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Fair Housing Month Feature: Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center

The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is deeply committed to improving fair housing protections to make property ownership accessible for all Americans. We know that a critical step to achieve equity in homeownership is…

Fair Housing Month Feature: Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center

Fair Housing Month Spotlight: Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is deeply committed to improving fair housing protections to make property ownership accessible for all Americans. We know that a critical step to achieve equity in homeownership is to support organizations and advocates who are dedicated to protecting fair housing rights and expanding opportunity. Meet Cashauna Hill, Executive Director of the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center. Cashauna and her team work to end discriminatory housing policies and practices through litigation and policy advocacy, along with fair housing trainings and foreclosure prevention counseling. Prior to her role at LAFHAC, Cashauna successfully resolved fair housing and lending claims through administrative and court processes. She has been interviewed by CNN, NPR, and countless other national and local media outlets – and has even testified before the United States Congress as a fair housing expert.
Why is equitable access to housing so important
Cashauna: Where we live influences nearly every aspect of our lives.  Our zip code determines everything from whether we have access to fresh food and produce to how long we’ll have to wait for public transit, to even how long we’ll live. Equitable access to housing is important because where we live determines how or whether we’ll have access to opportunity.
What are common obstacles and discrimination that people face when trying to rent or buy a home? You are welcome to provide specific examples.
Cashauna: It’s important to note that whether or not a home is even available to rent or purchase can be rooted in discriminatory housing policy.  Zoning and land-use restrictions have, for generations, worked to limit the kinds of housing opportunities that may be available in certain communities. When homeseekers look for housing in a certain community, we know that they may encounter discriminatory actions from landlords, sales agents, and other real estate professionals.
How does your organization help individuals and families overcome the barriers to housing access to increase equity in housing?
Cashauna: LaFHAC provides free legal representation to people who have experienced discrimination, and works in concert with developers and other interested parties to challenge discriminatory policies and practices in the housing market through litigation. Additionally, LaFHAC provides free foreclosure prevention services to ensure that our neighbors can continue to build and retain generational wealth through homeownership, and provides fair housing training sessions and other educational opportunities to community members.  LaFHAC also works at the state, local, and federal level to support passage of policies that advance equitable access to housing opportunity.
What does the future of fair housing look like?
Cashauna: The future of fair housing should look like families being able to choose the housing that works best for them, free of interference from discriminatory policies and practices. It sounds simple, but there has not yet been a time in this nation when this vision is reality.
About the American Property Owners Alliance
The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization created to protect and support property owners and pave the way for future property owners. Our mission is to educate property owners about federal issues, laws and policies; to advocate for owners’ rights and interests; and to mobilize, when necessary, to secure those rights and interests.
Sign The American Property Owners Alliance petition to Congress urging them to support property owners and remove barriers to more affordable housing. Click here
  [social_warfare]
CDC eviction moratorium vacated by federal judge, appealed by DOJ

Evictions have been banned for the past year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That changed in a hurry. And just as quickly changed again. On May 5, Federal Judge Dabney L. Friedrich vacated the eviction…

CDC eviction moratorium vacated by federal judge, appealed by DOJ

Evictions have been banned for the past year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That changed in a hurry. And just as quickly changed again. On May 5, Federal Judge Dabney L. Friedrich vacated the eviction ban established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This comes on the heels of a lengthy legal battle between the Alabama Association of REALTORS® and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, the Justice Department is appealing the decision on behalf of the CDC and Friedrich’s ruling has been stayed pending the high-stakes appeal. The ban was originally slated to expire June 30, but the CDC has extended the ban several times over the past year, meaning the June 30 date could have potentially moved even further into the future. The Alabama Association of REALTORS® were joined by the Georgia Association of REALTORS®, and other plaintiffs, in filing a lawsuit after the CDC extended the moratorium in November 2020. That lawsuit came when the CDC expanded the reach of its ban to include properties outside of those that were receiving federal assistance. The REALTORS® argued that more and more renters have been abusing these protections and have simply stopped paying rent. The main argument though, and likely the most important thing that led to Judge Friedrich’s decision, was that the federal government went too far by extending the moratorium to include properties that were outside the purview of the federal government. “It is the role of the political branches, and not the courts, to assess the merits of policy measures designed to combat the spread of disease, even during a global pandemic,” Friedrich wrote in the memorandum opinion, according to Inman.  “The question for the Court is a narrow one: Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium? It does not. “Because the plain language of the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. § 264(a), unambiguously forecloses the nationwide eviction moratorium, the Court must set aside the CDC Order, consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act and D.C. Circuit precedent. For the foregoing reasons, the plaintiffs’ motion for expedited summary judgment is granted and the Department’s motion for summary judgment and partial motion to dismiss are denied.” The CDC extended the moratorium last summer, at Thanksgiving, and then again two days before it was set to expire in March. “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a historic threat to the nation’s public health,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement to CNBC. “Keeping people in their homes and out of crowded or congregate settings — like homeless shelters — by preventing evictions is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.” According to a March report issued by the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, 15% of adult renters in America, or roughly 1.6 million Americans, were behind in their rent. Moody’s Analytical Report indicated that approximately $57 billion in back rent was owed in the month of January. Congress tried to eliminate as much of that as possible with $25 billion in rental assistance in the December stimulus package and an additional $27 billion in Biden’s American Rescue Plan that passed in March. On the local level, existing rental assistance programs are being bolstered and new programs are being launched. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, more than 200 of these programs are open and accepting applications. CNN reported that tenants must meet an income requirement, show they've lost income during the pandemic and demonstrate a risk of homelessness in order to qualify for the money. And while there is a stay in place and evictions aren’t going to start happening next week, whether the appeal overturns Friedrich’s decision or not will be determined by what judges are chosen for the panel. "The underlying ruling in this case is pretty weak, in my opinion," Shamus Roller, executive director of the National Housing Law Project told NPR. "Congress in December extended the CDC order. So clearly Congress thinks that the CDC has this authority. "It'll be a three judge panel that will review this. It will depend greatly on which three judges get selected." The Trump administration put in place several conservative federal judges who, if chosen, might view this moratorium as an example of governmental overreach. This explains why Roller said the judges chosen for this panel will be so important.   [social_warfare]
Is Biden’s grant program for affordable housing more carrot or more stick?

President Joe Biden wants to use an historic amount of federal dollars to create more affordable housing in America. But to do so, he is going to have to find his way through a wall…

Is Biden’s grant program for affordable housing more carrot or more stick?

President Joe Biden wants to use an historic amount of federal dollars to create more affordable housing in America. But to do so, he is going to have to find his way through a wall of seemingly impenetrable red tape so that federal money can influence local governance. It’s not going to be easy, and some are doubting that he can make it happen. But Biden is going to give it a try by putting the wooden rabbit out in front of the Greyhound American Mayors and see if they’ll chase it. Much of the cost of building new housing is determined at the local level. Almost 20% of the cost of building a single-family home comes from state and local regulations such as permitting and development fees, zoning rules and land-use restrictions. With all of these costs, building affordable housing is next to impossible. However, Biden wants to try to tackle the problem with a new competitive grant program. This would entice state and local governments to scale back costly zoning and land-use policies. That’s a start, but is it enough? “To say, ‘We’re not going to give you money for affordable housing if you don’t make it easier to build affordable housing, [which is hard] because you don’t want affordable housing,’ — it’s ridiculous,” David Dworkin, president and CEO of the National Housing Conference, an affordable housing advocacy group told Politico. “You need carrot and stick, not carrot or stick, to make it work.” Dworkin added that if there was a serious effort to make a push to cut through some of the exclusionary zoning red tape, that it would tie federal transportation dollars to the elimination of these barriers, and that’s a much larger pot of gold at the end of the rainbow than is usually shared with states. The reason the Biden Administration has dodged the notion of putting more pressure on local officials to change these regulations is because it puts the President in a boxing ring without any gloves against some haymaker throwing Mayors who have basically drawn a line in the sand about tying local regulations to federal dollars. “All these places are reluctant to touch zoning, or it would have been done already,” Jim Parrott, a former housing adviser to the Obama White House, also told Politico. “(It) depends totally on how big the carrot is and whether they deploy sticks.” Carrot and stick analogies aside, it’s not just housing folks who are wondering if Biden’s plan will ever come to fruition as outlined, or if it will require some more federal muscle. Some Democrats have argued that there isn’t enough federal money to back this idea, meanwhile Republicans are arguing that infrastructure plan as a whole contains too much federal spending. With there being pushback on both sides of the spectrum, as well as concern being expressed by housing advocates, it could make it hard for Biden to get this proposal across the goal line and make homes more affordable for many Americans. Biden’s pitch calls for two million affordable housing units to be developed, preserved, or rehabilitated using a whopping $213 billion. Homebuilders also have their doubts about Bien’s plan. After all, two million homes is a huge number. To make that happen, Congress is going to need to get creative – maybe take Biden’s plan and use it to spark something more appealing and realistic. Biden wants to commit $40 billion to create more public housing. Progressive Democrats feel that’s not enough and want to see that number nearly double. Meanwhile Republicans feel building more public housing is taking a step backwards because of its dependency on the government. Many experts believe that Biden’s infrastructure plan will pass through both the House and Senate, but not as currently proposed. The question is, when it’s done, will there be a boon or a bust for affordable housing in America? Only time will tell. [social_warfare]
Fair Housing Month Feature: Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana

The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is deeply committed to improving fair housing protections to make property ownership accessible for all Americans. We know that a critical step to achieve equity in homeownership is…

Fair Housing Month Feature: Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana

Fair Housing Month Feature: Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is deeply committed to improving fair housing protections to make property ownership accessible for all Americans. We know that a critical step to achieve equity in homeownership is to support organizations and advocates who are dedicated to protecting fair housing rights and expanding opportunity. Meet Amy Nelson, the Executive Director of Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI), a nonprofit fair housing organization that works to create equal housing opportunities in Central Indiana by eliminating housing discrimination through advocacy, enforcement, education and outreach. The FHCCI was established through a U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development grant awarded to the National Fair Housing Alliance to establish a fair housing agency in central Indiana. FHCCI Executive Director, Amy Nelson explains the impact of where you live on your life, why equitable access to housing is critical, and the role we all play in fighting housing discrimination and creating equal housing opportunities.
Why is equitable access to housing so important?
Amy: We can so often track where we live as the basis for so much in our lives. We see this in formerly redlined neighborhoods having higher rates of asthma and diabetes. How here in my city we have a staggering 17-year life expectancy rate difference simply due to where one lives[1].
“It’s families suffering in substandard housing due to affordability barriers. It’s the growing number of studies showing us that with one’s zip code, researchers can predict if your child will finish high school, what their income will be, or whether they will be incarcerated. It’s children moving from school to school due to their family just being served an eviction, even if no fault of their own, and facing screening barriers. All based on where we live. Housing is critical.”
What are common obstacles and discrimination that people face when trying to rent or buy a home?
Amy: FHCCI specifically investigates allegations of housing discrimination received from the public as well as conducting systemic investigations. Unfortunately, housing discrimination happens far too often. Whether it is a recent client being sexually harassed by their landlord, or a lender refusing to make loans to a black family, or a mom with three kids being told she has too many kids for a two bedroom, or a recent client who had to “White wash” her home to get a fair appraisal for a refinance, housing discrimination is far too commonplace.
How does your organization help individuals and families overcome the barriers to housing access to increase equity in housing?
Amy: We have four main programs working toward our mission: Advocacy, Education, Inclusive Communities, and Public Policy. Through our Advocacy Program, we file enforcement actions to address violations of fair housing law. Our Education Program actively works to share information so everyone understands their rights and responsibilities under fair housing laws. Our Inclusive Communities Program gives back to the community and to those harmed by discriminatory practices. And finally, in our Public Policy Program, we work to advance strong housing laws with particular attention to fighting for those most at risk of housing loss and harm. Just this month, we released a new video through our Education Program, History of Real Estate Sales Discrimination in Indianapolis that we premiered at our annual Fair Housing Conference last week. This is a companion to last year’s History of Redlining video.
What does the future of fair housing look like?
  Amy: Truly achieving fair housing requires the full attention and support of the federal government, the courts, and all of us. Fair housing laws have never had funding or the strength of will to truly address our nation’s history of discriminatory practices that still impact our neighborhoods and our country today. I remain hopeful we can achieve the vision of fair housing laws that allows each person to have equal housing opportunity. We need to demand such of our leaders and keep a focus on housing. Learn more about Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana.
About the American Property Owners Alliance
The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization created to protect and support property owners and pave the way for future property owners. Our mission is to educate property owners about federal issues, laws and policies; to advocate for owners’ rights and interests; and to mobilize, when necessary, to secure those rights and interests.
Sign The American Property Owners Alliance petition to Congress urging them to support property owners and remove barriers to more affordable housing. Click here
  [social_warfare]
Biden restores fair housing rules Trump gutted

Although the month of April is annually observed as Fair Housing Month, the reality for Black America and other people of color is that housing has not significantly changed since the 1968 federal enactment of…

Biden restores fair housing rules Trump gutted

Although the month of April is annually observed as Fair Housing Month, the reality for Black America and other people of color is that housing has not significantly changed since the 1968 federal enactment of the Fair Housing Act. Its enactment came seven days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who had strongly advocated fair and open housing.

But 53 years after an historic enactment, race and place remain the determining factors of who is allowed the opportunity to build wealth, as well as to share wealth’s financial advantages across family generations.

What makes this year’s observance more hopeful are renewed efforts by both President Biden and Congress to correct decades’ long denials of full access to the American Dream.

For the first time in more than four years, the nation’s President committed his Administration to the active pursuit of fair housing. Beginning with a memorandum coinciding with his inauguration on January 26th, President Biden directed the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to “as soon as practicable, take all steps necessary to examine the effects of” the Trump Administration’s 2020 repeal of two key housing rules issued by the Obama Administration: the 2013 Disparate Impact Standard and the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.


We believe, along with millions of Americans, that the dream of ownership is a dream that’s worth protecting. If you agree, we encourage you to add your name to our petition.

 

Two Keys To A 2021 Refresh: Bringing Fair Housing Into The 21st Century

This April marks the 53rd anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (also known as the Fair Housing Act), which “prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion,…

Two Keys To A 2021 Refresh: Bringing Fair Housing Into The 21st Century

This April marks the 53rd anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (also known as the Fair Housing Act), which “prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, [and] sex.” Brave individuals fought for something we often take for granted, like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose assassination was a catalyst for the final passage of the act, and Senator Walter Mondale, the future Democratic Party’s presidential nominee who championed fair housing for years.

But perhaps a name you haven’t heard of is Senator Edward Brooke. Ed Brooke, the first African American popularly elected to the U.S. Senate, co-authored the amendment that would prohibit housing discrimination. Senator Brooke worked across the political divide with leaders like Senator Mondale to enact the Fair Housing Act as law.

I’ve recently wondered how these heroes of American history would view the state of “fair housing” today. Studies show that while overt discrimination has dropped over the decades, less obvious forms of discrimination persist. People of color, for instance, are shown significantly fewer, and less appealing, rental properties in blind studies. According to the Urban Institute, Black and Hispanic renters are shown 11.4% and 12.5% fewer rental units, respectively, than white renters. Housing has ramifications in other related aspects of life such as health, education and job security. For example, communities of color often grapple with poverty and subpar schools.

I believe that there are two ideas that a new generation of real estate leaders can pioneer to help build on the fair housing platform that Senator Brooke and others began.


We believe, along with millions of Americans, that the dream of ownership is a dream that’s worth protecting. If you agree, we encourage you to add your name to our petition.

 

Supporting Fair Housing, Inclusivity in Your Community

Home and property ownership is a nearly universal part of the American dream. An unfortunate reality of our nation’s past and present, however, is that this dream has been much more difficult to achieve among…

Supporting Fair Housing, Inclusivity in Your Community

Home and property ownership is a nearly universal part of the American dream. An unfortunate reality of our nation’s past and present, however, is that this dream has been much more difficult to achieve among minority groups.

April marks the 53rd anniversary of the passage of the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act, the federal law that protects Americans against housing and property ownership discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability. But despite all the progress this nation has made over recent decades, people searching for a home today face many of the same challenges they did 53 years ago. Home and property ownership rates for Black Americans are nearly 30 percentage points lower than that of white Americans, and after decades of gain, the Black homeownership rate has now fallen back to where it was a half-century ago.

“During this time, we honor the sacrifices and tenacity shown by so many during the fight to expand equal access to housing and property in America,” said National Association of Realtors® President Charlie Oppler. “As the largest trade association in the world, NAR has a powerful voice, and we will continue to use that voice to champion efforts to build more inclusive communities throughout our nation.”


We believe, along with millions of Americans, that the dream of ownership is a dream that’s worth protecting. If you agree, we encourage you to add your name to our petition.

 

Biden’s infrastructure plan includes $213 billion for affordable housing

President Biden recently unveiled his infrastructure proposal, asking Congress to approve $2 trillion in spending. And while much of that proposal involves basic repairs to roads and bridges, as well as upgrades to the electrical…

Biden’s infrastructure plan includes $213 billion for affordable housing

President Biden recently unveiled his infrastructure proposal, asking Congress to approve $2 trillion in spending. And while much of that proposal involves basic repairs to roads and bridges, as well as upgrades to the electrical grid and expanding access to broadband internet, the plan calls for a whopping $213 billion to create more affordable housing. Adding to the housing stock is a priority of the Biden administration, and the plan would build or rehabilitate more than 500,000 dwellings for low- and middle-income homebuyers, as well as retrofit more than two million commercial buildings and affordable housing units, to create more affordability in the marketplace. Specifically, Biden is asking Congress to approve the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act - legislation that would provide an additional $20 billion in tax credits for affordable housing through 2026. There are other incentives tied to affordable housing, such as creating a grant program for local jurisdictions that eliminate red tape that slows or prevents new housing development, like exclusionary zoning laws. The big debate that will certainly take place in Congress is where this vast amount of funding will come from. President Biden’s plan is to raise taxes on large and multinational corporations to offset the cost of his infrastructure goals.  His Made in America Tax Plan would raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from the 21% rate that was put in place as part of former President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The top corporate tax rate was 35% prior to 2017.  The plan also provides an increase in taxes for the earnings American companies make outside of the U.S. The Department of Transportation is certainly linked to this latest proposal as well, as prior to the unveiling of the plan it announced it was seeking applicants for the 2021 Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program, which provides $889 million to fund national and regional transportation projects. This is important to the affordable housing piece of the plan as the department will consider whether a development project is in a federally designated community development zone or opportunity zone. If so, improvements in transportation in those areas could pique the interest of real estate developers to also take advantage of those opportunity zone incentives to build affordable housing close to new transportation hubs, or at least areas that have easy access to new transportation. [social_warfare]
Eviction moratorium extended through June, but is that a positive?

Two days before it was set to expire, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that it was extending its nationwide eviction moratorium through the end of June. This puts an additional 90 days onto…

Eviction moratorium extended through June, but is that a positive?

Two days before it was set to expire, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that it was extending its nationwide eviction moratorium through the end of June. This puts an additional 90 days onto the moratorium, which was supposed to expire at the end of March. This moratorium, which was put in place in September 2020 as a way to try and assist renters who may have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, has been challenged in courts throughout various states in the country. This moratorium, while helpful in theory, has created unintended consequences in the months since it came into existence. It has created a backlog of pending evictions because some renters aren’t paying their rent, and as soon as it is lifted, the courts will be deluged with eviction hearings. And secondly, it has thrust mom-and-pop landlords into a financial bind of their own, suddenly forced to make mortgage payments on properties in which they have not been receiving rent from their tenants. These properties also tend to have slim profit margins to begin with, meaning that after a couple months, the property owner is in danger of getting behind or even defaulting on the mortgage. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), has been at the forefront of the challenges to the moratorium and has successfully lobbied for federal rental assistance in an effort to prevent the problems created by the moratorium becoming a crisis that hurts both the landlords and the tenants. “NAR helped secure $25 billion in 2020 and another $21.55 billion (in March) in federal rental assistance funding, which can be paid directly to property owners,” said NAR chief advocacy officer Shannon McGahn in a press release. “This was critical to averting a multifamily real estate crisis, as many of our nation’s housing providers are mom-and-pop operations. “Our focus now turns to ensuring there is not just enough funding but also a smooth implementation of rental assistance while the various challenges to eviction bans work their way through the courts.” The CDC order has allowed for an eviction to be stayed if a renter declares that they have tried to make timely payments of their rent, meet certain employment and income requirements, and have pursued all appropriate government assistance. With the announcement of the extension in March, the CDC expanded the order to include renters “who are confirmed to have, who have been exposed to, or who might have been exposed to COVID-19 and take reasonable precautions to spread the disease.” And while this is a hit to the property owners, the housing providers can still evict tenants for non-financial reasons that would violate the landlord-tenant contract, including property damage and criminal activity. “Rental assistance averted two crises—one for mom-and-pop property owners who did not have a reprieve from their bills and relied on their rental income and one for tenants who would have been responsible for months of back rent when the eviction moratoriums expired,” McGahn said. “We must continue to look for ways to protect tenants and property owners from further financial turmoil while ensuring housing in America remains safe and stable for decades to come.” [social_warfare]
Fair Housing Month Feature: NeighborWorks America

The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is deeply committed to improving fair housing protections to make property ownership accessible for all Americans. We know that a critical step to achieve equity in homeownership is…

