Northwest HUD Lines
APRIL IS FAIR HOUSING MONTH
"Our Work Today Defines Our Tomorrow."
For upcoming Fair Housing Month events in your state, please see the "Coming Up" section below.
According to the Housing Assistance Council, the fiscal year 2013 Continuing Resolution passed by the Congress and signed by the President includes provisions maintaining the eligibility of areas currently eligible for USDA Rural Development home mortgage programs through September 30th, the end of the 2013 fiscal year.
BACK ON TRACK
On March 26th, President Obama signed into a law a measure to continue funding the government through the end of fiscal year 2013 - September 30, 2013. This budget compromise includes more than $12 million for HUD's Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program that provides mortgages to American Indian and Alaska Native families, Alaska Villages, Tribes, or Tribally Designated Housing Entities to construct a new home or purchase or refinance an existing home on or off native lands. Starting March 27th, HUD resumed accepting new loan applications under the Section 184 Program and will begin issuing loan approvals no later than April 15, 2013.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency has announced that, beginning July 1st, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will require their servicers to "to offer eligible borrowers who are at least 90 days delinquent on their mortgage an easy way to lower their monthly payments and modify their mortgage without requiring financial or hardship documentation." Eligible homeowners - those whose mortgages are owned or guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie - will need to demonstrate their "willingness and ability" to make three consecutive on-time payments after which their mortgages will be permanently modified. For more, see www.fhfa.gov.
So, what's irking American consumers these days? Credit cards? Mortgages? Student loans? Banks accounts? Well, thanks to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, now you can find out by visiting its brand new, on-line Consumer Complaint Data Base comprised of more than 90,000 complaints and, says the Bureau, "more than one million data points, covering approximately 450 companies" and including "the type of complaint, the date of submission, the consumer's ZIP code, and the company that the complaint concerns." The Bureau says its searchable and sortable, too. For more, visit www.consumerfinance.gov.
Community Framework completes first "built in Bremerton" self-help home and, says Kitsap Sun, it "won't be the last". . .Going "zero to 60 pretty quick," reports Chungiak-Eagle River Star, Cook Inlet Housing's Tyler Robinson says ground will be broken for 200-unit, $16.5 million Coronado Park project this spring. . .Governor Otter signs bill creating $3 million Idaho Opportunity Fund to assist communities to address infrastructure needs associated with retaining existing or attracting new jobs to the state. . .Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County nears completion of its 24th home and the first, reports The Herald, using passive energy standards. . .Housing Assistance Council says USDA Rural Development can now approve larger loans on newly-constructed homes, energy-efficient homes. . .Anchorage's Safe Harbor Inn one of 10 organizations awarded Tier 1 grants by Rasmuson Foundation. . .Boise Rescue Mission purchases former O.G. Bad building in Nampa with plans, reports Idaho Statesman, to use it temporarily house shelter men, but ultimately to shelter women and children. . Thanks to Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle award, Bank of Idaho and Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership to rehabilitate 75 more homes in nine counties. . .In collaboration with Washington State Housing Finance Commission, King County's Green Communities Institute launches Green Community Initiative to low-interest Qualified Energy Conservation Bond financing for energy-conservation projects of $1 million or more, the first program of its kind in state. . .Home Depot Foundation, says KLCC-FM, awards Eugene Veterans Project $75,000 to more than double the number of houses they can provide to offer two years of affordable housing to veterans to "transition back into the community".
If your Alaska community is interested in participating in the State of Alaska's innovative Teacher, Health Professional & Public Safety Housing Grant Program, please remember that the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation is asking that you indicate your interest on-line by May 3rd. Since 2003, the program has completed the construction or rehabilitation of some 375 units in nearly 50 rural communities across the state. For more, visit www.ahfc.us.
HUD has set a May 28th deadline to apply for Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant funds which help communities prepare plans to "address struggling neighborhoods with distressed public housing or HUD-assisted housing through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation." Funding amounts will be determined by the recently-enacted fiscal year 2013 Continuing Resolution. Eligible applicants include public housing authorities, tribal entities, local governments, nonprofits, and for-profit developers that apply jointly with a public entity. For more, visit www.grants.gov.
