NAHMA and NAA to Collocate National Education Conferences in June 2012 - Registration for Both Meetings and Housing Information Now Available

The National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA) will again hold its annual summer meeting in conjunction with the National Apartment Association (NAA) Education Conference & Exposition on June 27-30, 2012 in historic Boston. The 2012 NAA Education Conference & Exposition is the largest event in the multifamily housing industry and includes world-class educators and a star-studded lineup of speakers.

Through this partnership, both conferences will address the critical needs of affordable housing communities and the apartment industry as a whole. Discounts are available to attendees who register for both conferences. These discounts provide a cost neutral solution to your training and development needs. Headline speakers include veteran broadcaster and best-selling writer Tom Brokaw as the Thursday Keynote speaker and star athletes Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra as the Friday General Session speakers.

At the NAHMA Public Policy Issues Forum, to be held as a full-day meeting on June 27, the keynote speaker at the Vanguard Awards luncheon will be Dr. Christopher Herbert, Research Director at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. In addition, Dr. Herbert will participate in a Town Hall discussion with attendees, focusing on public policy related to federal legislative and regulatory initiatives that impact all of the affordable housing programs, from HUD programs (project-based Section, Section 8 tenant vouchers, Section 202 senior housing, and Section 811 special needs housing); to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program; to Rural Housing Service programs (Sections 515, 538 and the revitalization program). In addition to its full day of meetings on June 27, NAHMA will be providing affordable housing-specific sessions as part of the NAA conference – for details, see below.

For details on how to register, click on the web link below.

NAHMA Sessions to be Held During the NAA Conference:

Thursday, June 28, 9-10:30:
NAHMA Presents: Top Tried-and-True Tools for Preserving Aging or Rescuing Troubled Affordable Housing
Expert industry practitioners will present their top “go-to” approaches for preserving aging affordable multifamily housing, or rescuing a troubled portfolio. Panelists will offer insight and tips on the best tools that work most often, and in what circumstances, from lining up Low Income Housing Tax Credits; to cultivating national, state and local
policy or political commitments; to creative ways to tackle capital expense and stretch operating dollars. Presentations will include case studies that illustrate the practical application of the recommended approaches. Participants will learn the successful tools and techniques for preserving aging affordable housing and turning troubled properties into quality affordable rental housing.
Speakers: Larry Curtis, President, WinnDevelopment; Chuck Durnin, Senior Vice President, Interstate Realty Management; Michelle Norris, Senior Vice President, Acquisitions and Development, National Church Residences; Michael Simmons, President, Community Reality Management

Thursday, June 28, 10:45-12:15:
NAHMA Presents: Parallels and Convergences in Multifamily Affordable Housing in the U.S. and Abroad
A recognized industry expert will explore the current state of multifamily affordable housing in the U.S. and around the world, with an emphasis on what policies and approaches (political, financial, and social) are working where, and why, and the likelihood of these being considered/adopted in other places. Given the current and likely trends in affordable housing here and abroad, the discussion will include a projection of what affordable housing might look like by mid century.
Speaker: David A. Smith, Founder, Affordable Housing Institute, Chairman, Recap Real Estate Advisors

Friday, June 29, 8:30-10:00:
NAHMA Presents: Top Tips for Capital Planning in Multifamily Affordable Housing
A key component for successful portfolio management is capital planning for acquisition due diligence, budgeting, and ongoing asset management. In particular, capital planning in the affordable sector, where dollars are even more precious, is vital for owners and managers to ensure expenditures are made strategically. The process is simple, yet can be confusing and overwhelming. For example, capital planning can be executed in-house, or pursued through the use of third-party consultants, and the data formats can be myriad. How do you push the confusion aside, filter through the workload, and come to grips with a process and format to understand your asset? Learn the hands-on, tangible and actionable steps to understanding the capital needs of your assets, by reviewing the following key topic areas: Quantify - measure and count property elements; Tools of the trade – tapes and Google; Observations and field notes – working logically around the site; Collecting historical data on capital work; Cost data – industry resources; Presentation and format – spreadsheet, inflation, charts and graphs; Term of capital plan – how this matches your business need and intent; Third-party assessors – what to look for, scope, how to choose; and, The not-so-easy – mechanical/electrical/plumbing, and elevators.
Speakers: Michael Ferguson, Capital Planning & Operational Strategy; Craig Torres, Senior Associate, On-Site Insight; Thomas E. Nutt-Powell, President, Capital Needs Unlimited

