Housing and Community Development Programs Mostly Spared in Stopgap Spending BillOn March 18, President Obama signed into law H.J. Res. 48, the sixth continuing resolution (CR) for the fiscal year (FY) 2011 federal budget. This CR will last three weeks and will fund the government through April 8. The CR includes $6 billion in spending cuts ($3.5 billion from programs and $2.6 billion in earmarks), but housing and community development programs were largely spared. The only Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program affected was the Brownfields Economic Development Initiative (program eliminated, a cut of $17.5 million), a program that was also cut by the Administration in its FY 2012 budget request.
The CR also increases budget authority for the Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Housing Service Section 502 Single-Family Direct Loan program. The Congressional Budget Office has released a summary of the 112th Congress’ continuing resolutions that compares spending levels to both the House and Senate full-year proposals. For more information on FY 2011 and 2012 appropriations, visit the Enterprise Budget and Appropriations webpage.
Bills to End Foreclosure Programs Advance in House, SenateOn March 16, the House passed the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) Termination Act (H.R. 861). The previous week, the House also passed two additional bills to end federal foreclosure programs: the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Refinance Program Termination Act (H.R. 830) and the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program Termination Act (H.R. 836). All three bills have been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, but no Senate companion bills have been introduced. In response to these congressional actions, HUD has released a blog post in support of continuing NSP funding.
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary debated the Limiting Investor and Homeowner Loss in Foreclosure Act (S. 222) on March 17. S. 222 was introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on January 27. The bill would authorize bankruptcy courts to establish loss mitigation programs to negotiate alternatives to avoid foreclosure on principal residences. In addition, on March 9, Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) introduced the HAMP Termination Act of 2011 (S. 527). The full House will consider its companion bill (H.R. 839) on March 29.
Section 202 Housing for the Elderly Funding AvailableOn March 8, HUD released a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the FY 2010 Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program. The NOFA provides approximately $371 million in capital advance funds to nonprofit organizations and cooperatives to develop and operate supportive housing for very low-income senior households. HUD has reserved points in the application scoring process for projects that meet certain building standards, such as the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria. Applications are due June 1. For more information, visit the HUD Section 202 webpage and view the Enterprise NOFA summary.
HUD Announces Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grantees, Implementation FinalistsOn March 18, HUD announced that 17 communities would receive $4 million in planning grants as part of its Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI). In addition, six other communities were named as finalists for CNI implementation grants. The goal of the CNI is to “transform distressed neighborhoods and public and assisted projects into viable and sustainable mixed-income neighborhoods by linking housing improvements with appropriate services, schools, public assets, transportation and access to jobs.” The CNI was originally proposed as the successor to the HOPE VI program, but it has yet to receive congressional authorization. The program received FY 2010 funding as a pilot program within the HOPE VI account. For more information, read the HUD CNI press release.
USDA Announces Changes to Single-Family Loan ProgramUSDA has outlined two changes to the fees for the Section 502 Single-Family Guaranteed Loan Program. For loans obligated on or after October 1, 2011, USDA will now charge an annual fee of 0.3 percent and the up-front guarantee fee will be reduced from 3.5 percent to 2 percent. For more information, view the USDA Rural Development notice at the National Council of State Housing Agencies website.
The federal government recently released several Federal Register notices related to housing and community development (listed below in chronological order):
Federal Register Notices
- Interim Rule for the Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program (Docket No. FR-5470; RIN 2502-AI97), HUD
- Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program: Announcement of Activation of Program and Availability of Emergency Assistance (Docket No. FR-5470-N-02), HUD
- Request for Public Comments on Trend Factor Methodology Used in the Calculation of Fair Market Rents (Docket No. FR-5466-N-01), HUD
- Notice of Public Meeting – Building Energy Codes Program: Presenting and Receiving Comments to DOE Proposed Changes to the International GreenConstruction Code (Docket No. EERE-2011-BT-BC-0009), Department of Energy
- Notice – Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments Program: Contract Rent Annual Adjustment Factors (AAFs) for Fiscal Year 2011 (Docket No. FR-5489-N-01), HUD
DOE Announces Technical Assistance Programs, Public Meeting on Building Code ChangesThe Department of Energy (DOE) has scheduled a series of webinars through its Technical Assistance Program. Topics include multifamily retrofit loan programs, energy savings performance contracting, evaluation and verification plans for residential retrofits, and benchmarking energy use with the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. For more information, view the DOE Technical Assistance Program March Webinar Schedule.
DOE will also hold a public meeting on April 14 in Washington, DC to receive input on potential proposed changes to the draft International Green Construction Code. The code is being developed by the International Code Council (ICC) and is expected to be published in 2012. The ICC will also hold public hearings in Texas in May. Written comments can be submitted online through the DOE website.
Congressional Committees Hold Hearings on the Budget, Housing Markets and Consumer ProtectionThe House Committees on Appropriations and Financial Services (HFSC) and Senate Committees on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Budget and the Judiciary scheduled hearings on a range of topics, including FY 2012 appropriations, foreclosure programs, housing finance and regulatory reform, and consumer financial protection.
Budget and Appropriations
- HUD Budget Hearing featuring testimony from Secretary Shaun Donovan (March 10), House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and HUD
- HUD Budget Hearing on the Transformation Initiative (March 15), House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and HUD
- Markup of the Views and Estimates of the HFSC on Matters to be Set Forth in the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2012 (March 15), HFSC
- Report on the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force (March 15), Senate Budget
- Department of the Treasury Budget Hearing featuring testimony from Secretary Timothy F. Geithner (March 16), House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government
Consumer Financial Protection
- Oversight of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (March 16), HFSC Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit
Foreclosure Response and Housing Counseling
- Executive Business Meeting, including discussion of S.222, the Limiting Investor and Homeowner Loss in Foreclosure Act of 2010 (March 17), Senate Judiciary
- HUD Budget Hearing on Housing Counseling (March 29), House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and HUD
Housing Finance and Regulatory Reform
- Legislative Proposals to Create a Covered Bond Market in the United States (March 11), HFSC Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises
- The Administration’s Report to Congress: Reforming America’s Housing Finance Market (March 15), Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
Enterprise to Hold Multifamily Rehabilitation, LIHTC WebinarsEnterprise will hold live online events in March pertaining to the new Enterprise Green multifamily rehabilitation specifications and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit:
- Overview of Enterprise Green Multifamily Rehabilitation Specifications, March 25
- Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) 101, March 30
Enterprise Introduces New BlogEnterprise has launched @the horizon, a new weekly blog on affordable housing and community development. Please visit and add your ideas and voice to the conversation.
Housing and Community Development Reports Released
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) and HUD released the following reports related to housing and community development.
- Assessing the Harvest: Implementation of the Energy Efficiency Provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, ACEEE
- House Spending Bill Renews Most Low-Income Rental Assistance but Would Undercut Efforts to Reduce Homelessness and Meet Other Critical Housing Needs, CBPP
- The Federal Government’s Long-Term Fiscal Outlook: January 2011 Update (GAO-11-451SP), GAO
- The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Working for America’s Cities and Working for Rural Communities, HUD and USDA
- List of Selected Federal Programs that Have Similar or Overlapping Objectives, Provide Similar Services or are Fragmented Across Government Missions (GAO-11-474R; supplement to GAO-11-318SP), GAO
- Regulatory Barriers to Manufactured Housing Placement in Urban Communities, HUD
- Rural Fair Housing Complaints and Enforcement, HAC
- Troubled Asset Relief Program: Treasury Continues to Face Implementation Challenges and Data Weaknesses in Its Making Home Affordable Program, GAO