HUD has set a June 11th deadline to apply for funding under HUD's Fair Housing Initiatives Program or FHIP. The funds are available to "to increase compliance with the Fair Housing Act" with awards in three categories -: Private Enforcement, Education & Outreach, and the Fair Housing Organization Initiatives. For more, visit www.grants.gov.
HUD's also set an April 22nd deadline to apply for funding under the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) Fair Housing Organization Initiative - Continuing Development program. A new funding opportunity, the anticipated $1.2 million available is intended to help "establish new fair housing enforcement organizations and to support the continued existence of fair housing organizations in building their capacity to enforce the prohibitions on discrimination set forth in the Fair Housing Act." For more, visit www.grants.gov.
HHD's Administration for Children and Family' Services has set a May 24th deadline to apply for funding under its Asset for Independence program which grantees provide "an array of supports and services to enable individuals and families with low incomes to become more economically self-sufficient for the long-term." See Coming Up below for a series of Webinars on the program for prospective applicants. For more, visit acf.hhs.gov.
Energy efficient improvements, of courses, save money. But making those improvements costs money. Fortunately, the Washington State Housing Finance Commission's new $2.5 million Sustainable Energy Trust is helping cut those costs. Specifically, via the Trust, the Commission is interested in participating in up to 20 percent of a renewable energy construction project or energy efficient upgrade with a loan under $2.5 million-up to $500,000-at an interest rate of 2 percent. "The Commission is seeking to participate only," underscores David Clifton, who with Jacobson heads the Commission's Sustainable Energy Program. "We will neither require additional underwriting nor dictate the loan terms or covenants, other than setting the maximum term at 10 years." Adds the Commission's Avi Jacobson, ""Even though housing is in our name, when it comes to energy, we can do it all." Intrigued? Find out more at www.wshfc.org.
BRIEF BRIEFS TOO
USDA, Defense, Energy & Interior departments and Advisory Council on Historic Preservation unveil "action plan" to "strengthen the protection of Indian sacred sites and provide greater tribal access to these heritage areas". . .AVCP Regional Housing Authority celebrates two years of "positive performance," says Delta Dispatch, citing construction of 61 new housing units in 20 villages, modernization of 72 public housing units in five villages and weatherization of 260 homes in 24 villages in 2011 and 2012. . .Portland's Community Housing Fund awards $650,000 to support affordable housing efforts of REACH CDC, Bienestar and Housing Authority of Washington County. . .Multi Service Center purchases property in Federal Way to develop city's first affordable housing complex for veterans. . .Ron Carley announces plans to step down as executive director of Coalition for a Livable Future. . Telling The News Tribune it's "a new line of work for us," Maureen Fife and Habitat for Humanity of Tacoma/Pierce County complete their very first rehab - after building 220 new homes - of a house in South Tacoma, one of three foreclosed homes Bank of America has donated to the affiliate. . .Formerly homeless and Oregon State University Ecampus graduate Sarah Price named, Oregonian says, nation's "top continuing education student" by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association. . .Community Energy Challenge - a partnership between the Whatcom Opportunity Council & Sustainable Connections - completes 1,000th energy assessment and retrofit helping save, on average, $470 in energy costs for each home. . .Portland School Board votes unanimously, says Oregonian, to enter contract with City that will allow NAYA Youth & Family Center to create 40 units of housing and operate an early childhood education center in former Foster Elementary School in Lents neighborhood.
Zip Codes, it turns out, may have as much to do with determining destinies as it does for delivering mail. "It's been said," notes Ashley Ahearn of KUOW, "that you can tell more about someone's health by looking at their zip code than their genetic code." That's certainly an inference that can be drawn from an EPA-funded study Just Health Action and the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition that developed cumulative health impact analyses of 15 indicators for Seattle's 10 Zip Code areas. It found, reports Ahearn, that residents of Zip Code 98108 - the Georgetown neighborhood that is "closest to the contaminated Duwamish River industrial sites that are slated for clean up under the EPA Superfund program" - are "more likely to be hospitalized for asthma and to be diagnosed with heart disease." On average, she adds, "they die eight years earlier" than residents of the other areas. For more, see earthfix.kuow.org.
