Northwest HUD Lines
HUD & ANCHORAGE REACH AGREEMENT
Fair Housing Complaint concerns City's zoning code
HUD's has reached an agreement with the Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska, resolving allegations that its zoning laws violated the Fair Housing Act and other civil rights laws by discriminating against people with disabilities. Specifically, HUD's complaint alleged the city's zoning code imposed restrictions on groups with certain disabilities such as maximum occupancy standards and fees which were not imposed on other groups. It was the result of a HUD complaint, filed in May, 2014, that was brought under the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all of which prohibit discrimination because of disability. The complaint alleged that the municipal code excluded certain housing for persons with disabilities from some residential districts, and required group homes for persons with disabilities to comply with extra procedures and pay fees that were not imposed on residences for persons who do not have disabilities. Anchorage is subject to HUD's enforcement of all the laws because it receives federal financial assistance from HUD. "We look forward to working with the municipality of Anchorage," said Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity Gustavo Velasquez, "to make changes in its zoning ordinance to increase access for people with disabilities."
! ! ! NEWS TO NOTE ! ! !
Effective July 1st, FHA will use Pay.gov to collect all fees associated with its Multifamily Housing & Hospital programs. See Mortgagee Letters 15-13 & 15-14.
Looking to become familiar with FHA's new Single Family Housing Policy Handbook? Well, you can now, from anywhere, anytime night or day by visiting FHA's Handbook Webinar Archive.
TWO TO ONE
Federal Home Loan Banks merge
Effective Monday, June 1st the Federal Home Loan Banks of Seattle & of DesMoines will merge with headquarters located in Iowa, but a western office in Seattle. "Regardless of its name or headquarters location," they explain, "your Federal Home Loan Bank cooperative is committed to serving you throughout the transition and for years to come." For more a about how all this will work, visit the Banks' new Website at http://www.fhlbdm.com/.
Smoothing the financial transition from active-duty to civilian life
Some 250,000 members of the armed services transition back into civilian life every year. No surprise, it's an adjustment, one that sometimes puts these now-veterans at financial risk and, even, danger. "Many transitioning service members," reports the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, "lack experience in money management, and find after they leave the service that they may need help in reworking the financial plan" they developed while still in the service with help from the Department of Defense's Transition Assistance Program. To smooth-out the move back to the civilian economy, Bureau is launching a Financial Coaching Initiative (www.consumerfinance.gov/newsroom/cfpb-launches-financial-coaching-initiative/?hootPostID=d70801d0f71bef21e5af01d6b41617a8) for recently-transitioned personnel that, says Bureau director Richard Cordray, will "provide financial coaching services at critical points in consumers' lives, especially as they transition from military service or from being unemployed." Coaches certified by Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education at 60 organizations around the country will provide the coaching and counseling including the North Seattle WorkSource Job Center, Rally Point 6 in Lakewood, Hopelink in Seattle and Metropolitan Family Service. Coaching, the Bureau says, will also be available to economically vulnerable consumers seeking other services from social services and other providers.
MAKE IT SNAP-PY
Number-crunching the crisis
Enjoy shopping at farmers markets? Of course you do. The vegetables are farm-fresh, you can pick-up some recipes for combinations you've never tried and maybe you'll even get up the gumption to start your own garden. And, most importantly, it's a place where the community you call home gathers. Ask anybody who's been to a farmers market once and they'll almost certainly tell you they're going again - and again and again. Even folks with limited incomes. Which is why between now and June 18th USDA's Food & Nutrition Service is seeking applications to award 25 markets across the country Farmers Market Support grants of up to $250,000 to make sure they're SNAPS-ready - i.e., can accommodate families who receive Food Stamps under the SNAP - Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - when they come, like you, to the market for fresh & healthy food. So, next time you're at your market, why not ask its manager whether it knows about the USDA funding opportunity and whether your market is going to apply. It's good for the families, good for the market and good for the community where you live. For more, visit FNS-SNAP-FMSSG-15 at grants.gov (www.grants.gov/search-grants.html?agencies%3DUSDA%7CDepartment%20of%20Agriculture).
If you're a lender, tell us if you like it or not HUD has just published proposed revisions to the HUD Addendum to Uniform Residential Loan Application, a document also known as the 92900-A, the loan certification document signed by lenders. If you have comments - pro, con or somewhere in between - HUD would like to hear them by July 14th. If you've got view, don't be shy.
Nominations now being taken for Washington Friends of Housing
If you work in housing, community & economic development in Washington State, you bet you do. And, like you, they work hard and do great work. So, why not give them the credit they're due for all the work they've done to produce and preserve affordable housing by nominating them for a Washington Friend of Housing Award (www.wshfc.org/admin/foh.htm). The applications are due by July 31st and will be announced at the 22nd annual Housing Washington (www.wshfc.org/conf/index.htm) affordable housing conference, October 5th to 7th in Spokane.