Fair Housing Month Feature: NeighborWorks America

Fair Housing Month Feature The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is deeply committed to improving fair housing protections to make property ownership accessible for all Americans. We know that a critical step to achieve equity in homeownership is to support organizations and advocates who are dedicated to protecting fair housing rights and expanding opportunity. Meet NeighborWorks America, a nonprofit with a network of nearly 250 organizations nationwide[1] that creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities. NeighborWorks America’s Senior Vice President Lee Anne Adams explains the common barriers people face in the homebuying process, how the NeighborWorks network helps people access sustainable homeownership, and what the future of fair housing looks like.
Why is equitable access to housing so important?
Lee Anne: Homeownership is a means to build long-term generational wealth. Passing on a home and land from one generation to the next creates a path to family wealth-building. That wealth also provides a means for families to invest in their children’s education or to start a business. Before the passing of the Fair Housing Act in 1968, black families were locked out of the chance to create generational wealth because they were denied mortgage loans and access to certain neighborhoods. Our 2020 Housing and Financial Capability Survey found that only 40% of black people own their home[2]. In reality, the gap between black and white homeownership rates is wider now than it was prior to when race-based discrimination was legal. Homeownership is one of the most impactful ways to help address the racial wealth gap in our nation.
What are common obstacles and discrimination that people face when trying to rent or buy a home?
Lee Anne: Common obstacles people face when trying to rent or buy a home include lack of down payment or first month’s rent, access to affordable credit, lack of affordable supply and lack of knowledge about and/or resources to help with the process. We recommend that potential homebuyers not go it alone. HUD-approved housing counselors are available at NeighborWorks organizations across the country to help people seeking housing stability prepare for buying a home. This includes helping people understand the process, what to expect, how to set financial goals and improve their credit score and how to choose a first mortgage product.
How does your organization help individuals and families overcome the barriers to housing access to increase equity in housing?
Lee Anne: Our network of nearly 250 organizations nationwide helps people access sustainable homeownership by offering a range of services from financial coaching to pre-purchase counseling and homebuyer education to down payment assistance programs and affordable first mortgage products. Our network also owns and manages nearly 180,000 affordable rental homes for individuals and families[3]. We are proud to have partnered with Wells Fargo since 2012 on the Let’s Invest for Tomorrow (LIFT) down payment assistance program, which has provided more than $330 million in down payment assistance and created more than 24,000 homeowners[4], 63% of which are minorities[5]. Over 40% of LIFT participants report that they pay less for housing than they did prior to closing[6]. One borrower’s monthly housing costs decreased from $1,000 per month to about $700 once they became a homeowner.
What does the future of fair housing look like?
Lee Anne: Our industry must remain diligent in our work and exponentially expand opportunities and assistance for people to obtain and sustain affordable housing.
“To overcome the longstanding and growing inequities in our communities, we need to reach common goals and align resources across sectors to make impact.”
A variety of partners need to invest in down payment assistance programs, housing counseling, financial coaching and other services. Additionally, policies and financing that favor affordable single-family and multi-family development is critical. While the challenges are real, the possibilities are numerous. With investment to scale what works and new policy solutions, we can remove barriers and create opportunities for all people to access housing. Learn more about NeighborWorks America.
About the American Property Owners Alliance
The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization created to protect and support property owners and pave the way for future property owners. Our mission is to educate property owners about federal issues, laws and policies; to advocate for owners’ rights and interests; and to mobilize, when necessary, to secure those rights and interests.
Sign The American Property Owners Alliance petition to Congress urging them to support property owners and remove barriers to more affordable housing. Click here
  [social_warfare]
Take Advantage of These Free Online Seminars and Videos for Fair Housing Month

As we welcome Spring this April we also welcome Fair Housing Month. After such a tumultuous 2020, it’s a particularly important time to focus on this matter and put great efforts into providing equal and…

Take Advantage of These Free Online Seminars and Videos for Fair Housing Month

As we welcome Spring this April we also welcome Fair Housing Month. After such a tumultuous 2020, it’s a particularly important time to focus on this matter and put great efforts into providing equal and fair housing for everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the firsthand connection between health and housing when many officials refused to view these as human rights, despite the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Millions of Americans lived in fear of losing their homes during these unforeseen hardships, and many did. Household Pulse reports that millions of residents still owe large housing payments – approximately 12.1 million adult renters as of mid-March. It’s apparent now more than ever that the country’s social safety net programs offer incompetent security. Whether you’re a renter, landlord, investor, or simply hoping to educate yourself on the matter, there are a plethora of free seminars, workshops, Q+As, and films focusing on fair housing that you can take advantage of this month. 1. Jim Crow of the North Film and Panel Discussion / Thursday, April 22, 2021, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM EDT Jim Crow of the North is a compelling Twin Cities PBS documentary that examines the history of redlining in Minneapolis and systematic racism both then and today. The film shows how segregation has and continues, to construct cities. In honor of Fair Housing Month, High Plains Fair Housing Center (FHC) will be hosting an online watch party and leading a discussion panel. Experts will talk about the film and engage on housing discrimination over the years and what it looks like today. They will also be discussing how others can help to put an end to housing discrimination and different ways to get involved, particularly in North Dakota, where High Plains FHC is based. The center is a non-profit organization working tirelessly to defeat housing discrimination. For those who can’t make the watch party, you can watch the film here and still catch the discussion at 9:30 PM on April 22nd. 2. Know Your Rights! Fair Housing & Tenant Skills Webinar / Monday, April 26, 2021, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM EDT Springfield Town Library of Vermont is hosting this workshop on fair housing, specifically in the state of Vermont but they will be discussing the fundamentals of tenant rights that apply to renters all over the country. Wendy Rowe and Corrine Yonce of Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) will be taking the lead in this conversation, who specializes in housing advocacy programs. CVOEO works to bring issues of economic, social, and racial justice to light and help members of the community attain financial autonomy. This webinar will fill you in on the A-Zs of your rights as a tenant. From security deposits to the account of the Fair Housing Act, this workshop will cover it all and welcomes questions. Start your week off with this informative webinar on Monday, the 26th at 11 AM. 3. Fair Housing Friday: Going Forward / Friday, April 30, 2021, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EDT This is another great webinar from High Plains FHC in North Dakota with a different approach. In this discussion, the team at High Plains FHC will reflect on the past year as a whole and what impactful changes have been made. Specifically, they will take a look at how Bostock v. Clayton County finally labeled LGBTQ+ housing discrimination under sex discrimination. They will be discussing other recent White House developments on the matter as well, such as President Biden’s memorandum on housing discrimination. This discussion will allow for impressions, criticisms, and most importantly, plotting what we can do moving forward to ensure every individual is receiving fair housing. Chime in on Friday, the 30th at noon. 4. Housing Segregation and Redlining in America: A Short History / 6 ½-minute video This short video is an excellent refresher on the Fair Housing Act that’s easy to watch and understand. Code Switch, an NPR collective and podcast focusing on race, ethnicity, and culture, put this video together to express an important message – “Housing segregation is in everything.” Folks cheered to the end of housing discrimination when the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1968, as the act made it illegal to do so. Although, this law certainly hasn’t stopped discrimination. Code Switch co-host Gene Demby uses this platform to point out why we still see so much segregation within housing and neighborhoods today. Demby elaborates on the impact government actions have had on communities. 5. America Divided: A House Divided / 44-minute video America Divided is a documentary series that explores the inequality crisis by revealing America’s systemic issues. With exceptional production and noteworthy guests, their raw approach will offer powerful and motivational perspectives. This episode follows Norman Lear, co-producer alongside Common and Shonda Rhimes, as he focuses on housing in NYC. Lear delves into the crisis of the unhoused community in the metropolis. Over the course of the episode, he chats with New Yorkers regarding housing to better understand the situation and examine the city’s affordability crisis. "This is our America. And it isn’t what we promised," Lear solemnly claims. 6. Seven Days / 9-minute video This short film was released in 2018 by Nationwide, in partnership with the National Fair Housing Alliance, and recounts the seven days between Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and the signing of the Fair Housing Act. When President Johnson announced that MLK Jr. was shot, a nationwide upheaval broke out. Johnson clambered to keep the country together and accelerate the fair housing bill, which he managed to do in just seven days. This 9-minute video does an excellent job narrating that week in 1968 and illustrating the gravity of the Civil Rights Act. President Johnson quotes in the documentary, “Few in the nation believed that fair housing would, in our time, become the unchallenged law of this land. And indeed this bill has had a long and stormy trip.” Johnson remarks on the struggles of passing this bill in 1968, and now, 53 years later, Americans are still fighting for equal rights. 7. The Basics of the Fair Housing Act / 90-minute video Lastly, for those who are somewhat unfamiliar with the Fair Housing Act, or the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers this in-depth video that was actually created as a training program, so you know all details will be covered. While this is an extensive training video, it was created for both housing providers and anyone interested in educating themselves and learning more about the Fair Housing Act. The video includes all of the basics of the Fair Housing Act with a comprehensive commentary. When introducing the video, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Anna Maria Farias, goes on to say, “But more importantly, today's training will help you gain a clearer understanding of the continued relevance of this landmarked law.” HUD is committed to spreading this information far and wide while continuing to work incessantly to stop discrimination. “Discrimination still exists. Each year, HUD and our many fair housing partners receive thousands of complaints from individuals and families alleging that their rights were violated, so our work isn’t done,” she continues. Regardless of your living situation, taking advantage of these free resources during Fair Housing Month will benefit you, your community, and anyone you encounter down the road. As Farias says, “Housing discrimination is not only wrong, it’s illegal, and in a country founded on the principles of justice and equality, housing discrimination is unacceptable.” [social_warfare]
Our Priorities: COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted every American for more than a year. Housing has felt the brunt of that impact. Whether it’s a homeowner, a landlord, a renter or a person or family looking…

Our Priorities: COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted every American for more than a year.

Housing has felt the brunt of that impact. Whether it’s a homeowner, a landlord, a renter or a person or family looking to buy their first home, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on what we knew – or thought we knew – about the housing market.

That’s why the American Property Owners Alliance has put together this page: Our Priorities: COVID-19.

It’s a catch-all for what the new normal will look like when it comes to housing and how the ever-changing face of the housing world will be forever impacted by this pandemic.

Coronavirus Resource Directory for Landlords and Tenants

A definitive resource for landlords and renters to find the answers to questions regarding COVID-19, rights and protections, government announcements, and tools. Published and maintained by Avail.co How Coronavirus Spreads The virus that causes COVID-19…

Coronavirus Resource Directory for Landlords and Tenants

A definitive resource for landlords and renters to find the answers to questions regarding COVID-19, rights and protections, government announcements, and tools. Published and maintained by Avail.co How Coronavirus Spreads The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads relatively easily and quickly. Follow the CDC's best practices and guidelines to reduce the spread. Coronavirus Symptoms Read the CDC's guide to recognizing symptoms of COVID-19. If you're feeling sick or think you may have come into contact within someone who is infected, read this guide. How to Protect Yourself from Coronavirus There are ways to protect yourself from contracting COVID-19. Hint: social distancing really helps. What To Do If You're Sick Read the CDC's recommendations of what to do if you begin to feel sick. Don't take a chance, or worse, not take any action. See what the CDC recommends you do next. Congress Passes Third COVID-19 Federal Relief Package Get the summary and details of the three phases Congress approved as part of the coronavirus relief package. Financial Services Committee Responds to FAQs Members of Congress who make up the Financial Services Committee Respond to frequently asked questions regarding the CARES act. Read the questions and answers here. To see the entire list of resources, visit the original published posting here. [social_warfare]
The places where homeownership is leading to the largest wealth gains

A household’s wealth is often mostly represented by the home in which they live, assuming it is owned by those residing in the home. It has long been understood that homeownership is one of the…

The places where homeownership is leading to the largest wealth gains

A household’s wealth is often mostly represented by the home in which they live, assuming it is owned by those residing in the home. It has long been understood that homeownership is one of the best ways to build wealth. According to data from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), a home represents approximately 90% of the total wealth of a household. And because there are still racial and gender gaps in the U.S. when it comes to income and wealth inequality, the fastest way to start to close them is to bolster homeownership among those who have been marginalized because of their race and/or gender. How much wealth can be gained over time just by owning a home? NAR senior economist Gay Cororaton offered the following example: “Take a homeowner who purchased a single-family existing home 10 years ago at the median sales price of $170,567, with a 10% down payment,” Cororaton wrote in the NAR economist outlook blog. “Then, they sold the home at the median sales price of $315,700 in the fourth quarter of 2020. They would have built up a home equity gain of $176,123. Over a 30-year period, that would jump to $307,979.” The average homeowner moves every 10 years. Most of the wealth gain is from price appreciation on a home. This accounts for 82% of the wealth gain over the span of a decade. “Wealth accumulation takes time, so the earlier households start owning homes, the greater the wealth accumulation,” Cororaton wrote. And in some places, the wealth accumulates faster than others. Sometimes, much faster. NAR data show that in certain metropolitan markets, wealth - in terms of equity - is growing at a rate that is about a full decade faster than some others. A lot of that has to do with job creation, businesses setting up roots in a specific area, and a strong economy. The areas that saw the greatest wealth gains from homeownership between the fourth quarter of 2010 and the fourth quarter of 2020 were in areas that shouldn’t surprise:
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-St. Clara, Calif.: $929,471
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.: $761,204
  • Anaheim-Sta. Ana-Irvine, Calif.: $509,806
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif: $430,196
  • San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.: $427,896
  • Urban Honolulu: $412,986
  • Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Fla.: $379,243
Higher-priced areas will always see the largest gains from a pure dollars sense because a 30% increase in gains on a $1 million home is always going to be more than a 30% increase on a $350,000 home. But the reality is, even in markets where the home prices haven’t skyrocketed as quickly, equity in the home you own can accumulate quickly. Other markets in the top 10 include Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash. ($374,526), Boulder, Colo. ($370,800) and Reno, Nev. ($324,577). The metropolitan areas with the smallest wealth growth over a 10-year span were Binghamton, N.Y. ($28,064), Decatur, Ill. ($28,970), Peoria, Ill. ($31,484), Bloomington, Ill. ($32,861), Elmira, N.Y. ($43,669), Springfield, Ill. ($45,821), Waterloo/Cedar Falls, Iowa ($46,749), Charleston, W. Va. ($46,774), Erie, Pa. ($47,940) and Cumberland, Md.-W. Va. ($52,534). To see the full list of each of the 181 metropolitan areas tracked by NAR and to sort by wealth gains over the past five, 10, 15 or 30 years, click here. [social_warfare]
Boston plan for shifting police funds a template to help affordable housing

It was a rough 2020 for the police in the city of Boston. Like every other police force in America, not only were they caught up  in the social awakening in the aftermath of the…

Boston plan for shifting police funds a template to help affordable housing

It was a rough 2020 for the police in the city of Boston. Like every other police force in America, not only were they caught up  in the social awakening in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis officers, but the Boston PD had to deal with its own overtime pay scandal This only further separated the gap in trust between the force and the citizens of the city. Amid the fervor, then-Mayor Martin Walsh and the City Council decided that the police overtime budget would be slashed by $12 million, and that the money would be used to help address racial disparities in Boston. Recently, the city has put action behind those words, and it is helping marginalized people be able to buy a home. In February, the Mayor’s office announced that it was earmarking $250,000 of those cut overtime funds, plus an additional $75,000 to create a matching-grant program that would help lower- and middle-income individuals or families to buy a home in Boston. The grant program establishes $5,000 for each qualifying “first-generation” home buyer who was able to contribute $2,500 of their own money toward a down payment. The grant program is part of a partnership with the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA), a non-profit organization that concentrates on helping families in need to prepare to buy a home in Boston. At the time of the announcement, Walsh, who was confirmed as Secretary of Labor for President Biden’s administration in March, released a statement that, in part, said, “Now, more than ever in Boston, we must take steps to create equitable opportunities and access to resources for all Bostonians. Improving pathways to homeownership can help address disparities in wealth.” Boston is no different than most large cities in America, where the wealth gap between whites and blacks is stark. The city is hoping that their new program can become a model for other cities nationwide to help close that gap and improve communities one new homeowner at a time. Homeowners are more likely to have accumulated wealth than renters, thanks to home equity – which can help financially in many ways, whether its’s to start a small business, help pay for college education or simply to pass on to the next generation so they can buy their own home as well. MAHA initially launched its program two years ago using multiple grants provided by Wells Fargo, Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Boston Real Estate Board to help these homebuyers – and they classify them as first-generation, not first-time, in order to include people whose parents didn’t own a home or who lost one in foreclosure. According to the Boston Globe, MAHA had enrolled 168 people into classes they offer on homebuying preparations and of that group, 14 went on to actually buy a home. The hope is those numbers will grow with the assistance of the city’s partnership. Improving homeownership, especially in Latino and Black communities, had been a top priority for Walsh and his administration. In his tenure, the city has approved the development of thousands of new apartments in an effort to increase supply and stabilize housing costs. Kim Janey has taken over as acting mayor for now, but an election for the office will be coming in November, when housing advocates hope that homeownership and affordable housing are tops on the list of priorities for all candidates running for Mayor. [social_warfare]
Housing gap between white and black homeowners still isn’t closing

Historically low mortgage rates made it so that the housing market was able to stay strong during the pandemic. Prices are high, homes are selling quickly. Things are moving along like clockwork. But not for…

Housing gap between white and black homeowners still isn’t closing

Historically low mortgage rates made it so that the housing market was able to stay strong during the pandemic. Prices are high, homes are selling quickly. Things are moving along like clockwork. But not for everybody. It has been 53 years since the Fair Housing Act passed through Congress, and yet, the gap between white homeownership and Black homeownership is still just as wide. This is according to data provided by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) as part of their second annual report that examined racial gaps in homeownership, both nationwide and state-to-state. According to the Federal Reserve, the net worth of a homeowner was $255,000, which is 40 times that of a renter. If you combine that with the NAR data that in the last decade, Black Americans have seen the largest dip in home ownership rates, this paints a stark picture. As the wealth gains of homeowners increase, the number of Blacks owning homes has decreased. It doesn’t help that financial institutions are denying mortgages to Black prospective home buyers 2 ½ times more than prospective white buyers, according to NAR. Blacks also are more likely to have student loan debt, which impacts the ability to save enough money for a down payment. With the rise in home prices, coupled with it becoming harder and harder for lower- and middle-income earners to be able to come up with that down payment, more potential buyers are being priced out of the market. And because of the wealth gap in America, potential Black homebuyers are making up a significant portion of the cohort who struggle to afford a home. It is a vicious cycle that has been rotating for more than five decades now. “We need to find solutions for everyone to have the same opportunities for home ownership,” Nadia Evangelou, senior economist and director of forecasting at NAR and one of the authors of the report told the Philadelphia Inquirer, recently. The Biden administration is pushing for a tax credit of up to $15,0000 for first-time homebuyers to try and help make homes more affordable, but NAR also wants to push Congress to consider incentives for builders and developers to create more affordable housing units and increase the supply of homes available that is at critical lows nationwide. In 2019, the white homeownership rate nationally was nearly 70%. South Carolina, Mississippi and Delaware had the highest rate of white home ownership at 78% each. But even in states where the white homeownership was the lowest, the rate was still approximately 50%. There was a stark difference for Black homeownership where, as nationally, the rate was just 42% in 2019. The highest rate of Black homeownership was in Puerto Rico (70%), indicating that decades old redlining of neighborhoods still impacts the 50 U.S. states, making it harder for Blacks to purchase homes outside of lower-income neighborhoods. Maryland (52%) and South Carolina (52%) were the only states to cross the 50% plateau for black homeownership. And the states with the lowest rates of Black home ownership were North Dakota (5%), Wyoming (18%) and Montana (20%) The national median price of existing homes was $309,800, a 40% increase from 2015, and while that number has gone up nationally, just 43% of Black Americans can afford to buy a home, compared to 63% of white Americans. According to NAR, whites bought 81% of all homes purchased in 2019; Blacks bought just 7%. And while other ethnic groups have also struggled at times to purchase homes, NAR found that during the pandemic, as mortgage rates plummeted, slightly more Asian, Latino, Hispanic and Pacific Islander buyers purchased homes than prior to the pandemic. However, the share of Black homebuyers remained stagnant, even with the historically low mortgage interest rates. "This data reinforces the need to implement key policy initiatives NAR developed in concert with the Urban Institute and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers to address the Black homeownership gap," NAR President Charlie Oppler, a REALTOR® from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and the CEO of Prominent Properties Sotheby's International said in a press release. "Specifically, this five-point plan developed in 2019 calls on the nation to: advance policy solutions at the local level; tackle housing supply constraints and affordability; promote an equitable and accessible housing finance system; provide further outreach and counseling initiatives for renters and mortgage-ready millennials; and focus on sustainable homeownership and preservation initiatives." NAR used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to study homeownership and affordability by race. The REALTORS® also conducted a survey of 8,200 homebuyers from July 2019 through June 2020. [social_warfare]
6 Top Podcasts on Fair Housing

At a time when it’s easy to feel isolated and lonely, podcasts offer a sense of comfort, almost as if we’re listening to a good friend. There are endless topics that experts can chat in…

6 Top Podcasts on Fair Housing

At a time when it’s easy to feel isolated and lonely, podcasts offer a sense of comfort, almost as if we’re listening to a good friend. There are endless topics that experts can chat in our ear about, and that includes topics surrounding homeownership and fair housing. The lack of affordable and fair housing in America has accelerated since the pandemic hit. As an analysis by the NYU Furman Center found, those who are most likely to experience an “economic disruption” (i.e. losing a job or experiencing limited work hours) spent the majority of their income on housing. Even prior to the pandemic, half of renters in the U.S. spent 30 percent of their income on housing and the most impoverished Americans spent over half their income on rent, on average. Whether you’re a homeowner, potential homeowner, or simply interested in learning more about fair housing and how you can help, these 6 podcasts are an excellent place to start. Pop on an episode while tidying the kitchen, brushing your teeth, or taking a long bike ride!

1. The Fair Housing Podcast Questions and Answers

This fairly new podcast from Offit Kurman Attorneys At Law focuses on the slew of convoluted questions and issues that circle the problems akin to fair housing. As they say, “For residents, housing free from unlawful discrimination is a right; for landlords, it’s the law.” Join hosts John Raftery and Revée Walters as they discuss the matter and answer a variety of questions in order to ensure both landlords and property managers are well aware of the fundamentals of fair housing. The perspective from attorneys is a great resource for landlords and managers who want to support fair housing and help their tenants live comfortably and safely. To no surprise, each episode of The Fair Housing Podcast centers around fair housing, but here are two recommended episodes to get started with: Episode 12: Fair Housing Liability This episode highlights accountability issues surrounding fair housing, specifically if you could be sued or not if you violate fair housing as a landlord or property manager. Episode 10: Familial Status This episode focuses on how to not discriminate against families with children.

2. Shop Talk: The Real Estate Show

Shop Talk, brought to us by The CE Shop, has the goal of bettering real estate agents. They interview industry experts, ask the tough questions, and chat about unique real estate related subjects. “Real estate’s a dynamic industry, and we know you have interesting stories to tell about it,” they announce. While Shop Talk has some excellent episodes focusing on anything from 17-year-old real estate agents to haunted houses, this recent episode on fair housing is a great resource for real estate agents specifically: Episode 48: Fair Housing Real estate and equal opportunity for housing are forever intertwined, especially since the Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968. This episode breaks down the most frequent fair housing violations, how and why those laws are so important, and how real estate agents can provide the best experience to everyone looking for a home.