It's more a statement of fact than a play on words, but Nichole Soares, a mother of three in Astoria, is "soaring" these days. It has a little to do with resources HUD provides, a lot to do with the services provided by the Northeast Oregon Housing Authority and a great deal to do with Nichole, a woman who, writes Edward Stratton in The Daily Astorian, "knows something about persevering." She had to, she adds, "jump through a lot of hoops." Turns out she's pretty darn good at it. Read her story at www.dailyastorian.com.
It starts with a village, of course, but, with an estimated 3,800 homeless young people in Anchorage, there it also starts can a teen, especially when it involves trying to encourage young people to come in from out in the cold on a winter's night. "Our guiding philosophy," Alaska Youth Advocates executive director Heather Harris tells David Holthouse of The Anchorage Daily News, " is 'by teens, for teens,' because youths will confide in other youths in ways they often will not confide in adults," said Alaska Youth Advocates Executive Director Heather Harris. "A lot of our clients have little or no family support, so making peer support available to them is essential to helping them lead a healthier life." Four nights a week, two-person teens in its Peer Outreach Worker Education and Referral - or POWER hit the streets, armed with food, warm clothing even and, most importantly, a desire to connect. "On the surface it might seems like a cushy job. . .But in reality, if you're doing the job right, and you're non-prying and non-judgmental, people are going to start confiding some pretty heavy info. Like, 'I'm thinking about killing myself,' or 'I'm being pimped out,' " POWER case manager and former client Rebecca Shie tells Holthouse. "In this job a situation can go from video games to really serious in a minute." And, hopefully, a kid deciding to get off the street. Read Holthouse's full story at www.adn.com.
1st ON 1st
Some say the chicken came first, others the egg. Some insist on the carrot, the rest on the stick. But when it comes to rejuvenating North 1st Street, the gateway to downtown Yakima, the first priority is code enforcement. New streetscapes, roadways and projects can wait. See Dan Catchpole's account of what the City's thinking, doing and finding at www.yakimaherald.com.
In large cities, the homeless can seem to be on every downtown corner. But in rural communities, says Shad Thomas, a veteran of the National Guard and now with the Transformations Wellness Center in Klamath Falls, "it seems like they're ghosts." Especially vets. The problem? An "under sourced county," says Mike Francis of The Oregonian. "Klamath County has 25" Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers from HUD, he writes, but " could easily use 25 or 50 more, said Rachel Howard, a case manager and Department of Veterans Affairs. It's "heartbreaking," she adds. ""I would love to give a voucher to everyone who calls me." Read the full story at www.oregonlive.com.
BRIEF BRIEFS THREE
Associated General Contractors of Alaska honor Tlinglit-Haida Regional Housing Authority, says Juneau Empire, for hiring and "mentoring" graduates of Alaska Construction Academy. . .St. Andre Bessette Catholic Church in Portland wins Meyer Memorial Trust grant to renovate hospitality center for the homeless in Portland. . .RurALCAP executive director David Hardenbergh receives Robert M. Coard Advocacy Award from National Community Action Foundation. . .Northwest Real Estate Capital Corporation celebrates grand re-opening of 48-unit Crestview Court Apartments in Beaverton following $6.8 million renovation. . .Congratulations to both Seattle and Portland for, says EPA, being among the 25 American cities with the most Energy Star-certified buildings for the fifth straight year. . .Five wind turbines built on the Swauk Creek Ranch and financed, in part, by Washington Housing Finance Commission are expected to generate enough energy to power Kittitas County homes. . .Though developer picked to transform the "crumbling" Grove Hotel in Old Town Portland into a youth hostel appears to have pulled out, Portland Development Commission spokesperson Shawn Uhlman tells Willamette Week that "everyone is still working hard to make something happen". . .Building Change awards Tacoma's Workforce Central $360,000 grant to, says News Tribune, "recruit and train" homeless for jobs in advanced manufacturing. . .Daniel Valliere of Chicago, reports Portland Business Journal, named the new executive director of REACH Community Development Corporation in Portland. . .USDA Rural Development awards total of $6 million in grants & loans to build new multifamily farm worker housing. . .Columbia Cascade Building Corporation and Salem-Keizer CDC. . .Boys & Girls Transitional Living Program celebrates opening of housing for six formerly homeless teens renovated with CDBG funds from City of Beaverton. . .Last but not least, Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services named Corvallis' 2012 Non-Profit of the Year.
