The Federal Housing Finance Agency, with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have announced changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) that, in coming months, will enable "underwater" homeowners with Fannie and Freddie-owned mortgages and a greater than 125 percent loan-to-value to refinance into lower-interest mortgages and significantly lower their monthly payments. In addition to eliminating the 125 percent loan-to-value ceiling, they've also eliminated a number of "operationally complex" requirements that, said HUD Secretary Donovan, "stood in the way" of allowing more borrowers to refinance, including easier subordination of second mortgages elimination of certain fees and of the requirement for a new appraisal if there is already a reliable AVM. To be eligible, borrowers Homeowners must be current on their payments with no late payments in the last six months and no more than one late payment in the last 12. The mortgage also must have been owned by Fannie or Freddie since May 31st 2009 and cannot previously have refinanced under HARP. So far, HARP's helped almost 894,000 homeowners refinance. For more, see website
HUD has set a December 6th deadline for non-profits with at least five years of tenant outreach and organizing to apply for competitive grants of up to $720,000 under HUD's Tenant Resource Network program. It's designed "to facilitate preservation of projects with Section 8 Project Based Rental Assistance at risk of loss" or, if preservation is not feasible, to ensure that tenants are fully informed regarding available protections such as the provision of tenant protection Housing Choice Vouchers." For more, see website
SPEAKING OF WHICH
If you'd like to put a little meat on the bureaucratic bones of project-based "preservation" you may want to visit Portland, Oregon. In collaboration with a host of partners, including HUD, it's launched an "11 by 13" initiative which is trying to keep 11 rental complexes with project-based assistance currently but set to lapse in 2013 in the affordable inventory. So far, the "11 by 13" has preserved more than 520 rental units. Read how in Re-Up
HUD awards $1.4 million to Idaho Legal Aid, Intermountain Fair Housing, Fair Housing Council of Oregon, Fair Housing Center of Washington and Northwest Fair Housing Alliance to, said HUD Secretary Donovan, "help HUD enforce the Fair Housing Act and make people more aware of their fair housing rights". . .Washington Association of REALTORS posts video on "how-to's" of Washington's new foreclosure fairness law online. . .League of Oregon Cities confers Awards of Excellence on cities of Albany and Millersburg for their Talking Water project that's created 39 acres of emergent wetland in the "first public/private engineering project of its kind in the nation," the City of Prineville's Freight Depot project which has "saved a city-owned railroad" and the City of Corvallis' Report Card that permits residents to "check in" on progress being made by city departments in implementing its 2020 Vision Statement. . .Bremerton Housing Authority's Kurt Wiest says Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County has bought six lots in Bay Vista HOPE VI revitalization area . . .Fairfield, Idaho wins $325,000 USDA Rural Development grant for water system improvements. . .NEDCO, St. Vincent de Paul and USDA Rural Development break ground on first Home of Your Own "sweat equity" home in Lowell. . .King County Housing Authority and HomeSight welcome first family to Terrace at Greenbridge homeownership project in White Center. . . American Baptist Homes celebrates completion of 55-unit Salishan Gardens complex for the elderly, funded in part with a HUD Section 202 grant . . . Bonner County Bee says Sandpooint is drafting ordinance to "ban discrimination against gays and lesbians" in employment, housing and public accommodations. . .Following more than $625,000 in investments by Reverend Franklin Graham's Samaritans Purse project, Anchorage Daily News says 9 Crooked Creek families are enjoying "an early Thanksgiving" as they prepare to move into "boxy new homes" designed by Cold Climate Housing Research Center to replace ones destroyed by floods last year. . .U.S. Green Building Council honors ActiveWest Builders' Meadow Ranch development in Coeur d'Alene and Clackamas Community Land Trust's Juneberry Lane with 2011 LEED for Homes Awards. . .Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation partners with Hacienda CDC to support Catholic Charities Proyecta Unica that provides micro-entrepreneurial opportunities to victims of domestic violence.