3. Selling St Pete with Nicole Saunches

Nicole Saunches’ podcast, Selling St Pete, is a one-stop-shop for anything real estate related in and around St. Petersburg, Florida. Nicole offers useful information for both current and potential homeowners, whether you’re on the buying or selling end of the process. Saunches works for Coastal Properties Group International, which has been one of Tampa Bay’s most successful real estate companies since they opened their doors in 2012. In 2019, they sold 145 homes that were over $1 million, so it’s safe to say Nicole’s advice when it comes to real estate is trustworthy. Nicole covers topics ranging from new construction to hurricane preparation. But in one of her most recent episodes, fair housing is the star of the show: Episode 32: Know Your Rights...A discussion about Fair Housing for all In this episode, Nicole Saunches is joined by two members of the Pinellas County Office of Human Rights – Jeffrey Lorick and Paul Valenti. They chat about fair housing from A-Z while reflecting on a recent training with the Pinellas Realtor Organization. The training, which Nicole claims was “one of, if not the best, training I have experienced in my real estate career,” specifically aimed attention on how constant bias can have a huge impact on Fair Housing laws.

4. TenantCloud: Property Management Podcast

TenantCloud is an all-in-one software that assists landlords with all things property management, so they’re clearly pros when it comes to the rental industry. Their podcast covers real estate, investment, DIY tips, news/laws, and likely anything else rental industry connected that comes to mind! With extremely useful information for landlords, such as insight into rental fraud and how the pandemic has shaped the real estate industry, it’s no wonder this podcast has nearly 5 stars. Each episode offers highly relevant advice for those who manage properties, but this episode from March 2020 clues landlords into specifics of the Fair Housing Act: Season 2, Episode 9: What Landlords Are Excluded from the Federal Fair Housing Act? Surprisingly enough, depending on the local, county and state laws, some landlords aren’t required to abide by the Federal Fair Housing Act. In this episode, TenantCloud discusses those specific scenarios and how crucial it is to follow Fair Housing laws, even if you may be absolved.

5. Selling Richmond: The Civic REALTOR®

This bimonthly podcast brought to us by the Richmond Association of REALTORS® follows different leaders in the Richmond area and the big decisions they make that directly affectrealtors and their clients. Host Joh Gehlbach, the Government Affairs Coordinator of Richmond Association of REALTORS®, chats with different directors and leaders of sorts in each episode to explore their recent accords in regard to the real estate industry. All 14 episodes present valuable insight into how so many considerable choices made by people in power have an impact on those around them and their community. This most recent episode is particularly pertinent as it references a recent law: Episode 14: Source of Income in the Virginia Fair Housing Act In this episode, Gehlbach talks with the Director of Fair Housing at Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia (HOME), Alex Guzmán. The two chat about source of income, as it is now a protected class in the Virginia Fair Housing Act as of July 1, 2020. Guzmán shares the relevance of this new law and how it broadens housing opportunities in Virginia.

6. The Holistic Housing Podcast

This podcast is created by NACCED, the National Association for County Community and Economic Development. It focuses on the politics of housing which, of course, highlights affordable and fair housing consistently. Each episode features policymakers and program implementers who are involved in community and economic development, as well as affordable housing. The different high-profile guests on the podcast discuss their experience, goals, and solutions on topics ranging from workforce development to homelessness. The hosts, Sarah and Laura, hope to show their audience how housing affects not only one’s quality of life, but the ability to lead a fruitful life. While this podcast is highly educational, it is also a hoot and the hosts offer some humor to help balance the seriousness of each topic. Much like most of the podcasts on this list, each episode is relevant to fair housing, but this episode from March 12 of this year highlights NLHP, the National Housing Law Project: Alt 137 In this episode, Noelle Porter, NLHP Director of Government Affairs, chats with Sarah and Laura about tenants’ rights. NLHP’s group of legal aid attorneys work every day to fight discrimination and support low-income renters that are facing eviction, which is especially significant now as so many tenants are struggling to pay their bills amidst the pandemic. Whether you’re a homeowner, dreaming of becoming a homeowner or property owner, a renter, a landlord, or just looking for ways to help create fair housing opportunities in your area, these podcasts will educate you while entertaining you. If books aren’t your thing and you’re sick of sitting in front of a screen for hours on end, podcasts offer conversational intellect that will keep you in the know when it comes to fair housing in America. These shows and episodes in particular do an exemplary job of breaking down some hard to digest information, allowing you to easily understand critical knowledge and materials that are necessary to understand whether you’re involved in the real estate industry, or simply curious about these trending topics. Just as you dream of the perfect, comfortable home, others do as well across all walks of life and socioeconomic statuses (SES). Let’s do whatever we can to ensure all citizens receive fair housing and live a comfortable life. [social_warfare]
COVID-19 Forbearance plans extended for Federal-backed mortgages

If you have a federal backed mortgage and you are on the COVID-19 forbearance plan, you may be eligible for an additional three-month extension. According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), borrowers with mortgages…

COVID-19 Forbearance plans extended for Federal-backed mortgages

If you have a federal backed mortgage and you are on the COVID-19 forbearance plan, you may be eligible for an additional three-month extension. According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), borrowers with mortgages backed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, who were on a forbearance plan as of the end of February, are eligible for an additional forbearance extension of up to three months, providing up to 15 months of coverage. This is up from the initial 12-month expiration date. This move comes on the heels of the FHFA extending multifamily forbearance policies in December 2020 and extending options for multifamily mortgages backed by Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE’s) through the end of March. Additionally, moratoriums that were supposed to expire at the end of February on single-family foreclosures and real estate owned (REO) evictions were also extended to the end of March. FHFA’s Director Mark Calabria told Housing Wire that the company’s recent actions are to “help keep families in their home during the pandemic.” It is estimated that 2.7 million American homeowners are in forbearance and the forbearance portfolio volume has been steady between 5% and 6% for more than four months, according to a survey conducted by the Mortgage Bankers Association. The FHFA projected that the COVID-19 moratorium on foreclosures and REO evictions could cost Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac upwards of $2 billion. The Federal Housing Administration plans to monitor the impact of the pandemic on the market and has already reported that if risk factors on certain policies become untenable that they will sunset those policies. [social_warfare]
Does it still make sense to put down 20% when buying a home?

Many people believe that before buying a home, they’ll need to have 20% of the purchase price ready in cash to use as a down payment. That can make the possibility of home ownership seem…

Does it still make sense to put down 20% when buying a home?

Many people believe that before buying a home, they’ll need to have 20% of the purchase price ready in cash to use as a down payment. That can make the possibility of home ownership seem overwhelming, as even buying a small property priced at $80,000 means needing $16,000 in cash at the ready, a difficult sum for many households to save.

But the notion that homebuyers need to put down 20% is a common misconception. There are lenders that can help you get a mortgage if you don’t have that much saved for the down payment. Depending on your situation, it may even be possible to get a mortgage without putting any of your own cash on the line.

However, just because you can potentially buy a house or apartment without putting down 20% doesn’t mean you necessarily should. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages and see if it still makes sense to make a 20% down payment when you buy a home...

[social_warfare]
An avalanche of evictions looms in N.J. Renters and landlords say it’s only going to get worse.

…Although tenants can’t be locked out for non-payment, the moratoria do not abate or cancel out their rent, and non-paying tenants fall deeper in debt every first of the month. The analysis by Stout estimated…

An avalanche of evictions looms in N.J. Renters and landlords say it’s only going to get worse.

...Although tenants can’t be locked out for non-payment, the moratoria do not abate or cancel out their rent, and non-paying tenants fall deeper in debt every first of the month.

The analysis by Stout estimated the total amount of unpaid rent through January in New Jersey could be as much as $832 million.

Advocates note that the money is owed largely by tenants who fell behind in the first place because they had lost their jobs and much or all of their incomes.

“Just because a moratorium ends doesn’t mean everybody’s got their job back, and a great many people are going to have trouble paying their rent going forward,” said Matt Shapiro, president of the New Jersey Tenants Organization...

[social_warfare]
More than $100 million sitting unspent in program meant to help pay rent, utilities

A program designed to quickly pay rent and utility bills for people financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic has struggled to get money out the door. The HOPE Grant program was announced by N.C. Governor…

More than $100 million sitting unspent in program meant to help pay rent, utilities

A program designed to quickly pay rent and utility bills for people financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic has struggled to get money out the door.

The HOPE Grant program was announced by N.C. Governor Roy Cooper in October. By giving money to qualified applicants to pay rent, organizers hoped to help people struggling financially stay in this homes and also help landlords who depend on rental income.

On Thursday, Cooper and State Budget Director Charlie Perusse touted the program as a success in a press conference unveiling the governor’s budget proposal for this year.

“The HOPE Program that the Governor mentioned is a leader in the country. We were actually out in front of the federal government on this,” Perusse said of the program.

“The program received about $200 million in requests and we currently have gotten out about $125 million of that.”

But the program has spent less than half that amount, according to the agency administering the program...



[social_warfare]
How will President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Affect You?

President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law after narrow passages in both the House and Senate. It’s an early policy victory for the President and his administration, and is the first prong of…

How will President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Affect You?

President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law after narrow passages in both the House and Senate. It’s an early policy victory for the President and his administration, and is the first prong of a two-part effort to boost the economy and help Americans who have felt the financial burden of the COVID-19 Pandemic for the past year. It is one of the first and biggest initiatives President Biden and his administration promised to undertake after his inauguration. The President will also roll out part two – an economic recovery plan that would focus on job creation as well as climate change – later in 2021. The American Rescue Plan will use $1.9 trillion to provide more aid for the unemployed, provide larger stimulus checks for Americans, find rental relief for renters facing eviction once moratoriums end, increase funding for vaccinations and testing for the coronavirus, and provide needed support for small businesses. Learn more about the benefits of this plan below:

PAYMENTS TO INDIVIDUALS

Larger Stimulus Checks: The Plan calls for another $1,400 in stimulus money to be sent to eligible taxpayers. Unlike the first stimulus last summer, adult dependents will also receive a check, as will families with mixed immigration, as spouses of undocumented immigrants were left without a check last summer. Greater Unemployment Assistance: Those without jobs will get a federal boost of $400 a week in their unemployment checks, an increase from the $300 boost approved by Congress in December. In addition, individuals in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program and those in the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program who have ran out of state money, will be eligible for this weekly boost. Aid for the Hungry: The Plan calls for the extension of the 15% food stamp benefit increase from June through September. Additionally, there is $3 billion in aid that would go to helping women, infants and children (WIC) purchase more food and an additional $1 billion in nutrition assistance for U.S. Territories. The Plan also calls for a public/private partnership between the federal government and restaurant owners to provide food for Americans in need and jobs for restaurant workers who have been laid off during the pandemic. Child Care Assistance: The Plan earmarks Congress to create a $25 billion emergency fund and add $15 billion to an existing grant program to help childcare providers pay for rent, utilities, and payroll, and other increased costs associated with the pandemic such as personal protective equipment.

HOUSING

Rental Assistance: The Plan will allocate an additional $25 billion on top of the $25 billion approved in December, to provide funding for low- and moderate-income households who lost their jobs during the pandemic and who are struggling to pay the rent. Additionally, it will provide another $5 billion in funding to help renters-in-need to pay their utility bills and $5 billion to stop those on the brink of homelessness from losing their home. Eviction Moratorium: The Plan extends the federal eviction moratorium through the end of September and allows for mortgage forbearance applications to be applied for through September 30 as well, as long as the mortgage is federally guaranteed.

TAXES

Increase in Child Tax credits: The Plan will increase the childcare tax credit for one year so that families will get back up to 50 percent of the money spent on childcare for any child under the age of 13. Additionally, there is going to be a temporary increase in the Child Tax Credit to $3,600 for children six-years-old or younger and $3,000 for children between the ages of six and 17 for one year. The credit is also fully refundable. Increase to the Earned Income Tax Credit: The Plan raises the maximum Earned income Tax Credit to $1,500 for one year for adults without children, increase the income limit for the credit to $21,000 and expand the eligible age to help cover older workers.

HEALTH

Subsidize Health Insurance Premiums: The Plan compels Congress to subsidize the premiums for individuals who lost their work-based health insurance through the end of September. Additionally, it expands the premium subsidies of the Affordable Care Act where those enrolled wouldn’t have to pay more than 8.5% of their income for coverage. It also requires Congress to fund $4 billion for mental health and substance use disorder services while adding an additional $20 billion for veteran health care needs. Bringing Back Emergency Paid Leave: The Plan is reinstating paid sick and family leave benefits that expired in December, through September 30. This benefit will also be extended to large businesses (more than 500 employees) and small businesses (fewer than 50) and add federal workers who were ineligible with the original program. The Plan provides 14 weeks of paid leave for individuals who are sick, quarantining, or caring for a child whose school is closed. Businesses with fewer than 500 employees would receive a 100 percent reimbursement from the government. More support for vaccines and testing: The Plan provides a $20 billion investment in a national vaccination program that would create vaccination centers in communities across the country and provide mobile units in areas that are harder to reach. An additional investment of $50 billion will go toward testing, providing funds for rapid testing, expanded lab space and have regular testing implemented at schools so they can reopen sooner and safer. This should create 100,000 new public health jobs, which, if it comes to fruition, would practically triple the current workforce. This investment also expands community health centers and health services on tribal land and supports long-term care facilities and prisons to prevent outbreaks.

ECONOMY

Grants for Small Businesses: The Plan provides $15 billion to create a new grant program for small businesses that is separate from the Paycheck Protection Program. It also invests $35 billion in state, local, tribal and non-profit programs to provide low-interest loans and venture capital for those looking to start a business or invest in one. Provide assistance for states and schools: The Plan will send $350 billion to state and local governments to keep frontline workers employed, distribute the vaccine more rapidly, continue to increase testing and get schools reopened. Additionally, $20 billion is be appropriated for hard-hit public transit agencies to prevent layoffs and route elimination. Meanwhile, $170 billion is earmarked for elementary, high schools and colleges and universities to help them reopen safely or continue to facilitate remote learning. Increase Minimum Wage: The Plan will have Congress approve a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour, eliminate tipped minimum wage and the sub-minimum wage for individuals with disabilities.
Unpaid landlords say they can’t pay their bills –or get new tenants

A moratorium on evictions is forcing small landlords on Long Island to run up credit card balances, take out loans and default on their own bills. Sheriffs on the Island haven’t carried out residential evictions…

Unpaid landlords say they can’t pay their bills –or get new tenants

A moratorium on evictions is forcing small landlords on Long Island to run up credit card balances, take out loans and default on their own bills.

Sheriffs on the Island haven't carried out residential evictions since March, when the state began curtailing court activity in the early days of COVID-19.

With the virus straining many industries, thousands of Long Islanders have lost jobs and are struggling with basic expenses like rent. The government passed policies and bolstered benefits designed to protect renters. Only a fraction of that relief has reached landlords, and some small property owners are reeling...

[social_warfare]
The January jobs report was disappointing, could that hurt the housing market?

January jobs numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released late last week showed a small 0.4% rise in employment. While the rise was lower than many experts had anticipated, it does represent a change…

The January jobs report was disappointing, could that hurt the housing market?

January jobs numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released late last week showed a small 0.4% rise in employment. While the rise was lower than many experts had anticipated, it does represent a change in direction from December’s net job losses.

While the number of workers on temporary layoff dropped in January, there was little change in the 3.5 million Americans who have been laid off permanently. In addition, four million Americans are still long-term unemployed, jobless for 27 weeks or more. Industry experts and analysts largely agree that moderate jobs growth like this reflects just how driven the economic recovery is by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The question now, as widespread vaccination efforts get underway, is whether we will see a steady and accelerating recovery through the remainder of the year, or if we will be plagued with small increases and decreases in unemployment until herd immunity is achieved.

[social_warfare]
Rental Assistance Program: Good news for tenants and possibly landlords

The recently enacted $2.3 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021(the Act), which combined a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill as part of a larger $1.4 trillion omnibus spending and appropriations bill for the 2021 federal fiscal…

Rental Assistance Program: Good news for tenants and possibly landlords

The recently enacted $2.3 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021(the Act), which combined a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill as part of a larger $1.4 trillion omnibus spending and appropriations bill for the 2021 federal fiscal year, contains key provisions that directly impact the hard-hit real estate industry.

In particular, Section 501 of Subtitle A of Title V of Division N of the Act establishes the “Emergency Rental Assistance program” (ERA), which appropriates $25 billion through the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) to provide eligible households with direct financial housing assistance. The enactment of the ERA provides landlords, tenants, borrowers, potential buyers, financial institutions and small businesses with a necessary lifeline to weather the ongoing economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.



[social_warfare]
Landlords pandemic protocols range from strict to laisse-faire

Brooke Bayer ran through her mental list of must-haves as she searched this fall for an apartment to share with her boyfriend. They both needed office space. Their building had to welcome Hazel, her miniature…

Landlords pandemic protocols range from strict to laisse-faire

Brooke Bayer ran through her mental list of must-haves as she searched this fall for an apartment to share with her boyfriend. They both needed office space. Their building had to welcome Hazel, her miniature schnauzer. And their new place had to be serious about pandemic safety protocols.

Policies at Southstar Lofts in Center City, where she lived until last month, had made her feel as safe as she could feel while COVID-19 cases skyrocketed and she called a multifamily building home. The apartment has increased cleaning in shared spaces, asked residents not to ride elevators with people from different households, and removed chairs from the lobby to discourage lingering, among other policies. Signs remind everyone that masks are mandatory, and people should keep their distance.

Easing first-time homebuyers’ fears

Buying your first home is exciting, but it also can be a little scary. Going from renter to homeowner is a big step, one you will not want to take without preparation and assistance. Several…

Easing first-time homebuyers’ fears

Buying your first home is exciting, but it also can be a little scary. Going from renter to homeowner is a big step, one you will not want to take without preparation and assistance. Several issues should be addressed early in the process, such as financing and whether you will work with a REALTOR®. A recent survey by the National Association of REALTORS® revealed that 88 percent of buyers reported using an agent to purchase their home.

Most buyers use agents who are referred by friends or family members.Jason Gutierrez with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Don Johnson REALTORS® has spent more than a decade helping first-time homebuyers in the San Antonio area navigate the process. Gutierrez said 80 percent of his clients are first-time homebuyers. I recently talked to him about the local real estate market and how he helps his clients prepare to become homeowners.

What Landlords Should Know about the COVID-19 Rent Relief Act

There has been extensive press coverage about the need for an eviction moratorium during the COVID-19 pandemic, but little about the effect that moratorium has on residential landlords. Congress attempted to help landlords indirectly in…

What Landlords Should Know about the COVID-19 Rent Relief Act

There has been extensive press coverage about the need for an eviction moratorium during the COVID-19 pandemic, but little about the effect that moratorium has on residential landlords.

Congress attempted to help landlords indirectly in the original CARES Act, by making money available for rent relief. However, there wasn’t sufficient money, tenants were at a loss where to go to ask for such relief, and some tenants had no incentive to even ask for relief. The $900 billion December 2020 COVID-19 relief bill includes $25 billion for the Emergency Rental Arrears Program (ERAP). The new law allows landlords to apply for the tenant, if necessary. Both the tenant and landlord will benefit from this new rent relief law.

When then-President Trump signed the new COVID-19 relief bill into law, the Department of Treasury took quick action on the rent relief money.

Within days, a deadline of January 12, 2021, was set for eligible state and local governments to apply for money. An eligible local government is any such entity with a population of at least 200,000...



[social_warfare]
10 Facts for Millennials During Their 2021 Homeownership Journey

Today’s average Millennial with aspirations of owning a home would do well not to give up. We’re talking about 25 to 38 year-olds who are first-time home shoppers and feel priced-out of the current market.…

10 Facts for Millennials During Their 2021 Homeownership Journey

Today’s average Millennial with aspirations of owning a home would do well not to give up. We’re talking about 25 to 38 year-olds who are first-time home shoppers and feel priced-out of the current market.

Compiled by Benton Capital Mortgage Lending, here are 10 solid housing and mortgage facts about the 2021 market that are encouraging to read as many Millennials stick to their homeownership hopes and dreams and stay ahead of the pack.



[social_warfare]
Mortgage Tailwinds and Headwinds

The COVID-19 pandemic is a historically unique event for all sectors. There’s no playbook, and it’s clear that only some of our experience through the housing crisis will help us to navigate today’s challenges. We’ve…

Mortgage Tailwinds and Headwinds

The COVID-19 pandemic is a historically unique event for all sectors. There’s no playbook, and it’s clear that only some of our experience through the housing crisis will help us to navigate today’s challenges. We’ve had to get comfortable with the wait-and-see strategy, ready to pivot on the latest regulatory guidance, jobs report, or stay-at-home order. As we head into 2021, there’s one segment of the housing market that remains an important bellwether even in these uncertain times: the first-time homebuyer market.

First-time homebuyers are important because they take a housing unit from the market, but don’t give one back, creating pure growth in homeownership. Over the past five years, the first-time homebuyer segment has grown tremendously. However, they have not been immune to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. To best support the health of this important segment of the housing market in the New Year, it’s helpful to have an idea of what first-time homebuyers have going for—and against—them.



[social_warfare]
Existing home prices increase in every tracked metropolitan area in the U.S.

It’s hard to find silver linings related to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, if you are a homeowner who is looking to sell your home, you’re likely going to be able to sell your property and…

Existing home prices increase in every tracked metropolitan area in the U.S.

It’s hard to find silver linings related to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, if you are a homeowner who is looking to sell your home, you’re likely going to be able to sell your property and potentially make some money in the process.

That’s because home prices went up everywhere at the end of 2020. And when we say everywhere, we mean everywhere.

According to data from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), existing home prices rose in all 183 metropolitan areas that are tracked in the fourth quarter of 2020. And in 88 percent of those markets, there were double digit price gains.

BY comparison, 115 of the metropolitan areas saw price growth in the third quarter.

“The fourth quarter of 2020 presented circumstances ripe for home price increases,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist told CNN. “Mortgage rates reached record lows, thereby driving up the demand. At the same time, inventory levels also reached record lows, leading to grim inventory conditions of insufficient supply in the fourth quarter.”