Friday, June 29, 12:45-2:15:
NAHMA Presents: Unique Challenges in Managing Affordable Housing – from Eradicating Bed Bugs to Replenishing Replacement Reserves
While conventional and affordable multifamily housing can face many of the same operational and managerial challenges, addressing these challenges in affordable housing can be unique and complex given the federal regulations under which most of the properties operate. For example, dealing with the problem of bed bugs is common to both conventional and affordable housing, but identifying solutions in affordable housing can be constrained by HUD guidance on permissible lease addenda, timeframes for dealing with tenants, and what can be required of tenants or not. Similarly, increasing replacement reserves is much more difficult to accomplish in affordable multifamily housing than in conventional. The session will feature leading industry experts and practitioners who will focus on the most pressing managerial challenges facing multifamily affordable housing today. Participants will learn tools
and techniques for successfully addressing the challenges in their own properties.
Speakers: George Caruso, Executive Vice President, Edgewood Management Corp.; Steve Henderson, Chief Financial Officer, Wedge Management, Inc.; Gianna Solari, Vice President, Operations, Solari Enterprises, Inc; Timothy Zaleski, President, McCormack Baron Ragan Management Services


Association News
Register Now to Attend the Specialist in Housing Credit Management® Webinar on April 16, 2012
NAHMA Educational Foundation Scholarship Deadline Nears
NAHMA Announces 2012 Affordable Housing Vanguard Award Program Details and Deadline
NAHMA Offers Green Housing Management Publication

Industry News
"Ups and Downs Smooth Out"
"Court Rules Against TDHCA in LIHTC Case"
"Q&A: Using State Rehabilitation Credits"
"Developers Are Increasingly Pursuing Adaptive Reuse Opportunities"
"Section 8 Taking Applications for First Time in Four Years"
"Freddie Refocuses on Preservation, Starts Green Refi Program"
"Why the Most Environmental Building Is the Building We've Already Built"
"Housing's New Star? Affordable Development"
"Sen. Snowe's Departure Hits LIHTC Industry"
"Study: Housing Credits Boost Jobs"
"Affordable Housing Industry Briefs: USDA"
"The Senior Housing Bomb"
"HUD Rule Aims to Cut Discrimination"
"Rising Rents May Signal a Housing Market Recovery"
"HUD Releases 2013 Budget Proposal"
"Cutting Energy in Multifamily Dwellings"
"Opening Up LIHTCs for Foreclosed Homes"
"HUD, USDA, WHEDA: Launch Federal Subsidy Layering Review Alignment Effort to Reduce Regulatory Burdens on Affordable Housing"
"Renters Face Fewer Vacancies, Rising Rates"
"Solar Satellites"

Association News

Register Now to Attend the Specialist in Housing Credit Management® Webinar on April 16, 2012

The next SHCM Webinar on Key Housing Credit Compliance Issues will be held Monday, April 16, 2012 at 2 pm eastern (the program will last approximately 90 minutes)

Featuring Three Experts:

Grace Robertson
Program Analyst, Examination Specialization & Technical Guidance,
Internal Revenue Service, Washington, DC

Gianna Solari, SHCM, NAHP-e
Vice President, Operation, Solari Enterprises, Inc., Orange, CA
LIHTC Trainer, Housing Credit Productions

Greg Proctor, SHCM, NAHP-e
Chief Executive Officer, Windsor Compliance Services, Inc.
LIHTC Trainer

The webinar will provide an hour of instruction, followed by about 30 minutes Q&A (presenters providing verbal answers to written questions from the audience).

Registration details:
The live webinar is being offered free of charge to SHCM certified professionals (your registration will be verified via the SHCM certificant database). To qualify for free registration, SHCM certificants must be current in their annual renewal requirements.

For all other non-SHCM professionals, the registration fee is $75.

To register, click on the link below.