More than 500 housing advocates and providers attend the Oregon Housing Conference in Salem. They had lots to celebrate, not the least the Awards of Excellence that, said Oregon Housing & Community Services' Margaret Van Vliet, exemplified the theme of the 2011 conference - Building Together: the Power of Partnerships. The Jackson County Housing Authority won the best new affordable housing award for its Snowberry Brook complex in Ashland. NEDCO of Lane County won the best community-based organization award. Clackamas Community Land Trust's Juneberry Lane project in Oregon City won the best homeownership partnership award. NeighborWorks Umpqua in Roseburg won the innovative partnership award for its efforts to increase the number of foreclosure counselors in Oregon. Bienestar won the innovative resident services award for its efforts in Columbia and Washington counties. Pinnacle Architecture won the preservation of affordable housing award for its "built to last" transformation of Crest Butte Apartments in Bend. And, last but not least, the director's choice award went to the partnership - Portland Housing Bureau, Home Forward, Transition Projects and Multnomah County - which built the innovative Bud Clark Commons in downtown Portland. Take a bow, folks. You've earned it!
Since Congress established the Self Help Homeownership Opportunity Program in 1996, Community Frameworks of Bremerton and Spokane and its affiliates have used HUD SHOP funds to help build 2,826 self-help houses. Thanks to a fiscal year 2011 SHOP grant - one of just four awarded nationwide - of $2,978,716 it won't be long before Community Frameworks is knocking on its 3,000th home. "Self-help housing is labor-intensive, but it is also the surest, swiftest and, probably, most rewarding way to homeownership," said HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Mary McBride. "Though a regional organization, Community Frameworks is a national leader in the self-help movement."
If dandelions are bad for lawns, foreclosed houses are just plain lousy for neighborhoods. Recognizing that, once under President Bush and twice under President Obama, Congress has provided HUD with a total of some $7 billion for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to help state, county and city governments buy, rehab and re-sell foreclosed or abandoned houses. So far, NSP I, II and III have treated nearly almost 33,000 properties, demolished 25,000 properties and provided homeownership assistance to more than 20,000 families. And, by the time the $7 billion is fully spent, NSP will have supported some 88,000 jobs, mostly in construction, the industry hardest hit among the many industries that have fallen on hard times during this Great Recession. Impressive, huh? So much so, in fact, that the President's Jobs Bill includes a Project Rebuild provision to build on NSP's successes, double the funding and allow communities to buy, rehab and re-sell foreclosed or abandoned residential, AND commercial properties. Good idea? Well, ask a real estate broker in Nampa, Idaho. He says NSP is "a government program that works." Read why online
BRIEF BRIEFS TOO
Alaska Housing Finance awards total of $1.7 million to Fairbanks Neighborhood Housing Services and Alaska Community Development to provide HOME Opportunity Program assistance to "at least an additional 50 households" in Mat-Su and Kenai and to expand program to Southeast and Kodiak Island. . .Asia Pacific Cultural Center says KOMO-TV unveils plans to transform four vacant blocks in downtown Tacoma into 400,000 square foot, $118 million cultural center. . .Oregon Housing & Community Services invites applications for $4.7 million in Oregon tax credits and $1 million in other funds to "preserve 125 units of housing at risk of converting to market rate rents due to expiring federal rent contracts". . .Coeur d'Alene Press says Family Promise, a 17-church coalition formed to "help homeless families achieve independence," has reopened its doors for a third year. . . Volunteers of America in Spokane and Low Income Institute of Seattle among winners of Home Depot Foundation grants through its "Celebration of Service" initiative to honor U.S. military veterans". . . Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority's 12-unit Kake Elderly Apartment Building, reports KCAW-FM, wins $50,000 USDA Rural Development grant for new roof, windows, doors, smoke detectors and energy-efficient appliances. . .Idaho Association of REALTORS selects Sara Bullers of Canyonside Irwin REALTORS as 2011 REALTOR of the Year. . .During federal fiscal year 2011 that ended September 30th, FHA endorses 53,215 single-family mortgages in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon & Washington, fifth-highest total in FHA's 77 year history. . .Multnomah County Chair Cogen and Mayor Adams announce, reports Portland Business Journal, three new programs - a county-wide microloan program, a $450,000 small business development technical assistance program serving more than 150 business a year and a Neighborhood Prosperity Neighborhood initially targeted to 6 neighborhoods - to "help spark growth among small business and commercial centers, particularly in east Portland". . .Rural health care organizations based in Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks, Grants Pass, Forks and Newport are among 40 nationwide to win HHS grants to purchase equipment and install broadband and "to bring our health care system into the 21st century". . .City of Seattle allocates $10 million in New Market Tax Credits to redevelop historic INSCAPE building to "create affordable space for local artists" and $10 million in credits for new Bullitt Foundation building that will be the first in nation to meet "Living Building Challenge standards, the "world's most strenuous sustainable benchmarks". . .After removing more than 150 tons of asbestos-contaminated soil, EPA lists North Ridge Estates subdivision in Klamath Falls as Superfund site. . .Clackamas Community Land Trust names Steve McDowell, founder & president of Eire Building & Development, as executive director. . .Alaska Association of REALTORS names Jennifer Strong, owner of Strong Appraisals in Wasilla, as 2011 REALTOR of the Year. . .Thurston/Pierce County Affordable Housing Consortium honors Representative Tina Orwall, Columbia Legal Services' Bruce Neas Rebuilding Together South Sound, YWCA Pierce County and Puyallup Tribal Housing Authority with 2011 Excellence in Affordable Housing Awards.
Sometimes common sense may not make the best sense. Amid great controversy, a few years back Seattle's Downtown Emergency Center opened 1811 Eastlake, housing complex for chronically-homeless inebriates. Folks thought "we were opening a party house," DESC executive director Bill Hobson told The Post Intelligencer. But the idea was simple - it's safer and smarter to have inebriates drink inside an apartment than out on not-so-hospitable streets. Counter-intuitive as it seems, University of Washington researchers found DESC was onto something. Now, also amid controversy, RurALCAP has followed suit in Anchorage, opening Karluk House, a converted Red Roof Inn. Same house rules. But will it have the same results? See the full story online
GETTING TO YES
Len Brannen of Shelter Resources Inc. isn't the kind of guy who takes "no" for an answer. Just ask Rick Crager, deputy director of Oregon Housing & Community Services. "I'm the one who told him "no" four times," Crager told The Daily Astorian, when Brannen sought OHCS' help in Gateway I, a senior housing complex in Astoria. He ultimately got the help, though, and Gateway I is up, running and fully-occupied. And now, next door, there's Gateway II, a four-story, 33-unit complex for seniors. The "no's" didn't come from Crager this time, but from Wall Street. When the economy went south in 2008, investors went cool on low income housing tax credits. Fortunately OHCS stepped in with an almost $1.6 million HUD Tax Credit Assistance Program allocation under the Recovery Act , closing the financing gap and allowing the project to go forward. Even before the ribbon was cut in October, Gateway II was also at full occupancy. "It's almost a Robin Hood kind of feeling," said Brannen. Read the full story online
BRIEF BRIEFS THREE
Idaho Association of REALTORS moves to new offices at 10116 West Overland Road, Boise, 83709. . .With an estimated 3,000 veterans living in poverty in Snohomish County, Department of Human Resources invites request for proposals to develop .78 acre site in Lynnwood as housing for veterans. . .New Sustainable Village housing on University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, says News-Miner, to be designed by students in collaboration with Cold Climate Housing Research Center. . .Based on testing that found that "African-Americans and people with disabilities face frequent rental housing discrimination in Seattle," city's Office of Civil Rights files charges files charges against six property owners for alleged violations of fair housing laws. . .Housing Works, CASA of Oregon, USDA Rural Development and Oregon Housing & Community Services celebrates grand opening of Canyon East affordable multifamily housing in Madras. . .Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference, Association of Oregon Counties and Coquille, Nez Perce and Squaxin Island tribes win USDA Rural Development grants to help rural communities "take a more collaborative and regional approach toward jobs creation, business development and economic growth," says Secretary Vilsack. . .REACH CDC wins $290,000 NeighborWorks America grant for energy upgrade of The Wilshire in southeast Portland. . .Telling Coeur d'Alene Press "I'm just so thankful for all the volunteers," first-time homebuyer Kathy French moves into her new home, the 34th completed by Habitat for Humanity of Northern Idaho. . .Oregon Main Street Excellence in Downtown Revitalization Awards on Albany, Sandy, LaGrande, Molalla, Springfield, Corvallis, Astoria and Independence and names Steve Hutchison of the Corvallis Downtown Association as its volunteer of the year. . .With more than half its homes built before 1950 and before "energy efficient housing codes were implemented," reports Kitsap Sun, Mayor Patty Lent and RePower Bremerton announce plans to use U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings grant to "assess 1,000 hmes" for upgrades. . .With help; from Oregon Housing & Community Services, Farmworker Housing Development unveils plans for 40-unit expansion of Nuevo Amanecer complex in Woodburn. . ..U.S. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration awards almost $1.5 million grant - one of just four nationwide - to RurALCAP to support its HomeAgain homeless outreach efforts in Anchorage. . . Alaska Native Heritage Center, Native Village of White Mountain, Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Port Graham Village Council, Ketchikan Indian Corporation, Holy Cross Village, Northwest Intertribal Court System and Warm Springs Community Action Team win HHS Administration for Native Americans funds to further economic and social development strategies. . .Saying it "juxtaposes urbanity with wilderness,". Point Defiance Park in Tacoma selected by American Planning Association as one of America's ,Great Public Spaces.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
New England Journal of Medicinepublishes HUD study reporting that moving to low-poverty neighborhood cuts the risk for obesity and diabetes among low-income women. More online
Does weatherization work? "Sure does," RurALCAP might reply. It reports that before its weatherization crews went to work, the annual utility bill for a typical house in Noatak was $9,036. In Stebbins it was $9,096. Weatherization cut the bill 59 percent in Noatak to $4,593, 63 percent in Stebbins to $3,369. CO2 emissions also were cut - 37 percent in Noatak, 50 percent in Stebbins. Something to be said, we'd say, for weatherization.
. . .To The Idaho Mountain Express in general and reporter Katherine Wutz in particular for a three-part series on "the past, present and future" of workforce housing in the Wood River Valley. You'll find them online and here and here
WORTH A READ
What happens when you're of limited means and the neighborhood around you starts going upscale? Usually, you look for some place more affordable to live. Though the City of Portland is aggressively seeking to preserve its affordable housing stock in neighborhoods in and around downtown, the flood of chic stores, pricey restaurants and even pricier apartment buildings are forcing many who settled in the neighborhoods before "glitz-ification" to find a new place to call home. Like east Multnomah County. Human Solutions, a non-profit that owns 600 affordable apartments in eastern Multnomah, started preparing for the influx six years ago. And, in October, it celebrated the grand opening of a critical component of its strategy - Rockwood Center, a 23,000 square-foot building with a soup kitchen, Head Start classes, employment and social services programs and 47 affordable housing units for families. In developing the Center, Human Solutions looked "around the country" for a model, reports The Oregonian, but "didn't have much luck." So it had to come up with a home-grown, "cutting edge" solution. Read the full story online
QUOTE TO NOTE
"An increase in poverty and rising rents produced a spike in homelessness among families in recent years. With the economy still weak and 14 million people out of work, the situation is bound to get worse. Without an intensive federal effort to finance housing programs, the burden will fall on states and cities that are already unable to handle growing social needs. The typical victim of chronic homelessness is a single man who suffers from a disabling condition like mental illness. Thanks to a sustained investment in specialized housing by the federal and state governments, this population has actually declined over the last four years. But the startling report to Congress issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development last June found that