Department of Housing and Urban Development News Briefs - February 2017

Monday, February 6, 2017

Julián Castro, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary, announced a final rule Nov. 30, 2016, that public housing developments in the U.S. will be required to provide a smoke-free environment for their residents. The new rule will provide resources and support to more than 3,100 public housing agencies (PHAs) to implement required smoke-free policies during the next 18 months. HUD now prohibits lit tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars or pipes) in all living units, indoor common areas, administrative offices and all outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and administrative office buildings. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HUD’s national smoke-free policy will save public housing agencies $153 million annually in repairs and preventable fires, including $94 million in secondhand smoke-related health care, $43 million in renovation of smoking-permitted units, and $16 million in smoking-related fire losses. HUD’s final rule included input from more than 1,000 comments from PHAs, housing and health partners, and tenant advocates.

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HUD announced Dec. 12, 2016, a combined $132 million in Choice Neighborhood Planning Grants for five communities. The funding will go toward the redevelopment of severely distressed public or assisted housing, and revitalize surrounding neighborhoods. The Denver Housing Authority, and the city and county of Denver, were awarded $30 million. Louisville Metro Housing Authority and the Louisville metro government in Kentucky received $29.6 million. Boston Housing Authority and the city of Boston received $30 million. The city of St. Louis received $29.5 million. The Camden Housing Authority and the city of Camden, N.J., were awarded $13.3 million. The five awardees will replace 1,853 severely distressed apartments with nearly 3,700 new mixed-income, mixed-use housing apartments as part of an overall effort to revitalize neighborhoods. Together, these five awardees will leverage $636 million through other public/private sources. HUD expects the properties to stimulate another $3.3 billion indirectly to magnify their impact. HUD received 34 applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2016 Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants.

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Love Funding announced the closing of a $19 million loan Jan. 5 that will help preserve and refurbish Tysons Tower, an affordable senior housing community in Vienna, Va. Tysons Tower, built in 1976, will provide 274 apartments reserved for seniors 62 years and older who earn 80 percent or less of the area’s median income (AMI). Love Funding secured the loan through the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) after securing a commitment from HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program for a new 20-year project-based rental assistance (PRBA) contract on all of the apartments. Property improvements will include a new roof, heating and air conditioning systems, windows, elevators and interior apartment renovations.

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HUD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced $2.9 million in additional funding Dec. 22, 2016, for housing homeless veterans. HUD is providing HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program vouchers to local public housing agencies (PHAs) to aid 529 homeless veterans and their families in rural areas. In 2016, HUD awarded approximately $60 million to support more than 8,000 veterans and their families. More than 87,000 vouchers have been awarded and more than 120,000 homeless veterans have been served through the HUD-VASH program since 2008.