In the April 177th Federal Register HUD published a proposed selection process for Round II of its Promise Zone program. As you may recall, President Obama first announced in his 2013 State of the Union as a means of partnering with "with high-poverty communities across the country to create jobs, increase economic security, expand educational opportunities, increase access to quality, affordable housing, and improve public safety." To date, five areas - in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma - were designated Promise Zones as a result of a fall, 2013 competition. It is anticipated that the Round II competition will begin this fall with five and up to 15 more Promise Zones selected by early 2015. The April 17th Federal Register invites public input on "the first round of the Promise Zones initiative, and on the proposed selection process" for Round II as described in the draft Second Round Application Guide that can be found at www.hud.gov/promisezones. We hope you will share your views. Comments are due June 16th.
ON TRACK . . .TO SHUT DOWN
The good news is that Oregon Housing & Community Services is "on track" to commit the full $2.9 billion allocated to its Home Rescue foreclosure prevention program. HOWEVER, the not-so-good news is that at-risk homeowners only have until July 1st, 2014 to apply Home Rescue assistance. Home Rescue helps homeowners having trouble in paying their mortgage because they've been laid off or have had hours cut at work. It provides at-risk homeowners with providing up to 12 months of mortgage payments, or $20,000, whichever is used first... To be eligible, a homeowner must earn at least 10% less than they earned in either 2011 or 2012, and must earn less than 120% of state median income, based on household size. Eligible, at-risk homeowners may apply for help in during any of the 5 remaining application cycles that open on Wednesdays and close on Thursdays at noon. The five remaining cycles open April 30th, May 14th, May 28th, June 11th and June 25th. So far, OHCS executive director Margaret Van Vliet, OHCS foreclosure prevention and assistance programs has provided an average of $10,219 per homeowner, 94 percent of whom earn less than $50,000 a year. For more, visit the website.
Following President Obama's declaration of the Oso mudslide as a major disaster, on April 3rd HUD Secretary Donovan authorized a series of steps to a number of resources available to assist affected residents and the community to recover, including a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of any FHA-insured mortgages in the affected area, an FHA mortgage insurance product to assist residents to rebuild or purchaser homes, and greater flexibility for the State and other entitlement communities to re-allocate HUD resources to recovery efforts. For more, see HUD's website.
! ! ! NEWS FLASH ! ! !
On April 25th FHA issued a new Mortgagee Letter - 2014-07 - that makes significant prospective revisions to the status of the non-borrowing spouse in the event of the death of a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage mortgagor. The Letter is effective for any case numbers issued on or after August 4, 2014. For more, see HUD's website.
! ! ! ALERT TOO ! ! !
On April 29th FHA also has issued Mortgagee Letter 2014-08 clarifying whether and when non-profit organizations engaged in secondary financing must be approved by HUD and on its Nonprofit Organization Roster. The Letter was effective upon publication. For more, visit HUD's website.
Noting that "the evidence is clear that the cost of doing nothing far exceeds the cost of finding real housing solutions for those who might otherwise be living on our streets," HUD Secretary Donovan announces award of $58.2 million in HUD Continuum of Care funds to renew support for some 389 projects serving the homeless across Alaska, Idaho, Oregon & Washington. . .In aftermath of Oso mudslide, Washington State Department of Financial Institutions reaches out to banks and credit unions suggesting a number of steps they could take to assist homeowners affected by the slide. . .Fresh Start drop-in center for the chronically-homeless joins forces with St. Vincent de Paul of Northern Idaho to insure, Fresh Start's Bill Smith tells Coeur d'Alene Press, continuation of a "a service that isn't provided anywhere else,". . .Alaska Housing Finance Corporation's Family Self Sufficiency Program celebrates its first graduate in Kodiak. . .Washington Housing Finance Commission okays more than $54 million in low-income housing tax credits for new affordable housing to be built by Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington in Bellingham, Vancouver Affordable Housing, Trillium Housing Services in Tacoma, Genesis Housing Services in the Yakima Valley, the Kennewick Housing Authority, the Sunnyside Housing Authority and the Yakima Housing Authority. . .Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle says it will make $2 million available to member banks on first-come, first-serve basis for Home$tart & Home$tart Plus homebuyer programs. . .Northwest Housing Alternatives has outgrown its current headquarters - a series of houses in Milwaukie - and rebuild on site with new offices, but also a shelter and affordable housing. . .Washington State Housing Finance Commission names Lisa Vatske, former managing director of state's Housing Trust Fund from 2004 to 2011 and currently with state's Department of Health & Social Services, as director of Commission's multifamily and community facilities division. . .Scott Hewitt of The Columbian offers a detailed look at how Vancouver Housing Authority streamlined, resized, saved millions and is still serving as many - if not more - in need of decent affordable housing at the website.
