Senate Republicans Unveil Coronavirus Relief Plan, Setting Stage for Negotiations with House Democrats
On July 27, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) began releasing a series of bills that together constitute the Republicans’ proposal for the next coronavirus relief package. The approximately $1 trillion proposal is the result of lengthy negotiations with the White House and internal discussions among Senate Republicans, yet reportedly some Republican Senators may still not support the plan.
HUD Replaces Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule with Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice Rule
On July 23, HUD issued a new Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice final rule, which repeals the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing final rule and the 1994 Analysis of Impediments requirements, returning to HUD’s pre-1994 understanding of the 1968 Fair Housing Act’s obligation to affirmatively further fair housing. The Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice rule requires HUD grantees to certify they will use HUD funds to take active steps to promote fair housing. HUD will deem sufficient a grantee’s certification so long as the grantee proposes to take any action above what is required by statute to promote the attributes of fair housing. The rule defines fair housing as “housing that, among other attributes is affordable, safe, decent, free of unlawful discrimination, and accessible under civil rights laws.” The final rule is not subject to public notice or comments and will be effective 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register.
On July 14, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released "Out of Reach: The High Cost of Housing," its annual report documenting the gap between renters’ wages and the cost of rental housing across the nation. NLIHC’s 2020 report concludes that the economic downturn spurred by the coronavirus further increases the risk of housing instability for millions of low-wage renters who were struggling to make ends meet before the pandemic.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies today passed its fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations bill, which would provide substantial increases for regular annual appropriations for HUD programs in FY 2021 and additional appropriations for several HUD programs to foster economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and support infrastructure development.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies convened Monday evening to mark up the FY 2021 appropriations bill for USDA, FDA, and related agencies. The bill, which includes a total of $23.98 billion in discretionary funding — an increase of $487 million from FY 2020 — was approved by a voice vote.
House Passes Infrastructure Legislation with Significant Expansion of Housing Credits and Private Activity Bonds
On July 1, the House of Representatives, on a largely party-line vote, passed an historic infrastructure bill, the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2), with significant new resources for affordable housing, including many NCSHA priorities — a 50 percent increase to the Housing Credit volume cap, the establishment of a minimum 4 percent credit rate for bond-financed Housing Credit properties, an increase to the private activity bond volume cap, the creation of a new single-family tax credit, funding increases for HOME and the Housing Trust Fund, and more.
On July 1, the Internal Revenue Service published Notice 2020-53 providing temporary relief to owners and residents of Housing Credit and tax-exempt bond financed developments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The notice provides relief to agencies that administer the Housing Credit and tax-exempt bond programs and addresses nearly all of the issues raised in the letter NCSHA sent to IRS in March requesting COVID-19 relief.
In a massive victory for NCSHA, IRS and Treasury today published a proposed rule repealing the Housing Credit compliance monitoring sample size methodology that the Service and the department adopted in final regulations issued in February 2019. Those regulations, which NCSHA strongly opposed, would have gone into practical effect no later than January 1, 2021. Instead, the proposed rule IRS and Treasury released today reinstates previous policy in place from 2016 until IRS published the 2019 regulations.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office has published the first in what will be a series of reports analyzing the housing market, including whether the existing housing stock meets the needs of the American people. This first report describes trends in the rental housing market between 2001 and 2017, looking at the share of the population that rents, renters’ demographic characteristics, the affordability of the housing stock to renters, and rental housing conditions.
Today, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) will allow servicers of Enterprise multifamily loans to extend forbearance agreements for multifamily property owners for up to three additional months, for a total forbearance period of up to six months. This extension is available for owners of qualified properties with Enterprise-backed multifamily mortgages experiencing financial hardships due to the coronavirus National Emergency.