FROM MARY McBRIDE
Thanks to the thousands of volunteers in dozens of communities across the Northwest who gave up a good, warm sleep to brave the wintry elements and help us conduct our annual point-in-time survey. It's always a long night and you probably heard plenty of sad stories from folks whose luck has gone bad. As you reflect upon the contribution you made, I hope you realize how important your efforts were in helping HUD and its partners better gauge the number and the nature of the problems faced by those who are homeless. And that, in turn, is critical to helping them get off the streets and back on their feet. From all of us at HUD, thank you.
ONE COUNTER'S ACCOUNT
"With the recession, many more people have been affected. There are more people in shelters, more people on waiting lists. . . It's difficult to be both a bureaucrat and then talk to people who are experiencing life on the street because I already feel the urgency on a daily basis. would say about every three months, I shake my fist at the system, and I can't understand how in the United States of America there are families with children living outside, veterans living outside, people with developmental disabilities living outside on our streets. I don't understand it. What people experience when they're living outside is just horrific. They're assaulted, separated from their family." - From a January 26th Oregonian Q&A with Sally Erickson of the City of Portland, at website.
SUPPORTING THE CAUSE
Just a week before the point-in-time count, HUD announced the award of almost $63 million in Continuum of Care renewal grants to more than 350 projects serving the homeless in the Northwest. Alaska received $3.4 million, Idaho $3.5 million, Oregon $18.2 million and Washington state $37.7 million, with increases over last year's awards in all four states. "Day in and day out," said HUD Regional Administrator McBride, these "projects have helped those at risk stay on their feet and those who are homeless get back on theirs. HUD is proud to help keep their doors open and support the very good work they do." For a list of projects in your state, visit online.
Alaska Housing Finance Corporation okays $625,000 no-interest to Neighborhood Housing Services of Fairbanks to allow it to continue down-payment assistance loan program in underserved areas. . .Bellingham Whatcom Housing Authority tells The Herald that 40-unit, $13.5 million Walton Place Two workforce housing in downtown should "beginning in February". . .Andrew Ebona elected president of RurALCAP board for fifth straight year. . With development of "more than 50 housing projects" under its belt, Housing Hope's Ed Petersen tells Everett Herald it's starting a separate nonprofit HopeWorks Social Enterprise "to create real jobs and real wage progression". . .KTUU-TV says Covenant House has now raised enough to build a new facility for homeless and runaway youth that will double the capacity of its current Anchorage facility. . .Salem Housing Authority completes - and celebrates - "green retrofitting" of Englewood East Apartments, adding, says Authority's Andrew Wilch, 20 years of useful life of the housing complex for the elderly. . .Alaska Conservation Alliance commissions report that finds that "Fairbanks can cut its energy demand almost in half," reports News-Miner, not from new sources or, even, "turning down the heat, but rather insulation and by installing more efficient appliances". . .Habitat for Humanity of Portland/East Metro celebrates completion of last 9 of 23 homes in its Jubilee Commons development, the largest Habitat subdivision in Oregon. . .Some "skeptics said it couldn't be done," says Kitsap Sun, but Bremerton Housing Authority begins preleasing first 151 affordable units in its 80-acre transformation of WestPark into Bay Vista, a HOPE VI revitalization project.
! ! ! NEWS FLASH ! ! !
Hoping to "accelerate the resale of foreclosed upon homes in neighborhoods struggling to overcome possible property abandonment and blight," FHA Commissioner David Stevens has extended until the end of 2011 a temporary waiver of the FHA's "anti-flipping rule" which prohibits insuring a mortgage on a home owned by the seller for less than 90 days. FHA has found that, in today's market, acquiring, rehabilitating and reselling these properties to prospective homeowners often takes less than 90 days and that prohibiting the use of FHA mortgage insurance for a subsequent resale within 90 days "adversely impacts" the willingness of sellers to allow contracts from potential FHA buyers because they must consider holding costs and the risk of vandalism associated with allowing a property to sit vacant over a 90-day period of time. "Since the original waiver went into effect," Stevens reported, "FHA has insured more than 21,000 mortgages worth over $3.6 billion on properties resold within 90 days of acquisition."
