Housing Affairs Letter

News Capsules From Coast To Coast

Treasury Sells Last Of Bum Loans: The Treasury Department gets rid of the last of the $225 billion of mortgage-backed securities it bought during the height of the financial crisis from October 2008 through December 2009. The total sale netted $250 billion returning a $25 billion profit to taxpayers. The profit could end up being a washout if many of the 30-year fixed-rate mortgages default. Backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the default tab would be absorbed by taxpayers through another Treasury account created for their financial support to avoid bankruptcy and separate from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program bank bailout. The repayment from the MBS sales will go to pay down the nation’s debt unless Congress decides otherwise.

Financial Services
SEC, Citigroup Pact Revived In Appeal Ruling: A decision last year by U.S. District Judge Jed Rankin to reject a $285 million settlement between Citigroup and the Securities & Exchange Commission is rejected in the Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York. Rankin ruled that the SEC allowed the bank to avoid admitting any wrongdoing. Appeals justices rebuke Rankin telling him that the SEC likely will prevail if the dispute is sent to the U.S. Supreme Court. The SEC claims that a required guilt admission would undermine several enforcement actions and grind settlements to a halt.

NeighborWorks' $74 Million For Housing Counseling: State housing finance agencies, housing counseling intermediaries and community-based groups receive a combined $74 million in grants from NeighborWorks America to provide housing counseling through its National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program. The awards are expected to result in the involvement of some 1,300 nonprofit counseling agencies and local NeighborWorks’ groups, providing free counseling and other aid to families at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure. The latest round of funding also will be used to train more than 2,000 new counselors. Info: www.cdpublications.com/docs/7562

Massachusetts Home For Low-Income Seniors:  The Concord Housing Authority begins a $6.7 million renovation of the Peter Bulkeley Terrace, a complex for low-income seniors built in 1912. When completed later this year, the new building will have 23 one-bedroom apartments that will include four handicapped-accessible units. The state Department of Housing and Community Development provided $3 million for the project. Concord received $1 million from the Community Preservation Act and the state Affordable Housing Trust Fund, as well as $1.5 million from the sale of a former elderly housing facility, Belknap House.

Detroit’s Brewster Public Housing Doomed: The sprawling Brewster public housing project near downtown Detroit, MI will be demolished this year. Officially the Frederick Douglass complex, the first federally financed public housing development specifically for black families produced several celebrities, including the Supremes singing group, in the 1950s. The abandoned national historic site will convert to a new housing and commercial development.

Immigrant Housing Law Ban Upheld: The 5th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a lower court ruling stopping the Dallas, TX suburb of Farmers Branch from barring illegal aliens from seeking housing. The justices rule the city overstepped its authority in 2008 by requiring the city building inspector to check the immigration status of anyone wanting to rent an apartment who isn’t a U.S, citizen. Landlords who knowingly rent to illegals could have their rental licenses revoked. Farmers Branch officials are mulling an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Section 8 Race Bias Charged: Lancaster, CA officials accuse the Los Angeles County Housing Authority of race-based discrimination by favoring black applicants in awarding Section 8 housing vouchers. Lancaster officials say the complaint is a prelude to the city seeking a class-action lawsuit against the housing agency. Officials contend that while the city is home to fewer than 2% of the county’s population, it has become host to a preponderance of the county’s Section 8 families. Housing authority officials acknowledge that Lancaster’s 2,193 voucher holders represent 10% of its countywide roster and that black families hold 70% of those vouchers.

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Other Recent Stories

A group of House Republican lawmakers ask HUD Secretary Ben Carson to end the department’s Housing First initiative, saying in a letter to Carson that the program launched by the Obama administration in 2014 penalizes homeless programs that refuse to stop drug-testing
Five years after Congress and HUD made shambles of public housing operating reserve accounts, public housing authorities are still waiting for reimbursement of a portion of the funding diverted from the FY 2012 budget.
Five more bills intended to take the National Food Insurance Program off life support clear the House Financial Services Committee and head to the House floor for a vote. The bills join two other measures approved by the committee earlier.
In what could be a final round of funding from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for National Housing Trust Fund projects, HUD allocates $219 million to states for construction of housing for the nation’s poorest families.
Last week’s move by the Federal Reserve Board to raise its benchmark interest rate has had no effect on mortgage interest rates. But the continuing sluggish economy is helping to keep rates below 4%, aided by a rapidly diminishing national portfolio of homes for sale and mixed signals
A Texas GOP activist and former HUD staffer during the Bush administration (2001-2008) gets the nod from President Donald Trump to head the department’s Office of Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity as assistant secretary. The position requires Senate confirmation. Anna Maria
elham, NH voters are set to decide if the city will encourage younger people to move to the community by restricting housing opportunities for the elderly. The vote will decide whether to ban 55-and-older communities and impose stricter rules on what elderly housing can be built in
While congressional efforts to defang the Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act) are expected to bog down when a House bill intended to replace it reaches the Senate, the Trump administration plans an end-run to curb its powers.
HUD tells public housing authorities and other Section 8 housing voucher administrators the department will cut subsidies that support administration of the vouchers by 26%. That is in addition to several years of previous cuts that have resulted in vouchers going unused because
The move by the Federal Reserve’s policymakers to raise the benchmark interest rate for the third time in six months likely will have little effect on mortgage interest rates for the time being. The slight increase in the home mortgage interest rates this week was set in advance of the