LeadingAge to Celebrate its 50th in DC
October 16-October 19 at the DC Convention Center

The LeadingAge (formerly AAHSA) annual meeting, the largest gathering of aging services and senior housing professionals, will be held this year at the Convention Center in Washington, DC, starting Sunday, October 16 at 1 pm through Wednesday, October 19th at 4:30 pm. Addressing LeadingAge members in the general sessions to “Celebrate Age” over the last 50 years and share their vision for the future of aging services will be Poet Laureate Maya Angelou, Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel, and Mary Robinson, the first female president of Ireland. To celebrate LeadingAge’s birthday, there will be a reunion luncheon and birthday bash, with entertainment from the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Village People, and a Beatles look and act alike group, the Fab Four.

Each day the conference will focus on the varying needs of seniors (and other populations), the models of service and care delivery that will be required to serve them, and the ethical, philosophical, and practical questions associated with the various models. The conference will include sessions covering all the hot topics of management and operations, development, tax credits, preservation, housing with services, and going green in development and management. For more information about the conference, click on the link below.


Association News
HUD Requests and Receives Feedback on the Recent Section 202 NOFA
HUD Working on Guidance to Implement
S. 118 (P.L. 111-372)

House Financial Services Committee Takes Up Section 8 Voucher Reform Again
HUD Discusses Revisions to the Section 8 Renewal Guide
NAHMA Offers Green Housing Management Publication

Industry News
"Oklahoma Courts Rule Low-Income Housing Tax Credits Shouldn't Be Treated as Property Income"
"Senator Proposes Eliminating LIHTCs"
"Demand for LIHTCs Boosts Prices, Concerns"
"Sustainability Is Built in a Project's Early Stages"
"Managing Multifamily Developments"
"The Investor View"
"Apartments Are the Development Du Jour Among Builders"
"The Building Owner's and Operator's Sustainability Solution"
"Multi-Family Sector Could Soar to New Heights"
"Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding to Preserve and Revitalize Rural Rental Housing Complexes"
"Gerber Discusses LIHTCs"
"Getting Better All the Time"
"Novogradac Study Calls LIHTC Program a Success"
"TransUnion Survey: Renters Easy to Find"
"Obama Names New Acting Head of FHA"
"'Incenting' Developers to Make Apartments Affordable"

Association News

HUD Requests and Receives Feedback on the Recent Section 202 NOFA

On July 22, LeadingAge, along with Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future, Enterprise Community Partners, and Local Initiatives Support Corporation, submitted detailed comments to HUD in response to its recent request for feedback about the most recent Notification of Funding Availability (NOFA) competition for funding for Section 202 capital advances. The 2010 and 2011 NOFA round included a number of changes to the ratings and rankings which will determine the selection of capital advance awardees. The comments responded to the questions that HUD outlined in its recent request for feedback and provided recommendations for changes in the ratings and rankings for the next NOFA for funding to become available in fiscal year 2012, assuming funding will be available. The changes were directed at better stretching the 202 dollars further by rewarding leverage; directing funding at applicants with strong capacity who would ensure that the housing would be built in a timely fashion; making the section 202 program the platform for the delivery of housing and supportive services; and providing incentives for green building and better design among other changes. The comments were directed at better achieving these goals. To review the comments, click on the link below.
HUD Working on Guidance to Implement
S. 118 (P.L. 111-372)

Last December, in its lame duck session, Congress enacted S.118, legislation to reform the Section 202 Supportive Housing for Seniors Program. So far no new guidance has been published to implement the provisions of the new law. HUD is currently drafting a new notice to include the changes made which have the effect of slightly altering current guidance. HUD also is drafting a rule change to implement the new project based assistance contract because HUD has not issued any new project based assistance contracts since the Section 8 program for project based assistance was terminated.

Refinancing continues to be guided by the old notices and general preservation notices related to reconfiguring units (H Notice 11-03), loan subordination (H Notice 10-26), flexible subsidy deferral (H Notice 11-05), and a notice to implement specific provisions from appropriations legislation related to pre 1974 Section 202 properties (H Notice 10-14). That notice permits refinancing of the pre 1974 projects and provides enhanced vouchers for unassisted residents.