One of the few bright spots in the foreclosure crisis of the last couple of years has been FHA mortgage programs. Simply put, FHA has been one of the few places at-risk homeowners could go to reduce risks and hold onto their homes. As the market's changed, FHA has responded. HUD-approved housing counselors affiliated within FHA's Santa Ana Homeownership Center are invited to participate in a free, five-Webinar series on what's changed and what's not at FHA and how its programs can serve your customers. The first "What's Up at FHA" Webinar will be held February 4th,(www2.gotomeeting.com event 210631122);the second on February 17th (event #,229670787);the third on March 3rd (event #456334706); the fourth is on March 17th (event # 182033914) and the fifth is on March 31st (event # 583417762). For more, register at www2.gotomeeting.com or call 800-225-5342.
AND IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN. . .
Understanding the mysteries of seeking HUD funding, you may want to attend the free, all-day "How To's of HUD Funding" workshop being hosted by HUD Seattle's Kristin Johnsen at the Washington Housing Finance Commission offices in Seattle on March 9th. It'll give you a quick, but thorough introduction to what your organization needs to do be aware of HUD funding opportunities and to go after them. Space is limited. Visit online.
Speaking of HUD funding, the January 28th Federal Register has announced the availability of $30 million the availability of $30 million to physical conversion of eligible multifamily assisted housing projects into assisted living facilities. Applications are due March 29th. For more, visit online.
BRIEF BRIEFS TOO
Telling The World "sure, it's exciting" but also "pretty scary" to go from "building simple, individual homes" - 43 so far ' "to developing a subdivision," Habitat for Humanity executive director Natalie Narby says its "major goal for 2011" is starting work on six homes on an .87 acre lot in south Wenatchee. . .City of Portland wins $1 million HUD Healthy Homes grant - one of 51 across country -"to protect children and families from potentially dangerous home health and safety hazards in some 375 rental units" across city. . .Vancouver Housing Authority tells Columbian that $7.5 million, 51-unit Camas Ridge complex should be finished "midsummer" while ground will be broken for $16.1 million, 76-unit Vista Court Apartments for the elderly "scheduled to begin construction this month". . .Home Senior Citizens, Inc. celebrates grand opening of 4-unit Swartzell Terrace financed by Alaska Housing Finance, , Gethsemane Lutheran Church and Compass Housing Alliance, says Post Intelligencer, break ground on 50-units of affordable housing in Beltown neighborhood of Seattle. . . Plymouth Housing Group of Seattle celebrates 30 years of "building hope, transforming lives". . .Innovative Housing Inc. celebrates the 100th birthday of The Clifford in Portland with a ribbon-cutting marking completion of its renovation and the preservation of 88 units of affordable housing. . .Noting that Alaska Housing Finance's "equity base is among the highest of all" housing finance agencies "in dollar terms and is the highest among all rated" state housing finance agencies, Standard & Poor's raises its bond rating to AA+. . .CHS reports that, with grant from Washington Department of Veterans Affairs, Catholic Community Services plans to build 18 units for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. .. .Corvallis Homeless Coalition tells Gazette it's "moving right along" on building Partners Place, the "city's first permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless". . .Spokesman Review reports that Catholic Charities "plans to build downtown housing for the city's poorest residents" that will "be financed almost entirely by $2.5 million Washington Housing Trust Fund grant.
GIVING BACK BIG
Reflecting "its longstanding mission to transform lives and strengthen communities," the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has awarded another $8.5 million in grants to 3 nonprofits in Alaska, 3 in Idaho, 9 in Montana, 12 in Oregon and 56 in Washington. Winners include Community Frameworks in Spokane which receive $175,000 to expand its HomeStarts homeownership program, the Rural Development Initiative in Eugene which received $190,000 for its financial literacy and microenterprise programs, Building Change s in Seattle which won $300,000 to expand its economic opportunity initiative and HopeLink in Redmond and JOIN in Portland to provide eviction assistance. It also included a new initiative to strengthen "the role libraries play in connecting people to information and ideas," awarding $426,000 in grants to seven public library systems. Mr. Allen, a Microsoft co-founder, and his sister established the Foundation in 1988 and has since awarded more than $425 million in grants to more than 1,400 non-profit organizations.
