On July 12th, Ballard Spahr hosted a reception honoring Ms. Adrianne Todman and her new position as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO). The event attracted over 50 predominantly female professionals in diverse affordable housing and community development practices across the nation.

Prior to joining NAHRO, Ms. Todman served as the Executive Director of the District of Columbia Housing Authority from 2009-2017. As the first female CEO in NAHRO’s 84 year history, Ms. Todman’s remarks to the audience highlighted her continued dedication to affordable housing, the importance of celebrating sisterhood, and the dynamic problem solving capabilities women bring to the housing industry.

Ballard Spahr wishes Ms. Todman great success in this new role, and we are excited to see all she will accomplish in the future.

 

        

       

 

shankun-roberts_maia_1We are excited that Maia Shanklin Roberts has joined Ballard Spahr LLP and our Housing Plus team. Maia’s background is in community development. She worked with the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and the Citywide Coordinating Committee on Youth Violence Prevention in Washington, D.C.

Maia is looking forward to bringing her keen insights about community development to blog readers. She has been involved in numerous affordable housing, adaptive reuse, and mixed-use transactions involving more than $800 million in federal, state, historic, and energy tax credit syndications, tax-exempt private activity bonds, and other public financing.

Please join us in welcoming Maia to the firm and our Housing Plus team.

 

 

The Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) released the Trump administration’s budget blueprint today, providing a general overview of the budget request it intends to present to Congress later this Spring.  As outlined, the blueprint calls for a 13.2% reduction through cutting over $6 billion in funding to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”).

The blueprint describes elements that together comprise reductions to HUD programs realized, in part, by eliminating the following programs:

  • the Community Development Block Grant (“CDBG”) program ($3 billion);
  • the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (“HOME”), Choice Neighborhood Initiative, and Self-help Homeownership Opportunity Program (combined $1.1 billion reduction);
  • Section 4 Capacity Building for Community Development and Affordable Housing ($35 million).

These cuts account for over $4 billion of the total $6 billion.  The remaining cuts are likely to be drawn, in part, from the public housing capital and operating funds as suggested by the leaked budget proposals obtained by The Washington Post last week.

The blueprint also proposes the elimination of the independent Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, as well as the elimination of the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund within the U.S. Treasury Department.

The OMB blueprint with regard to HUD states, “[t]he Budget also recognizes a greater role for State and local governments and the private sector to address community and economic development needs.” What is missing from this statement is that CDBG and HOME funds are disbursed through States and local governments.  Without these funds, the ability of State and local governments to meet the pressing needs of their communities are significantly hindered.

Keep in mind that the main budgetary piece of business before Congress will be (1) extending the continuing resolution of the FY 2017 budget set to expire April 28, 2017 or (2) finalizing adoption of a  Transportation, HUD FY17 appropriations bill.  The proposals in the budget blueprint will not come before Congress before then.

And, when Congress does consider an appropriations bill, it may initially consider the OMB budget blueprint, but the budget that will evolve through the Congressional process can look very different from the OMB proposals. Constituents have an opportunity to advocate to their Senators and Representatives the value of these programs for the people in their communities and the contributions these programs make to the economy.  At the end of the day, the final appropriations bill set out in the conference report developed by the House and Senate requires adoption by both chambers, with the Senate required to adopt it by three-fifths (or 60 votes), highlighting the need for bipartisan support.

In an announcement on January 12th, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a significant third revision to the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Notice (PIH 2012-32/ H 2017-03 Rev-3). According to HUD, the RAD notice was revised in order to maintain the increased pace of RAD transactions in a manner that is consistent and flexible. The revised notice is effective upon its forthcoming publication in the Federal Register, though several eligibility criteria will remain subject to a 30-day public comment period. Some of the substantive changes to the RAD Notice include the following:

  • Project-Based Voucher (PBV) Unit Cap

The revised RAD notice eliminates the standard 25% limit so that there is no longer any cap on the number of units in a project that may receive PBV assistance.  Before this latest modification, RAD allowed up to 50% of the units in a project to receive PBV assistance; provided 100% of the units could receive such assistance if at least 50% of the units were occupied by (i) elderly or non-elderly disabled households or (ii) families receiving supportive services.