THE POWER OF ONE
Who says one person can't make a difference? Not Nancy Romero, a wheelchair-bound resident of the HUD-assisted Trenton Terrace in Portland's New Columbia neighborhood. While supporting the City's efforts to make Portland a "walkable" community, she's showing how it can also be made "wheelchair able." Read Casey Parks' account in The Oregonian of her work with the Portland Commission on Disabilities. "I am shocked," Romero told Parks. "I've never lived in a city bigger than 30,000 people before, and I took on Portland. Oh my goodness. I did this."
Saying "the growth and development that communities across Idaho are pursuing" are "amazing," Governor Jay "Butch" Otter has just announced grants that will be make it even more so - some $4.8 million in Idaho CDBG grants in 15 Idaho cities. Two communities - Rexburg and Minidoka County - will use the funds to improve fire stations. Newdale, Gooding, Kendrick, Buhl, Winchester, Rurie and Aberdeen and Benewah counties will use them to upgrade water treatment and wastewater systems. Lincoln County will make much-needed improvements at a nursing home while Rupert and Twin Falls will make them at senior centers. And, last but not least, Rigby will put its award to work revitalizing downtown and Rupert also received funds to promote job creation. "For almost 40 years," HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Bill Block commented, "flexibility has been a hallmark of HUD's Community Development Block Grant program. These Idaho CDBG awards clearly demonstrate that tradition remains strong."
Visit a typical housing complex for elderly and it's pretty likely you won't see many kids. Visit Bridge Meadows, a housing complex in north Portland, and you'll see them everywhere. And that's exactly the way it's supposed to be. It has 27 one- and two-bedroom apartments for income-eligible seniors. But it's also got nine homes where families live. The kids in those families all come out of the state's foster care system and are in the process of being adopted by the grown-ups who live with them. And that's where the elderly residents of those 27 apartments come into the picture. As a condition of residence at Bridge Meadows, these "elders," reports The Oregonian, Each and every one of them is encouraged, reports Rebecca Hoffman of The Oregonian, to "commit to volunteering 10 hours a week in the community" and, most importantly, to help mentor the kids. "It's good for the kids, of course, and also good for the health - both mental and physical - of the "elders."" It's certainly done the trick for "elder" Jim Davis. "We're flourishing and evolving in this kind of environment and we're growing big time," he told PBS' News Hour. It's a "beautiful place to age," says Bridge Meadows executive director Derenda Schubert. And not a bad place, we'd add, to be a kid. For more, visit HUD's website.
On Friday, April 27th, Emiel Kandi pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to make false statements in loan applications and make false statements to HUD in connection with applications for FHA-insured mortgages through the Pierce County Commercial Bank. Mr. Kandi is the eleventh person employed by or associated with the Bank to have pleaded guilty to attempting to defraud FHA. One of the major reasons why he and the others faced justice was an inter-agency investigation undertaken by personnel from HUD, the FBI, the IRS and the Postal Inspection Service. Ask any of the investigators and they'll probably just say "we were doing our job." If you want to know why we should be thankful that they were, visit HUD's website.
Since Alaska's Legislature first provided funding in 2004 for the Teacher, Health Professional & Public Safety Officer Housing Program, Alaska Housing Finance Corporation has committed more than $81 million and its partners have built or rehabilitated nearly 400 in some 60 small, isolated villages across rural Alaska. And now, more are on the way, as the Corporation has launched its 2014 funding round that will award up to $6 million for even more units. "The challenges in the recruitment and retention of nurses, public safety officers and teachers in rural Alaska negatively impact the health and finances of a community in far-reaching ways. AHFC is committed to doing its part to reduce the high rate of turnover and consequences that come from it," says Bryan Butcher, the Corporation's CEO and executive director. "Rural" communities of those of 6,500 or less not connected by road or rail to Anchorage or Fairbanks or, if connected, of 1,500 or less. Eligible applicants for the competition - which will open in July - include non-profits, school districts, housing authorities and municipalities. By June 1st, the Corporation advises, potential applicants should register with its on-line application system and, by June 29th, should submit a pre-application. For more, visit the website.
