Government-controlled mortgage financers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac posted solid earnings for the January-March period as the U.S. housing market continued to recover. Gains over recent quarters have enabled the companies to fully repay their taxpayer aid after being rescued by the government in 2008.
The gradual recovery of the housing market has made Fannie and Freddie profitable again. Their repayments of the government loans helped make last year’s federal budget deficit the smallest in five years.
– Daily Finance
Milwaukee officials this month are considering a new source of money to promote affordable housing development and combat foreclosures.
The new money would come from city tax incremental financing districts. Those districts let the city reserve property taxes on new developments in a given area, and spend it on infrastructure or grants to developers, for example. The districts traditionally dissolve after paying back all the money the city has spent on its initiatives.
Under the housing proposal, the districts would remain open one additional year after those costs are paid and dedicate their property taxes to affordable housing projects. After that year, the districts would close out, and the taxes they generate will go into the city’s overall budget.
– Milwaukee Business Journal
Actress Holly Robinson Peete will join more than 13,000 women across the country to build or repair homes at Habitat for Humanity construction sites in recognition of National Women Build Week, May 3-11. Held the week leading up to Mother’s Day, National Women Build Week encourages women to devote at least one day to help build affordable housing in their local communities. The week also spotlights the homeownership challenges faced by women.
Now in its seventh year, National Women Build Week is a nationwide initiative of Habitat’s Women Build program developed in partnership with Lowe’s.
– PR Newswire
U.S. Bank more than doubled the amount of tax credit equity financing it committed to support community development projects in the southeastern United States last year. The bank committed $202 million in funding for projects.
Made through the bank’s community development subsidiary U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation (USBCDC) in the form of tax credit equity investments, the funding supported the development of affordable housing, rehabilitation of vacant buildings and job-creating economic development projects in rural areas.
– PR Newswire
The BeltLine is Atlanta’s multibillion-dollar, 25-year project to transform 22 miles of railroad and industrial sites into a sustainable network connecting 45 inner-city communities. The largest redevelopment project in Atlanta’s history — which is saying something in a city that was rebuilt from the ground up after a certain W. T. Sherman paid a visit 150 years ago — the BeltLine is one of the boldest sustainability projects in urban America.
What makes the BeltLine potentially so transformative is that, unlike the hundreds of “rails to trails” projects nationwide, it is designed as a transportation project. It will include light rail lines with 45 neighborhood stops and connections to the city’s MARTA rail system and the Atlanta Streetcar.
The BeltLine has the potential to cross the literal barriers that have separated Atlantans and thus begin to break down far more complex social barriers. Atlanta’s traffic woes are obvious. But the difficulty in getting around here, and the entrenched patterns of segregation have contributed to another kind of gridlock, make this one of the cities with the lowest social and economic mobility in the country. The BeltLine can provide parks and bike trails and cultural events, all of which is marvelous. But if it connects Atlanta’s schools, jobs, and neighborhoods, and gets us out of our cars, it will really live up its potential.
– Atlantic Cities
The fate of low-income and minority families under housing finance reform remains at the heart of negotiations over a Senate bill, highlighting a longstanding split between advocates pushing for affordable rental options and those urging access to homeownership.
The latest salvo came Monday when a coalition of nearly 200 housing organizations, including 33 national groups, sent a letter to the six Democrats on the committee who haven’t joined the bill, urging them to do so.
The housing advocates, which include seniors and veterans groups, along with those that support the homeless and people with disabilities, say they recognize concerns about access to homeownership for minorities and other groups under the new system, but argue that the bill still goes a long way to improving funding for affordable rental options.
– National Mortgage News
A number of homeless advocates told the Observer that they were greatly relieved to see that the de Blasio administration intends to re-instate several programs and policies whose disappearance has coincided with the ballooning number of families in the city’s shelter system. Among them: prioritizing homeless families for Section 8 vouchers and NYCHA apartments, as well as moving to reinstate a rental assistance program.
Additionally, now that Governor Andrew Cuomo has removed a restriction that prohibited New York City from using state funds earmarked for homelessness for long-term housing, the city has, if not more funding to shift homeless families into supportive and subsidized housing, then at least the legal wherewithal to do so. (Creating more housing for low-income New Yorkers, a move that was announced in yesterday’s plan and differs from Bloomberg-era policies that focused heavily on middle-income affordable housing, should provide another bulwark against homelessness going forward.)
– NY Observer
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan calls the proposed Senate bill “the most important piece of repairing the damage from our financial crisis that remains.” But, civil rights groups and housing advocates claim the bill reduce requirements for banks to lend to low- and moderate-income homebuyers.
There’s a fight in Washington over the future of homeownership in America. At issue is a bipartisan bill to dramatically reshape the housing finance industry — the industry that was at the heart of the financial crisis.
The Obama administration supports the bill. But civil rights groups and housing advocates say it would weaken rules that push banks to lend to low- and moderate-income homebuyers.
Shaun Donovan, secretary for Housing and Urban Development, is trying to help push it forward. “We would be able under the current bill to dedicate $5 billion a year to affordable housing,” he says. “That’s the largest new investment in affordable housing we’ve had in more than a generation.”
Housing advocates and civil rights groups say they are worried about the bill though because they say it would end requirements that a certain percentage of loans be made to low- and moderate-income people.
CurbedNY almost calls the plan pro-development, saying de Blasio’s plan contains things that “certainly sound like things the real estate industry can get behind.” Per Curbed:
The plan outlines how the administration plans to create 200,000 units of affordable housing. Of those, 80,000 will be new units, 120,000 will be preserved, and they will target a range of incomes, from extremely low (under $25,150 for a family of four) to middle-class. The plan also details new planning initiatives and zoning changes that will help make these affordable units a reality.
The plan also includes two new programs to spur development of vacant sites: the Neighborhood Construction Program (NCP) and the New Infill Homeownership Opportunities Program.
Meanwhile, DNAinfo points out:
At the core of the neighborhood-level aspect of the plan will be mandatory inclusionary zoning, which will require developers to provide agreed-upon levels of affordability in rezoned areas, though officials said those levels will vary from project to project.
City Planning chairman Carl Weisbrod said the city is looking at about a dozen neighborhoods to target for rezoning. One of those will be East New York in Brooklyn, where the city will look to create new mixed-income housing and mixed-use development along transit corridors like Atlantic and Pitkin avenues.
Sources: Curbed, DNAinfo