"He used his remarkable gifts as an entrepreneur for the benefit of millions of needy people around the world by providing them with decent housing. As the founder of Habitat for Humanity and later the Fuller Center, he was an inspiration to me, other members of my family and untold numbers of volunteers who worked side-by-side under his leadership." - Former President Jimmy Carter on the death of Millard Fuller.
FHA HIKES LIMITS
If you're a mortgage lender or REALTOR, homebuyer or homeowner in one of the Northwest''s high-cost housing markets - like Seattle, Portland, Boise, Tacoma, Anchorage, Eugene, Olympia, Fairbanks, Corvallis, Vancouver, Juneau, Salem, Bremerton, Sitka or Bend - the recently-enacted stimulus package - aka, the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 has something very important to you - higher FHA mortgage insurance limits. The higher limits are in effect for loans for which credit is approved in calendar year 2009 and will remain in effect until December 31, 2009. The higher limits give homebuyers a larger inventory of homes from which to choose and give more homeowners in a volatile market the chance to refinance into, says HUD Secretary Donovan, FHA's "safe, affordable mortgage products." To find out if limits in your market have increased, visit
The stimulus bill also raised the limit on "reverse" or Home Equity Conversion mortgage from $417,000 to $625,500. Until April 30th, 2009, FHA will allow HECMs that received case number assignments but didn't close prior to the effective date of this mortgagee letter to be closed using either the old limit that was used to originally calculate the loan, or the new limits.
Following enactment of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, the Internal Revenue Service already has posted - at www.irs.gov - a revised Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit to incorporate Act's provisions permitting qualifying taxpayers who buy a home this year before December 1 can claim up to $8,000, or $4,000 for married individuals filing separately, on either their 2008 or 2009 tax returns.
Just one week and one day after the President signed the stimulus bill, HUD announced how it planned to allocate some $10.1 billion in funds provided under the bill to help finance housing through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, to modernize and upgrade public housing, to provide emergency shelter, to further reduce lead hazards in the nation's housing stock and to help local governments through the Community Development Block Grant program and tribes through the Indian Housing Block Grant move forward with shovel-ready projects. All told, the states of Alaska, Idaho, Washington and Oregon will receive more than $325 million of the funds. Want to know more about the what's and where's of how the funds will be spent? Visit the Newsroom Alaska or Idaho or Oregon or Washington.
Vice President Biden, HUD Secretary Donovan and Energy Secretary Chu announce formation of "high level interagency task force to coordinate weatherization efforts" funded by the Stimulus Bill and "to leverage those funds to build a home energy efficiency industry in the U.S."..."Each dollar our agency invests in housing creates $11 in benefit to the Oregon economy," says Oregon Housing & Community Services' Victor Merced...Boise's CATCH homeless program wins National League of Cities award of excellence..Bellingham Herald says Northwest Indian College, a past recipient of HUD university program funds, says it will award its first 4-year degrees this spring...Fast Company says Independence Station - a 57,000 square-foot building being built in Independence - appears "on track" to "receive highest LEED rating ever" and displace a complex in British Columbia as "greenest building in the world"...Intercommunity Mercy Housing breaks ground for HUD-funded, 73-unit, $8.2 million senior housing complex in Tacoma...News Miner reports that Fairbanks Habitat for Humanity is on schedule to complete its "lucky 13" house...Saying that "the end of the housing bubble and a wave of foreclosures have underscored the importance of affordable rental housing," MacArthur Foundation President Jonathan Fanton announces the award of $9.5 million in grants and $23 million in low-interest loans to projects in 12 states, including the expansion of the Oregon Housing Acquisition Fund and development of an asset management program for nonprofit organizations by Washington State and Seattle...King County Housing Authority purchases 32-unit Pacific Court Apartments in Tukwila to provide supportive housing for "chronically homeless individuals with serious mental illness...Umpqua Bank says its staff contributed almost 26,000 hours of community service in 2008...Keith Nelson of Executive Real Estate Inc. in Bellevue elected President of Seattle-King County Association of REALTORS...North Columbia Community Action Council's Prosperity Center celebrates graduation of first 16 future entrepreneurs from its new, six-week "Starting Your Own Business" workshop...The Olympian says head of Sandpoint's Intermountain Community Bancorp "plans to travel" to southern Idaho to look for ways it can "do things that matter" with its $27 million in Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP funds...Washington Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation sets March 5th deadline for nominations for 19th annual awards for outstanding achievements in historic preservation...HUD awards $500,000 emergency capital repair grant to 302-unit Four Freedoms House in Seattle to replace its almost 50-year old plumbing system and two hot water storage tanks...Hood River News says City Council agrees to sign "general letter of support" for Columbia Cascade Housing Corporation's efforts to secure low income tax credits to develop 40 units of affordable housing...BizJournal ranks Seattle as 3rd, Boise as 5th and Portland as 11th best of 100 cities in which to start a small business "in these turbulent times".
