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Department of Housing and Urban Development News Briefs - February 2011

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) last month announced fiscal year (FY) 2010 Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program funding awards to public housing agencies. Agencies use the funds for housing conversion actions, public housing relocations and replacements, moderate rehabilitation replacements and HOPE IV voucher awards. In FY 2010, HUD awarded new budget authority of nearly $146.8 million for 17,726 HCVs under all of the above-mentioned categories. HUD published a list of the agencies that received the non-competitive funding awards and their corresponding award amounts in the January 10 Federal Register. The notice is available for download at www.hudresourcecenter.com.

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Local Initiatives Support Coalition (LISC) provided technical and predevelopment assistance to help preserve and rehabilitate Salem Towers, an affordable senior community in Malden, Mass. Salem Towers, New England's oldest HUD Section 202 property, needed extensive rehabilitation work and accessibility upgrades. The property was in danger of losing its affordability restrictions before Beth Israel Senior Citizens Housing and New England Communities partnered to redevelop the building. When work is completed, the property will feature two elevators, a new roof, new windows and storm doors, updated kitchens, a new club room, a hair salon and an exercise area. LISC said the building's preservation was accomplished by utilizing Section 234 of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 and a number of first-time HUD accommodations, including approval of a second mortgage predevelopment loan from LISC, which is normally permitted only for governmental secondary finance lenders; an award of enhanced vouchers; and, to facilitate the gradual conversion of enhanced vouchers to project-based vouchers, a waiver to allow the Malden Housing Authority to add units to a project-based voucher contract for 15 years instead of the normal three years. Congress passed a comprehensive Section 202 reform bill, S. 118, shortly after the project's financing closed.

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Congress enacted legislation in December to reform the Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program. The Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act's House sponsor, Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said S. 1481 will allocate funding to triple the number of supportive housing units built with federal dollars; speed up the process by allowing states greater involvement in project approval; and provide incentives that would allow partnering federal supportive housing money with state and private dollars to create more units. S. 1481 modernizes and improves Section 811 of the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on January 4.

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HUD could improve the consistency of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) by providing more guidance to grantees and HUD field staff, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a December report. For the report, GAO reviewed 32 property records from eight grantees to determine whether grantees were using the first round of NSP funds in accordance with Housing and Economic Recovery Act criteria. HUD provided training for NSP grantees on the use of the agency's financial and information collection system, the Disaster Recovery Grant Reporting system, but the GAO found that variations among grantees' data input methods limit the information's usefulness. GAO said insufficient guidance may have contributed to the inconsistency and suggested that HUD should issue grantees specific written guidance. HUD concurred with the GAO's recommendations and is planning another assessment of NSP outcomes, which will focus on the second funding round. Download a copy of the full report from www.hudresourcecenter.com.

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Even though multifamily unit completions fell by 37 percent in the third quarter of 2010, permits and starts rose by 9 percent and 36 percent, respectively, and the multifamily housing sector continued to improve when compared to the second quarter, according to HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research. The quarterly report, "U.S. Housing Market Conditions," provides updates on production, marketing and multifamily sector performance, including housing affordability, homeownership and foreclosures. The report also contains comparisons from the previous quarter and the previous year, profiles of economic and housing market activity and updates on historical market trends. Download a copy of the report from HUD User.

Journal Category:

Department of Housing and Urban Development

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