APRIL IS FAIR HOUSING MONTH
This year's theme is "Live Free" and one of the best ways to do that is to be aware of your rights and obligations under the Fair Housing Act. In the "Coming Up" section at the south end of this e-letter you'll find a number of Fair Housing events scheduled around the Northwest. If you have the time, we hope you'll join us.
HUD has given the go-ahead to the Idaho Housing & Finance Association to administer the Emergency Homeownership Loan Program in Idaho. The EHLP program - funded under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act and announced late last year - provides $13 million in funds to provide forgivable bridge loans of up to $50,000 to Idaho homeowners in default because of job loss or high medical bills. Interested homeowners should contact the Association's housing counseling department at (877) 888-3135 for further information. HUD also announced that NeighborWorks America has been delegated administrative responsibility for EHLP program in Washington state and Alaska (Oregon has a separate program funded by the Department of the Treasury). For more, visit the website.
! ! ! NEWS FLASH ! ! !
In the aftermath of severe winter storms in January, President Obama has declared seven Washington counties - King, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lewis, Skagit, Skamania, and Wahkiakum - as eligible for Federal disaster assistance. Consistent with that declaration, HUD has offered the State of Washington the authority to redirect CDBG and HOME funds from HUD to "address critical needs, including housing and services for flood victims," granted a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of FHA-insured homes in the affected areas, made Section 203(h) mortgage insurance available to disaster victims who have lost their homes and wish to rebuild or purchase a new home and has offered local governments "federally guaranteed loans for housing rehabilitation, economic development and repair of public infrastructure." All are effective immediately.
HERE'S YOUR CHANCE
To tell us what you really think. In the March 2nd Federal Register, HUD announced that, at the President's direction, it currently is "reviewing existing regulations to evaluate their continued effectiveness in addressing circumstances for which the regulations were promulgated." As part of this effort, HUD is asking members of the public to share their comments by May 2nd on specific current regulations that may be outdated, ineffective, or excessively burdensome." So, if there's a HUD regulation that really gets your dander up, that you think is silly or stupid or that you think should be changed or improved, made more efficient or effective, here's your chance to tell us. And, from the Secretary on down, HUD would urge you to do so. For more, read The Federal Register announcement online.
FHA Commissioner David Stevens announces his "early May" departure from HUD to become chief executive officer of the Mortgage Bankers Association. . .Shoshone News says Idaho Housing & Finance Association awards $1.29 million in ARRA Tax Credit Assistance Program funds to Western Region Nonprofit Housing Corporation to permit "full renovation" of the 24-unitSilver Hills Apartments for the elderly in Wallace. . .Mail Tribune says Ashland City Council has okayed $50,000 reduction in parcel Ground Works - formerly Rogue Valley Community Development - plans to use for five units of affordable, self-help housing. . .Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority has just finished the roof and just begun installing windows, siding and plumbing at new 17-unit senior complex in Saxman. . .Kennewick businessman Skip Novakovich named Tri-Citian of the Year in part, says TriCity Herald, for his "work in opening transitional housing for veterans". . .Plymouth Housing Group reportedly purchases lot in downtown Seattle for redevelopment as 84 units of affordable housing for chronically homeless. . .Calling it "a deal too good to pass up," West Linn assistant city manager tells Tidings city is trying to buy HUD Good Neighbor Home for "bargain price" of $1. . .Advocates Against Family Violence break ground for Hope's Plaza, a 48-unit affordable complex in Caldwell that will include a domestic violence shelter. . .Design of Housing Resources Board's new Ferncliff housing development has been transformed into "a more traditional cottage design," executive director Ken Balizer tells Kitsap Sun making them even more affordable. . . .Bellingham/Whatcom Housing Authority celebrates grand opening of 40-unit Walton Place Two, "the second and final phase" of a workforce housing development in downtown. . .Tanana Chiefs Conference okays plan, reports News Miner, to transform vacant Fairbanks hotel into Housing First residence for the homeless
Eighteen of the 51 competitive Indian Community Development Block Grant grants awarded by HUD this year have gone to tribes and native villages in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Winners include the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Housing Authority, the Jamestown S'Klallam, Port Gamble S'Klallam and Squaxin Island tribes and Lummi Nation Housing Authority in Washington, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Oregon and the Cheesh-Na and the Sitka tribes and the native villages of Cantwell, Deering, Knik, Kobuk, Nelson Lagoon, St. Paul, Selawik, Shungnak and Tazlina in Alaska. ""I am very pleased," the Coeur d'Alene tribal chief told The Coeur d'Alene Press. The dollars will help improve our tribal housing development" and "inject dollars into the regional economy." The funds will be used for housing, infrastructure and community facilities. The $9.2 million in awards to the Northwest, said HUD Northwest Regional Administrator McBride are "as critical to meeting the needs of these communities as they would be in a large, urban center."
