reached an agreement to allow for the nomination to move forward. No date for the vote has been released at this time, but the Senate Executive Schedule for this week states the vote will happen at a time determined by the Majority Leader.

 

NALHFA's government relations team has been working hard to advance this nomination. Montgomery is a highly qualified candidate for the position, serving as FHA Commissioner under President George W. Bush, and for six months under President Barack Obama. The advancement of this critical nomination is great news for the affordable housing industry and for NALHFA members. Please reach out to your Senators and urge them to confirm Brian Montgomery as FHA Commissioner. Click here to look up your senator’s office and call them today.

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Agreement Reached to Allow Senate Floor Consideration for Brian Montgomery's Nomination

Posted By Administration, Friday, May 18, 2018
Brian Montgomery's nomination for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner will likely receive Senate floor consideration soon. Senate leadership has reached an agreement to allow for the nomination to move forward. More information about the debate and confirmation process for Montgomery's nomination will be available early next week.
 
NALHFA's government relations team has been working hard to advance this nomination. Montgomery is a highly qualified candidate for the position, serving as FHA Commissioner under President George W. Bush, and for six months under President Barack Obama. The advancement of this critical nomination is great news for the affordable housing industry and for NALHFA members. Please reach out to your Senators and urge them to confirm Brian Montgomery as FHA Commissioner. Click here to look up your senator’s office and call them today.

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Legislative Alert: House THUD Subcommittee releases FY19 Bill, Most Housing Programs Keep Increased Funding Levels

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Last night, the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 spending bill. The bill includes a total of $43.6 billion in funding for HUD, an increase of $941 million from FY 2018 levels, and $11.9 billion above the President’s budget request. Overall the bill is a win for the affordable housing industry and shows Congressional commitment to funding these important programs. Additionally, it does not include the harmful rent increases and work requirements proposed by the Trump Administration for certain HUD renter programs. 

 

The increases are modest, however and do include some slight decreases.

  • The HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME) received a small decrease going from $1.36 billion to $1.2 billion. This follows a large boost the program received in FY2018 from the $950 million level enacted in FY2017. NALHFA urges members to reach out to their Members of Congress to fully fund this program that helps local communities leverage important funds to create affordable housing with the partnership of private investors.
  • The Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) saw a modest increase from $3.2 billion in FY2018 to $3.37 billion.
  • The Homeless Assistance Grants program also saw a modest increase to $2.5 billion, up $33 million from FY2018.
  • There is concern that the Housing Choice Vouchers ($20.1 billion) and the Project-Based Rental Assistance ($11.35 billion) would fall short of renewing all existing contracts. This shortfall could mean fewer families will be served by the program over the next year. NALHFA urges members to contact their Members of Congress and ask them to further increase these funding levels to fulfill all existing contracts.
  • Public housing ($2.8 billion for capital repairs and $4.6 billion for operating), Choice Neighborhoods ($150 million), and Housing for Persons with AIDs ($393 million) received slight increases.
  • Section 202 Housing for the Elderly ($632 million) and Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities ($154 million) funding levels would renew existing contracts.

The bill also includes new housing resources through a mobility voucher demonstration program funded at $50 million that would help families with young children move to areas of opportunity, and $100 million in competitive grants for Native American communities to use on the construction and preservation of affordable rental housing.

 

This bill demonstrates the Subcommittee’s continued dedication to providing federal investment in affordable housing programs. Although these increases are greatly appreciated, more resources are needed to make up for the backlog of affordable housing needs across the country. Please reach out to your Members of Congress to thank them for their commitment to affordable housing programs, and urge them to further increase these important resources at a time when our communities need them the most. The Subcommittee’s bill is the first step in a long appropriations process. The bill will need approval from the full House of Representatives and will have to be reconciled with the Senate version of the legislation before it becomes law. NALHFA continues to advocate for increased funding for vital programs to combat the affordable housing crisis and will continue to update its members on the latest developments. 

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