Department of Housing and Urban Development News Briefs - March 2015

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced Jan. 5 that it is waiving the U.S. Housing Act provisions for the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. Congress required HUD to integrate operations of the public housing and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) FSS programs. To comply with the requirements, Congress authorized HUD to waive statutory provisions related to the FSS program. A Federal Register notice released Dec. 29, 2014, announced the waivers and alternative requirements. The waivers state that both public housing and HCV program participants may count toward compliance with public housing agencies’ mandatory FSS participation and graduation levels; public housing applicants will not be delayed in the receipt of housing assistance due to an election not to participate in FSS; and neither HCV nor public housing assistance may be terminated or withheld as a consequence of failure to complete the FSS Contract of Participation without good cause.

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HUD’s report, “Worst Case Housing Needs: 2015 Report to Congress,” was released in early February. The report is based on results from the recent American Housing Survey conducted by the Census Bureau. HUD noted that worst-case needs affected very low-income renters across racial and ethnic groups. HUD found that the number of households with worst-case housing needs decreased between 2011 and 2013, but that it is still 9 percent higher than in 2009, and 49 percent higher than in 2003. According to HUD, 97 percent of the nation’s worst-case housing needs in 2013 were caused by severe rent burdens and 3 percent from inadequate housing. The report closed with the call for a broad strategy at the federal, state and local levels to continue to rebuild the economy, strengthen the market and provide assistance to those families most in need. HUD’s final worst-case needs report will be issued this spring. The report is available at www.hudresourcecenter.com.

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California Gov. Jerry Brown and Julian Castro, HUD secretary, announced their plan Jan. 30 to provide the state with both affordable housing and renewable energy. There will be a collaborative effort between the Obama administration and California to access Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for multifamily housing. PACE programs provide capital to streamline renewable energy and efficiency retrofits for multifamily housing. Gov. Brown will create a California Multifamily PACE pilot program in partnership with the Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation. Castro plans on issuing new guidance for HUD approval of PACE financing on HUD-assisted and HUD-insured housing in California. The U.S. Department of Energy will work with California to assess the performance of California’s PACE program.

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HUD released a memorandum Jan. 30 announcing a new series of initiatives to support affordable housing production and clarifications of an existing policies memo dated Feb. 28, 2014 and the Multifamily Accelerated Processing (MAP) Guide. The revised MAP Guide will include further affordable housing initiatives that HUD is developing. HUD will also announce new initiatives to the risk share programs this spring. HUD made three organizational changes that involve the single underwriter model, the dedicated Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) teams and the expansion of pilot to Section 221(d)(4). The changes are effective immediately. The memorandum is available at www.hudresourcecenter.com.

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The Iowa Economic Development Authority approved $51 million in HUD grants Jan. 11 for the construction of affordable housing. The grants will go to 21 multifamily properties in 16 cities, with the housing to replace facilities lost in the 2008 flooding. Grant amounts ranged from $442,000 to $3 million. A complete list of developments that received the grants is available at www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com.