HUD's proud of the work it does. But we don't do it on our own. It takes partners, partners and more partners. And among our - and, for that matter, your - most important partners are foundations which oftentimes provide critical financial support to the work you and we do. As we did last year, again this year HUD - in collaboration with the Council on Foundations - would like to call attention to the good work of one foundation in each of our 10 regions that has gone above and beyond even more than foundations usually go above and work to support yours work and ours. Which is why we're coming to you, asking you to nominate, by April 29th, a foundation in your service area for the 2013 Secretary's Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships. You know their work and their contributions. So why not take a little to brag about 'em. For more, visit huduser.org.
The March 27th Federal Register seeks public comment by May 28, 2013 on a proposed rule through which HUD will establish the Rural Housing Stability Assistance program which replaces the previously-authorized but never implemented Rural Homelessness Grant program authorized by the HEARTH Act. Under the new program, HUD can competitively award grants to rural counties in lieu of awards under the traditional Continuum of Care program. The grants focused on "the homeless issues unique to rural areas" and may be used to provide "rent, mortgage, utility assistance; relocation assistance; short term emergency lodging; new construction; acquisition; rehabilitation; emergency food and clothing; employment assistance and job training; health related services; housing search and counseling services; referrals to legal services; mental health services; substance abuse treatment services; and transportation." Applicants must be county governments or designees of county governments such as units of local governments or non-profits. The March 27th notice also includes a proposed revision of the term "chronically homeless" as well as "rural area" and "rural community" as earlier defined by the McKinney-Vento Act for which HUD is also seeking comments. Again, comments are due and, as the saying goes, don't be shy!
On March 25th, Edward DeMarco, acting Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, announced that the agency is taking steps against lender-placed property insurance that, say some, adds homeownership costs that put many at-risk homeowners into foreclosure and, adds DeMarco, are "contrary to prudent business practices" and expose Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac "to potential losses as well as litigation and reputation risks." Specifically, the agency intends to " prohibit sellers and servicers from receiving, directly or indirectly, remuneration associated with placing coverage with or maintaining placement with particular insurance providers" and prohibit "sellers and servicers from receiving, directly or indirectly, remuneration associated with an insurance provider ceding premiums to a reinsurer that is owned by, affiliated with or controlled by the sellers or servicer." Before moving forward, however, the agency has established a 60-day period for input from the general public and interested parties. For more on sharing your views, see www.fhfa.gov.
USDA Rural Development will be holding a series of teleconferences in the months ahead about its Section 538 Guaranteed Rural Rental Housing Program. Participation is limited and the times and dates of the teleconferences will be sent to participants who register according to instructions in the March 21st Federal Register.
WORTH A READ
Ever spent a day in a wheelchair? Sounds sort of fun, doesn't it? Spokane City Council Member John Snyder might say otherwise. Last December, he spent a snowy International Disability Day in a wheelchair. His conclusion? Among others, "The smallest impediments to a healthy pedestrian can be absolute deal-breakers to someone in a wheelchair." Read his full account at www.nwfairhouse.org.
After five years of a deep economic recession, these are tough times to be homeless and just bit less tough to be an organization serving the homeless and trying to help them get off the streets and back on their feet. Which is why March 13th was a pretty good news day for those organizations as HUD announced the award of some $68.3 million to renew funding to almost 390 projects serving the homeless in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Since the funds came from the fiscal year 2012 appropriations bill and, hence, unaffected by the sequestration of fiscal year 2013 funds, most projects both regionally and nationally saw a slight increase over the year before. "Our economy is improving, but times are as tough as ever for those without a place to call home," said HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Mary McBride. "These funds help hard-working local organizations keep their doors open and services flowing to help homeless families and individuals put a roof over their heads and stability and opportunity back into their lives." Later this year, HUD will award additional funds fort hundreds new local programs.