Describing it as "one step closer toward our path of healing since Restoration" and "just one more piece of the story that continues to be written about the Grand Ronde people," housing director Shonn Leno hosts grand opening of 20-unit Chxi Musam Illihi complex named after rivers and creeks on Tribal land, says Smoke Signals (http://www.grandronde.org/news/smoke-signals/2015/05/29/new-tribal-apartment-complex-opens/#sthash.I1ONX0mg.dpbs). . .HUD awards $781,269 to Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to continue supporting its efforts to provide housing & supportive services to more than 100 Alaskan families living with HIV & AIDS. . .Thanks to Washington Department of Commerce funding, Mercy Housing Northwest converting (http://mynorthwest.com/800/2703106/Magnuson-Park-barracks-to-become-128-rental-units) historic barracks at Sand Point Naval Station to 128 units of affordable housing. . .Idaho Department of Commerce to launch Idaho Downtown Improvement Network , says Argus Observer (www.argusobserver.com/news/new-life-for-an-old-town/article_cbb575ee-f14c-11e4-8474-c7748fc781ec.html) "for communities that are looking for the Main Street approach" to revitalizing their downtowns "but lack the capacity and resources to meet national Main Street standards". . .HUD's The Edge pays a visit to Tacoma Housing Authority's new Bay Terrace complex in Hilltop neighborhood and likes what it sees. . .After successful inaugural season in 2014 - removing 13,500 square-feet of graffiti from 219 properties - City of Tacoma (www.cityoftacoma.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=169&pageId=81527) says it's expanding .Rapid Graffiti Removal Program to three more "key corridors". . .Spokane Low Income Housing Consortium prepares (www.slihc.org/news--events.html) to celebrate 25th anniversary. . .Seattle celebrates results of its HUD-funded Community Cornerstones program which has led in development of commercial stability strategy, planning for a multicultural community center & promoting transit-orieted development in south Seattle. . .Salem Mayor Anna Peterson's state-of-city address praises, reports Statesman Journal (www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2015/05/21/mayor-state-salem-strong/27685545/), Salem Housing Authority for "completing the largest renovation in its 45-year history" by bringing "new life to apartments at Parkway East, Parkway West and Robert Lindsey Tower housing projects." Adding that city must face "serious lack" of affordable multifamily housing. . .The Columbian (www.columbian.com/news/2015/may/21/lincoln-place-apartments-homeless-housing/) says Vancouver Housing Authority has broken ground for 30-unit Lincoln Plaza Apartments for chronically-homeless. . .KOMO-TV (www.komonews.com/news/local/Massive-rebuilding-plan-is-now-underway-for-Methow-Valley-wildfire-victims-302208081.html) says Carlton Complex Long Term Recovery Group lays foundations for the first four of a planned 50 new homes in Methow Valley to replace those burned last year in the largest wildfire in state's history. . .It's been almost 20 years since a new home's been built in Ambler but Northern Inupiat Housing Authority, says Arctic Sounder (www.thearcticsounder.com/article/1516ambler_residents_look_forward_to_new_homes), plans to build 9 new homes starting next spring. . .Homes First celebrates (www.thurstontalk.com/2015/05/20/homes-first-youth-build/) 25th anniversary of providing affordable housing in Thurston County.
Going to the well(-to-do) for affordable housing
Seattle not-for-profit Bellwether Housing, says The Puget Sound Business Journal (www.bizjournals.com/seattle/morning_call/2015/05/the-creative-way-this-seattle-developer-made-a-735.html?hootPostID=0fe5403052f71ed0b33c5c473d1e3785), has "done something no one else in Seattle has ever done" and, maybe, has found a new to generate the not-always-easy-to-get capital to produce and preserve affordable housing. It's called "impact investing" and it's "a way for well-to-do individuals to loan money to do social good." Bellwether used it "to help pay for the $2.2 million rehabilitation of the Parker, a 50-unit Queen Anne property" which formerly housed Seattle Pacific University students. Following extensive renovation, it's now targeted, says The Seattle Times (www.seattletimes.com/business/economy/rents-are-half-the-queen-anne-norm-at-revitalized-apartments) to households " that make 50 to 60 percent of the local area median income" with a studio starting at around $750. Most of the funding for the project came from "traditional" sources like Seattle's Office of Housing, but $1.8 million will be raised from private investors who invest $25,000, an amount to be re-paid in full along with a return of 2 percent. "To have my charitable assets gaining interest — 2 percent is not bad in today's investment climate — it's a worthwhile trade-off," one real estate developer who has invested. "And it's a way of maintaining my connection to Seattle."
