President-elect Obama has nominated Shaun Donovan as Secretary of Housing & Urban Development. If confirmed by the Senate, he'll succeed Steve Preston and be HUD's 15th Secretary since its creation in 1967. Mr. Donovan currently is Commissioner of Housing Preservation & Development for the City of New York. He previously served in the Office of the HUD Assistant Secretary for Housing in the Clinton administration. "As the former acting Commissioner of HUD's Federal Housing Administration," Secretary Preston said, "Commissioner Donovan is well aware of the issues facing American homeowners and the need for HUD to continue as a major force in helping stabilize the mortgage market."
New limits on the maximum mortgage amounts FHA will insure on one-, two-, three- and four-unit houses take effect January 1st, 2009. Visit FHA limits in your area.
Saying it's "imperative" that Americans "understand what it takes to be a responsible homeonwner," HUD Secretary Preston has launched a "My Money, My Home, My Future" Web site to promote financial literacy. It includes information about the "9 steps to buying a home," establishing good credit, refinancing, avoiding foreclosure and, maybe most uniquely a self-assessment tool that allows user to link directly to resources that may help them resolve any issues the tool identifies. The site, said the Secretary, will help families "plan ahead to make smart choices about their finances."
SPEAKING OF WHICH...
Financial literacy also received a very big boost with NeighborWorks America's December 3rd award of an estimated $242,724 to 4 housing counseling groups in Idaho, $677,957 to 17 groups in Oregon and $1,546,399 to 23 groups in Washington to provide more than 10,000 housing counseling and legal assistance units to families facing foreclosure. HUD awarded some $523,000 to counseling agencies in the three states in October.
Julie Wilkerson announces retirement from state service and as Director of the Washington Department of Community, Trade & Economic Development. . .Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awards $1.4 million to Food Lifeline, Second Harvest of the Inland Northwest and Oregon Food Bank to increase emergency food supplies in Washington and Portland, Oregon area by "more than 23 million pounds". . .HUD okays Alaska's $19.6 million and Washington's $28.2 Neighborhood Stabilization Plans to help communities "recover from the effects of high foreclosure and declining home values". . .News Miner says Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks opens new testing lab in advance of new "Certified Alaska Tough" campaign. . .New York Times says Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski "wants to require" any seller of residential or commercial property "to obtain a certificate disclosing the property's energy use and greenhouse gas emissions". . .Ashland Daily Tidings says City Council unanimously okays "percent-for-public-art" program. . .First Alaska Institute tells Tundra Drums it'll award $300,000 in 2009 to pre-school and youth leadership programs. . .Noting that "even in a slower market there is interest in and demand for green construction," Tacoma-Pierce County Built Green program certifies 470 homes in 2008. . .Georgia Meacham of Century 21 Advantage in Idaho Falls named 2008 Idaho REALTOR of the Year and Don McKenzie of REMAX Anchorage named 2008 Alaska REALTOR of the Year. . .Cities of Albany, Baker City, Carlton, Oregon City, LaGrande, Oakridge, Riddle, Roseburg, Sandy and Toledo are first members of Oregon's "re-established" Main Street program. . .Community Partners for Affordable Housing unveils plans to build 47-unit complex for the elderly in Tigard. . .Spokesman-Review says City of Coeur d'Alene, Lake City Development Corporation and Idaho Housing Finance have agreed to spend $3 million this Spring to beautify 10 more blocks leading north out of downtown.
The day after Christmas The Idaho Press Tribune said Canyon County Habitat would dedicate a new self-help home in Nampa built with 250 hours of "sweat equity" and funds from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. Great news! But news just as great came the week before at a house-framing in the High Point neighborhood of West Seattle where HUD announced the award of $26.5 million - $13.3 million to Habitat for Humanity International, $6.6 million to Housing Assistance Council and $6.2 million to Community Frameworks of Spokane - for even more "self help" housing. The funds, in fact, will produce more than 1,500 houses. "Even in hard times, homeownership remains the American Dream," said HUD Secretary Preston who'd planned to attend until he was snowbound in Chicago. "With HUD's support and the sweat equity provided by these homebuyers and volunteers we can help make these dreams come true."
DOING THEIR PART
HUD partners are doing their part to "make these dreams come true." The Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle, for one, has awarded $3.9 million in Affordable Housing Program subsidies to Sterling Savings Bank, Bank of America Oregon, Zions First National Bank, Evergreen Federal Savings & Loan, Bank of the Cascades, Umpqua Bank, Wells Fargo Northwest, Peoples Bank and Cowlitz Bank to work with non-profits to build or rehab 395 units of affordable housing in Pocatello, Sandpoint and Lapwai in Idaho, Grants Pass, Bend, Oregon City and Portland in Oregon and Bellingham, Centralia, Seattle and Spokane in Washington. We're "gratified to make this contribution at a time when," said bank President Riccobono, "funding for affordable housing is increasingly difficult to obtain."
