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Community development and housing news

Posted by NMA on Apr 18, 2019 8:21:00 AM

Community development and housing news for April 18, 2019

Breaking news

HUD announces disaster aid for storm victims in Nebraska and Iowa

Late Friday HUD posted two press releases announcing that it will speed federal disaster assistance to the states of Iowa and Nebraska and provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes due to severe winter storms and flooding. Presidential disaster declarations allow HUD to offer foreclosure relief and other assistance to certain families living in impacted counties.

According to the press release, the disaster assistance will:

Click here for more information about disaster resources.

Kamala Harris revives tax credit push to help people pay for housing costs

"Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris is reviving her proposal to provide new tax credits to help families with high housing costs. The California senator on Tuesday will reintroduce the Rent Relief Act, which would establish refundable tax credits in cases when rent and utilities exceed 30 percent of a household’s income. She first introduced the legislation last July, with a handful of Senate Democrats as co-sponsors, including New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, who is also running for president..." Read more

More money for Berkeley area, Sandy-impacted homeowners

"Berkeley area homeowners could benefit from the Murphy administration's plan to remove the cap on access to Sandy-related funds, allowing homeowners who have long been in limbo to complete construction on their primary homes. Additionally, those still impacted by Sandy will be able to get additional months of rental assistance, according to press release from the Murphy administration..." Read more

U.S. House passes five-year reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act

"On April 4, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization of 2019 (H.R. 1585) on a 263 to 158 vote. The legislation would reauthorize VAWA for five-years and improve the program by expanding eligibility for assistance and increasing funding for grant programs utilized by state and local VAWA service providers..." Read more

House committee discusses permanently authorizing disaster recovery program

"On March 26, the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Reform heard testimony on draft legislation to permanently authorize the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program. The Reforming Disaster Recovery Act of 2019 would permanently authorize CDBG-DR as a part of the yearly appropriations process and bring clarity to how the program should be administered. CDBG-DR is used by state and local governments to address unmet needs for housing, infrastructure and economic development recovery in the wake of a presidentially-declared disaster..." Read more

What we're reading

Reversing the residual effects of redlining

"While systemic barriers still exist, local governments can play a pivotal role in reversing the effects of historical redlining and creating opportunity for their residents. Here are four ways local leaders can begin to map residual inequity and start healing processes in their communities..." Read more

Fighting bias, block by block

"The residue of those discriminatory practices lingers today, fueling stereotypes that seed the stigma attached to black people and black places. Research has shown the power of those stereotypes to shape one of the most fundamental decisions of our lives: where we make our homes. African Americans are more likely than any other group to live in segregated neighborhoods. That residential isolation persists across the social and economic spectrums, in cities large and small. And it is reinforced by prejudicial associations that are shocking to document..." Read more

Not trusting FEMA’s flood maps, more storm-ravaged cities set tougher rules

"In flood-prone regions of the country, a growing number of cities have lost confidence in the ability of the federal government's flood maps to recognize the increasing risks that come with global warming. From Houston to Baltimore to Cedar Falls, Iowa, and now Mexico Beach, Florida, local officials are going beyond the federal standards and have started to require homes in a much wider area—beyond the usual 100-year floodplain—to be built to higher flood-protection standards..." Read more

The crushing cost of rent should be 2020’s big issue

"It’s hard to remember the last time affordable rents received consistent national attention, but the tide is finally turning. In recent months, prominent presidential contenders — Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren — have proposed ambitious solutions, and are speaking substantively about the issue on the campaign trail. They shouldn’t be alone in this: According to the numbers, all 2020 presidential hopefuls would be wise to make it a top-tier priority..." Read more

The neighborhoods where housing costs devour budgets

"More than 10 percent of U.S. households spend at least half their total income on housing costs—far more than the one-third that financial experts advise as a maximum limit. These severely housing-burdened households can be rich or poor, but around half of them are located in neighborhoods where at least one neighbor in three is facing a similar housing burden, according to a CityLab analysis of U.S. Census data obtained from the National Historical Geographic Information System..." Read more

The history of redlining

"The history of redlining is best demonstrated in a map prepared by the United States Home Owner Loan Corporation (HOLC), one of the Roosevelt administration’s most successful programs designed to refinance Americans into sustainable mortgages. Millions of white Americans took advantage of the program and most saved their homes from foreclosure as a result. Black Americans who needed the program lost their homes, along with those white homeowners who lived in integrated neighborhoods..." Read more