Using Federal funds to meet local priorities
In celebrating the 40th anniversary of HUD's Community Development Block Program, HUD Secretary Castro, a former Mayor of San Antonio, offered special praise for CDBG because it had, over the years, provided billions of dollars to thousand to communities to do things that "matter where people live." For proof one need no farther than Governor Jay Otter's recent award (http://commerce.idaho.gov/press-releases/governor-otter-awards-community-development-block-grants-2) of some $6.7 million in CDBG funds to 19 smaller Idaho communities - Wendell, Franklin City, Driggs, Kellogg, Blackfoot, White Bird, Wallace, Cambridge, New Meadows, Tetonia, Bonners Ferry, Cottonwood, Post Falls, Malad and Sandpoint as well as Lemhi, Franklin & Gooding counties. And what mattered where people live in this year's round of Idaho CDBG funding? One winner used funds for infrastructure improvements that will promote job growth, three to upgrade water systems, nine improve wastewater treatment and six to build or renovate senior & community centers, "This is huge," Alison McArthur, director of the Post Falls senior center, told The Coeur d'Alene Press (http://www.cdapress.com/news/local_news/article_5ca213ba-5074-5de8-b224-f67ea8c8ec19.html). "It's amazing," the Governor noted, "to see all of the growth and development that communities across Idaho are pursuing," thanks, in part, to CDBG funds.
Tight is even tighter for renters with a history
The good news? More and more and more folks want to make their home in Boise. The not-so-good news? Boise's rental market has gotten ever tighter, "Depending on who you talk to," city community development director Diana Lachiondo told KBOI-TV (www.kboi2.com/news/local/Housing-the-homeless-HELP-program-rental-market-boise-idaho-news-303522921.html), "it's between a 1 and 3 percent vacancy rate." In a word, "stiff," challenging enough for those with good incomes, a steady job and good references but almost impossible for those who have bad credit or who are homeless. Which is why the City of Boise has allocated $90,000 of the proceeds generated by the sale of foreclosed houses purchased and rehabbed under HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program to fund a new initiative called H.E.L.P. - the Housing Education &Leadership Partnership. "What we hear from property managers and landlords is that they really want to open their units to people who might be facing barriers," Lachiondo continued, "but it's really challenging for them." Managed by El Ada Community Action Partnership, H.E.L.P.'s is designed to reduce, expecting in its first year to 140 adults (or approximately 70) families with rental assistance, H.E.L.P. certification and service to landlords in times of trouble. "I honestly expected the property managers to say they needed a bucket of money to help pay for damage to rental units," Lachiondo told The Boise Weekly (www.boiseweekly.com/boise/too-much-need-not-nearly-enough-rentals/Content?oid=3480249). "Instead, what we heard them say was, "we have a heart for this but we need your help."" Thanks to H.E.L.P., it's on the way.
Learning the rules in Alaska
"C'mon," you might say, "How hard is it to be a good renter. The rules of the game are obvious. Just play by them." But first, of course, you need to know what the rules are. They're not obvious to everyone, notes Shiloh Community Housing in Anchorage. Not obvious, for example, to young adult men. "Nobody wants to rent to them. They're not good renters. They don't know all of the rules. They turn their music up too high; they throw trash on the ground.", executive director Verna Gibson told Alaska Public Radio (www.alaskapublic.org/2015/05/06/program-providing-housing-life-skills-helps-youth-succeed/). "They come from rough or broken homes, from bouncing around the foster care system, but trying to make a go of it on the street. Simply put, they don't know what is - and isn't acceptable as a responsible tenant." If they're lucky enough to be a part of Shiloh's LIFE - Living Independent for Everyone - they'll learn.
Washington Housing Finance Commission invests "runs with the bulls" for affordable housing
The Washington State Housing Finance Commission has okayed "almost $67 million" in financing to organizations to produce or preserve some 467 affordable housing in seven communities. With the assistance, the Suquamish Tribe will develop 12 single-family homes on the Port Madison Reservation in Kitsap County, Plymouth Housing will develop 29 units for the chronically-homeless, a partnership of Compass Housing Alliance & Hopelink will build 59 units on property owned by Ronald Methodist Church in the Richland Heights area, the Tacoma Housing Authority will complete the 74-unit second phase of Bay Terrace, LIHI will construct the 42-unit Olympia Commons in downtown Olympia, Housing Hope will build the 50-unit Twin Lakes Landing in Marysville and Carmel Senior Services will renovate 141 units of housing for the elderly at Yakima Sun Tower in Yakima. The Commission also awarded tax exempt bond financing to the Pacific Science Center in Seattle and the Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center in Everett. The financing, says Commission chair Karen Miller, "will not only help individual households, but also create jobs and enhance communities across the state." So far in 2015 the Commission has awarded financing for more than 1,600 units of new and preserved affordable housing.