The national average mortgage payment on an existing single-family home increased by $20 per month from $1,020 to $1,040 from the fourth quarter of 2019. This means the national average family income needed to afford a home also increased by nearly $1,000, from $48,960 in the fourth quarter of 2019 to $49,908 in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The Metro areas that saw the biggest increase were mostly in the Northeast corridor of the country, as well as in Florida. Neither location is surprising, but there were also big gains in Washington and Idaho, which may be a little less expected.

Bridgeport, Conn. saw the biggest increase, with prices jumping 40% in one year. Pittsfield, Mass. (32%), Naples, Fla. and Atlantic City, N.J. (both 30%) were the others that jumped by such a large margin.

Increases between 24% and 29% were identified in Crestview, Fla. (29%), Barnstable, Mass (29%), Boise City, Idaho (27%), Spokane, Wash. (24%), Kingston, N.Y. (24%), and Binghamton, N.Y. (24%)

What’s noticeable about this list is it appears the attraction for the purchase of existing homes seems to be hottest in areas that are within driving distance to a major metropolitan area but may be far enough out to provide a more affordable option, or are part of a vacation destination, which could mean buyers are thinking of these homes as potential investment properties.

The other possibility, Yun said, is that with more and more companies allowing employees to work from home, either part-time or full-time, these locations are more desirable to own a home, as you can be away from the hustle and bustle and still do your job.

It’s a true have “your cake and eat it too” situation for homebuyers.

Not surprisingly, the most expensive areas of the county to live were in California, specifically the Silicon Valley. Here, the median home sale price in San Jose is $1.4 million. San Francisco was the only other city with a median price north of a million bucks ($1.14 million), but Anaheim is getting closer ($935,000).

Rounding out the top 10 most expensive metropolitan areas are Honolulu ($902,500), San Diego ($740,000), Los Angeles ($688,700), Boulder, Colo. ($661,300), Seattle ($614,700), Nassau County, N.Y., or the suburban part of Long Island ($591,600) and Boston ($579,100).

Boulder was the only Metro in the top 10 that didn’t see a double-digit percentage price increase.

While this has been a boon for those looking to sell, the tipping point for buyers might not be far off, and prices will have nowhere to go but down.

“The average, working family is struggling to contend with home prices that are rising much faster than income,” Yun told CNN. “This sidelines a consumer from becoming an actual buyer, causing them to miss out on accumulating wealth from homeownership.”

[social_warfare]
The Alliance Helped Secure Key Tax Incentives for Property Owners in 2020

The American Property Owners Alliance helped secure extensions of several tax benefits for property owners in the COVID-19 Relief Package passed at the end of 2020. Here are some key tax provisions that you should…

The Alliance Helped Secure Key Tax Incentives for Property Owners in 2020

The American Property Owners Alliance helped secure extensions of several tax benefits for property owners in the COVID-19 Relief Package passed at the end of 2020. Here are some key tax provisions that you should be aware of when filing this year.

Tax Incentives for Property Owners



Preserving and expanding tax benefits for property owners is a top priority for the American Property Owners Alliance. Click here to see how you can advocate for tax policies that support homeowners and housing providers.

[social_warfare]
Family and Friends Helping First-Time Homebuyers with Their Down Payment

It’s no longer a secret: the reason the housing market is booming is because of Millennials buying homes en masse. They are doing it strategically because interest rates are friendly. Many of these purchases are…

Family and Friends Helping First-Time Homebuyers with Their Down Payment

It’s no longer a secret: the reason the housing market is booming is because of Millennials buying homes en masse. They are doing it strategically because interest rates are friendly. Many of these purchases are being made by first-time homebuyers who maybe were originally thinking of buying their first home in a year or two, but who could pass up the opportunity of such affordable interest rates? That said, a lot of the money being used to make a down payment on these homes are coming from older generations – namely parents or extended family. According to a survey conducted by HarrisX for Realtor.com, 52% of Americans who bought their first home in 2020 said that family or friends helped them make their down payment. This is a figure that doubled the total from last July (26%), where, in a separate survey conducted by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), that percentage was based on home purchases by first-time homebuyers in a 12-month span from mid-2019 through mid-2020. While its easy to suggest that comparing two different surveys conducted by different companies at different time periods is like comparing apples to oranges, the polling was similar enough in design and the question was similar enough in form that to get that big of a jump is definitely noticeable and even eye-opening. The results are most likely the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has deeply impacted real estate on many levels, including the buying and selling of property. Home prices are skyrocketing – in many cases because offers are coming in above the list price. But prices are higher and pocketbooks are being squeezed because of strains directly related to the pandemic. First-time homebuyers find themselves at a time where it’s smart to buy a home – because of the historically low interest rates on mortgage lending – but also where they may not have the bankroll necessary to make the purchase, leaving them in a spot where they are looking to borrow money from family and friends. According to NAR data, the median home price in the U.S. climbed to $309,800 in December, a 12.0% increase from December 2019. That median is the direct result of something taught in economics 101: prices increase when demand is greater than supply. In December, NAR identified a record-low, 1.9-month supply of homes on the market. That figure is based on the time it would take to run out of homes for sale if no new homes or multifamily complexes were being built or developed. In December 2019, the supply of homes on the market was equal to 3 months. With the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 2.7% at the end of January, buyers are seeing the benefit of borrowing from loved ones to make a down payment, as a larger sum to be put down will create lower monthly mortgage costs in the long run. According to the Realtor.com survey, 44% of first-time home buyers said they borrowed money from family while an additional 8% said they borrowed from friends. This type of borrowing was likely necessary because 49% of the first-time homebuyers found a home they loved, but ended up being outbid on the home, according to the Realtor.com survey. As long as the pandemic continues to impact the economy, and home sales boom while interest rates remain so small you need a microscope to see them, you can bet that first-time homebuyers – specifically those on the younger end – are going to be hitting up the bank of mom and dad, or grandpa and grandma, or even uncle Charlie and Aunt Marge, to help make a down payment that will get them into their first home. Information from USA Today was used in this report. [social_warfare]
Biden’s housing agenda starts with fair housing initiative

With a Senate split, progress may come down to executive orders and those the administration puts in place to enforce them. One of the first actions President Biden took after being sworn in as the…

Biden’s housing agenda starts with fair housing initiative

With a Senate split, progress may come down to executive orders and those the administration puts in place to enforce them. One of the first actions President Biden took after being sworn in as the 46th President of the United States was to sign an executive order that would undo controversial policies put in place by his predecessor and continue to strengthen the effort to have fair housing in America for all. Biden’s order targeted two policies put in place by President Trump – a rule that governs how cities determine and act upon housing segregation, and a rule that relaxed standards that police discrimination when it comes to mortgage lending and rental housing. Biden called for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to review these orders and to take the steps necessary to get HUD’s policies back in line with those outlined in the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Although that Act has been in place for nearly 53 years, the homeownership rate for Blacks in America is no better in 2021 than they were when that act was created. With homeownership being one of the largest drivers to creating intergenerational wealth, many feel the federal government needs to take on a more active role - rather than leaving this to state and local governments to manage - in order for there to be a real difference. Marcia Fudge, who was expected to be approved by the U.S. Senate as the new HUD Secretary in early March, is going to be busy in her new gig. That’s because Biden’s fair housing agenda is not just about undoing a couple of Trump policies. Biden’s agenda includes eliminating red tape to make housing development easier as well as implementing new policies designed to close the racial gap in homeownership. Biden feels he can accomplish this because of key leaders he has appointed to important roles in the administration that will tackle fair housing head-on. Jenn Jones is the new chief-of-staff at HUD, after serving as the lead for the nonprofit National Community Reinvestment coalition. Prior to that, she served as a senior policy advisor to President Obama’s HUD Secretary Julian Castro where she was a guiding hand in the development of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule that was an Obama executive order. The rest of HUD’s senior staff is a who’s who of researchers who have studied ways to improve equity and fair housing issues. Atop the list is Alanna McCargo who is now the senior advisor on housing finance at HUD after serving as vice president of housing finance policy at the Urban Institute. Ironically, Sasha Samberg-Champion is the deputy general counsel for HUD’s office of general counsel. Samberg-Champion previously sued HUD in 2018 on behalf of the National Fair Housing Alliance and housing groups in Texas for a failure to enforce the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. He told Bloomberg CityLab in 2020 that “HUD is taking fair housing out of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.” Then there’s Peggy Bailey, who will serve as the senior advisor of rental assistance at HUD who previously was the vice president for housing policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Bloomberg City Lab noted in a January 26 article that the Biden Administration will likely appoint Michael Barr to head up the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), an agency in the Treasury Department that has an impact on fair lending standards. Barr was a Treasury-Department official under President Obama and his first task will be to undo a Trump rule that all but gutted the Community Reinvestment Act requiring banks to fully serve the communities in which they are located. The Community Reinvestment Act could use a facelift though, to accommodate online-only banks and other technological changes that have made lending easier. The hiccup here with Barr as an appointment is that progressives within Biden’s own Democratic Party oppose this appointment because Barr is allegedly too chummy with former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who was deemed to be in Wall Street’s pocket. This is a concern because the OCC has built a bad reputation over the years of being in cahoots with the banks, therefore any link to banks or Wall Street, even if it’s a secondary or tertiary link, is going to be viewed negatively. Barr does have support from some progressives, most notably Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who he also considers a mentor. But, Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown and House Committee on Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters have pushed back against his appointment. These appointments are critical if the Biden Administration really wants to push this housing agenda. With a split Senate, legislation will be tough to pass, meaning that Biden will have to rely on executive orders, such as this one, and having the right people in place to enforce his new rules. This is likely his only path to changing the equity of how the federal government responds to housing issues like fair and affordable housing. [social_warfare]
How Does the Affordable Housing Crisis Impact Our Communities? These 4 Documentaries Will Show You

You can spend hours Googling how-to articles on homeownership, but we’ve rounded up these four documentaries on affordable housing to provide you with a one-stop-shop for all relevant information about homeownership. Not only do these…

How Does the Affordable Housing Crisis Impact Our Communities? These 4 Documentaries Will Show You

You can spend hours Googling how-to articles on homeownership, but we’ve rounded up these four documentaries on affordable housing to provide you with a one-stop-shop for all relevant information about homeownership.

Not only do these documentaries highlight affordable housing across the United States, they also have a large focus on ending the housing crisis across the globe and the homelessness calamity, particularly amongst America’s youth in VICE’s documentary ‘Shelter’.

Read on below to understand the focus of each of these recommended documentaries:

Transformation of Affordable Housing in Rural Areas of the U.S.

This short documentary produced by Greystone focuses on how USDA’s Rural Development Division, and partners, have been working to conserve affordable housing for elderly and low-income residents in rural America. In the film, experts such as Robert Barolak of Greystone discuss the affordable housing preservation process. “There are still a great number of lower-income and elderly folks who live in rural America and who need affordable housing. But it’s aging. It’s deteriorating, and some of it deteriorating quite rapidly. It needs to be renovated and refreshed. It needs to be repositioned for the next 30 or 40 years,” Barolak shares. Greystone has taken that into account and made active changes both financially and in regard to redevelopment.

Greystone manages the repositioning and renovation of apartment complexes in small rural rental communities across the country, primarily in the southeastern states. As Tanya Eastwood, the president of Greystone Affordable Development, shares the company’s plans, “We came up with a creative innovative plan to preserve this much-needed housing. We basically pooled them together in a statewide portfolio type transaction and are able to have a major impact in their real estate schedules that they own.” Recently, Greystone was able to refurbish 1,362 apartments in 44 different communities across rural Georgia with $117 million in financing. In addition to USDA, Greystone actively worked with the Athens Housing Authority, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, and Fannie Mae to assemble the necessary financing.

Sold Out: Affordable Housing at Risk

This PBS documentary was produced with the MN Housing Partnership and shares numerous stories from tenants on how they pushed through the housing crisis to find affordable solutions. Ever-changing economic power and urban development have been closing in on low-income communities for ages, and in turn, negatively impacting the affordable housing market. With each passing day, low-income residents have fewer options when it comes to housing and once we see those families and residents move to more affordable areas, local businesses start to see the lack of patrons immediately and struggle to make ends meet. As shared in the documentary, “Folks at the bottom end of the income spectrum are losing out in this very competitive situation.”

One heart-wrenching example, tenants who had called their Richfield, MN apartment home for up to 15 years received 30-day notices that they had to leave, even after signing 12-month leases, once the complex was sold. The new owners of the huge apartment complex, Crossroads Apartments, immediately put in a set of policies designed to ultimately remake the tenant population, such as increasing rents 30% and stopping all involvement in any government programs.

This vicious cycle seems to be never ending, but ‘Sold Out: Affordable Housing at Risk’ shares solutions to the crisis and eviction scares. The short film also touches on communities of color, asking important questions such as “Is what’s wrong the concentration of communities of color, or is it the way in which we treat concentrations of communities of color?” As said in the documentary, “This issue of housing sits at the center of our wellbeing.”

SHELTER

VICE’s documentary ‘SHELTER’ focuses on America’s youth homelessness crisis specifically. The crew set off to New Orleans to chat with the staff and residents of America’s largest non-profit shelter – Covenant House. The perspective from the alarmingly young residents and passionate staff in the documentary shines a light on the severity of the issue and ultimately prompts directors Brent and Craig Renaud (as well as viewers) to urgently address the plight of homeless youth.

The Covenant House has been protecting at-risk youths for over 40 years and has no plans of stopping. The documentary informs viewers of the day to day struggles the staff handles to keep vulnerable members of society safe and off the streets. With a large majority of these teens being survivors of sex trafficking, physical abuse, mental health issues, addiction, and abandonment, the Covenant House isn’t just a place to lay their head, but a home. Homelessness affects over half a million people in the U.S. and the number of unhoused people increased nationally for the first time since 2010, based on data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In Louisiana specifically, where the short film is based, at least 3,000 unhoused people were reported in 2017.

High Quality and Affordable

This documentary from Gaaleriie centers on affordable housing in Vienna, which is nearly a utopian community when it comes to social housing. Vienna currently has two systems of subsidized housing. One is social housing, owned by the city, where no new private units are built within this sector. The nonprofit sector has been greatly strengthened over the years by working with nonprofit developers such as this one. Roughly half of the population is living in this sector of public housing. Within this subsidized sector, there is a lot of experimentation allowing them to introduce new sustainable housing standards such as energy consumption and integration programs to assist immigrants in Vienna.

Another aspect of Vienna’s affordable housing, which makes them the star pupil of the world, is that every large new housing estate has to go through an in-depth competition process. A team consisting of a nonprofit developer, an architect, a landscape architect, and other experts have to present a “complete product” to the city. These extensive steps ensure that the appropriate amount of time, effort, and consideration has been put into the new development to guarantee it is a safe and beneficial home for those who are seeking affordable housing.

Each of these four documentaries highlight obstacles that the housing crisis puts on lower income populations. A lack of affordable housing doesn't only leave people unhoused, but it also has a huge impact on small businesses, schools, and the overall community. The U.S. can certainly take notes from Vienna's progressive affordable housing system, and with the right financial guidance and support, America can match up with some of Europe's public housing success.

[social_warfare]
UPDATE: Assistance Needed For Renters Across The Country

APOA advocates helped secure key victories in COVID-19 relief legislation including $25 billion in funding for the Emergency Rental Assistance program that will assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to…

UPDATE: Assistance Needed For Renters Across The Country

APOA advocates helped secure key victories in COVID-19 relief legislation including $25 billion in funding for the Emergency Rental Assistance program that will assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

With many renters accruing debt too great to be repaid and more than 40% of rental units owned by ‘mom and pop’-operated small businesses, many of which have been struggling to pay their bills and maintain their properties—timely distribution of rental assistance funds is critical to stabilize housing and keep families in their homes.

The Departments of Treasury and HUD must allocate the funds as quickly as possible and provide clear guidance to state and local governments when distributing federal rental assistance funds—as well as flexibility for landlords to obtain resident consent—to ensure that funds will be paid directly to the property owner on behalf of the resident and that the financial obligations of the property are met.  

Rental assistance is necessary to pull the country back from the brink of a housing and financial crisis.


Learn More: See the Emergency Rental Assistance program eligibility requirements and access Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding program requirements


BACKGROUND

Most recently, on January 20, the Biden Administration extended the federal ban on evictions through March 2021 with an executive action.

Previously, on December 21, 2020, Congress passed an additional round of COVID-19 relief legislation that included funding for rental assistance.

Before, on September 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared a “temporary halt to residential evictions to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.” This eviction moratorium applies to all residential housing. Further, it applies to all renters who self-certify they meet four criteria. The criteria are:

  • Make less than $99,000 (single) or $198,000 (married); This is expected to cover more than 95% of all renters
  • Have used their best efforts to obtain rental assistance;
  • Are unable to pay full rent due to loss of household income, hours or wages, lay-offs, or extraordinary out of pocket medical expenses; note this does not have to be COVID-related AND
  • If evicted, would likely become homeless or need to move in to a residence that is shared by other people in close quarters

On May 15, 2020, The House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act which included substantial rental assistance, however the new eviction moratorium covers a much larger population of renters, around 95%, placing the vast majority of housing providers in jeopardy.



[social_warfare]
Buttigieg On Biden Administration’s Priorities For Transportation Department

Read the original article by Alisa Chang at NPR. CHANG: OK. Let’s talk a little bit about – more about what you’ll be dealing with when you’re confirmed, if you’re confirmed as transportation secretary. Public…

Buttigieg On Biden Administration’s Priorities For Transportation Department

Read the original article by Alisa Chang at NPR.

CHANG: OK. Let's talk a little bit about - more about what you'll be dealing with when you're confirmed, if you're confirmed as transportation secretary. Public transit systems throughout the country have been struggling for years and then even more so during this pandemic because ridership has further declined in many regions. Where do you even start to try to reinvigorate these systems in a post-pandemic world?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, it starts with the president's rescue package, which identifies $20 billion to support our transit agencies that have taken such a blow. But the reality is just trying to prop them up or get back to pre-COVID levels isn't really good enough when you consider the need for us to have stronger transit systems. It's important for safety. It's important for climate. It's important for economic growth. And it's important for equity because we know that in many parts of the country, there are transit deserts, disproportionately in Black, brown and tribal communities that have cut people off from economic opportunity. But again, if we get this right, this is a great example of the kind of investment that really does pay for itself because it unlocks opportunity. It gives people alternatives for how to get around. And it's going to make our economy and our communities stronger.


We believe, along with millions of Americans, that the dream of ownership is a dream that’s worth protecting. If you agree, we encourage you to add your name to our petition.

Are You and Your Partner Ready to Buy a House Together?

Read the original article by Christy Bieber at Nasdaq.com. With mortgage rates near record lows, many Americans are shopping for a home right now — even though prices have also been driven up in many…

Are You and Your Partner Ready to Buy a House Together?

Read the original article by Christy Bieber at Nasdaq.com.

With mortgage rates near record lows, many Americans are shopping for a home right now -- even though prices have also been driven up in many parts of the country.

If you're hoping to score a mortgage at one of the lowest rates in history and you're financially ready to become a homeowner, you may be wondering if it makes sense to find a real estate agent and begin your search.

But if you're half of a couple, there's another thing you have to consider: whether you and your partner are ready to buy a house together and commit to a major joint financial obligation.


We believe, along with millions of Americans, that the dream of ownership is a dream that’s worth protecting. If you agree, we encourage you to add your name to our petition.

2021 – The Year For The Home Buyer And Seller

Read the original article by David H. Stevens at George Mason Mortgage. In my almost forty years in the real estate and mortgage finance business, there have been a variety of cycles that have impacted…

2021 – The Year For The Home Buyer And Seller

Read the original article by David H. Stevens at George Mason Mortgage.

In my almost forty years in the real estate and mortgage finance business, there have been a variety of cycles that have impacted housing. From the oil patch crisis in the eighties, the dot com bubble of 2000, to the Great Recession of 2008, and the most incredible year we just completed, homeowners, housing, and mortgage finance have seen its ups and downs.

The truth behind these market changes is that facts and data matter to markets. Housing is different from other goods and services. Yes, housing is about shelter and that makes it a national treasure that Presidents from both parties have highlighted over the many decades past, but it is far more than that. Housing is the single greatest contributor to wealth in America and when you combine that with the proper market conditions, the ability to build long-term, sustainable, intergenerational wealth can be accelerated.

The fact is, and what many don’t realize, home is where the majority of Americans have the greatest wealth...


We believe, along with millions of Americans, that the dream of ownership is a dream that’s worth protecting. If you agree, we encourage you to add your name to our petition.

National Association of REALTORS®

COVID-19 Assistance: National Association of REALTORS®     TweetShare [...]Read More...

National Association of REALTORS®

COVID-19 Assistance: National Association of REALTORS®  

 

Federal Student Aid

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Federal Student Aid

COVID-19 Assistance: Federal Student Aid  

 

Federal Housing Finance Agency

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Federal Housing Finance Agency

COVID-19 Assistance: Federal Housing Finance Agency  

 

Housing & Urban Development

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Housing & Urban Development

COVID-19 Assistance: Housing & Urban Development (HUD)  

 

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

COVID-19 Assistance: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)  

 

What Does A Biden Presidency Mean For Your Tax Bill?

It’s taken a few days longer than expected, but early this morning, every major news network called the 2020 election in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden, who will become the 46th President of…

What Does A Biden Presidency Mean For Your Tax Bill?

It’s taken a few days longer than expected, but early this morning, every major news network called the 2020 election in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden, who will become the 46th President of the United States. This news appears to have not been particularly well received by the 45th President, the incumbent Donald Trump, who has shown no signs that he’ll concede any time soon, choosing instead to launch allegations of voter fraud and promise legal action.

Eventually, this whole thing will get sorted out. And once the legal process is complete, if it does indeed reveal that Biden is next in line, many Americans will be asking the same question: are my taxes going to change?

It’s a valid question, because Biden has not hidden the fact that he intends to raise taxes by nearly $3.5 trillion over the next ten years on corporations and individuals earning more than $400,000 annually. As a result, high earners have a right to be nervous about a Biden presidency. At the same time, Biden has proposed a package of incentives aimed at cutting taxes for lower-income taxpayers, including refundable credits for everything from paying childcare costs to buying a home. Thus, for some, news of a Biden victory could mean more money in their pockets come tax time.