Why high rents are a health care problem

"Commissioned by Enterprise Community Partners Inc., a national affordable housing nonprofit, the survey found that more than half of renters surveyed delayed health care because they couldn’t afford it, and 100 percent of medical professionals surveyed said they had dealt with patients in the past who expressed concerns and anxiety about affordable housing. When these doctors and nurses advised patients to reduce stress, 92 of them percent said financial issues were their biggest stress trigger..." Read more

Rural America faces a housing cost crunch

"The problem of housing affordability, long a concern in popular big cities, has moved to rural America.Nearly one-fourth of the nation’s most rural counties have seen a sizeable increase this decade in the number of households spending at least half their income on housing, a category the federal government calls 'severely cost-burdened.' Those counties, none with towns of more than 10,000 residents, have experienced housing cost increases significant enough to force families to scrimp on other necessities..." Read more

Doing the math on housing the homeless

"Housing prices are chronically unaffordable in many American cities. Most prominently, mega-cities like San Francisco and New York feature home prices that effectively price out poor and middle-income people from vast swathes of their environs; however, there are also plenty of mid-size cities that have less extreme affordability problems. Several strategies are frequently on the table to make housing more affordable to those of moderately low incomes. These include: (1) increasing allowed residential construction, (2) incentivizing housing by offering additional air/development rights, (3) subsidizing housing, (4) requiring the mandatory provision of affordable housing alongside market-rate development, and (5) increasing the amount of government-run housing..." Read more

How disasters wreak havoc on financial health and what we can do about it

"Natural disasters like Hurricane Florence lead to broad, and often substantial, negative impacts on financial health. In a new report, we find that these impacts vary by the magnitude of the disaster and affected populations and that negative impacts extend across most measures of financial health, including credit scores, debt in collections, bankruptcy, credit card debt, and mortgage delinquency and foreclosures. In many instances, these effects are substantial..." Read more

BangorHousing shows how small housing authorities can be more than property managers

"For more than a decade, the Urban Institute’s HOST Initiative (Housing Opportunities and Services Together) has partnered with housing authorities—mostly large, well-resourced agencies that serve thousands of households—to develop and test strategies for using housing as a platform for delivering wraparound services for their residents. Through this work, we’ve learned about the value of building on people’s strengths and using approaches that are trauma informed..." Read more

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Topics: fair housing, CDBG-DR, multifamily

4 tips for being a fair housing superstar (part 4)

Posted by Adam Ensalaco on Apr 9, 2019 11:12:00 AM

How to become a fair housing superstar

Next month is Fair Housing Month! In honor of this occasion, I’m sharing four tips I’ve learned over the years. From “senior buildings” and reasonable accommodation to service animals and housing terminology, I’m here to get you on the path to becoming the fair housing superstar I know you are. This is a four part series, so be sure to read parts one, two, and three.

Don’t Confuse Yourself

Within our offices, it’s very common for us to create our own jargon. I have heard the HUD 52517 form, which is officially entitled “Request for Tenancy Approval” called “The Rafta,” “The R.F.T.A.,” and “The Moving Papers” at various housing authorities (and once by three different staff members of the same housing authority). Similarly, I have often heard, “we have a participant requesting an assistance pet” or “we issued them a moving voucher.” And as I mentioned above, I hear the phrase, “this is a senior development” quite often. But these are not HUD terms in the HCV or public housing regulations. If we were to try to find the regulations governing “senior developments” or “senior buildings,” we wouldn’t find anything. These are not HUD terms, so I often find myself having to take the time to go back, unravel the confusion, and clarify issues before I can get to actually answering the question at hand.

This lack of clarity with our language can have very detrimental effects when we try to research areas where we require guidance on how to assist our clients. Make sure your staff is on the same page with HUD. On the occasions when you need to reach out to your field office for help, choosing your terms carefully can prevent confusion and miscommunication.

Everyone here at NMA understands that these fair housing rules can seem overwhelming and confusing. But the good news is that we're here to help! I hope this has been an enjoyable (or at least helpful) read, and I speak for all of us here when I say we look forward to coming to your PHA to help guide you through some gray areas in the months and years to come.

 

ICYMI, make sure to read the other posts in this series: In Public Housing, There’s No Such Thing as a “Senior Building,” Understand What Reasonable Accommodation Is (and Is Not), and Understand The "Critters" of Public Housing

 

Want to build up your fair housing knowledge?

Check out our fair housing resources

 


More about the author:

Headshot of Adam Ensalaco

Adam Ensalaco specializes in making rent calculation easier to understand and clearing up common misconceptions about the process. Adam has previous experience in the affordable housing industry working to house people with disabilities and training housing authorities on reasonable accommodations and has been a part of the NMA team for nearly a decade.