BRIEF BRIEFS TOO
"It's a godsend," a new resident of the Housing Authority of Jackson County's new, 50-unit Cherry Creek affordable housing complex in Medford tells The Mail Tribune. . .HUD provides $956,642 to Alaska Housing Finance to assist 85 households, $1,390,268 to Idaho Housing & Finance Association to assist 170 households and $1,342,803 to Washington Department of Commerce to assist 168 households through HUD's Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS/HIV program. . .Southeast Idaho Community celebrates completion of 25th self-help home. . .Umpqua Bank of Portland announces its acquisition of Sterling Bank of Spokane. . .An estimated 250 housing professionals attend Oregon Opportunity Network spring conference in Eugene. . .Central City Concern founding board member George "Bing" Sheldon named Portland's 2014 "First Citizen" by Portland Metro Area REALTORS. . .Kitsap Rescue Mission completes purchase of building in downtown Bremerton that, after $1.4 million renovation, will permit it to open emergency shelter an house program transitioning individuals out of homelessness, Real Change reports. . .Lake City Development Corporation schedules grand opening of Coeur d'Alene's new, improved and completely-transformed McEuen Park in May. . .CASA of Oregon helps residents of 1118-lot Belle Vista Estates in Boardman to purchase manufactured home park and convert it to a cooperative. . .With help from Community Frameworks, the Washington Department of Commerce and USDA, reports Sky Valley Chronicle, 10 families celebrate completion of their new homes in Snohomish. . .Portland Housing Bureau issues annual report on status of 14,000 units in City's Residential Tax Exemption Program at the website.
HUD has set a May 29th deadline for public housing authorities and tribally-designated housing entities to apply for a total of $75 million under the Housing Choice Voucher and public & Indian housing Family Self Sufficiency programs. To be eligible, the entities must have been awarded funds in the fiscal year 2011, 2012 and/or 2013 funding cycles for these programs. The funding enables the organizations to hire staff to coordinate their housing programs with "public and private resources to enable participating families to increase earned income and financial literacy, reduce or eliminate the need for welfare assistance, and make progress toward economic independence and self-sufficiency." Grants competitively awarded will not exceed $69,000. For more, visit the website.
USDA's Utilities Service has set a May 27th deadline for non-profits to apply for a total of $6 million under its Household Water Well Grant Program which enables the nonprofits to establish loan funds to help "individuals with low to moderate incomes finance the costs of household water wells that they own or will own." A loan may not be more than $11,000, can have a term of up to 20 years and an interest rate of one percent annually. For more, see RDRUS-14-01-HWWS at the website.
USDA's Utilities Services also has set a May 27th deadline for non-profits to apply to establish revolving loan funds of up t0 $100,000 to provide "loans to finance predevelopment costs of water or wastewater projects, or short-term small capital projects not part of the regular operation and maintenance of current water and wastewater systems." Loans must be repaid within 10 years. For more, see RDRUS-14-01-RFP at the website.
The Department of Labor has set a May 13th deadline for local Workforce Investment Boards, tribal local governments and organizations and for- and non-profit organizations to apply for grants of up to $100,000 each under the Urban & Non-Urban Homeless Veterans Re-Integration Program to "to provide job training, counseling, and placement services (including job readiness, literacy, and skills training) to expedite the reintegration of homeless veterans into the labor force." For more, see SGA-14-02 at the website.
BRIEF BRIEFS THREE
U.S. Department of Labor awards almost $2.9 million emergency grant to "create temporary jobs to assist with the recovery" from the Oso mudslide. . .Oregon Bankers Association Education Foundation & Financial Beginnings form partnership to expand financial literacy programs for young people in state. . .Mayor Ed Murray cuts ribbon opening City's Financial Empowerment Center in Rainier Vista, the first of seven centers made possible by $1.6 million grant from Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. . .A colleague at OHCS refers to it as a "guide for geezers" but AARP calls it a Livability Index, a web-based guide currently under development to help "users better understand their communities and make decisions about their future needs". . .Juneau Assembly unanimously okays zoning change to allow AWARE - Aiding Women in Abuse & Rape Emergencies - to build a 12-unit shelter made possible, says Juneau Empire, by donations from 400 individuals and a grant from the Rasmuson Foundation. . .Canyon County Habitat for Humanity unveils plans to frame its 21st home (and seventh WomenBuild project) on May 10th in Caldwell. . .EPA commends Oregon Infrastructure Authority's Safe Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund for "high loan commitment rate". . .Indigo Real Estate Services of Mercer Island honored with Proud Partner Award from Washington Housing Finance Commission for its management of "a large portfolio" of affordable housing properties in Washington state. . .City of Pasco may donate 6,000 square-foot parcel in Kurtzman Park, says TriCities Herald, as site of city's first community garden. . .Portland Housing Bureau seeking volunteers to serve on its Housing Advisory Board at the website.