CONGRATS. . .
. . .to the Seattle Housing Authority, one of only six housing authorities nationwide selected by HUD as finalists to compete for some $61 million n HUD's Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grants. A total of 42 authorities applied for implementation grants. Building on "the success of (HUD's) HOPE VI" public housing revitalization program, said Secretary Donovan, Choice Neighborhoods is a collaboration between HUD, HHS, Treasury, Justice and the Department of Education that recognizes that we must link affordable housing with a mix of incomes and uses with quality education, public transportation, good jobs and safe streets." The Seattle Housing Authority's $23.9 million Choice Neighborhoods application "spark the transformation" of the Yesler Terrace area through a partnership with, Seattle University, Seattle public schools and Historic Seattle "Though the neighborhood bears the burden of distressed housing and infrastructure, there are social assets in place to fuel its transformation," said Authority executive director Tom Tierney. "What's needed is a financial spark to ignite it." The competition is expected to conclude later this year.
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS
The good news is that the U.S. Census has just reported that Post Falls just four miles east of the Idaho-Washington border is one of the state's fastest-growing communities. The bad news is that more people often means "not enough housing," and, in Post Falls, that's particularly true for the elderly on fixed income. So, the important news is that there was such a thing as the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act that provided the Idaho Housing & Finance Association with Tax Credit Assistance Program funds it could give to Community Development Inc. to complete financing and complete the construction of Silver Creek II, a 40-unit elderly complex. "Seniors," Mayor Clay Larkin told The Coeur d'Alene Press at the groundbreaking, "will be lined up to apply."
BRIEF BRIEFS TOO
Oregon Housing & Community Services accepting applications until April 24th for Director as described online . . . KTUU-TV says Cook Inlet Tribal Council and Alaska Native Heritage Center have "plans on the board" to build Dena'ina House, a refuge for teens "on the street" in Anchorage. . .Calling it "one of the hidden stories of our community's response" to the Great Recession, Housing Authority of Portland's Steve Rudman tells The Portlander that its $4.2 million in ARRA funds helped "nearly 2900 households" avoid homelessness or move back into their homes. . ."By the end" of March "the last remaining original Westpark structures will be removed," Kurt Wiest writes in The Kitsap Sun," and "by the end of 2011" Bremerton Housing Authority "will have constructed over 150 replacement affordable housing units at Bay Vista" revitalization area. . .Idaho Housing & Finance Association distributes almost $2.6 million in Continuum of Care funds across state to help the homeless, many of whom, says IHFA's Gerald Hunter, "may be facing homelessness for the first time". . .Region IV Development Association of Twin Falls wins $375,000 in USDA Rural Micro-entrepreneur Assistance funds to provide, says Secretary Vilsack, training and technical assistance to "the smallest of small businesses". . .Port Angeles Mayor Michelle Sandoval, reports Peninsula Daily News, tells business leaders that the fact that a "lot of municipalities are purchasing property from developers that have gone bankrupt and putting them into their affordable housing stash" may be a "window o opportunity which may provide a silver lining for the real estate bust". . .RurALCAP cuts ribbon on new, 7-unit affordable housing complex in Anchorage. . .Bellevue wins $200,000 Idaho CDBG grant, says Idaho Mountain Express, to replace "aging water system". . .Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority completes new roof of ARRA-funded, 17-unit Saxman Senior Center and moves on to windows, plumping and the "drying in" of the building. . .Four Rotary Clubs from Port Angeles and Sequim each contribute $2,500 to match $10,000 Rotary International grant "to provide housing intervention and financial assistance to homeless and at-risk families in Clallam County," says Sequim Gazette. . .
ONWARD SELF SUFFICIENCY!