Topics: fair housing, Knowledge Base, HUD terms

HUD settles familial status discrimination suit against CA housing providers

Posted by Annie Stevenson on Apr 3, 2019 8:49:00 AM

HUD-settles-CA-suit

In a press release posted Thursday March 28, HUD announced that it has settled a familial status discrimination complaint against the owners and managers of a California rental property.

The housing providers allegedly violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent a unit to a couple because they have three children. The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to families with children.

The case came to HUD’s attention when a HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program agency filed a complaint on behalf of the couple, alleging that the family was denied the opportunity to rent a two-bedroom unit because they have children.

Under the terms of the conciliation agreement, the owners and manager will pay $10,000 to the couple and $5,000 to the fair housing agency. In addition, the agreement requires that the management company revise its policies and that its employees attend annual fair housing training for the next three years.

 

Make sure you're up to date on all Fair Housing policies.

Get ready for Fair Housing  Month with resources from NMA

Topics: fair housing, Industry News

Community development and housing news

Posted by NMA on Apr 2, 2019 12:51:20 PM

Community development and housing news for April 2, 2019

Landmark decision in Connecticut fair housing case, new UPCS requirements for inspecting carbon monoxide detectors, VAWA reauthorization bill, and other stories we're following this week.

Breaking news

In a landmark civil rights decision, the Connecticut federal District Court established for the first time that consumer reporting agencies must comply with the Fair Housing Act when conducting tenant-screening services for landlords.

The decision in Connecticut Fair Housing Center et al. v. CoreLogic Rental Property Solutions, LLC, which the Center filed with the National Housing Law Project after CoreLogic’s tenant screening product, CrimSAFE, disqualified a disabled Latino man with no criminal convictions from moving in with his mother. CrimSAFE provides landlords with an accept or decline decision based on CoreLogic’s assessment of an applicant’s criminal record. The lawsuit alleges CrimSAFE discriminates on the basis of race, national origin, and disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Read more

HUD will begin requiring federal inspectors to check public housing apartments for carbon monoxide detectors.

Under the new requirements, which took effect yesterday, federal inspectors must check for the detectors in any public housing units that contain fuel-fired appliances or have an attached garage, and determine if they are working, according to a HUD notice issued last week. The new requirements will apply to properties owned and operated by public housing authorities, as well as privately owned developments under contract with HUD, according to HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan. But they will not apply to privately owned apartments rented to people with Section 8 housing choice vouchers. Read more

U.S. Representatives Karen Bass (D-CA-37) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1) have introduced a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), H.R. 1585.

The bill is expected to be considered by the full House of Representatives this week. It retains the baseline housing protections in VAWA 2013 and includes amendments that would strengthen VAWA’s emergency transfer and lease bifurcation remedies; address the need for proper VAWA implementation and compliance; as well as protect VAWA survivors’ right to report crime and support effective law enforcement.

Importantly, VAWA 2013’s housing protections continue to be in effect. These safeguards did not expire when Congress failed to reauthorize VAWA last year. Therefore, VAWA 2013’s statutory housing provisions and related implementing regulations and guidances by HUD and RD are still in force. Read more

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has published their annual analysis of recent data, and the results are stark.

Nationally, there is a shortage of 7 million homes affordable and available to the lowest-income renters. Rents have risen faster than renters’ incomes over the last two decades, and while more people are renting than ever, the supply of housing has lagged. Fewer than four affordable and available rental homes exist for every 10 deeply poor renter households nationwide. As a result, record-breaking numbers of families cannot afford decent homes. Read more

HUD announced that the Federal Housing Administration is expanding its low-income housing tax credit financing program for multifamily properties.

Back in 2012, the FHA rolled out a LIHTC pilot program that dealt specifically with applications to refinance mortgage debt under FHA's Section 223(f) program. Under the new expansion, FHA will begin to support "new construction and substantial rehabilitation" under its Section 221(d)(4) and Section 220 programs. Read more

What we're reading

In a study that raises alarms about an increasingly tattered safety net for low-income seniors in America, researchers have found that just short of half—44 percent—of all homeless people older than 50 years old hit the streets for the first time after they were 50.

The study’s finding speaks to the danger of a shrinking ability of people to adequately save money and make other arrangements for retirement and indicates that there is too little help in place to catch them before they fall into homelessness when hard times hit. Perhaps most disturbingly, it reflects society’s ambivalence toward the plight of the elderly. Read more

A number of housing groups and state representatives are making another push to reform the scoring process for federal LIHTC applications in Texas.