Registration is a two-step process:
1) First click on the link below and log onto the NAA website and enroll for the webinar class.
2) Once you get the confirmation email from step one, you will see an additional note at the bottom of the confirmation page.

Continuing Education Credits: SHCM certified professionals will earn 1.5 units (1 and a half hours) of continuing education credit for participating in the event.

As noted above, SHCM certified professionals may register for this key housing credit compliance webinar for free. The SHCM sponsors hold at least two such webinars per year – which translates to a free registration value of $150 per year. Through the webinars you will --
-- receive key compliance information from program experts
-- earn continuing education units for your annual SHCM recertification requirement
-- receive a value of up to $150 in continuing education for free!

The Specialist in Housing Credit Management® certification program is supported by a unique alliance of three national trade associations: the National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA), the National Apartment Association Education Institute (NAAEI), and LeadingAge, formerly the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA).

The SHCM certification is designed by management professionals for management professionals of properties developed and operated under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, to ensure they have attained the knowledge, experience and competence required to excel in the housing credit property management industry.
NAHMA Educational Foundation Scholarship Deadline Nears

All high school seniors, high school graduates, and adults holding a high school diploma or GED living at an Affordable Housing Management Association (AHMA) member "affiliated property" are invited by the Board of Directors of the National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA) Educational Foundation to apply for scholarship grants for higher education to be awarded in 2012.

The completed application must be filed before the deadline of 10:00 PM EST on May 18, 2012.

The NAHMA Educational Foundation issues this invitation to distinguished residents who are pursuing some type of higher education in college, university, community college, trade/ professional school or institute. The Foundation is a privately funded, non-profit organization that was created in 1994, and awarded its first scholarships in 2007, to further charitable and educational opportunities on behalf of residents living at an AHMA member affiliated property.

In 2011, the NAHMA Educational Foundation awarded more than 30 scholarships which ranged from $1,000 to $2,000 each, for a total of $34,500. Since the program's launch in 2007, the NAHMA Educational Foundation has awarded $179,500 in scholarships.

For more details or to access the online application, click on the link below.

Applicants may also contact Dr. Bruce W. Johnson of the Foundation at 215-262-4230 or with questions.
NAHMA Announces 2012 Affordable Housing Vanguard Award Program Details and Deadline

NAHMA recently announced the deadline for submissions for the its 2012 Affordable Housing Vanguard Award will be April 13, 2012.

The Vanguard Award celebrates success in the multifamily affordable housing industry by recognizing and benchmarking new, quality multifamily affordable housing development. The award –

• Pays tribute to developers of high-quality affordable housing;
• Demonstrates that exceptional new affordable housing is available across the country, and that it is a positive addition to any neighborhood;
• Demonstrates that the affordable multifamily industry must be creative and innovative to create exceptional properties given the financing and other challenges to development;
• Highlights results of private-public partnerships required to develop today’s affordable housing;
• Shares ideas for unique design and financing mechanisms with industry practitioners to further stimulate creative development in the affordable multifamily industry.

Vanguard Award Categories:
A. New Construction (two subcategories: over 100 units and under 100 units)
B. Major Rehabilitation of an Existing Rental Housing Community
C. Major Rehabilitation of a Non-Housing Structure into Affordable Rental Housing
D. Major Rehabilitation of a Historic Structure into Affordable Rental Housing

Who May Apply:
Affordable multifamily housing communities that are less than three years old (as of April 13, 2012) may apply (based on date of completion of new construction or completion of major rehab). Affordable is defined as a property participating in a government funded, insured or otherwise sponsored program that results in rents that are below market-rate housing.

Where and When to Apply:
Applications should be submitted to the National Affordable Housing Management Association by April 13, 2012. Please email your PDF application to NAHMA at, or mail a CD containing your PDF application to NAHMA Vanguard Award, 400 N. Columbus St., Suite 203, Alexandria, VA 22314.

Entry Fees:
The entry fee is $150 per property for members of NAHMA or an AHMA, and $325 per property for non-members. Please reference the name of the applicant property when submitting payment, via either credit card at the NAHMA Webstore at, or via check payable to NAHMA and mailed with a completed application to NAHMA Vanguard Award, 400 N. Columbus St., Suite 203, Alexandria, VA 22314.

