On February 12, 2018, the White House released its “Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America” proposing a legislative framework for the nation’s infrastructure needs. Key components of the proposed infrastructure plan include (i) developing a new federal Incentives Program intended to spur State, local and private investment for innovate projects; (ii) streamlining permitting and approval processes for infrastructure projects; (iii) delegating increased responsibility to States and local governments; (iv) developing a Rural Infrastructure Program; and (v) improved workforce training.

As noted in the transmittal, the infrastructure framework is intentionally broad, and seeks to address traditional infrastructure systems like transportation, as well as a wider range of public needs such as drinking and wastewater systems, energy production, veterans’ hospitals, and public land use. For more detailed analysis, see Ballard Spahr’s summaries of the proposed infrastructure plan’s funding mechanisms, and the plan’s treatment of private activity bonds.

We note that the White House’s FY 2018 budget proposed significant cuts in HUD funding, including a zeroing out of public housing capital funds. There had been hope among many that the infrastructure proposal would include affordable housing, but aside from modifications to private activity bonds, it did not directly do so. It does not appear that the Administrations intends for its proposed HUD funding cuts to be addressed through infrastructure spending.

 

Yesterday, the Trump administration released its proposed budget for the 2019 fiscal year. Overall, the budget proposes an $8.8 billion (18.3%) reduction in the HUD budget from the 2017 enacted level, a more drastic cut than the $6 billon HUD budget reduction the Administration proposed for fiscal year 2018. Significant proposals in the budget include:

  • Elimination of several programs including the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnership Program, Public Housing Capital Fund and Choice Neighborhoods
  • $17.5 billion in Section 8 annual contribution contract renewals (an $800+ million decrease from 2017 enacted level)
  • $10.866 billion in project-based rental assistance (a $50 million increase from the 2017 enacted level)
  • $110 million decrease in Housing Choice Voucher administrative fees
  • $100 million request for the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program to cover the incremental subsidy for public housing properties that would otherwise be unable to covert to Section 8 assistance
  • Proposed elimination of the unit cap for RAD conversions and September 30, 2020 deadline for RAD application submissions
  • In addition to the elimination of the Capital Fund, $1.7 billion in reductions to the Public Housing Operating Fund
  • $75 million request for the Family Self-Sufficiency program (same as 2017 enacted level)
  • $10 million request for the Jobs Plus Initiative (a $5 million decrease from the 2018 Senate recommendation)
  • Maintained funding levels for lead-based paint mitigation efforts
  • Unspecified funding request to evaluate and improve the EnVision Centers recently launched by Secretary Carson
  • $20 million increase to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) operations (although a new fee would be imposed on FHA lenders)
  • Requirement that non-disabled persons receiving HUD assistance contribute more than 30% of their adjusted income to their housing costs

Other housing and community development components of this budget include an elimination of the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund grant and direct loan program, $1.8 billion request for veteran’s homelessness programs, and a funding increase for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) single family housing guaranteed loan program. A full copy of the budget proposal and related materials are available at be www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget.

Remember that Congress is responsible for passing the budget; this is just a proposal. It remains to be seen if Congress will adopt the President’s proposal. We will continue to provide updates the budget throughout the appropriations process.

 

As we know, the President has signed what was originally titled Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the most significant overhaul to the U.S. Tax Code since 1986. The President signed the Act into law after the first of the year in order to avoid some automatic spending cuts.

In its final form, this Tax Code overhaul retains private activity bonds and the the low-income housing tax credit. However, according to A Call To Invest in Our Neighborhoods (ACTION) Campaign, the amendment of other critical provisions of the Tax Code, especially, the lowering of the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and the creation of a base erosion and anti-abuse tax, present concern for affordable housing, as these provisions can impact an investor’s tax credit appetite. In an analysis performed by Novogradac and Company, the final version of the bill “would reduce the future supply of affordable rental housing by nearly 235,000 homes over 10 years.” Further, it is anticipated that other changes to the Tax Code, such as those relating to bonus depreciation, depreciation, and interest expense limitations, will impact equity pricing.

The legislation also retains the new market tax credit, with no change to its expiration which is after the 2019 allocation. The 20% historic tax credit was also retained, but with significant modification, including claiming the credit ratably over 5 years.

Ballard Spahr’s Tax Group is also following the legislative developments of other provisions of the bill. Late yesterday, the Tax Group issued a thoughtful analysis of the final bill.

Please use our Tax Reform Alert Center as a resource to find more information on the bill and/or reach out to us directly.

 

 

Today, HUD issued a notice extending until after October 31, 2020, the deadline for cities and other participating jurisdictions to submit assessments of fair housing (AFH), the new reporting and assessment tool required by HUD’s 2015 affirmatively furthering fair housing (AFFH) rule. Some participating jurisdictions have already submitted AFHs, and the New York Times reports today that HUD says it will stop reviewing them.  Per a prior notice from HUD, AFHs for public housing authorities, states and insular areas have not yet been due.

Today’s notice reminds HUD recipients that they still must affirmatively further fair housing, but we cannot help but wonder if this is the Trump administration’s attempt to start rolling back the AFFH rule, which has been the subject of a fair amount of controversy since its publication.  The AFHs have also raised concerns for many, including PHAs concerned about the unfunded reporting burden and the potential for enforcement if goals outlined in the AFHs are not met.