The new law permits refinancing for the oldest Section 202 properties (1959-1974) to address the physical needs of the project and promote long-term affordability by extending the restriction on the property for 20 years beyond the maturity date of the original loan. It creates a new Senior Preservation Contract to provide a rental subsidy for older, unassisted Section 202 units to prevent displacement of residents. (These provisions make permanent law changes and replace the appropriations provision.) It allows unexpended refinancing proceeds to be used in the provision of affordable rental housing and related social services for the elderly. The law also permits owners to reconfigure unmarketable efficiency units to one bedroom units, confirms that HUD has authority to subordinate 202 and other debt in connection with a refinancing, and provides HUD with authority to waive prepayment of a flexible subsidy loan upon prepayment or refinancing of a 202 loan to preserve the affordable character of the property.
House Financial Services Committee Takes Up Section 8 Voucher Reform Again

On June 16, the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee majority released “The Section 8 Savings Act” (SESA), a draft Section 8 voucher program reform bill that includes a number of provisions intended to streamline the housing choice voucher program by eliminating duplicative and burdensome requirements.

Of particular interest to all U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) senior housing providers is the new requirement that recertification for fixed-income residents, such as seniors on social security or supplemental security income, will occur once every 3 years instead of yearly. The change applies to all HUD senior housing, not just the voucher program.

The bill also includes provisions that will impact all managers and their ability to serve residents and potential residents of Limited English Proficiency by providing for translation of required documents and for a toll free telephone line to provide translation services if necessary.

SESA was released prior to a subcommittee hearing, "Legislative Proposals to Reform the Housing Choice Voucher Program." Eleven housing provider groups, including LeadingAge, NAHMA, and the National Multihousing Council and National Apartment Association, endorsed the legislation in a letter to Chairwoman Judy Biggert. The groups, representing owners, management agents, and lenders who participate in HUD’s assisted housing programs, offered support for provisions related to:
• Streamlined property inspection requirements.
• A reliable funding formula.
• The LEP provisions.
• The new Extension of the contract term for project based vouchers.
• Extension of mark to market authority until 2015.

At the hearing, HUD Assistant Secretary for Public Housing Sandra Henriquez and representatives from seven affordable housing organizations generally praised the draft bill, noting that it includes many of the provisions from previous versions of legislation introduced in prior Congresses as the Section 8 Voucher Reform Act (SEVRA).
HUD Discusses Revisions to the Section 8 Renewal Guide

At two recent affordable housing industry meetings, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) multifamily staff discussed changes in the Section 8 Renewal Guide that HUD expects to release sometime this fall.

The changes that HUD staff discussed represent changes to the guide that were released in late July 2010 when HUD posted a draft of the revised version of the Section 8 Renewal Guide for comment. The revision incorporated some 44 changes to the guide in almost every chapter and provided new appendices, forms, glossary and worksheets.

For not-for-profit providers, the revised guide provides access to increased distributions, a set 5% vacancy rate, and a 6% return on initial equity for old reg or Loan Management Set Aside (LMSA) projects, although the 2% contingency reserve will no longer be permitted. Ending a problem for tax-credit projects, the cost of annual compliance reports will be an eligible budget item and in preservation projects, the new debt will be included in the budget regardless of the renewal option.

Notwithstanding critical comments submitted by LeadingAge, NAHMA and many other housing organizations, the Section 8 Renewal Guide will also clarify that exception-rent projects, including Section 202/8 projects and rural rental housing projects, that submit budget based renewal requests under Option 4, will be subject to a market rent cap for the first time and will be required to submit a rent comp study. For 202s that have refinanced their mortgages at rents that have never been subject to market caps and likely exceed market rents, this requirement may cause severe financial hardships.

Housing groups continue to be concerned that this provision will have the effect of pushing 202s into mark to market. The groups believe that the law explicitly exempts 202s and rural rental housing from mark to market; therefore HUD's interpretation is in conflict with the clear intent of Congress when they provided for exception projects.
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

Oklahoma Courts Rule Low-Income Housing Tax Credits Shouldn't Be Treated as Property Income
National Real Estate Investor (07/27/11) Elias, William