THEIR PART TOO
Washington's Department of Community, Trade & Economic Development also has stepped forward. Governor Chris Gregoire has announced awards of $40 million in Washington Housing Trust funds to build 20 affordable multifamily projects with 1,017 units in Clark, Franklin, Grant, Jefferson, King, Lewis, Pierce, Spokane, Thurston and Yakima counties. $24 million will go to cover 20 percent of $122 million in total construction costs for the projects with the rest going to land acquisition and legal, architectural and other fees. There will be a special focus on restoring and providing, in partnership with Archdiocesan Housing Services, housing for homeless and farm worker families in the Cowlitz area damaged by last winter's floods.
BRIEF BRIEFS TOO
December 17th Federal Register seeks public comment on proposed interim final rule that "simplifies and streamlines" regulations and applications for USDA community facilities, rural energy, water and waste and business & industry guaranteed loan programs. . .East Oregonian says Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation are considering establishment of a business incubator to "help any small or start-up businesses" in Mission-Pendleton area. . .Steven Kean of Idaho Power named to board of Idaho Housing Finance Association. . .Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle adds $1.65 million to Home$tart Program. . .Steven Gulliford, executive director of the Island County Housing Authority, and Dick Allen, executive director of the Yakima housing authority, announce plans to retire. . .Mail Tribune says Medford City Council is considering $55,000 no-interest loan fund to help homeowners in "distressed" Liberty Park area "improve homes' exteriors". . .Boise Rescue Mission wins $50,000 John F. Nagel Foundation grant to support its City Light Home for Women & Children. . .The Winery, LLC wins one of four AARP/National Association of Home Builders Livable Communities for its Vineyard Lane complex on Bainbridge Island. . . Les AuCoin of Ashland, Oregon, and David Wilson of Ketchum, Idaho, named to board of Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle. . .Fannie Mae says it's reinstating, effective January 1st, "requirement for homeownership counseling" for any first-time homebuyers with MyCommunityMortgage or "a loan that relies on a non-traditional credit to qualify". . .Oregon Housing & Community Services makes $3.6 million in tax credits available to buy, build or renovate farm worker housing. . .Idaho Purce of Pocatello one of eight winning 2008 NeighborWorks Award for Resident Leadership. . .Eastside Business says Washington State University one to share $2.6 million U.S. Department of Energy grant "to upgrade state building codes to improve energy efficiency".r /
The December 29th Federal Register published the General Section of HUD's 2009 Notice of Funding Availability. It's well worth reading once, twice, even thrice. To "accelerate the process of awarding grants," HUD's also said it will now issue "funding notices on a program-by-program basis" rather than in a single, SuperNOFA notice as in years past. Secretary Preston says it will "make certain HUD funds are awarded in a much more timely and efficient manner." Time, we'd say, to renew your organization's registration And do it today!
January 8th is deadline for Office of Violence Against Women grants of up to $250,000 to provide transitional housing to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking or sexual assault. . .January 15th is deadline to apply for $47 million in Department of Labor YouthBuild grants. . .January 28th is deadline to apply for $20 million in rental vouchers under HUD Family Unification Program. . .January 30th is deadline to apply for $15 million rental assistance for non-elderly persons with disabilities in support of designated housing plans and $15 million in rental assistance for non-elderly persons with disabilities in Section 202, Section 221(d)(3) and Section 236 developments. . .January 30th also is deadline to apply for $5.7 million in USDA Hispanic-serving Institutions Education Grants Program. . .February 4th is deadline to apply for Office of Violence Against Women Rural Domestic Violence, Dating Violence & Sexual Assault grants. . .February 16th is deadline to apply for $1 million in 2008 Urban Forestry Challenge Grant program. . . Deadline for HUD Section 202 Pre-Development Design grants has been extended to February 18th. . .March 16th is deadline to apply for EPA Community Action for a Renewed Environment grants. . .March 4th is deadline to apply for Department of Justice Gang Prevention Coordination Assistance Program grants. . .USDA accepting applications until May 31st, for household water well funds to give rural residents "access to clean, safe drinking water."
Crime Prevention through Environmental Design Workshop, January 7th to 9th in Meridian.
Oregon Housing & Community Services Consolidated Funding Cycle workshop January 9th in Salem.
Northwest Energy Innovation Summit at Boise's Centre on the Grove January 12th to 14th.
HUD Portland hosts Federal Labor Standards training for housing authorities January 26th, for grantees January 27th and for contractors January 28th.
Fair Housing Training January 22nd at HUD Portland & January 28th at HUD Seattle.
HUD Anchorage hosts NAHASDA Essentials Workshop January 27th to 29th in Anchorage.
Keeping the Promise: Idaho Summit on Dropout Prevention January 30th at Nampa Civic Center.
Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians winter conference in Tulalip, February 16th to 19th.