Just in time for the end of the federal fiscal year (September 30), the HUD Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a flurry of internal and external audit reports over the last few weeks on a wide variety of topics. They include:

As we head into the fourth quarter, HUD sent out an e-mail reminder Friday afternoon about flexibility when establishing Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract effective dates in Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) transactions. The January 2017 revision to the RAD Notice at Section 1.13(B)(5) gives Project Owners the ability to establish a HAP contract effective date of either 1) the first day of the month after closing, or 2) the first day of the second month following closing.  For example, this flexibility allows RAD transactions that close in October to have a HAP effective date of either November 1 or December 1.

The fourth quarter has historically been the busiest time for closing RAD transactions, and HUD made this policy change to try to relive come pressure from the November closing schedule. In the reminder, HUD suggested that those with hard November closing deadlines should consider closing in October but maintaining a December HAP effective date. HUD strongly encouraged working toward an October closing if a December 1 HAP effective date is critical to the transaction.

The HUD reminder also reiterated the milestones established by HUD in March for yearend closings:

 

Step

Deadline to close by Nov. 30, 2017 Deadline to close by Dec. 31, 2017
Receive a RAD Conversion Commitment (RCC) August 16 September 15
Submit complete closing package September 1 October 1
All RAD documents approved and ready for HUD signatures November 16 December 14

HUD’s methodology for prioritizing yearend closings are based on several factors, including:

  • Adherence to the deadlines set forth in the table above.
  • Prioritization categories for CHAP processing listed in Section 1.11 of the RAD Notice.
  • Critical deadlines beyond the control of the PHA and its development team (note that HUD will require documentation of these deadlines when considering this factor).
  • Lower priority will be given to transactions when the original RCC expiration date has been extended past 90 days from issuance.

Ballard Spahr will continue to monitor any further guidance issued by HUD regarding yearend RAD closings and update our readers.

Our friends at NAHRO have alerted us that a new RAD notice will be issued tomorrow, August 23, 2017. The notice requires PHAs who already submitted a RAD letter of interest to preserve their spot on the wait list to submit a RAD application within 60 days if they want to continue in the RAD program. Guidance is also provided for setting rents for all RAD applications awarded outside of the previous 185,000 RAD cap, or for revocations or withdrawals after May 5, 2017 below that cap; rent levels for all such awards will be set at FY 2016 funding levels.  Per the appropriations notice that extended the RAD cap, the outside deadline for final submission of multiphase award applications is extended to September 30, 2020.

Today, the HUD Office of Inspector General (OIG) published a bulletin indicating that it is unclear if undocumented immigrants have access to certain HUD Community Planning and Development (CPD) programs – namely the Housing for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) and homeless assistance programs.

The bulletin explains that undocumented immigrants do not typically have access to HUD programs such as public housing or Section 8 because such programs are explicitly unavailable to such immigrants.  For many HUD-assisted programs, there is a regulation that specifies which types of non-citizen families may have access to those programs and that instructs PHAs and owners on how to prorate assistance to families that include eligible and ineligible persons.

Exempt from this regulation, however, are programs that provide assistance that protects life and safety – essentially emergency services.  The OIG explains that, unlike the public housing and Section 8 programs, “there does not appear to be any clear guidance” as to whether undocumented immigrants can (or cannot) access programs that are funded through HUD’s community development programs and administered through nonprofits, including HOPWA and homeless assistance. Accordingly, the OIG recommends that HUD clarify this issue.

On August 9, HUD issued to Congress its 16th report on worst case housing needs in the United States, based on 2015 data.  Households with “worst case needs” are those that are very low income, do not receive government housing assistance and either pay more than 1/2 of their income for rent or live in severely inadequate conditions, or both.  Findings include:

  • Severe housing problems are increasing despite a decent economy.
  • In 2015, 8.30 million households had worst case needs. This is an increase from 7.72 million in 2013.  The record high for worst case needs is 8.48 million in 2011.
  • Worst case needs affect all types of households, whether examined by age and ethnicity, household structure, or location
    within metropolitan areas or region.

The report identifies a shift from homeownership to renting as the biggest cause of the increase in worst case needs.  For those of us who work with assisted housing or low-income families, its findings are unfortunately not a big surprise.  However, it underscores the significant unmet needs of so many low-income families.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (“FHFA”) has proposed new single-family and multifamily housing goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (collectively, the “GSEs”) for 2018-2020.

For single-family housing, the proposed goals would require that the percentage of overall qualified single-family mortgage purchases for the GSEs be as follows: the Low-Income Home Purchase Goal would be 24%; the Very Low-Income Home Purchase Goal would be 6%; the Low-Income Areas Home Purchase Subgoal would be 15%; and the Low-Income Refinance Goal would be 21%. To meet these single-family housing goals, the single-family mortgages purchased must meet or exceed the benchmark level or the market level for that year.

For multifamily housing, the proposed goals would require that the GSEs purchase mortgages for multifamily properties (multifamily is defined as properties with five or more units) as follows: the Low-Income Goal would be 315,000 units; the Very Low-Income Goal would be 60,000 units; and the Low-Income Small Multifamily Subgoal would be 10,000 units. To meet these multifamily goals, the GSEs must meet these benchmarks outlined by FHFA.

FHFA’s website provides more details on the proposed goals, the timeline for submission of comments and a link to the Federal Register notice.  Comments are due September 5, 2017.