Weekly update from the National Housing Conference

NOTE: This Member Brief is being delivered to you regardless of your NHC membership status for the next five weeks. If you’re not a member and would like to continue receiving our Member Brief as well as other NHC member benefits, please click here to join today.

In this issue

October 22, 2023

Issue 92-37

· Biden Administration announces new efforts to help homeowners, buyers 

· Keynote speakers announced for Solutions for Affordable Housing

· FHFA to host property insurance symposium

· Senate Republicans ask FHFA to abandon credit score changes

· FHFA expands “reps and warrants” relief eligibility

· Freddie Mac launches downpayment assistance search tool

· GRRP allocates over $100 million to awardees

· HUD announces $40 million funding opportunity for service coordinators

· HUD expands initiative to bridge the digital divide

Chart of the week: Up for Growth reports on housing underproduction trend

A House on fire

By David M. Dworkin, President and CEO

As of Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a choice for speaker for the fifth time in nearly three weeks. The rage in the House Republican Conference, which boiled over into screaming, name calling, and threats, according to most press accounts, is a symptom of a much larger problem that involves both parties, and frankly, many Americans as well.

Compromise, the heart and soul of politics, and frankly for any successful human relationship, has become deplorable in Congress. On both sides of the aisle, a significant minority ascribes any effort to compromise with the other party as worthy of punishment, including being “primaried,” censured, and subjected to threats of mob violence. Today, we are seeing this play out with Republicans, who’s micro margin in the House empowers the most extreme members with a veto over every decision, including the decision to proceed with any business at all.

The last time that there was a vote to burn down the House was August 24, 1814. Having captured the Capitol with a force of about 150 men, British Rear Admiral George Cockburn ascended the dais to the speaker’s chair and asked his soldiers, “Shall this harbor of Yankee democracy be burned? All for it will say ‘Aye.’” The motion carried unanimously, and the Capitol was quite literally burned down.

Nearly 200 years later, in the wake of the collapse of housing markets and the foreclosures of millions of homes throughout the country, the Tea Party movement gave birth to the House Freedom Caucus. A group of populist ultra-conservatives who brought a “burn it down” approach to conventional politics.

Make no mistake about it, this is a constitutional crisis in the most literal sense. The speakership is an Article I constitutional office, third in line to the presidency, and is required to bring any legislation to the floor for a vote. Without a speaker, Congress cannot pass any legislation, regardless of size, scope, or urgency.

On Monday, Republicans in the House will meet again to attempt to identify a leader who can garner the 217 votes necessary to elect a Speaker. With a dozen candidates now vying for the job, success by the end of the week doesn’t appear promising. Under normal circumstances, one person would receive a majority of the votes within the Republican Conference, and then all but a very few of the others would accept that their candidate didn’t win and would support the will of the majority. But today, the will of the majority isn’t stronger than the will of the most extreme minority as only four or five of them can torpedo over 200 of their colleagues. More...

News from Washington | By Brittany Webb

Biden Administration announces new efforts to help homeowners, buyers

The Biden Administration announced a series of new actions meant to broaden homeownership accessibility, ranging from pilot programs to changes in calculating income for qualifying mortgage borrowers. Several federal agencies made the announcements, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The list includes an immediate change from FHA policy that allows lenders to count income from accessory dwelling units (ADUs) when underwriting a mortgage. This change will increase homebuyers’ ability to access affordable mortgage credit. ADUs, which are single habitable living units that can be added to, created within, or detached from primary single-family dwellings, can provide steady sources of rental income for homeowners. The change will particularly benefit first-time homebuyers, seniors, and inter-generational families leveraging ADUs.

“The new policies provide greater flexibility for the use of rental income from ADUs, which will help more borrowers qualify for FHA-insured financing on homes with ADUs,” said HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Single Family Housing Sarah Edelman. “We’re pleased that we’ve had such widespread support from the housing industry – support that has helped us deliver this meaningful solution for the nation’s homebuyers.”

FHA is also working on updating the 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance Program, which helps refinance homes needing renovation. The agency is considering policy changes that will increase funds available to borrowers making repairs and more time to complete those improvements.

