HUD's Newest Mapping Tool will Change Consolidated Plans
Each year, HUD administers $4 and a half billion of formula funding to 1200 grantees through its four major block grant programs: the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the HOME Investments Partnership (HOME) program, the Emergency Solutions grant (ESG) program and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program. Every community that receives any one of these grants is required by law to complete a Consolidated Plan, which involves assessing community development, economic development, and affordable housing needs, as well as local market conditions, and then setting priorities and goals for how they will spend HUD funds to address these needs. Grantees complete multiyear strategies and annual plans, and at the end of each year, they report to HUD their progress.
To bring the Consolidated Planning process into the 21st century, HUD, led by Assistant Secretary Mercedes Marquez, created an online mapping tool and a Consolidated Plan template that are directly connected to the Integrated Disbursement and Information System (IDIS) where grantees actually draw down funds and report accomplishments. In May 2012, both the mapping tool and template will go live, and grantees will be required to submit their multiyear strategies through the system beginning on November 15, 2012. In order to receive feedback from and share information about the new system, HUD began engaging over 3600 stakeholders and grantees in early 2011 through in-person meetings, webcasts, and HUD Ideas in Action, HUD's interactive online suggestion tool. The new mapping tool, called CPD Maps, is a public website where grantees and the public alike can access the same data and mapping capability, which will empower community members to offer proposals grounded in the same data grantees are using to prepare their plans. Likewise, completed Consolidated Plans will be posted on HUD's website for grantees and the public to search and identify best practices that can be applied in their own communities. Stay tuned for more details coming soon.
A Master Plan for the Glades Region
On November 20, 2011 HUD awarded $1,980,504 to Palm Beach County under the Sustainable Communities Challenge Grant. This grant will be used in order to develop a Glades Region Master Plan that will provide a blueprint on improvements to infrastructure, transportation, land use and housing policies in the Glades Region of Palm Beach County, which includes the cities of Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay along with unincorporated Palm Beach County. The Glades Region Master Plan will begin to set the groundwork for a planned inland port in the Glades that will provide significant economic development opportunities. The HUD Miami Field Office encourages all Glades stakeholders and interested parties to be involved in this planning process, which requires public input and participation. More information on the planning process will be provided through Palm Beach County's Department of Economic Sustainability.
Help for FHA current borrowers
To help current FHA borrowers take advantage of today's lower interest rates, beginning June 1st FHA will lower its Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium to just .01 percent and reduce its annual premium to .55 percent for FHA borrowerswho are current on their existing FHA-insured mortgages which were endorsed on or before May 31st, 2009. "This is one way that FHA can make a real difference to help homeowners who are doing the right thing, paying their bills on time and want to take advantage of today's low interest rates," said FHA Commissioner Galante. "By significantly reducing costs for these borrowers, we can make certain they cut their monthly mortgage burden which will benefit the housing market and the broader economy in the process." The reductions apply to FHA single-family mortgage products except home improvement loans, home equity conversion mortgages, Hawaiian Homelands, Indian Reservations, and Declining Neighborhoods mortgages. For more details, read the mortgagee letter that explains the changes.
Available Funding: Apply now!
HUD's set May 15th to apply for $25 million to cover the "physical costs of converting some or all of the units of an eligible multifamily development into an" assisted living facility "including unit configuration and related common and service space, and any necessary remodeling, consistent with HUD or the state's statute/regulations." For more, visit grants.gov. Speaking of multi-family housing, May 14th is the deadline for Service Coordinators in Multi-Family housing. The grants allow multifamily "owners to assist elderly individuals and nonelderly people with disabilities living in HUD-assisted housing and in the surrounding area to obtain needed supportive services from the community, to enable them to continue living as independently as possible in their homes."
Live Free from Housing Discrimination
Housing discrimination is unfortunately still a sad reality. Help us eliminate it by recognizing it and fighting against it. The number one cause of discrimination in housing complaints is due to disabilities. Many veterans are returning and facing the extra challenge of not being able to live where they choose. If you're looking for an apartment and you can't get in - because of barriers like steps, steep slopes and lack of curb cuts - or if you find the kitchen or bathroom is not accessible, please call (800) 669-9777. The Fair Housing Act requires most multi-family dwellings built since March 13, 1991, to be accessible to people with disabilities. We will investigate to make sure the building complies with federal law. See the poster and help us spread the word!
