Removing obstacles to Black home ownership

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The White House has announced a Housing Supply Action Plan that includes the Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD] Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing initiative.

HUD will now allow larger loans to participate in the agency’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Pilot Program, which increases the number of apartment sites eligible for a program that streamlines financing.

HUD also updated guidelines to allow public housing authorities (PHAs) to more easily use housing vouchers and mixed-finance transactions to create or preserve housing.

“Today, we are acting to increase the supply of affordable housing, which is crucial to lowering housing costs,” HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said.

As part of the July 27, 2023, Fudge said the new $85 million program will help communities identify and remove barriers to affordable housing production and preservation. Communities with acute needs can apply for up to $10 million in funding.

The funding could help lead to a shift to higher-density zoning and rezoning for multifamily and mixed-use housing, while reducing requirements related to parking and other land use restrictions, the White House said.

The White House plan will provide new financing for affordable, energy efficient, climate resilient housing and clean energy investments.

The Department of Transportation recently announced it would provide up to $3.16 billion for planning and capital construction projects that prioritize disadvantaged communities and improve access to daily destinations.

In addition, the White House said it is taking action to protect the rights of renters.

This news comes after the city of St. Louis enacted a bill which will help provide access to legal representation for tenants facing eviction.

The legislation creates a Right to Counsel program, which represents the “the city of St. Louis’ commitment to protecting renters while preventing families from ending up out on the street,” according to Mayor Tishaura O. Jones.

The St. Louis Development Corporation, Community Development Administration, and the Affordable Housing Commission are also making investments in affordable housing with more than 200 single family homes in the production pipeline, and 13 Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) projects representing more than 1,000 affordable units awarded in the 2021 and 2022.

Nationally, HUD, the Department of Agriculture, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Trade Commission, and Federal Housing Finance Agency plan to publish “best practices” to landlords, operators, and stakeholders who rely on tenant screening reports when evaluating applications from renters.

“The guidance communicates the administration’s expectations on informing renters of what information in their screening report is responsible for their application being denied. This information will help renters by giving them an opportunity to correct errors in their reports and address issues that impact their applications,” according to the White House.

Also of note, HUD announced $10 million in new funding for tenant outreach and education, including tenant organizing in project-based Section 8 properties, and a commitment to propose a rule requiring that tenants in public housing and project-based Section 8 properties receive a written notice at least 30 days prior to lease termination for nonpayment of rent.

NAREB Convention underway

Fudge delivered the keynote address during the Tuesday opening session of the 2023 National Association of Real Estate Brokers Convention in Houston, an organization of Black real estate agents, brokers, and stakeholders. The session runs through Saturday.

Under the theme of “Restore, Rebuild, Retain,” NAREB President Lydia Pope said “new partnerships, alliances, and training that will support our members and bolster Black home ownership” will be announced the five-day convention.

“It is disgraceful that the Black homeownership rate is only 44% compared to 72% for White families. NAREB’s unwavering commitment to this cause will create a better environment for Black families seeking the American Dream of homeownership.”

Among the new initiatives is BMO Bank North America’s down payment assistance program for graduates and alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and members of Predominantly Black Institutions (PBI).

Throughout the convention, various financial institutions are providing details about their Special Purpose Credit Programs aimed explicitly at assisting buyers from under-resourced communities to become homeowners.

Courtney Johnson Rose of Houston, incoming NAREB president, says she plans to increase the nation’s number of Black developers.

“With more Black developers, we can have more control over our neighborhoods and create more opportunities for Black people to own their homes. It will be a critical component of wealth building,” she said.

“NAREB believes Black developers will be more inclined to build affordable housing and increase the single-family inventory, creating more homeownership opportunities in Black communities.”

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