Stay-At-Home Orders Drive Broadband Expansion

Identified as a federal policy priority in 2009, broadband, or high-speed internet, remains one of the top infrastructure issues facing the country. However, as families continue to work and learn from home, it’s more essential…

Stay-At-Home Orders Drive Broadband Expansion

Identified as a federal policy priority in 2009, broadband, or high-speed internet, remains one of the top infrastructure issues facing the country. However, as families continue to work and learn from home, it’s more essential than ever to invest in smart broadband policy for all communities.  Luckily, government programs and relief packages are providing a new path for states to improve wireless in rural areas where broadband has not historically been available.

The $150 billion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, approved on March 27, 2020, is just one example. $2 billion of the CARES was earmarked to provide support for the transition to fully remote life, including distance learning, telehealth, and broadband expansion. Over 25 states took advantage - including:  Alabama, California, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Mayland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

State, local, and tribal governments were eligible to apply for tech/broadband-specific grants. However, there are some key restrictions for this funding - which can only be used:

  • Programs that are directly connected to COVID-19
  • Have no previous budget allocated/ approved prior March 27.
  • On Dec. 30, 2020, unused funds will revert to the federal government.

Other government programs have ramped up pre-established programs to provide needed relief during the pandemic. On Thursday, October 29th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched the first phase of its new Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction, which will target over six million homes and businesses in unserved census blocks. The auction will provide internet companies with $20 billion in subsidies over the next 10 years and hopes to connect roughly 10 million Americans who don’t have any internet access or are on slow speeds.

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has also launched a smaller rural broadband pilot. In September and October, the agency announced over $516 million in ReConnect rural broadband grants and loans, drawing from a $550 million pot that Congress authorized last December.

NAR Launches New “Fairness is Worth Fighting For” Campaign

A sad truth? Too many people are denied access to the future that properties can make possible. That’s the driver behind the National Association of REALTORS’ (NAR) newly launched “Fairness is Worth Fighting For” consumer…

NAR Launches New “Fairness is Worth Fighting For” Campaign

A sad truth? Too many people are denied access to the future that properties can make possible. That’s the driver behind the National Association of REALTORS’ (NAR) newly launched “Fairness is Worth Fighting For” consumer advertising campaign - aimed to make fair housing a reality for all. 

NAR’s Commitment to Change 

NAR has a deeply rooted commitment to establish codes that set a higher standard for fairness in housing than any other federal law. Since 1997 NAR has funded “That’s Who We R,” a 22 year-long campaign designed to raise awareness and drive government legislation modifications. 

The fair housing campaign is packed with persuasive video, digital, and social media materials that are designed for the public to spread awareness and bring the “fight for fair” into their own lives. 

“Together we’ll hold each other accountable until the fight for fair is won. Because this ad won’t end discrimination in real estate. People will.”

At the beginning of the year, NAR released a Fair Housing Action Plan designed to ensure that all 1.4 million REALTORS® are protecting housing rights in their own neighborhoods. The Action Plan commits NAR to:

  • Work closely with State Association Executives to ensure that state licensing laws include effective fair-housing training requirements and hold real estate agents accountable to their fair housing obligations;
  • Launch a Public-Service Announcement Campaign that reaffirm NAR’s commitment to fair housing, and how consumers can report problems;
  • Integrate fair housing into all REALTOR® conferences and engagements (to include a fair housing  theme throughout the May Midyear Meeting;
  • Explore the creation of a voluntary self-testing program, in partnership with a fair housing organization, as a resource for brokers and others who want confidential reports on agent practices so they can address problems;
  • Create more robust fair housing education, including unconscious-bias training, and education on how the actions of REALTORS® shape communities.
  • Conduct a national study to determine what factors motivate discrimination in sales market
  • Profile leaders who exemplify the best fair housing practices and workplace diversity
  • Develop materials to help REALTORS® provide consumers with information on schools that avoids fair housing pitfalls.

These Fair Housing efforts demonstrate the value and service that REALTORS® bring to their clients and communities in regards to homeownership. 

If you experience or witness discrimination in real estate, we urge you to report it.

Visit Everything you need to know to file a housing discrimination complaint with the HUD if you have any questions. 

How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?

Read the original article by John Egan and Amy Danise on Forbes Flooding ranks as the costliest, most common natural disaster in the U.S. Yet standard homeowners and renters insurance don’t cover flood damage, and most…

How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?

Read the original article by John Egan and Amy Danise on Forbes

Flooding ranks as the costliest, most common natural disaster in the U.S. Yet standard homeowners and renters insurance don’t cover flood damage, and most commercial property insurance policies also exclude floods.

So how do you protect your property and belongings from the financial pit of flooding? You can purchase a separate flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or from a private insurer.

How to Get NFIP Flood Insurance

The NFIP, managed by FEMA, offers federally backed flood insurance sold through more than 60 insurance companies and through an initiative called NFIP Direct.

NFIP policies are available in more than 22,000 communities that participate in the program. The program is the primary provider of residential flood insurance in the U.S. It covers more than 5 million homes and businesses, mainly in flood-prone coastal regions...

Homeowner Insurance Rates Are Rising

Homeowners’ insurance rates are steadily rising across the country. A surge of natural disasters in 2019 and 2020 have resulted in huge insurance payouts, and rate hikes soon followed. The NOAA National Centers for Environmental…

Homeowner Insurance Rates Are Rising

Homeowners’ insurance rates are steadily rising across the country. A surge of natural disasters in 2019 and 2020 have resulted in huge insurance payouts, and rate hikes soon followed. The NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) shows that “in 2020 alone, the U.S. experienced 22 billion-dollar disasters.” As a result, many homeowners can expect to pay more for insurance. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners notes “home insurance rates are up almost 47 percent in the last 10 years.”
Some States Are Seeing Faster Rate Increases Than Others
The article Homeowners Insurance Rates Are Rising - Particularly in These States notes that figures from Lending Tree’s data site Value Penguin, show these 10 states have the fastest rising home insurance rates.
1. California
  • Average premium: $1,826
  • Increase over 2019: 3%
2. Nebraska
  • Average premium: $1,749
  • Increase over 2019: 6%
3. Illinois
  • Average premium: $1,405
  • Increase over 2019: 4%
4. South Dakota
  • Average premium: $2,364
  • Increase over 2019: 3%
5. Utah
  • Average premium: $711
  • Increase over 2019: 2%
6. Rhode Island
  • Average premium: $1,414
  • Increase over 2019: 1%
7. Georgia
  • Average premium: $1,713
  • Increase over 2019: 0%
8. Virginia
  • Average premium: $1,341
  • Increase over 2019:8%
9. Idaho
  • Average premium: $940
  • Increase over 2019: 5%
10. New Mexico
  • Average premium: $1,284
  • Increase over 2019: 3.5%
5 Ways to Lower Your Homeowners Insurance Costs
Even if you don’t live in one of the 10 states listed as having the fastest rising home insurance rates, you may still see an increase in cost. However, there are steps you can take to lower your homeowners insurance costs.
  1. Shop Around: It can be time-consuming to investigate various insurers, but the money you can save might be worth it. Start by checking with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Here you can find information to help you choose an insurer in your state. You can also check with your state insurance department for rate comparisons. While it’s advisable to get multiple quotes to compare prices, make sure the providers are highly rated for serving customers filing claims.
  2. Raise Your Deductible: A deductible is the sum of money you pay toward a loss before your insurance begins payment on a claim. If you have a higher deductible, you can save money on your premiums. The Insurance Information Institute notes, “Most insurance companies recommend a deductible of at least $500. If you can afford to raise your deductible to $1,000, you may save as much as 25 percent.” Remember, you may have a separate deductible for specific disaster-related damage like windstorms, earthquakes, and hail.
  3. Combine Your Home and Auto Policies: Often, if you bundle your insurance policies (home and auto) with one company you can save 25 percent in premiums. It is still smart to make sure your total price is lower with the bundled policies than if you were to buy two policies from two different companies.
  4. Make Disaster Resistant Home Improvements: You may be able to save on premiums if you make disaster resistant home improvements. You should check with your insurance agent to find out which upgrades, if any, can save you money. Each disaster comes with its own set of appropriate upgrades. Homeowners in wildfire-prone areas like California and Arizona will benefit from different upgrades than homeowners living in hurricane-prone areas like North Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida.
  5. Improve Your Credit Score: Having a good credit score can reduce your insurance costs. To make sure your credit history is solid you should pay your bills on time, keep your credit balances as low as possible, and limit your open credit accounts.
Insurance rates can be expected to rise annually. However, steeper than typical increases may have homeowners scrambling to find ways to cut costs. With a little time and attention to your property and your policy, you may be able to find ways to lower your homeowners insurance costs.
We believe, along with millions of Americans, that the dream of ownership is a dream that’s worth protecting. If you agree, we encourage you to add your name to our petition.
Teleworking in a parking lot. School on a flash drive. The coronavirus prompts new urgency for rural Internet access.

Read the original article by Meagan Flynn in The Washington Post. Jason Onorati moved to rural Powhatan, Va., 23 years ago, when he didn’t need the Internet to raise a family. He lives with his young…

Teleworking in a parking lot. School on a flash drive. The coronavirus prompts new urgency for rural Internet access.

Read the original article by Meagan Flynn in The Washington Post.

Jason Onorati moved to rural Powhatan, Va., 23 years ago, when he didn’t need the Internet to raise a family.

He lives with his young son and his 2-year-old granddaughter on a gravel dead-end road on the edge of town, one of many pockets of rural America that lack reliable WiFi. Here, there is no access to video calls, no Netflix or online billing, except via cellphone. Teleworking, online doctor’s appointments and remote school are nearly impossible.

“I’m three-tenths of a mile from the road, which is why I can’t get Comcast,” Onorati said. “They want to charge by the foot. We’re talking thousands of dollars.”

The coronavirus pandemic has drawn new attention to this long-standing problem, with local and federal lawmakers and candidates in Virginia demanding funding and legal changes to bring broadband to an estimated half-million state residents.AD

In a debate last month, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) compared the need for nationwide broadband deployment to rural electrification in the 1930s. His Republican opponent, Daniel Gade, compared it to the construction of the country’s interstate highway network in the 1950s...

It’s Time To Get Smart About Infrastructure

Read the original article by Chris Turlica by Forbes. It’s a running joke in Beltway circles that every week is Infrastructure Week, but while the Senate remains deadlocked over the next round of coronavirus stimulus spending, analysts…

It’s Time To Get Smart About Infrastructure

Read the original article by Chris Turlica by Forbes.

It’s a running joke in Beltway circles that every week is Infrastructure Week, but while the Senate remains deadlocked over the next round of coronavirus stimulus spending, analysts believe that major infrastructure investments might be the key to putting the global economy back on track. Both U.S. presidential candidates have pledged to spend heavily on infrastructure, and industry groups are also calling for big investments in bridges, highways and other major infrastructure projects to spur a U.S. economic revival.

Such spending is long overdue. A third of Americans say roads in their neighborhoods badly need repairs, and half of rural roads are rated poor to fair. Put all 54,000 of our nation’s structurally deficient bridges end to end, and they’ll stretch from Manhattan to Miami Beach. At least 2,170 of our 15,500 high-hazard dams are dangerously deficient. And with 240,000 water-main breaks a year, we annually pour 2 trillion gallons of drinking water straight down the drain. 

Frankly, the state of America’s infrastructure is shocking. But therein lies the rub: With so much of our infrastructure in decay, how can we track all the work that needs to be done? At current rates of repair, it would take decades to patch up those deficient bridges — so where should we start, and which bridges should we repair first? Which structures merely need a coat of paint, and which ones need to be completely rebuilt? With vast sums at stake, how will we decide how the money gets spent?

To find the answer, look at the five-mile Mackinac suspension bridge between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. Since 2016, researchers have installed scores of tiny wireless sensors on “Big Mac.” This year, they will fit thousands more. Powered by the vibrations of passing traffic, the sensors constantly gather information about traffic patterns, wind levels and the condition of the bridge itself, giving inspectors a torrent of invaluable data about the bridge’s safety and pinpointing exactly where and when repairs are needed...

The Pandemic Threatens The Already Vulnerable Affordable Housing Crisis

Read the original article by Jennifer Castenson on Forbes The perfect storm of affordable housing crisis is brewing right now: a threat made up of the already low supply that is hitting the increasing post-pandemic…

The Pandemic Threatens The Already Vulnerable Affordable Housing Crisis

Read the original article by Jennifer Castenson on Forbes

The perfect storm of affordable housing crisis is brewing right now: a threat made up of the already low supply that is hitting the increasing post-pandemic demand head on.  

Before the pandemic, supply was an issue. The National Low Income Housing Coalition published the GAP report in late 2019 that shows a shortage of seven million affordable homes for low-income households at or below the poverty guidelines, or 30% of the area median income.  

So, now, those already taxed supply issues are being further pressured by the pandemic.

Jay Parsons, vice president of multifamily optimization and deputy chief economist at RealPage RP -2.6%, a property management software company, forecasts that the total apartment supply will remain high through 2021 due to the pipeline of projects that were approved and under way prior to COVID. But, he cautions that the pipeline is thinning out and there will likely be a large drop off of completions by 2022...

Average 30-year mortgage rate for purchase loans falls to another all-time low

30-year fixed loan now 5 basis points below the original record set in September Read the original article by Alex Roha on HousingWire. The average U.S. mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed loan fell to…

Average 30-year mortgage rate for purchase loans falls to another all-time low

30-year fixed loan now 5 basis points below the original record set in September

Read the original article by Alex Roha on HousingWire.

The average U.S. mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed loan fell to 2.81% this week, the lowest in Freddie Mac’s survey history, the mortgage giant said in a report on Thursday. The rate fell six basis points from the week prior and is now five basis points lower than the original all-time low set in mid-September.

The average fixed rate for a 15-year mortgage was 2.35%, falling from last week’s 2.37% — matching the record set three weeks ago...

Housing Affordability Weakens in August 2020 as Home Prices Rose Faster than Median Family Incomes

Read the original article by Michael Hyman from NAR At the national level, housing affordability declined in August 2020 compared to a year ago and fell compared to July, according to NAR’s Housing Affordability Index.…

Housing Affordability Weakens in August 2020 as Home Prices Rose Faster than Median Family Incomes

Read the original article by Michael Hyman from NAR

At the national level, housing affordability declined in August 2020 compared to a year ago and fell compared to July, according to NAR’s Housing Affordability Index. Affordability dipped in August compared to August as the median family income rose by 2.2% while the median home prices rose by 11.7%. The effective 30-year fixed mortgage rate1 fell to 3.00% this August from 3.08% in July. Mortgage rates are at all-time lows compared to a year ago at 3.66%.

Line graph: Housing Affordability Index, August 2019 to August 2020

As of August 2020, the national and regional indices were all above 100, meaning that a family with the median income had more than the income required to afford a median-priced home. The income required to afford a mortgage, or the qualifying income, is the income needed so that mortgage payments make up no more than 25% of family income. The most affordable region was the Midwest, with an index value of 197.3 (median family income of $79,570 which is almost more than twice the qualifying income of $40,320). The least affordable region remained the West, where the index was 115.5(median family income of $86,744 and the qualifying income of $75,072). For comparison, the index was 167.1 in the South (median family income of $74,666 and the qualifying income of $44,688) and 161.7 in the Northeast (median family income of $92,605 with a qualifying income of $57,264).

Bar chart: Median Family Income and Qualifying Income by Region

While homes are typically affordable, housing affordability2 declined from a year ago in all regions, except in the Midwest where there was no change. The Northeast HAI had a modest decline of 0.1% followed by the South HAI with a dip of 0.8%. The West HAI had the biggest drop of 1.0%.

Affordability is down in all of the four regions from last month. The South HAI had a decline of 1.2% followed by the West HAI with a dip of 1.3%. The Midwest HAI had a decline of 1.7% followed by the Northeast HAI with the biggest drop of 5.8%.

Nationally, mortgage rates were down 66 basis points from one year ago (one percentage point equals 100 basis points). The median sales price for a single-family home sold in August in the US was $315,000 up 11.7% from a year ago, while median family incomes rose 2.2 % in 2020 from one year ago.

Bar chart: August Housing Affordability, 2020 and 2019

Even with lower mortgage rates compared to one year ago, the payment as a percentage of income rose modestly to 15.7% this August from 15.6% from a year ago. Regionally, the West has the highest mortgage payment to income share at 21.6% of income. The Northeast had the second highest share at 15.5% followed by the South with their share at 15.0%. The Midwest had the lowest mortgage payment as a percentage of income at 12.7%. Mortgage payments are not burdensome if they are no more than 25% of income.3

Bar chart: US and Regional Mortgage Payment as a Percent of Income, 2020 and 2019

This week the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that for the week ending October 2, mortgage applications increased 4.6 from the week prior. Inventory levels are extremely low so more housing supply is needed to help tame price growth. New home sales are on the rise. Consumers can still take advantage of borrowing while rates are historically low.

What does housing affordability look like in your market? View the full data release.

The Housing Affordability Index calculation assumes a 20% down payment and a 25% qualifying ratio (principal and interest payment to income). See further details on the methodology and assumptions behind the calculation.


1 Starting in May 2019, FHFA discontinued the release of several mortgage rates and only published an adjustable-rate mortgage called PMMS+ based on Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey. With these changes, NAR discontinued the release of the HAI Composite Index (based on 30-year fixed-rate and ARM) and starting in May 2019 only releases the HAI based on a 30-year mortgage. NAR calculates the 30-year effective fixed rate based on Freddie Mac's 30-year fixed mortgage contract rate, 30-year fixed mortgage points and fees, and a median loan value based on the NAR median price and a 20% down payment.

2 A Home Affordability Index (HAI) value of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home. An index of 120 signifies that a family earning the median income has 20 percent more than the level of income needed pay the mortgage on a median-priced home, assuming a 20% down payment so that the monthly payment and interest will not exceed 25% of this level of income (qualifying income).

3 Total housing costs that include mortgage payment, property taxes, maintenance, insurance, utilities are not considered burdensome if they account for no more than 30% of income.

How Biden’s $15,000 tax credit plan for first-time homebuyers could be a game-changer

Read the original article by Zach Wichter on Bankrate With less than a month until Election Day — and voting already underway in many states — housing hasn’t been a front-burner issue so far. But one candidate’s…

How Biden’s $15,000 tax credit plan for first-time homebuyers could be a game-changer

Read the original article by Zach Wichter on Bankrate

With less than a month until Election Day — and voting already underway in many states — housing hasn’t been a front-burner issue so far. But one candidate’s plan to encourage homeownership with tax credits could make a big difference in some parts of the country.

As part of his campaign platform, former Vice President Joe Biden said he’d put forward legislation that would provide $15,000 in tax credits to first-time homebuyers. That could be a game-changer in some markets, especially in the South and Midwest where property values are generally lower than in coastal cities. It could mean that some people may be able to afford to buy a house years before they thought they would.

Bankrate spoke to Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors about Biden’s proposal. Yun said President Trump has not made a similar pitch, but emphasized that NAR does not favor any political party or candidate...

Fair Housing Act 101

What is Fair Housing Act and who does it cover? TweetShare [...]Read More...

Fair Housing Act 101

What is Fair Housing Act and who does it cover?

Everything you need to know to file a housing discrimination complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

If you believe you have experienced discrimination in renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, or other housing-related activities because of your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability, you may…

Everything you need to know to file a housing discrimination complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

If you believe you have experienced discrimination in renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, or other housing-related activities because of your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability, you may file a complaint with HUD. HUD will investigate your complaint for free.

Throughout the investigation, HUD will try to help both sides resolve the complaint. If no agreement is reached, and HUD’s investigation leads to a finding that discrimination has likely occurred, it may bring a legal action on your behalf. HUD will seek to address the harm caused by the discrimination, and to prevent future discrimination, by seeking compensation, changes to policies and procedures, and/or training.

Fair housing complaints can be filed against:

  • Property owners, property managers, developers, real estate agents, mortgage lenders, homeowners associations, insurance providers, and others who affect housing opportunities

What to know before filing a complaint?

  • Who can file?
    • Anyone who has been or will be harmed by a discriminatory housing practice may file a complaint.
  • How much does it cost to file a complaint?
    • Filing a complaint through HUD is completely free - both for individuals and community groups
  • Is there a time limit for filing?
    • You must file your complaint within one year of the last date of the alleged violation.
  • Can you get in trouble for filing a complaint?
    • Retaliation is illegal. You cannot be punished for filing a complaint.
  • Are there resources to help you file?
    • HUD provides a toll-free teletypewriter (TTY) line: 1-800-877-8339. You can also ask for other disability-related assistance when you contact HUD. HUD will accept complaints made in any language, and will provide interpreters upon request.

Be prepared to provide:

  • Your name & address
  • The name and address of the person(s) or organization your complaint is against;
  • The address or other identification of the housing or program involved;
  • A short description of the event(s) that cause you to believe your rights were violated; and
  • The date(s) of the alleged violation.

4 Ways to submit a complaint:

  1. Online Portal
    • You can fill out a form directly on HUD’s website (English or Spanish)
  2. Email
  3. Phone
  4. Mail
    • If utilizing email, phone, or mail, HUD recommends you direct the complaint to one of HUD’s regional offices utilizing this form.
How HUD’S Counseling Services Can Help Homeowners and Home Buyers

BY TANYA SVOBODAJ Buying and owning a home is a daunting prospect in the best of times – and the uncertain climate of the economy due to COVID-19 can make it feel downright unachievable. The…

How HUD’S Counseling Services Can Help Homeowners and Home Buyers

BY TANYA SVOBODAJ

Buying and owning a home is a daunting prospect in the best of times – and the uncertain climate of the economy due to COVID-19 can make it feel downright unachievable. The good news is that there are professionals trained to help you navigate your home related worries. Acting Federal Housing Commissioner Len Wolfson said in a statement, to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD),  “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, HUD-approved counselors are there to assist millions of homeowners and renters nationwide and help them keep a roof over their heads.”

Homeowners and potential homebuyers looking for guidance amidst the uncertainty can benefit from the $40 million in housing counseling grants awarded by HUD on June 16th. HUD notes these grants, “Will directly support the housing counseling services provided by the 204 HUD-approved local housing counseling agencies, national and regional organizations and housing finance agencies (SHFAs).”WHY WORK WITH A HUD COUNSELOR?

