On March 23, the President signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (H.R. 1625), a $1.3 trillion dollar spending bill that funds the federal government through September 30, 2018. In addition to preventing a government shutdown, this omnibus spending bill incorporated the following key provisions that help to strengthen and expand the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC):

  • A 12.5% increase in the annual per capita LIHTC allocation ceiling (after any increases due to the applicable cost of living adjustment) for calendar years 2018 to 2021.
  • An expansion of the definition of the minimum set-aside test by incorporating a third optional test, the income-averaging test. Pursuant to the Code, a project meets the 40-60 minimum set aside test when 40% of the units in the project are both rent restricted and income restricted at 60% of the area median income. Under the new law, the income test is also met if the average of all the apartments within the property, rather than every individual tax credit unit, equals 60% of the area median income. Notwithstanding, the maximum income to qualify for any tax credit unit is limited to 80% of area median income.

This legislation is a great win for affordable housing advocates who have been pushing for LIHTC improvements through the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, introduced in both the Senate (S. 548 sponsored by Senators Cantwell and Hatch) and the House (H.R. 1661 now sponsored by Congressmen Curbelo and Neal) in 2017, as discussed previously in a prior blog post.

We will continue to provide updates on legislation related to Tax Reform. Just in case you missed it, last month Ballard Spahr hosted a webinar on the impact of Tax Reform on the Low Income Housing Tax Credit with our colleagues from RubinBrown LLP, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. and Red Stone Equity Partners. Presentation slides and a recording of the webinar are available on our event page.

The Maryland Affordable Housing Coalition (MAHC) held its annual Housing Day in Annapolis today.   The event brings together over 200 affordable rental housing advocates to inform legislators of the value of affordable housing and funding needs to continue to develop and rehabilitate affordable housing in Maryland.  Housing Day also provides the opportunity to hear from State representatives regarding current issues and legislation related to the affordable housing industry.  During today’s program, many State elected and appointed officials emphasized the need to continue to think creatively to meet the increasing demand for affordable housing in Maryland – including the opportunity to focus on work force housing.

A priority of the 2018 Housing Day was to advocate for increased funding for Rental Housing Works (RHW), subordinate gap financing used solely for projects utilizing 4% low-income housing tax credits and Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Multifamily Bond Program.  The Governor’s current budget proposes funding RHW at $20 million, but MAHC is advocating for a $5 million increase in this amount to $25 million in order to keep up with the demand for this popular financing.   MAHC notes that for every $1 invested in RHW generates nearly $11 in new public and private investments and each RHW project creates 174 jobs.  We heard from a number of elected officials regarding the value of speaking about RHW projects that have closed in their districts and the linked map provides a snapshot of the impact of RHW within each Maryland County.

Turning to the national stage, Molly Bryson, a Partner at Ballard Spahr, provided attendees of the 2018 Housing Day with an update on the need to continue to advocate for the expansion and enhancement of the federal low-income housing tax credit through the passage of the Cantwell-Hatch Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S.548) in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives companion bill (H.R.1661 – Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017).  The Cantwell-Hatch Act was recently included in the Senate’s initial version of the budget bill, but it unfortunately did not make it into the House’s approved budget bill.  Continued outreach is needed to keep up the momentum of this important legislation.

Ballard Spahr will continue to monitor both Maryland and federal legislation related to affordable housing and provide updates in future blog posts.

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.

 

On September 11, 2017, HUD published a Notice designating the 2018 Qualified Census Tracts (QCTs) and Difficult Development Areas (DDAs) for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. Qualified Census Tracts are those areas where either (1) 50% or more of the households have incomes below 60% of the area median gross income or (2) the poverty rate is at least 25%. Difficult Development Areas are those areas with high construction, land and utility costs relative to the area median gross income.  Both QCTs and DDAs are eligible for an increase in basis and available tax credits of up to 30%.  The Notice specifically details HUD’s methodology in determining the QCTs and DDAs through the use of fair market rents, FY2017 income limits, census counts, and other income and poverty data. An interactive map, full listing of the 2018 QCTs and DDAs, and other historical data can be accessed at https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/qct.html.

These 2018 designation lists are effective for allocations of LIHTC credit after December 31, 2017, or in the case of bond transactions where tax-exempt bonds are issued and the building is placed in service after December 31, 2017. The HUD Notice also explains the effectiveness of the designations for areas not specifically on a 2018 QCT or DDA list, along with illustrative examples of the consequences of the effective date for areas that either gain or lose QCT or DDA status.