The Oklahoma courts have definitively excluded low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) from calculations of taxable value, potentially resulting in lower tax assessments for many low-income housing properties in the state. The case of Stillwater Housing Associates v. Jacquie Rose, Payne County Assessor, et al. (Oklahoma Supreme Court No. 108,682) arose in Payne County, Okla., where limited partnership Stillwater Housing Associates applied to the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency for low-income housing tax credits to develop a low-income housing complex. The agency granted credits to be allocated over 10 years in the amount of $455,235 per year. To generate private equity to complete construction, Stillwater sold its low-income housing tax credits to investors, who became limited partners, and the credits flowed through Stillwater directly to those limited partners. Stillwater received no monetary benefit or cash flow from the tax credits. Stillwater was obligated under a regulatory agreement to rent the units to low-income residents at restricted rents for 40 years. The tax credits were subject to recapture if Stillwater breached the terms of the regulatory agreement during the first 15 years. In 2007, Stillwater protested the assessor's value of the property and asserted a fair cash value of $3.975 million, based upon actual rents. The developer appealed to the County Board of Equalization. The board instructed the assessor to add $235,347 of tax credits as income under the income approach. As a result, the value increased to more than $8.6 million. Stillwater appealed the board's value to district court, which ruled in favor of Stillwater. The Oklahoma Court of Appeals affirmed the district court, holding that low-income housing tax credits are not income and do not replace income to the real property. The assessor asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to review the appeals court decision, but that petition was denied on March 28, 2011.

Senator Proposes Eliminating LIHTCs
Apartment Finance Today (07/11)

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has called for the elimination of the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program as part of his deficit-cutting plan. Coburn says ending the tax credit program would save at least $57 billion over the next 10 years. Overall, he proposes to cut the deficit by $9 trillion over the next 10 years. The proposal to eliminate LIHTCs drew a sharp response from the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition. "Not only has the LIHTC program been highly successful in fulfilling its goal of providing high-quality affordable rental housing to millions of Americans, it is a proven job producer," the Coalition said in a statement released July 21. The repeal of the LIHTC "would eliminate the most important and successful program for critically needed affordable rental housing, thus depriving millions of low-income families and seniors of a decent place to live and killing thousands of well-paying jobs at a time of severe unemployment," according to the Coalition.

Demand for LIHTCs Boosts Prices, Concerns
Affordable Housing Finance (06/11) Kimura, Donna

Rising low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) prices are helping developers to fill financing gaps, but they also decrease yields and make investment less profitable for some investors. "A year ago, people said the floor was 8 percent," which has now declined to 5 percent to 6 percent, said Russell Ginise, managing director of tax credit investments at RBC Capital Markets, at the recent National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) conference. "It's very investor specific." David Leopold, senior vice president at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said pricing is determined by multiple factors like the timing of the equity pay-in, deal risk, and competition. Some recent deals in New York City and California received bids of more than $1 per dollar of credit. The stronger demand for LIHTCs also is triggering more buying and selling activity for the credits, which may cause key deal terms to loosen. Hal Keller, president of the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing, noted some cases where reserves are falling below the recommended six months of expenses. Investors and syndicators at the NCSHA conference said their LIHTC portfolios successfully survived the economic downturn, although a few experienced some stress in their portfolios or sporadic difficulties with some sponsors.

Sustainability Is Built in a Project's Early Stages
Multi-Housing News (06/11)

In California, a multifamily development's green profile can make the difference between approval and rejection. The state's Title 24 CALGreen component includes a mix of mandatory and voluntary measures to enhance the energy efficiency of new residential development statewide. The California Tax Credit Allocation Commission (CTCAC), which provides Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) for affordable housing, also is calling for submittals for LIHTCs to include sustainability measures based on LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environment Design) for Homes, Green Communities, or the GreenPoint Rated Multifamily guidelines. New rules issued by the CTCAC are very specific in the kinds of sustainability efforts that can be included in affordable housing developments to qualify for LIHTCs. These can include such things as photovoltaic generation that offsets resident loads, solar hot water for all residents with individual water meters, and a project-specific maintenance manual that features replacement specifications and operating information of all green-building additions. CTCAC also addresses the certification of building management staff in sustainable building operations under the BPI Multifamily Building Operator or equivalent training program.