"On any given night in King County, nearly 800 youth and young adults are either homeless, living in shelters or lacking stable housing. One-tenth is under 18, more than half are women and 60 percent are people of color. For a community as progressive and prosperous as ours, this is a disturbing situation. The good news is that the size and scope of our youth-homelessness challenge has come into sharper focus, and we can develop and act on a plan to address it. . .For a decade, our region has been a leader in working together on innovative approaches to end homelessness. Not all of those efforts have worked. That's the nature of innovation. But we have learned from them. For instance, when the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation first became involved in family homelessness in 2000, the prevailing thinking was that building more transitional housing - short-term accommodations and services that help homeless individuals and families make the transition to long-term housing - was the answer. Working together with a broad coalition, we made important progress on that front and created more than 1,400 new units of transitional housing in the region. But we also learned that transitional housing - in and of itself - is not enough to end family homelessness. Through experience, we also came to understand the need for a systematic and coordinated approach to reduce family homelessness, based on a few key principles. Among them: acting early to prevent at-risk families from falling into homelessness, intervening quickly if they do and providing a simple and flexible way for families to access the services they need. We also learned the importance of gathering more data so we can really understand the families we are trying to serve. Many of these principles are now at the heart of our community's expanding efforts to prevent and end youth homelessness. . .The problem of youth homelessness is formidable, which is why we have made it a top local priority of our family philanthropy, the Raikes Foundation. We are optimistic that our community can solve youth homelessness if we stay focused on the resilience of the many young people we have met on the streets and in shelters. Time and again, we have been inspired by their determination to push beyond difficult personal and family challenges to pursue an education, find a stable place to live and build a better life. Enabling others to realize their hopes and dreams is what motivates us each day, but it will take the whole community continuing to work together to identify and implement durable solutions to end homelessness." - Tricia & Jeff Raikes of The Raikes Foundation, in The Seattle Times, March 27th.
NOTES TO NOTE
Justice Department sets April 4th deadline to apply for up to 60 Transitional Housing Assistance Grants for Victims of Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking Program. . .Treasury Department sets April 8th deadline for comments on CDFI Bond Guarantee Program proposals published in February 5th Federal Register. . .Enterprise sets April 12th deadline for Oregon community development corporations to apply for Enterprise Partners Sustainability (Capacity Building) grants. . .HUD sets April 22nd deadline to apply for Fair Housing Organization Initiative Continuing Development funds. . .HUD sets April 29th deadline to submit nominations for 2013 Secretary's Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships. . .Due to fact that HUD has not received appropriations at this time, HUD extends deadline to apply for Resident Opportunities & Self Sufficiency Service Coordinator grants to April 30th. . .Washington State Broadband Office sets April 30th deadline to for cities, counties, public utility districts, ports, nonprofit organizations, tribes, public and private colleges and universities and community groups partnering with one of the entities mentioned above to apply for Local Technology Planning Team grants of up to $100,000 to "advance broadband deployment" in Washington state. . .National Endowment for Humanities sets May 1st application deadline for" libraries, museums, historical societies, archival repositories, cultural organizations, town and county records offices, and colleges and universities". . .to apply for Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions. . Alaska Housing Finance Corporation sets May 3rd deadline to register to seek funding under its 2014 Teacher, Health Professional &Public Safety Housing Grant competition to commence in July 2013. . .Idaho Department of Commerce sets May 17th deadline for counties and county-city partnerships to apply for Rural Idaho Economic Development Professionals program to assist rural communities in hiring full-time economic development professionals. . .Federal Housing Finance Administration sets May 24th deadline for public comment on proposed actions against lender-placed insurance. . .HHS' Administration for children & Families sets May 24th deadline to apply for Assets for Independence funds. . .HUD sets May 28th deadline for public comments on proposed rule implementing Rural Housing Stability Assistance Program. . .In anticipation of fiscal year 2013 funding, HUD sets May 28th deadline to apply for Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants. . .HUD sets June 13th deadline to apply for Fair Housing Initiative Program grants. . .Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle says it will begin accepting applications for $5.9 million in Affordable Housing Program funds "on or around" May 15th with applications due August 1st.