- Congress has finally passed the much awaited Tax extender’s legislation, H.R 2029 The Consolidated Appropriations Act, included is a win for affordable housing advocates – the nine percent minimum Low Income Housing Tax Credit was made permanent.
- The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has proposed a Duty to Serve Underserved Markets Rule, required by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which requires Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs) to serve three underserved markets: Manufactured Housing, Affordable Housing Preservation and Rural Housing. The GSEs would be required to establish and implement plans to serve each market and would receive duty to serve credits for success. The proposal is open for comment until March 17, 2016.
- A Joint Release of a Final Swap Margin rule by the Farm Credit Administration (FCA), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the Federal Reserve, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), “establishes minimum margin requirements for swaps and security-based swaps that are not cleared through a clearinghouse. The margin requirements help ensure the safety and soundness of swap trading in light of the risk to the financial system associated with non-cleared swaps activity.”
- The U.S. Senate has enacted the Bipartisan Budget Act to lift the debt ceiling until March 2017. Affordable housing advocates are hopeful that the budget agreement will lead to an increase in funding for programs such as HOME Investment Partnership program, for more information see Enterprise Community Partners Blog Post on #saveHome efforts.
Due to a technical issue Thursday’s Round-up was delayed until today.
- The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has released its Pending Home Sales Index for September. According to NAR pending home sales are down 2.3% from August, this is the second straight month in which the statistic is down. Year over year it is still up for the 13th straight month.
- NYU’s Furman Center has released a policy paper series Multifamily Housing Resilience which points out the continued vulnerability of multifamily housing in NYC and Miami – both cities have a large percentage of multifamily dwellings in floodplains. One consequence, detailed in The Price of Resilience, is that affordable housing is caught between a rock (unaffordable flood insurance) and a hard place (unaffordable flood prevention upgrades).
- The Cornerstone Partnership has developed the Inclusionary Calculator, which “allows users to model a real or hypothetical housing development and then add affordable housing requirements in combination with different development incentives.” The Antlantic Citilab has argued that this tool shows that affordable housing is not only feasible but also profitable, almost anywhere. This fact, they argue, makes the decision on whether or not to develop real estate in an inclusionary fashion a moral choice and not an economic one.
- Congratulations to the Empire Community Loan Fund, one of the largest not-for-profit loan funds and Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), which has been selected for inclusion in the Impact Assets 50 (IA50). The IA 50 is an annual showcase of Impact Investment Fund Managers. The Empire Community Loan Fund issues debt instruments to support affordable housing development, among other things.
- Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies’ Remodeling Futures Program has released it’s Lead Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) for the Third Quarter of 2015 in which it predicts annual spending growth for home improvements will accelerate from 2.4% last quarter to 6.8% in the second quarter of 2016. The next LIRA release date is January 21, 2016.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has finalized a Rule to expand reporting requirements imposed upon financial institutions under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). Dodd-Frank included a mandate directing the CFPB to collect metrics to allow, among other things, a better understanding of the mortgage market, quicker identification of trends, and spotting of discriminatory patterns and practices. The CFPB also hopes to use the data to avoid some of the mistakes in the mortgage market which led to the Financial Crisis. The CFPB also has a site containing resources to help financial institutions comply.
- CFPB has released the prepared remarks of Director Richard Corday, which he delivered before the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Annual Convention. In discussing the new agency’s work since Dodd-Frank, Corday asserted that the CFPB has worked hard to create a “set of rules that protect prospective homebuyers in a manner that never existed in the past, while supporting responsible lenders against those who led a race to the bottom in underwriting standards. We now have a system in place that consumers can trust in a way they could not trust in the marketplace a decade ago.”
- The Terwilliger Foundation hosted a Housing Summit in New Hampshire where Presidential Hopefuls, including, among others: Martin O’Malley, Chris Christie, George Pataki), Mike Huckabee, and Rand Paul. The Enterprise Community Partners Blog has a great piece which describes the affordable housing policy proposals of the various candidates.
- The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report, Affordable Rental Housing, which points out that there are initiatives on the state, local and federal level which address this issue, however they are not always well coordinated, often overlap, and there is “incomplete information to assess performance.” Without sufficient information, the GAO argues it is impossible for Congress or other agencies to set appropriate spending priorities and assess performance. GOA’s recommendation is for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to work with state and local entities to develop a coordinated assessment and reporting structure.
- Also from the GAO, Pay for Success: Collaboration Among Federal Agencies Would be Helpful as Governments Explore New Financing Mechanisms is a report which describes Social Impact Bonds (SIBs). SIBs are a mechanism by which investors pay for social outcomes and receive an agreed upon return based on the success of the program or as GAO put it, “contracting for social outcomes.” According to the GAO SIBs can be useful in reducing the cost of providing social services while improving success. While the use of SIBs has been limited so far the Office of Management and Budget has been encouraging Federal Agencies to test their potential effectiveness. This GAO report analyzes SIBs that have already been piloted, for example the Department of Labor awarded $24 Million in grants in 2013 to reduce recidivism in New York and Massachusetts. One fear is that SIBs could create perverse incentives. SIBs could eventually be used to finance affordable housing development.
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) held a policy conference to commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. Among the conference materials is a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which states the the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) oversight over compliance with the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC) has been lax and proposes joint IRS/HUD oversight. The NMTC has been used to create affordable housing through Housing finance Agencies (HFAs). According to the GAO report the IRS has only conducted seven audits of the 56 HFA since 1986. The GAO report states, “Joint administration with HUD could better align program responsibilities with each agency’s mission and more efficiently address existing oversight challenges.”
- The U.S. Treasury has awarded awarded $202 million dollars to 195 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) through the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund). The CDFI Fund was established in 1994 to provide capital and access to credit in underserved communities through CDFIs. CDFIs are mission driven financial institutions which work on the local level to revitalize neighborhoods and create economic change. The CDFI Program invests in and builds the capacity of community credit unions, banks, loan funds, and other financial institutions serving rural and urban communities.
- The Seattle Mayor has proposed new legislation to build 6,000 new affordable housing units. The proposal has been dubbed a “grand bargain” between affordable housing advocates and real estate developers. This grand bargain will require all new development in Seattle pay for affordable housing creation.
- Not to be outdone, the Mayor of Denver has also been mulling over a policy (mentioned in his inaugural address) which would tax new development and also raise the property taxes. Both Seattle and Denver are reacting to a situation in which lower paid professionals including teachers, restaurant and healthcare workers are increasingly difficult to attract and recruit because they are unable to find housing they can afford.