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HUD Highlights E-Newsletter
February 2010
HUD e-Briefs from Alaska, Idaho, Oregon & Washington
Martha Dilts, Region X Deputy Director (206) 220-5356
Leland Jones, Editor

WELCOME...
...To Mary McBride, named by HUD Secretary Donovan to serve as HUD's Regional Director for Region X, serving the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. "Mary knows the region," observed the Secretary, and "her economic and community development experiences will be great assets to us as we assist communities during these challenging economic times." McBride currently is serving as U.S. Senator Patty Murray's South Sound Regional Director and previously served as the Washington state Director for USDA Rural Development. "I look forward to working with Secretary Donovan, Deputy Secretary Sims, and HUD stakeholders," she said, "to remove barriers, create greater efficiencies, and accomplish needed reform and improvements within HUD."

HUD AHEAD
Noting that "we no longer face an economy or a Department in crisis," on February 1st HUD Secretary Donovan unveiled HUD's proposed budget for fiscal year 2011 which begins on October 1st. Net of $6.9 billion in project FHA and Ginnie Mae receipts, the $41.5 billion, five percent below the fiscal year 2010 and, said the Secretary, requires "difficult decisions to cut funding for a number of programs" and reflects the need "to make HUD's housing and community development programs more streamlined, efficient, and accountable." Among other things, it proposes to continue housing over 2.3 million families in public or assisted housing and provide 78,000 addition Housing Choice Vouchers, a Transforming Rental Assistance initiative to streamline HUD's 13 separate rental assistance programs, a $200 million increase in homeless assistance, a new $150 Catalytic Investment Competition grants program to promote jobs and "game changing" economic development, a $185 million increase in the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, a $60 million "revamped" capacity building program, $150 million for a second year of its Sustainable Communities Initiative in collaboration with the Department of Transportation and funding to fulfill President Obama's campaign pledge to "fully fund" the Community Development Block Grant program. The 2011 fiscal year begins on October 1st and the 2011 budget will require approval by the Congress.

HUD LINERS
Both HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and Deputy Secretary Ron Sims are scheduled to play keynote roles in the 9th annual New Partners for Smart Growth conference in Seattle from February 3rd to 6th. The Secretary will join Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for a Thursday evening on "leadership to create sustainable communities across America," while in the closing plenary on Saturday, February 6th, the Deputy Secretary will offer his thoughts on sustainable partnerships. For more about the conference and its more than 90 workshops and break-outs...

BRIEF BRIEFS
Snohomish Tribune says in 2009 "three of the four top reasons" folks in Everett, Monroe, Snohomish and Mukilteo called 2-1-1 "were for help with utility, rent or mortgage payments"...Housing Works of Redmond present first-ever Golden Key Award to Glen Gives & West Bend Property Company for significant contributions "to providing housing options" to central Oregon residents...King County Housing Authority celebrates completion of $360,000 renovation and expansion of Federal Way community center...USDA Secretary Vilsack announces award of $49 million under Alaska Village Grants Program to address "chronic water quality problems" in 17 rural communities...South Puget Sound Inter-Tribal Housing Authority wins $25,000 USDA grant to weatherize homes on Showalter Bay Indian Reservation ...Pocatello Neighborhood Housing Services finishes affordable duplex in college neighborhood...Housing authorities serving Nampa in Idaho, Portland, Salem, Polk and Lane Counties in Oregon and Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver and King County in Washington win HUD Public Housing Self Sufficiency grants totaling more than $640,000 to help "families achieve the milestones that improve" their quality of life...Clackamas Review says housing authority begins "master planning phase to design the redevelopment of" Oregon's "oldest public housing structure" - the 67-year-old Clackamas Heights...Low Income Housing Institute celebrates grand opening of 75-unit McDermott Place - named after Congressman James McDermott - in Seattle's Lake City neighborhood with 38 of the permanent "designated specifically for veterans"...Idaho Press Tribune says Saltzer Medical Center has donated $10,000 to support CATCH of Canyon County, formed in 2009 to provide housing and "intensive case management" to homeless families.