A housing counselor is an individual certified through The HUD Housing Counseling Certification Examination who can help potential homebuyers understand the buying process, help current homeowners understand how to avoid foreclosure, and help seniors and individuals with disabilities make sound decisions about their monthly payments, among other things.

According to HUD, “In Fiscal Year 2019, HUD-approved housing counseling agencies served 1,015,911 households. Approximately 52 percent of those households were minorities, including 38 percent African American and 10 percent identified as multiple races. Additionally, 19 percent of households served were Hispanic.”

The latest grants were given preferentially to local counseling agencies serving individuals in designated Opportunity Zones, or “economically distressed communities.”WHAT COUNSELING SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE?

While there are a variety of services offered through HUD’s Housing Counseling Program, not all of them are free. Housing counseling agencies who participate in HUD’s Housing Counseling Program are not permitted to charge a fee for:

  • Foreclosure prevention: There are a variety of programs administered through HUD for homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure or struggling with their mortgage payments. A complete list of these programs can be found on HUD’s website.
  • Homeless counseling: HUD funds services to help individuals transition out of homelessness.

Housing counseling agencies are permitted to charge reasonable fees for other services such as:

  • Pre-purchase education: HUD’s counseling services can help potential homebuyers understand how much they can afford, know their rights, shop for a loan, find homebuying programs, and walk them through the entire homebuying process from making a wish list to signing the closing papers.
  • Reverse mortgage counseling: This service focuses on educating seniors about the viability of a reverse mortgage.
  • Non-delinquency post-purchase counseling services
  • Education to avoid mortgage scams

It’s important to make sure you’re using a HUD-approved agency to access these services. The National Association of REALTORS’® Protect Your Investment: A Guide For At Risk Homeowners urges people to: “Watch out for questionable companies who advertise that, for a minimal fee, they will assist homeowners by hiring a lawyer to defend the foreclosure in court or negotiate lender assistance on the borrowers’ behalf. You should contact a HUD-approved counseling organization before you pay or sign anything.”

If you demonstrate that you can’t afford the fees, the agency is required to waive the fee. HUD also requires all housing counseling agencies to provide an upfront explanation of their fee structure and the fee must be proportional to the service provided. If you feel a housing agency is not complying with these regulations you can contact HUD’s Office of Housing and Counseling.HOW CAN I ACCESS HUD’S COUNSELING SERVICES?

After gathering your basic financial and loan information – including mortgage statements, other monthly debt payments, and income details – you can find a HUD-approved agency in a variety of ways.

  • Online: Using HUD’s approved housing counseling agencies search tool you can find an agency by state. You can narrow your search by searching specifically for a foreclosure avoidance counselor or a reverse mortgage counselor.
  • By phone: You can access foreclosure advice from housing experts any time of day by calling (888) 955-HOPE (4673).
  • Through the app: The free app, available for iPhone or iPad, offers contact information for approved agencies sorted by location and language.

HUD’s counseling services are a great resource for homeowners and homebuyers who are looking to educate themselves and make responsible choices in their pursuit of homeownership.

ASCE Infrastructure Report Card

Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) puts together a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s 16 major infrastructure categories in an Infrastructure Report Card. Using a simple A to F school report card…

ASCE Infrastructure Report Card

Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) puts together a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s 16 major infrastructure categories in an Infrastructure Report Card. Using a simple A to F school report card format, the Report Card examines current infrastructure conditions and needs, assigning grades and making recommendations to raise them at both the National and State level.

The 16 categories include:

  • Aviation
  • Bridges
  • Dams
  • Drinking Water
  • Energy
  • Hazardous Waste
  • Inland Waterways
  • Levees
  • Ports
  • Public Parks
  • Rail
  • Roads
  • Schools
  • Solid Waste
  • Transit
  • Waste Water

The most recent report card was released in 2017. You can see how your state ranked here.

How High Are Property Taxes in Your State?

Read the original article by Janelle Cammenga on TaxFoundation.org Today’s map takes another look at property taxes, this time focusing on states’ effective tax rates on owner-occupied housing. This is the average amount of residential property…

How High Are Property Taxes in Your State?

Read the original article by Janelle Cammenga on TaxFoundation.org

Today’s map takes another look at property taxes, this time focusing on states’ effective tax rates on owner-occupied housing. This is the average amount of residential property taxes actually paid, expressed as a percentage of home value.

Because property taxes are tied to housing values, it makes sense that the actual dollar amounts of property taxes tend to be higher in places with higher housing prices. This map takes housing value into account in order to give a broader perspective for property tax comparison.

States tax real property in a variety of ways: some impose a rate or a millage—the amount of tax per thousand dollars of value—on the fair market value of the property, while others impose it on some percentage (the assessment ratio) of the market value. While values are often determined by comparable sales, jurisdictions also vary in how they calculate assessed values...

REDLINING IMPACT REARS ITS UGLY HEAD AGAIN THANKS TO COVID-19

Low-income communities hit hardest by both virus and economic struggles BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the American way of life as we knew it and has negatively impacted millions. But no one…

REDLINING IMPACT REARS ITS UGLY HEAD AGAIN THANKS TO COVID-19

Low-income communities hit hardest by both virus and economic struggles

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the American way of life as we knew it and has negatively impacted millions.

But no one group has felt a greater negative impact from the coronavirus than Black Americans.

Since the pandemic first forced the country to shut down last March, Black Americans have faced job loss, wage reduction, small business closures and community infections at a greater rate than any other race or ethnicity.

This has had a trickle-down effect on housing, as Black property owners and Black renters have struggled to make the financial payments necessary to keep roofs over their heads.

The struggle is real for Black developers as well, who after years of building their companies from the ground up on the shoulders of the need for affordable housing, are likely going to find themselves either shutting down operations or, in a best-case-scenario, starting all over again.

According to an article published by Bisnow, although 92.2 percent of market-rate apartment renters paid rent in June, nearly 25 percent of rent-stabilized units in New York did not.

This is an indicator that the nearly eight percent of renters in this country that aren’t able to afford their rent now because of the pandemic, are likely concentrated in specific areas of the country. And likelier still, into specific neighborhoods, or sections of major markets.

This is the result of ages old discrimination that the government tried to curb more than 50 years ago but is still impacting Black Americans today.

Redlining, which was a post-World-War II government mapping practice that basically segregated communities and allowed banks to discriminate against residents of predominantly Black neighborhoods when it came time to approve loans, was outlawed with the birth of the Fair Housing Act, signed into law in 1968.

However, while redlining doesn’t exist today, the effects of its impact on society more than a half century ago can still be felt, much like the aftershock of an earthquake.

Developers of color told Bisnow they still have hurdles to traverse today when getting loans to fund their projects. This often gets lost in the shuffle because there is a racial disparity when it comes to developers.

More than 13 percent of the country identifies as Black, only 1.3 percent of senior executives in commercial real estate are Black men and less than one percent are black women, according to a 2016 study from Florida A&M University.

Many Black developers have been able to build their business by either purchasing or building affordable housing. The draw toward affordable housing for Black developers is the result of the gap in wealth and equity that exists in America between whites and Blacks.

According to a report from the Brookings Institution in February, the average net worth of a white family is 10 times that of a Black family.

This disparity is largely the result of the housing policies that existed during pre- and post-World War II America.

Redlining, the practice of rating neighborhoods from most desirable to least desirable, ended up segregating Americans predominantly by race.

It became nearly impossible for people to get loans for the less desirable neighborhoods, and Black Americans were especially discriminated against, and couldn’t even become property owners in their own, segregated neighborhoods.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 banned redlining, but the long-lasting impact of it is still felt more than 70 years later.

The homeownership gap in the United States between whites and Blacks is worse in 2020 than it was in 1968.

Add in the impact of COVID-19, and Black Americans are bearing the brunt of the damage economic damage being caused by the pandemic.

Not only were Black Americans more likely to be infected by the coronavirus and die from it, especially in major metropolitan areas where people live in much closer proximity to one another than in suburbs or even rural communities, but the neighborhoods that were hit hardest economically by the shutdown that occurred as the country tried to flatten the curve were in lower-income Black communities.

ACCORDING TO A REPORT FROM THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION IN FEBRUARY, THE AVERAGE NET WORTH OF A WHITE FAMILY IS 10 TIMES THAT OF A BLACK FAMILY.

According to the Urban Institute, layoffs and furloughs from companies during the shutdown, adversely affected Black (and Latinx) workers, leading to more housing instability because these workers were more likely to be living paycheck-to-paycheck before the pandemic gripped the country.

In a city like New York, where whites are actually a minority, making up only 42.7 percent of the population, all of the city’s major developers and property owners are companies run by whites.

“I definitely think that COVID has shone a light on the lack of Black property ownership in the Black community,” Harlem-based Lemor Realty Corp. President Kenneth Morrison told Bisnow. “I live in the community my buildings are in, so when I walk the streets, I am walking by my property.

“There’s a difference when you don’t have that. It shows.”

Some developers are pushing for public funding that would help Black developers climb out of any financial hardships that are the result of the pandemic, but there is also hope brewing that the racial awakening America is currently experiencing may shed light on the inequalities in real estate – especially when it comes to developing commercial properties, and will effectuate needed change.

“I think folks are now recognizing what Black Americans have been going through,” Morrison said. “It’s not just prejudices at work, it is a system, and it is all coming to light. We’re seeing the economic conversations happen that should be happening.”

Homeowners Getting Additional Help From FHA Because of COVID-19

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) recently announced measures to help some homeowners overcome financial barriers that were brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. These home retention measures, which are immediately effective, will…

Homeowners Getting Additional Help From FHA Because of COVID-19

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) recently announced measures to help some homeowners overcome financial barriers that were brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These home retention measures, which are immediately effective, will assist homeowners with FHA-insured single-family mortgages and help them to get current on their mortgage at the end of the COVID-19 forbearance period – assuming they were current on their mortgage as of March 1, 2020 – or were less than 30 days past due.

“Our goal throughout this crisis has been to prevent American homeowners from losing their homes through no fault of their own,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson in a press release. “Providing more solutions now to save homes in the future is part of the Administration’s unprecedented response to the crisis and will contribute to the larger economic recovery already underway.”

Mortgage servicers are now able to use additional loss mitigation tools known as a “waterfall” to assess a homeowner’s eligibility for other retention options if they don’t qualify for FHA’s COVID-19 National Emergency Standalone Partial Claim.

That claim takes all past due amounts and puts them into a separate junior lien on the property, maxing out at 30 percent of the mortgage’s unpaid principal balance. This lien is only repayable at the end of the mortgage, which in most cases occurs during a refinancing of the mortgage, or when a home is sold.

The mortgage servicers are required to assess homeowners using this waterfall either before or at the end of their forbearance period.

For those not qualifying for the Standalone Partial Claim, homeowners may still qualify for the following:

  • COVID-19 Owner-Occupant Loan Modification – this modifies the rate and the term of the existing mortgage, giving homeowners more time and potentially a more affordable rate to pay their mortgage.
  • COVID-19 Combination Partial Claim and Loan Modification – This allows for a partial claim of up to 30 percent of the unpaid principal. Any additional money owed can be handled via the above listed mortgage modification.
  • COVID-19 FHA HAMP Combination Loan Modification and Partial Claim – this is for all homeowners who don’t qualify for any of the previous measures. It reduces the amount of documentation needed to obtain the claim.

“This comprehensive set of measures will help virtually every homeowner who has requested COVID-19 forbearance,” acting Federal Housing Commissioner Len Wolfson said in a statement. “It also provides servicers with the tailored and streamlined capabilities they need to provide assistance to homeowners as quickly and as efficiently as possible.”

The FHA is also helping homeowners who don’t occupy an FHA-insured single-family property.

For those folks, they created the COVID-19 Non-Occupant Loan Modification. This allows non-occupant borrowers who have received COVID-19 forbearance to obtain a modification to their mortgage rate and term.

None of these retention measures will require a homeowner to make a lump-sum payment at the end of the forbearance period, nor are servicers allowed to charge fees or penalties for missed mortgage payments during the borrower’s forbearance period.

New Model: Nearly Six Million More U.S. Homes in Flood Danger

Independent analysis shows greater risk than FEMA maps indicate BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO July 2020 Assessing the risk of a flood is a herculean undertaking. Trying to predict long-term weather patterns, the impact on the rise…

New Model: Nearly Six Million More U.S. Homes in Flood Danger

Independent analysis shows greater risk than FEMA maps indicate

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO

July 2020

Assessing the risk of a flood is a herculean undertaking. Trying to predict long-term weather patterns, the impact on the rise of water in a certain area, as well as changes in the topography of land over time from natural or man-made changes, makes identifying the risk a constant struggle.

That unenviable task falls under the purview of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) which makes the best of limited resources to produce the highest quality maps to support community safety regulations for as much of the country as possible. Nevertheless, a recent analysis has found that by not including all sources of flooding (e.g., heavy rainfall) and being updated frequently,  the federal flood maps have underestimated the flood risk to almost six million homes or structures in the United States.

The analysis was conducted by the First Street Foundation, a non-profit that created a consortium of scientists, researchers and engineers from Rutgers University, the University of California at Berkley and George Mason University, as well as researchers from the Rhodium Group and flood analysts from Fathom. They took on the ambitious task of extending FEMA maps to every home in America except for Alaska and Hawaii.

“SIGNIFICANT GAPS EXIST IN CALIFORNIA, PENNSYLVANIA, TEXAS, NEW YORK, AND TENNESSEE, MOSTLY DRIVEN BY AREAS THAT YOU WOULDN’T THINK OF AS HIGH FLOOD-RISK LOCATIONS, LIKE CHATTANOOGA OR PHILADELPHIA.”

While FEMA maps are generally very expensive, labor intensive and time consuming, First Street was able to leverage advances in catastrophe modeling and remote sensing technologies – like LiDAR from airplanes – in order to overcome the mapping challenges and generate a nationwide model that measured flood assessment to high degree of accuracy and precision.

It was major step forward in educating the nation’s property owners about flood risk and protecting the U.S. taxpayer in the process.

The group’s modeling is “exactly what we need to be doing,” Kerry Emmanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at MIT who serves on First Street’s advisory board, told USA Today. “Until recently we didn’t have people putting all these little pieces together. We had really good people working on that little piece of the problem and good people working on another little corner.”

The new model identified roughly 14.6 million American homes – or about 1 of every 10 homes in the country – have an annual risk of flooding of at least one percent, which is the threshold the federal government uses to assess which homeowners are required to purchase flood insurance. This is contrary to FEMA’s list, which is about 40% lower, at 8.7 million properties in the floodplain.

First Street’s model didn’t just identify blind spots in the FEMA maps, but also made 30-year projections. According to their data, an additional 1.6 million properties will reach that one percent risk plateau by 2050.

While one percent might not seem high – it’s about the same risk you take driving 70 MPH on the highway – if you extrapolate that over the length of a 30-year mortgage on a property, the odds of a home flooding before a mortgage is paid off is about 1-in-4, or 26 percent.

Many of the largest discrepancies between FEMA and First Street maps were in states and cities not typically considered at high-risk for flooding.

Significant gaps exist in California, Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, and Tennessee, mostly driven by areas that you wouldn’t think of as high flood-risk locations, like Chattanooga or Philadelphia.

According to First Street, another big city – Chicago – has an additional 76,000 properties that should be on the FEMA floodplain, but aren’t.

And it’s not just large urban settings like Chicago where FEMA appears to underestimating homes in the floodplain. First Street identified West Virginia as the state with the greatest discrepancy and having even more homes at-risk than Louisiana or Florida.REPEATEDLY FLOODED HOMES ALSO ON THE RISE

While First Street’s research is the most comprehensive to date, it is not the only chink the nation’s armor against flooding that was recently identified.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that programs designed to move homes out of floodplains or provide fortification of homes by elevating them – or flood proofing – are not keeping pace with the number of properties with repeated flooding.

GAO found that there was a 43 percent increase in the amount of repeatedly flooded properties in the U.S. climbing from 150,000 in 2009 to 214,000 by 2018.

In a changing climate when storms appear to be intensifying and coming more frequently, the GAO expects that number to continue to rise.

Most flood experts agree that FEMA must modernize to stay ahead of the curve, especially in inland areas where urban flooding due to heavy rainfall clears the one percent line of demarcation but is not currently included on the maps.

Even with those limitations, FEMA’s methods, which were developed decades ago, assesses only riverine and storm surge flood risks using historical data and without accounting for projected sea level rise along much of the coast

According to USA Today, FEMA and local officials don’t always see eye-to-eye.

Grover Fugate, former executive director of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council, noted that FEMA revamped its flood maps along the state’s coast a few years ago, and actually lowered storm-surge estimates by up to five feet.

Concerned that the agency was using a 50-year-old model to predict the way a storm surge would begin moving over the land, Fugate and his team created their own flood maps and found that FEMA underestimated wave heights in severe storms by as many as 16 feet.IMPACT ON FLOOD INSURANCE

Meanwhile, with this new data, the ever-struggling National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) now faces another financial crisis.

The NFIP has not been able to be a self-sustaining entity ever since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and GAO has listed the NFIP as “high-risk” and in need of a complete overhaul.

Some lawmakers have suggested that the NFIP could move back into the black by mitigating properties that have repeated flood claims either by buying them out, or through flood-proofing.

However, current mitigation efforts are not keeping up with the growth of the repetitive-loss properties and by itself, will not solve the problem.

“Mitigation alone will not be sufficient to resolve NFIP’s financial challenges,” GAO wrote in a June 2020 report. “A more comprehensive approach is necessary to address the program’s fiscal exposure.”

Combine the new data from First Street with GAO’s findings and suddenly, Congress may not have a choice but to consider allowing flood insurance premiums to rise.

The GAO report identified approximately 1 million NFIP policies with premiums that are artificially low and do not reflect the property’s actual flood risk.

GAO suggested that affordability can be addressed by bringing the hidden subsides out into the open and removing them, except for the lowest-income property owners.

“Assigning full-risk premium rates to all policies would remove subsidies from those who do not need them, helping improve solvency. It would also more accurately signal the true flood risk,” GAO wrote.THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT

First Street has also released a tool and website called “Flood Factor.” It’s a downloadable application for a phone in which homeowners and buyers can evaluate any property’s flood risk. It also allows for a historical search on the flooding of a property.

“This sounds like a CARFAX for homes,” Larry Bartlett, the property appraiser for Volusia County, Fla. told USA Today. “If I was a lender, I’d want to know if the property I was lending money on stood a good chance of being underwater in 30 years.”

Along with USA Today, information from Climatewire was also used in this report.

Want to learn more about how to be prepared for a flood? Check out these links below:

Be Prepared for a Flood
Factsheet on how to stay safe before, during, and after a flood.

Flood Social Media Toolkit
Website with social media resources.

12 Ways to Prepare
A postcard with 12 steps you can take to be more prepared.

Document and Insure Your Property
Document outlining specific steps you can take to document and insure your valuables before a disaster.

HUD to abolish Obama-era AFFH fair housing rule

The AFFH rule requires cities and towns that receive federal funding to examine local housing patterns for racial bias. Read the original article by Mary Ann Azevedo on HousingWire The Trump administration will terminate the Obama-era…

HUD to abolish Obama-era AFFH fair housing rule

The AFFH rule requires cities and towns that receive federal funding to examine local housing patterns for racial bias.

Read the original article by Mary Ann Azevedo on HousingWire

The Trump administration will terminate the Obama-era rule regarding the implementation of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, or AFFH, provision of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, according to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.

In a press release issued on Thursday, Carson alleged the provision has proven “to be complicated, costly, and ineffective.”

“After reviewing thousands of comments on the proposed changes to the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation, we found it to be unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with, too often resulting in funds being steered away from communities that need them most,” said Secretary Carson in the release. “…Washington has no business dictating what is best to meet your local community’s unique needs.”

The 2015 rule requires cities and towns that receive federal funding to examine local housing patterns for racial bias and design a plan to address any measurable bias.

On a related note, proposed amendments of the HUD interpretation of the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard have been met with opposition from industry leaders including the National Association of Realtors and Quicken.

But a complete “tearing down” of the AFFH rule, as Carson put it, was not expected...

New Model: Nearly Six Milion More U.S. Homes in Flood Danger

Independent analysis shows greater risk than FEMA maps indicate BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO Assessing the risk of a flood is a herculean undertaking. Trying to predict long-term weather patterns, the impact on the rise of water…

New Model: Nearly Six Milion More U.S. Homes in Flood Danger

Independent analysis shows greater risk than FEMA maps indicate

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO

Assessing the risk of a flood is a herculean undertaking. Trying to predict long-term weather patterns, the impact on the rise of water in a certain area, as well as changes in the topography of land over time from natural or man-made changes, makes identifying the risk a constant struggle.

That unenviable task falls under the purview of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) which makes the best of limited resources to produce the highest quality maps to support community safety regulations for as much of the country as possible. Nevertheless, a recent analysis has found that by not including all sources of flooding (e.g., heavy rainfall) and being updated frequently,  the federal flood maps have underestimated the flood risk to almost six million homes or structures in the United States.

The analysis was conducted by the First Street Foundation, a non-profit that created a consortium of scientists, researchers and engineers from Rutgers University, the University of California at Berkley and George Mason University, as well as researchers from the Rhodium Group and flood analysts from Fathom. They took on the ambitious task of extending FEMA maps to every home in America except for Alaska and Hawaii.

“SIGNIFICANT GAPS EXIST IN CALIFORNIA, PENNSYLVANIA, TEXAS, NEW YORK, AND TENNESSEE, MOSTLY DRIVEN BY AREAS THAT YOU WOULDN’T THINK OF AS HIGH FLOOD-RISK LOCATIONS, LIKE CHATTANOOGA OR PHILADELPHIA.”

While FEMA maps are generally very expensive, labor intensive and time consuming, First Street was able to leverage advances in catastrophe modeling and remote sensing technologies – like LiDAR from airplanes – in order to overcome the mapping challenges and generate a nationwide model that measured flood assessment to high degree of accuracy and precision.

It was major step forward in educating the nation’s property owners about flood risk and protecting the U.S. taxpayer in the process.

The group’s modeling is “exactly what we need to be doing,” Kerry Emmanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at MIT who serves on First Street’s advisory board, told USA Today. “Until recently we didn’t have people putting all these little pieces together. We had really good people working on that little piece of the problem and good people working on another little corner.”