The City of Seattle has awarded some $23 million, mostly from its Housing Levy approved by voters in 2009, to eight non-profit organizations to build 375 and rehabilitate 271 existing units for seniors, the homeless and people with disabilities. Housing that is "affordable to people from all walks of life, people with varying economic situations, is what makes our neighborhoods vibrant and inviting," said Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith in announcing the awards to the Downtown Emergency Service Center, the Low Income Housing Institute, the Plymouth Housing Group, Artspace, the Housing Resources Group, Capitol Hill Housing, Mercy Housing Northwest and the Seattle Housing Authority. The City estimates that the funds will leverage almost $110 million in other capital investments. The four housing levies and one bond issue approved by Seattle voters since 1981, says the Office of Housing, have funded more than 10,000 affordable apartments. provided down-payment loans to more than 600 first-time homebuyers and rental assistance to more than 4,000 households.
BRIEF BRIEFS THREE
Seattle Housing Authority celebrates grand opening of 82-unit Tamarack Place in Rainier Vista revitalization area. . .Frank Roppel of Wrangell re-elected as chair of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation board of directors, a post he's held since 2003. . .Low Income Housing Institute says it's received some $3.9 million in capital funds from to grants from the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, City of Seattle and King County that will allow it to begin work in August on 61 units of housing for low-income and homeless seniors on Jackson Street in Seattle. . ., Low Income Housing Institute. .Portland Business Journal reports that the new Resource Access Center for the homeless in downtown will be named in honor of former Mayor Bud Clark which some city staffers "have already informally dubbed" The Bud. . .Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish to convert Oswald Army Reserve Center into 60-bed shelter for victims and their children. . .Catholic Charities invites neighborhood residents to help design new, ½ acre park near its New Life Village complex in Mabton. . .Northwest Housing Alternatives breaks ground for Oakridge Park, 45 units of affordable housing for the elderly in Lake Oswego. . .Polygon Northwest breaks ground on the first of 83 single-family homes in plans to build in Seattle Housing Authority's High Point revitalization area.
HUD WANTS TO KNOW
The January 24th Federal Register included a request for public comment on a proposed HUD rule that would prohibit "lenders from using sexual orientation or gender identity as a basis to determine a borrower's eligibility for FHA-insured mortgage financing," clarify that "all otherwise eligible families, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, have the opportunity to participate in HUD programs" and prohibit "owners and operators of HUD-assisted housing, or housing whose financing is insured by HUD, from inquiring about the sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant for, or occupant of, the dwelling." Secretary Donovan commented that "this is a fundamental issue of fairness" and the proposal fulfills HUD's "responsibility to make certain that public programs are open to all Americans." For more, visit online.
This year's annual conference of Neighborhoods USA will be held May 25th to 28th in Anchorage. One of the highlights, as usual, will be announcements of its 2011 Best Neighborhoods winners and 2011 Best Neighborhoods winners. The first award honors "outstanding programs implemented to improve neighborhoods" - through physical or social revitalization - "by a governmental entity, business or corporation." The second award "recognizes exceptional accomplishments by neighborhood organizations." We'd be pretty sure you and your organization is aware of one, two or, maybe, more projects that ought to be considered. So, why don't you visit online and consider submitting a nomination. They're due February 15th.