The Judging Process:
NAHMA will convene a distinguished panel of multifamily affordable housing practitioners in late April 2012 to conduct the judging process.

The Awards Ceremony:
Winners of the Affordable Housing Vanguard Awards will be recognized at an awards ceremony at the NAHMA Summer Meeting in June 2012 in Boston.

Beyond the Recognition – Other Benefits of Participation:
- A congratulations letter and certificate
- A draft press release for use with local media
- A draft letter for sending to Congressional representatives
- A free subscription to NAHMA News ($100 value)
- A crystal award
- Inclusion in a press release distributed by NAHMA to national media and trade press
- Inclusion in a detailed article on award winners in NAHMA News and on the NAHMA website

How to Apply:
Applications must be submitted in PDF format.

For full program details and how to apply, click on the link below.
NAHMA Offers Green Housing Management Publication

A new publication, Green Housing: A Practical Guide to Green Real Estate Management, is now available from the National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA). The 82-page spiral-bound book is an informative yet easy-to-read primer on green real estate management, and covers all of the basic concepts, such as energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, resource efficiency, site sustainability, water efficiency, integrated pest management, tenant green education, and creating a green operation and maintenance plan.

According to a recent report by the U.S. General Services Administration, green buildings have 13% lower maintenance costs and consume 26% less energy. Though there is a common perception that “going green” can be cost-prohibitive, property management professionals and building owners and developers are discovering that greening their properties is not only cost-effective but can be truly profitable. Green Housing, by real estate professional and certified green-building expert Barry P. Weaver, is a timely manual for those who have the desire but not a great deal of capital to accomplish green upgrades.

The book may be purchased for $35 per copy, plus $5 shipping and handling, via NAHMA’s webstore via the link below.

Industry News

Ups and Downs Smooth Out
Housing Finance (03/01/12) Kimura, Donna

The volatility in low-income housing tax credit prices has stabilized recently, and most syndicators agree they will hold steady through the first half of the year. While some say that there will be increases in the second half, all agree it is unlikely there will be a return to the ups and downs of the last two years. According to a poll of syndicators from Affordable Housing Finance, the average price paid to developers in the fourth quarter of last year was about $0.87 per dollar of credit, about 18 percent higher than the same period the previous year, and returns to investors averaged 6.7 percent, down 30 percent from the previous year. Hal Keller of the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing says that part of the reason is that a floor on yield is emerging, and many opportunistic investors are gone. Carl Wise of Alliant Capital added that several large Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) investors are starting a new three-year assessment period that may reduce pricing pressure as well. According to the survey, prices on the East and West coasts will be most affected by competition among syndicators and investors, which may push prices higher, and in non-CRA markets the main factor will be the interest of economic investors, who are looking for strong yields and may drive down prices paid for credits. Most respondents said they matched or exceeded 2010 levels, and most believe they will raise even more LIHTC capital this year because mainstay investors will continue to have strong demand for tax credits, though there are likely to be few new investors. Among the potential challenges on the horizon, according to the poll, are the end of California’s redevelopment agencies, tax reform, and the sluggish economy.

Court Rules Against TDHCA in LIHTC Case
Apartment Finance Today (03/12)

U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Fitzwater has ruled that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) unintentionally discriminated in its allocation of low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs), and has ordered the agency to prepare a remedial plan to address the issue. Although the ruling came in response to a 2008 lawsuit that filed by the nonprofit Inclusive Communities Project (ICP), which challenged TDHCA's allocations of tax credits in the Dallas area, it could potentially have a sweeping impact on how the state runs the program, which will disperse about $55 million in tax credits this year. TDHCA said in a written statement following the court decision that it is "ever mindful of, and dedicated to, its responsibilities to all Texans to comply fully with all state and federal laws which govern the administration of our programs. In light of Judge Fitzwater's ruling issued this week, we are carefully reviewing the decision and considering next steps. Moreover, we remain committed to fair housing choice for all Texans as the Department carries out its mission of helping all Texans achieve an improved quality of life through the development of better communities." Fitzwater ruled that ICP had proved its “disparate impact” claim under the Fair Housing Act. However, in a victory for TDHCA, the court found that there was no intentional discrimination based on race. TDHCA stressed its use of a racially neutral scoring system, but Fitzwater said the agency failed to prove that it has adopted the least discriminatory alternative in carrying out its work of allocating LIHTCs. As a result, the court ruled in favor of ICP.