31 public housing agencies in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington will receive $3,598,297 to hire more than 60 coordinators who will link low-income families to education and job training that can put them into the workforce and on the path to economic self-sufficiency. "Most families prefer independence to dependence," said HUD Northwest Regional Administrator McBride of the competitive awards, "and HUD wants to help them get there. This program is an important, effective tool in helping attain self-sufficiency." A recent HUD study of FSS participants from 2005 to 2009 found "benefits are substantial for participants who remain and complete the program." Participants in the program sign a contract that requires the head of the household to get a job and the family will no longer receive welfare assistance at the end of the five-year term. As the family's income rises, a portion of that increased income is deposited in an interest-bearing escrow account. If the family completes its contract, it receives the escrow funds for use for any purpose such as education, starting a business or paying back debts. For more, visit website
SPEAKING OF WHICH. . .
One tool proven again and again as effective in providing "a pathway out of poverty" and to self sufficiency is the IDA or individual development account which provide funds that match the earnings of recipients are held in escrow accounts to be used for education. Oregon Housing and Community Services has just announced the award of a record $7.3 million to enable IDA providers across the state to provide matching funds. Providers include CASA of Oregon, Umpqua CDC, Mercy Corps Northwest, the Native American Youth & Family Center, the Portland Housing Center, Entrepreneurial Development Services and the Warm Springs Community Action Team
So, what would you do with 396, 40-year-old toilets, especially if your local landfill has a "no toilets allowed!" rule? And don't answer that "it's not the kind of problem I want." The Bellingham/Whatcom Housing Authority would tell you it is. Because those 396 toilets were a direct and wonderful by-product of a $9.9 million Green Communities grant it won under the Recovery Act that will allow it to renovate three public housing high rises built 40 years ago. It means new boilers, new windows and 220 solar panels to generate electricity for the buildings with the surplus to be sold back to Puget Sound Energy. And, yes, energy-efficient toilets that will save the Authority 1.6 million gallons of water a year. So, what did they do with the old ones? Trust us, it's path breaking. To find out, visit website
ANGOON TO AN-GREEN?
The Trans Alaska pipeline bypasses Angoon, a town of just under 600 on Admiralty Island in southeast Alaska. Oil from the North Slope travels down to the Lower 48 where it's refined into diesel and then shipped back to Angoon by barge to Angoon where, for generations, it's been used to power anything and everything. It's expensive, very expensive, with the typical household's monthly utility bill up around $1,200, "six to eight times," reports The Capital City Weekly, "more expensive than in the Lower 48." But maybe not much longer. Because, says The Weekly, Angoon's thinking about going green will work. See t he why's, what's and how's of Angoon's experiment in a video which premiered last month in Juneau. You'll find it online
BRIEF BRIEFS THREE
Calling it "a "ground up" initiative," Southern Idaho Economic Development tells Twin Falls Times News it's launching Operation Facelift to recruit residents "to help spruce up their downtown" in communities "throughout southern Idaho".. . .Hacienda CDC says Pietro Ferrari is "stepping down" after six years as executive director. . ."To a chorus of boos and grumble," Prosser City Council narrowly-approves, reports Yakima Herald Republic, zoning change that should allow Catholic Charities Housing Services to build, over next 10 years, 121 unit complex, many of whose residents are likely to be farm worker families. . .Idaho Housing & Finance tells Idaho Statesman its Neighborhood Stabilization Program already has bought and rehabbed more than 200 abandoned or foreclosed homes across state. . .Washington becomes 11th state to take over implementation of the lead Renovation, Repair & Painting rule from EPA that requires that those performing such work "in housing, child care and school buildings constructed before 1978 must use lead-safe work practices. . Seattle City Council reauthorizes multifamily property tax exemption which, says Seattle Office of Housing's Home Base, promotes affordable housing production in 39 areas of the city. . .Thanks to a grant from Kresge Foundation, St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County announces plans to convert a roller rink in "once bustling" Oakridge into a thrift store, Laundromat, offices and "affordable" retail space. . .Plan presented to Juneau Assembly would transform Willoughby area slated as home to State Library "into a mixed-use neighborhood with new streets and new housing," reports Juneau Empire. . .Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe celebrates grand opening of Teekalet, new, 15-unit single-family development whose minimal impact" on the environment, says Tribal chairman Jeremy Sullivan, could serve as "a model" for others. . .David Anderson becomes executive director of Othello Housing Authority.