The new model identified roughly 14.6 million American homes – or about 1 of every 10 homes in the country – have an annual risk of flooding of at least one percent, which is the threshold the federal government uses to assess which homeowners are required to purchase flood insurance. This is contrary to FEMA’s list, which is about 40% lower, at 8.7 million properties in the floodplain.

First Street’s model didn’t just identify blind spots in the FEMA maps, but also made 30-year projections. According to their data, an additional 1.6 million properties will reach that one percent risk plateau by 2050.

While one percent might not seem high – it’s about the same risk you take driving 70 MPH on the highway – if you extrapolate that over the length of a 30-year mortgage on a property, the odds of a home flooding before a mortgage is paid off is about 1-in-4, or 26 percent.

Many of the largest discrepancies between FEMA and First Street maps were in states and cities not typically considered at high-risk for flooding.

Significant gaps exist in California, Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, and Tennessee, mostly driven by areas that you wouldn’t think of as high flood-risk locations, like Chattanooga or Philadelphia.

According to First Street, another big city – Chicago – has an additional 76,000 properties that should be on the FEMA floodplain, but aren’t.

And it’s not just large urban settings like Chicago where FEMA appears to underestimating homes in the floodplain. First Street identified West Virginia as the state with the greatest discrepancy and having even more homes at-risk than Louisiana or Florida.REPEATEDLY FLOODED HOMES ALSO ON THE RISE

While First Street’s research is the most comprehensive to date, it is not the only chink the nation’s armor against flooding that was recently identified.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that programs designed to move homes out of floodplains or provide fortification of homes by elevating them – or flood proofing – are not keeping pace with the number of properties with repeated flooding.

GAO found that there was a 43 percent increase in the amount of repeatedly flooded properties in the U.S. climbing from 150,000 in 2009 to 214,000 by 2018.

In a changing climate when storms appear to be intensifying and coming more frequently, the GAO expects that number to continue to rise.

Most flood experts agree that FEMA must modernize to stay ahead of the curve, especially in inland areas where urban flooding due to heavy rainfall clears the one percent line of demarcation but is not currently included on the maps.

Even with those limitations, FEMA’s methods, which were developed decades ago, assesses only riverine and storm surge flood risks using historical data and without accounting for projected sea level rise along much of the coast

According to USA Today, FEMA and local officials don’t always see eye-to-eye.

Grover Fugate, former executive director of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council, noted that FEMA revamped its flood maps along the state’s coast a few years ago, and actually lowered storm-surge estimates by up to five feet.

Concerned that the agency was using a 50-year-old model to predict the way a storm surge would begin moving over the land, Fugate and his team created their own flood maps and found that FEMA underestimated wave heights in severe storms by as many as 16 feet.IMPACT ON FLOOD INSURANCE

Meanwhile, with this new data, the ever-struggling National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) now faces another financial crisis.

The NFIP has not been able to be a self-sustaining entity ever since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and GAO has listed the NFIP as “high-risk” and in need of a complete overhaul.

Some lawmakers have suggested that the NFIP could move back into the black by mitigating properties that have repeated flood claims either by buying them out, or through flood-proofing.

However, current mitigation efforts are not keeping up with the growth of the repetitive-loss properties and by itself, will not solve the problem.

“Mitigation alone will not be sufficient to resolve NFIP’s financial challenges,” GAO wrote in a June 2020 report. “A more comprehensive approach is necessary to address the program’s fiscal exposure.”

Combine the new data from First Street with GAO’s findings and suddenly, Congress may not have a choice but to consider allowing flood insurance premiums to rise.

The GAO report identified approximately 1 million NFIP policies with premiums that are artificially low and do not reflect the property’s actual flood risk.

GAO suggested that affordability can be addressed by bringing the hidden subsides out into the open and removing them, except for the lowest-income property owners.

“Assigning full-risk premium rates to all policies would remove subsidies from those who do not need them, helping improve solvency. It would also more accurately signal the true flood risk,” GAO wrote.THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT

First Street has also released a tool and website called “Flood Factor.” It’s a downloadable application for a phone in which homeowners and buyers can evaluate any property’s flood risk. It also allows for a historical search on the flooding of a property.

“This sounds like a CARFAX for homes,” Larry Bartlett, the property appraiser for Volusia County, Fla. told USA Today. “If I was a lender, I’d want to know if the property I was lending money on stood a good chance of being underwater in 30 years.”

Along with USA Today, information from Climatewire was also used in this report.

Want to learn more about how to be prepared for a flood? Check out these links below:

Be Prepared for a Flood
Factsheet on how to stay safe before, during, and after a flood.

Flood Social Media Toolkit
Website with social media resources.

12 Ways to Prepare
A postcard with 12 steps you can take to be more prepared.

Document and Insure Your Property
Document outlining specific steps you can take to document and insure your valuables before a disaster.

New Executive Order Takes On Housing Affordability Issues

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO In June, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to create a new White House Council to tackle affordable housing issues across the country. The new council will be chaired by Department…

New Executive Order Takes On Housing Affordability Issues

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO

In June, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to create a new White House Council to tackle affordable housing issues across the country.

The new council will be chaired by Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and will consist of members from eight different federal agencies.

The hope is that with all these agencies working together, interagency processes will be streamlined and as a result, development of affordable housing will occur faster.

" Areas of the country that deal with the biggest gap between supply and demand of affordable housing also have the most restrictive regulations put on them by the state and local governments."

“Four nearly four decades, U.S. household incomes have increased at a slower rate than home prices, a problem that was only made worse by the Great Recession,” said John Smaby, President of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). “Today, despite historic economic growth and recovery, misguided regulations and gaps in new home constructions have stopped far too many Americans from purchasing a home.

“NAR thanks President Trump for taking much-needed steps to address housing affordability in this country, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the White House to ensure the American dream remains attainable for all those who seek to become homeowners.”

The newly formed council will meet with leaders from state and local associations to identify the issues that impact affordable housing development and to determine how many of those issues are directly related to federal, state and local regulations on the cost of that development.

The council will focus on finding new ways of cutting regulatory costs.

"This is a matter of supply and demand, and we have to increase the supply of affordable homes by changing the cost side of the equation."

Areas of the country that deal with the biggest gap between supply and demand of affordable housing also have the most restrictive regulations put on them by the state and local governments. In fact, more than 25% of the cost of building a new home is directly related to costs associated with state and local regulations.

“With housing affordability near a 10-year low, the President’s executive order on this critical issue underscores that the White House is ready to take a leading role to help resolve the nation’s affordability crisis,”  Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), told Housing Wire. “Given that homeownership historically has been part of the American dream and a primary source of wealth for most American households, the need to tackle ongoing affordability concerns is especially urgent.

“NAHB will continue to work with the White House and Secretary Carson to find innovative solutions to increase the production of sorely needed quality, affordable housing.”

Only seven homes were built for every 10 households formed in the U.S. from 2010 to 2016, according to the Census Bureau.

“With the signing of [this] Executive Order, President Trump is prescribing a powerful treatment that correctly diagnoses the source of America’s affordable housing condition,” Carson said. “This is a matter of supply and demand, and we have to increase the supply of affordable homes by changing the cost side of the equation.”

Carson added that increasing the housing supply of housing by eliminating long-choking regulations, will reduce housing costs and grow the economy.

Six Innovative Ways To Tackle The Housing Crisis

Read the original article on Home Ownership Matters. As home prices rise and inventory tightens up across the country, states and cities are proposing innovative solutions to provide more homes to more people. Check out…

Six Innovative Ways To Tackle The Housing Crisis

Read the original article on Home Ownership Matters.

As home prices rise and inventory tightens up across the country, states and cities are proposing innovative solutions to provide more homes to more people. Check out ways your community could alleviate a housing shortage.

Opportunity Zone Investment Finally Buzzing Despite Pandemic

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO Like every other business and industry, development in opportunity zones sat out the first couple months of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, in the past month, investors have shrugged the novel coronavirus aside…

Opportunity Zone Investment Finally Buzzing Despite Pandemic

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO

Like every other business and industry, development in opportunity zones sat out the first couple months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, in the past month, investors have shrugged the novel coronavirus aside and have been quite active in the opportunity zone real estate market.

Deals are being closed. New projects are under way. And evidence that this program, that was created to pump billions of dollars into underserved communities around the country, might be the first to show signs of economic recovery as the pandemic panic slowly dissipates.

But was it COVID-19 that seemed to light this spark? Or was it the quick drop in the economy?

“THERE HAS BEEN AN UPTICK IN ACTIVITY BOTH FROM [OPPORTUNITY ZONE] FUNDS RAISING CAPITAL AS WELL AS TRANSACTIONS OCCURRING SINCE MID-APRIL, WHERE IT SEEMS LIKE SOME OF THE MOMENTUM THAT HAD BEEN BUILT IN Q3 AND Q4 IS COMING TO FRUITION.”

Several experts believe that the pause in the stock market and the subsequent economic downturn made people look at their investments for the first time in awhile, after a long period of growth, and made them start to wonder what they should do with their capital gains.

“There has been an uptick in activity both from [opportunity zone] funds raising capital as well as transactions occurring since mid-April, where it seems like some of the momentum that had been built in Q3 and Q4 is coming to fruition,” Economic Innovation Group Director of Impact Strategy Rachel Reilly told Bisnow.

With the market being so volatile during the pandemic, investors pulled their money out of the market and were looking for places to put it – and a popular landing spot was opportunity zone funds.

A bevy of opportunity zone deals that were in the works prior to the virus quarantine either closed on their financing or put the first shovels in the ground since the April showers turned to May flowers.

That’s because development investors believe that affordable housing in emerging areas will succeed, regardless of the economic situation.

Plus, this money is a long-term investment, meaning it’s a good gamble that the economy will be better off down the road than it is now – meaning there will be rewards to be reaped for these investors as these communities start to flourish.

Investors must hold onto their asset for 10 years in order to realize the full benefits of opportunity zones. Although there is always a bit of a gamble with any investment, these projects are likely to appreciate well, making the investment worthwhile when the time comes to sell in a decade.

In Washington D.C. alone, at least four separate opportunity zone projects have begun construction since the lockdown began. Similar projects are beginning or are already under way in Chicago, Tampa, and Los Angeles.

Part of the reason opportunity zone investment and funding is starting to hit its stride now is because the rules have been clarified. The department of the Treasury finalized the guidance for the program last December after what amounted to a two-year question-and-answer session with potential stakeholders.

Bridge Opportunity Zone Strategy Chief Investment Officer, David Coelho, told Bisnow that last year, his company deployed $950M into 21 opportunity zone transactions and hopes to be just as active in 2020 especially because of the down market.

Land prices have dropped. So have construction costs. With most developments taking a year, or longer to build, this economic downturn has been a boon for investors.

“A lot more deals are coming back our way,” he said. “A lot of deals had capital lined up and that capital has fallen out. I think that trend will continue. It’s good for our strategy and for opportunity zones in general as non-opportunity zone capital decides to sit on the sidelines and consider whether there will be distressed opportunities, I think they’ll be less focused on development.”

All of this good news aside, most of the momentum is in development that is residential. The retail and hospitality industries are among the hardest hit by the pandemic and as such, investment in those assets has dried up.

But, the long view suggests that investing in opportunity zones now is a hedge against the unknown of what the future holds. With so many state and city budgets in shambles and with all the government spending that has and still is taking place, it’s likely a sure bet that taxes are going to go up in the near future.

By investing in opportunity zones, by holding onto the investment for 10 years, any profits are not taxed. That’s incredibly valuable, especially in the middle of this virus outbreak.

And if investors are smart enough to see that and sustain it for a decade, it can be a win-win situation not just for them financially, but also for the community they are dumping their money into after being underserved for so long.

Millions more US homes are at risk of flooding than previously known, new analysis shows

Read the original article by Drew Kann on CNN. (CNN) Millions more properties than previously known across the US are at substantial risk of flooding. And as climate change accelerates, many more will see their flood…

Millions more US homes are at risk of flooding than previously known, new analysis shows

Read the original article by Drew Kann on CNN.

(CNN) Millions more properties than previously known across the US are at substantial risk of flooding. And as climate change accelerates, many more will see their flood risk grow.Those are the findings of a comprehensive new analysis by the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research and technology group that experts say has put together the fullest picture yet of the country's growing vulnerability to flooding.Today, around 8.7 million properties are located in Special Flood Hazard Areas as determined by FEMA's flood maps, the legal standard used in the US to manage floodplains, determine insurance requirements and price policy premiums.But as many as 14.6 million properties -- nearly 70% more than are in FEMA's Special Flood Hazard Areas -- may actually be at significant risk of flooding, according to First Street's modeling. The discrepancy between FEMA's maps and this new data means that some 6 million property owners could be unaware of their current flood risk, the group says.

New Data Reveals Hidden Flood Risk Across America

Read the original article by Christopher Flavelle, Denise Lu, Veronica Penney, Nadja Popovich and John Schwartz on nytimes.com Nearly twice as many properties may be susceptible to flood damage than previously thought, according to a new effort to map the danger.…

New Data Reveals Hidden Flood Risk Across America

Read the original article by Christopher FlavelleDenise Lu, Veronica Penney, Nadja Popovich and John Schwartz on nytimes.com

Nearly twice as many properties may be susceptible to flood damage than previously thought, according to a new effort to map the danger.

Across much of the United States, the flood risk is far greater than government estimates show, new calculations suggest, exposing millions of people to a hidden threat — and one that will only grow as climate change worsens.

That new calculation, which takes into account sea-level rise, rainfall and flooding along smaller creeks not mapped federally, estimates that 14.6 million properties are at risk from what experts call a 100-year flood, far more than the 8.7 million properties shown on federal government flood maps. A 100-year flood is one with a 1 percent chance of striking in any given year.

The federal government’s flood maps guide where and how to build, whether homeowners should buy flood insurance, and how much risk mortgage lenders take on. If the new estimates are broadly accurate, it would mean that homeowners, builders, banks, insurers and government officials nationwide have been making decisions with information that understates their true physical and financial risks.

YOU Can Be a Homeowner

The dream of homeownership is achievable for all! Learn about the resources available in your community that can help you on your journey to homeownership. TweetShare [...]Read More...

YOU Can Be a Homeowner

The dream of homeownership is achievable for all! Learn about the resources available in your community that can help you on your journey to homeownership.

We All Deserve the Right to Homeownership

Homeownership Month Last month during Homeownership Month, we celebrated the new era of homeownership and recognize the people, policies, and programs that are #CreatingHome now and into the future. https://youtu.be/Rr0havITkDY TweetShare [...]Read More...

We All Deserve the Right to Homeownership

Homeownership Month

Last month during Homeownership Month, we celebrated the new era of homeownership and recognize the people, policies, and programs that are #CreatingHome now and into the future.

https://youtu.be/Rr0havITkDY

How to Protect Your Credit During COVID-19

During these uncertain times, support is available for homeowners. Learn about resources that can help you navigate financial hardships. TweetShare [...]Read More...

How to Protect Your Credit During COVID-19

During these uncertain times, support is available for homeowners. Learn about resources that can help you navigate financial hardships.

Your Voice Counts

Support your community. Learn how you can be an informed homeowner and take action on policy decisions impacting your neighborhood. TweetShare [...]Read More...

Your Voice Counts

Support your community. Learn how you can be an informed homeowner and take action on policy decisions impacting your neighborhood.

HUD Awards Nearly $1 Million in CARES Act Funding to Nineteen State and Local Fair Housing Organizations to Support COVID-19 Related Activities

Read the original article on HUD.gov. WASHINGTON – The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it is awarding $962,160 in funding to HUD Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) agencies in New York,…

HUD Awards Nearly $1 Million in CARES Act Funding to Nineteen State and Local Fair Housing Organizations to Support COVID-19 Related Activities

Read the original article on HUD.gov.

WASHINGTON - The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it is awarding $962,160 in funding to HUD Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) agencies in New York, Louisiana, Rhode Island, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California, Texas, Indiana, Florida, Nebraska, Hawaii, South Carolina, Maryland, Michigan, Connecticut, and New Jersey to support activities related to COVID-19. The awards to the nineteen organizations are part of $1.5 million in Partnership and Special Enforcement Effort funds being provided to FHAP agencies through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) of 2020, which President Trump signed into law to provide federal agencies with the resources needed to combat COVID-19.

“The funds being awarded today will do much to help these organizations address potential fair housing issues related to COVID-19,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “FHAP agencies not only have considerable knowledge about how the virus is affecting communities they serve, they are adept at making the most of financial resources they receive.”

The New York State Division of Human Rights is receiving $144,485 to fund the hiring of additional staff to address its backlog of cases that was created by the alteration of work processes due to COVID-19, and purchase technology that will improve the agency’s ability to function in a 100 percent remote environment...

The Tax Benefits Of Purchasing A Home

Read the original article by TurboTax on The Street. Purchasing a home is a major life decision, but it’s one made easier by the many tax advantages available to homeowners. Items that can affect your taxes…

The Tax Benefits Of Purchasing A Home

Read the original article by TurboTax on The Street.

Purchasing a home is a major life decision, but it’s one made easier by the many tax advantages available to homeowners. Items that can affect your taxes include:

In addition to these, you can also benefit from a tax shelter on profits from the sale of your home. You also may be able to reduce their federal tax withholding in anticipation of lower tax bills related to future mortgage interest and property tax deductions. This can increase your take-home pay and make it easier to make your monthly payments...

A New Era of Homeownership

National Association of Retailer’s Dr. Jessica Lautz discusses homeownership trends and the impact of COVID-19 on the housing market. TweetShare [...]Read More...

A New Era of Homeownership

National Association of Retailer's Dr. Jessica Lautz discusses homeownership trends and the impact of COVID-19 on the housing market.

Covid-19 and your credit score: Worry about it later

Read the original article by Michelle Singletary on The Washington Post. You’ve lost your job, or your work hours have been cut. Or maybe you’ve been furloughed and you aren’t sure if you’ll be called back…

Covid-19 and your credit score: Worry about it later

Read the original article by Michelle Singletary on The Washington Post.

You’ve lost your job, or your work hours have been cut. Or maybe you’ve been furloughed and you aren’t sure if you’ll be called back to work.

Another 1.5 million workers filed for first-time unemployment insurance last week. If you are among the newly unemployed, the loss in income may have resulted in a missed mortgage or rent payment. You may not even be able to make your minimum credit card payment. You’re stressed. So, what are the financial issues you should be worried about?

One thing that you shouldn’t sweat is your credit score. Now is not the time.

One question I’ve been getting repeatedly when I do financial segments on television and radio programs is this: How will the novel coronavirus pandemic affect people’s credit scores?

Yes, we in the personal finance space are always talking about getting and keeping a good credit score. An excellent credit score is like a super-high SAT score. You get mad respect...

Refinancing During The Pandemic is Possible, It Just Looks A Little Different

BY TANYA SVOBODA Mortgage rates continue to fall to record lows, spurring many homeowners to begin refinancing their home loans. On May 18th The Mortgage Reports stated, “Mortgage rates in the 2s are here. And we’re not…

Refinancing During The Pandemic is Possible, It Just Looks A Little Different

BY TANYA SVOBODA

Mortgage rates continue to fall to record lows, spurring many homeowners to begin refinancing their home loans. On May 18th The Mortgage Reports stated, “Mortgage rates in the 2s are here. And we’re not talking about a one-time instance of 2.99%, either. We’re talking about real, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages starting at 2.5% from multiple lenders.”

Homeowners interested in moving forward with a refinance need to understand that the process looks a little different than it did prior to the pandemic.

YOUR REFINANCE MIGHT TAKE LONGER

If you want to refinance, you’ll have to wait in line because the rush to refinance has created a considerable backlog. USA Today reports that “During the first week of March, refinancing applications reached their highest level in nearly 11 years, and jumped 79% week over week, the largest leap since November 2008.” The rush to refinance has created a backlog that’s overwhelming lenders.

With the Federal Reserve cutting borrowing costs to near-zero, you can expect the refinancing backlog to continue. Homeowners that want to take advantage of low rates shouldn’t wait to start the process since many banks are trying to process loan applications in the order that they came in.

THE REFINANCING PROCESS HAS ADAPTED TO COMPLY WITH PANDEMIC GUIDELINES

The four main areas of the refinancing process that face pandemic related changes are title searches, the application process, the appraisal process, and the closing process. Note that the differences you’ll experience with the refinancing process will vary geographically.

TITLE SEARCHES

Title searches are done by lenders as a way to ensure their investment. A title search allows your lender to verify no liens or judgments have been placed against you since the time you received your original loan.

WHAT ARE THE COVID RELATED CHANGES?

  • The search process gets complicated: Some government offices are closed making the title search process challenging. Many of the closed jurisdictions are allowing titles up until the date of their closure to be searched online but other jurisdictions without access to electronic searches cannot offer title searches at all, meaning the borrower cannot refinance.
  • Notarization moves online: A notary public is needed to authenticate signatures as a part of a standard title search. Several states are allowing Remote Online Notarization (RON) either by way of legislation or emergency orders. The process is completed entirely online and requires no direct contact. After verifying the signer’s identity, electronic signatures are obtained, the document is notarized remotely, and returned to the signer.

In cases where using RON is not possible, title companies are obtaining signatures with limited contact. Joe Gentile, president of Federal Title & Escrow Company, told WTOP News, “We’ll leave [the document] on their doorstep and step back to our car, and have them come outside and sign it so we can see them sign it. Then we have them leave it outside and we grab the document, having witnessed the signature so we can notarize it.”

THE APPLICATION PROCESS

Typically, when you apply for a loan, the potential lender will check your credit score and your employment status to protect themselves against the possibility of loan default. In normal times, these procedures are pretty straight forward, but in the uncertain financial times of COVID-19, the procedures have become stricter.

WHAT ARE THE COVID RELATED CHANGES?

  • Credit score minimums have risen: FICO scores help lenders determine how likely it is for a borrower to return a loan. Typically speaking, the higher the FICO score, the lower the risk to the lender and the more likely the borrower is to receive a loan. FICO scores range from 300-850; with 800 and above considered exceptional and 579 or less considered poor.

Normally, to qualify for a conventional mortgage, lenders require a FICO score of about 620. The article Mortgage Standards Get Tougher as Banks Face Greater Risks notes, “What has changed is that investors, in the face of epic uncertainty, have put pressure on banks to restrict their loans to only the most creditworthy borrowers.”