Hardest Hit Funds still Available
Attention residents of hardest hit foreclosure areas in the Southeast: Funds are still available to help you. In the Southeast, funds are available in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Administered by the Department of the Treasury, The Hardest Hit Fund was established to provide targeted aid to families in states hit hard by the economic and housing market downturn. Each state housing agency gathered public input to implement programs designed to meet the distinct challenges struggling homeowners in their state are facing. States were chosen either because they are struggling with unemployment rates at or above the national average or steep home price declines greater than 20 percent since the housing market downturn. Hardest Hit Fund programs vary state to state, but may include the following: Mortgage payment assistance for unemployed or underemployed homeowners, Principal reduction to help homeowners get into more affordable mortgages, Funding to eliminate homeowners' second lien loans, Help for homeowners who are transitioning out of their homes and into more affordable places of residence. Only seek help from approved organizations designated in each state. Verify their information prior to releasing your financial data. View recent reports issued by the Department of Treasury regarding Hardest Hit Fund.
Webcasts, Classes and YouTube
HUD is all about delivery of information that you need. This is why we are also on YouTube! There are more than 70 videos that provide short descriptions on a variety of topics, programs and services that HUD provides. Check them here. If your need is for detailed information on a variety of topics, from home buying to how to comply with specific reporting, HUD's archives of webcasts and electronic classes are a big help. From funding availability and how and when to apply to detailed instructions on specific HUD reporting systems, you may find the very precise information you have been looking for. We also have an online library that can guide you to the information and data you need.
Consumer Alert on the Mortgage Servicing Settlement
The Mortgage Servicing Settlement is being implemented. After many months of negotiation, 49 state attorneys general and the federal government have reached agreement on a historic joint state-federal settlement with the country's five largest loan servicers: Ally/GMAC , Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. This bipartisan settlement will provide as much as $25 billion in relief to distressed borrowers in the states who signed on to the settlement; and direct payments to signing states and the federal government. It's the largest consumer financial protection settlement in US history. Consumers need to be very careful of how they provide information and to whom. The best way to obtain accurate information is by visiting www.nationalmortgagesettlement.com.
Unfortunately, the settlement administrators are reporting that "scammers are already at work trying to capitalize on the national mortgage settlement to access your personal information-or worse, your money. The Attorneys General have already received reports of scammers in Alabama calling borrowers claiming to be one of the major banks involved in this settlement and offering a cash payment to consumers if they simply provide the routing number to access their bank account. If you receive an unsolicited call from one of the major banks, you can identify a scam in several ways: Does the caller identify themselves as representing your loan servicer? Or do they ask you to provide the name of your loan servicer? If they ask you for the name of your servicer, they may be a scammer. Does the caller offer to provide your personal information to assist you in identifying your account? Or do they ask you to provide that? If the caller is from your loan servicer, they will be able to tell YOU your personal information because they will have it. You should never provide your personal information (including bank account numbers, social security numbers, etc.) to an unsolicited caller-no matter what they promise you. Does the caller offer to speed your settlement relief for a fee? They are definitely a scammer! Neither the banks nor the Attorneys General will charge a fee to speed your settlement. If you think the caller may be legitimate, ask for their contact information, tell them you are going to call your bank's hotline (located above) and confirm, then call them back. Chances are if they're a scammer, they won't want you to check on them and they won't provide their contact information."
Who's your Candidate?
Have you worked with a community foundation that's helped create a transformative public-philanthropic partnership that's increased housing access for low and moderate income people and increased economic employment, health, safety, education, sustainability, inclusivity and cultural opportunities? Yeah? Well, don't you think it's time they got a little credit? We do, which is why, in collaboration with the Council on Foundations, we're inviting nominations for the inaugural HUD Secretary's Award for Community Foundations. Nominations are due May 11th.
The Secretary's Award for Community Foundations recognizes excellence in public-philanthropic partnerships that have both transformed the relationship between the sectors and led to measurable benefits in terms of increased economic employment, health, safety, education, sustainability, inclusivity and cultural opportunities, and/or housing access for low and moderate-income families. See all the details to nominate your candidate.