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HUD Highlights E-Newsletter
January 2007         Volume 3, Number 1

HUD Highlights is a monthly e-newsletter from HUD's Seattle Regional Office, to keep you informed about upcoming events, program updates and grant opportunities. Subscribe today!

In This Issue

  • Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) Can Save You Money
  • Multifamily Housing Landlords: Reminder Regarding Section 8 Tenants and Minimum Income Requirements
  • FHA Mortgage Limit Increased in 13 Northwest Communities on January 1
  • FirstGov.gov is now USA.gov
  • The Grant Application Season is Fast Approaching! Are You Ready?
  • Innovative Housing Development in Pierce County WA Wins National Award
  • Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Guidelines Published
  • Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP) Tax Deductible for Loans Closed in 2007

Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) Can Save You Money

The EITC is a refundable Federal income tax credit for low-income working individuals and families. For the 2006 tax year, the maximum EITC is $4,536. Thousands of people every year pass up millions of dollars because they fail to take advantage of some or all of the credits for which they are eligible. Help promote the EITC by spreading the word, so that more eligible people receive the credit. Learn more in English or Spanish.

Multifamily Housing Landlords:

Reminder Regarding Section 8 Tenants and Minimum Income Requirements
In the July 2006 On-Site Newsletter, a publication for apartment owners and managers, the column, "MrLandlord.com,' was entitled, "When Section 8 Fails to Pay.' In the column, an anonymous landlord advised adopting minimum income requirements to avoid incurring debt from Section 8 renters. This recommendation is incorrect. HUD Handbook 4350.3 expressly forbids minimum income requirements for any tenants participating in the project-based Section 8 program. View this guidance.

FHA Mortgage Limit Increased in 13 Northwest Communities on January 1

Although there was not a nationwide increase in FHA mortgage limits in 2007, loan limits were increased in several Northwest communities in response to escalating home prices. They are: Juneau in Alaska; Kootenai County in Idaho; Deschutes, Jackson, Lane, Marion and Polk Counties in Oregon; and Chelan, Douglas, Kitsap, Skagit, Thurston and Whatcom Counties in Washington. These increases will allow more homebuyers/homeowners to use FHA insured loans to purchase or refinance a home, and allow seniors to potentially access more home equity through a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage. See a complete list by county. For information about FHA insured mortgages, go to www.fha.gov or call 1-800-CALL FHA.

FirstGov.gov is now USA.gov

The official web portal of the U.S. government, FirstGov.gov, has changed its name to USA.gov. FirstGov en español.gov also has a new name - GobiernoUSA.gov. Why change the name? Even though over 80 million people visit the site each year, focus groups and usability testing showed that name recognition of "FirstGov.gov' was very low - people did not understand that Firstgov was the name of the U.S. government web portal. Also, many people already use "usa.gov' to find the site via search engines. Though the name has changed, the content has not. Take a look.

The Grant Application Season is Fast Approaching! Are You Ready?

Is your organization planning to apply for a federal grant this year? To participate in the HUD grants program, applicants need to register with www.Grants.gov. Learn how to register.

Innovative Housing Development in Pierce County WA Wins National Award

"The Orchard' received the 2006 Community Development Award from the National Association for County Community and Economic Development. Most of the funding for the $1.7 million project came from HUD's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME grant programs. The project site, originally designated a hazardous waste site, was cleaned up using CDBG funds. Low impact development principles including energy saving features were used in construction. The Orchard, named for the 340 fruit trees planted on the site, houses six low-income families. By 2010, harvests from the fruit trees are expected to provide fruit to 74 food banks and meal sites. Read more about the awards on Page 11.

Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Guidelines Published

On January 22, 2007, HUD issued LEP guidance in the Federal Register to assist housing providers in ensuring that people with LEP have an understanding of housing documents. The guidance requires all federal, local and state agencies that receive federal funding ensure that people with limited language skills have meaningful access to government programs and services. The policy is not a regulation but rather guidance. Read more about the guideline.

Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP) Tax Deductible for Loans Closed in 2007

Legislation enacted in late 2006 makes MIP potentially tax deductible for mortgage loans closed between January 1 and December 31, 2007. Families making up to $109,000 who itemize deductions on their 2007 tax return may deduct all or a portion of MIP from their federal income tax. This applies to mortgage insurance provided by the Veterans Administration, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the USDA Rural Housing Administration and private mortgage insurance. This will lower the cost of homeownership for many buyers. Consult a tax advisor for complete information.

Questions or comments? Please contact us!
     Email: WA_Webmanager@hud.gov
     Phone: (206) 220-5101
Visit us on the web: http://www.hud.gov or http://espanol.hud.gov
Our mailing address: Seattle Regional Office, 909 First Avenue, Suite 255, Seattle, WA 98104-1000

Read past issues of HUD Highlights



Open Government Initiative


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Learn more about HUD's Open Government Initiative

HUD Implementation of the Recovery Act
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Learn more about HUD's Implementation of the Recovery Act

Making Home Affordable


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Innovation of the Day


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Innovation of the Day