 

 

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.

 

        

       

 

HUD’s Office of Recapitalization recently released a memo to all CHAP awardees setting forth closing deadlines for CY 2017 RAD transactions. Awardees should be especially  mindful of these intermediate deadlines to ensure that their RAD projects can be promptly processed.

 

Step

Deadline to close by June 30, 2017 Deadline to close by Nov. 30, 2017 Deadline to close by Dec. 31, 2017
Upload all required Financing Plan documents Completed June 15 July 15
Receive a RAD Conversion Commitment (RCC) Completed August 15 September 15
Submit complete closing package April 15 September 1 October 1
All RAD documents approved and ready for HUD signatures June 22 November 16 December 14

Other key takeaways from the memo include the following:

  • Projects that wish to have RAD rents funded with Section 8 subsidy beginning in January 1, 2018 must close by November 30, 2017.
  • In addition to the priority categories listed in Section 1.11 of the RAD Notice, HUD will prioritize projects adhering to the deadlines and those with demonstrable critical deadlines beyond the control of the housing authority and its development team.
  • HUD may require an update to the Financing Plan and re-issuance of the RAD Conversion Commitment (RCC) if the RCC has aged over 6 months.

 

Comments on the following HUD and housing related guidance are due this month.

  • HOTMA implementation for Section 8 Voucher Programs – Due March 20, 2017

On January 18, 2017, HUD issued a proposed rule to implement certain sections of the Housing Opportunities through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA) that affect the tenant-based Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) and Project-Based Voucher (PBV) programs. Among other changes, the proposed rule amends the definition of public housing authority (PHA) owned housing, and institutes new provisions regarding housing quality inspection requirements for both the HCV and PBV programs. HUD is seeking public comment on a variety of questions surrounding the implementation requirements and future changes of both programs.

Comments may be submitted to HUD  electronically at www.regulations.gov (Docket No. FR-5976-N-03) or by mail to the Regulations Division, Office of General Counsel, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410-0500.

  • Moving to Work (MTW) Demonstration Operations Notice – Due March 24, 2017

As noted in our previous blog post, HUD is soliciting comments to its Operations Notice for the expansion of the MTW Program. The full list of questions for which HUD seeks public comment is listed in Appendix C of the Notice. Comments can be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov (Docket No. FR-5994-N-01)  or by mail to the same address noted above.

  • DOJ Proposed Rule amending Section 504 Regulations – Due March 20, 2017

On January 19, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to revise its regulations at 28 CFR Part 42 that implement Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 prohibits discrimination based on disability in all programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. Key revisions include amending the interpretation of the applicable definition of  “disability”;  updating accessibility standards for new construction and alteration of buildings and other facilities; and editing various provisions and terminology to promote consistency with judicial decisions and the Americans with Disabilities Act and related amendments.

Comments may be submitted to DOJ (1) electronically through www.regulations.gov (Docket No. OAG 154); (2) by regular mail to Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, P.O. Box 2885, Fairfax, VA 22031-0885; or (3) by overnight, courier, or hand delivery to Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 1425 New York Avenue NW., Suite 4055, Washington, DC 20005.

The following lists additional housing news our readers may have missed recently —

  • Dr. Ben Carson Confirmed as HUD Secretary

On March 2, 2017, Dr. Ben Carson was sworn in as the 17th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. According to  HUD’s press release, Secretary Carson intends to embark on a listening tour of various HUD field offices and communities throughout the country.

  • Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017 introduced in U.S. Senate

In an effort to help reform the low-income housing tax credit, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017 (S. 548), along with several other Democratic and Republican co-sponsors on March 7th. The bill includes and expands upon similar legislation introduced by the Senators last year (S. 2962 and S. 3237). Visit the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition’s S. 548 advocacy page for more in-depth summaries of the bill’s provisions and comparisons between the current bill and 2016 legislation. Interested persons can also track the bill’s progress at www.congress.gov.

