WI-CARH Summer 2022
Message from Russell Kaney WI-CARH President
Savoring the Summer Months

I always have a hard time leaving the Midwest during the summer months. Yes, we have our warm (and hot) days, humidity, bugs (mosquitos) and of course, road construction. But, as I tell family and friends all the time, this is the best place to be during the summer months. Everything is open, festivals and local celebrations abound. It is a different summer than the past two years even with the high gas prices making us, perhaps, doing a bit more trip planning.  This is why it was unusual for me to travel to Washington, DC at the end of June to attend the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing conference. See my article on the conference highlights and the latest from Rural Development later in the newsletter.

Travel via air is not easy these days. I experienced a cancellation but nothing preventing a successful trip. Planes are full, lines are long, and I have a feeling this will persist for the near future.

We hope you take a few minutes to read through our newsletter. We had a successful spring training event in April and are planning our one-day conference at the Wilderness Resort for October 27thSave that date as we gather after a two-year hiatus due to Covid.

I want to thank both the Marriott West in Middleton and the Wilderness for working with WI-CARH over the past two years, holding our dates, and not charging your organization penalties nor fees for our multiple cancellations.  They were more than helpful in navigating these tough times.

Enjoy your summer. See you in October!

Russell Kaney
President, WI-CARH
CARH Annual Meeting Zeroes In On Realignment/Budgets - By Russell Kaney
The annual meeting of the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing (CARH) was held on June 27th-June 29th in Washington, DC. A record number of attendees were present to hear multiple National Office officials from Rural Development, HUD, and various trade groups discuss the current situation in rural housing.
The first day of the conference was broken into committee meetings which prove to be very focused on issues and allowed attendees to vet their concerns and issues among peers. Recommendations from these meetings are sent to the CARH Board of Directors to be discussed directly with Rural Development and HUD staff.
The state-affiliated association committee (WI-CARH is a state-affiliated member of CARH) provided a round table for associations to report what they are doing in terms of training, conference speakers, scholarship programs, and other activities. Florida, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, and Georgia all reported. Generally, each state is back to live conferences again, a summary of speakers and topics were discussed. All states are having communication issues with RD, attempting to get RD personnel to these conferences is difficult. Recommendation to the Board: Request RD to make attendance at state conferences a priority. Not only is the networking important, but it is also an opportunity for training and messaging about what is happening with RD.
The educational and best practices committee discussed inspections. Housing Finance Agencies and HUD are back doing physical inspections. RD is not. RD tri-annual inspections require sending of files and photos to RD officials. Community rooms are being opened again. Extra Covid-induced cleaning is still being done. Questions arose over file retention policies for both RD and HUD, specifically are there any changes due to Covid? SAM (System Award Management) numbers and UEI (Unique Entity ID) verification were discussed.  Some confusion lingers over the process.
The management committee had a robust conversation on budgets, management fees, retention of talent, and wage inflation. Most management companies are struggling with budgets submitted and approved in October 2021 for 2022. Inflation has been a key issue with gas prices, insurance costs, and labor costs creating budget deficits.  More on this in the RD comment section.
The lender committee deals with the 538 program and process. Lenders have seen a slowdown in the processing of loans from what was 3-6 months to nine months to one year. Appraisals need quicker review. Recommendation: Prioritize more staff to underwriting. Refinancing of existing debt using 538 is still being requested.
The development committee discussed realignment issues. Appraisal reviews are very slow. Processing of transfers is not compatible with LIHTC deadlines. RD promised transfer guidance over one year ago but has still not been issued. The fiscal year 2023 budget has $150 million proposed for RRH 515. Not clear how these funds are broken out for MPR transactions, new construction, and incentives to stay in the program. There is a 170-property backlog in old MPR transactions. RD hopes to clear these in 12-18 months.
Day 2
The news from the Regulators panel featured Nancie-Ann Bodell, RD, Bob Iger, HUD, and Rebecca Cohen of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
Rural Development has 430 positions needed for the housing program; the current staffing is 340 people. The FY 2022 budget did fund an additional thirty-five positions. These positions are going to the Preservation-Production division. There are four hundred closings pending. Field operations in the south region are lacking the most employees.  Transfer guidance is being released to staff soon and will be the standard operating procedure for transfers. The PAT underwriting tool has minor changes. RD is still working on a better underwriting tool and an online application. The budget requests from RD continue to be for more staffing and decoupling rental assistance from RD mortgages.
HUD discussed service coordinator positions and the funding for the same. Their glitches in getting service providers paid have been resolved. The new procurement policy at HUD is out for final review. The 4335 handbook is being updated; new material is being released for comment.
FHFA discussed their Duty to Serve mandate. The second plan has been approved for 2022-2024. This plan allows Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to invest a maximum of $850 million in low-income housing tax credits. The first $425 million can go to any property but any investments over and above $425 million must go to rural properties. Fannie Mae is investing in multi-investor funds; Freddie Mac has proprietary funds. Each has stated a commitment to invest in RRH 515 properties.
Questions and Answers
RD has stated that they are willing to look at how to make payrolls whole on a case-by-case basis. Willing to allow borrowing against reserve account to fund urgent needs. Expect a raise in management fees to be issued in July anticipating the budget process starting in October. RD looking at an OCAF plus a percentage to cover increased management overhead. A policy is being discussed on a “remote property” add-on fee. Current policy is very subjective, not being distributed fairly.   Nancie- Ann Bodell mentioned that the culture of RD has always been to keep rents as low as possible but that is changing. Emphasis is now on realistic budgets going forward.
Budgeting: Preparation, Presentation, and Approval
This panel included three property management companies with portfolios ranging from 4,000 units to 13,000 units in multiple states on the east coast and western states.  Their advice was to focus on expenses, use real numbers, and not worry about the amount of rent increases. Expenses outside your control like utilities, insurance, and taxes cannot be fudged. One company has a budget boot camp in May each year for regional managers. It gets everyone on the same page for line items, explanations, variances, and making sure everything is included. Some companies start the budget process in July but most in September-October. Emphasis is placed on consistent narratives. The biggest issue will be payrolls, seeing $20.00/ hour plus a unit as normal. Maintenance staff is $25.00/ hour if you can find the people. Expect some budgets to include a 20% increase on payroll alone. Include training in your budgets including live events. RD has made it clear their priority is to train their own staff. Do not expect training in the future from RD, you need to look for third-party vendors for training.  Budget for training on a per person basis.  Staff retention is a big priority. One company has an internal annual conference which alternates each year between managers and maintenance staff. This is done to create retention, teamwork, and training opportunities. Another company has begun offering 4-day weekends built around three-day holidays, for example, Labor Day weekend includes a Friday off as well allowing more down time. Positive feedback from employees and is budget neutral.
A number of other panels and topics were highlighted on Day 2 and Day 3 including human resource issues and eliminating the digital divide in rural America. Overall, the housing shortage is causing even more emphasis on existing housing and the preservation of the same. Anyone interested in my notes from other panels and topics can email me at ruskaney@msn.com for a summary.
Conclusion: RD is aware of the issues facing management of the RRH 515 portfolio They are also aware of the processing times and ability to move quickly on transfers and preservation. They clearly need more staff, but they also need to communicate better with stakeholders, in other words, with owners, management companies, lenders, etc. The issues that you are experiencing in Wisconsin are not unique. A continued push is needed to improve the process to benefit everyone.
WHEDA Foundation Opens 2022 Housing Grant Cycle
The application cycle for the 2022 Housing Grant Cycle is now open. The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) and the WHEDA Foundation, Inc. make available annually grant funds through the Housing Grant Program competition. The Program's mission is to assist in the improvement of the state's housing for special needs populations such as veterans, physically impaired or disabled persons, domestic abuse victims, runaways, homeless persons, and more. 
A total of $1,000,000 will be awarded for the 2022 cycle with awards to be announced in December. The maximum individual grant award is $50,000 per project. The grants are for physical improvements such as rehabilitation, accessibility features, and new construction.
Who Can Apply?

