Department of Housing and Urban Development News Briefs – February 2018

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

A federal judge ruled Dec. 23, 2017, that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) must implement a rule to help low-income families find housing Jan. 1, 2018. HUD officials announced in August they would delay the rule for two years, but several civil rights groups sued the Trump administration over the delay. Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell found that HUD did not provide fair reasoning to delay the rule and that the delay was made arbitrarily. The rule requires public housing authorities in 24 metropolitan areas to use small area fair market rents to calculate Section 8 payment standards. Under previous law, rents for entire metropolitan areas are used to calculate the formulas. Howell found that HUD did not have the proper authority to delay the rule and that the stay was made arbitrarily.

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HUD published Jan. 5 a notice extending the deadline for the next Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) submission by local government consolidated plan program participants until their first AFH deadline after Oct. 31, 2020. Program participants will not be required to submit an AFH with the current Office of Management and Budget-approved tool, but must still comply with existing obligations to affirmatively further fair housing, according to the HUD notice. The notice is available at www.hudresourcecenter.com.

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HUD awarded $37 million Dec. 22, 2017, to renew support to 32 local HIV-AIDS housing programs. The funding is available through HUD’s Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS program (HOPWA) and will assist more than 4,000 low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families annually over a three-year period. The grants will provide a combination of housing assistance and supportive services. Grants range from $420,902 to $1.4 million.

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Ben Carson, HUD secretary, announced Dec. 7, 2017, the launch of EnVision Centers. This initiative is designed to help HUD-assisted households achieve self-sufficiency. As a part of the initiative, HUD will launch 10 pilot EnVision Centers. HUD is also launching a mobile app to help HUD-assisted households find local resources through the EnVision Center network and issuing a notice in the Federal Register to get input. Located on or near public housing developments, EnVision Centers will be centralized hubs that serve as an incubator for the four key pillars of self- sufficiency: character and leadership, educational advancement, economic empowerment, and health and wellness. 

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HUD’s 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress was released Dec. 6, 2017. The report found that 553,742 people experienced homelessness on a single night in 2017. This is an increase of 0.7 percent since 2016 and a 13.1 percent decrease since 2010. HUD also found that the number of families with children experiencing homelessness declined 5.4 percent since 2016 and 27 percent since 2010. However, veteran homelessness increased 1.5 percent (or 585 people) since January 2016, primarily in California cities. Since 2010, however, veteran homelessness declined nationally by 46 percent. The report stated that on a single night in January 2017, 40,056 veterans experienced homelessness. HUD also stated that the number of unaccompanied homeless youth and children in 2017 was estimated to be 40,799 and that HUD will treat 2017 as a baseline year for purposes of tracking progress toward reducing youth homelessness. HUD’s national estimate is based upon data reported by approximately 3,000 cities and counties across the nation. 

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Dec. 15, 2017, marked the 25th anniversary of the Family Self-Sufficiency program (FSS). To commemorate the date, HUD awarded $75 million to help public housing residents, those participating in the Housing Choice Voucher program and residents of project-based rental assistance receive job training and employment. Participants in the program sign a five-year contract that requires the head of the household to obtain employment and that no member of the household will receive certain types of public assistance at the end of the five-year term. If the family successfully completes its FSS contract, the family receives the escrow funds that it can use for any purpose, including debt reduction in order to improve credit scores, educational expenses, or a down payment on a home.

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Dougherty Mortgage LLC, announced Dec. 6, 2017, the closing of a $4.8 million HUD 221 (d)(4) loan for the construction of Greenway Terrace. The Ramsey, Minn., property is a proposed 54-apartment low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) development. There will be six one-, 21 two-, 21 three- and six four-bedroom apartments. Apartments are available to individuals and families earning 50 percent or less of the area median income. Of those apartments, four will have Section 811 project-based rental assistance, four will have Group Residential Housing (GRH) assistance and 15 will have project-based vouchers. Funding also included 9 percent LIHTCs from the Anoka County and the Metropolitan Council. 

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Department of Housing and Urban Development