BRIEF BRIEFS TOO
As it celebrates its 75th year, says Kitsap Sun (www.kitsapsun.com/news/local-news/in-75th-year-housing-authoritys-future-in-bay-vistas-blossoming_44044811), Bremerton Housing Authority looking to transformation of Westpark area into Bay Vista neighborhood as wave of the future. . .Deschutes County, reports Oregon Public Broadcasting (www.opb.org/news/article/deschutes-county-funds-shelter-beds-for-former-inmates/), starts providing shelter beds to up to 5 recently-released offenders to provide "a kind of soft landing - a transition" in a very tight housing market for those who've "paid their dues". . .City of Tacoma dedicates (www.cityoftacoma.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=169&pageId=81662) "TransFORM" by Yuki Nakamura & Sea Branches & Pearls' Diane Hansen as public art at Tacoma Housing Authority's new Bay Terrace Development in the Hilltop neighborhood. . .Bellwether Housing (http://blog.bellwetherhousing.org/bellwethers-next-executive-director-announced/) names Doug Daley as chief executive officer, succeeding Sarah Rick Lewontin who is retiring after 11 years in the post. . .After "multiple open houses" for affected businesses, says Idaho Press Tribune (www.idahopress.com/members/nampa-city-council-oks-downtown-streetscape-plan/article_790f0c24-f2e6-11e4-8871-b7263bdd7e9a.html), Nampa City Council okays new streetscape plan for historic downtown. . .April grants awarded by Meyer Memorial Trust (www.oregon.gov/ohcs/DO/newsreleases/2015/05-13-15-News-Release.pdf) includes $532,000 to Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Benton, Clark, Columbia, Deschutes, Douglas, Josephine, Marion, Multnomah, Tillamook Washington & Yamhill counties. . .and Yamhill counties. . .Kingston breaks ground for Village Green Community Center that will house senior center, senior center & Boys& Girls Club, reports North Kitsap Herald, (www.northkitsapherald.com/news/302209771.html) the culmination of a 12-year effort to transform a former Navy housing. . .Rachel Bristol, now with the Oregon Health Sciences University and formerly a VISTA volunteer with Oregon Food Share, & Karen Vauk of the Idaho FoodBank who's hired three Americorps "alums" named White House Champions of Change for demonstrating "how national service creates pathways to economic and employment opportunities". . .Aberdeen's Amazing Grace Gospel Lutheran Church votes unanimously, reports Daily World, to offer alternative site to campers being evicted from by city from banks of Chehalis River. . Congratulations to team from University of Washington's School of the Built Environment for winning the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Low-Income Housing Challenge for, says Daily Journal of Commerce (www.djc.com/news/re/12077889.html?hootPostID=9a2a45acbd5f5298c81346d84b66556e), its design of a housing project to be built by Tacoma Housing Authority. . .With two apartment complexes being built and two more on the way, Portland Tribune (http://portlandtribune.com/bvt/15-news/254227-124000-beavertons-old-town-is-getting-newer) pays visit to Beaverton's "new" Old Town. . .Catholic Community Services says it plans June groundbreaking for Filbert Road Veterans Housing funded in part by Snohomish County veterans assessment.
Competition opens for $45 million to identify & remediate lead paint hazards in housing
HUD has set a June 23rd deadline for state and local governments, Tribes & other eligible applicants to apply for a total of $45 million under its Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration Program. Twelve grants are expected to be competitively awarded with a grant ceiling of $3.5 million per grant and its floor is $500,000 and requires a 25 percent non-Federal match. The program is designed to assist entities "to identify and control lead-based paint hazards in eligible privately owned rental or owner-occupied housing" with a particular focus on units built before 1940. For more, visit FR-5900-N-13 at grants.gov (www.grants.gov/search-grants.html?agencies%3DHUD%7CDepartment%20of%20Housing%20and%20Urban%20Development).
Funding available to Tribes & Native Alaskan villages for mold remediation & prevention
HUD also has set June 23rd as the deadline to apply for $45, million under its Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Program. The program helps entities identify and eliminate lead hazards in privately-owned apartments and homes. Sixteen grants are expected to be awarded, with a grant ceiling of $3 million and a floor of $1 million with a 10 percent non-Federal match. For more, visit FR-5900-N-12 at grants.gov (www.grants.gov/search-grants.html?agencies%3DHUD%7CDepartment%20of%20Housing%20and%20Urban%20Development).
USDA expects to provide 65 grants to preserve rural housing
USDA has set a July 6th deadline for non-profits, local and Tribal governments, public housing authorities and others to apply for up to 65 grants of $50,000 each under its Rural Housing Preservation Program. The funds, awarded competitively, assist very low- and low-income homeowners in repairing their homes and the owners of private rental properties in repairing their properties in rural area on the condition that the units will be available to low- and moderate-income persons. For more, see USDA-RD-HCFP-HPG-2015 at grants.gov (www.grants.gov/search-grants.html?agencies%3DUSDA%7CDepartment%20of%20Agriculture).