the number of homeless families that have turned to shelters jumped by 20 percent, to 567,334 in 2010 from 473,541 in 2007. Things would no doubt be considerably worse without the $1.5 billion homelessness prevention program that Congress passed as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. With that money, HUD helped to prevent more than a million people from becoming homeless. It provided them with short- and medium-term rental assistance, moving expenses and other services. It quickly re-housed those who landed in shelters. With most of that recovery money gone, it is important that Congress provide the $2.4 billion in homeless assistance funding that the administration has requested. Census data showing a big increase in the number of families living doubled up with friends and relatives suggests that another wave of homelessness may be in the offing. With these clear needs, Congress must preserve and strengthen the programs that are aimed at helping the vulnerable. It should also direct more money into a program that builds and renovates affordable housing, which is in increasingly short supply." - "Ever More Homeless Families," The editors of The New York Times, October 30, 2011
NOTES TO NOTE
Credit Association of the Pacific Northwest sets November 9th deadline to submit letters of intent to apply for grants of up to $20,000 to provide financial education. . .Oregon Housing & Community Services sets November 15th deadline to submit pre-applications for $4.7 million in Housing Preservation Funds. . .Sustainable Building Industry Council sets November 15th deadline to submit entries in 2011 national Beyond Green High-Performance Building Awards competition. . . Oregon Housing & Community Services sets November 17th deadline to apply for funding for Oregon Homeownership Centers. . .EPA sets November 29th deadline to apply for Brownfields Assessment Grants for "community-wide, site-specific, and coalition assessments of brownfield sites contaminated with hazardous substances.". . .Alaska Department of Commerce sets December 2nd deadline for incorporated cities or boroughs outside of Anchorage to apply for CDBG grants of up to $850,000. . .HUD sets December 6th deadline to apply for Tenant Network Resource grants. . .Housing Assistance Council sets December 12th as deadline to apply for Rural Senior Housing Funds to "support activities that will build, preserve or advocate" for housing for the elderly in rural areas. . ,USDA sets December 13th deadline to submit comments on proposed rules intended to "significantly increase access to USDA's utilities program and funding. . .Department of Energy sets December 14th deadline to apply for CONNECT grants to "support energy technology conferences, workshops, and other events". . . Housing Assistance Council sets December 15th to apply for new Rural Senior Housing Fund program. . .HUD sets January 4th, 2012 deadline to apply for 2012 Indian Community Development Block Grant funds. . .Corporation for National & Community Service sets December 21st to file letter of intent and January 18th, 2012 to app.ly for up to $50,000 in American Tribal Planning grants to build capacity to recruit and manage volunteers, completing community assessments and developing new systems in technology, performance management and training.
Annual conference of National Congress of American Indians, October 30th to November 4th, Portland.
HUD Seattle offers workshop on NAHASDA Essentials, November 1st to 3rd, Seattle.
Annual conference of Alaska Municipal League, November 7th to 11th, Fairbanks.
HUD Anchorage offers workshop on NAHASDA Essentials, November 8th to 10th, Anchorage.
Workshop on "Working In Indian Country: Building Successful Business Relationships with American Indian Tribes," November 8th and 9th, Pendleton.
Washington State Extension Services hosts The Benton-Franklin Financial Security Summit, November 9th, Kennewick.
Housing Assistance Council hosts workshop on USDA Section 502 Packaging Training for Nonprofit Developers, November 8th to 10th, Seattle.
Oregon Asset Building Conference, November 9th & 10th, Silverton.
Housing Assistance Council symposium on Housing Seniors in Rural America: Aging in Place in a Shifting Landscape, November 9th & 10th, Seattle.
Latino Community Fund Statewide Summit, November 11th & 12th, Edmonds.
HUD Northwest hosts free, Fair Housing Basics Webinar, November 17th.
National Association of REALTORS hosts "Bringing Workers Home: A Regional Forum on Workforce Housing," December 1st & 2nd, Portland.
Housing Assistance Council & HUD Portland host workshop on Building Rural Communities through CHDOs, December 5th & 6th, Eugene.
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