Oregon ON the Beat: May 6 Newsletter
Oregon ON News
Washington County Creates First-Ever Resident Services Set-Aside
Three Candidate Forums, Two Dozen Candidates, One Tub of Ice Cream
Sometimes it is a Whisper, Sometimes a Clamor – Fair Housing Bus Tour
Capacity Matters – Part 14
Mary McBride – What we can do . . may be beyond what we even imagine
CPAH Breaks Ground for The Knoll at Tigard – Celebration May 7
Housing Land Use Advocates Holds Clackamas Training for Seniors – May 10
Art Contest for Clackamas Students –Art Due May 17, Awards May 27
Hacienda CDC Stands Against Arizona Law SB 1070
NHA Keeps Portland Upshur House Affordable
Habitat for Humanity Portland-Metro East HopeBuilder Breakfast a Success
SVdP Lamb Building is Bright Spot in Eugene Affordable Housing
PCRI Tears Down Old House, Builds New Homes
Neighborhood Partnerships and Oregon Housing Alliance Visit DC
Portland Metro News
Portland Plan II – Next Workshops May 10 and May 15
City Offers Ecoroof Incentives – Due June 1
Changes to City Homeownership Services
Con Plan Action Plan Hearings, Sustainable Communities, Foreclosure
Street Roots Vendors Call for Housing in Photo Project
Regional and Rural News
Roundtable for 2011-2015 Con Plan – Newport May 12
eXtension Webinar on Entrepreneurship and Rural Communities - May 13
USDA Self-Help Listening Session – Tacoma, May 14
NAO-TACS Training Comes to Eugene – May 18, June 15
Rural Housing Funding Availability, New Construction and Vouchers – June 14
Rural Business Opportunity Grant Provides TA - June 28
USDA Rural Development Energy Grants –June 30
OR Economic Development Assoc Summer Conference – Grants Pass, July 16
Section 538 for Rural Multifamily Construction, Acquisition, Rehab –Dec 31
Lincoln County Cleaning Up Foreclosures
Sign-on Letter to Increase Funds for Housing Assistance Council
Report – Shared Ownership and Wealth Control for Rural Areas
Network for Rural E-Focused Economic Development Practitioners
Central Oregon Community Food Assessment
Rural Development Initiatives Unveils a New Website
Out of Reach – Rents Continue to Rise Despite High Unemployment
HUD Awards Oregon $28 Million for CDBG, HOME, Emergency Shelter
Manufactured Dwelling Park Purchase Program – Apply Now
Oregon Gets $20M for Energy Efficiency
$418,000 in Rental Assistance Vouchers Awarded to Oregon HAs
State Seeks Homeowner Input on Foreclosure Prevention Strategies
Neighborhood Stabilization Program Eligible Areas May Expand
Recently Formed Mortgage Fraud Task Force Bags First Crook
Applying for the HUD Sustainable Communities Grant? Give a Jingle
HUD, DOT Joint Evaluation of Planning Grants – Comments by May 7
Senate Committee Passes Budget Resolution
Preservation Hearing – Waters Decrees No Privatization On Her Watch
FHA Reform Legislation Passes Committee – Respect Mah Authoritay!
New Allocation Estimates for National Housing Trust Fund from HUD
Definitions of Foreclosed and Abandoned Expanded for NSP
HUD Announcements – ConPlans, Furthering Fair Housing, Section 3
Merkley, Frank Describe Housing Agenda at NLIHC Conference
Comment on Reform of the Housing Finance System by July 21
HUD Considers Introduction of Zip-Code Level Fair Market Rents
What Research Should HUD Fund in FY11 and Beyond?
Funding and Award Opportunities
Doris Duke RFP Issued for Energy Efficiency Programs – May 24
2010 MetLife Awards for Excellence in Affordable Housing – May 26
Oregon Capacity Building Funding Availability – June 1
Bank of America Neighborhood Builder and Local Hero Awards – June 1
Assets for Independence IDA Grants – June 25
Lodestar Foundation Awards Long-term Community Collaborations
Lowes Improves Community Facilities and Gardens, Playgrounds
Community Land Trust Homeowners Have Lower Foreclosures Rates
Understanding First-Time Homelessness
Poll Finds More Cautious Attitudes Toward Owning
HUD Study Examines Costs Associated with First-Time Homelessness
Tax Credits Are Efficient Job Creator
AARP Releases Housing Strategies Report
Oregon ON News
Washington County Creates First-Ever Resident Services Set-Aside–top
New Strategy Can be a Model for Other Jurisdictions
This week, Washington County took a crucial step towards funding services for hard-working families, individuals and schoolchildren living in affordable housing. The money will come from a first-of-its-kind ‘resident services set-aside’ within Washington County’s five-year Consolidated Plan.
This forward-thinking strategy will enable families and kids to receive help with their homework, get help finding jobs and earning their GEDs, and access training in financial literacy and English as a Second Language.
“It’s really amazing how all the folks at Washington County’s Office of Community Development made it happen,” said Cathey Briggs, Executive Director at the Oregon Opportunity Network. “Oregon ON appreciates the level of support and commitment they have shown to Washington County’s greatest asset – its residents.”
The set-aside was one of the action items called for in the 2010-2015 Consolidated Plan, the County’s five year plan for affordable housing and community development. The Washington County Board of County Commissioners approved the plan at their meeting yesterday.
“Not only does having on-site resident services improve people’s chance of success, but the resident services staff provide crucial help to people navigating the social service system,” said Briggs. “Like applying for benefits or food stamps; the forms can be complex or confusing.”
The inclusion of the set-aside occurred at the recommendation of the County’s Policy Advisory Board. The Board invited Oregon ON members Bienestar and CPAH, Washington County’s Community Housing Development Organizations, to present information about the benefits of providing services to residents living in subsidized housing. Services are tailored to the needs of residents in the particular housing development.
The county funds, totaling around $54,000 annually beginning in FY 2011-12, will be divided between Bienestar and CPAH, the local non-profit housing developers that qualified by meeting higher operational standards. Both Bienestar and CPAH have strong resident services programs and were effective advocates for the set-aside.
“The set-aside can do so much good, improving school attendance, engaging residents positively in their communities, reducing negative turnovers in our buildings, and even improving people’s access to healthy food,” said Gracie Garcia, Bienestar’s Resident Service Director.
“The set-aside shows an important change in systems thinking, an understanding that affordable housing is only as successful as its residents,” said Shannon Wilson, Resident Services Director at CPAH. “Washington County can be a model for other jurisdictions.”
Contacts: Terrie Hendrickson, Oregon ON, 503-335-9884
Peggy Linden, Washington County Office of Community Development, 503-846-8814
Three Candidate Forums, Two Dozen Candidates, One Tub of Ice Cream–top
In April and May, Oregon ON partnered with Elders in Action to host Primary Candidate Forums for candidates for two Portland City Council seats, one Multnomah County Board of Commissioners seat, the Multnomah County Board Chair seat, and the Metro President seat. A big thanks to Elders in Action for all their hard work.
The third forum was held May 3rd at the Fook Lok senior Meal Site in the Hollywood District, preceded by an Ice Cream Social. Audience turnout at this high-milk-fat-and-sugar-laden event was the best of the three forums.
Could it be a coincidence? I think not. As one candidate put it, “Note to Elders in Action: Ice Cream works!”
We had GREAT candidate turnout at all three forums (candidates, we love you all), although housing advocates were in short supply in the audience. On the May 3rd forum, there were so few housing advocates present, that the moderator left out many housing related questions and focused on questions of interest to the seniors in the room – well, fair enough – May is Older Americans Month, after all.
Accordingly, there were many emphatic candidate Promises of Giving a Damn about seniors and their issues, and cheerfully revealing that they, too, were Old (“I’m going to be 56 in 7 days!” “Well I’m ageing myself, I’m 51!”).
Eunice, a senior who had changed her party affiliation in 2008 to vote for Hillary Clinton and then been disappointed by Obama (“Boy I wish I had read his book before I voted!”) came to the forum to get her learn on, and she did seem happy with the questions, as did her table mates.
But housing was not entirely off the menu: in between talking about jobs, senior services, jobs, revenue streams, and jobs, some housing questions were asked, and some candidates (I heart you) spontaneously shared their vision for building, maintaining and preserving housing for hardworking families, seniors and people with disabilities. Here’s a smattering of what they said – no names have been used in the interest of upholding our Sacred Nonprofit Impartiality!
Some candidates showed an understanding and concern that increased population density – over one million people in the next 25 years – would push low-income families to the outskirts of the city, and identified urban renewal zones as a good direction to address this. Several candidates mentioned that although 40% of Portland’s low-income families live East of 82nd avenue, only 1% of Federal Stimulus money is being spent there.
Another mentioned the history of redlining in NE and said those issues still exist and are pushing people to the outskirts, causing their transportation costs to rise and their access to jobs and services to lessen.
One candidate pointed out there is an increase in senior homelessness, and that while Multnomah County doesn’t provide senior housing, they can provide services to keep seniors living independently in their homes, stabilize people will mental illness, and prevent evictions. In fact, it was a repeated theme, that it would be pound-wise to put resources into keeping people in their homes and rehabbing and preserving homes, instead of waiting until homes and residents were in total crisis.
Several candidates talked about increasing dedicated funding streams for housing through tax reform in Salem, including around Measure 5; at least two candidates said they would fight for a Portland Housing Levy; and one talked about the need to preserve affordable units that serve seniors and people with disabilities in downtown Portland.
One candidate talked about gentrification’s deleterious effects on equitable housing, and in part blamed the Oregon State Legislature for “tying their hands, prohibiting cities from doing inclusionary zoning, or from doing real estate transfer fees. I will work to change that.”
Another chimed in, saying that because Metro does not currently manage affordable housing stock and “is not engaged in it . . my goal is to look at how we invest in infrastructure – schools, water, etc., and start to include housing in the regional infrastructure fund, because it is infrastructure.”
One candidate recognized that “’Affordable’ housing is often not affordable to people at 0-30% median family income, such as people with disabilities and seniors; we have a shortfall of 0-30% housing for over 15,000 households.”
A handful of candidates of the conservative persuasion dissed Portland’s new Resource Access Center, saying the total dollar amount had bought very few shelter/housing beds (130). I believe this shows a failure to understand the RAC’s overall purpose, which is to be a support hub for people staying on the streets or in other shelters or transitional housing, not a new housing development or shelter.
We learned that the City believes they have found a way to finance Block 49 veteran’s housing and the announcement will be made in the next two weeks, and that they are working with HAP and the VA to get rid of the bottleneck for veteran’s housing.
We heard about one advisory council’s struggle with how strictly to enforce a policy of requiring a municipality to develop a certain amount of affordable housing when other development took place. “Some municipalities did good, and other municipalities did nothing, so Metro just stopped reporting, which . . isn’t good.”
I think my favorite moment came when a candidate who did not have any opponents show up for the debate, dutifully answered all the questions and for the closing statement said, “Well, it’s been a hard fought debate.”
A hard fought debate indeed .. softened by soft-serve.
Sometimes it is a Whisper, Sometimes a Clamor – Fair Housing Bus Tour –top
April was Fair Housing Month, as Oregon’s Governor Kulongoski and Portland’s Mayor Adams reminded us in proclamations marking the 42nd anniversary of the Fair Housing Act.
Last month the Oregonian took the opportunity to report on an alarming study that reminds us of why the Act and its protections remain so important in our lives. In July of 2008 the City of Ashland commissioned the Fair Housing Council of Oregon to conduct a study of housing discrimination in Ashland; the results were reported in June 2009. The Fair Housing Council of Oregon sent teams of African-American and white testers into apartment complexes advertising units for rent. The result, said The Oregonian, was “two-thirds of the black testers faced discrimination in Ashland and 78 percent in Beaverton.” To read more, click here.
HUD Region 10 (Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Idaho) reports that in April HUD filed a complaint against a management company and on-site management of an apartment building in Renton, Washington for allegedly engaging in a pattern of adverse treatment of African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and families with children. The landlord allegedly “banned her assistant manager from speaking Spanish to Hispanic applicants, saying, “We speak English here.” No wonder that, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity John Trasvina recently noted that, even 42 years after the Act was passed, “we have a good deal of work to do.”
To learn more about Oregon’s history of housing discrimination, on April 23, Oregon ON staffers attended the Fair Housing Council of Oregon’s annual luncheon and Historic Tours of Discrimination bus tour, “It’s Been a Bumpy Ride.” This is a fascinating event, and I recommend it to everyone – it’s the best education I’ve ever gotten for $30.
A couple hundred of us climbed aboard four Blue Star buses and began our tour of Portland’s underbelly of housing discrimination, past and present, narrated by FHCO’ s Education Director Diane Hess. As the bus moved through the city, we learned highlights of Oregon’s fair housing history and visited sites important to the Fair Housing movement.
As we settled into our seats and pulled out of the Ambridge Event Center, the first thing Diane pointed was the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in front of the Convention Center. Agitation for reform was already underway, but in 1964 after the assassination of Dr. King and nation-wide riots in the streets, the national Fair Housing Act was passed, prohibiting housing discrimination based on racial and ethnic status. In 1974 sex was added as a protected class, and in 1988 children and people with disabilities were added. Oregon later added sexual orientation and source of income (except Section as protected categories.
As some of the Fair Housing Council’s advertising states, discrimination is rarely as obvious as a sign on the realtor or apartment manager’s door saying “Whites only.” Discrimination is usually much more subtle, and ranges from restrictive covenants to harassment. One of Portland’s most notorious instances of housing discrimination originated from internal policies adopted by the Portland Board of Realtors.
Driving down NE Williams street, Diane talked about Northeast Portland’s Albina area, where African Americans were historically segregated when the Portland Board of Realtors created a policy in 1919 that disallowed selling to African Americans or ‘Orientals’ in ‘white neighborhoods,’ which encompassed most parts of Portland. The areas where people of color were allowed to live shifted over time, but generally encompassed Woodlawn and Alberta, and Ladds Addition (for Asians). Ironically, these areas enjoyed high areas of African American homeownership and many minority-owned businesses. But banks systematically denied home improvement loans, properties often became run-down over time.
In 1959, Senator Mark Hatfield signed Oregon’s Fair Housing bill disallowing the discriminatory practices of the Portland Realtor Board, but most African Americans still lived in the Albina area, and Williams street was vibrant with African American businesses.
Diane passed around copies of photos of Williams street, thick with shopfronts, street life, and activity, often from minority-owned businesses that had been pressured to move off of NE Broadway as the white business community begin to colonize it. We passed Unthank Plaza, named for Doctor DeNorval Unthank (1899 – 1977), an African American doctor, highly-respected businessman, and early civil rights leader in Portland. And, we learned the secret of Williams’ vacant lots.