EPA provides funding to address bed bugs in Alaska
EPA has set a June 22rd deadline to apply for one, $100,000 Addressing Bed Bugs in Alaska grant that will help "Alaska Native Village communities in their efforts to combat bed bug infestations" and "break down barriers to bed bug management." One grant will be awarded with Federally-recognized Tribes, Native American organizations, Alaskan Native Villages and intertribal consortia located in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon & Washington state eligible to apply. For more, visit EPA-R10-PTU-15-01 at grants.gov (www.grants.gov/search-grants.html?agencies%3DEPA%7CEnvironmental%20Protection%20Agency).
Pre-Disaster Mitigation Funds Now Available from FEMA
FEMA has set August 28th as the deadline to apply for $30 million - including $250,000 set asides for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Territories and $5 million for Federally-recognized Tribes - in Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grants. The funding provides "resources to assist states, tribal governments, territories and local communities in their efforts to implement a sustained pre-disaster natural hazard mitigation program." Funds are provided both for mitigation management and implementation. Applications must be filed through FEMA's Mitigation eGrants System. FEMA expects to award up to 100 grants. For more, visit (www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1432847398289-878c470e718239eedcaadc8d52ea1823/PDMFactSheetFY2015.pdf).
FEMA helps communities stay dry
FEMA also has set August 28th for local governments & Tribes to apply for some 150 Flood Mitigation Grants for both planning and implementation totaling $150 million. The grants provide "resources to assist states, tribal governments, territories and local communities in their efforts to reduce or eliminate the risk of repetitive flood damage to buildings and structures insurable under the National Flood Insurance Program." Applications need to be submitted via FEMA's Mitigation eGrants System. For more, visit (http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1432847398289-878c470e718239eedcaadc8d52ea1823/FMAFactSheetFY2015.pdf).
BRIEF BRIEFS THREE
"Portland and Multnomah County leaders say they can essentially cut the number of people living on the streets and in shelters in half by 2017," reports Anna Griffin in her Our Homeless Crisis for The Oregonian (www.bizjournals.com/seattle/morning_call/2015/05/the-creative-way-this-seattle-developer-made-a-735.html?hootPostID=0fe5403052f71ed0b33c5c473d1e3785), "but they need $33 million more". . .LIHI - Seattle's Low Income Housing Institute - celebrates a "two-fer" in May with the grand opening of August Wilson Place in Bellevue and the grand opening of Cheryl Chow Court & a new Urban Rest Stop in Ballard. . .Valeri Pate named to head Washington Housing Finance Commissions asset management & compliance division. . .Jeff Nesset of Lewiston named (www.idahohousing.com/newsroom/news-releases.aspx?udt_2352_param_detail=1126) to 7-member Idaho Housing & Finance Association board of commissioners. . .KIC Development tells Ketchikan Daily News (www.newsminer.com/news/alaska_news/veterans-housing-goes-up-for-ketchikan-tribal-members/article_de925cec-ea97-11e4-9767-7f9863561496.html) that triplex building to house veterans who are members of Ketchikan tribal community should be completed by scheduled op0en house in July. . .With 140 new homes already under its belt, executive director Mark Dahlquist of NeighborWorks Pocatello tells Local News8 (www.localnews8.com/news/group-fights-blight-with-affordable-homes/33094928) his group and City plan "up to 100 more homes over next five years". . .Yakima Housing Authority & Office of Rural & Farmworker Housing break ground on 150-unit, $7 million housing complex for families in Toppenish reports Herald. . ."The academic success of" the over 20,000 children housed by King County Housing Authority "is absolutely critical to the region's economic future and the quality of life in our communities," Authority director Stephen Norman applauds (www.kcha.org/news/releases/release.aspx?ReleaseID=92) appointment of Puget Housing Education Services District superintendent John Welch to Authority's board. . .Resource Center of Lewis County tells The Chronicle it's moving its shelter for homeless families to larger facility in Chehalis to meet greater demand. . .Portland's Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, says Oregonian (www.oregonlive.com/hg/index.ssf/2015/05/tiny_house_adu_development_por.html), going both big and small in developing new housing. . .KUOW (http://kuow.org/post/will-right-return-yesler-terrace-residents-work-practice) takes a look at whether right-of-return for Yesler Terrace residents displaced by Seattle Housing Authority's HUD-funded revitalization of Yesler Terrace will "work in practice". . .Foraker Group in Anchorage names (www.forakergroup.org/index.php/laurie-wolf-named-as-new-foraker-president/) Laurie Wolf to succeed Dennis McMillian as president/CEO. . .Boise/Ada County Housing Authority opens (www.bcacha.org/?hootPostID=cc6063c5a4303bf18e5a586fbfdce370) Section 8/Housing Choice Voucher waiting list from June 15th to 29th. . .Bend City Council awards $460,000 in CDBG funds to organizations like Housing Works, Habitat for Humanity & NeighborImpact to address, says Bulletin (www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/3179817-151/federal-money-to-help-with-bends-tough-housing), "city's challenging housing market". . .With financing from Idaho Housing & Finance, Association Trinity Lutheran Church, reports Idaho Press Tribune (www.idahopress.com/news/local/church-buys-homes-for-affordable-housing-ministry/article_735051e0-ef9d-11e4-bd65-dbadcacfcaa3.html?hootPostID=58dff6034e854f8809d1ff49bdf3908c), purchases 16 nearby single-family homes from Mercy Housing as part of its affordable housing ministry. . .After 20 years with Habitat for Humanity in Spokane, Michone Preston named executive director for Habitat for Humanity of Washington State.