Managing Multifamily Developments
Sustainable Facility (06/11) Vol. 36, No. 4, P. 31 Linstroth, Tommy

Trident Sustainability Group principal Tommy Linstroth writes that the first step in managing a sustainable apartment community is creating a green property management and unit turnover plan. "If it is new construction, it is ideal to craft such plans a few months before move-in dates, while you still have all the spec sheets from construction available, design team members are still talking to you and the general contractor is at the site," Linstroth recommends. He also says that "there are owners of millions of units of multifamily housing out there who might want to start managing their properties in a more sustainable fashion and can still create a comprehensive green property management plan. It just sometimes takes a bit longer to compile the appropriate specifications, matching products, etc. if you don't have that information already handy." Among the ongoing operational elements that Linstroth says go into a green apartment management and unit turnover plan are monthly replacement of air filters with MERV 8 filters, the provision of centralized fluorescent light bulb recycling opportunities, deployment of a green cleaning program, implementation of sustainable procurement policies, and arrangement of a community-wide recycling program. Unit turnover practices that Linstroth recommends include repainting with low-VOC paints, replacement of carpet with CRO Green Label Plus carpet, unit cleaning with Green Seal cleaning products, and utilization of low-flow plumbing fixtures.

The Investor View
Affordable Housing Finance (06/11) Kimura, Donna

Low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) prices increased again in the first half of 2011, prompting a shift in the market. "It’s 180 degrees from where we were a year ago," says Leila J. Ahmadifar, director of LIHTC investments at Citi Community Capital. "It’s a seller’s market again. There’s a lot more demand than supply. As a result, pricing on tax credits has increased in most markets." Several investors report that yield-driven buyers have stuck with the market, while others are concerned that the situation may quickly change. Christoph Gabler, senior vice president at AEGON USA Realty Advisors, LLC, says, "Economic investors are voicing concerns about the low level of yields, and yields continue to drop. There is a breaking point, and all it may take is one investor to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It could very well be that another correction is around the corner." Investors, not only worried about market volatility, are also watching deal terms. The Affordable Housing Investors Council (AHIC) recently updated its acquisitions and underwriting guidelines, syncing them with recommendations from the National Council of State Housing Agencies. AHIC recommends that operating reserves be equal to at least six months of total operating expenses, replacement reserves, and must-pay debt service. Bank of America is among the largest and most consistent LIHTC investors in the market. Brian Tracey, community development and investment executive, says that the existing portfolio has performed well during the economic downturn. Tracey, however, cites long-term stability as a concern, largely due to factors such as potential legislative changes, tax reform efforts, and growing pressure on state and local budgets.

Apartments Are the Development Du Jour Among Builders
Los Angeles Times (07/17/11) Vincent, Roger

Apartments are now the most popular class of commercial real estate for both buyers and builders, as the sluggish economic recovery has made renting the preference among those people looking to save money and retain mobility. "The next decade is likely to be the most profitable for our industry in the last 20 years," said Charles Brindell Jr., president of Mill Creek Residential Trust. UCLA professor Stuart Gabriel says that with demographic and generational changes, renters in their 20s and 30s are delaying marriage and having children and favor mobility as they advance in their careers. Other younger Americans who had moved back in with their parents or with their friends during the economic crisis are now expected to move out and rent their own apartments when they become more secure about their employment. All of this puts apartment owners in a great position, and developers are taking advantage as well by building up new inventory. In Los Angeles, permits were issued to build nearly 1,000 new apartments in May alone, which is the highest rate since November 2008, according to the Construction Industry Research Board. Brindell says over-building is unlikely to be a problem in the near future, as post-crisis downsizing means developers have less production capacity and access to financing is still limited.

The Building Owner's and Operator's Sustainability Solution
Sustainable Facility (06/11) Vol. 36, No. 4, P. 30 Berning, Michael J.

Heapy Engineering's Michael J. Berning writes that he is often posed with the question of which LEED rating system is applicable to building projects: LEED-EBOM or LEED-BD+C. He says that the former likely applies if the project seeks to implement environmentally sustainable building operation techniques, while the latter typically covers projects that chiefly entail building construction/renovation. "Each of these rating systems follows the same general sustainability criteria; however, LEED-EBOM delves deeper into the implementation of strategies that produce day-to-day building operations that are green and sustainable," Berning notes. He says that one significantly divergent feature of EBOM is the mandatory recertification every five years, which helps guarantee that organizations keep up with sustainability standards. Estimates indicate that buildings consume over 40 percent of the world's total primary energy and generate about 24 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, and Berning writes that the energy employed to run a typical new, non-green office building will be on the order of 10 to 15 times greater than the embodied energy inherent in the original building construction. "It has been projected that approximately 85 percent of the buildings in the year 2030 currently exist," he says. "This is indicative of the few new buildings being constructed relative to the rather large number of existing buildings." Berning stresses that "our emphasis must continue to evolve toward improving the sustainability of our existing buildings and the importance of a rigorous sustainability rating system for existing buildings."