If those pushing to change that process are successful, they say, the credits will be allocated more fairly and with less political influence, racist NIMBYism will lose some of its leverage, and affordable housing developers will have a better chance of serving residents who are the most in need. Read more

Climate change is getting harder to ignore, from alarming new reports about its impacts to debates around a Green New Deal.

Yet for all this attention, individual places—from the biggest cities to the smallest towns—are still struggling to do something about it. An unpredictable climate should serve as a strong motivator for every community to better maintain its man-made and natural stormwater infrastructure to be more flexible and responsive. Read more

When Sonoma County’s pilot project to build tiny homes for more than a dozen homeless veterans ran into one, then two, then three major roadblocks, it was fitting that the response was to just work around it and get the job done.

After all, the county's veterans have demonstrated their resilience throughout their lives, during their service and after. Thanks to the HUD-VASH (VA Supportive Housing) program, 15 formerly homeless veterans, including one couple, will have rental assistance and case management on a plot of county-owned land. Read more

How New Orleans reduced its homeless population by 90 percent.

New Orleans faced a major crisis in homelessness following Hurricane Katrina. In 2007, two years after the storm, there were more than 11,600 homeless people in the city. The strategy to tackle the "unprecedented explosion" of homelessness in the city following Katrina was threefold. Read more

Housing policy is on the presidential campaign agenda for the first time in decades.

The rising cost of housing has become an issue on the presidential campaign trail for one of the first times in living memory, thrilling advocates who are hopeful that tackling housing affordability can merit inclusion on a crowded 2020 Democratic policy agenda. Read more

Elizabeth Warren took aim last week at another pillar of Wall Street's empire: the rental housing market.

In a portion of her updated version of her ambitious 2018 housing bill, Warren proposed a check on the unregulated takeover of rental housing by the country's biggest investment firms. Instead of allowing Wall Street-backed developers to flip any distressed and foreclosed mortgage into a single-family rental unit, her bill would require the government to help keep the majority of these homes in the possession of individuals, community groups, and affordable-housing developers by setting aside a supply of mortgages that Wall Street can't touch. Read more

Articles to bookmark for later reference

Five ways to prepare your city for next year's census.

Now is the time for cities to lay the groundwork for a successful census. Small steps your community takes today can go a long way in ensuring it is accurately counted next year. Read more

How state and local governments can assume a greater role in disaster recovery.

State and local government leaders are increasingly responsible for shouldering the disaster recovery burden. FEMA’s 2018-2022 Strategic Plan says recovery should be "federally supported, state managed, and locally executed." Read more

Local tools to address housing affordability.

The fifth annual research collaboration between NLC and the State Municipal Leagues examines interactions between cities and states on tools to improve housing affordability, including inclusionary housing, rent control, housing vouchers, housing trust funds, and tax incentive programs. Read more

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Topics: fair housing, indoor air quality, LIHTC, UPCS, VASH, VAWA, persons with disabilities, disaster recovery, climate and disaster resilience

REAC previews new inspection protocol, issues inspector notice on carbon monoxide detectors

Posted by Annie Stevenson on Apr 2, 2019 11:17:33 AM

HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) has established a new website with information about planned changes to its physical housing inspection model. The new model, National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE), is intended to improve upon the current Uniform Physical Condition Standards (UPCS) protocol by prioritizing health, safety, and functional defects.

As a first step in revising inspection requirements, HUD published Notice PIH 2019-02/H 2019-04 on February 22. The notice reduced the advance notification time for REAC inspections to 14 days. HUD then began a nationwide series of listening sessions on the new inspection model.

Resources available on the NSPIRE website include a description of the NSPIRE concept and learning materials from the listening sessions held in Philadelphia and Fort Worth.

A two-year, voluntary demonstration of the NSPIRE protocol is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of fiscal year 2019. REAC will publish a notice on the demonstration at a later date. Recommendations on the new model and demonstration may be submitted to NSPIRE@hud.gov.

On March 25, HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) issued Inspector Notice 2019-01 establishing guidance for inspectors on performing a data collection process to determine the prevalence of carbon monoxide detectors at properties subject to inspection under the Uniform Physical Condition Standards (UPCS) protocol.

The notice does not require the presence of carbon monoxide detectors, nor does the absence of such detectors affect a property’s UPCS score—noting the presence or absence of such detectors is for data collection purposes only. The specific procedures required for inspectors to collect data can be found on page 2 of the notice. As the notice explains, this data collection is part of the department’s efforts to support decent, safe, and sanitary housing that is in good repair, and REAC’s commitment to continuous improvement of physical inspection standards.

Need help with UPCS? Talk to our inspections team

Topics: indoor air quality, inspections, PIH notices, UPCS, Industry News, NSPIRE

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