Calling them a "critical lifeline" to those "faced with homelessness," HUD Secretary Donovan announced the award of some $66.3 million to some 300 homeless providers and local governments across Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington to provide homeless individuals and families with "a wide range of housing and supportive services." This year's announcement of an "unprecedented" level of support for such programs include the award of 23 "rapid re-housing" pilot programs to accelerate the delivery of assistance to families suddenly left homeless. Three of the pilots went to Northwest groups - Catholic Social Services in Anchorage, the Northwest Rapid Re-Housing Network in Washington and the Opening Doors Rapid Re-Housing Project in the Portland area. In comments to the press, the Secretary said more rapid re-housing would be funded by the $1.5 billion in homeless funds provided by the stimulus bill.
A NIGHT ON THE TOWN
Well, actually, it was a night in the park. hosted by the South Central Idaho Housing Council to, said The Twin Falls Times-News, "raise awareness about homelessness" by giving people a chance to experience "living like the homeless." In the parish hall of St. Edward's Catholic Church next to the park homeless individuals and families could get warm clothes, a nutritious meal and even a haircut, all a part of the city's annual "point in time" homeless census. Two volunteers - Dr. Kathryn Reese and her 10-year-old son - spent a Friday afternoon taping-up the cardboard boxes that would be their "home" on a very cold night. "Here I see" the homeless, "but from just living here the last six or seven years, I don't know that a lot of people do." Forty volunteers camped overnight. Why? "You're only one paycheck away from being in trouble," said Leann Trappen. "It doesn't take very much to be in trouble."
QUOTE TO NOTE
"Homelessness is one of those social ills we think about, in the abstract, on those infrequent occasions when it's brought to our attention. We know it's bad, like hunger and domestic abuse. But it seems like one of those hopeless situations we can't really change...Faced with more budgetary bad news, it's tempting to shrug and forget the problem. That would be a disservice to the people in Douglas County who have expanded the number of homeless count sites and locations in an effort to get a more accurate tally. And to the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center and others who opened their doors for the first time to make the effort more meaningful." From the comfort and safety of our own homes, let's not give up on those who have lost theirs." From the Roseburg New Review, February 8, 2009.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society of Portland has put a new spin on the notion of "meals on wheels." A couple of years ago, it closed its Vincent's Café at the corner of 28th and Powell in downtown . But in February, Vincent's was back in business, this time aboard an old school bus headed down the road to serve free, warm, nutritious and home - no, make that bus - cooked meals to the homeless in Estacada, Sandy, Welches, Molalla, Canby and Oregon City. You can tell people about it," the Society's Jacque Grieve told The Catholic Sentinel, "but until they walk on it, they cannot believe there is a fully functional commercial kitchen in the back of that thing." Thanks to $35,000 in renovations funded by private donations, it's got a six-burner stove, full refrigerator, three sinks, a freezer and with enough room to seat, in air conditioned comfort, up to 18 people at picnic tables and padded benches. It's fully licensed by the Multnomah County Department of Health and, at each stop, Vincent's Café gets free parking and volunteer help from Outside In, Clackamas Service Center, Foot Hills Community Church, Spring Water Home Safe, Sandy Community Action, the Family Youth Center and the American Red Cross. Only thing missing, in fact, appears to be the "Vincent's Café" cook book.