As a resident of Portland for almost 20 years, I have often wondered why there are so many vacant lots around Emmanuel Hospital. It turns out, it is the result of urban renewal policies – sometimes called ‘negro removal’ by its critics. This was in 1973, and the African American community had already been routed twice, once in the Rose Quarter, and forced north. Thus, the community was wise to the City of Portland’s racist shenanigans. However, despite protests, the city started demolishing ‘deteriorating’ houses and businesses along Williams and in the Albina area. The demolition was supposed to make way for hospital expansion and federally-funded improvements, but the expansion and federal dollars never materialized.
Over 35 years later, Albina is left with a bunch of vacant lots and the ghosts of minority-owned businesses and houses, a sad legacy of racist public policy. In the first half of the 1990s, the value of development in Albina skyrocketed from $1.2B to $2.6B – a huge increase in prosperity that the minority community in part lost out on, all due to discrimination. The trend of moving to increasingly outlying areas continues today, with people who face housing discrimination moving to Gresham and other areas.
Another historic discrimination tool that is still in effect in some places today is the restrictive covenant, legal obligations imposed in a deed by the seller upon the buyer of real estate to do or not to do something – in this case, renting to certain types of people.
Diane Hess explained that this language was very common before the various Fair Housing Laws were passed, but may still exist today in real estate covenants, although often unheeded these days.
At this point, my seatmate George Hocker, a public advocate working for Commissioner Nick Fish, leaned over and told me that friends of his living in Lake Oswego say that there are restrictive covenants there disallowing African Americans from owning property on the lake.
Our first stop off the bus was the ghost of Vanport, a city formerly located between the contemporary Portland city boundary and the Columbia River, currently the site of Delta Park and the Portland International Raceway. There our guest speaker former Metro Councilor Ed Washington gave a fascinating description of his life there as an African American child.
Hastily constructed in 1943 to house wartime Kaiser Shipyard workers working in Portland and Vancouver shipyards, Vanport was the largest U.S. public housing project ever built. Besides its size and temporary nature, one of the most interesting things about it was the progressive social services, like round-the-clock childcare, high-quality health clinics (which would later become the basis for the Kaiser Permanente health system), family recreation, junior high schools, and lack of racial segregation in the schools.
“I was from Birmingham, Alabama,” said Mr. Washington. “I had never seen so many children in one place, or so many white children.”
Mr. Washington happily joined an army of children of different colors catching frogs and tadpoles in the many sloughs and enjoying a freedom that was new to many of them – until the morning of May 30, 1948, when high rain levels and snow melt caused a failure of the dikes between the Columbia River and the low-lying city.
“We woke up on that Memorial Day, a Sunday, with signs tacked to all of our doors saying ‘Warning, there may be flooding on Tuesday.’ How they thought they could predict so closely when flooding would occur, I don’t know! We were going to take a walk with Mother Dearest, as we called my mother, down to the river that day. We said, ‘Mother Dearest, is it alright to walk down to the river if the signs say it might flood?’ and she said, ‘What day is it?’ We said, ‘Sunday.’ She said, ‘well see, we have two days. I want to walk to the river!’ So we started walking, and that’s when the dike broke. Vanport was completely under water in an hour.”
While most residents had time to flee, 15 people died that day. While most white families were taken in by area households until they could relocate, most African Americans ‘did not have access to those opportunities,’ as Mr. Washington puts it, and were temporarily housed in a school; his family eventually settled in the Irving Park neighborhood.
Our next stop on the tour was the Portland Expo Center on N. Marine Drive, the last stop of the Yellow Line Max. I had been there once before to the Rose City Rollers, and noticed the beautiful Shinto ‘tori’ gates by the max tracks with the fluttering silver tags, but didn’t know their significance.
The Japanese American artist that made those gates, Valerie Otani, was on-hand to talk about them – and about the Expo Center’s creepy past.
Otani told us that by 1941, white farmers in Oregon were becoming increasingly resentful of Japanese and Japanese-American farmers, who grew almost all of the broccoli and cauliflower, and much of the peas and celery in Oregon. So when Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1942, they needed little incentive to seize their prosperous businesses and farms.
From May 2-Sept. 10 1942, 4,000 people in the Portland area were rounded up and taken to the Portland Expo Center, which used to be the Livestock Exposition Hall – appropriate, considering the complete lack of human rights captures experienced.
“Oregonian headlines read, Portland First US City to Rid Itself of Japs,” said Otani. “So the same language that was being used to describe the enemies we were fighting overseas was also being used for our own citizens.”
“First they came and arrested all the male leaders of the community, and their families were just standing there, stunned,” said Otani. “The leaders were arrested and put on trains with the shades pulled down, and brought to FBI camps all over the country.”
She told the story of a son who asked his father, as he was being arrested, if the family should take their crop of flowers to market the next morning or wait for their father to get back. The father said not to worry about it, he’d be back soon. It was two years later the father was released to his family.
“After the arrests, they passed an order that all ‘alien and non-alien’ people of Japanese decent would be removed. ‘Non-alien,’ what does that mean? Its means US citizens!”
The Expo Center was where livestock from all over the country was brought in for slaughter, and it had to be converted to accommodate families in a few short weeks. In the course of the long, hot summer, families were assigned to stalls; many spent their first night lying in the straw. In the summer when it was hot, workers tried to hose down the stalls to cool them down, and the stench that arose from beneath the wooden floor was unbelievable.
Otani herself and her grandparents, parents and five siblings were interned in the horse stalls of a California race track. She described the breakdown of culture, as men weren’t working, women weren’t cooking, and the strong leaders from the community had been hauled away. Families could only bring what they could carry, in this had to include bedding and dishes, too.
“We had been isolated in our communities in rural areas, and now we were all together. I’d never seen so much black hair! For us kids, it was kind of fun. The culture of the community was to make the best of it. Sometimes people say, ‘how could let this happen to you?’ And it that culture, to make the best of it, and it was that our leaders were gone.”
People jumped in to set up newspapers, boy and girl scout troops, all the things they had had in their communities. Two-thirds of the internees were citizens.
Otani’s large wooden gates are strung with rows of silver tags that flutter in the wind. She chose gates because while not marking a sacred place, they mark a special place to Japanese American’s past, and to pass under them is a purification. There is a tag for each person that was interned there. “When the wind blows, the tags make a sound. Sometimes its totally silent, sometimes it’s a whisper, an undercurrent, and sometimes a clamor. They give voice to this history.”
When the war and the internment were over, the Hood River American Legion took out an ad in the local newspaper telling Japanese Americans they were not welcome back; it was signed by many local community leaders. “The signers were their neighbors,” said Otani, “people they though were their friends.”
As people settled, they tried to be well-behaved, good citizens, and above all, “not too Japanese.” As a result, the Japanese-American community is now very integrated and dispersed, and many younger Japanese Americans grew up never hearing the too-painful stories about the internment.
Otani’s family was a victim of this terrible racism in more ways than one; her grandfather, an insurance agent arrested on December 7, 1943 in Hawaii, went from internment camp to internment camp, and, disgusted with the U.S., finally let himself be shipped back to Japan and never saw his family again.
As the bus moved on, we headed for New Columbia, ne Columbia Villa. In 1941, the Housing Authority of Portland (HAP) formed, and proceeded to build more public housing than anywhere in the U.S., at one point housing one-sixth of the entire Portland metro population. In 1942 they built the “Jewell in HAP’s Crown,” the suburban-looking Columbia Villa. Like Vanport, its aim was to house defense workers, mostly Kaiser Shipyard employees; unlike Vanport, Columbia Villa was whites-only — in fact, all HAP housing was whites-only except for Vanport and Giles Lake.
Although a respectable place to live for many years, by the 1980s Columbia Villa was rundown, its streets infested with crack cocaine and gang violence and its walls permeated with black mold. I took a tour of the buildings right before they were demolished, looking at the black streaks running up bedroom walls and filling closets, despite the new energy efficient windows that had been installed.
As we wound through the streets, passing parks, brightly painted apartment buildings, quaint single-family houses with picket fences, and public art installments, Diane Hess told us that in 2003 demolition started and the $156-million-dollar remaking of New Columbia was begun, seeded by a $53M federal HUD HOPE VI grant – and destined, as the legend goes, to become the only HOPE VI Project not to result in a lawsuit.
One-third of the original residents returned to New Columbia, much higher than the national HOPE VI average of 15%, perhaps because of the strong outreach to residents, including a special newsletter and the 28-member Community Advisory Committee (CAC) which conducted a series of Sunday morning design workshops to engage local residents in all aspects of the project; residents also sat on the Committee.
When I visited in 2003, some residents were upset by the prospect of relocating, and some were excited to be on the top of the list for the new units. They were also looking forward to having a new community center and parks. The project was completed in 2005, and today out of 2500 residents, 1300 are children, and 22 languages are spoken.
Critics have said that the project lost units serving 0-30% MFI – which is technically true. However, Shelley Marchesi at the Housing Authority of Portland says that the HUD process actually required them to include less 0-30% units onsite to be competitive, and explained that although the most deeply subsidized units dropped from 464 to 370, the ‘Missing 92’ units, as they called them, have been replaced offsite in variety of developments largely in North and Northeast Portland. She says that when you account for the affordable tax credit units and project- and tenant- based Section 8 units that were gained through HOPE VI, the number of affordable units actually increased. “New Columbia was a net gainer,” said Marchesi. “I wish we had a lot more New Columbias.”
A new Boys and Girls club, produce market, retail space, community college classrooms, an Employment Office satellite, many green and LEED design features, and a new elementary school were also added. Rosa Park School draws from the surrounding area to help integrate New Columbia with the surrounding area. Once isolated from the neighborhood, the development now fully connects with the street grid.
Click here to learn more about the history of Columbia Villa.
As the bus trundled on, we got a rundown of important dates in Oregon’s housing discrimination and fair housing history:
- 1859 – Oregon was admitted to the U.S. Union without slavery, but racial exclusion laws excluded free or slave blacks from moving here. All through the 1900s, African American activists tried to get laws removed.
- 1950 – Portland City Council passes ordinance prohibiting public accommodation discrimination but voters overturned it, meaning African Americans still couldn’t go to public swimming pools, and could only go to parks, bowling alleys and theaters for limited hours.
- 1964 – National Public Accommodations Act passed ending racial segregation of public places. The Fair Housing Act was passed upon the murder of MLK, including race and religion as protected classes.
- 1967 – Activists finally succeed in getting racial exclusion laws removed in Oregon, but there were Sundown Laws in place all through the 1960s in some towns, meaning African Americans couldn’t be on the streets after sunset.
- 1974 – Sex is added as a protected class to the Fair Housing Act.
- 1988 – People with children and disabilities are added as protected classes – before then, 70% of rentals would not rent to families with children.
- 2007 – Oregon’s Equality Act prohibits housing, public accommodations and other discrimination against LGBT people.
Diane told us that after WWII, 12,000 African Americans left Portland because they couldn’t join the unions. The white unemployment rater was 8%, but the African American unemployment rate was 50%.
Oregon’s Red Cross run out African Americans by getting their welfare payments stopped. Oregon’s Klu Klux Klan ran out African Americans by terror, murder and intimidation.
As the bus trundled into downtown Portland, we passed PGE park, and learned something seriously creepy: there were giant KKK rallies in PGE Park – wow. I was also seriously creeped out to learn that Portland’s Mount Tabor Park, spittin’ distance from my house, was a frequent KKK rally site, and KKK initiations were part of the Portland Rose Festival and marched in the Rose Parade. Good lord!
It turns out there was a huge KKK presence in Oregon, something I had heard but never fully understood. Although founded in the east after the Civil War, in 1940, most KKK groups were west of the Rockies, and Oregon had the most KKK members per capita in the U.S. It helped put the recent episode of Aryan Nation reps marching through John Day Oregon looking to buy property for a new training camp in perspective.
Diane told us that the first Oregon KKK Klavern was founded in Medford, where members tried to close Catholic schools and held ‘necktie’ parties where they tortured African Americans. She told us that at a landlord training she conducted in Grants Pass, she was told that she could go down the street to the Elk’s Lodge and find the original KKK robes up in the attic.
Oregon’s KKK enjoyed membership among its elite: Portland’s Mayor, many County and City Commissioners, the American Legion, American Red Cross, many police forces, and they helped put Oregon’s 17th Governor Walter Pierce in office in 1922. Historians estimate that by 1923 Oregon Klan leaders claimed 35,000 members in more than sixty local chapters and provisional Klans.
Diane told us how in Tillamook, a local ‘uppity woman,’ Nevada Standish, was tortured and branded on the chest with a cross by the KKK members while her husband was ill in the hospital. Standish said that the members included the local Police Chief, but the Tillamook Headlight Herald, also controlled by the KKK, said she had done it herself. The Klan Dragon called Standish into a ‘private meeting,’ and thereafter she denied that the KKK was involved.
By the late 1920s the KKK was almost gone in Oregon. Congress passed the Immigration Act, limiting immigration, which took a lot of wind out of their sails, and they suffered from political and sexual scandals and infighting. Click here to learn more about the KKK in Oregon, and here for a report on it by the Oregonian.
Before we left downtown, I learned something else new about my familiar city. In 1879 just south of Burnside, Chinese families had acres of terraced gardens and produce and flower markets. Tourists came to see the “marvelous, beautiful” gardens, but Portland’s elite believed them to be in the way of progress and systematically drove them. First they forced them off of five acres where they built the Multnomah Athletic Club, and then they regulated the gardens to death. I imagined what kind of incredible tourist attraction such gardens would be today – what a loss.
It was easy to push out the Chinese on Burnside because since 1859, the Oregon Constitution had disallowed Chinese people, who lived all over the state, to own real estate. This law wasn’t changed until 1943. Chinese families moved to Portland in the 1900s to work in laundries, groceries, etc. In the 1890s there were 5,000 Chinese, and by 1900 Portland had the second-largest Chinese population outside of San Francisco. During the Great Depression, however, mobs turned on them and drove them out.
The 1885 Grant County News headlines read, “The Chinese are a Blight, Financially, Culturally, Morally.” The Chinese Exclusion Act in the 1880s disallowed immigration; homes and businesses were bombed. Portland’s Mayor John Gates had to mobilize a force to protect Portland’s Chinese population.
About forty miles northeast of Enterprise, Oregon, in 1987 a band of horse thieves robbed, shot, hacked up and mutilated 34 Chinese miners in what is now called Chinese Massacre Cove, in Hells Canyon. Many of those who were caught belonged to prominent families and were found not guilty and released. George Craig, a well-known Wallowa County rancher who attended the trial, was quoted in 1967 as having said, “I guess if they had killed 31 white men, something would have been done about it, but none of the jury knew the Chinamen or cared much about it, so they turned the men loose.”
