Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency Offers Special Interest Rates for Teachers, Law Enforcement and Firefighters

As a way to thank law enforcement officers, teachers and firefighters for their service, Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency wants to make homeownership more affordable. Through its OHFA 4 Teachers and OHFA Shield products, OHFA now offers a lower interest rate to these professionals.

The OHFA 4 Teachers and OHFA Shield loan products will be a quarter percentage point less than the standard OHFA Gold product, which means thousands of dollars in savings over the life of the loan.

Qualified buyers will also receive 3.5 percent downpayment assistance toward their total loan amount.

“Oklahoma teachers, firefighters and law enforcement officers work each day to improve the communities where they work, said OHFA executive director Deborah Jenkins. “OHFA 4 Teachers and OHFA Shield make it more affordable for them to purchase homes in these communities.”

To qualify, buyers must contact an OHFA Homebuyer Downpayment Assistance lender. Credit score, income and purchase price requirements apply. For more detailed information and a listing of lenders, visit www.ohfadownpayment.org.

OHFA offers nine housing programs ranging from downpayment assistance for home ownership to housing development and rental assistance. For more information about OHFA and its programs and services, visit www.ohfa.org.

HUD and NYCHA Reach Agreement on Federal Oversight

Earlier this month, HUD Secretary Ben Carson announced an agreement with New York City and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to “provide a new roadmap forward for NYCHA that will address the longstanding issues at the housing authority’s properties.” Under the agreement, the city is committing at least $2.2 billion in funding over the next decade to address health and safety hazards at NYCHA properties, including lead-based paint and mold, and HUD will continue to provide funding – estimated to be $1.5 billion this year – to NYCHA. The agreement also establishes a federal monitor, selected by HUD and the Southern District of New York with input from the city, to submit quarterly reports to the agencies. The city will cover the cost of the monitor in addition to its other financial commitments.

HUD Sends Proposed Changes to Disparate Impact Regulations to OMB

HUD sent proposed changes to the disparate impact regulations to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on February 1. HUD previously published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) in the Federal Register on June 20, 2018 seeking public comment on possible amendments to HUD’s 2013 final rule implementing the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard (see Memo, 6/25/18).

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Texas Requests White House Assistance on HUD Mitigation Guidance

The Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office, George P. Bush, sent a letter to the President last week requesting assistance on working with HUD and OMB to approve guidance for the $4.383 billion awarded to the state for disaster mitigation activities. Congress appropriated these funds in February 2018, but OMB has yet to approve HUD’s Federal Register notice. Commissioner Bush also sent a letter to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney on January 2 calling for OMB to approve rules for spending the state’s mitigation funds. HUD has also awarded $8 billion to Puerto Rico, $1.2 billion to Louisiana, $774 million to the U.S. Virgin Islands, $632 million to Florida, and $88 million to California, as well as smaller awards to other states and localities, for mitigation activities. In September 2018, Enterprise submitted a set of ten recommendations to HUD on how maximize their mitigation investments.

Legislative Alert

We are tracking HB1411-Nichols, which will allow the Oklahoma Affordable Housing Act to expand to all 77 counties. The OCAH Board of Directors has voted to support this bill. This bill will be heard Monday, February 18, 2019 at 10:30am in Room 412C of the Oklahoma State Capitol. Click on the links below to read the bill or view the Committee Agenda.

HB1411 Revenue and taxation; affordable housing tax credit; effective date.
2/14/2019 H Scheduled on Committee Calendar

The following Representatives serve on the Appropriations & Budget Non-Appropriated Agencies Subcommittee:

Chair: Representative Kevin West District 54

Vice Chair: Rep. Ken Luttrell District 37

Members:

Rep. Denise Brewer District 71

Rep. Kevin McDugle District 12

Rep. Melissa Provenzano District 79

Rep. Sean Roberts District 36

Rep. Marilyn Stark District 100

Rep. John Talley District 33

If your or your properties are in any of the districts listed above, please take a moment to contact your Representative and ask for their support of HB-1411.

Note: "S" denotes Senate action; "H" denotes House action.

For more information on Oklahoma legislation, please visit our web site at http://www.oklegislature.gov.

Enterprise Announces the Launch of Health Begins with Home Initiative

Enterprise Community Partners has launched Health Begins with Home, a new national initiative that aims to help improve the health and well-being of people and communities through affordable housing development and preservation. Through this initiative, Enterprise will put $250 million to work over five years to promote health as a top priority in the development and preservation of affordable homes, as well as to elevate homes as an essential tool for improving resident and community health. Research has shown that access to a well-designed, affordable home has significant positive effects on health outcomes, and that access to stable housing can reduce overall healthcare costs. Under this effort, Enterprise will focus on: researching ways to leverage the link between good health and a healthy, stable home; awarding grants to help local nonprofits operate housing and community health programs and increase partnerships between housing and health care organizations; providing technical assistance to leverage and align resources; and connecting capital from health care organizations, institutional investors and social impact funds to develop and preserve healthy, affordable well-designed homes. Health Begins with Homes launches following the news last week of two new funds announced jointly with Kaiser Permanente: 1) an Enterprise-managed $85 million equity fund that will serve California’s Bay Area counties and 2) a $100 million national loan fund that is open to developers preserving and creating healthy, affordable homes in Kaiser Permanente’s service regions.