  • Resident Notification

The revised RAD notice expanded the notification requirements public housing authorities (PHAs) must give residents at a project identified for conversion. Most significantly, before submitting a RAD application, PHAs must now disclose to residents any preliminary intent to (i) include a transfer of assistance; (ii) partner with a third party entity that will have a general partner/managing member interest in the new project owner; (iii) make changes in the number or configuration of any assisted units; (iv) impose any  change potentially impacting the household’s ability to reoccupy the unit; (v) the scope of work; and (vi) implement any deminimis reduction of units vacant for more than 24 months at the time of the RAD application. PHAs must issue a RAD Information Notice and General Information Notice (if required) according to the RAD Fair Housing, Civil Rights, and Relocation Notice (H/PIH 2016-17)  to inform residents of their rights in connection with the conversion. PHAs are also required to have an additional resident meeting prior to submitting its Financing Plan, and conduct subsequent meetings with residents to discuss any material changes to utility allowance calculations or substantial changes to the conversion plan.

  • Right to Return & Rescreening

Under the new RAD notice, existing public housing residents at a project converting to RAD who will occupy non-RAD PBV units or non-RAD PBRA units following conversion are protected against post-conversion occupancy exclusion due to revised rescreening, income eligibility, or income targeting policies.  Thus, even those public housing residents that will reside in non-RAD units post-conversion will preserve this right to return.

  • Use of PHA Acquisition Proceeds

Any cash acquisition proceeds a PHA receives in excess of seller take-back financing must be used for “Affordable Housing Purposes.” The definition of “Affordable Housing Purposes” is now set out in the definitions section of the Notice and applies in more instances.  The revised RAD Notice defines “Affordable Housing Purposes” as those activities that support the predevelopment, development, or rehabilitation of other RAD conversions, public housing, Section 8, Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) or other federal or local housing programs that either (i) serve households with incomes at or below 80% of the area median income or (ii) provide services or amenities that will be used primarily by low-income households as defined by the United States Housing Act of 1937.

  • Expanded Criteria for Ownership or Control Requirement

The latest revisions to the RAD Notice describes further circumstances under which a public or non-profit entity acting directly or through a wholly owned affiliate can meet the ownership or control requirements, including if it (i) holds a fee simple interest in the land; (ii) is the ground lessor pursuant to a ground lease with the project owner; (iii) has legal authority to direct the financial and legal interests of the project owner with respect to the RAD units; (iv) owns 51% or more of the general partner/managing member interest in a limited partnership or limited liability company; (v) owns less than 51% of a general partner/managing member interest but holds certain HUD-approved control rights; (vi) owns 51% or more of the total ownership interests and holds certain HUD-approved control rights; or (vii) enters other ownership and control arrangements as approved by HUD.

  • Maximum Developer Fee

For LIHTC transactions, undeferred portions of earned developer fee are now capped at the greater of (a) 15% of total development costs less acquisition payments to the PHA, developer fees and reserves; and (b) the lesser of (i) $1 million and (ii) 15% of the total development costs without any offsets for acquisition payments to the PHA, developer fees and reserves. Developer fee limits applicable under the prior version of the RAD Notice continue in effect for all transaction in which the RAD Conversion Commitment (RCC) was issued within 60 days following the current revisions to the Notice and which close prior to the later of 60 days after the revised Notice and 60 days after the RCC.

Developer fee remains subject to the LIHTC allocating agency’s schedule for payment. For non-LIHTC deals, the total earned developer fee can be up to 10% of total development costs less any acquisition costs, reserves, or developer fee payments. The revised RAD Notice also states that earned developer fee is also not subject to any federal restrictions, whereas RAD Notice Rev-2 only stated that it was not to be counted as program income.

  • Capital Needs Assessment (CNA) Exemptions

The revised RAD Notice allows HUD to exempt projects from the need to conduct a Capital Needs Assessment where the total number of RAD and other PBV-assisted units constitute less than 20% of total units at project, or a higher amount at HUD’s discretion. It is also important to note that under this revision, all CNA exemptions listed are discretionary not automatic, and must be confirmed with the assigned RAD Transaction Manager for the project conversion.

To review additional changes made in the latest version of the RAD Notice, HUD has also offered a blackline comparison to Revision 2.  