As the bus moved through the Pearl District, we saw a site near the Rite Aid where in 1944 Portland’s Mayor Riley had the city’s Romany-American (gypsy) population, which he called “a blemish on the fair name of the city,” rounded up and given gas to drive to San Antonio, whose mayor promptly placed a bounty on Riley’s head. To learn more, click here.
We drove through Old Town Chinatown, and learned that in 1941, between Everett and Glisan, and 10th and 3rd – called “Coontown,” is where the majority of Portland’s African Americans lived as they worked for the railroad – 98%, in fact. The Golden West Hotel (now the West Hotel) on the corner of Broadway and Northwest Everett was the only hotel in Portland where African Americans could stay until the depression when it closed. Central City Concern, who owns the building (now affordable housing called The West), last fall unveiled an interactive art-history display there: click here to read more.
Diane then told the story of how a young Mark Hatfield was charged with driving famous performer Paul Robeson to Willamette University to play a concert hosted by Hatfield’s fraternity. He drove Robeson to the Benson Hotel as they had arranged, but had to sneak him in the back door. The experience had a profound affect on him and would help spur his later civil rights efforts.
The bus rolled over the Broadway Bridge and over into Southeast Portland. For our last stop, least we ease into some comfortable thought that Oregon’s murderously racist past was behind us, the bus paused in front of a nondescript apartment building near Ankeny street and Southeast 31st. It was here in 1988 that an Ethiopian student named Mulugeta Seraw was bludgeoned him to death with a baseball bat by three neo-Nazis who lived in his building.
By no means an anomaly, Portland and especially Southeast Portland was apparently a “notorious as a hotbed of white supremacist activity” in the late 1980s. When I moved to Southeast Portland in 1992, it must have died down, perhaps because of the huge publicity over Mulugeta Seraw’s death.
As the bus pulled away from the two-decades-old scene of the crime, Diane told us that Tom Metzger, a Southern California neo-Nazi who specialized in particularly violent propaganda, was found liable for $12.5 million in a civil suit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1989. I was blackly delighted to hear that Seraw’s family got Metzger’s Medford property and is probably still receiving payments from Metzger and his group the White Aryan Resistance to this day, and the murderers are still in prison.
More than a history lesson, what I took away from the Bus Tour was the message that we have to stay on guard – constant vigilance is the price of freedom. The Southern Poverty Law Center monitors hate crimes in Oregon, as does the FBI, and they have found a steady increase – 54% since 2000, inflamed by the passage of the Patriot Act. The recent downturn of the economy has fanned the flames again: there’s been a 244% increase in ‘Patriot Groups,’ from 42 in 2008, to 127 in 2009, many of whom are interacting with white supremacist groups on the internet. Anti-immigrant ‘Nativist’ groups are increasing as well – from 173 in 2008, to 309 in 2009.
Three Native Americans were recently beat up at a Max stop; a Vietnamese man had his car windows bashed in; Portland’s Miss Junior Gay Pride was given a concussion. In Alsee, Oregon there was cross burning at the home of a white woman who adopted an African American child, in a coastal town three gay nursing students were threatened and harassed.
There is also a great deal of more subtle discrimination, like sexual harassment and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Diane told us that 35% of today’s fair housing cases are related to people with disabilities – things like people’s service animals, parking spots near their housing, and live-in caregivers being disallowed. In some cases, housing developers don’t even know they are violating access standards, things like reinforced walls for grab bars, accessible temperature controls, and turning radii that accommodate wheelchairs. The Fair Housing Council works with developers to educate them about their responsibilities so they can avoid costly fixes later on.
The bus pulled back into the Ambridge Event Center, and we quietly begin gathering our purses and coats and slumping out of the bus. My head and heart felt full, and I was brimming over with all the sad and weird things I’d learned. Families herded into cattle stalls at the Expo Center? KKK rallies at the Rose Parade? Gypsies loaded into Texas-bound cars in Old Town? It’s enough to make a person paranoid. What else could be lurking in Oregon’s past?
Maybe on the next Bumpy Ride tour, we’ll find out. To learn more about the Fair Housing Council of Oregon or future bus tours, check out their website: http://www.fhco.org.
Capacity Matters – Part 14
Mary McBride: “What we can do . . may be beyond what we even imagine.” –top
In a departure from our usual Capacity Matters series, which highlights the ways in which organizational capacity enables our members to do the incredible work they do in our communities, today we have an interview with new Region 10 HUD Director Mary McBride. [‘Region X’ encompasses Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington state. Click here to read the press release on her swearing-in.]
I caught up with Mary at the Northwest Community Land Trust Coalition’s first-ever conference. Mary started out her community development career as a staffer and then Executive Director of a rural CDC, so as it turns out, she was excited to talk about – among other things – capacity. Thanks to Mary for her time, to Clackamas Community Land Trust for sharing her.
As soon as we sat down, Mary surprised me by asking me to list some of our members’ concerns, so I started to go down my list: the proposed cuts to Section 202 and 811 housing; preservation difficulties and ways to streamline HUD and USDA processes; how the Sustainable Communities Initiative will play out; rural housing development challenges; minority homeownership; permanent supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness . . .
Mary is a tall, imposing woman with piercing pale blue eyes, and as she listened carefully and jotted down notes, I tried not to squirm . . . especially when she asked me how Oregon ON and our members were involved in tracking federal issues. I told her we did not have a staff person dedicated to it but tracked it as best we could; that some of our members did, and some did not have the capacity to do so; and that to some extent we relied on NLIHC, NACEDA, and the Center for Community Change to call our attention to the federal issues most pertinent to our work. Then she switched gears.
O: Well, I read your bio, and your job description, and I was struck by the job’s . . bigness:
“McBride will serve as HUD’s liaison to mayors, city managers, elected representatives, state and local officials, congressional delegations, stakeholders and customers. She will be responsible for overseeing the delivery of HUD programs and services to communities, as well as evaluating their efficiency and effectiveness.”
You could wade around in the job description for years. I mean, how many hours a week do they hope you’ll work, anyway?
M: (laughs) Yes, it’s a big job. I’ve been in the position of HUD Region 10 Director for almost, not quite, two months now. I was sworn in at the beginning of March. In February I had the “hey, you’re our person” call from the White House, and from there it moved pretty quickly. I have 28 years experience with community development work. Most of it has been in Washington state, but to be frank, I’ve had opportunities to work in every state in Region 10, including in community development agencies.
O: So you’ve ‘been there,’ as far as the challenges our members are facing?
M: Yes I have.
O: Which agencies?
M: I was on staff, and then the Executive Director for seven years, of Palouse Economic Development Council between Spokane and Walla Walla in rural Washington state. The role economic development agencies play in rural areas is often different than they would in Seattle. We wore many different hats: we didn’t just focus on Main Street, on business development. We looked at community development holistically – healthcare, safety, hunger, housing . . .
O: — because you were probably the only show in town, and not part of a network of dozens of providers the way a bigger city would?
M: That’s right. Later on, when I was appointed by President Clinton to lead USDA-Rural Development for Washington state, I was able to work on some innovative things there. Like looking for streamlining processes, building relationships across agencies – for instance, we started working with HUD programs, because we serve the same customers. From that experience I got an understanding of how incredibly difficult it was for organizations at the local level to access many different funding sources to provide their communities with what they need.
So I came to this position with the knowledge that your most limited resource in many community development organizations isn’t funding, but human capacity. They are strapped, they don’t have the staff they need. We have the responsibility as public stewards to say, ‘you don’t have to jump through our hurdles,’ but rather to use public dollars the best way possible. We need rules, yes, but rules don’t fit everyone the same way. Rules for Seattle don’t fit Bend.
An example of this is right now I’m working with one of the smallest counties in Washington state, I think they have 2,000 people total, but they still have needs: they need roads, education, healthcare, jobs, etc. I’m working with local organizations to access federal resources because they didn’t have staff resources to complete all the reports.
O: I know nonprofits that won’t even ‘go there’ with federal resources because they don’t have the capacity, even if the opportunities are great.
M: That’s exactly right. So when I was invited by Washington state’s Senator Patty Murray to join her team, my work was to connect her and the region, but also to take the lead as her staff member on policy issues, housing, economic development – especially rural, and I was her liaison to veterans’ services. So the things I bring — I haven’t been a Housing Authority director, sitting behind the desk and making those decisions, or a housing developer, although I have spent many an hour at Habitat for Humanity swinging a hammer — but what I do bring, is nearly three decades collaborating with the members we represent, problem solving with them, bringing new partners to the table with them, and bringing resources to the table too. To me, this is ‘walking my talk’: making public resources do what they should.
O: You mentioned streamlining; you probably know we are pursuing a streamlining compliance pilot project right now. Were you involved in Washington state’s streamlining compliance initiative?
M: Yes I do, and yes I was. I was part of those discussions. And that’s what this Administration wants to do: to do business differently. This is a great place to do that.
O: By ‘place’ do you mean the Obama Administration, or Region 10?
M: Region 10, the Obama Administration, [HUD Secretary] Shaun Donovan’s team, the partners in this region. I think we have in Region 10 some of the most progressive, innovative, creative problem solvers as anywhere in the country.
O: But does Washington, D.C., know we exist? Out here in Or-uh-gone?
M: Yes, Shaun has already been here twice, three times, and [HUD Deputy Secretary] Ron Sims has been here twice – just last week, in fact [to kick off Coalition for a Livable Future’s 2010 Summit]. They know that if they want to push the envelope, not just do the status quo, Region 10 is on board. [See story on Sustainability Initiative in Federal Section]
O: You mentioned innovation. What kinds of innovative ideas are within HUD that can benefit Oregon?
M: Shaun Donovan has a real commitment to changing HUD’s paradigm. What has happened with HUD over recent years, is that much of HUD’s authority is now concentrated in D.C. So HUD employees have to go through D.C. for many decisions, to get signoff from someone who has no idea about local buildings, situations, communities. We are looking at moving HUD leadership back out of D.C. and into the Regions, so that decisions are made as much on the local level as possible.
One exciting thing we are looking at is streamlining federal funding processes. Right now, HUD operates 13 deep rental assistance programs, across 3 program areas. That’s 13 programs, 13 sets of rules, 13 sets of applications, 13 sets of reporting systems. Secretary Donovan has talked about streamlining the different tracks down to maybe two or three. It would reduce the burden on local providers. I mean, this isn’t a done deal, but we’re exploring it.
Another thing that excites me is the active listening being practiced, asking our partners for input upfront, before policies and programs are implemented, instead of waiting until later when they’re not working well. That’s powerful. Also, there is a powerful vision of sustainable communities, which I’m sure your members are talking about.
O: Actually yes, as we’re waiting for the NOFA [Notice of Funds Availability] to come out, they are very interested in how, exactly, it is going to play out – how the different federal agencies are actually going to work together in a way that can help us increase and preserve affordable housing. Can you tell us what’s coming?
M: Well, I haven’t seen the NOFA. There is no NOFA draft. But I can say it is driven by a new paradigm of how HUD will do business. As you know, they started the process by requesting information to shape the NOFA and its criteria. Some people say it’s been slow, but it takes time if you’re serious about listening to people. It will come out soon, and when it comes out, I think people will see their voices have been heard.
O: Ok. So how, exactly, are that many federal agencies are going to work together?
M: Well, there has been an agreement signed by the EPA, HUD, and the Department of Transportation. The question is, how do we work collaboratively and share resources to best respond to community priorities? Because you are taking three agencies that do things very differently . . for example, the Department of Transportation makes their plans for 10-20 years out. HUD works with housing stakeholders and makes plans 3-5 years out. And the EPA mostly responds to situations as they occur. So they are all looking through different sets of eyes. We are trying to figure out how we can put real money on the table for comprehensive planning, and then resources for implementation. To be successful, we have to bring a lot of new people to the table.
Looking at things from a sustainability perspective allows us to look at affordability differently. In the past, people just looked at the cost of houses, instead of looking at the real cost of housing. So you look at public transit: if you have to drive an hour from your ‘affordable’ housing to your minimum wage job, is it really affordable? Maybe you can afford to buy in a neighborhood, but can you afford to live there? Is there neighborhood childcare, healthcare, schools, grocery stores?
So the Sustainable Communities Initiative is looking at affordability in the most comprehensive way. It’s not the traditional way, but it’s the most dynamic way for people to plan their own communities. Now it’s about how to bring people in to the process, it’s about social justice and equity, and about how can you bring residents in to the process, too. How can residents engage and connect?
O: Will the new Sustainability Initiative address minority homeownership too?
M: I have not peeked at the NOFA yet, so I don’t know; there’s no NOFA draft circulating. But I can tell you that there have been no memos from Ron Sims saying that they are leaving anything in particular out. Sustainability includes everything, all kinds of programs and services, and many voices. It’s not about your plan, or my plan. It’s all of our plan.
O: You mentioned before that the new paradigm is to decentralize HUD so that regions have more decision making power. Will you have more power than people in your position have had in the past?
M: I think that people in HUD have done a lot of good work, sometimes in spite of rules and regulations. But those people in positions up and down the ladder are now excited – and I don’t want to speak for them, but I would be surprised if they aren’t a little scared, too.
O: Because change is scary, even if it’s welcome?
M: Exactly. Most likely they will have greater roles and great opportunities; it’s not just about going to meetings, they will actually be able to contribute. I mean, we’re not there yet, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. The list of housing resources goes on and on, but people have been in their silos for so long.
For example, people working in Public Housing know [the program] inside and out. But do they know about Native Housing, or VA housing, or HOPWA [Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS]? Do they know about community programs? They are then out of their element.
The challenge is we’ve gotten to a place of specialization, where unless you have someone right at the table, they may be missing out on all the resources that may be out there. I’m not saying we are moving to all becoming generalists, there is great value in having specific expertise, but there is a lot of room for middle ground.
My vision of Region 10 is that our staff will not only represent HUD, but will become more knowledgeable of resources that are out there with our sister federal agencies – so that we are not just giving [community members] a resource phone number and a pat on the back, but bringing those comprehensive partnerships to the table to talk about how to make resources work best.
If there are barriers, where the rules don’t connect, it’s our duty to explore ways to make them work. There are some people, when they read this, who will roll their eyes because we are not there yet. But that’s the excitement with the Sustainable Communities Initiative – it’s a dynamic plan. Secretary Donovan and other department heads are already talking about working around barriers. If the partnerships are going to work at all, it’s because we’ve been proactive.
