December 18, 2018

Enterprise Comments on the First Round of Proposed Rules on Opportunity Zones

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  • In October, the IRS released a first round of proposed rules for Opportunity Zones and provided  60 days to submit comments. A new Enterprise blog post points out four main priorities we will be sharing with the IRS: 1) the need to track and report outcomes of opportunity fund investments; 2) prevention of predatory land-banking under the “substantial improvement” test; 3) requiring a higher “substantially all’ threshold for real estate projects; and 4) development of regulations that encourage pairing Opportunity Zone investments with other tax credits, such as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and the New Markets Tax Credit. The post notes that Enterprise “remains committed to working with the Administration and Congress to create the kind of accountability and transparency that will enable stakeholders to evaluate if this program is benefiting the residents and businesses in these lower-income areas.” We encourage all affordable housing and community development stakeholders to submit their comments to the IRS before the December 28 deadline. Read more about our main priorities in our blog.  
  • According to the Department of Commerce, U.S. housing starts in November rose 3.2 percent month-over-month but dropped 3.6 percent year-over-year to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.256 million, and residential building permits increased 5 percent month-over-month to an annual pace of 1.328 million. While starts for buildings with two or more units rose 22.4 percent month-over-month to 432,000 units, single-family construction dropped 4.6 percent to a rate of 824,000. Permits to build single-family homes and multi-family developments increased by 0.1 and 14.8 percent, respectively, to 848,0000 and 480,000 units. (Reuters, December 18)
  • A study from the Pew Research Center finds that rural residents generally deal with longer travel times to hospitals and report facing challenges in accessing quality healthcare. Nearly a quarter of rural residents surveyed said access to good doctors and hospitals is a major problem in their area, compared to 18 percent of urban residents and 9 percent of suburban residents. The study also notes that the average travel time to the nearest hospital in rural areas is about 17 minutes compared to 12 minutes in the suburbs and 10 minutes in urban areas. (CityLab, December 17) 
  • Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle has stated that the city will invest more than $75 million in supporting affordable housing developments over the next year. These funds, which will be mostly drawn from property taxes and fees on real-estate payments, are expected to help nonprofit developers build 1,200 new affordable apartments and preserve another 200 affordable rentals. (The Seattle Times, December 17) 
  • As previously reported in Community Developments, HUD Deputy Secretary Pam Patenaude has announced her plans to leave her post in the new year. According to Affordable Housing Finance, the Federal Housing Administration Commissioner Brian Montgomery will step in as interim deputy secretary while also serving in his existing role. (AFH, December 17)

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