January 25, 2018

Community Developments: Resources and Tools for the New Opportunity Zones Program

A daily roundup of news impacting housing and communities. Not receiving the Community Developments daily email yet? Sign up here. 

  • As previously reported in Community Developments, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created the new Opportunity Zones Program, which is designed to drive long-term capital to rural and low-income urban communities throughout the nation. The program will allow investors to receive a temporary tax deferral and other tax benefits when they reinvest unrealized capital gains into designated Opportunity Zones – distressed census tracts that meet eligibility requirements - for a minimum of five years. Governors must submit their recommendations for Opportunity Zone designations to the Treasury Department by late March, unless an extension is requested. Enterprise has published a policy brief that provides an early overview of the program details and a national map that identifies which census tracts are eligible for Opportunity Zones designation. Enterprise will also be hosting a webinar on February 7 that will include an overview of the program and a demonstration of our mapping tools for Opportunity Zones designation. Enterprise will continue to provide resources and tools to aid our field as the Opportunity Zones Program is implemented.
     
  • A blog post by the Urban Institute looks at how HUD's Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule helps communities think regionally about segregation. The AFFH rule requires local governments that receive HUD funding to examine patterns of segregation within their borders and across their regions by conducting an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH). The blog highlights that the recently suspended AFH requirement has created several mechanisms for communities to work together to identify barriers to housing choice and develop regional solutions to combat racial segregation and racially concentrated poverty. The post emphasizes that suspending the AFH requirement threatens to weaken incentives for analyzing patterns of segregation comprehensively and at a regional scale and identifying strategies to overcome them. (Urban Institute, January 24) 
     
  • At the 5th Annual Hunger and Homelessness Summit, HUD Secretary Ben Carson announced plans to assemble a multi-agency task force to address rural poverty and homelessness. In his remarks, Secretary Carson stated that "there has not been enough emphasis on rural poverty" and that HUD is evaluating the rules and policies that govern federal homelessness assistance programs to funnel more resources to rural areas. Secretary Carson also highlighted how rural homelessness is often connected to drug addiction and mental illness. (Wisconsin Public Radio, January 24)
     
  • An article in Reuters highlights that U.S. home sales fell more than expected in December as the supply of houses on the market dropped to a record low. Existing home sales declined 3.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million units. The decline can be partially explained by the unseasonably cold weather, as sales in the Northeast and Midwest fell sharply. (Reuters, January 24)

In Case You Missed It

  • Enterprise Community Loan Fund, Mercy Loan Fund and NeighborWorks Capital announced yesterday that they have partnered to offer $15 million in rapid-response loans for community organizations to accelerate recovery from last year’s hurricanes and fires. Loan recipients can use their financing for projects such as repairing, designing and planning affordable housing developments; repairing existing or planned developments of other kinds; and relocating offices so the organization can return to its work. Organizations can benefit from unsecured loans up to $500,000, loan decisions in approximately half the normal time, and capital to bridge insurance or other payments. 

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