For instance, last week when Ron Sims was here talking about sustainability, we opened up a discussion with him about the issue of competitions [for federal funds]. The problem with competitions, is that you have winners and losers. And if we are really talking about sustainability, then if community groups collaborate and come up with plans – obviously there’s not enough money for everything – but if you’ve collaborated and put a good plan together, how can we make winners and winners? Ok, you might not always get the gold ring. But what else can we talk to you about? There are Department of Commerce dollars, there are USDA dollars, there are many places to look. If we can’t fund a project, will the Department of Transportation step forward? If not, how about the EPA? How can we help your community organization have success implementing your plans and ideas? Just reading a proposal and saying ‘no thanks’ isn’t real change.
So we are talking to these departments now and exploring the possibilities. And Ron Sims told me, “Mary, this a great way to do business.” This is part of the walking our talk. This is part of our vision of change. We are interested in results, more than just words. It’s evidence of the depth of change in this Administration and Region 10.
O: Now, is that the party line, or do you really believe that? Because it seems like you do.
M: No, no, I really do, I really do. Because here in Region 10, people are comfortable with innovative partnerships, with collaborating in creative ways. We’re not close to D.C., close to the business-as-usual way of doing things. So it’s natural, it’s second nature out here. What we can do with new initiatives may be beyond what we can even imagine.
O: You really like your new job, don’t you?
M: (laughs) Yes I do. I remember sitting across the table from too many people who could quote line and verse of the rules and regulations, but couldn’t understand real change. Sometimes the stars align: with my background; with the new commitment from HUD and their interest in being not just a good, but a great partner; with the right people; with the right Region . . I am hopeful. I am excited. I am optimistic.
I’m not wearing rose-colored glasses. I know things are tough. There are tough choices in our communities, for your members, for Secretary Donovan putting forth his budget. I’m not naïve enough to believe there are not hard times every day.
But when a local rep HUD comes to me with great ideas and says, “will you back me up?” there is no question. And we will give Washington, D.C., the trust that they need, that we are not renegades out here, that we are responsible and trustworthy and we do good work. My offer to your members is to work with me, let me know what you are doing.
O: How can they do that?
M: For however long this Administration goes on, and I hope that will be for a long time, I want offices in every state to know me. Not just my letterhead, but to know me. I want to be so familiar – not so familiar that people think I’m buying a house in each of their towns (laughs) – but familiar enough that they can say, “I know her, she sat in meetings with me, she knows our challenges.”
As your members have groundbreakings, ribbon cuttings, other events – I’m asking the HUD office in the region to try to compile these for me, and when I’m down in Oregon, and I’m down here a lot, I’ll spend some time.
O: Who is the best contact, then, if our members want to invite you to things?
M: Doug Carlson [Region 10 Community Development and Planning Field Office Director, and Acting Field Office Director]. Give Doug a heads up. I would love to do ribbon cuttings or groundbreakings, but also I want to really take a look at what’s happening, on projects where we’ve been a part of it, or even where it didn’t work out like it should have. It’s about coming and seeing things, participating in events or meetings, and sometimes just coming to listen. It’s about being in the community and spending time, working towards the respect and trust that underpins everything.
To contact Doug Carlson: (971) 222-2612, Fax (971) 222-2670, email.
CPAH Breaks Ground for The Knoll at Tigard – Celebration May 7–top
WHEN: Friday, May 7, 2010, 2 p.m.
WHERE: 12291 SW Hall Boulevard (between Hunziker & Knoll), Tigard, OR 97223. Note: Parking at Tigard Public Works (Hall & Burnham)
Celebration of the start of construction for The Knoll at Tigard, 48 units of sustainable, senior affordable housing (12 units set-aside for Veterans), in a transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly location—the first housing development since Tigard created its Downtown Urban Renewal District. The project’s many sustainable features, including a Living Column (more below) near the entrance of the building, and a cistern for rainwater collection and reuse, will contribute to the “greening” of downtown, while providing much-needed housing for Washington County’s burgeoning senior population.
There will be brief comments by elected leaders / funding partners:
- Tigard Mayor, Craig Dirksen
- Metro Council President, David Bragdon
- Washington County Commissioner, Dick Schouten
- House District 35 Representative, Margaret Doherty
- Tigard City Center Advisory Commission Chair, Alex Craghead
- Chris Walvoord, Development Analyst, Enterprise
The Knoll at Tigard: Living Wall Entry Column
The living wall at The Knoll is a welcoming, memorable entry column of verdant living plants rising over 40 feet into the air. The living wall system is designed to be aesthetically integrated with the patterns and forms of the architecture and physically reach down to anchor visibly into the herbaceous landscape of the entry courtyard.
This lush living wall can be experienced from many vantage points: from the entry courtyard as one approaches the front doors or relaxes upon the benches at its base, from the interior of the atrium space, from each floor, and even as a flourishing emerald icon glimpsed by passing traffic.
Functionally, the living wall at The Knoll is a passive solar tool for energy savings. Primarily deciduous leafy vines shade the building during hot summer months, specifically the large area of glazing at the atrium. This prevents solar gain and lessens the cooling load in summer. In winter months, these deciduous vines lose their leaves, allowing sun to penetrate the building. This creates increased solar gain while providing daylight to interior spaces during darker winter days. Remaining evergreen vines with smaller, compact leaves maintain their foliage throughout the winter months, providing year-round greenery on the living wall.
The unique columnar shape of this living wall has several benefits. Stacked 18” cubes of lightweight soil allow a large volume of growing medium for improved plant viability.
The column of soil cubes creates a continuous, vertical growing area easily irrigated with a drip system. Ninety cubic feet of soil creates the additional potential for stormwater management with a minimal footprint.
The goal in creating the structure of the living wall at The Knoll is to create a system using simple construction techniques. The system comprised of manufactured modular boxes is affixed to structural steel columns tied into the building. The attached stainless steel cable system provides a simple, lightweight armature for vining plants. The unique columnar construction of this living wall makes it visible and accessible from every angle, a feature that is, to our knowledge, a first in living wall technology. In short, the living wall system is innovative, modular, and easily replicable.
It is our hope that the integration of this new, appropriate technology into the construction of The Knoll at Tigard will inspire those who visit it, will serve as a symbol for a thriving connection to plant life, and will raise the bar for future projects in the re-development of Tigard.
Housing Land Use Advocates Holds Clackamas Training for Seniors – May 10–top
Events: Monday, May 10th Clackamas County Session for Seniors on Affordable Housing, Transit, and Land Use. From Tom Cusack at the Oregon Housing Blog, Posted: 28 Apr
Ellen Johnson, from Housing Land Advocates sent a note recently about the first in a series of efforts to connect seniors with affordable housing, transit and land use issues.
First session is Monday May 10th; event flyer, including registration information, is HERE. (As part of event, they are offering free lunch/raffle).
HLA has worked with a group of graduate students in the Urban Planning Department at PSU to prepare this training. The May 6 training in Clackamas County will be their initial role out of the training.
HLA hopes to partner with AARP and conduct several more trainings this calendar year within the METRO area and in eastern Oregon during 2011. HLA hopes to increase the number of people who understand the issues involved in affordable housing and land use and, as a result, to encourage participation in the planning process for affordable housing.
Art Contest for Clackamas Students –Art Due May 17, Awards May 27–top
Please join Clackamas Community Land Trust this month for their “What Is Home?” Student Art Contest! For CCLT’s “What Is Home?” Art Contest, presented by Bob’s Red Mill, students in grades 7-12 throughout Clackamas County will be invited to submit artwork based on the theme, “What Is Home”. The interpretation of home will likely be different for each artist. For some, home may be the safety of their physical house, for others home may be family or a favorite object.
For every young individual, however, home is incredibly important. At the Clackamas Community Land Trust, we provide the opportunity for individuals of modest means to become homeowners.
- Our median CCLT homeowner household makes $32,500 annually.
- A CCLT home priced at $120,000, has a monthly housing cost of $799.
We are greatly looking forward seeing young talented artists within Clackamas County interpret “What Is Home?” and we are excited for the whole community to get to view these artists’ work.
Please pass this along to any student in grades 7-12 in Clackamas County!
If you have any questions about the contest or would like to submit artwork, please contact Sara Case at (503) 659-1618 x4 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dates to Remember:
Deadline to submit Artwork with Release Form (on brochure found here) to:
Clackamas Community Land Trust
11062 SE 21st Ave.
Milwaukie, OR 97222
Top 20 Art pieces will be chosen and the artists will be notified.
Top 20 Art will be publically displayed and available for viewing at the
Clackamas Town Center.
Winners announced during the art reception from 5:30 PM-7:30 PM at:
Happy Valley City Hall
1600 SE Misty Dr.
Happy Valley, OR 97068
- 1st Place: $200 and a 1st place certificate and ribbon.
- 2nd Place: $100 and a 2nd place certificate and ribbon.
- 3rd Place: $50 and a 3rd place certificate and ribbon.
- Honorable Mention: certificate and ribbon.
- All top 20 artists will also receive a gift from Bob’s Red Mill!
For questions regarding sponsorship opportunities, including 2nd and 3rd place sponsorships, please contact Sara Case at (503) 659-1618 x4 or via email.
Hacienda CDC Stands Against Arizona Law SB 1070 –top
NHA Keeps Portland Upshur House Affordable–top
The Upshur House in Northwest Portland has been purchased by a nonprofit that plans to keep it affordable housing.
<Photo by Dan Carter/DJC
The Upshur House in Northwest Portland has provided affordable housing for nearly three decades. When that 30-year commitment ends this summer, the owner is free to jack up rents to market rates.
Milwaukie-based nonprofit Northwest Housing Alternatives bought Upshur House last year to make sure that doesn’t happen. The group is now working to rehabilitate the 30-unit apartment building and keep rents below market rates.
“It’s going to continue to be affordable housing for as long as there’s any useful life in it,” said Jonathan Trutt, Northwest Housing Alternatives’ housing director.
To read the rest of the story: http://djcoregon.com/news/2010/05/04/portlands-upshur-house-staying-affordable/
Habitat for Humanity Portland-Metro East HopeBuilder Breakfast a Success–top
I knew I wouldn’t leave this fundraiser without rummaging for a handkerchief when, after getting their early (7am!) on April 29 at the Oregon Convention Center and having time to burn, I fell to examining the little table tents.
Each one had a picture of a Habitat for Humanity family and their story – how the parents worked, but at such low wages they could never get ahead. How a single working parent was putting herself through school and trying to better her situation for herself and her children, but couldn’t pay the rent and still have money left over for groceries. How a newcomer family’s young children had black mold in their rooms.
They were simple little displays, but the sweet faces of these totally recognizable people looked out at me and seized me, somehow – those people looked just like my neighbors.
Then, my handkerchief suspicions grew, as Board Chair Len Magnuson started the event by calling for a moment of silence for the families who have lost their houses in recent disasters worldwide, and the families who have lost their houses in the economic disaster in Oregon. I used my moment to think solemnly about all the people who called me at work – not being a social service provider, I always wonder how they get our number – desperate for some kind of help with getting housing they can afford, and I felt so thankful that we have wonderful members like Habitat, REACH, Proud Ground and so many others to refer those people to.
After emcee KC Cowan from OPB came on and introduced herself and thanked us and the sponsors, my suspicions were totally confirmed when they started playing the videos on the huge screens at the front of the ballroom – affecting and effective portraits of some of the families they were helping.
And out came the handkerchief. Darn, why did I wear mascara to a Habitat benefit? I should know better.
I was sitting at a table of mostly manly-man-looking computer programmers, videographers, and builders, so I tried to dab my eyes surreptitiously, watching through blurry eyes as this sweet family up on the screen, big as life, gave the cameraman a tour of their trailer they had been lent by a family member when they had no where to go.
“It was fine in the summer when we moved in,” said Sandra Aguayo, who is now a Habitat homeowner. “But when winter came . .” she pointed to the walls. It was truly a horror: huge holes in the roof, spongy floor about to fall through, a carpet that never dried, and black mold EVERYWHERE. The teenaged daughter with chronic respiratory problems, missing school because she can’t breathe. The little brother and sister with nowhere safe to play, inside or out. Mom and dad busting their butts at low-paying jobs, and still having nothing after the bills are paid.
The camera cuts to the parents on the jobsite, getting oriented to the building process with the other volunteers . . and frankly, looking a bit terrified. “Building a house is hard,” said Martin Aguayo, Sandra’s husband. “You’re tired at the end of the day. But you’re really happy because you’re building your own house.”
The video ends with a tour of their new house – safe, clean, and best of all, something they built with their own hands. “I don’t have to worry about them while they’re sleeping,” says Sandra. “It was like a dream . .. but it was real.”
I suddenly realize I’m grinning like an idiot, and again, surreptitiously, look around the huge ballroom at the 1000+ bankers, printing company execs, construction workers, local business community leaders, video colors and light flickering off of their faces, and see . . . every face rapt, every face glowing – nobody fiddles with their iPhone, their necktie, or their granola-fruit-parfait.
Collectively, we are engaged. And I wonder, gosh, how could we sustain that all year?
When he took the podium to speak, Steve Messinetti, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East, led us in a little thought exercise. “Can you remember the face of the clerk that checked you out at the grocery store last week?,” he said. “Or the security guard that said goodnight when you left your office last night? How about the wait staff at your favorite restaurant? There are so many people, who help run our city, who can no longer afford to live here. Did you know that to afford an average price home here, even with the recent drop in home prices, a person needs to make about $68,000 a year? Homeownership is getting further and further out of reach. What this means is that my daughter’s grade school teacher can’t afford to buy a home. The Police officer that patrols my neighborhood can’t afford to buy a home on his salary alone. If you’re a parent who is forced to choose between paying your rent or putting food on the table which would you choose? If you need gas to get to work and the heating bill is due, which would you choose?”
Messinetti said he wanted to live in a city where hardworking moms and dads don’t have to make these terrible choices and that the reason that Habitat’s program works is because low-income families are able to purchase homes at cost with a 0%-interest mortgage after they contribute 500 hours of sweat equity. Mortgage payments are never more than 30% of a family’s income, so they are permanently affordable. And he said when families do not have to move, they invest into their home and into their community. Locally, Habitat for Humanity has a less than 1% foreclosure rate.
“When people care for their homes, they naturally care for all the other homes around their block,” said Messinetti. “Home is where we develop a sense of who we are. It shapes our character, and it’s where our deep relationships are made. It is the soil in which all things root, grow and thrive.”
