May 17, 2017

Community Developments: HUD Reviews Regulations, USDA Reorganizes Rural Development

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  • A notice published in the Federal Register says that HUD is reviewing its existing regulations to assess their compliance costs and reduce regulatory burden, as required by Executive Order 13771 signed on January 30. This order directs that “for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination.” HUD is in the process of establishing a regulatory task force charged with identifying agency regulations that should be repealed, replaced or modified. As part of this review, HUD invites public comments to assist in identifying existing regulations that may be outdated, ineffective or excessively burdensome. Comments are due June 14, 2017. (Federal Register, May 15)
  • Last week, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue released a report proposing the reorganization of the USDA Rural Development housing, business-cooperative and utilities functions, in order to allow the administrators of these functions to report directly to the Secretary of Agriculture. The proposal would eliminate the Under Secretary for Rural Development (RD), who oversees the agency rural housing programs. According to a blog post by the Housing Assistance Council (HAC), the proposal raises numerous questions among housing groups: will this change lower RD’s profile and will it become easier to cut RD or its programs if they can be viewed as projects in the Secretary’s office and therefore optional? (HAC, May 2017)
  • On Tuesday, Secretary Ben Carson told the National Association of Realtors that HUD is reconsidering the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) policy on Property Assessed Clean Energy assessments (PACE liens). PACE liens help homeowners finance clean energy improvements to their houses. Last year, the Obama Administration made it easier to get an FHA mortgage on houses with PACE liens. (Politico Pro, May 16)
  • As previously reported in Community Developments, two dilapidated public housing developments are closing in Cairo, Illinois, displacing 400 residents from not just from their housing but also possibly from their communities. Tenants have been offered housing choice vouchers and relocation assistance; however, finding equally affordable housing options in Illinois’ poorest community will likely be difficult. The city of Cairo also has a shrinking population that has declined to less than 3,000, and if the 400 residents who are being asked to move (including about 200 children) relocate from Cairo to other cities, the already-shrinking school enrollment will drop drastically and job cuts to the schools will probably follow. (The New York Times, May 17)
  • A new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) shows that nine in 10 of the highest-risk student loan borrowers were not enrolled in federal affordable repayment plans. The CFPB also found that nearly half of the highest-risk borrowers not enrolled in an affordable repayment plan default and fall into deeper debt, compared to less than 10 percent of those enrolled. According to the CFPB, student loan companies are responsible for informing borrowers about affordable repayment options that can help them stay on track. (CFPB, May 16)


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