QUOTE TO NOTE
The phrase "safety net" doesn't work for Reverend Larry Snyder, the national president of Catholic Charities, reports Molly Rosbach of The Yakima Herald Republic. A safety net, he observes, "catches people" but "it doesn't help them out of poverty." "We need to start by changing our paradigm. Our goal is not just to catch people, but to help them get out of poverty. So it could be a bridge, a ladder, even a trampoline." Homeownership, explained Catholic Housing Services of Yakima board chair John Young in meetings last week with Snyder, might be the perfect example. Over the last 15 years, it's built some 100 single-family homes and, every night, some 2,500 people sleep under roofs on single- and multi-family properties the Service has developed. "We know that somewhere in the vicinity of 15-20 percent of the folks we are putting in single-family homes come from either our multifamily housing or Yakima public housing," Young said. "So we know that we are taking folks with modest and marginal income and creating homeowners." Just like a trampoline, he'd probably agree, that bounces people up and not a net that just catches them coming down. You'll find Rosbach's full story at the website.
QUESTION FROM BOISE WEEKLY - "Let's talk about living in downtown Boise's core. How important is that?" RESPONSE FROM CONSULTANT DAVID LELAND - "It's essential. It drives retail, keeps your restaurants alive and brings safety and security to the streets. Actually I think the market opportunity in Boise is quite strong. I think Boise has a supply problem rather than a demand problem. Fortunately, downtown Boise has very attractive elements: shopping, employment, the river, the university and a number of cultural venues. I think part of the challenge right now is for developers to figure out how to pay for new housing. Suffice to say, there's always danger in backing into the future based on what happened yesterday. Fundamentally, that's a mistake." - This interview was published in the April 14th Boise Weekly on the day before Mr. Leland, a consultant, spoke at The Downtown Boise Association's annual State of Downtown Boise conference at which, KREM-TV reports, Mr. Leland indicated that Boise "only trails" Portland and San Miguel de Allende, his home, as the world's most livable cities.
We'll admit it. It's not the kind of story you'd expect to hear during drive time on a commercial radio station in a major media market. But our hats are off to Rachel Belle of KIRO Radio's Ron & Don Show for her April 7th piece, "Who Would House and Hire a Felon?" HUD and its partners get a lot of tough calls from a lot of people in tough situations. And, sometimes, it's tough to help them find a solution. Particularly tough are the calls we get from ex-felons. Not many people want help them even though they've done their time. Ms. Belle's thoughtful piece explores the very real challenges they face and, even better, reports some of the outstanding work done by Pioneer Human Services to help them overcome them. It's a wonderful piece of radio journalism well worth a listen at the website.
WORTH A READ
What happens when a city's housing stock becomes too expensive for the people who live there? Kirkland began to face the question before The Great Recession hit. And now that the economy's recovering, it's staring Kirkland in the face again. "We've seen an increase in people looking for properties who A. can't afford them or B. they're in multiple bid situations," REALTOR Rebecca Nunes told The Kirkland Reporter at an early-morning April 22nd gathering said. "It gets frustrating for buyers. The inventory here is too costly." So where, asked the 60 who attended asked, should we go, what should we do? See some of the at least initial answers at the website.