GOT A POINT?
Should sacred cows go on the budgetary chopping block? Juan Carlos Ordóñez of the Oregon Center for Public Policy has at least one that he'd nominate. "Did you hear that Oregon will spend $1 billion over the next two years helping families with their housing costs? It's true," he wrote in the May 15th issue of Street Roots. "But the many families across our state struggling to afford a home should take little comfort because the bulk of the billion-dollar housing subsidy is not for them. Most of the money will go to those who don't need it: Oregon's most well-off families. This housing subsidy, Oregon's most expensive housing program, is called the Oregon mortgage interest deduction. And it is a housing subsidy that cries out for reform." Why? Read more at Street Roots (http://news.streetroots.org/2015/05/15/state-housing-subsidy-overdue-reform-oregon?hootPostID=62781e3790cf8d45d8d8629808b5eb21).
Portland Commissioner Saltzman "deeply troubled" by fair housing test results
Washington County knows what it feels like to be ending homelessness. During the first five years of its 10-year plan to end homelessness - from 2008 to 2013 - it reported a 44 percent decline in homelessness and, better still reported (www.co.washington.or.us/Housing/News/higher-cost-of-housing-increases-homelessness.cfm?hootPostID=e0fac0dec1c189ff4ef979d4084291cc) its Housing Services Department, it fell across all household types to, in 2013,the lowest number of homeless in 8 years. But that was then, in a time when the County's Housing First approach could count on "provided housing choice in community-based market rate housing." Today, the Department reports, the housing market's tightened and the rental vacancy rate is "less than 2 percent." Just over a quarter of the families counted in the County's January 2015 point-in-time survey said they were homeless because they "couldn't afford rent." Nearly half of County residents are paying a third or more of their income to rent. One in 5 are paying 50 percent. What a difference two years can make.
Maybe we would thank our lucky stars if the affordable crisis one finds in Washington County, Oregon was also a crisis in just five or ten or maybe communities across the country. No such luck. The 2015 Out of Reach (http://nlihc.org/oor) study published in May by the National Low Income Housing Coalition makes a pretty convincing case that if you're looking for an affordable housing crisis in the United States, you're likely to find one anywhere you look. "In no state," the report found, "can a minimum wage earner afford a one-bedroom rental unit at Fair Market Rent working a standard 40-hour week without paying more than 30 percent of their income." South Dakota is the state that makes it easiest among all 50 for a minimum wage earner to find that "affordable" unit. There you have to work only 49 hours at the minimum wage to pay your rent. In Oregon you have to work 58 hours, in Idaho 59 hours, in Washington state 73 hours and in Alaska 78 hours - or almost two weeks. Is there any good news? Sure. In New Jersey and Virginia and Maryland and the District of Columbia you have to work two-and-a-half weeks just to put a roof over your head. Nationwide, says the Coalition, "a renter earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour would need to work 85 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom rent at the Fair Market Rent and 102 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom Fair Market Rent."
QUOTE TO NOTE
What's happening with HUD's 2016 budget?
"In February, the President put forth a budget proposal that is a blueprint for greater opportunity for all Americans. Three months later, the Republican-controlled House has responded with a budget that supports inaction and disinvestment when it comes to the needs of our nation's most vulnerable citizens. The House's current proposal severely limits our ability to end homelessness, invest in distressed communities and provide housing support for very low income households. In a nation founded on the principle of equality of opportunity, it's unacceptable to support anything less than an expansion of opportunity for all." - Statement by Secretary Julián Castro, May 12, 2015, at press briefing on status of action on HUD's fiscal year 2016 budget, noting that, compared to the President's proposal, the House budget would fund "roughly 100,000 fewer" rental vouchers and "would support 15,000 fewer homeless or at-risk families with rapid rehousing and 25,500 fewer units of permanent supportive housing targeted to the chronically homeless."