Multi-Family Sector Could Soar to New Heights
dBusinessNews (07/19/11)

The multifamily market's second-quarter performance shows that it remains a bright spot in the commercial real estate market. MPF Research reports a 2.4 percent growth in revenue for the sector in the second quarter, along with a 1.7 percent increase in effective rents and a 94.2 percent occupancy rate. Greg Willett, MPF's vice president of research and analysis, says that revenue could climb 6 percent for 2011 and record a similar gain next year, marking growth rates he has not seen since 2000 and early 2001. "Pricing can go to new highs as long as the occupancy is there to support the increase. At this point, it is starting to look like that is the case," he says. Willett says that the multifamily market is being fueled by an expansion in the age 20-34 population, which generally rents, and the fact that few renters are leaving their units to purchase houses. This has bolstered demand at a time when new units will not be finished until late next year or early 2013.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding to Preserve and Revitalize Rural Rental Housing Complexes
Department of Agriculture News Release (07/07/11)

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting applications to take part in a demonstration program to preserve and revitalize existing Multi-Family Housing projects financed by Rural Development. "Funding from this program will improve conditions of multi-family housing complexes without increasing rent for low-income residents," Vilsack said. The goal of the Multi-Family Housing Revitalization Demonstration Program is to restructure selected loans for rental and farm-labor housing developments to guarantee the long-term quality of these rental housing units. Among several revitalization financial tools, grants are available to correct health and safety violations to ensure safe and affordable housing for very-low-, low- or moderate-income residents. Properties participating in this program will be revitalized, and the affordable use will be extended without displacing tenants because of increased rents. No additional agency rental assistance units will be made available. Applications for Multi-Family Housing revitalization loans and grants are due August 22. "A top priority of the Obama Administration is to ensure that rural Americans have access to decent, safe and affordable housing," Vilsack said. He chairs the newly created White House Rural Council, which will work throughout government to create policies to promote economic prosperity and a high quality of life in America's rural communities.

Gerber Discusses LIHTCs
Affordable Housing Finance (06/11)

After five years as executive director, Michael Gerber is leaving the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA). He was recently interviewed by Affordable Housing Finance on the state’s low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program, pending legislation, and his future plans. Gerber says that TDHCA has received more than 200 applications in its pre-application cycle, with more than 150 active applications still in competition in the 2011 cycle. Demand for units is high across the state, but especially in urban communities, as well as in rural Texas where there are lower incomes and fewer housing resources. The department, therefore, has set aside 20 percent of its annual allocation for rural, underserved areas. The LIHTC program has seen several trends, such as increased demand for credits to develop properties serving special needs and improved pricing in many developments underwritten a year ago. The department is cultivating its state-funded Housing Trust Fund to ensure it adapts over time to meet housing needs among low-income Texans, and is focusing on homebuyer assistance, barrier removal activities for persons with disabilities, rental assistance to qualifying veterans, and grant assistance to local governments and nonprofits applying for USDA Rural Development 502 direct loans. Gerber also points out legislative proposals that may have an impact on TDHCA, including the agency’s sunset bill (reauthorization legislation), which would allow the agency 12 more years of serving low-income Texans. Other legislation addresses concentration issues with affordable rental housing, a higher credit ceiling per year for an applicant, and debarment rules based on noncompliance.

Getting Better All the Time
Affordable Housing Finance (06/11) Ascierto, Jerry

In the start of tax credit allocation season, developers can expect a friendlier market for construction debt compared to last year. With increased competition in the banking sector, all-in interest rates are down across most markets, but high-barrier major markets are seeing Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) motivated banks becoming especially aggressive to win deals. "As more banks return to profitability, so too have they returned to lending," says Kyle Hansen, an executive vice president in the commercial real estate group at U.S. Bank. "We've seen significant competition in the coastal markets as well as the major metros in the rest of the country. Pricing has probably come down at least 50 basis points over the last year." Tertiary markets and rural areas, which are outside of major CRA footprints, will still have difficulty finding well-priced construction debt, but overall, developers are now in a better position to negotiate construction debt. Many banks are returning to the old model that places enormous importance on relationships, becoming more inclined to lend construction debt to developers that bank with them. The New Issue Bond Program helped launch many deals in the past year or so, but the program will expire in December, leaving it up to the private sector to pick up the slack. Early positive indications suggest that investors are more interested in 4 percent low-income housing tax credit deals. Federal regulators also are considering an update to CRA legislation, giving lenders hope of meaningful changes. CRA rules currently focus on "assessment areas," which, for the largest banks, are confined to one or two parts of each state, leaving out many secondary and tertiary areas. Changes to how these areas are assessed could allow banks to distribute their lending more evenly across a greater number of markets.