The USDA is awarding $9 million in loans to nine Native American community development institutions (CDFIs). It is also launching a new pilot program to test alternative eligibility criteria for community land trust organizations through its Section 502 Direct Home Loan Program. USDA’s goal with the pilot is to expand access to affordable homeownership opportunities. CFPB is working on reforms to existing policies to help homeowners struggling to make mortgage payments. The reforms will focus on streamlining and simplifying processes. The VA will deploy a new home retention option in 2024, the VA Servicing Purchase (VASP) program, to help Veteran borrowers behind on their mortgages who do not qualify for traditional retention options.

Finally, the Department of Treasury released new data showing the impact of the Homeowner’s Assistance Fund through the American Rescue Plan. The data showed the fund expended $5.5 billion to help nearly 400,000 homeowners at risk of foreclosure. 

Keynote speakers announced for Solutions for Affordable Housing

On December 7, the National Housing Conference will host its Solutions for Affordable Housing convening at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. National Economic Council Director Lael Brainard will join attendees to discuss the work the Biden Administration is doing to increase affordable housing for all Americans including the Administration’s Housing Supply Action Plan and work on racial equity. FHFA Director Sandra Thompson will participate in a fireside chat to discuss FHFA’s initiatives to expand homeownership and rental opportunities for all Americans through its oversight of the Federal Home Loan Banks, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.


FHFA to host property insurance symposium

FHFA announced that it's hosting a symposium on Nov. 14-15 focused on recent property insurance challenges. The symposium will include several events, which will occur at FHFA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., and online. FHFA’s intent is for the forum to host the exchange of ideas and exploration of solutions by stakeholders to address the property insurance needs of homeowners throughout the county as natural disasters increase in frequency and severity.

“Recent developments in property insurance markets have exacerbated concern over the ability of homeowners to obtain adequate and affordable insurance coverage for their homes, especially those located in climate-vulnerable areas,” an email for the event read. “Recognizing these developments and concerns, the purpose of the Symposium is to bring together stakeholders to discuss the threats to the housing finance sector stemming from climate risk, particularly as they affect the coverage and cost of insurance for single-family homeowners.”

Registration for the event is now open.

Senate Republicans ask FHFA to abandon credit score changes

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and other Republican committee members sent a letter asking the FHFA to abandon its planned update to Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s credit score models and reporting requirements. The group includes Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.). The signees urged FHFA to maintain requirements to provide credit reports from all three consumer reporting agencies rather than only two. FHFA already delayed the transition after industry groups expressed concern over the timeline of changes, with worries centered around the quick transition requirements instead of the transition itself.


“While FHFA’s announcement of implementation represented a positive step toward bringing more predictive data into the system, the Agency simultaneously announced that the Enterprises would be transitioning from the current requirement that lenders provide credit reports from all three (tri-merge) national consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to only two (bi-merge). FHFA’s decision to implement the bi-merge would inherently result in incomplete data being reported to the Enterprises,” the letter reads.

FHFA Director Sandra Thompson responded to the letter through comments at the Mortgage Bankers Association industry conference. Thompson said that FHFA was moving “full steam ahead” with the proposal, and the transition “is expected to maintain accuracy and increase competitive forces — findings that are supported by both internal and external analysis.” 

FHFA expands “reps and warrants” relief eligibility

FHFA announced it will revise the current treatment of single-family mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) for borrowers who received COVID-19 forbearance. The revision under the representations and warranties framework (reps and warrants), which assures lenders that mortgages sold to the Enterprises comply with standards and servicing guides, will allow lenders to treat loans under the COVID-19 forbearance similarly to mortgages that obtained forbearance due to natural disasters. The update enables loans to remain eligible to certain reps and warrants relief for the first 36 months following origination. The policy goes into effect on Oct. 31.

"Forbearance was an invaluable tool for borrowers experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic," said FHFA Director Sandra Thompson. "Servicers went to great lengths to implement forbearance quickly amid a national emergency, and the loans they service should not be subject to greater repurchase risk simply because a borrower was impacted by the pandemic."

Freddie Mac launches downpayment assistance search tool

Freddie Mac announced a new tool, DPA One®, that matches borrowers to downpayment assistance (DPA) programs. Freddie Mac built the tool for mortgage lenders to find DPA for borrowers in a single source that aggregates and matches programs throughout the country. It is available immediately and free to lenders, housing counselors, and downpayment assistance program providers. Currently, 48 states have active DPA programs, with more defined areas coming online next year. The tool will simplify the search for DPA for providers and consumers. DPA is a vital resource for many looking to achieve homeownership, as saving for a downpayment remains a major obstacle for people otherwise qualified to purchase a home.