"To be clear, we're not just talking about homelessness or housing here. This is about economic development. This is about jobs. This is about education. This is about public safety. This is about where the city wants to go with this." -- Diana Lachiondo, community development director for the City of Boise explaining the "stakes" involved in the city's new H.E.L.P. program, The Boise Weekly (www.boiseweekly.com/boise/too-much-need-not-nearly-enough-rentals/Content?oid=3480249), May 20, 2015.
WORTH A READ
An experiment gone bad goes good
Sometimes the world turns upside down and, just as suddenly, then turns right-side up. Leaving us to wonder what it all means. Consider, for example, a HUD program piloted in the 1990's in five cities - including, coincidentally, Baltimore. It was called Moving to Opportunity and it provided enhanced rental rent subsidy vouchers that allowed low-income, assisted families to move from isolated, poor, de-vitalized neighborhoods to wealthier, more vibrant ones, enhancing their access to more employment, educational, cultural and commercial opportunities missing in their communities of origin. The theory was that closer proximity to greater opportunity would produce a significant and positive effect on the incomes - and, thus, their long-term prosperity of the heads of household. The theory have a certain common sense to it. Unfortunate, as a recent New York Times (www.nytimes.com/2015/05/04/upshot/an-atlas-of-upward-mobility-shows-paths-out-of-poverty.html?_r=0,) article reports, things didn't work out that way. Moving had no significant effect on grown-ups in the family. No surprise, critics of the approach celebrated that as another example of big government gone bad. But then something happened. While the grown-ups didn't fare any better, their children did. In fact, moving them, especially young in life, to a neighborhood or area with more opportunities allowed them, not surprisingly, to avail themselves of those opportunities and, at age 26, earn considerably more than their cohorts left behind in their original neighborhoods. That point's made dramatically in the recently-published report by the Equality of Opportunity Project (www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/05/03/upshot/the-best-and-worst-places-to-grow-up-how-your-area-compares.html?abt=0002&abg=1), collaboration between Harvard, M.I.T. and the University of California at Berkeley to evaluate the link between location and income. It reports, for example, that a kid who grows up in prosperous, opportunity-rich Snohomish County will earn, at age 26, 14 percent more than the national average and a kid growing up in King County will earn 11 percent more. Place, in other words, is statistically-significant and allows one, contrary to the disappointing earlier results for grown-ups in the Moving to Opportunity pilot, to argue "the data shows we can do something about upward mobility," a view which has not been exactly a popular one in recent years. Like they say, the world can turn upside down and then, just as suddenly, it can turn right-side up. From a public policy perspective, it just has.
WORTH A LISTEN OR A LOOK
Will Medicine Hat be the first Canadian city to end homelessness?
Medicine Hat, Alberta - like most cities or towns of any size - has a homeless problem. When the City committed to ending homelessness in 2009, then Alderman and now Mayor Ted Clugston opposed the idea. "I even said some dumb things," he recently told CBC Radio's As It Happens (www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-thursday-edition-1.3074402/medicine-hat-becomes-the-first-city-in-canada-to-eliminate-homelessness-1.3074742?hootPostID=7dcff0fd8ca3f6e7b35371273fb33baa). Not anymore. Housing First, he says, put "everything on its head" and what he once thought stupid, he now believes is "the cheapest and most humane way to treat people." So much so, in fact, that may be the first Canadian City to end homelessness. It's a tale from our next-door neighbor well worth a listen or a read.
A FARE WELL
One of the guys responsible for turning Mayor Clugston's world gone upside down is probably Bill Hobson of the Downtown Emergency Service Center in Seattle. He's done the same for other folks, too. On June 9th, DESC will celebrate his retirement after 27 years as executive director. Based on what it was when he joined DESC compared to all that it is today, he's been a dreamer, a leader, a builder and a doer of the first order. And, by all accounts, he's remained a nice guy - considerate, soft-spoken, thoughtful - as you're likely to me. On June 9th, in other words, there's much to celebrate. And there's one more thing to celebrate - Bill's courage, his courage to face, unflinching, an idea that a lot of folks - including someone as distinguished and on-the-mark as then King County Commissioner Ron Sims - thought was just plain "crazy nuts." He probably didn't rush into it but, like a jawbreaker, turned it over and over and over again in his head until he realized it wasn't so crazy nuts after all. And somebody, he realized, needed to give it a go. 1811 Eastlake was the result, a facility that, when it opened, probably made him less popular than A-Rod. But he had the courage to push ahead until, of course, the evidence started piling-up, crazy nuts became common sense and, as Mayor Clugston of Medicine Hat says, "the cheapest and most humane way to treat people." Bill Hobson may not strike you as the revolutionary type. But he started a revolution anyway. May his courage inspire ours.