  • Nonprofit organizations or cooperatives organized under Chapters 181, 185, or 187 of the Wisconsin Statutes
  • Community development, redevelopment, and housing authorities
  • Local units of government
  • Native American tribal authorities
For application materials and to apply, visit: https://www.wheda.com/Housing-Grant-Program/ On this page you will also find a list of past award winners and a list of projects that were completed with funds granted.  Applications are due by August 26th, 2022, with announcements being made in late December.
Feel free to share this opportunity. Please reach out with questions on the program and/or to discuss housing challenges and momentum in your community. Would love to hear from you.  For more information or questions please emailWHEDA.Foundation@wheda.com
WI-CARH's Spring Training was a Success!
Attendees at the Spring Training
Conquering USDA/RD Compliance was the topic of WI-CARH's Spring Training event held on April 27-28, 2022, at the Madison Marriott Hotel. Amanda Lee Gross, VP of Training and Compliance Policy from US Housing Consultants was the trainer. Amanda received rave reviews for her training and attendees found the two-day extremely valuable.
Thank you to our Spring Training Sponsors and Exhibitors
Please click on logo to go to the sponsors and exhibitors websites
The 23rd Annual Fall Conference - October 27, 2022 at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells
Paul Mellor - Keynote Speaker
Housing a Better Memory! In today’s business world, having the ability to remember names and faces, beat absent-mindedness, and recall facts and figures puts you at the head of the pack. In this fun-filled session, you’ll learn time-tested techniques for recalling names, speaking without notes, and gaining control of your day without the fear of forgetting. When you're skilled in memory all your other skills get better.
Timely Topics to Help Navigate the Rural Housing Issues in Wisconsin
This is a tentative list of topics that will be covered at the conference