MAKE SOME HISTORY
Have you got an historic preservation project you'd like to tell the world about. There's no better way than applying - by February 17th - to the National Trust for Historic Preservation for the 2011 HUD's Secretary Awrd for Excellence in Historic Preservation. The award "recognizes the recipient for success in advancing the goals of historic preservation while providing affordable housing and/or expanded economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income families and individuals." For more, visit online.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"Let's remember that this is not the first time Oregon's pattern of economic "boom and bust" has put us in this position. Historically, state government's response has been to cut from the current structure in lean times, and add back those cuts in good times -- leaving the structure of how services are provided basically intact. It is a cycle that has repeated itself over and over again, leaving us where we are today. Think of Oregon as a house that was built decades ago. And think of Oregonians as a family who've lived in that house for generations. Now, the way the house was designed probably made sense at the time it was built. But over time the family and its needs and the way it lives have changed but the structure of the house hasn't. There are too many rooms and they aren't the right size. There's no insulation and the windows are drafty. And the cost of keeping this house up is more than the family can afford. The roof needs to be replaced and the siding is falling off. And at some point, simply patching things up isn't good enough. The point comes when you have to build a new house that's affordable and that's designed for what the family needs and the way the family lives. For better or for worse, the Great Recession has leveled the House of Oregon to its foundations and has given us the opportunity to rebuild it for the 21stcentury." - From the inaugural address of Governor John Kitzhaber, January 10, 2011
NOTES TO NOTE
FHA Mortgagee Letter 2011-7 eliminates "Master Appraisal Report (MAR) as an acceptable appraisal reporting procedure in the valuation of one to four unit single family properties" to be insured by FHA . .January 5th HUD notice now requires owners of Section 202, Section 811 and Section 8 project-based complexes to obtain DUNS number and to register with Central Contract Registry. . . HUD sets February 4th deadline to apply for Sustainable Communities Research Grants of up to $500,000 each. . .Oregon Housing & Community Services sets February 11th, 2011 deadline to apply for $3.4 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program II, Housing Opportunity Bill and other state funds to address foreclosure problems in Clackamas, Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson, Jackson, Marion and Washington counties. . .EPA sets February 17th deadline to apply for grants of up to $100,000 "to address children's environmental health in underserved areas". . . HUD sets February 18thdeadline to apply for $75,000 Homeless Families Demonstration Grants. . .HUD sets February 21st deadline to apply for $35 million in Resident Opportunity & Self Sufficiency (ROSS) Service Coordinators grants. . .HUD sets February 22nd deadline to apply for $25 million in Rural Innovation Fund grants. . .EPA sets March 22nd deadline to apply for $2.5 million in Community Action for Renewed Environment grants to "help the public understand and reduce toxic risks" in their communities. . .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.
EPA hosts workshop on Sustainability Starts with Green & Healthy Homes, February 2nd & 3rd, Seattle. Visit online
HUD Anchorage hosts comprehensive introduction to how's, what's & why's of the Native American Housing Assistance & Self Determination Act of 1996, February 8th through 10th, Anchorage. Visit online.
3rd annual Northwest Environmental Health Conference, February11th, Portland State University, Portland. Visit online.
Washington Coalition for the Homeless 10-year Plan Forum, February 15th, Lacey. Visit online.
HUD Alaska hosts Davis-Bacon & Fair Labor Standards for Contractors, February 17th, Anchorage. Visit online.
HUD Seattle hosts Basic Fair Housing Training in morning, Advanced Fair Housing Training in afternoon, February 23rd, Seattle. Visit online.
Oregon Department of Education hosts McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Summit, February 25th, Salem-Keizer. Visit online.
HUD Seattle hosts Northwest Regional Tribal Housing Needs Assessment, March 2nd & 3rd, Seattle. Visit online.
HUD Spokane hosts Fair Housing Training for Landlords, Tenants & Managers, March 2nd, Spokane. Visit online.
Oregon Department of Education hosts McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Summit, March 2nd, Eugene. Visit online.
Santa Ana Homeownership Center hosts Webinar for Housing Counselors on FHA-specific products, March 3rd. Visit online.
HUD Seattle hosts "How To's of Applying for HUD Grants" workshop, March 9th, Seattle. Register at online.
Oregon Department of Education hosts McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Summit, March 11th, LaGrande. Visit online.
Santa Ana Homeownership Centers hosts Webinar on FHA special loan programs, March 17th. Visit online.
Washington State University Extension Service hosts Rural Housing Summit, Moses Lake, March 18th & 19th. Visit online.
HUD Office of University Programs hosts Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions Assisting Communities-Tribal Colleges and Universities Program national conference March 22nd to 25th, Honolulu. Visit online.
HUD Anchorage hosts Northwest Regional Tribal Housing Needs Assessment, March 23rd & 24th, Anchorage. Visit online.
King County Office of Civil Rights hosts Advanced Fair Housing Training, March 29th, Seattle. Visit online.
Santa Ana Homeownership Center hosts Webinar for Housing Counselors on Changes at FHA, March 31st. Visit online.