Novogradac Study Calls LIHTC Program a Success
Multi-Housing News (06/11) Stribling, Dees

A June study on Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) by Novogradac concluded that the program has worked well overall because it has achieved low rates of foreclosure and noncompliance. In examining the foreclosure rate for properties involved in the LIHTC program, the study found that out of 15,174 participating properties between 1991 and 2006, just 129 had been foreclosed, amounting to 0.85 percent of the total, representing an annualized foreclosure rate of 0.08 percent. The annualized rate of foreclosures for properties not participating in LIHTC was 0.27 percent during the same period. Novogradac's report also notes that more than $75 billion was invested in LIHTC transactions between 1987 and 2008. Most properties typically receive more than $1 million in tax credit equity, suggesting that comparatively sophisticated institutional investors are involved. The report also observed that because the financial health of an LIHTC property is very important to investors, they usually try to save a troubled property before it actually comes to foreclosure. Other reasons for the success of LIHTC program include economies of scale and uniform practices, the fact that construction and lease-up risk are borne by investors and developers, state-level oversight, and regulatory guidance from the Internal Revenue Service. The report also concludes that the Section 1602 exchange program created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is no longer necessary.

TransUnion Survey: Renters Easy to Find (06/27/11) Carr, Robert

A new TransUnion survey shows that more apartment owners are optimistic about their communities this year, so much so that many are starting to hike their monthly rents. The firm polled more than 1,250 apartment managers nationwide to check how they and their residents use the credit services. Steve Roe, vice president of TransUnion's Rental Screening Business Unit, says that more than 66 percent of all the managers say they have been able to easily find new apartment residents in the current economy. Roe notes, "This is a big change over a couple of years ago, where they had to do anything to fill apartment units." In addition, almost 90 percent of respondents said their rental units were 10 percent or less vacant. The trend was strongest among the smaller managers polled, of which more than 670 managers said they were completely occupied. Mike Mauseth, another TransUnion vice president, notes that nearly 50 percent of respondents said they are seeing an increase in applicants moving to rental apartments from foreclosed houses. Mauseth concludes that one of managers' top lingering concerns is attracting profitable and reliable residents amid the ongoing foreclosure crisis. He states, "A reliable tenant ensures property managers are both solvent and profitable. Conversely, an unreliable tenant can cost property managers thousands of dollars in lost rent and property damages."

Obama Names New Acting Head of FHA
Washington Post (07/11/11) Podkul, Cezary

The Federal Housing Administration is getting its second consecutive acting commissioner since April. President Barack Obama has named Carol Galante to replace Robert Ryan as head of the agency, effective immediately. Ryan will become a senior advisor to Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, handling housing finance issues such as mortgage servicing standards and compensation.

'Incenting' Developers to Make Apartments Affordable
WFAE 90.7 FM (Charlotte) (06/27/11) Rose, Julie

Charlotte has a shortage of affordable housing, but convincing developers to build more has proven to be tricky. The Charlotte City Council has been debating a plan to give builders incentives if they include affordable units in their construction projects. Mayor Anthony Foxx is pushing hard for the city to offer incentives to builders so they will include some affordable units in their developments, alongside apartments and condos that rent and sell for top dollar. Mary Klenz, chairwoman of the Mixed Income Housing Coalition, says income segregation that has developed over the years has kept poorer people from having access to everything from jobs to good schools. City officials are expected to encourage more mixing, rather than the old model of building low-income housing projects. The city council has a preliminary list of incentives that includes waiving development fees and fast tracking permits for such projects. Ken Szymanski of the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association remarks, "I think most would say it may not be a deep enough series of incentives . . . to make a developer act." He adds that developers will need more money to cover the loss they will certainly take on affordable units.

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August 2011