  • WI-CARH Lease: Changes and Updates for 2023.
  • Realignment of RD and Navigating the New Process
  • Energy Solutions for Your Properties
  • Rural Development Transfers
  • Filling the Gaps in LIHTC Properties
  • Panel on Hot Topics for Managers

Tentative Schedule of Events
7:30-8:30 am - Registration and Breakfast with the Sponsors and Exhibitors
8:30-10:00 am - Sessions
10:00-10:30 am - Break with the Sponsors and Exhibitors
10:30-12:00 pm - Sessions
12:00 -1:15 pm - Lunch and Awards Ceremony
1:15 -2:30 pm - Session
2:30-2:45 pm - Break with the Sponsors and Exhibitors
2:45-4:30 pm - Sessions
4:30-6:30 pm - Social Hour Reception

Be A Sponsor and/or an Exhibitor at the 23rd Annual Meeting and Conference
We would like to invite you to join us as a Sponsor and/or an Exhibitor at our 2022 Annual Meeting and Conference to be held at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells on Thursday, October 27, 2022. 

Register early and for exhibitors, space is limited. For more information or to register, please fill out the form. Contact the WI-CARH office email for more information. 

Meet our 2022 WI-CARH Annual Fall Conference
Sponsors and Exhibitors!

Thank you for your continued support!

Please consider signing up today to be a Sponsor and/or Exhibitor and help make this education and training opportunity affordable to all in the rural housing industry. 
Please click on the logo to go to the websites
Award Nominations for Site Manager, Maintenance Person, and Property of the Year!

Don't delay! WI-CARH is now accepting your nominations for the following awards:
Site Manager of the Year
Maintenance Person of the Year
Property of the Year

Recipients will be announced at the WI-CARH Annual Conference on October 27, 2022. Each winner will receive recognition at the WI-CARH Annual Conference. 

We welcome nominations from WI-CARH members, property management staff, residents, and cooperating agencies (such as USDA-Rural Development, Wisconsin Housing, and Economic Development, lenders, etc.).

Multifamily Housing Partnership Updates
Rescheduled Date: Thursday, August 11, 2022
Time: 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Join USDA Rural Development Multifamily Housing (MFH) leadership to receive updates on MFH programs. USDA Rural Development MFH Field Operations staff hold these quarterly to provide updates to our customers. 

To join us for this meeting on Thursday, August 11, 2022, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time, click here: Multifamily Housing Partnership Updates – Live Meeting

If you are looking for the servicing specialist for a specific property, you will find a complete and sortable list here: https://www.sc.egov.usda.gov/data/MFH.html.

The MFH Organization Structure, listing all MFH staff with a link to their email, is located on the MFH website here: https://www.rd.usda.gov/sites/default/files/mfh_organizational_structure.pdf.

Interested parties are encouraged to join a mailing list to receive future updates via GovDelivery from Rural Development Multifamily Housing.

If you have any questions, please contact your servicing specialist, as identified in the above sortable list, or contact the applicable Regional Director, as follows:

The four regions and the contact information for each Regional Director follows:
Western Region: Becki Meyer, Regional Director 
(AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY)

Southern Region: Byron Waters, Regional Director,
(AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, OK, PR, SC, TN, TX, VI)

Midwest Region: Laurie Warzinski, Acting Regional Director,
(IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, SD, WI)

Northeast Region: Donna O’Brien, Acting Regional Director,
(CT, DE, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VA, VT, WV)
For program information...

Youth Grant and Scholarship Opportunities
Wisconsin Council for Affordable & Rural Housing (WI-CARH) is accepting applications for the Youth Grant and Scholarship program.  Please spread the word and help us make a difference in a student's future! Youth grants in the amount not to exceed $500 per student, per year, until all funds are used, will be awarded to enable students in grades 3-12 to participate in an academic enrichment activity. Eligible activities include: Little League, Soccer, Volleyball or Basketball Leagues, 4H Camp, Music or Band Camp, Sports Camp, Cheerleading Camp, Girl Scouts or Boy Scout Camp, and an International Youth Exchange Program. These activities are on a year-round basis and not limited to the summer.

Help your residents achieve their educational goals. A $500 scholarship will be awarded to a graduating high school senior or adult wishing to further their education. Eligible applicants can use the scholarship at any two (2) year or higher accredited public or private school in the State of Wisconsin which offers an associate or undergraduate degree or a vocational/technical program. 

Applications for the grant and scholarship program are being accepted now. Please check our website for more information. If you would like to have a flyer for your property please click on the grant flyer and the scholarship flyer.
Mark Your Calendars - 2022 Dates
September 13, 2022: Board Meeting

October 27-28, 2022: 23rd Annual WI-CARH Conference & Board Meeting, Wilderness Territory, Wisconsin Dells

April 5-6, 2023 Spring Training at the Madison Marriott West, Middleton, Wisconsin

November 8-9, 2023: 24th Annual WI-CARH Conference & Board Meeting, Wilderness Territory, Wisconsin Dells
Do you have news to share?
We would love to hear about it!
Please submit your news to info@wicarh.org