Weekly update from the National Housing Conference

In this issue

January 7, 2024

Issue 93-1

· Nation’s homelessness increases by 12% 

· FHFA releases summary of tenant protection RFI responses

· FHFA increases Enterprises’ LIHTC cap to $1 billion

· Asking rent costs largely unchanged since 2022

· Cherokee Nation to participate in skilled worker housing program 

Chart of the week: Lagging shelter data suggests cooling inflation rates 

Steve Coyle left a legacy of building nearly 100,000 homes

By Ted Chandler, Senior Managing Director for Strategic Initiatives at the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust and past Chair of the NHC Board of Governors

NHC mourns the passing of Stephen Coyle, former CEO of the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT) on December 18 at his home in Vienna, Virginia. Steve was a long-time friend and benefactor of NHC, encouraging two HIT officers, myself and Helen Kanovsky (later HUD Chief General Counsel), to serve as board members and board chairs. He appreciated that the American Labor Movement was one of the original advocates for a national affordable housing program, beginning with its leadership in the founding of NHC in 1931 and fighting for enactment of the National Housing Act in 1934.

Steve served as CEO of the Trust from 1992 until his retirement in 2018. Under his leadership, the HIT grew from less than $530 million in assets to more than $6 billion, leading investment of union pension funds in construction of low and moderate housing across the country, all built with union labor. He was a champion of working men and women, ensuring that the people who live in affordable housing have safe, decent, and affordable homes; and, that the people who build affordable housing have safe, decent jobs, on which they can support a family and make a career, as well as a dignified retirement.

During his 26 years at the HIT, he financed construction of 435 projects, building 99,000 homes and creating over 67,000 on-site union construction jobs. These projects totaled more than $14 billion in development investment, and over $28 billion in economic impact. Just as impressive as these numbers, was Steve’s creation of innovative initiatives to achieve them.  

Shortly after becoming the HIT’s CEO, Steve convinced Congress to create an entirely new program, the Community Investment Demonstration Program, leveraging pension fund investment in affordable housing with Section 8 project-based rental assistance.  The HIT matched $115 million of this assistance, by far the most of any investor, to finance construction of 18 projects in ten states across the country. The developments reached from rural Maine, to permanent supportive housing in downtown Atlanta at the time of the 1996 Olympics, to new apartments in the Texas border region, to rebuilding South Los Angeles in the wake of the 1992 riots.

After 9/11, Steve created the New York City Community Investment Initiative, investing more than $1 billion in the city at a time when capital and investment firms were fleeing. This initiative established the HIT as the “first responder” to financial crises. In the wake of the Great Recession, at a time when unemployment in many building trades locals exceeded 50%, Steve created the Construction Jobs Initiative to put 15,000 tradespeople back to work. By 2011, the HIT was financing more than 10% of all rental housing in the United States. More...

News from Washington | By Brittany Webb

Nation’s homelessness increases by 12%

HUD’s 2023 Annual Homeless Assessment Report: Part 1: Point-in-Time Estimates showed a 12% increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness between 2022 and 2023. The Point-in-Time (PIT) count determined that on a single night in 2023, roughly 653,100 people experienced homelessness. That’s the highest number recorded since the count began in 2007, and this is the seventh consecutive increase in people experiencing homelessness. Of those experiencing homelessness, homelessness among persons in families with children rose by 16%, and the rise in individuals experiencing homelessness was 11%. The number of people experiencing chronic homelessness, 31%, was also the highest recorded since the PIT count began, with two-thirds of those counted in unsheltered locations. HUD noted in its announcement that the rise in overall homelessness is mainly due to a sharp increase in the number of people who became homeless for the first time. From 2021 to 2022, the number of people who became newly homeless increased by 25%, despite the number of people exiting homelessness to permanent housing rising by 8%.


“Homelessness impacts every community in this nation. Fortunately, there are solutions that are proven to work if they are appropriately funded,” said Ann Oliva, resident and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, in a statement. “That includes making urgent and overdue investments in affordable housing and rental assistance to keep people housed, as well as in proven housing and supportive service models that rapidly reconnect people experiencing homelessness with permanent housing. We need sustained investment in evidence-based approaches at the federal and state levels to reverse course nationally.”


In Dec. 2022, the Biden Administration released a federal plan for reducing homelessness by 25% by 2025 titled “All In: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.” The plan’s announcement highlights the fact that according to the 2022 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report, 582,462 people experienced homelessness on a single night in Jan. 2022, a less than 1% increase from the previous year thanks to unprecedented federal investment during the pandemic. 


“Our nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that homelessness is a policy choice. During the height of the pandemic, the nation came together and chose to invest more in housing, health care, income supports, and other wraparound services to prevent people from losing their homes in the first place,” said Jeff Olivet, executive director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. “The 2021 American Rescue Plan provided the single-largest investment in addressing homelessness in U.S. history. As a result, between 2020 and 2022, we collectively halted the rise in homelessness that had begun in 2017. This showed that progress is possible—even in the most difficult of times.”

This week's guest is Michael Barr, Vice Chair of Supervision at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors

Recorded at the National Press Club on Nov. 3, 2023, during NHC's event "Breakfast with Barr: A Conversation about CRA in the 21st Century," NHC President and CEO David M. Dworkin and Barr discuss the updates to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and the key factors essential for a successful implementation. Listen here.

FHFA releases summary of tenant protection RFI responses

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released a summary of the comments it received in response to its May 2023 Request for Input (RFI) on tenant protections for Enterprise-backed multifamily properties. The responses came from various stakeholders, including tenants, tenant advocates, nonprofits, lenders, multifamily property owners, developers, government officials, elected officials, and mortgage industry groups. FHFA organized the responses into five themes: access/barriers to housing, access to information, tenant stability, data and research, and risk management. FHFA’s summary listed several relevant topics offered by respondents, including source of income discrimination, support for Fair Housing laws, resident-centered communication, development of a rental registry/database/portal, just-cause evictions, rent control, and the research and support of pilot programs. NHC submitted comments on the RFI that addressed several of these same topics.