NOTES TO NOTE
Labor Department sets June 5th deadline to apply for $76 million in YouthBuild funds. . .USDA sets (www.grants.gov/search-grants.html?agencies%3DUSDA%7CDepartment%20of%20Agriculture) June 18th deadline to apply for Farmers Market SNAP Support grants of $250,000 each. . .HUD sets June 22nd deadline for Tribes & Alaskan native villages to apply for $12 million in Indian Community Development Block grants for mold remediation & prevention. . .EPA sets June 22nd deadline to apply for $100,000 Addressing Bed Bugs in Alaska grant. . .City of Seattle sets June 22nd deadline to apply for Small Sparks funding to support 30th annual National Night Out activities on August 5th, 2015. . .HUD sets June 23rd deadline to apply for $48 million in Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration & for $45 million in Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control to USDA sets (www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-03-25/pdf/2015-06863.pdf) June 23rd deadline to apply for $22 million in Sections 514 & 516 Farm Labor Housing loans & grants. . .USDA sets July 6th deadline to apply for Rural Housing Preservation Grants of up to $50,00O each. . .Oregon League of Cities sets July 17th deadline to submit nominations for its annual exceptional service & city awards (www.orcities.org/Awards/tabid/6696/language/en-US/Default.aspx). . .Housing Washington (www.wshfc.org/admin/foh.htm) sets July 31st deadline to submit nominations for 2015 Friend of Housing awards. . .FEMA sets August 23rd deadline for Tribes and local governments (through their state government) to apply for up to 100 grants totaling $30 million for Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grants (www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/106317) & $150 million in Flood Mitigation Grants (www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/106315). . .Washington State Housing Finance sets October 5th to 7th for Housing Washington Conference (www.wshfc.org/conf/index.htm) in Spokane & Idaho Housing & Finance sets October 6th & 7th for 2015 Idaho Housing Conference (www.idahohousing.com/ihfa/2015-housing-conference.aspx) in Boise.
HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Bill Block speaks at Kitsap County Association of REALTORS meeting, June 3rd, Bremerton.
HUD's Northwest Office of Native American Programs & Seminole Tribe of Florida host NAHASDA Procurement workshop at Northwest Indian College, June 3rd to 5th, Ferndale.
Northwest Inland Empire section of American Planning Association holds annual convention, June 4th & 5th, Priest Lake.
Idaho Association of Cities hosts 68th annual convention, June 10th to 12th, Boise.
HUD Seattle hosts on-line Fair Housing Basics Webinar, June 10th, on-line.
Boise/Ada County Housing Authority accepting on-line applications for Section 8/Housing Choice Voucher Program.
Idaho Affordable Housing Management Association hosts 2015 Summer Conference, June 15th to 17th, Boise.
Hacienda CDC hosts 17th annual Latino Homeownership Fair, June 17th, Portland.
Northwest Community Development Institute holds sessions for years 1 through 3 from June 15th to 19th & for advanced class from June 15th to 17th, Boise.
King County Office of Civil Rights hosts workshop on Visit Reasonable Accommodations & Modifications for Persons with Disabilities, June 16th, Seattle.
Spokane Low Income Housing Consortium celebrates 25 years of promoting affordable housing, June 15th, Spokane. RSVP with email@example.com
Annual gathering of Northwest Community Land Trust Coalition, June 15th to 17th, Bainbridge Island.
HUD Oregon hosts Office of Native American Programs Community Assessment Workshop, June 23rd & 24th, Portland.
Association of Washington Cities holds annual conference, June 23rd to 26th, Wenatchee.
HUD Oregon hosts Fair Labor Standards for Local Contracting Agencies workshop, July 9th, Portland.
HUD Oregon hosts Fair Labor Standards for Contractors workshop, July 10th, Portland.
HUD Oregon & HUD's Office of Housing host Multifamily Affordable Housing Preservation Clinic, June 16th & 17th, Portland. Contact T.J. Winfield at The Cloudbuster Group, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 240/582-3607
King County Office of Civil Rights hosts First Steps-Best Practices to Promote Fair Housing, July 16th, Seattle.
King County Office of Civil Rights hosts Advanced Fair Housing workshop, July 16th, Seattle.
HUD's Santa Ana Homeownership Center hosts "in-person & in-depth" dialogue on the new Single Family Housing Policy Handbook, July 22nd, Cypress, California.
Oregon AHMA offers Basics of Farm Labor Occupancy workshop, July 28th(morning), Roseburg.
Oregon AHMA offers Practical Fair Housing in the 21st Century workshop, July 28th (afternoon), Roseburg.
Oregon AHMA offers Practical Fair Housing in the 21st Century, July 29th, Grants Pass.
Oregon AHMA offers Mold & Mildew in Multifamily Housing, July 30th (afternoon), Salem.