The Bank of America and JP Morgan both now require credit scores in the 700’s. And homeowners refinancing to pull cash from their equity will find, in addition to needing a higher credit score, that some banks’ loan-to-value ratio has been reduced by 5% compared to pre-COVID-19 ratios. This is due, in part, because of the strain mortgage companies are experiencing as a result of government relief programs granting homeowners forbearance as a result of COVID related financial hardship.

  • Employment verification: The surge in unemployment since March has resulted in lenders taking extra steps to verify current work status for potential borrowers including homeowners looking to refinance. While lenders are accepting verbal verification of employment, this can often be difficult to obtain because many offices and businesses are closed.

If verbal verification can’t be obtained, some lenders are accepting emails from the employer’s work address along with pay stubs for the year to date of the pay period directly preceding the employers note.

Once verification has been obtained the application process can move forward. However, borrowers should expect a reverification just before their closing date.

  • Length of the process: Although the length of the refinancing process varies by lender and in relation to each borrower’s unique situation, a typical refinancing takes between 20-45 days. You can expect the entire refinancing journey during COVID-19 to take a bit longer than usual given the additional challenges at nearly every step of the process.

THE APPRAISAL PROCESS

Appraisals are completed by an independent licensed or certified professional to determine your home’s value, to protect the bank from lending more than your home is worth. Typically, appraisals are determined by a combination of the value comparable homes in the area and an onsite inspection of your home. The onsite assessment of the home is providing unique challenges to the refinancing processes during

COVID-19.WHAT ARE THE COVID RELATED CHANGES?

  • Appraisal waivers are possible: For low loan-to-value refis, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac offer appraisal waivers, referred to respectively as Property Inspector Waivers and Automated Collateral Evaluation.
  • Desktop appraisals can be completed remotely: Your lender can tell you if you qualify for a desktop appraisal. If you do, your appraiser will use comparables, basic research, MLS listings and public records to determine the value of your home. These appraisals may also include video conference interviews with you to virtually tour your home.
  • Exterior appraisals may also be completed: Your lender can tell you if you qualify for an exterior appraisal, although relying on this alone is rare. More likely, your appraiser will use an exterior appraisal in conjunction with their desktop research. As you might expect, exterior appraisals, also referred to as “drive by appraisals” involve the appraiser viewing the exterior of your home from the street or sidewalk.

THE CLOSING PROCESS

The closing process for a refi usually involves a lender representative, yourself and occasionally a notary public. During the meeting you are presented with the final documents and terms for the loan and provide your signature to indicate your agreement to those terms. Understandably, closing proceedings have been forced to change due to

COVID-19.WHAT ARE THE COVID RELATED CHANGES?

  • Closings involve less people and less contact: Similar to the title search process, lenders are using Remote Online Notarization to complete the notarization portion of the closing process. Your lender will have information about whether in person or online closing procedures are possible for you in your area.

When closing does have to be done in person, it is typical for the proceeding to happen at your home. Lending companies should be following CDC guidelines for social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). You can expect to forego handshakes and plan to use your own pens to limit contact between you and the lender’s representative.

  • Clean closing rooms may be an option: Some lenders, recognizing that homeowners may be uncomfortable hosting strangers in their homes during these unique times, have created “clean rooms.” For the Williston Financial Group that means using a room in their offices, which are otherwise closed, for the sole purpose of closings. They’re referred to as single-use clean closing rooms and are disinfected between each use.
The housing market will bounce back. But not everyone will be able to benefit

Read the original article by Lawrence Yun on CNN Business The US housing market has been hit hard by the pandemic. The visible impact of the lockdown has been clear, with millions of Americans out…

The housing market will bounce back. But not everyone will be able to benefit

Read the original article by Lawrence Yun on CNN Business

The US housing market has been hit hard by the pandemic. The visible impact of the lockdown has been clear, with millions of Americans out of work and few doing any shopping, including major purchases like buying a home. There has just been too much uncertainty about the economy and the potential deadly consequences of the coronavirus.

In April, pending home sales reached their lowest mark in nearly two decades. As a result, we expect actual closing activity, which follows contract signings, will have reached a trough in May

.However, as more Americans get back to work, we are starting to see both buyers and sellers returning to the market, creating the beginnings of what we believe is a V-shaped recovery in the housing sector. Over the past several weeks, purchase activity has been 13% higher than it was during the same period a year ago. Listed homes are under contract within about 30 days, indicating a very swift market.

But not everyone who wants to buy a home will be able to participate in this recovery.

Realtors across the country are saying there are not enough homes for sale compared to the number of buyers in the marketplace. For first-time homebuyers, the market looks especially tough.

Pent-up housing demand has intensified for several years due to natural population growth. And the low interest rate environment further enlarged the pool of eligible home buyers.

On the supply side, for the past decade or so, homebuilders simply were not building a sufficient number of homes to match the rising housing demand. In my estimation, we were short by 5 to 6 million housing units. That's why home prices have been increasing for so many years.

In the early weeks of the lockdown, the total listings of homes for sale fell significantly, as some listings were pulled off the market because homeowners did not want strangers coming into their homes and some would-be listings that typically show up in spring did not. The housing shortage worsened. That is why, even with buyers taking a pause, home prices continued to rise in March, April and May.

The homeownership rate is naturally higher for those with above median income compared to those with incomes that are below the median (78.8% vs. 51.8%) given their financial resources. Ownership rates are also higher among older households compared to younger ones (over 70% for those aged 45 and over compared to 61.5% for those 35 to 44 and 37.3% for those under 35 years old). But a stark contrast also exists among whites vs. the non-Hispanic population and minority households (nearly 74% for whites, 44% for black households, 48.9% for Hispanics and 59.1% for Asians, Native, Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders). That means that the wealth disparity remains large and will persist at a time of a housing market boom. It is therefore critical to consider measures to boost opportunity or else the howeownership wealth gap will widen even further.

Being able to afford a down payment has consistently been a major hurdle for first-time homebuyers. Our data at NAR shows more family members are assisting with down payments for their children. For those less fortunate to have a wealthy family member, a down payment assistance program or a home buyer tax credit can go a long way to help start up the ladder of ownership and wealth building.

The demand for assistance in itself, however, will not significantly chip away at the gap in ownership and wealth. We also need a huge boost in housing supply, which will relieve the housing shortage and tame the current fast-rising home prices. All barriers to homebuilding, including regulatory burdens — like long and uncertain housing permit approval processes — and zoning laws, need to be seriously reexamined and modified. Based on current conditions, perhaps even offering real estate investors incentives to unload properties onto the market will improve inventory and give more chances at ownership for first-time buyers. A capital gains tax relief for selling investor properties will also certainly help move the dial.

America is an unmatched economic superpower. However, not everyone has participated in the progress. The explicit discrimination of the past and the hidden unconscious biases of today have prevented equal opportunities for minority households. Let's ensure homeownership and the accompanying wealth build-up are open to more Americans.

Financial Benefits of Homeownership

Last month during Homeownership Month, we celebrated the new era of homeownership and recognize the people, policies, and programs that are #CreatingHome now and into the future. TweetShare [...]Read More...

Financial Benefits of Homeownership

Last month during Homeownership Month, we celebrated the new era of homeownership and recognize the people, policies, and programs that are #CreatingHome now and into the future.

Make Your Dream a Reality

Even if you haven’t seen your family or friends pursue homeownership, that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible for you! TweetShare [...]Read More...

Make Your Dream a Reality

Even if you haven’t seen your family or friends pursue homeownership, that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible for you!

Small Business Landlords Drowning In The Wake Of COVID-19 Renter Protections

Often forgotten when thinking about the effect of COVID-19 on small business owners, private landlords are really feeling the economic crunch on their properties. Take Maribeth Shields for example. Bloomberg featured her in a recent article…

Small Business Landlords Drowning In The Wake Of COVID-19 Renter Protections

Often forgotten when thinking about the effect of COVID-19 on small business owners, private landlords are really feeling the economic crunch on their properties.

Take Maribeth Shields for example.

Bloomberg featured her in a recent article as someone who is struggling to pay her mortgages because rental properties are her small business.

Shields owns 27 apartments in and around the city of West Haven, Conn. A majority of these apartments are low-income and because of the coronavirus outbreak, more than half of her tenants aren’t paying their rent.

Yes, the tenants are being protected – Connecticut put a moratorium on evictions until July because of the pandemic – but no such protection was put in place for private landlords like Shields, who told Bloomberg she is behind on $1.2 million in mortgages.

No one is advocating for mass evictions. There are no winners here and everyone is hurting. But landlords have no (legal) remedies"

She isn’t alone. Individual landlords across the country are facing the same dilemma, and with no resolution insight, once these bans on evictions are lifted, chaos is bound to ensue.

Landlords will want their money to try and come out from under their crushing debt and avoid foreclosure. Renters will appeal their evictions, buying themselves at least another month to either come up with the cash or find a new place to live.

And neither situation is good for housing in America.

Yes, the federal CARES act that passed in March did allot for mortgage protection for homeowners with government-backed mortgages, allowing for them to defer payments for up to year. But that only encompasses about half of the mortgages nationwide on rental properties.

The other half have to pay up, or risk losing their properties altogether.

The federal government did not offer relief for renters though, leaving that up to the states in the form of these eviction bans. The notion was that although unemployment was climbing at an alarming rate, stimulus checks from the government and additional dollars being handed out in unemployment would make up for the lost wages and allow renters to pay their bills.

Except, that hasn’t happened.

Instead, renters are showing their landlords empty pockets, who in turn are begging their lenders for more time to pay their mortgages and the end result is a major crimp on property tax revenue.

And there’s no bail out on property taxes. Instead, there will be mounting penalties and late fees, and likely an increase in liens, that will wreak havoc with credit scores and make landlords – who operate on slim profit margins to begin with –end up in just as bad a situation, if not worse, then their renters who currently aren’t paying the rent.

It’s a vicious cycle. And it’s not getting any better.

Because of the pandemic, there’s a lot of activism on the tenant side as well. Rent strikes are being organized. Efforts like the “Right to Cure” ordinance in San Antonio – which would have granted an additional 30-day grace period for renters once the moratoriums are lifted before they had to pay rent – was defeated by a narrow margin in City Council (6-5) because the council recognized there are concerns for property owners that were not addressed in this bill.

Read More: What will happen to property taxes in your area and nationally when the country returns to business as usual following the coronavirus pandemic?

Most of the affordable housing in America is owned by small companies or individual landlords. If they can’t afford their mortgages and are forced to sell the properties they own or even abandon them in some instances, those properties will likely be gobbled up by Wall Street firms with a lot more capital, who would likely turn them from affordable to unaffordable for most renters.

“No one is advocating for mass evictions,” Matthew Paletz, CEO of Paletz Law, a Troy, Mich.-based firm that represents landlords and property owners, told the Detroit Free Press. “There are no winners here and everyone is hurting. But landlords have no (legal) remedies” during the moratorium.

According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, 88 percent of apartment tenants made a full or partial rent payment in May by May 13. That was down two percent from the same time a year ago, but it was also down four percent from April. While those numbers are better than expected, it’s still a number going in the wrong direction with uncertainty remaining for the rest of 2020.

Compounding that data is the fact that it doesn’t include information on apartments rented by smaller or individual landlords, and it doesn’t include units that are considered affordable housing. This is the area where financial strain is more likely.

“No property owner can withstand that revenue loss,” Tim Thorland, executive director of Southwest Housing Solutions told the Detroit Free Press. “There’s a misconception of real estate industry that it’s flush with cash and prepared to weather any storm. The fact of the matter is it’s a thin margin industry and you can be successful if things go as expected.”

Tax Credits And Incentives Are Making Solar Power More Affordable For Homeowners

While the federal government continues to issue legislation promoting and protecting the use of coal, natural gas, and nuclear power, many states are making non-carbon electricity like solar energy a priority. In fact, 15 states are pushing for 100%…

Tax Credits And Incentives Are Making Solar Power More Affordable For Homeowners

While the federal government continues to issue legislation promoting and protecting the use of coal, natural gas, and nuclear power, many states are making non-carbon electricity like solar energy a priority. In fact, 15 states are pushing for 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050. “States have a golden opportunity to continue moving the ball forward, and those that are aiming high are already seeing big results” said Emma Searson, Environment America’s 100% Renewable Campaign Director.

Homeowners that previously found the transition to solar power too expensive are now able to make the move thanks to the rebates, incentives, and tax credits that accompany these new energy policies. For example, EnergySage notes that by utilizing new energy savings programs, homeowners can install a solar panel system anywhere with a cost reduction of 26% to 50% depending on where they live.

VIRGINIA IS LEADING THE WAY

In mid-April, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) which made Virginia the first southern state to commit to providing 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050, an ambitious goal considering Virginia only produced 7% of its energy from renewable sources as of 2018. The act sets clear milestones to move the state toward clean energy. Virginia joins Colorado, New Mexico, Maine, New York, and other states who already have policies in place to advance them toward completely renewable energy sources by mid-century.

SOLAR TAX CREDITS AVAILABLE TO HOMEOWNERS

  • Investment Tax Credit (ITC): Residential customers can take advantage of the solar Investment Tax Credit, which allows you, as a homeowner, to deduct a portion of your solar costs from your taxes, until December 31st, 2023. This credit, equal to 26% of the cost of your solar panel system, applies to the three major types of solar technology photovoltaicsolar heating and cooling, and concentrating solar technology.
  • State Tax Credit: Some states offer additional tax credits for your solar panel system. State tax credits allow you to deduct a portion of your solar panel system from your state tax bill. The amount of the credit you’ll receive varies by state.
  • Property Tax Exemptions: While not available in all states, this exemption allows you to avoid higher property taxes as a result of solar panel installation. Meaning if your property value rises as a result of adding solar panels, your state or local government may allow you to remove the added value for tax purposes.
  • Sales Tax Exemptions: This exemption allows you to reduce the upfront costs of your home’s solar system by providing relief from state sales tax. Again, this exemption is not available in all states.

OTHER INCENTIVES AVAILABLE TO HOMEOWNERS

  • Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC): In states where legislation has been passed moving toward 100 percent carbon-free electricity, utility companies are required to generate a specific percentage of their power from renewable energy.

If you live in one of these states, your contribution to the grid will result in solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs). Prices for SRECs fluctuate based on supply and demand, like the stock market, but according to EnergySage selling your SRECs “can result in hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars per year in income depending on SREC market in your state.” To see these profits you need to own, not lease, your solar panel system.

  • Performance-Based Incentives (PBI): Some states offer performance-based incentives (PBIs), which will pay you, the system owner, a per kilowatt-hour credit for the electricity your system produces. The price for PBIs is determined when the system is installed and since it’s not sold through a market the price will not fluctuate.
  • Net Energy Metering (NEM): Net Energy Metering is a billing agreement between you and your utility company to measure your home’s energy use and production from and to the grid. Your input and output are measured by a meter that is installed by your utility company. If you create a surplus of energy you will receive a monetary or kWh credit which you can use when your system isn’t producing enough energy.
  • Cash Rebates: You also have the possibility of receiving a cash rebate for your solar energy system. Some states, local governments, utility companies, or other organizations looking to advance solar energy, offer limited time (and quantity) rebates that can reduce the cost of your system by 10 to 20 percent.

SOLAR INSTALLERS AND UTILITY COMPANIES CAN HELP YOU UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS IN YOUR AREA

Knowing the extent of the credits and incentives available to you in your state is just one of the steps on your journey to renewable electricity. Your friends, neighbors, or even local REALTORS® may have recommendations for reputable solar panel installers. The certification standard in the solar industry is the National American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Be sure your installer is licensed before signing any agreements. Your utility company or your installer can help you:

  • Assess your solar potential.
  • Assess your options for using solar.
  • Estimate your solar electricity needs.

Installing solar panels may seem like a daunting and expensive process. However, depending on the state you live in and your current and future electricity usage you may see savings between $10,000 – $12,000 over a 20 year period all while increasing your home’s value by $14,329 on average. With energy costs on the rise and a multitude of credits and incentives available, making renewable energy a part of your future may be the right idea.

NAR Supports Administration’s Action on Infrastructure

Read the original article by National Association of Realtors. Executive Order promotes needed investment during economic recovery WASHINGTON (June 5, 2020) – President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday to accelerate infrastructure investments in an…

NAR Supports Administration’s Action on Infrastructure

Read the original article by National Association of Realtors.

Executive Order promotes needed investment during economic recovery

WASHINGTON (June 5, 2020) – President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday to accelerate infrastructure investments in an effort to strengthen the economy and get people back to work.

The order encourages federal agencies to use existing authority to expedite authorized and appropriated infrastructure projects across the country. Just as important, it also states that agencies should provide appropriate protection for public health and safety, natural resources and the environment. 

“Clearing away unnecessary regulatory hurdles that can add years to infrastructure projects through tailored reform is a smart move,” said NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco, CA.  “Finding innovative ways to safely enhance the permitting process can bring infrastructure projects, economic development and jobs to fruition more quickly...”

Directory of Mortage Service Contacts

Originally shared by National Housing Resource Center (NHRC) TweetShare [...]Read More...

Directory of Mortage Service Contacts

Originally shared by National Housing Resource Center (NHRC)

New Fair Housing Requirements In New York Part Of Industry Reform

The New York State Board of Real Estate adopted new state rules requiring all real estate agents and brokers to notify all buyers, sellers and renters about anti-discrimination laws. Additionally, they must prominently display information…

New Fair Housing Requirements In New York Part Of Industry Reform

The New York State Board of Real Estate adopted new state rules requiring all real estate agents and brokers to notify all buyers, sellers and renters about anti-discrimination laws.

Additionally, they must prominently display information about how customers can file complaints. It was also mandated that both audio and video recordings of classes, for those groups that provide fair housing training, is required.

The Board, which writes the rules and regulations for the real estate industry, announced these rules go into effect beginning June 20.

According to a report in Newsday, a spokesperson for the New York Department of State indicated that the regulations “will help combat discriminatory actions and ensure New Yorkers understand their rights.”

WHY NEW RULES?

Widespread racial bias by real estate agents and brokers on Long Island unearthed by a Newsday investigation led to the crafting of these new rules.

As a result, with these new regulations, the state can now issue fines or even suspend or revoke the licenses of agents and brokers who violate the rules.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed these new rules in December, they were adopted in April, and officially entered into the state register in May.

“I think it’s important from the beginning of the relationship,” Neil Garfinkel, broker counsel for the Real Estate Board of New York told Newsday.  “And then it’s a great way to – should a conversation, you know, slip over the line or whatever the case may be – to then say, ‘Hey, remember, we talked about this? This is why I can’t do that.’”

ABOUT THE NEW RULES

Not only do the agents and brokers have to share the fair housing disclosures with potential clients, but they have to retain proof that the disclosure was shared for three years.

The sharing of the disclosure can be done verbally, or on a printed form. However, the proof of the shared disclosure must include either a signed document from the customer, or an email, text or fax from the customer acknowledging receipt of the fair housing regulations.

If a customer refuses to sign off on receipt of these rules, the agent or broker must fill out a form immediately stating the provided the disclosure and the customer refused to sign it.

As for posting notices that instruct customers how to file complaints with the state, agents and brokers must post them at their offices, when hosting open houses, and on their websites.

The new rules both inform customers and protect them at the same time, and with this new empowerment serves as a reminder to both brokers and agents that they should avoid any actions that can simply be viewed as discriminatory.

"New rules in New York are requiring real estate agents and brokers to be more direct and transparent with anti-discrimination laws for their clients."

The audio and video recordings of fair housing classes must be kept by brokerages for a minimum of one year. State law requires agents to take 22.5 hours of continuing education every two years, three of which have to be dedicated to fair housing, in order for their real estate licenses to renew.

This was also a result of the Newsday investigation which found that some classes offered on Long Island by the Board of REALTORS® (LIBOR) were not meeting that standard.

LIBOR postponed their classes, and completely overhauled their continuing education program, which included hiring new trainers.

“If the brokers are trained properly [then] this is the best tool since sliced bread,” Andrew Lieb, an attorney and fair housing trainer told Newsday.  “Don’t you want a broker that knows how to protect you?”

How COVID-19 threatens black homeownership

Listen to the original interview by Alcynna Lloyd on HousingWire.com. In today’s Daily Download episode, HousingWire Digital Producer Alcynna Lloyd interviews The Urban Institute‘s Alanna McCargo to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to impact America’s black homeownership rate.…

How COVID-19 threatens black homeownership

Listen to the original interview by Alcynna Lloyd on HousingWire.com.

In today’s Daily Download episode, HousingWire Digital Producer Alcynna Lloyd interviews The Urban Institute‘s Alanna McCargo to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to impact America’s black homeownership rate.

For some background on the interview, here’s what has happened in the industry so far:

Last year, the homeownership rate for black Americans fell to 40.6% in the three months through June, the lowest level in the Census Bureau’s quarterly data going back to 1994, according to a government report. It was the smallest share recorded for black households since the 1950 decennial Census when it was 34.5%...

AOC, Bernie Sanders want to help 2 million Americans by investing in green housing infrastructure

To tackle both the climate crisis and the housing affordability crisis, two progressive lawmakers reintroduced a bill on Monday to invest in public housing over the course of 10 years. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont…

AOC, Bernie Sanders want to help 2 million Americans by investing in green housing infrastructure

To tackle both the climate crisis and the housing affordability crisis, two progressive lawmakers reintroduced a bill on Monday to invest in public housing over the course of 10 years.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York introduced the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, which would invest $172 billion in green retrofits and create up to 240,000 jobs per year across the country. It would also work to transition the entire public housing stock in the country to zero-carbon, highly energy-efficient developments that produce renewable energy and expand workforce capacity.

"It is unacceptable that over half-a-million people in America, the richest country on Earth, are homeless," Sanders said in a statement. "It is unacceptable that for so many working people it is incredibly hard to find affordable housing. It is unacceptable that our nation's public housing is in a state of chronic disrepair and energy inefficiency after generations of government neglect."

According to a summary, the bill would create two new grant programs to reform US public housing through deep energy retrofits to increase energy savings in all 950,000 public housing units, and it would also prioritize good-paying jobs to strengthen community workforce development.


We believe, along with millions of Americans, that the dream of ownership is a dream that’s worth protecting. If you agree, we encourage you to add your name to our petition.

 

[social_warfare]