  • HUD Announces Nationwide Smoke-Free Policy in Public Housing

The most talked about HUD development this week has been Secretary Castro’s announcement on Wednesday, November 30th that HUD will require all public housing developments to be smoke-free environments. By early February, public housing agencies (PHAs) must implement smoke-free policies that ban listed prohibited tobacco products from public housing living units, indoor common areas, PHA administrative office buildings, and outdoor areas within 25 feet of these spaces. This rule will apply to all public housing, with the exception of Section 8 dwelling units in mixed-finance buildings.

HUD’s Final Rule can be accessed here.

  • HUD Soliciting Comments on HOTMA Public Housing Income Limit Provisions

This week, HUD also published a Federal Register notice that it is soliciting comments on the implementation of the public housing income provisions of the Housing Opportunities through Modernization Act (HOTMA). HOTMA mandates that once a family’s income exceeds 120 percent of the area median income for two consecutive years, the PHA must either terminate the tenancy or charge the family a higher monthly rent. HUD maintains the authority to adjust the 120 percent threshold if the HUD Secretary finds such adjustment necessary.

HUD requests that comments address:

  1.  whether HUD’s current proposed method of determining income limits (as stated in the notice) adequately considers local housing costs and makes appropriate adjustments for higher housing costs, and
  2. other factors HUD should consider when determining whether to make adjustments to the income limit (with specific examples of circumstances not currently captured in HUD’s proposed methodology).

Ballard Spahr’s Housing Group previously commented on HUD’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on public housing income limits in March, before HOTMA’s passage.

  • HUD Interim Final Rule on HOME Program Commitment Requirement Changes

By statute, participating HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) jurisdictions must place grant funds under binding commitments within 24 months from the month in which the grant agreement was executed. On December 2, 2016, HUD published an Interim Final Rule changing the way the agency will determine compliance with the commitment requirement. The Rule revises HUD’s longstanding cumulative commitment methodology with a grant specific one that allows participating jurisdictions to select the year HOME grant funds will be committed to a specific project or activity. The Rule also eliminates the 5-year deadline for expenditures of HOME funds appropriated for FY 2015 and following years to better align with recent appropriations statutes and existing HUD deadlines for completing projects assisted with HOME funds.

This Rule affects HOME grants from Fiscal Year 2015 and beyond, and is scheduled to take effect on January 31, 2017. HUD is accepting comments to the interim rule until January 3, 2017 by mail or electronic submission through www.regulations.gov.

 

HUD has been quite active this month publishing a variety of new rules and housing notices. The following is a list of some of HUD’s most recent guidance.

For certain public housing authorities (PHAs) with less than 250 public housing dwelling units, this notice offers guidance on the flexible uses of capital and operating funds for large improvements and other eligible expenditures.

For certain metropolitan areas experiencing high housing choice voucher (HCV) concentrations, this final rule allows rents to be determined by zip codes instead of the 50th percentile formula for the entire metropolitan area. According to HUD, using zip codes to define the Small Area Fair Market Rent (FMR)  will allow the agency to provide a more accurate subsidy to reduce the number of voucher families residing in areas of high poverty concentration. The rule also implements the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA) provisions related to FMRs and regulatory changes to the HCV program payment standard adjustments.

This rule amends HUD regulations to include the requirements of the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which extended VAWA protectections beyond public housing to tenant-based and project-based Section 8 programs as well.

See our recent blog post for more detailed information on these updated RAD civil rights and reolocation requirements.

This PIH notice discusses revisions to form HUD-52725 used to report executive compensation. For calendar year 2015 compensation data collection, PHAs must complete the HUD-52725 form online and submit it electronically by December 9, 2016.

On a case by case basis, HUD will allow for the amendment and restatement of a property’s LIHPRHA Use Agreement to allow the project owner to receive proceeds from the refinance of the property, unlimited annual distributions from surplus cash, and funds accumulated in a residual receipts account. This notice outlines the circumstances under which HUD will allow such amendment and restatement, and approve LIHPRHA preservation transactions.

Pursuant to this notice, HUD allocated $500 million in CDBG-DR funds to assist long-term recovery efforts in Louisiana, Texas, and West Virginia. The notice also outlines the grant award process, and describes eligible disaster recovery activities, alternative requirements, and applicable waivers available to potential grantees.