Q&A: Using State Rehabilitation Credits
Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits (03/12) Rhuda, Charles A.

There are several legal and tax issues to be aware of when considering rehabilitation credits using certificates, writes Charles A. Rhuda III, CPA with Novogradac & Co. The “certified credit” method for rehabilitating older properties involves transferable certificates the owner can use or sell to someone else with a state liability, who can then attach them to their state return. Two rulings that Massachusetts requested from the Treasury Department in 2004 and 2011 illustrate the tax implications. In the first, the state asked the IRS to decide whether the purchase of the certificate, which was used to reduce state tax liability, constituted a payment toward state taxes. The IRS ruled in favor of the purchasers, meaning that the certificate is property that is being used to settle tax liability. There were some questions left unanswered, though, which another ruling settled, on the matter of determining the basis in that property and how to account for the difference between the price paid for the certificate and the value of the credits applied against state tax. In the second ruling, the IRS decided that the sale of the credit is a taxable event, the original recipient has no basis in the certificate, the gain to the allocate is generally a capital gain, the purchaser’s basis is the amount paid for the credit, and the purchaser must recognize the gain ratably as the credit is applied to state taxes.

Developers Are Increasingly Pursuing Adaptive Reuse Opportunities
National Real Estate Investor (02/29/12) Popovec, Jennifer

Developers are increasingly finding work in adaptive reuse as more and more Americans prefer to live in redeveloped urban areas. Several options are available for adaptive reuse projects, including low-income, historic, and New Market tax credits. There is a limited amount of low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) available each year that are aggressively sought by developers, and they can only be used for multifamily projects. LIHTC projects can be targeted toward specific groups like senior citizens, veterans, and former prisoners. Roughly $7 billion in LIHTCs will be allocated for 2012. The New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program was established by Congress in 2000 to encourage new or increased investments in businesses and real estate projects in low-income communities. Unless Congress extends the program, its last year was 2011. Some $3.5 billion of NMTCs will be issued in 2012, while current estimates place the size of the 2012 historic tax credit market between $550 million and $650 million credits, according to Novogradac & Company.

Section 8 Taking Applications for First Time in Four Years
Nashville Public Radio (03/21/12) George, Bradley

After four years and thousands of names on a waiting list, a Nashville, Tenn., rental assistance program is ready to take new applicants. Section 8 vouchers are meant to help low-income families pay for an apartment or rental home, covering the cost for most of the rent and utilities, but the recipient still has to pay 30 percent. The last time Metro Housing and Development Agency took applicants for Section 8 was December of 2008, and MDHA’s Mark Drury expects another flood of applications this time. However, those who get a voucher will still have to do some legwork to find affordable housing. They will need to go out and find a rental property that accepts a Section 8 voucher. MDHA will issue three to four hundred vouchers in the next two months, then another hundred per month for the rest of the year. Those who receive vouchers will be selected by lottery.

Freddie Refocuses on Preservation, Starts Green Refi Program
Housing Finance (03/15/12) Ascierto, Jerry

When Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s affordable housing divisions separated last year, Freddie focused on short-term bond deals, particularly the New Issue Bond Program, which expires at the end of this year. Fannie focused on more long-term strategies, such as low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) preservation deals, and its volume grew by 282 percent compared to flat growth for Freddie. Now Freddie is planning to catch up by expanding its presence in cash mortgages and making the process more efficient. The lender is entering a partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to launch a Green Refinance Program similar to the one Fannie already has. Freddie’s program will likely have similar terms to Fannie’s, which offers up to 85 percent loan-to-value and debt-service coverage ratios as low as 1.15x.

Why the Most Environmental Building Is the Building We've Already Built
The Atlantic (01/24/12) Badger, Emily

Research from the Preservation Green Lab indicates that the most environmentally friendly buildings in the United States are ones that already have been built, rather than state-of-the-art structures. The study found that retrofitting can make an existing structure 30 percent more efficient, and that structure always will be "greener" than a new building built with the same efficiencies.