Messinetti said it was time to be bold and told us that Habitat’s latest strategic plan calls for them to increase the homes they build by 50% – a huge jump. Their plan depends on buying land while it’s still cheap . . which is where the banquet attendees (hopefully!) would come in. Right now they are finishing Jubilee Commons, with 23 units, and after they are complete Habitat will have built 50 homes in Rockwood. They have already identified two more parcels of land in Rockwood where Habitat hopes 40 more homes. Furthermore, in southeast Portland Habitat has identified the properties for their next 100 homes and has already built 40 homes in the Lents neighborhood. Habitat has also built 21 green homes, and this fall they will complete their 200th house in the Portland and Gresham area. Statewide, Habitat for Humanity of Oregon will complete its 1,000th home this October.
Messinetti is a good speaker, but as he concluded, I was excited to realize that two Habitat residents would be speaking to us today, in person – including one with whom I had exchanged sleepy smiles over the coffee tureen that morning! For a silly instant, I felt like I had brushed with celebrity.
Denice Palfrey took the stage, and although she probably was nervous literally under the spotlight in that cavernous ballroom, she bravely told her story and told it well. A single mom and full-time receptionist working for the Portland Department of Human Services, she will be moving into Jubilee Commons when it’s finished.
“I never thought I’d be a victim of abuse .. I let myself be destroyed,” she told us. “I had no job, nowhere to go, but I had to get away from the violence. I became homeless with my daughter. Through Shepherd’s Door, I got on my feet. I’m determined never to be homeless again.” Denice got into subsidized housing, but knows it isn’t a permanent solution. “Whenever I get a raise, my rent goes up,” she said. She’s happy that her new house will be close to her current apartment, so her 10-year-old daughter, Alexsa, can be in the neighborhood she already knows and has made friends in.
Our second guest speaker was Julia Mines, who had lived in her Habitat house for three years, worked with dual diagnosis patients at City Central Concern, and was pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree at Warner Pacific College in Human Development.
She read the poem “Mother and Son” by Langston Hughes, “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair . .” She paused, choked up, and we all ran for our hankies again. “But I’m climbin’.”
She related the poem to her life, especially in regards to her grandson, who came into her life after they moved into their Habitat home. “There were a lot of splinters and bare spots on those stairs [before Habitat]. It was a full time job keeping my children and grandchildren safe in our house, the only one we could afford.”
She brought her friend to the Habitat office to help her pick up an application, and she ended up getting the application.
“I didn’t think I would get it, but God said I would,” said Julia. “My grandson, who is my future, will never have to live in substandard housing. He will always, always have a place to come back to, a place to call home, a permanent address. My sister, who had leukemia and had nowhere to live but a place that was detrimental to her immune system, I was able to go pick her up and bring her home. I’m an alcohol and drug counselor now, and this June I’ll take a test to get my CADC certification.”
At this point I couldn’t restrain myself and had to start clapping, and the audience happily clapped along – what a great story! How many great stories does Habitat have in those 200 houses they will have completed by this fall? And how many more when they embark on their next 200?
Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East raised $226,000 that morning. If you would like to see the beautiful video we saw, or read the inspirational speeches we heard from Denice, Julia, or Steve Messinetti, click here.
And if you’d like to make a gift to help Habitat build their 200th home and make our community truly livable, click here.
Photo: guest check-in table with row of dedicated (and friendly!) volunteers.
SVdP Lamb Building is Bright Spot in Eugene Affordable Housing–top
Near West 11th and Hayes in Eugene, it’s easy to see what’s new. At 4 stories, Saint Vincent DePaul Lane County’s Donald L. Lamb Building rises above neighboring structures and even the urban canopy, mirroring the sky with its many windows. Even the roof is reflective to reduce heat in the attic and, consequently, the load on its high-efficiency City Multi heating/cooling system.
So workers wear sunglasses on the spongy rooftop where the only relief from white is a bank of solar panels that will preheat the hot water. Studies using infrared photography indicate that such roofs stay much cooler than their asphalt counterparts and might be useful against global warming, said Mike Magee of Meili Construction, general contractor for the Lamb Building.
Come fall, 35 households will enjoy the energy-saving features of the building named for the late Donald L. Lamb, a longtime SVdP volunteer who advocated passionately for the poor and persons with disabilities.
“Mr. Lamb had been a member of the Board of St. Vincent and really backed our housing efforts over the past decades,” said Terry McDonald, Executive Director. “So when he passed the Board felt this building was a suitable remembrance of his good works.”
A remembrance made even more suitable by its history as SVdP’s first real-estate acquisition in Lane County, transacted in 1955, and the bookstore destined for its ground-floor commercial space. Don Lamb spent hundreds of hours sorting books in St. Vinnie’s West Broadway warehouse.
Planned for households at 50 to 60 percent of median area income, the Lamb Building will feature one-bedroom units, a community room with kitchen, laundry facilities, an outdoor terrace, and high-speed internet service. Indoor air quality, low toxicity, and water conservation are incorporated in the design. Rents will start at $385 to $410 per month.
The Lamb Building replaces a thrift store and auxiliary buildings up to 80 years old and long past their useful life.
“Rather than selling the site, it was felt important to help revitalize the neighborhood that St. Vincent had grown up in over the past 50 years,” said Terry McDonald.
“We are excited to bring more housing and a great commercial space to this neighborhood,” added Kristen Karle, Project Manager for SVdP. “We hope future tenants enjoy the building as much as we’ve enjoyed developing it.”
Learn more about St. Vincent de Paul’s affordable housing
PCRI Tears Down Old House, Builds New Homes –top
from Portland Community Reinvestment Initiative Inc.
With deconstruction of an existing, vacant home in progress in the background, we celebrated the beginning of development for four new affordable and sustainable homes in North Portland’s Portsmouth neighborhood. City of Portland officials, neighbors and other community members joined in the celebration Wednesday, April 14.
The four new homes, developed by PCRI in conjunction with Portland Development Commission and Portland Housing Bureau, fulfill a part of PCRI’s mission to provide affordable housing—when they are completed in the fall, the homes will be available for sale to buyers earning 80% or less of area median income. The homes also represent a commitment to expand minority homeownership opportunities as part of the Operation Home Ownership and Minority Equity program, established in 2005 to raise awareness and reduce barriers for minority homeowners.
Ranging from 1550 to 1620 square feet, the homes “will be the largest homes being targeted for affordable home ownership that Portland Development Commission and Portland Housing Bureau has funded to date,” said John Marshall of Portland Development Commission, who was present for the celebration. “They will be incredible improvements to the neighborhood.”
As evidenced by the deconstruction work happening in the background, sustainability is another key aspect of the new homes. As part the Portland Energy Efficient Home Pilot program, the four new homes will be 15% – 30% more energy efficient than a home built to Oregon’s 2008 energy code and will provide practical information about energy efficiency methods and costs for the City of Portland and other homebuilders. The homes have been designed to achieve LEED, Earth Advantage and Energy Star certifications for sustainable materials, design and construction and have been submitted for the city’s annual Build It Green home tour.
The kick-off celebration comes just weeks after closing on construction funding with Portland Development Commission and Portland Housing Bureau. Maxine Fitzpatrick, PCRI Executive Director, addressed the crowd at the celebration, enthusiastically thanking the project’s partners and supporters and speaking of the hurdles overcome to realize the project.
Neighborhood Partnerships and Oregon Housing Alliance Visit DC –top
On April 10, 2010, Neighborhood Partnerships staff traveled to Washington, D.C. for the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) Annual Conference. While there, the Housing Alliance and Neighborhood Partnerships were awarded the NLIHC’s first annual State and Local Organizing award! We proudly share this award with the Community Alliance of Tenants.
We learned about affordable housing related federal legislation. The campaign to fund the National Housing Trust Fund is in high gear and has the potential to bring almost $15 million to Oregon’s very low income households. We also learned about potential changes to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s rent subsidy programs with their new Transforming Rental Assistance Initiative. We learned about the President’s Budget for housing for FY 2011.
While on Capitol Hill, we talked with our delegation about local efforts to preserve federally subsidized affordable housing and protections for tenants in foreclosure.
Housing Alliance: Upcoming Membership Meetings and 2011 Agenda
The Housing Alliance is currently working to set its agenda for the 2011 Legislative Session. The Housing Alliance membership has been discussing ideas, issues and concerns, all while trying to grasp the latest budget projections which show that Oregon will have a nearly $2.5 billion shortfall for 2011—2013.
As we move forward, we’re holding several membership meetings to discuss our agenda. We held our first one last Friday, April 16, 2010. Our next meeting will be on May 7, 2010 in Salem and the agenda is full of great information! We’ll be discussing a variety of topics from homelessness, to the Hardest Hit fund, to protecting tenants in foreclosure, and everything in between.
While these meetings are only open to Housing Alliance voting members and non-voting organizational members, prospective members may attend as well. Contact us if you’re interested in becoming a Housing Alliance member and attending this meeting.
Living Royally - Being Single Does Not Mean Dining Alone –top
Opened in 2007 at 5th and Main, Saint Vincent DePaul Lane County’s Royal Building embodies 33 multi-family units on four upper floors, crowned by a community room with a spectacular view of downtown Springfield and the Coburg Hills. It is energy efficient and well maintained, with entry only by keycard or special permission.
Opened in 2007 at 5th and Main, the Royal Building embodies 33 multi-family units on four upper floors, crowned by a community room with a spectacular view of downtown Springfield and the Coburg Hills. It is energy efficient and well maintained, with entry only by keycard or special permission.
Reva was Royal’s second occupant. In her mid-60′s and suffering the effects of multiple back injuries, COPD, and diabetes, she had set out to live with her sister in Florida but became stranded and broke in the process. She returned to Eugene and the home of a friend, a disharmonious situation made worse by cigarette smoke.
So Reva was delighted to see an item about the Royal Building in the newspaper, and to realize that her modest income qualified.
“When they took me up to see my apartment that Saturday, they had to grab me because I almost passed out” she recalled. “I’ve never seen anything so elegant.”
Glenn Sofge was widowed in 2006 after more than 50 years of marriage. A retired handyman, he stayed in his longtime Springfield home until last fall when his daughter’s scouting led her to the Royal Building. “She said, ‘Dad, go take a look,’ ” Glenn said. “I came and took a look, and I moved in.”
They met by chance as Glenn stood outside his door, and Reva maneuvered her walker out of the elevator. Upon learning that she hadn’t been able to hang curtains or pictures, Glenn first offered a hammer and nails and then his labor. At six-foot four, he could reach everything.
But Glenn wasn’t so good at managing his own diabetes. He burned up his energy, lost weight, and landed in the hospital with the disease out of control.
For Reva, it was payback time. She began preparing meals for two – turkey, ham, chicken, meatloaf, roasts – and keeping leftovers on hand in the freezer. Now she and Glenn share the home-cooked meals as well as those delivered to Royal by Meals On Wheels.
And they get around, as Royal is conveniently located for using either LTD or RideSource.
Reva thinks of Glenn, now 82, as her adopted father. At the end of the day they retire to their respective apartments – his with its ever-changing view of the hills, and hers with its handicap accommodations and beloved cat.
Glenn wouldn’t change a thing and greatly appreciates his $15-per-month utility bill. “I can look over top of City Hall and watch snow fall on the Coburgs,” he said. “I can snore and not bother anybody.”
His chef has some thoughts on countertop top design “for people who roll from place to place,” and she wishes for a little more space – especially at Christmas. But she loves her apartment and credits both it and Glenn’s help for her not needing a wheelchair.
“I’ve made a living room-dining room out of my living room,” she said. “It’s accessible. The situation helps me maintain. “And I’ve got somebody to talk to. I’m not just rattling around the apartment.”
Big Push for NHTF Sign-on – 2,000 Orgs and All Congressional Districts –top
We are closing in on our goal, but are not quite there!
More than 1,800 organizations in 413 Congressional districts have joined the national sign-on letter urging Congress to support our communities by providing $1 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund. This is an incredible show of support, and we thank you for your work to help make the National Housing Trust Fund a reality.
We want to send the letter to Congress THIS WEEK. That means we have just a few more hours to add organizations in order to reach our initial goals of 2,000 organizations in all 435 districts. (We’ll continue to keep the letter open for signatures after this week, but we want to do everything we can to pass these milestones before the first version of the letter is made public.)
Can you help today and tomorrow? If your organization has not joined the letter, click here to sign. Then please forward this email to urge every organization in your network or coalition to sign on as well. Signatories can be local, state, and national organizations, including nonprofits, congregations, labor unions, corporations, and government agencies.
Here is the letter in support of the National Housing Trust Fund:
We, the undersigned organizations, urge Congress to act soon to provide the initial funding for the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF). We are requesting $1.065 billion be provided immediately to the NHTF: $1 billion to capitalize the NHTF and $65 million for project-based vouchers to couple with NHTF capital grants.
The NHTF was created in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) to address the severe shortage of rental homes that are affordable for the lowest income families, but it has not yet been funded. The President proposed funding for the NHTF in his FY10 and FY11 budget requests.
In the United States today, there are only 37 rental homes available and affordable for every 100 households with incomes below 30% of their area median. A scarcity of housing that the poorest families can afford is the principal cause of homelessness in the United States.
Investment in the NHTF will create good jobs. Every $1 billion provided to the Trust Fund will support the immediate construction of 10,000 rental homes, creating 15,100 new construction jobs and 3,800 new jobs in ongoing operations.
We urge Congress to provide this badly needed funding at the soonest possible opportunity.
THANK YOU FOR SIGNING THE NHTF SUPPORT LETTER TODAY!
Need to learn more about the National Housing Trust Fund before signing on? Click here for background information.
Portland Plan II – Next Workshops May 10 and May 15–top
Please join your neighbors and fellow Portlanders at one of the Portland Plan Phase II Workshops listed below. Help chart the course for Portland’s future! The workshops, of which the next is Monday, will include a Housing component – if you are able, it’s a great venue to let the city know how important affordable housing is for your community.
May 10, 6:30–9 pm University of Oregon, White Stag Block Rooms 142 & 144 70 NW Couch Street Portland, OR 97209
May 15, 10 am–12:30 pm David Douglas High School, Cafeteria (North) 1001 SE 135th Ave Portland, OR 97233 *childcare provided in room #122
May 18, 6:30–9 pm Jackson Middle School Cafeteria 10625 SW 35th Avenue Portland, OR 97219
Mayor Sam Adams: “The Portland Plan will be the City’s road map for the next 25 years, guiding our direction as the city grows and changes. We face some real challenges, and our response to those challenges will create the Portland of 2035 — the city of our children and grandchildren.
”We understand that jobs, education, public health, equity and sustainability are important to the people of Portland. During the upcoming series of Portland Plan workshops we’ll be setting direction — identifying our goals and choosing targets to help us get there.
”Whether you’re new to the Portland Plan or you participated in Phase I, we want to hear your ideas and dig deeper into the issues that Portland faces. So get involved. There’s talking about it. And then there’s actually doing something about it.”