OREGON WINS!
No, unfortunately, not the Rose Bowl, but maybe what may have been an even stiffer competition. Last fall, HUD's partners were invited to apply for almost $2 billion in Neighborhood Stabilization Program II grants funded by the 2009 Recovery Act. Like the $4 billion in Neighborhood Stabilization Program I grants awarded under formula to 300 jurisdictions, NSP II funds were intended to provide the resources with "innovative ideas" on purchasing and rehabilitating foreclosed homes by converting them to affordable housing. More than 480 jurisdictions applied for NSP II funds. Fewer than 60 organizations won, including the Oregon Department of Housing & Community Services which won a $6.8 million NSP II grant. In collaboration with the cities of Bend, Medford and Salem and Clackamas and Washington counties, it plans to focus on foreclosed and abandoned properties in some 400 Census tracts to cut vacancy and stabilize occupancy rates. The "$6.8 million award will go far to help communities damaged by the recession and the crash of the housing market," said OHCS' Victor Merced.

CONGRATS...
...To the Tacoma Housing Authority on its selection - along with authorities in Orlando and Champaign County, Illinois - to participate in HUD's innovative Moving to Work program. The program allows housing agencies to design and test innovative housing strategies that assist lower income families living in public housing or who are assisted through HUD's Housing Choice Voucher Program. There are just 30 other Moving to Work authorities in the U.S., including, in the Northwest, the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation and the Portland, Seattle, Vancouver and King County housing authorities. "The agencies we selected today clearly demonstrated their ability to create innovative approaches to housing and to form private partnerships that can really build on public dollars," said HUD Assistant Secretary Sandra Henriquez, and will "think outside of the box to improve our federal programs to better assist low-income families."

BRIEF BRIEFS TOO
HUD Inspector General Donahue and FHA Commissioner Stevens launch "initiative focusing on mortgage companies with significant claim rates against" FHA mortgage insurance fund with service of IG subpoenas on "the corporate offices of 15 mortgage companies across the country demanding documents and data related to failed loans which resulted in claims paid out by the FHA" ...Lee Moore elected chair of Housing Authority of Portland board...Secretary of Labor Solis announces award of more than $20.9 million in Recovery Act funds to workforce investment boards teach workers in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington "the skills required in emerging industries, including energy efficiency and renewable energy"...University of Washington's urban planning departments celebrates 50th anniversary...Yamhill County Housing Authority offers "no strings attached" foreclosure prevention counseling to help at-risk homeowners, says News-Register, "save their homes or work with their lender a little better"...Mail Tribune reports opening of new Hearts with a Mission shelter for kids age 10 to 17 in Medford...Idaho Community Foundation contributes $25,000 to support academic and arts programs for homeless children at Boise Rescue Mission's City Lights Home for Women & Children...Kitsap Sun says Habitat plans to open Re-Store in Belfair...Dave Kamrath named executive director of Mid-Willamette Valley Habitat for Humanity...Governor Kulongoski signs executive order to promote Oregon's historic downtowns "by directing state agencies to consider historic downtown areas when scheduling conventions, meeting space, lodging and agency offices"...USDA awards $618,860 Gervais telephone company and $88.1 million to United Utilities in southwestern Alaska to expand rural broadband capacities...Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal says Kitsap Consolidate Housing self-help housing is recruiting 26 families "who want to build a house in Port Orchard". .Idaho Business Review says Idaho REALTORS have sent checks to some 76 homebuyers to "cover the fees and interest associated" with the loans made to buyers by Idaho Housing & Finance Association in anticipation of their receipt of the IRS' temporary First Time Homebuyer Credit...News-Review says Roseburg Economic Development Commission okays $40,000 downtown façade renovation program...HUD Assistant Secretary Henriquez attends dedication of Puyallup Tribe's 22-unit Grandview Townhomes 2 .

HOOPER-LA!
It was a very chilly, but still a very big day in Hooper Bay, a city of about 1,000 people on the shores of the Bering Sea in western Alaska. There were speeches by dignitaries, Eskimo dances by children, and, of course, a ribbon to be cut for the brand-new, 19-unit, and 27,000 square foot building of town homes. Built in a partnership between the AVCP and Cook Inlet Housing Authority with financial support from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation and HUD, it was a "first of a kind" in the region said AVCP's Robert Nick. "By working together," added Ron Hoffman, also of AVCP, we've "overcome challenges" and come together to "celebrate a new dawn in Hooper Bay."