“Time and again research reveals that the down payment is the single largest hurdle first-time homebuyers need to overcome to attain homeownership. But finding and comparing the many programs and their guidelines is challenging,” said Sonu Mittal, Freddie Mac Single-Family Senior Vice President of Acquisitions. “DPA One delivers a one-stop shop at no cost that brings lenders and their borrowers greater detail and visibility into these programs, while seamlessly connecting the right assistance program with the lender, housing counselors and borrowers who need this assistance the most.”

GRRP allocates over $100 million to awardees

The Biden Administration unveiled the Green and Resilient Retrofit Program (GRRP) awardees, allocating over $100 million for energy efficiency and climate resilience upgrades in 1,500 low-income households. The GRRP, administered by HUD, supports families with modest incomes by substantially renovating their homes. The GRRP provides greener, safer, and healthier housing for HUD-assisted residents, ensuring they can better cope with extreme weather events.


“In the past few months alone, we’ve witnessed devastating climate events that have destroyed people’s lives and homes,” said HUD Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner Julia Gordon. “We must protect and strengthen the homes in which Americans reside, particularly those occupied by our nation’s most vulnerable populations, which is why we’re working so hard to get climate resilience and energy efficiency resources into low-income communities across the country.”

Participating property owners can choose from three GRRP categories: elements for climate resilience and utility efficiency in ongoing projects, leading edge for advanced green certifications, and comprehensive for properties in critical need of upgrades. HUD will announce awardees throughout 2023 and 2024. To see the complete list of grantees, click here 

HUD announces $40 million funding opportunity for service coordinators

HUD announced $40 million in funding through the Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency (ROSS) Service Coordinator Program. This funding is open to Public Housing Agencies (PHAs), Tribes/Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs), multifamily owners, resident associations, and nonprofit organizations. ROSS aims to hire and retain service coordinators who will assess the needs of residents in public and Indian housing. These coordinators provide case management and facilitate access to community resources to address their needs. Eligible entities can apply through www.grants.gov.


“Service coordinators play a critical role in helping people in HUD-assisted housing navigate everyday challenges and reach long-term stability. This funding will ensure more individuals and families can access local tools and resources that meet them at their point of need,” said HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge. 

HUD expands initiative to bridge the digital divide

HUD announced the expansion of the ConnectHomeUSA (CHUSA) initiative, aimed at bridging the digital divide for HUD-assisted families. The initiative, which fosters collaboration between housing authorities and providers to promote digital inclusion, has so far benefited 100 communities. HUD will highlight the expansion at CHUSA’s summit, intended for communities, public housing authorities, stakeholders, and partners of digital inclusion and scheduled for Oct. 24-26. Registration for the summit is now available.


“When communities, especially low-income communities, lack adequate access to broadband internet, they face barriers to economic and educational opportunities. ConnectHomeUSA allows us to bridge those barriers and ensure people in HUD-assisted housing can get and stay connected,” said HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge.


Earlier this year, HUD signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Communications Commission to promote enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program for HUD-assisted families. 

Chart of the week

Up for Growth reports on housing underproduction trends

Up for Growth released its 2023 Housing Underproduction in the U.S. Report, revealing the national housing underproduction rate to be 3.89 million. That’s an increase from the previous report, which calculated the underproduction rate at 3.79 million. The report states that between the years 2012 and 2021, 79 markets that were underproducing in 2012 worsened, 103 markets that were adequately producing are now underproducing, and 74 markets that were adequately producing are now trending towards underproduction. The findings highlight the continued need to address affordable housing shortages across the U.S. and the negative impacts that lack of housing can cause for communities and economies. 

What we're reading

The CDFI Fund reported on increasing investments in Native lands in a new paper that examines case studies of the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund’s New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Native Initiative. The research found that two-thirds of the responding community development entities (CDEs) had over a decade of experience lending in Indian Country before the NMTC transaction. More than half of these CDEs said they encountered tribal cultural or legal matters that need addressing. About one-fifth of these CDEs had existing relationships with the tribe or project sponsor, and two-thirds would request future allocations to finance other NMTC projects.