In Hearing, Calabria Pledges to Maintain GSE Affordable Housing Activities

The Senate Banking Committee yesterday held a hearing on the nomination of Mark Calabria to serve as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). If confirmed, Calabria would be the chief regulator for the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as the Federal Home Loan Banks.

In his opening statement, Committee Chair Mike Crapo (R-ID) highlighted Calabria’s long experience in the housing policy sector and praised the nominee’s devotion to public service. Crapo noted it has been a decade since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were first put into conservatorship, where they remain today. The status quo, Crapo argued, is untenable, and he said he hopes the Committee will consider reform legislation in this Congress. Crapo asserted that reforming the housing finance system falls squarely within the jurisdiction of Congress, but that there were steps FHFA could take to help the process along.

Ranking Member Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) opening statement acknowledged Calabria’s qualifications but indicated concerns about views Calabria expressed in previous writing and statements. He specifically cited statements in which Calabria questioned the importance of the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage; opposed a government guarantee for mortgage-backed securities; and urged that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s affordable housing goals be scrapped. Such actions would be extremely dangerous, Brown argued, particularly while the country is facing an affordable housing crisis.

Pledge to Defer to Congress

In his written and oral testimony, Calabria acknowledged he has a long record of statements about the housing finance system and occasionally has advanced strong opinions about the GSEs and how they should be structured. Calabria told the Committee that, as FHFA director, his duty would be to execute the will of Congress, not enact his own vision. He reminded the Committee that he had helped draft the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA), the legislation the established FHFA, as a top aide on the Banking Committee. He showed the Committee an old written copy of HERA he used during the lawmaking process to emphasize that the most important factor in any policy decision he were to make as FHFA director would be Congress’ intent.

During questioning, Crapo outlined for Calabria his priorities for housing finance reform, including decreasing taxpayer risk; preserving the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage; promoting competition; and supporting affordable housing. He asked Calabria if he would be willing to work with the Committee to develop legislation that meets these goals. Calabria pledged that he would and said he thinks it is possible to develop a sustainable housing finance system that maintains the 30-year mortgage and provides support for affordable housing.

Both Brown and Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) queried Calabria about recent comments Acting FHFA Director Joseph Otting made to agency employees in which he indicated the Trump Administration had developed a plan for removing the GSEs from conservatorship and Calabria had already reviewed and signed off on the plan. Calabria answered both times that he was unaware of such a plan and that he had stopped participating in internal administration discussions about the GSEs after he knew he would be nominated. He also reiterated his earlier statement that the authority to determine the proper structure of the housing finance system remains with Congress. He suggested Otting may have simply been trying to boost FHFA employees’ morale by reminding them of the important work that awaits them as policymakers consider how to reform the housing finance system.

Commitment to Affordable Housing Programs

Several Committee Democrats pushed Calabria on whether he intends to discontinue particular policies directing the GSEs to support affordable housing, several of which Calabria has criticized in the past. Calabria responded that he often wasn’t expressing opposition to the policies themselves and that he had helped write the legislation that created them, but only expressed concern that the policies should not be implemented at certain times because the GSEs were not financially healthy enough. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) cited testimony from a 2011 hearing, in which Calabria remarked that affordable housing goals for the GSEs had helped cause the financial crisis, and asked if he was planning to suspend the GSEs’ current goals.

Calabria replied that he thought the goals, as they were established then, did modestly contribute to the economic downturn but were not the only cause. He said his intention as FHFA director would be to keep the affordable housing goals in place as long as they don’t interfere with FHFA’s statutory mandate to responsibly conserve the GSEs.

Jack Reed (D-RI) asked Calabria if he would commit to continuing the GSEs’ annual contributions to the Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund. Calabria answered that he would suspend those contributions only if the GSEs were failing, which he did not believe was likely to occur.

Tina Smith (D-MN) pressed Calabria on whether he intends to keep in place the FHFA’s Duty-to-Serve rule, which she argued is critical to addressing housing needs in rural and tribal communities. Calabria replied that he would keep those rules in place, noting he had helped draft the provision of HERA that authorized the Duty-to-Serve requirements. He also agreed with Smith about the importance of supporting affordable housing options for rural and tribal populations.

Calabria currently works as chief economist for Vice President Mike Pence. In addition to his time with the Banking Committee, Calabria also served as deputy assistant secretary for regulatory affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development during President George W. Bush’s administration and held positions with the Cato Institute, Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, the National Association of Home Builders, and the National Association of Realtors. Calabria has addressed the state HFAs at several NCSHA events during his career.

During the hearing, the Committee also considered the nominations of Bima Patel to serve as assistant secretary for financial institutions at the U.S. Department of Treasury and Todd Harper and Rodney Hood to serve as members of the National Credit Union Administration Board. The Committee has not yet scheduled a vote on Calabria’s nomination, but it is expected to hold one soon.