“The responses suggest that significant work will be required to advance resident-centered practices at Enterprise-backed properties, where applicable,” FHFA’s summary reads. “These responses will be foundational to FHFA’s future exploration of resident-centered management practices at Enterprise-backed properties. FHFA intends to continue its public stakeholder engagement process in 2024.”

FHFA increases Enterprises’ LIHTC cap to $1 billion

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that it will allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) to invest up to $1 billion annually in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) market beginning in 2024. Previously, the cap was set at $850 million. Further, the Enterprises will update their policies to only support projects that remain affordable for the entire 30-year period intended by the program, and any investments by the Enterprises above $500 million must be through transactions considered difficult to attract investment in order to target underserved areas and meet affordable housing goals.


“Since restarting their LIHTC investments in 2018, the Enterprises have furthered their ability to create and preserve affordable housing, especially in areas that have difficulty attracting investors,” said FHFA Director Sandra Thompson. “Today's announcement provides additional stability for investments in this critical segment of the housing market.”

Asking rent costs largely unchanged since 2022

Analysis of year-over-year (YoY) data from Bill McBride’s CalculatedRisk blog shows that asking rents have bottomed out, experiencing a 1% decline from Dec. 2022 to Dec. 2023. The data shows that while rent costs are improving after several years of surging YoY rent accelerations, significant progress has not been made in making rent more affordable. Despite the small decline, asking rents continue to be higher than pre-pandemic levels, resulting in the national median rent still $250 higher per month than it was three years ago. One data set even found a slight acceleration in YoY asking rents. The flattening out of the YoY numbers, while a positive sign for future rent decreases, also presents challenges for the construction of new affordable units, given slow household formation, rising vacancy rates, and the high number of multifamily units currently under construction.  

Cherokee Nation to participate in skilled worker housing program

The Cherokee Nation announced that it is one of the first tribes to participate in HUD’s Section 184 Skilled Workers Demonstration Program. The program allows for the construction of multiple rental dwelling units in Cherokee communities for skilled workers in professional fields. Specifically, the program aids organizations in recruiting skilled workers for hard-to-recruit positions, such as law enforcement, healthcare, education, contracting, housing, and the culinary arts.


“This demonstration program has the opportunity to make a big impact on our Cherokee communities that need assistance in recruiting skilled and essential workers,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “The Cherokee Nation has always prioritized the housing needs for our Cherokee communities, and this program is just another example of how we’re providing better resources to accommodate those needs.”

Chart of the week

Lagging shelter data suggests cooling inflation rates

An article from The Wall Street Journal analyzes how shelter costs continue to have an outsized impact on overall inflation rates, but data lags suggest improving numbers could be forthcoming. The article explains that since rent data is typically only updated once annually during lease renewals, existing lease rents lag behind the numbers for new leases and take more time to show up in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Seattle, for example, had a high inflation rate of 4.8% in October, fueled by 8.1% shelter inflation, but rents in the area have declined every month since April. These cooling rent costs are expected to appear in upcoming CPI calculations and help bring down overall inflation numbers.

What we're reading

U.S. Reps. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) and Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) published an op-ed in The Hill calling on Congress to address the affordable housing shortage by enacting the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, which aims to build nearly 2 million affordable homes through advancements to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. The bill has gained substantial bipartisan support in Congress, emphasizing the crucial link between affordable housing and economic prosperity. DelBene and LaHood call on their fellow Congressional members to pass the bill in a show of bipartisanship to address a crisis that impacts everyone.


An article in The New York Times highlights that housing assistance for the nation's poorest tenants has fallen to its lowest level in 25 years due to housing aid being labeled discretionary rather than an entitlement. The piece explains that the primary forms of rent assistance (public housing, Section 8, and Housing Choice Vouchers) serve 287,000 fewer households than they did at their peak in 2004 while, simultaneously, the number of households eligible for such aid grew. These programs, labeled as discretionary spending, can only spend what Congress approves, while funding for entitlement programs automatically increases to aid anyone who qualifies. Rising rent costs constrain these programs' reach without Congress approving funding increases, meaning too many households who qualify for aid cannot receive it.


An American Banker op-ed penned by Barry Zigas, an advisory committee member of the Coalition for Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) Reform, explores how FHLBs are responding to the Biden Administration's focus on the FHLB's mission. The piece poses the question of how much FHLBs truly focus on affordable housing initiatives. Zigas explains that as government-sponsored enterprises, the private group of wholesale banks can raise enormous amounts of cheap money on the credit markets and sell those funds to U.S. financial institutions. Zigas points out that FHFA Director Sandra Thompson is considering new policies to align the mismatch between the advantages the banks receive and the benefits they provide to achieving affordable housing goals.

The week ahead

Sunday, January 7

HFA Institute 2024 — NCSHA, January 7-12

Monday, January 8

NFHTA Fundamentals of Fair Housing - FHAP Investigation - January 2024 - HUD Exchange,

1 - 4 PM ET

Tuesday, January 9

Women in Housing and Finance | Michael Barr, Vice Chair of Supervision, Board of Governors Of The Federal Reserve System, 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM ET

National REIA | Legislative and Industry Updates, 3 – 4 PM ET

Wednesday, January 10

ULI Global Sustainability Outlook 2024 | ULI Americas, 11 AM – 12 PM ET

Thursday, January 11

NAHRO Housing Updates from Washington, 1:30 PM ET

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