W-ONEHUDRED-FUL
How to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Master Builders Association of King & Snohomish Counties, the nation's largest and oldest professional builders association? With a "100 for 100" campaign, reports The Seattle Times, enlisting its 4,200 member firms in "tackling 100 community projects in a year." Projects like building a duplex in Issaquah for Compassion House to provide transitional housing for homeless families. Like building 33 free wheelchair ramps. Like building a new "wet lab" at the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center. Like giving the Bellevue Boys & Girls Club a fresh coat of paint. "When we ask people to give dollars to some nonprofit, it's kind of a stress" in the current economy, said Association president John Day, "But if they can wire a whole house, they'll go wire a whole house with $4,000 worth of work and say, 'Thanks for the opportunity.' It's a great way for our members to give back."

BRIEF BRIEFS THREE
Commerce Secretary Locke names John Neimeyer, a Yup'ik Eskimo, as Federal co-chair of the Denali Commission...Intermountain Fair Housing Council of Boise, Fair Housing Council of Oregon, Oregon Legal Aid Services, Northwest Fair Housing Alliance in Spokane and the Fair Housing Center in Tacoma among 98 organizations nationwide to win HUD Fair Housing Initiative Program grants...Yakima Herald says YWCA has received $25,000 grant from Yakima Valley Community Foundation to build new playground near transitional family housing in downtown...Alaska Division of Insurance and HUD settle alleged kickback case against Alyeska Title Guaranty of Anchorage...Beaverton Valley Times says almost $2 million HUD Continuum of Care grant is expected to serve as "wonderful foundation for future plans" in a period when "increasing numbers of families" are "contacting county housing services" for help...The Nisqually Tribe opens a $6.3 million youth, community and emergency services center on reservation near Olympia ...Jefferson County celebrates opening of $2 million Dove House domestic violence "refuge" in Pt. Townsend...Calling it "a great opportunity for first-time homebuyers in today's housing market," Idaho Housing & Finance Association says it will offer HOME-funded down-payment assistance from $1,000 to $20,000 to income-eligible buyers until March 31st...Oregon ON executive director Michael Anderson accepts position as affordable housing organizer with Center for Community Change...Saying it will put Alaskans to work but "just as importantly " put "the mechanism to quickly rectify public health problems that plague Alaska's rural communities," Agriculture Secretary Vilsack awards $49 million to 17 communities to address "chronic" water quality problems...SeaMar Farmworker & Community Housing tells Tri-City Herald it's in process of adding up to 76 more units of housing for seasonal workers...Telling NR Today "we don't have nearly enough money to fix all the problems out there, but by targeting specific neighborhoods we can maximize the impact," Umpqua Community Development uses Recovery Act funds to buy its first abandoned home in Winston for rehab and resale...Gresham Outlook says 14 east Multnomah County churches have responded favorably to request from County Commissioners Kafoury and Portland Commissioner Fish to help shelter families with children who are homeless...EPA Administrator Jackson names Dennis McLerran of the Puget Sound Clean Air Council as Regional Administrator for Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

! ! ! NEWS FHA-LASH 1 ! ! !
Describing them as "among the most significant steps to address risk in" FHA's "history," FHA Commissioner Stevens has announced a "set of policy changes to strengthen FHA's capital reserves" while continuing to meet its commitment to promoting homeownership. The proposed changes include an increase in the FHA mortgage insurance premium, an updating of the combination of FICO scores and down payment requirements for new borrowers, a reduction in allowable seller concessions from 6 to 3 percent and publicly reporting FHA lender performance. For details...

! ! ! NEWS FHA-LASH 2 ! ! !
Hoping to "improve conditions in communities where foreclosure activity is high," HUD Secretary Donovan has announced that FHA will temporarily waive, effective February 1st, its prohibition against insuring a mortgage on a property owned by a seller for less than 90 days. The one-year waiver will apply only to properties in which the transactions are at arms-length and there is no identity of interest between buyer and seller, is limited to forward mortgages and may not be used under the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for purchase program and lenders will have to meet specific conditions if the sales price is 20 percent or more below the seller's purchase price. For more...

! ! ! NEWS FHA-LASH 3 ! ! !
FHA-insured homebuyers "experiencing financial hardship" are now eligible to seek loss mitigation assistance from FHA lenders "before they fall behind on their mortgage payments" if they can demonstrate they are facing "imminent default." Previously, only borrowers who had missed payments could get assistance. The January 22nd change, said FHA Commissioner Stevens "helps borrowers retain their homes while protecting the FHA insurance fund from unnecessary losses."