NOTES TO NOTE
Puget Sound Regional Council sets May 1st deadline for public agencies in King, Kitsap, Pierce & Snohomish counties to submit forms for $130 million in countywide competitions. . .HUD sets deadline of May 5th to apply for $7 million in project-based VASH vouchers to assist homeless vets . . .Portland Housing Bureau says May 5th is "tentative" application due date for $17.5 million in CDBG and HOME funds for development, acquisition and preservation of affordable housing. . .Oregon AHMA sets May 5th deadline to submit nominations for its Affordable Housing Awards. . .Citizen Institute for Rural Design sets May 6th deadline for communities to apply for its help in creating annual design workshops. . .HHS' Administration for Children & Families sets May 7th deadline to apply for grants of up to $1 million for projects that provide Individual Development Accounts and related services to individuals and families with "low incomes" to enable them "to purchase a home, capitalize or expand a business for self-employment, or attend postsecondary education or training". . .HHS' Administration for Children & Families sets May 12th deadline to apply for Street Outreach Program grants of up to $200,000 each to "to provide street-based services to runaway, homeless, and street youth who have been subjected to, or are at risk of being subjected to, sexual abuse". . .Labor Department sets May 13th deadline to apply for funding under Urban & Non-Urban Homeless Veterans Re-Integration Program. . .Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle says it will post application forms for some $6.9 million in 2014 Affordable Housing Program "on or around" May 15th with completed applications due August 1st. . .USDA sets May 27th deadline for non-profits to apply for funds to establish loan pools under Household Water Well Grant Program. . .USDA sets May 27th deadline for non-profits to apply to create $100,000 revolving loan funds to help finance pre-development costs of water or wastewater projects. . .Department of Veterans Affairs sets May 27th deadline to apply for grants of up to $50,000 to provide transportation to veterans in highly rural areas. . .HUD sets May 29th deadline for housing authorities & tribally-designated housing entitles previously-funded in fiscal years 2011, 2012 and/or 2013 to apply for public housing and Housing Choice Voucher Family Self Sufficiency coordinator funds. . .Planning Association of Washington & Washington Chapter of APA set May 30th deadline to submit nominations for 2014 Joint Planning Awards. . .HUD sets June 16th deadline to submit comments on proposed Round II Promise Zone selection process. . .City of Seattle Office of Housing sets June 2014 deadline to submit applications under Equitable Transit-Oriented Development Loan Program. . .Seattle Office of Housing sets June deadline to apply for $7 million in Equitable Transit-Oriented Development Loan Fund.
Idaho Chapter of American Planning Association hosts Spring Mini-Law/Ethics Conference, May 2nd, Boise.
Habitat for Humanity of Washington State hosts annual conference with keynote address by HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Bill Block, May 2nd & 3rd, Bremerton.
Portland Housing Bureau holds public hearing on its Annual Action Plan, May 6th, Portland.
Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians holds mid-year convention, May 5th through 8th, Centralia.
Oregon Coalition on Housing & Homelessness holds 2014 conference, May 7th to 9th, Portland.
HUD's National Servicing Center hosts free Webinar for non-profits on Early Delinquency Servicing Activities & HUD's Loss Mitigation Program Training, May 13th & 14th on-line. register by May 6th. For more, e-mail email@example.com
Oregon Tradeswomen host Women in Trades Career Fair, May 8th to 10th, Portland.
U.S. Department of Labor & HUD Seattle host Basics of Davis Bacon workshop, May 13th, Seattle. To register by May 9th contact Eugene.firstname.lastname@example.org
Hacienda CDC hosts public forum on the Hacienda Mercado and Economic Development, May 15th, Portland.
Idaho Fair Housing Forum & HUD Idaho host Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST workshop, May 15th, Boise. To register, contact email@example.com.
Oregon AHMA hosting Basic HOME Occupancy, Including Final Rule workshop, May 16th, Salem.
Washington Low Income Housing Coalition hosts 24th annual Conference on Ending Homelessness, May 21st & 22nd, Yakima.
EcoDistricts for Practitioners workshop, May 6th, Seattle.
Sixth annual Living Future Un-Conference, May 21st to 23rd, Portland.
City of Tacoma hosts 28th annual Western Washington Fair Housing Conference, May 22nd, Tacoma.
Association of Alaska Housing Authorities & HUD's Alaska Office of Native American Programs hopes NAHASDA Essentials workshop, May 27th to 29th, Anchorage.
Oregon Chapter of American Planning Association hosts 2014 Planning Conference, May 28th to 30th, Portland.
HUD's Northwest Office of Native American Programs hosts workshop on Environmental Review for Housing Rehab, June 3rd & 4th, Seattle.
Association of Alaska Housing Authorities hosts Pest Eradication (Bed Bugs) & Mold Remediation Training, June 9th & 10th. Anchorage.
RurALCAP hosts 2014 Rural Providers Conference, June 16th to 20th, Fairbanks.
Association of Washington Cities holds annual conference, June 17th to 20th, Spokane.
Association of Alaska Housing Authorities & HUD Alaska Office of Native American Programs hosts Site Control workshop, June17th to 20th, Anchorage.
HUD's Northwest Office of Native American Programs hosts workshop on Environmental Review for New Construction, June 18th & 19th, Seattle.
Association of Idaho Cities holds 67th annual conference, June 18th to 20th, Boise.
Idaho AHMA hosts Managing LIHTC Compliance with Other Programs workshop, June 24th, Boise.
# # #