January 26, 2018

Community Developments: CRA Consideration for Investments in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

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  • Yesterday the federal bank regulatory agencies announced that financial institutions will be eligible for credit under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) by supporting community development efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and Puerto Rico, even if these areas do not fall under an institution’s assessment area. This CRA consideration aims to increase capital flows into these areas as they seek to rebuild from Hurricane Maria. Both Puerto Rico and the USVI continue to face a host of barriers after Maria destroyed wide swaths of both islands’ economies, housing and infrastructure in September 2017. As the islands await further appropriated resources from Congress, private investments that may be eligible for CRA credit could help finance some of the needed repairs. This announcement comes as the Treasury Department looks towards proposing changes to the CRA in early 2018. Learn more about the announcement in Enterprise's blog post.
     
  • Yesterday HUD announced a top-to-bottom review of its manufactured housing rules as part of a broader effort to identify regulations that “may be ineffective, overly burdensome, or excessively costly given the critical need for affordable housing.” According to HUD, over the next 30 days, it will accept comments to assess the compliance costs of manufactured housing regulatory actions and whether those costs are justified against the backdrop of the nation's shortage of affordable housing. The announcement notes that HUD may adopt, revise and interpret its manufactured housing rules based upon the public's comments it receives and the recommendations of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee, a statutory federal advisory committee comprised of manufactured housing stakeholders. (HUD, January 25) 
     
  • A new blog post by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) looks at strategies for overcoming exclusionary barriers and promoting more affordable housing options in neighborhoods. The blog post highlights a paper that examines two principal patterns of political geography in metropolitan areas that affect decision making about neighborhood inclusion. One is fragmentation, when control of land-use is in the hands of many local governments; the other is polycentricity, when larger county governments dominate the land-use policy landscape. The blog also highlights case studies on residential segregation and strategies for fostering inclusive communities from Chicago, Houston and Washington, D.C. These publications were originally presented at “A Shared Future: Fostering Communities of Inclusion in an Era of Inequality,” a national symposium hosted by JCHS in April 2017. (JCHS, January 26) 
     
  • According to newly released Commerce Department data, new home sales declined by 9.3 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted rate of 625,000 units. However, new home sales rose 8.3 percent year-over-year to 608,000 in December, the highest level since 2007. The data also show that median sales price of new homes sold in December 2017 was $335,400. (WSH, January 25) 
     

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