The report indicates that examining the life cycle of a new building reveals that it can take up to 80 years for it to offset the environmental impact of its initial construction when compared to that of an existing building with no retrofits. The researchers compared commercial offices, warehouse conversions, urban village mixed-use buildings, elementary schools, single-family houses, and multifamily homes in four different climates -- Phoenix, Chicago, Atlanta, and Portland, Ore.

Housing's New Star? Affordable Development
Crain's New York Business (02/13/12) Vol. 28, P. 13 Fung, Amanda

Developers of affordable housing are busy as a result of strong demand and increased access to financing. "In weaker markets, affordable housing is still an attractive long-term investment," says RuthAnne Visnauskas, deputy commissioner at New York City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Affordable housing builders in the city are turning to several public and private funding sources, including federal low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs). Banks are mandated to finance LIHTC projects under the federal Community Reinvestment Act, which seeks to steer more money to inner-city neighborhoods. "Even though credit was seizing up, banks had to figure out what to do to meet their requirements," observes Abby Jo Sigal, vice president of Enterprise Community Partners, which raises capital and invests in affordable housing projects nationwide. Some of New York City's largest developers are active in the affordable housing sector. This includes large companies with most of their business in other market sectors and several nonprofits that work solely in affordable housing. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's New Housing Marketplace Plan seeks to build or preserve 165,000 affordable housing units by 2014 and has pledged $8.4 billion to achieve this.

Sen. Snowe's Departure Hits LIHTC Industry
Apartment Finance Today (03/12) Kimura, Donna

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) will not seek re-election this year, delivering a major blow to the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) industry. For years, she has been the key Republican supporter of the LIHTC program. Bob Moss, senior vice president and director of origination at Boston Capital, who has known Snowe for 20 years, says her importance to the affordable housing industry cannot be pinned to one event or a single piece of legislation. "It's her consistency and accessibility regardless of what the issue was," he says. "She played all 11 positions on our football team. You can name a housing legislation that passed, and she was supportive of it." Snowe cited partisanship and dysfunction in the Senate as reasons for stepping down. She joins a number of legislators known to be housing supporters who will leave next year, including Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). Still, several key leaders are expected to remain, including Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, who has expressed support for the LIHTC program. Barbara Thompson, executive director of the National Council of State Housing Agencies, cited Snowe's steady work on behalf of the LIHTC and tax-exempt bond programs. Most recently, the senator co-sponsored S. 1989 to make permanent the 9 percent minimum credit rate and to establish a fixed rate for the 4 percent acquisition credit. Snowe's departure takes on added weight as Congress is expected to push for major tax changes.

Study: Housing Credits Boost Jobs
New Hampshire Union Leader (NH) (02/09/12) Paiste, Denis

A new report by the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority indicates that federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) supported hundreds of jobs statewide in 2011, providing a first-year boost of approximately 433 jobs and $31.5 million invested. The study evaluated the impact of building 149 multi-family units and 53 senior units. New Hampshire Housing said roughly $2.8 million in federal tax credits attracted about $22 million to $24 million in private equity investment. The tax credit-funded projects are privately owned and are targeted to people with incomes up to about $36,000 on average statewide. That income is higher than the majority of public housing allows, according to Dean Christon, executive director of New Hampshire Housing. Over the past 10 years, Manchester Housing and Redevelopment Authority has used the LIHTC program to construct or renovate low-income housing by partnering with private owners. A recent projects was the South Porter Apartments, with 61 units for the elderly and people with disabilities. To qualify, residents can earn no more than 50 percent of the median income, which varies with household size. Median income for a single person would be $26,600.

Affordable Housing Industry Briefs: USDA
Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits (03/12)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that $130 million is available for loan guarantees under the Section 538 Guaranteed Rural Rental Housing Program. The department published in February a notice of funding availability (NOFA) for fiscal year (FY) 2012. Eligible lenders may submit responses for new construction and rehabilitation of affordable rural rental housing. A complete application may be submitted with the response, but it is not required. Selected responses that develop into complete applications and meet all eligibility requirements will receive conditional commitments until all funds are expended. The response deadline is Dec. 31, 2012.