WORTH A READ
If you ever have to tell folks why you do what you do every day, make it a bit easier on yourself by referring them to Nicole Brodeur's March 14th column "Families' New Lives Is A Sign Homeless Isn't Hopeless" in The Seattle Times. "Mekedes Dejenie looked up the stairs, then at her mother, then at me. "Go!" I told her. "Go!" I watched as this 10-year-old who hasn't known a stable home for two years dashed up the stairs to find her new room. Her own room. With a window and a view and soccer fields across the way. No more shelters. No more strangers. No more moving around." Nice work, made possible, of course, by the hard work of Solid Ground at the Brettley Family Center in Seattle. More online
Recall your school days, especially the first one each fall when you were asked to write an essay "what I did during my summer vacation." "Yuck!," I'd think, ranking the exercise somewhere between walking my out-of-town neighbor's pit bull and eating a bowl of cold Brussels sprouts on my list of "fun things I can't wait to do." Imagine, then, having to explain how you spent your last 25 years, as Lee Ann Dutton did for The Idaho State Journal as she prepared to retire from the Pocatello Planning Department. "Neighbor by neighbor, home by home, building by building, block by block, and job after job," she writes, "we have learned to leverage precious dollars, created the necessary tools, and envisioned how to replace blight with bright." Good read, indeed at website
QUOTE TO NOTE
"We need risk takers to keep churning out jobs, and many have stepped forward. During the early days of the recession, in January of 2009, Sue and Pat Kautzman took a chance on an old former garage building on South Perry. "We saw potential," recalls Sue. A year later, during the still-dark days of December 2009, South Perry Pizza opened for business. A long shot? Sue observes that 50 percent of all new restaurants go out of business during the first year. And consider that less than a decade earlier, nighttime on lower Perry could be a scary time - blocks of mostly empty buildings, no one in sight. The area was a drug-dealing magnet. I asked her about that "potential" - what did she see? "Well, the neighborhood had been improving; lighting was better, nicely done streetscape, it seemed to be a safer place." And, she pointed out, "Across the street, the cafe was doing well." Those important streetscape improvements? Between 2004 and 2008, CDBG invested all of $130,000 of our tax dollars to help lower Perry establish its preferred identity. The message? As the CDBG program shows us, government can, with just a nudge, make the difference between private success and failure. South Perry Pizza, as it turned out, "was a smash hit from Day One," says Sue, quietly wiping a tear of pride. During the summer months, they hire 20 employees. Those are 20 jobs that wouldn't be around otherwise. . . Would any of this have happened without the timely infusion of that CDBG money? I doubt it. As any urbanist will tell you, local improvements are synergistic. Across town, preservationist and developer Ron Wells agrees. "When we first bought property [in Browne's Addition] in 1984," he says, "people were fearful of living in the area." All this changed with the CDBG improvements. The traffic circle on Pacific, constructed in 1992 over the strenuous objections of traffic engineers (what else is new?), at a cost of just $180,000, provided for traffic calming and gave the place a visual center.
"Public perception is 180 degrees from what it was before," says Wells. "It brought a dramatic focus to the corner." . . .The CDBG programs are small amounts of money that have a big impact. Shannon Meagher of Kiemle Hagood, which manages all the Spokane CDBG housing rehabilitation projects, reports that last year her office gave the nod to 89 projects across the city. Beyond the benefits to the needy, these jobs in turn provided work for upwards of 400 people. In Spokane County alone, according to Glenn Crellin, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, when the standard 0.7 percent multiplier effect is added into the employee compensation, the impact of CDBG programs comes to more than $20 million a year. The overall total impact comes to nearly $81 million." - Robert Herold, The Pacific Northwest Inlander, March 16, 2011, commenting on the benefits of HUD's Community Development Block Grant program in Spokane's neighborhoods.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that USDA is accepting applications for zero interest loans and limited grant support under its REDLG program. The awards are made to rural utility companies that, in turn, re-loan them to local businesses for projects that retain and create jobs in rural areas. Applications for 3rd quarter funds are due March 31st and for 4th quarter funds on June 30th. More online or in the February 14th Federal Register.