The Portland Plan team will make reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities. Please notify the City no fewer than five (5) business days prior to the event by phone 503-823-7700, by the TTY number at 503-823-6868, or by the Oregon Relay Service at 1-800-735-2900.
City Offers Ecoroof Incentives – Due June 1–top
More incentives to install new ecoroofs in Portland are available from the city’s Bureau of Environmental Services. The ecoroof incentive program is part of Portland’s Grey to Green effort to increase Portland’s green stormwater management infrastructure, protect sensitive natural areas and improve habitat.
The incentive pays up to $5 per square foot for new ecoroof projects in the city. Ecoroofs in Portland typically cost between $5 and $20 per square foot. Industrial, residential, commercial and mixed-use projects are eligible for the incentive.
The city has begun a new cycle of ecoroof incentives and is accepting applications through Tuesday, June 1, 2010. Environmental Services will award incentives this summer. The city will continue to make funds available until 2013
The ecoroof incentive application packet is available at portlandonline.com/bes/ecoroofincentive or by calling 503-823-7914.
Ecoroofs are vegetated roof systems that reduce stormwater runoff, improve air quality and save energy. The Grey to Green goal is to add 43 acres of new ecoroofs by 2013. Since the initiative began in July 2008, more than four acres of ecoroof have been completed and over six acres are in design or construction. There are currently 211 ecoroofs in Portland covering nearly 11 acres.
Changes to City Homeownership Services–top
In a letter to its community partners on April 22, Portland Housing Bureau Director Margaret Van Vliet gave an update on cuts to its services resulting from budget gaps:
“I am writing to let you know of an important change at the Portland Housing Bureau (PHB). The City of Portland is facing unprecedented financial challenges, due to the continuing economic crisis. At PHB, our biggest challenge is a steep decline in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) in the coming years, as TIF availability drops from a short-term bubble of spending. TIF is forecasted to decline from $70 million in 2010-11 to $26.1 million in 2011-12, and $16.4 million in 2012-13.
To maintain critical programs and services as we deal with shrinking resources, we needed to make a change in program offerings. Effective immediately, we will no longer offer first mortgage loan products through the Neighborhood Housing Program. We will honor any current applications that we have received. We will continue to offer downpayment assistance and home repair funding in the Lents Town Center and Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Areas. However, because the City budget process is still ongoing, amounts allocated for homeownership assistance programs have not yet been finalized. We anticipate having more specific information on funding availability by late May.
Closing the minority homeownership gap is a key focus of PHB homeownership programs, and we are in the very early stages of planning our next steps for how we can maximize the impact of our programs and services. We are reviewing all processes and outcomes with an eye toward better reaching underserved communities of color, with a keen focus on increasing homeownership and retention.
One of our key goals is ensuring that increasingly limited taxpayer dollars are being invested in a manner that achieves optimal results. We’re beginning a strategic planning process that will engage the community and examine housing needs to address long-standing and emerging issues that require PHB’s leadership and resources. Very soon, we will be engaging our partners in critical discussions about how to position our programs to best meet the community’s needs. Your participation in this planning effort will be essential to our success.”
Con Plan Action Plan Hearings, Sustainable Communities, Foreclosure –top
Below is the agenda for the May 5 2010 Housing & Community Development Commission meeting, which is open to the public.
The meeting will be held at the Portland Housing Bureau (421 SW 6th Avenue, between Stark and Washington streets, on the fifth floor.)
At this meeting, there will be the second hearings for the Action Plans and amendment to the Citizen Participation Plan. You can review the most up-to-date version of the Action Plan here: http://www.portlandonline.com/phb/index.cfm?c=52520&a=298778
Also of interest, there will be presentations/updates on the Sustainable Communities NOFA and the federal foreclosure prevention homeownership funds.
Street Roots Vendors Call for Housing in Photo Project–top
Street Roots posted a moving photo project recently of its hardworking street paper Vendor workforce – many of whom face personal challenges that for most people would be overwhelming – asking them what is most important to them. Although love, god, dry boots and civil rights were sprinkled in there, housing and medical care overwhelmingly topped the list.
Regional and Rural News
Roundtable for 2011-2015 Con Plan – Newport May 12–top
- Newport, Wednesday May 12th
- 11:00am – noon
- Chamber Bldg, 555 SW Coast Highway
The State of Oregon’s Consolidated Plan will guide use of funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for these programs as used in rural (non-entitlement) Oregon:
· Community Development Block Grant
· Emergency Shelter Grant Program (ESGP)
· Housing Opportunities for Persons with
· Home Investment Partnership Act (HOME)
A separate public comment period and formal public hearing will be held this fall for the final draft.
These sessions are open to all, including state, federal, regional, local, non-profit, faith-based organizations and their clientele, along with units of local government, development groups, port authorities, housing authorities, and other entities providing services to or representing the interests of Oregon’s low and moderate income citizens in community, economic, and housing development.
The demand for efficient, cooperative use of resources grows as state, federal, and private funding becomes increasingly scarce. Everyone receiving this notice is involved at some level with the funds described above. Your input will help OBDD, DHS and OHCS better plan for and implement the use of precious resources for Oregon’s neediest populations for the next five years.
eXtension Webinar on Entrepreneurship and Rural Communities – May 13–top
May 13, 2010, 11am PDT – free
The second of the two part series is scheduled for May 13, 2010 at 11 a.m. PDT. This webinar will focus on two innovative programs in Missouri that are focused on place-based economic development. If you missed the April session which featured two programs, Energizing Entrepreneurs and Developing Entrepreneur Ready Communities, you can find the presentation matierals and the recording at the eXtension Entrepreneurs and Their Communities site (click here). All webinars are one hour long. Free and open to everyone, this session is part of a monthly series. The Web meeting room opens 10 minutes before the start time. Click here to view. Newcomers to online learning are welcome.
USDA Self-Help Listening Sessions – Tacoma, May 14–top
There will be a listening session about the USDA Rural Housing Service’s Mutual Self-Help program at the University of Washington Tacoma, May 14, from 1-4 pm. It’s part of about a dozen sessions around the US being held because the USDA wants to know how the program is working for folks and how to improve it. Notice below:
Federal Register: February 2, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 21), Notices, Page 5281.
Federal Register Online: [wais.access.gpo.gov, DOCID: fr02fe10-24]
SUMMARY: Responding to President Obama’s initiative for an open, transparent government, the Rural Housing Service, hereinafter referred to as the Agency, intends to hold public forums to solicit feedback from the public on whether the current method of delivering the self-help program is the most efficient and cost effective in terms of cost and program delivery.
Transparency encourages accountability by delivering information to the public about what the Government is doing. Participation provides the public with opportunities to contribute ideas and expertise to the Government which will enable them to make sound policy decisions that represent a wider group of diverse individuals throughout society.
Collaboration improves effectiveness of the Government by encouraging partnerships and cooperation within the Federal Government, across levels of government, and between the Government and private institutions.
The Agency will use information obtained from public forums to evaluate all aspects of the self-help program. As the Agency moves forward, it will continue to encourage and solicit feedback, recommendations, and comments from all sectors of the public. All information relative to these forums will be taped, transcribed, and posted to the Agency Web site.
DATES: Public forums are scheduled for February through June 2010. All written questions and comments must be received by the Agency prior to June 30, 2010. The public forums will be held in selected states and the Washington, DC area.
ADDRESSES: Send questions and comments to: Debra S. Arnold, Program Analyst, Program Support Staff, Rural Housing Service, USDA at 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Stop 0761, Washington, DC 20250-0761, telephone (202) 720-1366, fax: (202) 690-4335, email.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Debra S. Arnold, Program Analyst,
Program Support Staff, Rural Housing Service, USDA at 1400 Independence
Avenue, SW., Stop 0761, Washington, DC 20250-0761, telephone (202) 720-
1366, fax: (202) 690-4335, or via email. For participants who require a sign language interpreter or other special accommodations, please contact Debra S. Arnold as directed above.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: One of the major areas within the Section 523 Mutual Self-Help Program that the Agency will be focusing on is the Technical and Management Assistance (T&MA) contracts. The contracts task regional non-profit organizations to provide training and technical assistance to recipients of the Section 523 grants. These recipients, referred to as Section 523 grantees, provide technical assistance to low and very low-income families to build their homes in rural areas. In addition to assisting the Section 523 grantees, the contractors are also required to market the self-help program, monitor the progress of active Section 523 grantees, and provide training to both grantees and families.
NAO-TACS Training Comes to Eugene – May 18, June 15–top
TACS is offering trainings in Eugene this spring, including:
* Sustainable Nonprofit Business Models with Kay Sohl, May 18
* New Rules for Engaging Marketing Sponsors with Barbara
Harrington, June 15
To learn more and to register, visit the TACS website here.
Rural Housing Funding Availability, New Construction and Vouchers – June 14–top
Funds for Section 515 New Construction and Section 521 Rental Assistance is being offered; the deadline is June 14. Section 515 has $18.9 million available, and RA has $2.03 million. Click here to read the Federal Register on the Voucher funds; click here to read the Federal Register re: the new construction funds. Or go to http://www.grants.gov. Contact an RD State Office, listed at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/recd_map.html.
Rural Business Opportunity Grant Provides TA - June 28–top
Rural Business Opportunity Grant: Promotes sustainable economic development in rural communities with exceptional needs through provision of training and technical assistance for business development, entrepreneurs, and economic development officials and to assist with economic development planning. Expected number of awards: 30. Estimated total program funding: $2,480,000. Award ceiling: $250,000. Closing date: June 28, 2010.
USDA Rural Development Energy Grants –June 30–top
The much-anticipated notice in the Federal Register inviting applications for USDA Rural Development’s REAP (Rural Energy for America Program) was published April 25, 2010. This notice covers both the REAP grant and guaranteed loan programs for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. Here is a link to the full notice.
REAP offers grants and/or loan guarantees for the purchase and installation of renewable energy generating systems and energy efficiency improvements. Assistance is limited to small businesses and farmers & ranchers. (Regrettably, NONPROFITS & PUBLIC BODIES ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR THIS PROGRAM.) Projects must be located in a rural area. REAP grants and guarantees may be used individually or in combination. Together they may finance up to 75% of a project’s cost. Grants can never finance more than 25% of the project, with grants of $20,000 or less being favored. The program is further described on RD-Oregon’s web site here:
The salient features of the April 25 Federal Register notice are:
1. APPLICATION DEADLINE: The final deadline for applications is June 30, 2010, 4:30PM. Applications must be RECEIVED by this time; postmarks are not sufficient. NOTE: We encourage applicants to submit as soon as possible to improve their chances of success.
2. FUNDS AVAILABLE: No specific dollar figure in announced in the Federal Register notice. RD is reserving the right to move funds among its various REAP authorities to maximize the awards and benefits. It’s likely, based on past information, that about $60 million in grants will be awarded nationwide, and we understand that each state will be receive at least a minimum state allocation to promote the nationwide distribution of awards.
3. CHANGES: There seems to be no significant changes in the REAP program or application content compared to last year. NOTE: The templates on RD-Oregon’s web still should still be sufficient and effective.
4. There will be a separate, future notice announcing the REAP FEASIBILITY STUDY and REAP ENERGY AUDIT/RENEWABLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE grant programs. The timing and deadlines on these notices is still unknown.
For more information, please feel free to contact Don Hollis (via email or 503-278-8049 x129), Oregon’s Rural Energy Coordinator. You can also find out more at RD-Oregon’s excellent energy web site: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/or/energy.htm
OR Economic Development Assoc Summer Conference – Grants Pass, July 16–top
OEDA Fall Conference, July 16th – Grants Pass, Southern Oregon
Expected Speakers & Panels include:
* The Oregon Shakespeare Festival: How arts can drive your economy
* Business Retention and Expansion: Designing a program for success
* Encore Ceramics: How local, regional and state economic development brought a world class company to Oregon
* Evergreen Federal Bank’s Bear Hotel: Brady Adams shares how corporate citizenship can also help a business to grow
* Tourism as Economic Development Driver or the Excuse to Take a Jet Boat Trip
Registration and Agenda Coming Soon – Watch the website for details! OEDA Members – $ 65.00 Non-Members – $ 80.00
The OEDA Fall Conference will be October 11-12th, at The Resort on the Mountain in Welches, OR. Watch the OEDA website for event details.
Section 538 Rural Multifamily Construction, Acquisition, Rehab – Dec 31 –top
Section 538 Guaranteed Rural Rental Housing Program: The Department of Agriculture will provide funds to help finance the construction, acquisition and rehabilitation of affordable multi-family rental housing for rural residents and provide loan guarantees for private lenders and public agencies. Up to $129 million is available for FY 2010. Deadline: December 31, 2010.
Sign-on Letter to Increase Funds for Housing Assistance Council–top
Representative Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) introduced a bill on April 22 to authorize increased federal funding for the Housing Assistance Council (HAC). HAC has in the past received federal funds to accomplish its mission of improving housing conditions for the rural poor, with an emphasis on the poorest of the poor in the most rural places.
The bill would authorize $10 million for HAC for FY12, and $15 million each year from FY13 through FY17. HAC’s current authorization level is $10 million. HAC received $5 million in the FY10 HUD appropriations bill.
The bill, H.R. 5122, was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) are circulating a Dear Colleague letter asking for $10 million for HAC in FY11. Advocates should ask their Senators to sign on to this letter, which has a deadline of April 26.
Link to the letter at http://www.nlihc.org/doc/HAC-Dear-Colleague-Letter.pdf
Lincoln County Cleaning Up Foreclosures–top
For two years, workers in a state housing program have labored to get foreclosed houses off the market and help many middle-income families become home owners. That program is finally beginning to pick up some steam.
Lincoln County has been dealing with growing foreclosure rates and a dwindling workforce housing stock since the real estate bubble busted. Fortunately, the Lincoln Community Land Trust, thanks to the $500,000 it was awarded in 2008 via the state Neighborhood Stabilization Program, is deep in the process of acquiring its first foreclosed property. The program, born out of the federal Housing and Economic Recovery Act, is designed to provide assistance to middle-income citizens looking to purchase foreclosed single-family homes.
The decision to purchase the foreclosed four-bedroom house on Northeast 28th Street in Lincoln City came after City Council last week voted to lend the trust $75,000 from the city’s un-bonded assets fund. The $75,000 loan will be combined with $100,000 of federal money to make the purchase.
Once the house is purchased, the LCLT will renovate the house and sell it to a qualifying buyer. The money from the sale will then be returned to the city. In theory, the LCLT will then ask the city to borrow the same $75,000 and use the money to subdivide the lot at Northeast 28th Street and build a second home on the new lot.
“We want to do what makes sense for the community and to continue to provide affordable housing,” said Ben Baggett, executive director of the LCLT. “There is a lot of space for another home on the lot, (but) we are focusing only on the existing home for now.”
