March 1, 2018

Community Developments: FHA Extends Foreclosure Moratorium for Hurricane Maria Victims

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  • Today the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced that it will extend its current 180-day foreclosure moratorium for FHA-insured homeowners in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for an additional 60 days due to the extensive damage and continuing needs in these territories. Under the expanded moratorium, FHA is instructing lenders and servicers to suspend all foreclosure actions against insured borrowers in these territories until May 18, 2018. In addition, last week FHA introduced a new "Disaster Standalone Partial Claim" option to help struggling borrowers affected by Hurricane Maria and other 2017 disasters resume their pre-disaster mortgage payments without payment shock. The new option covers up to 12 months of missed mortgage payments through an interest-free second loan on the mortgage, payable only when the borrower sells the home or refinances their mortgage. (HUD, March 1) 
     
  • Today is the deadline for organizations to sign onto a letter urging Congress to fund the Section 4 Capacity Building for Affordable Housing and Community Development Program at $40 million in fiscal year (FY) 2019. President Trump’s FY 2019 budget request proposes eliminating funding for Section 4, even though the program leverages more than $20 in other funding for every $1 of Section 4 money invested. In addition to its cost-effectiveness, Section 4 is the only federal program exclusively focused on increasing the effectiveness of local organizations so they can expand their work in affordable housing and community development. Sign your organization onto the letter by 5 p.m. ET today.
     
  • Yesterday the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, committed $10 million for a new revolving loan fund to preserve affordable housing. The Bay Area Preservation Pilot Fund will help nonprofit developers finance the acquisition and preservation of existing multifamily housing properties located in areas with high-frequency transit service and are considered affordable for lower- and moderate-income renters. This effort will also receive a total of $39 million from Enterprise Community Loan Fund (ECLF) and Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) to make $49 million available for new loans. (MTC, February 28) 
     
  • Last week the city of Sacramento filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, alleging that the bank violated the federal Fair Housing Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act by “steering African-American and Latino borrowers towards high-cost or high-risk loans even where those borrowers’ credit permitted them to obtain more advantageous loans.” According to the city, African-American and Hispanic borrowers from Wells Fargo were twice and 1.45 times more likely, respectively, to receive high-cost or high-risk loans than white borrowers. Last year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that cities have the right to sue banks over predatory lending practices, enabling multiple cities, including Los Angeles, Miami, Oakland and Philadelphia, to file mortgage discrimination suits against the nation’s big banks. (HousingWire, February 28)
     
  • The latest State of Hispanic Homeownership report shows that Hispanics continue to drive homeownership growth in the nation. Between 2016 and 2017, the homeownership rate among Hispanics rose by 0.2 percent to 46.2 percent, making them the only demographic group to have increased their homeownership rate for the last three consecutive years. Despite positive trends, Hispanics still face several challenges to homeownership, including uncertainties surrounding immigration legislation and the incidence of natural disasters where Hispanic households are highly concentrated – most notably California, Florida and Texas.  (HousingWire, February 27)
     
  • An article in the Washington Post Wonkblog looks at a new report by the Urban Institute, which finds that the maximum benefit disbursed by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is inadequate in 99 percent of U.S. counties. The study, which compares the maximum per-meal benefit allowed by the program with the average cost of meals purchased by low-income households in the U.S., finds that average cost of a low-income meal is 27 percent higher than the program maximum benefit per meal of $1.86. The Trump Administration recently proposed to cut the program’s federal funding by $17.2 billion in fiscal year 2019, and the report adds to a growing body of evidence that the program’s benefits may already be too small to fully prevent hunger and related health risks. (The Washington Post Wonkblog, February 28)

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