NOTES TO NOTE
Small Business Administration says "for the first time" it's opening its Community Advantage 7(a) lending program to certified Community Development Financial Institutions to "make loans of up to $250,000 with an SBA guarantee of 75 or 85 percent" to promote greater access to capital for small businesses in CDFI communities. . .HUD posts 2011 Annual Adjustment Factors on March 16th online. . .HUD extends deadline to apply for Self Help Opportunity Program grants to April 18th. . .Department of Justice sets April 21st deadline to apply through Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation for funds "to improve public safety and victim services" in Tribal communities. . .HUD sets April 28th deadline to apply to become Contract Administrator for Project-Based Section 8 Housing Assistance in each of 50 states. . .HUD sets May 2nd deadline for public to identify HUD regulations that are "outdated, ineffective, or excessively burdensome". . .USDA Rural Utilities Service sets May 4th deadline to apply for Community Connect grants of up to $1.5 million to "provide broadband access in rural communities". . .Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle says it will open on-line application process for $2.4 million in Affordable Housing Program funds on May 15th with applications due no later than August 1st. . .HHS sets May 25th deadline for nonprofits to apply for "summer cycle" Assets for Independence grants that help low-income households set-up and mange individual development accounts. . .HUD sets June 1st deadline to apply for Section 202, Supportive Housing for the Low-Income Elderly grants. . .Department of Labor now accepting applications for grants to support Stand Down events for veterans in Federal fiscal year 2011 and, "tentatively," 2012 and 2013.
Oregon Housing & Community Services hosts Celebration of Farm Worker Housing, April 1st, Salem.
City of Seattle, Seattle Foundation and BECU host free Financial Fitness Day workshops, April 2nd, Seattle.
HUD Seattle hosts Fair Labor Standards Workshop for Housing Authorities, April 4th,Seattle.
City of Boise launches locally-developed Fair Housing Public Awareness Campaign, April 5th, Boise.
Money Management International hosts "You & Your Credit Report" workshop, April 5th, Spokane.
Spokane Fair Housing Conference, April 6th, Spokane Valley.
HUD Seattle hosts Fair Labor Standards Workshop for CDBG Grantees, April 11th, Spokane.
Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians hosts Economics & Energy Summit, April 11th to 13th,LaPush.
HUD Spokane hosts Webiinar on Fair Housing Basics, April 12th.
Northwest Environmental Business Council & Portland Business Journal host Oregon Energy Future Conference, April 12th & 13th, Portland.
Fair Housing Council of Oregon and Metro Multifamily Housing Association co-host It's Been a Bumpy Road Fair Housing Bus Tour, April 13th, Portland.
Spring conference of Washington Association of REALTORS, April 13th to 15th, Stevenson.
FHA Webinar on Writing Successful Grant Applications, April 14th.
Annual conference of Washington Affordable Housing Management Association, April 18th to 20th, Tacoma.
Annual conference of Oregon Affordable Housing Management Association, April 18th to 20th, Bend.
Cowlitz Asset Building Coalition hosts Family Financial Fitness workshop, April 21st, Longview.
City of Tacoma Human Rights and Washington Fair Housing Partners host 25th annual Tacoma Fair Housing Conference, April 21st, Tacoma.
HUD Seattle hosts both basic and advanced Fair Housing Workshops, April 27th, Seattle.
23rd annual Conference of Oregon Coalition on Housing & Homelessness, April 27th to 29th, Hood River.
Pacific Northwest NAHRO annual conference, May 1st through 3rd, Tacoma.
HUD & Bureau of Indian Affairs hosts two-day workshop on Mortgages on Tribal Lands, May 4th & 5th. Airway Heights.
HUD Anchorage hosts Rental Housing Underwriting & Finance Workshop, May 10th to 12th, Anchorage.
21st Annual Conference of Washington State Coalition for the Homeless, May 11th to 13th, Kennewick.
EPA & Washington Department of Ecology host 2011 Brownfields & Land Revitalization Conference, May 12th to 13th, Spokane.
Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians holds Mid-Year Meeting, May 16th to 19th, Worley.
HUD Seattle hosts Fair Labor Standards Workshop, May 23rd, Tacoma.
King County Office of Civil Rights hosts Advanced Fair Housing Workshop, May 24th, Seattle.
Neighborhoods USA annual conference, May 25th to 28th, Anchorage.
RurALCAP hosts 28th Annual Rural Providers Conference, May 30th to June 3rd, Dillingham.
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