The LCLT was awarded the $500,000 through a competitive statewide grant process. The Oregon Housing and Community Services Department awarded more than $4 million to seven nonprofit organizations around the state, meant to pay for the initial start-up costs and the first few acquisitions. Another $15 million was granted to various urban government agencies to go toward low-interest, soft second mortgages.
“The program provides opportunities to get houses off the market and put people in homes,” said Rich Malloy, Neighborhood Stabilization Program coordinator with the state. “It’s a small part of a solution to a really big problem.”
The program has started slowly because of the difficulties associated with using federal dollars and acquiring foreclosed properties. Once a property is purchased by the LCLT, and sold to a qualifying buyer, that money is regenerated into another project. New properties are then purchased with this revolving fund. Also, each purchase comes with stipulations limiting how much the buyer can sell the house for in the future in order to guarantee that the property remains in the affordable housing stock.
“The idea is that a working individual or family can own a land trust home and, in doing so, build equity through the shared equity approach, build credit, learn the basics of homeownership, and eventually enter a full market homeownership purchase,” Baggett said.
Lori Hollingsworth, mayor of Lincoln City, said affordable housing has been an issue for years in Lincoln County. While there are plenty of services to place low-income folks in some sort of housing, there are very few options for the middle-income workforce, she said.
“We can’t expect the services of nurses, teachers and firefighters without providing workforce housing for them in Lincoln County,” she said.
Qualified buyers include anyone whose family income falls between 60 and 120 percent of the median family income for the area. For example, a family of two in Lincoln County with a combined annual income of $32,000 would qualify at 80 percent of the median family income.
The goal for the statewide program is to acquire and sell 316 homes. Malloy noted that about 30 properties around the state have been purchased thus far. He hopes that number will rise to about 80 over the next two years.
The Neighborhood Stabilization Program will also be moving ahead in the Portland-metro region over the next couple of months. Proud Grounds, a Portland-based land trust, received $800,000 from the program earlier this month, said Jesse Beason, the trust’s executive director. The organization hopes to have four homes purchased by mid-summer, and have them completely renovated and ready for the market by the end of the year, he said.
Report – Shared Ownership and Wealth Control for Rural Areas–top
The Ford Foundation has released a new report, “Keeping Wealth Local: Shared Ownership and Wealth Control for Rural Communities”, prepared for the Wealth Creation in Rural America project.
The aim of the project is to develop and take to scale new approaches to rural community development that take a triple bottom line approach. As part of that, the aim of this report is to look at the role of shared ownership models in keeping wealth local. It’s a handbook of various models of shared ownership, such as cooperatives, employee ownership, community land trusts, municipal ownership, conservation easements, and more — including definitions, strengths and weaknesses,many real-world examples, and where to go for sources of assistance.
Click here to view.
Network for Rural E-Focused Economic Development Practitioners–top
The Center for Rural Entrepreneurship has launched a new network for practitioners who are working to build stronger local economies by supporting entrepreneurs – the E Coaching Network.
This network can connect you to resources and other practitioners that can help you build an entrepreneur-focused economic development strategy in your corner of rural North America. There is no cost to join, and you can unsubscribe at any time. The most recent resource addition is a 30 minute webinar on the “Basics” of entrepreneur targeting, outreach, intake, screening, referral and tracking. These are the core activities that any entrepreneur development system must do every day, and well, to realize impact.
Central Oregon Community Food Assessment –top
If you live in Central Oregon (Crook, Deschutes or Jefferson Counties), please take a moment to complete the Community Food Assessment, which is being conducted by Wy’East RC&D to evaluate the needs of food resources and security in this region.
Over the past few weeks, with help from volunteers in the community and the Community Food Assessment Advisory Committees, a “Dot Survey” has been conducted at public events around the region. In order to reach a larger audience this short, four question survey is now available online. To take the survey, click here.
Rural Development Initiatives Unveils a New Website–top
RDI’s New Website is Here! Want to learn more about RDI? Visit them online at RDI’s new website: www.rdiinc.org. Their new website will help you stay up to date on RDI and rural Northwest news.
Out of Reach – Rents Continue to Rise Despite High Unemployment–top
The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a Washington DC-based housing advocacy group, and Oregon’s Housing Alliance jointly released the Out of Reach 2010 report. The report provides data on housing affordability for every state, metropolitan area, and county in the country.
According to the report released on April 22, the Housing Wage for Oregon is $14.93. The Housing Wage is the hourly wage a family must earn—working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year—to be able to afford rent and utilities in the private housing market. The average fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Oregon is $776—a number that has increased 27.5% since 2000. These increases continue despite high unemployment and foreclosures.
Higher prices in the rental market continue to force Oregon families to choose between paying rent, putting food on the table, and paying utility bills. Working at the minimum wage, $8.40 in Oregon, one full-time earner must work 71 hours a week to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. Read more on Neighborhood Partnership’s blog.
Tom Cusack at the Oregon Housing Blog has kindly crafted one of his famous Excel sheets to help mere mortals navigate the data: “If YOU would like to do you own 2009 and 2010 comparisons, I have created an Excel workbook HERE with data for all Oregon counties. It includes separate 2009 and 2010 worksheets, a combined 2009 and 2010 worksheet, AND a pivot table that uses the combined worksheet.” What a guy! Thanks, Tom.
HUD Awards Oregon $28 Million for CDBG, HOME, Emergency Shelter–top
From the Portland Business Journal, Wednesday, May 5, 2010
HUD said Wednesday it is awarding the state of Oregon $28.5 million. HUD said the funds will support community development, produce more affordable housing, to serve homeless families and individuals and provide permanent housing for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The fiscal year 2010 HUD funds include $15.7 million in Community Development Block Grant funds to the Oregon Department of Business Development, $11.5 million in HOME Investment Partnership funds and $971,100 in Emergency Shelter Grant funds to Oregon Housing & Community Services.
“This funding provides the building blocks needed to improve communities,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a written statement. “Now, more than ever, these grants promote neighborhood development, produce affordable housing, and help extremely low-income persons find their place in their communities.”
Manufactured Dwelling Park Purchase Program – Apply Now–top
Excerpt From Victor Merced at Oregon Housing and Community Services, April 20:
Passage of SB 5535 in the 2009 session, dedicated $3.1 million in lottery-backed bond proceeds to preserving manufactured dwelling parks. This new source of revenue will also provide leverage to access funds from national and local foundations, nonprofits and governmental agencies. Most importantly, the lottery-backed bonds will bridge the gap between tenants’ available resources and what it takes for a successful park purchase.
Click here to see the request for applications for the new Manufactured Dwelling Park Preservation Program.
Manufactured Dwelling Parks provide a large share of Oregon’s affordable housing for thousands of Oregonians. The 1,284 parks across Oregon – representing 65,716 spaces – are home to many seniors, people with disabilities and families with low incomes. Parks provide a unique community for their residents, often providing a social connection not present in a typical rental or affordable housing project.
In the traditional park, residents own their manufactured dwellings, but do not own the land on which the units sit. Park owners charge rent for the use of the spaces in their parks.
Until the most recent recession, park owners have faced increased pressure to redevelop their land to more lucrative uses. Between 1997 and 2008, 69 parks closed in Oregon, resulting in a loss of 2,672 individual spaces.
In 2008, 26 households attributed their homelessness to park closure.
During the past two regular legislative sessions, advocates for manufactured dwelling park residents succeeded in moving several bills that provide legal protection in the event of park closure. They also gained approval for a cooperative park purchase program.
Preserving the supply of affordable housing also means preserving manufactured dwelling parks. However, low-income residents often find it difficult to secure the financing for the park purchase.
Oregon Gets $20M for Energy Efficiency–top
Wednesday, April 21, 2010, Portland Business Journal
An energy efficiency program being tested in Portland received a $20 million federal grant on Wednesday to expand the program statewide.
The award amount is considerably less than the $75 million Oregon officials applied for in December.
Portland officials will hold a press conference Thursday to discuss details of the program, formally known as the Clean Energy Works program.
The grant is part of a $452 million chunk of federal stimulus funding doled out to 25 communities around the country under what’s being called the Department of Energy’s Retrofit Ramp-Up initiative.
Collectively, the federal government estimates that $100 million in energy savings will be achieved through the program. It’s estimated it will create 30,000 jobs over the next three years.
The grants ranged from $5 million to $40 million. Seattle received $20 million for a weatherization program.
In Portland, the Clean Energy Works program launched last year with a 500-home project to help homeowners with energy efficiency upgrades such as better insulation by providing low-cost financing options and working with Energy Trust of Oregon to develop a dedicated team of contractors to do the work.
The $20 million grant for Clean Energy Works will expand the program statewide with the help of a revolving loan fund and other financing options.
“With the federal government as a partner, Oregon will now be able to put people back to work making homes, schools and businesses across the state more efficient while saving taxpayers more of their hard-earned money,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
State Seeks Homeowner Input on Foreclosure Prevention Strategies–top
Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) will hold a series of forums throughout the state to listen to Oregonians describe the challenges they face as homeowners in this challenging economic environment. These forums are meant to ensure that those most in need have an opportunity to help shape a new federally funded program intended to assist them to prevent foreclosure.
“We want to create an effective program that helps people stay in their homes,” said Victor Merced, Director of Oregon Housing and Community Services. “To do that, it is important that we hear directly from those affected by the housing crisis.”
The Obama Administration announced recently that Oregon will receive as much as $88 million to support innovative measures to help families stay in their homes, avoid foreclosure, and stabilize the housing market. Oregon is in the second round of states to receive an allocation of the “Hardest Hit Fund” from the U.S. Treasury Department. Second round funds were awarded to states that had high concentrations of people living within counties where the unemployment rate exceeded 12 percent in 2009.
Oregon had 16 such counties: Columbia, Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Grant, Harney, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Linn and Wallowa counties.
Working on a short timeline, OHCS must submit a design and management proposal to the U.S. Treasury by June 1.
The monies can be used for a variety of approaches that will help curb housing problems. Such programs might include:
· Mortgage Subsidy Assistance: providing resources to qualified homeowners to help pay a portion of their mortgage during a period of unemployment.
· Mortgage Modification Assistance: offering a small amount of additional funds to enable homeowners to qualify for existing federal mortgage modification programs.
· Down Payment Assistance: helping qualified homebuyers to buy a home, which would help decrease available housing stock and restore value to housing markets.
· Mortgage Principal Reduction: helping homeowners who are behind on their mortgages and owe more than their homes are now worth to reduce the size of their loans to match their home’s current value.
OHCS has been working with the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, the Oregon Department of Justice, the Oregon Employment Department, the lending industry and consumer advocates to identify the needs of Oregon families and to learn from the activities of other states that received first round funding.
“We know mortgage loan modifications have been challenging for many Oregonians,” said Cory Streisinger, Department of Consumer and Business Services director. “We look forward to hearing directly from homeowners about the difficulties they are facing, to help us figure out how to best use this funding.”
The forums will occur at the following times and places:
Monday, May 10, 2010
- 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Higher Education Center, HEC 127/129
- 101 South Bartlett, Medford, OR
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
- 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- University of Oregon, Baker Downtown Center, Rooms 130 and 1
- 975 High Street, Suite 110, Eugene, OR
Thursday, May 13, 2010
- 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Bend Community Center, Community Hall
- 1036 NE 5th, Bend, OR
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
- 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Memorial Coliseum, US Plywood Room
- 300 North Winning Way, Portland, OR
After OHCS receives feedback, the agency will draft a proposal for the Treasury Department. The department expects to begin implementation of its proposal in late summer or early fall.
For more information on the Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Program, go to http://go.usa.gov/i7B.
$418000 in Rental Assistance Vouchers Awarded to Oregon HAs–top
U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan today announced on April 16 that 14 housing authorities in Idaho, Oregon and Washington state will receive a total of $1,031,549 to protect the rental assistance provided to families currently participating in HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program. Oregon received $418,282, broken down in the table below.
These agencies are among nearly 600 that will receive additional funding because they had additional leasing or experienced other unforeseen circumstances in 2009. HUD estimates this funding will keep almost 130 families across the Region in affordable housing.
“All across this country, nearly 20,000 families can breathe a sigh of relief,” said Secretary Donovan. “This additional funding will help housing agencies to continue providing affordable housing.”
The funding announced today is part of a $150 million set-aside from HUD’s 2010 budget that will give public housing agencies additional funding that will help them support existing vouchers.
In the Northwest, the following public housing authorities received awards:
|BOISE CITY HOUSING AUTHORITY||$6,406|
|ADA COUNTY HOUSING AUTHORITY||$22,854|
|IDAHO HOUSING & FINANCE ASSOCIATION||$41,804|
|HOUSING AUTHORITY OF PORTLAND||$93,836|
|HOUSING AUTHORITY OF LINCOLN COUNTY||$26,515|
|HOUSING AUTHORITY OF JACKSON COUNTY||$195,986|
|KLAMATH HOUSING AUTHORITY||$8,276|
|LINN-BENTON HOUSING AUTHORITY||$48,224|
|COOS-CURRY HOUSING AUTHORITY||$19,911|
|NORTHWEST OREGON HOUSING AGENCY||$17,117|
|CENTRAL OREGON REGIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY||$8,417|
|WASHINGTON STATE AUTHORITIES|
|HA OF THE CITY OF BREMERTON||$381,329|
|PIERCE COUNTY HOUSING AUTHORITY||$145,149|
|HOUSING AUTHORITY OF SKAGIT COUNTY||$15,725|
Last February HUD issued a notice informing public housing agencies that they could apply for this funding to adjust the allocations for agencies that experienced a significant increase in renewal costs of rental assistance resulting from unforeseen circumstances or from families moving to higher cost areas; for adjustment for agencies with voucher leasing rates at the end of 2009 that exceed the average leasing for federal fiscal year 2009 12-month period used to establish the allocation; for adjustments for the costs associated with Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers; and for vouchers that were not in use during the Federal fiscal year 12- month period in order to be available to meet a commitment for project-based voucher assistance.
HUD reviewed approximately 1,000 submissions from agencies across the U.S. and awarded funding based on HUD’s categories. Housing agencies that applied for funding will receive notifications of application status today. The Housing Choice Voucher Program is HUD’s largest rental assistance program, with an almost $18.2 billion budget in 2010 to support some 2.1 million families with rental assistance that makes housing more affordable.
Neighborhood Stabilization Program Eligible Areas May Expand–top
From Tom Cusack at the Oregon Housing Blog, April 9:
On the heels of the recent Notice from HUD advising of the ability of some NSP1 grantees (including Oregon) to expand the areas eligible for NSP1 funding, OHCS has published a Subtantial Amendment Notice HERE advising of a planned expansion of eligible areas for Oregon. The revised areas would cover 47% of the census tracts in the state.