QUOTE TO NOTE
"Every time HUD makes a change or looks at its financial stability, you hear howls about its function in housing. Should the government really be involved in homes and loans?...For years, "government housing" options - specifically FHA loans - were perceived as being problematic and heavily wrapped in red tape. The favorite line for real estate salespersons became "Of course your FHA loan is screwed up. Can you spell HUD backwards?" But guess what: HUD also steps up. HUD tried programs that the private sector wasn't ready to digest. The agency first introduced and stood by the country's most popular reverse mortgage product and a couple of its first cousins: low-down-payment first mortgages and the purchase-rehabilitation package known as the FHA 203(k) loan. In 2009, when money was tight and jumbo loans became so difficult to find, FHA became the safety valve for many mortgage brokers. Some lenders report that FHA loans make up nearly 40 percent of their business, nearly double the volume of the past five years combined...The popularity of FHA loans dwindled in the past decade as the private market grew more sophisticated and efficient at creating and providing mortgage money. This year, lenders returned in droves to the security that FHA provides their borrowers." - - Tom Kelly, former Seattle Times real estate editor, writing for the Inman News Service.

THANKS...
...To the thousands of volunteers across Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington who volunteered and braved the elements to help with this year's point-in-time census. Thanks to them, we'll know more about the who's, what's, why's, when's and where's to the homeless our communities serve.

COMING UP
9th annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, February 4th through 6th, Seattle. More...

City of Port Townsend hosts "How Survive & Even Thrive in the Lean Years: A Contractor's Workshop," February 4th, Port Townsend. More...

Winter conference of Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, February 8th through 11th, Centralia. More...

Alaska Forum on the Environment, February 8th through 12th, Anchorage. More...

National American Indian Council hosts Improving Tribal Housing Maintenance Management workshop, February 9th to 11th, Anchorage. More...

Association of Alaska Housing Authorities quarterly meeting, February 10th & 11th, Juneau. More...

Indian Health Service offers Essentials of Healthy Housing training, February 10th & 11th, Anchorage. More...

U.S. Treasury's Community Development Finance Initiatives Fund hosts How to Certify Your Group as CDFI teleconference, February 18th. More...

Alaska Village Initiative hosts Rural Small Business Conference, February 16th to 18th, Anchorage. More...

Treasure Valley College and Sunergy host 2010 Renewable Energy Summit, February 18th & 19th, Ontario. More...

HUD Seattle & King County Office of Civil Rights host Basic Fair Housing Workshop. February 24th, Seattle. More...

HUD Seattle & King County Office of Civil Rights host Advanced Fair Housing Workshop, February 24th, Seattle. More...

Visit HUD Spokane hosts Fair Housing Training, March 3rd, Spokane. More...

U.S. Treasury's Community Development Finance Initiatives Fund hosts How to Certify Your Group as CDFI teleconference, March 18th. More...

Central Oregon Community Colleges hosts Homeownership Preservation Workshop, March 27th, Bend. More...

National American Indian Housing Council presents Combating Prescription Drug Abuse in Tribal Housing, March 30th & 31st, Anchorage. More...

Governor Otter hosts Small Business Summit, April 13th, Boise. More...

Washington Association of REALTORS holds Spring Business Conference, April 14th to 16th, Che Elum. More...

2010 Spokane Fair Housing Conference, April 16th, Spokane. More...

U.S. Treasury's Community Development Finance Initiatives Fund hosts How to Certify Your Group as CDFI teleconference, April 15th. More...

Idaho Affordable Housing Management Association holds annual conference, April 19th to 22nd, Garden City. More...

Washington Affordable Housing Management Association holds annual conference, April 20th to 21st, Wenatchee. More...

Pacific Northwest Regional Council of NAHRO holds annual conference, April 25th to 28th, Salem. More...

Alaska Rural Energy Conference, April 27th to 29th, Fairbanks. More...

4th Biennial Alaska Rural Health Conference, April 28th to 30th, Anchorage. More...

HUD Seattle hosts Basic Fair Housing Workshop, April 28th, Seattle. More...

HUD Seattle hosts Advanced Fair Housing Workshop, April 28th, Seattle. More...

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