The Senior Housing Bomb
Rochester City Newspaper (03/06/12) Macaluso, Tim L

A growing need for low-cost senior housing and a political environment increasingly amenable to cutting spending on social and entitlement programs could combine to form a crisis for low-income housing for seniors. Eldersource, a one-stop source for guidance in elder care in Monroe County, N.Y., received more than 14,000 calls last year, many about housing. That number is expected to be even higher this year. There are many reasons why affordable housing for seniors has become such a serious concern, including the personal needs that come with aging, the need for housing in close proximity to shopping and medical care, and sensitivity to inflation. The housing trend in caring for the elderly is to help them "age in place," and federal and state funding supports programs that make aging in place affordable for some seniors. Even seniors with a modest pension and $30,000 to $100,000 in savings might find that the housing they were planning for their later years is too expensive. These conditions are putting an enormous strain on the availability of low-cost apartments for seniors, and there is no indication things will improve anytime soon. The Rochester Housing Authority (RHA) had 1,003 seniors apply for public housing in 2011, and there are 1,244 seniors on the waiting list, according to Sandra Whitney, RHA's director of public housing. Currently, the RHA has 10,000 people, including seniors, on its Section 8 waiting list. Despite the immensity of the problem, funding for affordable senior housing is being cut. The RHA is expecting a 31 percent cut - nearly $3 million - in its housing subsidy from the federal government for 2012. The need for more affordable senior housing is likely to increase for another reason, according to Bill Selke, who has worked on senior housing issues in Rochester for 20 years. Communities are often resistant to new developments, especially anything dealing with affordable housing, and it can take years for developers to find funding and get municipal approval for new developments.

HUD Rule Aims to Cut Discrimination
Washington Post (03/12/12) P. A15 Householder, Mike

A new rule has gone into effect prohibiting those who own or manage HUD-funded housing from inquiring about an applicant's sexual orientation or gender identity. It is estimated that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) young people represent between 20 percent and 40 percent of the approximately 600,000 or more homeless youths nationwide. According to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, the equal access rule "says clearly and unequivocally that LGBT individuals and couples have the right to live where they choose."

Rising Rents May Signal a Housing Market Recovery
Los Angeles Times (03/13/12) Lazo, Alejandro

Real estate prices are falling to all-time lows, but new figures from the rental market are on the up -- an early indicator that housing may be about to rebound. Rents are rising due to an influx of new renters who were witness to the recent foreclosure crisis, analysts say, and those people -- with their spotted credit histories preventing them from becoming homeowners again anytime soon -- need roofs over their heads. The burgeoning recovery in employment is also exacerbating the situation, as more people find employment and need immediate rental housing. Many apartment residents who are able to buy a home are also choosing instead to continue to rent as they ride out the price slump and the difficulty of obtaining a mortgage. Developers have finished few new apartment communities in recent years, which limits the supply, but recent new construction on apartments has also spurred housing starts in recent months. Stan Humphries, chief economist for the real estate Web site Zillow, said, "Fundamentally, it is an issue of supply and demand. The foreclosure crisis is essentially a giant engine converting owner households into rental households." According to Zillow, median rents increased 3 percent between January 2011 and January 2012.

HUD Releases 2013 Budget Proposal
Housing Finance (02/14/12) Kimura, Donna

U.S. Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan unveiled a 2013 budget that proposes $44.8 billion in gross discretionary budget authority for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Low-income housing advocates criticized the proposal as a troubling mix of cuts and flat funding. The budget request represents a roughly $1.6 billion -- or 3 percent -- increase in program investments, while still meeting the new requirements for a tighter budget. Donovan said he expects to see a net savings as a result of increased receipts from loans made by the Federal Housing Administration. New premium increases are reflected in the budget, including those for single-family, multifamily, and health-care loans. Reforms to HUD's rental-assistance programs are expected to save more than $500 million in fiscal 2013 without reducing the number of families served, and the department expects to achieve savings in the project-based rental assistance program by aligning policy across the program and reducing costs by increasing the minimum rent from $25-$50 a month to at least $75 per month for all HUD-assisted households. The budget provides $8.7 billion for project-based rental assistance, down from about $9.3 billion in fiscal 2012. The proposed savings would be generated by providing less than 12 months of funding up front on some contracts that straddle fiscal years. Still, advocates are sounding a warning. “HUD has tried this budget gimmick before,” said Sheila Crowley, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). “And it wreaked havoc in the lives of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people.” Denise Muha, executive director of the National Leased Housing Association, also raised concerns about a budget shortfall that could be created. Crowley also criticized the increase in minimum rent, which, according to NLIHC, would provide a savings of $150 million -- just .003 percent of the total HUD budget.