  • Public Housing Authorities prevail in Operating Reserves Litigation

In late January, the United States Court of Federal Claims ruled in favor of approximately 350 public housing authorities on the merits of a motion for summary judgment against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Led by housing industry groups, the complaint alleged that HUD breached its Annual Contributions Contract with the PHAs for fiscal year 2012 when the formula used for budget calculations and allocations did not property follow HUD regulations and thus reduced the operating fund subsidies the PHAs were eligible for in that year. A full copy of the Court’s decision can be accessed here.  Plaintiffs’ attorneys were advised to file a status report in February 2017 to advise how the Court should proceed with the case.

Earlier this month, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a number of final rules and notices as summarized below.

Final Rules

  • HUD Revises Lead-Based Paint Regulations

Effective on February 3, 2017, HUD’s final rule amends the agency’s Lead Safe Housing Rule currently at 24 CFR Part 35. Changes to the lead-based paint regulations include revising the definition of “elevated blood lead level” and establishing more rigorous testing procedures for assisted units housing children under age 6 with high blood lead levels.  Public housing authorities (PHAs) are required to comply with the updated lead-based paint policies and procedures by July 13, 2017.

  • HUD Final Rule on Broadband Infrastructure Requirement

On December 20, 2016, HUD issued a final rule requiring the installation of broadband infrastructure (i.e. cables, fiber optics, wireless infrastructure) whenever a multifamily rental housing property funded or supported by HUD undergoes new construction or substantial rehabilitation. While the rule applies to most HUD programs, compliance is not required if (i) broadband installation would result in fundamental alteration in the nature of the program or undue financial burden, (ii) installation is not feasible due to the location of the new construction or substantial rehabilitation, or (iii) installation is infeasible due to the structure of the housing being rehabilitated. Also exempted from the rule are multifamily rental housing properties only carrying a HUD-insured FHA mortgage or a HUD-guaranteed loan. HUD also issued a technical correction to the final rule on January 12th.

  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Strengthens Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Program (HECM)

HUD’s final rule codifies in full various changes to HECM program regulations and policies adopted pursuant to the Reverse Mortgage Stabilization Act of 2013 (Public Law 113-29), as well as additional guidance previously issued through assorted mortgagee letters under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-89).  These changes become effective on September 19, 2017.

  • Freedom of Information Act  (FOIA) Amendment

Issued on January 12, 2017, this final rule implements the changes found in the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 (Public Law 114- 185) as applied to HUD.

Notices

  • MTW Program Expansion Proposed Operations Notice

HUD is currently soliciting comments to its proposed Operations Notice for the Expansion of the Moving to Work (MTW) Demonstration program. The 2016 Appropriations Act (Public Law 114-113), authorized HUD to expand the MTW program by an additional 100 agencies over a seven year period.  As a first step of the expansion, HUD published this Operations Notice which proposes significant amendments to existing MTW program framework in an attempt to develop simplified approaches to administering housing assistance. Among other changes, the new MTW framework would grant certain general waivers to MTW agencies, and reduce data collection and reporting requirements. Comments are due by mail or electronically by March 24, 2017.

  • HUD Seeks Comments for MTW “Substantially Serving” Methodology

In another MTW related notice, HUD is currently seeking comments and recommendations for a revised methodology it will use to help measure the performance of MTW agencies. By statute, MTW agencies are required to assist substantially the same number of eligible low-income families as non-MTW agencies. HUD’s current methodology found in PIH Notice 2013-02 relies on historic public housing and housing choice voucher utilization rate data. New recommendations and comments to HUD’s proposed evaluation methods are due by February 21, 2017. Comments and recommendations may be delivered by mail or electronically to: Moving to Work Office, Office of Public and Indian Housing, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 Seventh Street SW., Room 4130, Washington, DC 20410–0001 or email at mtw-info@hud.gov.

This recent PIH notice establishes the verification procedures PHAs must take whenever  a potential or current resident request housing assistance as a result of being a VAWA self-petitioner.

  • Allocations and Other Guidance for CDBG Recovery Grantees

Effective as of January 23, 2017, this notice allocates Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) disaster recovery funds to multiple Southern states to assist with long-term recovery. The notice outlines specific state-by-state dollar allocations and amends the grant award and administration requirements previously published in Federal Register Notice 81 FR 83254.

On January 13, 2017, HUD announced the approval of the AFFH Assessment Tool to be used by PHAs. The notice also discusses changes made to the AFFH Assessment Tool based on public comments received. Notwithstanding this notice,  PHAs are not required to conduct or submit any assessments of fair housing until further written HUD guidance and data is provided.

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.