NCSHA Washington Report | August 21, 2020
State housing finance agencies emerged as central national players in affordable housing during the 1980s ― reflecting the federalism of the Reagan Revolution and the federal retrenchment it engendered ― and consolidated their leadership in the ’90s, an era of divided national government that demanded the most aggressive and sustained federal advocacy efforts in the agencies’ history.
In 1993, the federal budget bill made permanent the Housing Credit and Mortgage Revenue Bond programs, in the latter case culminating a 13-year-long series of legislative campaigns and near-death experiences for the program. As NCSHA’s 1993 annual report recounted:
“The extension campaign received a final, critical boost … with the help of nearly 1,000 telephone calls placed in three days by NCSHA staff and HFA executive directors … while NCSHA staff haunted the hallways, following negotiators from one Capitol Hill office to another and relaying minute-by-minute reports by portable phone.”
Just two years later, though, the Housing Credit received a death sentence from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer (R-TX), who proposed ending the program by 1997, based on an internal IRS audit that, erroneously, asserted serious flaws in the program. NCSHA got the Service to withdraw the report six weeks later, but it would be two more years of intense advocacy before the Housing Credit was in the clear (for a while), its reputation and support stronger than ever.
Another major front in the housing policy campaigns of the ’90s was preservation: ensuring the continued affordability and quality of federally subsidized apartments built decades before. NCSHA convinced Congress, over the Clinton Administration’s strenuous objections, to devolve to state HFAs the primary responsibility for restructuring the mortgages on thousands of Section 8-financed properties.
State HFAs fought hard and mostly successfully against HUD’s efforts “to turn the restructuring program over to private entrepreneurs whose profits depended on how much they cut Section 8 assistance and not on the needs of the residents and their communities,” said John McEvoy, who led NCSHA throughout the ’90s.
HUD’s attempts to sandbag Section 8 devolution to the states by burying them in red tape compelled McEvoy, who held degrees in classics and law, to cite canonical material in his testimony to the Senate Banking Committee in 1999. “Some of our friends at HUD say that in writing all these rules they’re just doing the Lord’s work,” he said. “HUD might have used up all the stone tablets in the Holy Land.”
An alternative and plausible version of history would have seen the most important tools in affordable housing finance wiped out and the viability of hundreds of thousands of affordable apartments undone during the 1990s.
Instead, state HFAs’ decades of results (recounted previously here, here, and here) and their relentless engagement in national housing policy through NCSHA ensured the tools’ continuation, helped build a bipartisan pathway to create more of them (the HOME block grant, GSE housing goals, FHA – HFA risk sharing), and led to an historic expansion of federal housing and community development funding in 2000. That story in this occasional series’ next installment.
Stockton Williams | Executive Director
In This Issue
- Coronavirus Relief Negotiations Stalled; House and Senate Chart Own Paths to Fund USPS
- CFPB Releases Proposal for Seasoned Qualified Mortgage Loans
- GAO Report Finds Homeless Population Estimates Are Likely Undercounts
- NCSHA in the News
- Looking Ahead
Coronavirus Relief Negotiations Stalled; House and Senate Chart Own Paths to Fund USPS
With coronavirus relief negotiations at a stalemate, the House is returning from August recess for a vote this Saturday to provide $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to cover revenue losses. In response, Senate Republicans have proposed a “skinny” version of their coronavirus relief bill that was introduced last month. The draft Senate Republican proposal would provide $300 in additional weekly unemployment benefits through December 27, $158 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, $105 billion for K–12 schools and colleges for coronavirus-related expenses, $29 billion for a COVID-19 vaccine, and $16 billion for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. It also would forgive the $10 billion USPS loan provided in the CARES Act earlier this year. Neither the House nor Senate bills provide state and local aid or housing assistance.
CFPB Releases Proposal for Seasoned Qualified Mortgage Loans
On Tuesday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published an advanced copy of its newly proposed Seasoned Qualified Mortgage (QM) rule. This guidance follows the General QM Loan proposed rule published by CFPB on July 10. The Seasoned QM definition would apply to first-lien, fixed-rate, covered transactions that have met certain requirements, including that, over a 36-month period, there are no more than two 30-day delinquencies and no delinquencies of 60 or more days at the end of the seasoning period. The loans would need to be held in the creditor’s portfolio during the seasoning period; comply with general restrictions on product features, points, and fees; and meet certain underwriting requirements. Comments will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
GAO Report Finds Homeless Population Estimates Are Likely Undercounts
In a recent report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that annual data collected through HUD’s Point-in-Time count — an annual snapshot of the number of people experiencing homelessness on a single day — is likely an underestimate. According to the report, some of the data collected by local organizations that coordinate homeless services have significant year-over-year fluctuations, which raises questions about data accuracy and makes it inherently difficult to identify the number of people experiencing homelessness. Moreover, the report found HUD does not carefully analyze local data collection methodologies to ensure they are meeting HUD standards. GAO recommends that HUD strengthen its oversight and guidance in data collection and analysis to improve the quality of homelessness data.
NCSHA in the News
Ops Jobs; Leads, Tech Tools; CFPB, LO Comp, G-Rate Legal Ruling in the News (Mortgage News Daily)
Legislative and Regulatory Activities
- August 28 | Deadline for Comments to NCSHA | HUD’s Housing Counseling Certification Extension Interim Final Rule
- August 28 | Deadline for Comments to NCSHA | FHA’s Proposed Servicing Policy Changes
- August 28 | Deadline for Comments to NCSHA | HUD’s Proposed Rule Modifying 2016 Equal Access Rule
- August 31 | Deadline for Comments | FHFA’s Proposed Capital Framework for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
- September 4 | Deadline for Comments | HUD’s Housing Counseling Certification Extension Interim Final Rule
- September 8 | Effective Date | Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice
- September 8 | Deadline for Comments | IRS/Treasury Housing Credit Compliance Monitoring Regulations
- September 8 | Deadline for Comments | CFPB Proposed Rule to Amend Ability-to-Repay/Qualified Mortgage Underwriting Guidelines
- September 12 | Deadline for Comments | FHA’s Proposed Servicing Policy Changes
- September 22 | Deadline for Comments | HUD’s Proposed Rule Modifying 2016 Equal Access Rule
NCSHA, State HFA, and Industry Events
- August 24 – 28 | Kansas Housing Conference Online
Stockton Williams will speak at this event.
- August 26 | NLIHC Virtual 2020 Housing Leadership Award Celebration
Minnesota Housing Commissioner and NCSHA Board Member Jennifer Ho will receive the Sheila Crowley Housing Justice Award during this event.
- September 10 | Urban Institute/Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “A New Federal Policy Agenda to Preserve and Revitalize Public Housing” | Virtual
Stockton Williams will participate in this event.
- October 27 – 29 | NCSHA’s 2020 Conference & Showcase | Virtual
- November 18 – 20 | AHF Live | Chicago, IL
Stockton Williams will speak at this event.