Cutting Energy in Multifamily Dwellings
Today's Facility Manager (02/12) Vazquez, Anne

A recent CNT Energy and American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy report reveals that multifamily property owners and residents could save up to $3.4 billion nationwide by adopting energy-efficient upgrades. Properties with five or more residential units could save between 15 percent and 30 percent on their utility bills with cost-effective upgrades. Through cooperation, property owners, managers, and utilities can write energy-efficient policies and address any local or regulatory issues in an effort to generate savings, lower financial risks for lenders, and maintain affordable housing. "Maximizing energy efficiency is a win-win for apartment residents, building owners, energy utilities and our energy infrastructure," says National Multi Housing Council President Doug Bibby.

Opening Up LIHTCs for Foreclosed Homes
Housing Finance (01/18/12) Kimura, Donna

The Obama administration is warming to the idea of converting foreclosed single-family homes into affordable rental properties through the low-income housing tax credit program (LIHTC). Carol Galante of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Housing Administration said developers have already been doing similar things with the program for many years in terms of scattered-site development but none have applied the idea specifically in this way. The LIHTC program would need a few tweaks to get it to work for foreclosed homes, she said, such as exempting them from the 10-year holding rule. Some have also proposed an income-averaging option such as allowing households with no more than 60 percent of the area median income to be eligible. So far the idea has not moved forward officially, Galante says, but it is still under consideration.

HUD, USDA, WHEDA: Launch Federal Subsidy Layering Review Alignment Effort to Reduce Regulatory Burdens on Affordable Housing (02/27/12)

This past week, HUD, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, and the Wisconsin State Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) jointly announced the Wisconsin launch of a pilot program that will reduce regulatory burdens on affordable housing developers and owners. The new initiative aims to increase communication between agencies, as well as provide a "one-stop-shop" for development applicants. WHEDA Executive Director Wyman Winston comments, "WHEDA is delighted to, on behalf of the state of Wisconsin, participate in this common-sense endeavor that will alleviate an unnecessary burden on the affordable housing industry. . . . The winners will be developers and owners who can better concentrate on delivering housing resources to those in need; state and federal agencies that serve families; and, of course, the residents of affordable housing."

Renters Face Fewer Vacancies, Rising Rates
USA Today (02/22/12) Allyn, Bobby

MPF Research's latest report reveals that 25 percent of all apartments nationwide offered a concession in the final quarter of 2011, which is down from 53 percent of apartments that did so in the first quarter of 2010. "The industry moves in cycles, and right now not a lot of apartments are available," says Jay Parsons, an analyst at MPF Research. Given that apartment construction has not caught up with demand, property managers will have greater control over concessions and the marketplace, say experts. MPF Research reports that about 125,000 apartment units will be completed by the end of 2012, an 89 percent gain from 2011, but Parsons says the increase is still low by historic standards.

Solar Satellites
Urban Land (02/12) Vol. 71, No. 2, P. 92 Laursen, Kai

Preserving open spaces and farmland and handling population growth with satellite cities and urban infill is a better use of land than urban sprawl. Technically capable of self-sufficiency, satellite cities are designed to be carbon neutral, use alternative sources of energy, exclude private automobiles, dedicate a lane for emergency vehicles, reuse or recycle all waste, and offer affordable housing. Satellite cities also would be characterized by high-density mixed-use development with good transit systems located close to essential facilities. One of the potential transit systems for satellite cities is the personal rapid transit (PRT) system, which uses automated electric vehicles to provide private, non-stop service on a network of guideways, with the end destination chosen by the passenger when requesting a car. PRTs initially faced difficulties from cost overruns; design, engineering and review flaws; technical limitations and opposition. The technical limitations are finally being solved and two PRT pilot systems are under development at London Heathrow Airport and In Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.

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