The Home Builders Institute released its Fall 2023 Construction Labor Market Report that examines construction labor shortages and how they hinder economic progress. The report found that the running annual average of open construction jobs is about 723,000, with trade workers’ aging population being a major contributor to labor shortfalls. Key findings also include that hourly wages in the industry increased by 5.4% year-over-year, and the share of women in the workforce increased by 1.8% since 2017.


The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco published a new report, “Closing the Racial Equity Gap: A Call to Action,” that examines the persistent homeownership divide in the U.S. The report argues that closing siloes of various stakeholders can help connect programs and address this ongoing issue. Among adults aged 25-60, 60% of white college graduates own a home compared to 36% of Black graduates. The report notes that housing accounts for 15% of the economy, yet homeownership benefits have never accrued evenly, as no metropolitan area has closed the Black homeownership deficit. 

The week ahead

Monday, October 23

School of Mortgage Servicing (Mortgage Bankers Association), 11 AM – 1 PM ET

WHF Public Policy Luncheon: Jim Tobin (Women in Housing and Finance), 12 – 1 PM ET

School of Mortgage Banking I (Mortgage Bankers Association), 1 – 3:30 PM ET

School of Mortgage Banking III (Mortgage Bankers Association), 1 – 3:30 PM ET

Membership Monday (National REIA), 2 – 3 PM ET

National Call on HoUSed: Universal, Stable, Affordable Housing (NLIHC), 2:30 PM ET


Tuesday, October 24

2023 ConnectHomeUSA Virtual Summit (HUD Exchange)

NAHMA Biannual Top Issues in Affordable Housing Conference (NAHMA), in person in Washington, DC

NAHREP Regional Connect: Midwest & Leadership Academy (NAHREP), in person in Chicago, IL

School of Mortgage Servicing (Mortgage Bankers Association), 11 AM – 1 PM ET

Demystifying eMortgage Myths with MISMO’s eMortgage Community of Practice, 12 – 1 PM ET

School of Mortgage Banking I (Mortgage Bankers Association), 1 – 3:30 PM ET

School of Mortgage Banking III (Mortgage Bankers Association), 1 – 3:30 PM ET

Using Data Analysis as Part of a Strong Fair Lending Compliance Program (Mortgage Bankers Association), 2 – 3:30 PM ET


Wednesday, October 25

2023 ConnectHomeUSA Virtual Summit (HUD Exchange)

2023 Fall Meeting and Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Awards (Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition), in person in Washington, DC

NAHMA Biannual Top Issues in Affordable Housing Conference (NAHMA), in person in Washington, DC

NAHREP Regional Connect: Midwest & Leadership Academy (NAHREP), in person in Chicago, IL

2023 CAP IDEAS Conference (Center for American Progress), 9 AM – 5 PM ET

School of Mortgage Servicing (Mortgage Bankers Association), 11 AM – 1 PM ET

Leaders Speakers Series – FHFA Director Sandra Thompson (Bipartisan Policy Center), 1 – 2 PM ET

School of Mortgage Banking I (Mortgage Bankers Association), 1 – 3:30 PM ET

School of Mortgage Banking III (Mortgage Bankers Association), 1 – 3:30 PM ET

DHRC’s Disaster Recovery Working Group (NLIHC), 2 PM ET

Working Together: Partnerships for Comprehensive Community Development (NHC), 2 – 3:30 PM ET


Thursday, October 26

2023 ConnectHomeUSA Virtual Summit (HUD Exchange)

2023 Fall Meeting and Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Awards (Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition), in person in Washington, DC

NAHMA Biannual Top Issues in Affordable Housing Conference (NAHMA), in person in Washington, DC

School of Mortgage Servicing (Mortgage Bankers Association), 11 AM – 1 PM ET

School of Mortgage Banking I (Mortgage Bankers Association), 1 – 3:30 PM ET

School of Mortgage Banking III (Mortgage Bankers Association), 1 – 3:30 PM ET

Lending and Credit Risk in the Digital Age: Navigating Policy Challenges (Bipartisan Policy Center), 2 – 3 PM ET


Friday, October 27

On the Move: Are Millennials Leading a Back-to-the-city Movement or Moving to the Suburbs? (Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies), 12:15 – 1:15 PM ET

Facebook  Twitter  Linkedin  
The National Housing Conference is a diverse continuum of affordable housing stakeholders that convene and collaborate through dialogue, advocacy, research, and education, to develop equitable solutions that serve our common interest.
Defending Our American Home since 1931
Copyright © 2023. All Rights Reserved.