BRIEF BRIEFS TOO
Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions program kicks off 2009 competition -applications due April 8th - for $3.5 billion in New Markets Tax Credits at at www.cdfifund.gov ... Telling The Portland Oregonian "we're loaning out our TARP money," the head of Walla Walla's Banner Bank says that, from March 7th, it will offer home loans "below 4 percent" on 243 houses built by developers who've borrowed from Banner but been unable t sell the properties...Rural Oregon Day to be celebrated in Salem March 19th...Daily Tidings says Ashland Planning Commission okays 107-unit affordable housing subdivision to be built by Jackson County Housing Authority...Pacific Northwest Regional Council of NAHRO seeking nominations for individual and agency Advocates of the Year to be announced t annual conference...Newport News Times says Oregon Housing Council awards $1.25 million to Community Services Consortium for Pelican Plaza supportive housing project in Lincoln County...Idaho State Historical Society now accepting applications for 2009 Community Assistance grants to "organizations with preservation education and interpretive projects"... REACH Community Development puts "finishing touches" on 52-unit Patton Park Apartments built on a parcel in Gresham donated by TriMet that was once the site of a motel "known as a haven for drug use and prostitution"...Statesman Journal says Union Gospel Mission has bought 21-unit building to open transitional housing program...Downtown Emergency Services Committee celebrates grand opening of Rainier House, a 50-unit complex for formerly homeless women and men with severe mental illness...Skagit County Community Action to host first meeting of the new Home Trust of Skagit March 4th in LaConner...New Hope Community Health Center hosts open house for new transition house for ex-offenders in Boise....HUD User publishes "in- depth" study of housing conditions in Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton area. . .Low-Income Housing Center cuts ribbon on 31-unit "green and affordable" Copper Lantern Homes in Kenmore...Wenatchee World says Washington Housing Trust Fund gives $2.5 million to Okanogan County for its "first permanent homeless shelter"...Portland health center wins $1 million Department of Veterans Affairs grant to "improve services specifically designed for veterans in rural areas"...EPA study says "Corvallis buys more renewable energy than any other city in the nation."
To the Housing Authority of Portland's Fairview Conversion Project, the Mid-Columbia Authority's Oregon Trail Youth Project and Sage Wind Manor project, the Grant County, Washington, Authority's non-profit Palisades Development Group, the King County Authority's fire & life safety financing project and Wiley Community Center renovation project and the Vancouver Authority's SmartChoice project and Emergency & Business Continuity Plan project for winning 2008 Agency Awards of Merit in Housing & Community Development from NAHRO. The projects, said NAHRO President Renee Rooker, reflect "innovative ways to make a difference in the lives of people served by NAHRO members. The awards came late in 2008, but we hope our hearty congratulations for work well and creatively well done are better late than never.
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 4th is deadline to apply for Department of Justice Gang Prevention Coordination Assistance Program grants ...March 16th is deadline to apply for EPA Community Action for a Renewed Environment grants ...March 25th is deadline to apply for capital grants under the Department of Veterans Affairs' Homeless Providers Program...USDA accepting applications until May 31st, for household water well funds to give rural residents "access to clean, safe drinking water."
The U.S. Department of Treasury expects to post full details of the Homeowner Affordability and Sustainability Plan President Obama unveiled last week to help 7 to 9 million homeowners restructure or refinance their mortgages to avoid foreclosure at its Web site on Wednesday, March 4th.
Idaho Association of Mortgage Brokers holds annual conference March 19th and 20th in Boise. For more,
Portland Metropolitan and Clark County REALTORS and Regional Multiple Service host 13th annual spring Trade Fair March 19th in Portland. For more, visit
HUD Seattle hosts Fair Housing Act training March 25th in Seattle. To register, visit
Partners in Emergency Preparedness conference, April 14th and 15th in Tacoma. For more, visit
2009 Oregon Heritage and Pacific Northwest History Conferences to be held April 15th to 18th in Portland. For more, visit
'Know the Rules of the Game" Fair Housing Workshop, April 15th in Spokane. For more, visit
Alaska Affordable Housing Partnership meeting, April7th in Anchorage. For more, visit
Alaska Housing Finance Corporation Fair Housing Workshop, April 28th in Anchorage. For more, visit
Annual conference of Northwest Regional Conference of NAHRO, May 3rd through 6th in Boise. For more, visit
Washington Coalition for the Homeless annual conference,May 13th to May 15th in Vancouver. For more, visit
Neighborhood USA Conference in Spokane, May 20th to May 23rd. For more, visit
National Association of Counties western regional conference in Pendleton, May 20th to May 22nd. For more, visit
HUD Fair Housing Workshop,May 28th in Seattle. For more, visit