This rule extends HUD’s equal access protections to HUD’s Native American and Native Hawaiian program regulations to ensure that eligible persons and families have access to housing programs regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

 

After several years of litigation, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas recently dismissed disparate impact claims filed against the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) in the fair housing case, The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. v. The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

The Inclusive Communities Project (ICP) claims alleged that TDHCA’s procedures for allocating low-income housing tax credits had a disparate impact on racial minorities and thus violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Following the District Court’s initial ruling that ICP made a successful prima facie showing of disparate impact, the case was appealed to the Fifth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court. Even though the Supreme Court held that disparate impact claims were cognizable under the FHA, the case was remanded so ICP’s claims and TDHCA’s defenses could be reassessed in light of the standards in the Supreme Court verdict and new U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations for evaluating disparate impact claims.

On August 26, 2016, the District Court held that ICP failed to make a prima facie showing of disparate impact under the current standard because its claims (i) did not identify any specific, facially neutral policy that caused the disparate impact, (ii) were in essence claims disparate treatment, and (iii) failed to demonstrate that TDHCA’s policies actually caused the statistical disparities asserted by ICP. For more information, see the Housing Group’s e-alert on this verdict.

On December 31, 2015, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the availability of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Assessment Tool. The AFFH Assessment Tool is for use by local governments that receive CDBG, HOME, ESG, or HOPWA formula funding from HUD, and for joint and regional collaborations between (1) local governments and (2) one or more local governments with one or more public housing agencies.

The AFFH Assessment Tool is intended to assist program participants in developing their Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) Plan, the substitute for the existing Analysis of Impediments, and complying with the AFFH Final Rule. The AFFH Assessment Tool seeks to identify fair housing issues such as racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, patterns of integration and segregation, disparities in access to opportunity, and disproportionate housing needs. Note that until a program participant is required to submit an AFH Plan, it must still submit an Analysis of Impediments in accordance with existing HUD requirements.

In addition to the AFFH Assessment Tool, HUD released the AFFH Rule Guidebook and updated the AFFH Data and Mapping Tool.  The AFFH Rule Guidebook  provides guidance on complying with the AFFH Rule and completing an AFH Plan, and identifies overlap between the AFH Plan and other plans required for HUD programs. The AFFH Data and Mapping Tool is to be used alongside the User Interface and provides data and maps needed to complete the AFH Plan. Program participants will supplement the HUD-provided data with local data and knowledge to complete the AFH Plan. HUD provides an AFFH Data and Mapping Tool User Guide to assistant program participants.

Lastly, the User Interface provides an online portal for program participants to submit an AFH Plan and collaborate with other program participants.  The User Interface is currently only available to program participants that have an AFH Plan due in 2016. All other program participants are expected to have access to the system in time to begin planning their AFH. HUD will provide further instructions regarding access to the User Interface in Spring 2016. HUD also plans to hold a demonstration of the User Interface in the next few months. To participate in the demonstration, contact Yvonne.F.Hsu@hud.gov.

Congress recently passed a short-term extension to keep the EB-5 Regional Center Program (commonly known as the EB-5 Program or the Immigration Investor Program) from expiring. The EB-5 program adds versatility to the financing options available to affordable housing, and can be used with certain Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The extension of this program allows the Senate and House more time to enhance EB-5 legislation.

Strengthened through bi-partisan support, several extension bills have been proposed this year. The proposed bills have sought to add a variety of legislation to the EB-5 Program:

  • Make regional centers permanent in addition to program enhancements;
  • Reauthorize regional centers for five years, and create oversight, security, and anti-fraud stipulations that increase transparency of the program (an overview of the Reauthorization Bill is available);
  • Provide visas for foreign entrepreneurs who have obtained venture capital, seed financing, or operate existing business with proven growth.

The EB-5 Program has generated nearly $12 billion in foreign direct investments, and has created nearly 30,000 jobs per year since 2008. The Program has already stimulated affordable housing financing and development on a national level, and the Program is poised to grow.

Our Housing or EB-5 Groups would be happy to provide more information.

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy recently released “Inclusionary Housing: Creating and Maintaining Equitable Communities,” a new report on the use of government policies that tie the creation of affordable housing to market-rate residential or commercial development.

The use of inclusionary housing programs is relatively new (most were adopted in the last decade), but growing. According to the report, 512 inclusionary housing programs exist across 487 local jurisdictions in 27 states and the District of Columbia.

As more communities consider some form of inclusionary housing program, this report provides a helpful primer on the topic, illustrated by case studies. The report also offers policymakers practical advice for designing and implementing an effective program, including the economic and legal considerations to be made and strategies to build consensus among stakeholders.