January 8, 2019

Partial Government Shutdown Enters 18th Day, Impacts on Housing Programs

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  • The partial government shutdown has entered its 18th day, making it the second-longest in U.S. history. Congressional leaders from both parties and the President have met multiple times over the past week to discuss ending the budget impasse over funding for the proposed border wall, but those meetings did not produce tangible progress. Tonight, the President is scheduled to give a prime-time address to the nation on border security, in which he may declare a national emergency for border wall funding. (The Hill, January 7) As previously reported in Community Developments, the House has passed a spending package that would fund eight of the closed federal departments – including the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and Treasury – through September 30 and, in separate legislation, fund the Department of Homeland Security at fiscal 2018 levels through February 8. However, the Senate has not considered the bill, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stating that the Senate will not vote on any bill until the President indicates he will sign it. Stay tuned to our newsletters and blog for updates on budget and appropriations.
     
  • An article in NBC News points out that 1,150 Section 8 contracts, or 5 percent of all contracts, have expired since the shutdown began on December 22, which could delay urgent repairs and place families living in HUD-subsidized units at risk of eviction. If the shutdown continues, about 500 more contracts will expire in January and an additional 550 in February. The Section 8 program, known as Project-Based Rental Assistance, subsidizes rent and utilities for 1.2 million low-income families. HUD has sent letters to landlords asking them to use their reserves, where available, to cover any shortfalls. In the article, Ellen Lurie Hoffman, federal policy director for the National Housing Trust, notes that “if landlords have limited reserves — or if they're squeezed by a continuing shutdown — they could be pushed to delay critical repairs, seek additional financing, raise rents, or ultimately evict tenants.” (NBC News, January 8)
     
  • In an op-ed, Mark McDermott, vice president and Ohio market leader for Enterprise Community Partners, and Thomas J. Strauss, president and CEO of the Sisters of Charity Health System, emphasizes that there is an inextricable link between housing and health. The authors note that lower-income households spending more than half of their income on housing often forgo preventive care or early treatment, facing tradeoffs between spending on housing and preventive health visits. In addition, individuals experiencing homelessness are more likely to go to the emergency room for conditions that could be more effectively managed on an ongoing basis if they had a medical home or stable housing connected to supportive services. The op-ed urges lawmakers and stakeholders to consider how housing can better serve as a platform for improving health outcomes in a cost-effective manner. (Crain’s Cleveland Business, January 6)
     
  • The Seattle City Council has started debating an upzoning plan that would allow higher density and impose affordable-housing requirements on 27 urban villages, commercial corridors and about 6 percent of lots zoned exclusively for detached, single-family houses. The plan would allow developers in those areas to build more units, drawing on Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability policy, which requires developers to include affordable units in their developments or pay fees to fund the construction of affordable units offsite. (The Seattle Times, January 7)
     
  • An analysis by CoreLogic shows that 4.1 percent of home mortgages in October were delinquent by 30 days or more, down from 5.1 percent a year earlier. Between October 2017 and October 2018, the national foreclosure inventory rate – the share of mortgages in some stage of the foreclosure process – declined slightly to 0.5 percent. No states showed an increase in the overall delinquency rate. (CoreLogic, January 8)

In Case You Missed It

  • The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve Board, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (the agencies) have released a notice of proposed rulemaking inviting public comment on amendments to the agencies' regulations requiring appraisals for certain real estate-related transactions. The proposed rule would increase the threshold at which appraisals would not be required for residential real estate-related transactions from $250,000 to $400,000. The agencies are also proposing to define a residential real estate transaction as a transaction involving a single 1-to-4 family residential property. The proposal would require regulated institutions to obtain evaluations for transactions secured by residential property in rural areas and would fulfill the requirement that the agencies add appraisal review to the minimum standards for an appraisal, pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Comments are due by February 5, 2019.

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