Another change in the substantial amendment would remove the requirement for a “soft second” loan, substituting any form of assistance permitted by the NSP program.
From Victor Merced, April 9:
While we received the award last year, the process of complying with HUD requirements for notice, drafting and executing contracts with sub recipients, understanding changes in HUD expectations, and getting banks on board has taken a great deal of time. Every time we want to make a change in the program, we must comply with notice requirements and a public process, slowing implementation.
Check out our web page on NSP for more about the program: http://www.ohcs.oregon.gov/OHCS/SFF_Neighborhood_Stabilization_NSP_Oregon_Program.shtml
To date, we have obligated one-third of the resources; we have some reasons to expect that we will reach the goal of expending all of the award by the deadline:
Real estate transactions, by their very nature, take time. There are several transactions in the works that will consume a great deal of resources in the near future. (For example, Portland did a lottery for NSP participation. The lottery winners are now house hunting with a batch of closings to come soon.)
HUD has made some changes to make the program more flexible (e.g., expanding the properties eligible for funding).
HUD Secretary Donovan has expressed a commitment to helping the funds flow.
Expansion of the targeted areas — updated for new foreclosure activity — gives communities a great deal more flexibility to use the resources.
Banks are now on board and closing loans.
Some of our partners have been more effective than others at using the resources, so we may redistribute resources from underperforming areas to those that have been more successful.
Recently Formed Mortgage Fraud Task Force Bags First Crook–top
“Salem mortgage broker gets 5 years in prison for fraud”
By Ryan Frank, The Oregonian, March 19, 2010
The Oregon Department of Justice announced this morning that Julian James Ruiz III pleaded guilty to multiple counts of theft, mortgage fraud and tax evasion. He was sentenced to 61 months in prison.
From the release:
This is the first criminal case completed by the Attorney General’s new Mortgage Fraud Task Force. The Mortgage Fraud Task Force was created by Attorney General Kroger in late 2009 to combat fraud in the mortgage and foreclosure relief industries.
Julian James Ruiz III was sentenced to 61 months in prison after pleading guilty to 2 counts of Aggravated Theft in the First Degree; 1 count of Aggravated Identity Theft in the First Degree; 1 count of Identity Theft in the First Degree; 1 count of Mortgage Fraud; 1 count of Forgery in the First Degree; 1 count of Tax Evasion; and 1 count of violating House Bill 3630, which prohibits collecting advance fees for loan modifications.
Ruiz was stripped of his mortgage license and permanently barred from working in the industry. The judge also ordered Ruiz, manager and owner of American Home Modifications, a Salem-based loan modification company, to pay $469,500 in restitution to more than 100 victims. …
Fighting mortgage fraud is a top priority for Attorney General Kroger. When Kroger took office, the Oregon Department of Justice had no attorneys dedicated to mortgage fraud. Since its creation, the new Mortgage Fraud Task force has opened more than two dozen mortgage fraud and foreclosure scam investigations.
Loan modification customers of Julian Ruiz or his UMAX mortgage business should not rely on Ruiz to complete their loan modifications and may wish to consult with a HUD-approved counselor to avoid pending foreclosure or defaults. Consumers can call 800-SAFE-NET or 800-723-3638 to find a counselor, including Spanish-speaking counselors, at: http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm?webListAction=search&searchstate=OR.
Further foreclosure prevention information can be found at the Division of Finance and Corporate Securities website: http://www.dfcs.oregon.gov/ml/foreclosure.html
Applying for the HUD Sustainable Communities Grant? Give a Jingle–top
HUD has published a notice to request (but not require) that those interested in applying for the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program notify HUD of their intent to submit an application. Providing HUD with this information will allow HUD to properly access the workload anticipated during the review process and plan accordingly to ensure timely decision-making. THERE IS NO APPLICATION PACKAGE ASSOCIATED WITH THIS POSTING.
If your organization is interested in applying for the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program, please call the HUD NOFA Information Center as soon as possible. The NOFA Information Center will ask for your organization name and address, contact name, email, and telephone number, including area code.
Notification of intent to apply is not a requirement for application. If you are an eligible applicant, you may still apply – notification merely helps HUD determine staffing requirements for review and evaluation of applicants. Click here to learn more.
HUD, DOT Joint Evaluation of Planning Grants – Comments by May 7–top
Continuing the Administration’s interest in breaking down the silos separating various federal departments, the Department of Transportation and HUD are proposing a multi-agency evaluation and award process for a new DOT planning grants program. To that end, the agencies are requesting comments regarding whether a joint solicitation for HUD and DOT planning grant programs is feasible, given differences in eligible applicants and activities.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) issued an interim notice of funding availability and requests for comments regarding its newly established TIGER II program. TIGER II makes available, on a competitive basis, $600 million for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure that can include a broad array of projects, such as highways, bridges, public transportation, passenger and freight rail, and ports. Of the funding, $35 million is designated for planning grants.
At the same time, HUD has available $40 million for new planning grants. The Community Challenge Planning Grants, a component of HUD’s $150 million Sustainable Communities Initiative, are designed to foster reform and reduce barriers to achieve affordable, economically sustainable communities (see Memo, 2/12).
Although HUD has not yet issued a Notice of Fund Availability regarding the Community Challenge Planning Grants program, FY10 budget material and the DOT notice state that eligible activities include local development of master plans and zoning and building code reform initiatives that might include corridor and district plans and inclusionary zoning ordinances. Other potential uses include strategies such as land acquisition designed to create walkable, mixed-use, transit-oriented, and affordable communities. Eligible planning activities under TIGER II relate to specific individual transportation projects, corridors, or regional transportation systems or networks.
Eligible applicants under HUD’s Community Challenge Planning Grants program would be broader than TIGER II, including nonprofits.
HUD and DOT specifically request comments regarding whether the differences in eligible uses and applicants should be maintained, and if so how a joint selection process might be managed. The agencies also seek comments regarding the evaluation method that should be used for a combined planning grant process in terms of selection criteria and goals.
Comments are due May 7. The April 26 notice is at: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-9591.pdf
Senate Committee Passes Budget Resolution–top
The Senate Committee on the Budget held a markup of its FY11 budget resolution on April 21 and 22. The resolution passed by a vote of 12-10 and now goes to the full Senate.
A budget resolution sets an overall spending framework for Congress to follow, and approving a resolution is the first step in the FY11 appropriations process. In most years, both the House and Senate pass resolutions and agree to an overall spending limit. Then, appropriators begin crafting the detailed departmental spending priorities within the budget framework.
Committee Chairman Kent Conrad’s (D-ND) budget resolution would freeze domestic non-security discretionary spending for three years, just as the President’s proposed FY11 budget would do (see Memo, 2/5). The Senate resolution would provide $4 billion less in security funding than the President’s budget.
In the summary of his budget mark, Chairman Conrad indicated that he “supports the Administration’s plans to preserve and increase the supply of affordable housing.” The budget resolution offers a statement of priorities that calls for fully funding both tenant-based and project-based Section 8 at the President’s requested levels.
In contrast to the President’s budget, which proposes deep cuts to the Section 202 housing for the elderly and Section 811 housing for people with disabilities programs, the Committee calls for increasing funding for these programs. In addition, the Senate resolution would provide funding to the Native American Housing Block Grant above the level requested by the President’s budget.
The resolution also includes language that would create a reserve fund for the National Housing Trust Fund and other housing investments, similar to the language included in last year’s budget resolution.
Congress has a statutory deadline of April 15 by which to pass a concurrent budget resolution. If resolutions are not passed by that date, the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations are free to start the appropriations process and craft a budget based upon the prior year’s resolution. However, because out-year figures will not reflect current funding concerns, the Appropriations Committees may choose to wait past the April 15 deadline for the Budget Committees to complete their work and for Congress to pass a FY11 budget resolution. The House Committee on the Budget has not yet announced plans to move forward with a budget resolution.
In other budget news, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies has begun the process of holding hearings on the FY11 budget proposal. On April 21, the Subcommittee held a hearing on the FY11 budget and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The President’s budget and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates for the FY11 proposal differ by nearly $4 billion on the amount of funding that will be generated by FHA receipts. In his opening statement at the hearing, Chairman John Olver (D-MA) asked the sole witness, FHA Commissioner David Stevens, to address this discrepancy. Commissioner Stevens testified that FHA “remain[s] confident that the $5.8 billion in receipts forecast in the President’s budget will be realized,” indicating that policy changes at FHA not fully taken into account in CBO’s estimates will produce the $4 billion in savings.
View materials related to the Senate budget resolution, including the summary of the Chairman’s mark and the Chairman’s statement on the budget resolution, at: http://budget.senate.gov/democratic/
View Commissioner Stevens’s testimony at: http://appropriations.house.gov/Witness_testimony/TH/David_Stevens.4.21.10.pdf
Preservation Hearing – Waters Decrees No Privatization On Her Watch –top
The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity held a hearing, “Legislative Proposals to Preserve Public Housing,” on April 28. The hearing focused on two bills, the Public Housing One-for-One Replacement and Tenant Protection Act of 2010 and the Public Housing Preservation and Rehabilitation Act of 2010, which are expected to be introduced shortly by Subcommittee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA). NLIHC board member Leonard Williams testified on behalf of NLIHC.
The bills would each address the loss of public housing units resulting from demolition and disposition, as well as the mandatory and voluntary conversion to tenant-based vouchers. The bills also address the significant tenant displacement that results from those activities (see Memo, 4/23).
Chairwoman Waters opened the hearing by discussing the value of public housing both for extremely low income households and for neighborhoods. She expressed deep concern over the loss of more than 200,000 public housing units since 1995, as well as the decisions of several housing authorities to convert their public housing stock into tenant based vouchers. “Public housing,” said Chairwoman Waters, “is more effective than vouchers at serving low income households.”
Sandra Henriquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing, testified on the importance of public housing for extremely low income households. “The demand for safe, affordable housing far exceeds the supply of housing,” Ms. Henriquez said.
The Administration, Ms. Henriquez said, supports the bills and particularly agrees with the option for off-site development and the ability to fund units with project based assistance. She also said that one-for-one replacement should be the default for any redevelopment, and that this priority is reflected in HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) and Transforming Rental Assistance (TRA) proposals. She said HUD’s CNI and TRA proposals will make comprehensive plans for public housing preservation for years to come.
itnesses from groups representing public housing authorities and those representing public housing tenants provided perspectives on the bills that conflicted in some key ways.
Leonard Williams, a Resident Commissioner of the Buffalo, NY, Housing Authority and an NLIHC board member, spoke to the importance of one-for-one replacement of units, as did several other panelists representing extremely low income residents of public housing. Mr. Williams stressed that without one-for-one replacement, the already insufficient housing stock for extremely low income households will decrease.
Nationally, Mr. Williams noted, for every 100 households with extremely low incomes there are just 37 rental units affordable and available to them. It is “unconscionable that a public housing authority could think of contributing to that shortage of units,” Mr. Williams said, adding that these bills would help address this issue.
While NLIHC supports significantly increasing the voucher program, any expansion should not be done to make up for the “hemorrhaging of hard units” that already serve extremely low income households, he said.
Mr. Williams also expressed NLIHC’s support for requiring one-third of replacement units to be onsite. He stressed that the number of units should be increased, if needed, to equal the number of displaced residents who want to return to the original location. He also spoke in favor of the strengthened relocation policies in the Waters bill and stressed that NLIHC favors a move-once policy. Such a policy would reduce the disruption of tenants who need to temporarily relocate during the process of renovating a development, by requiring that all relocation units are ready when tenants must move.
The reforms in Chairwoman Waters’s bill described by Mr. Williams are ones that NLIHC, along with the National Housing Law Project’s Housing Justice Network and the National Training and Information Center, have jointly called for since 2008.
Testifying on behalf of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, Keith Kinard spoke against the one–for-one replacement requirement of Chairwoman Waters’s bill. This requirement, said Mr. Kinard, “makes it too hard to redevelop units,” citing the lack of sufficient funds to replace units. Chairwoman Waters questioned this statement, pointing out that his concern should be about funding, not about one-for-one replacement.
Deirdre Oakley from Georgia State University testified on her research that she says demonstrates the importance of public housing and the importance of one-for-one replacement of units. In a survey of public housing residents in Atlanta, Ms. Oakley said that 58% of tenants had entered public housing because it was their only option and another 36% entered because of hardships they were experiencing in their lives. Eighteen percent of families and 22% of seniors also said that public housing was an improvement over their previous living situation.
David Rammler of the National Housing Law Project’s Housing Justice Network also spoke in favor of the bills, but asked that additional language be included in the bill to increase the tenant protections the Waters bill would establish. Mr. Rammler called for increasing the portion of housing available on the original site beyond one-third, eliminating the requirement that housing be rebuilt within the jurisdiction, offering various types of housing counseling to help tenants relocate and maintain tenancies, and including areas of poverty as targeted rebuilding sites.
Several Members spoke passionately about the needs of poor households and the responsibility of Congress and the Administration to serve households without wealth and power.
Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) spoke emphatically about the relatively small amount of funding needed to serve extremely low income households compared to the amount of funding allocated to national defense. Mr. Ellison cited statements of military officials who believe that there are unnecessary expenditures included in the defense budget, suggesting that the government could instead “spend some of that to house America’s poor.”
Representative Al Green (D-TX) pointed out that “poor people don’t have many people walking the halls of Congress for them” and said the challenges these families face should be of paramount concern when discussing any elimination of public housing. He voiced concerns over the use of vouchers as replacement housing instead of focusing on existing units.
Chairwoman Waters closed the hearing by responding to a series of questions about proposals to privatize public housing. She said that there are too many people who would like to get rid of public housing because they say it is too much trouble. If people think operating affordable housing is too much trouble, they are “in the wrong business,” she said. “The fact is, public housing is not going to be privatized on my watch.”
View witnesses’ testimony at: http://www.house.gov/apps/list/hearing/financialsvcs_dem/hrhousing_042310.shtml
FHA Reform Legislation Passes Committee – Respect Mah Authoritay! –top
The Committee on Financial Services on April 27 reported out H.R. 5072, the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) Reform Act of 2010. As adopted by the committee, H.R. 5072 would provide the HUD Secretary with the authority to increase annual FHA insurance premiums, require lenders to indemnify the FHA for mortgages not made in accordance with FHA standards, and remove from the program any lender who consistently makes loans that default early in their mortgage term. The bill would also create a new position at FHA, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Risk Management and Regulatory Affairs, and provide for a review of FHA downpayment requirements, among other priorities.
This legislation was developed as part of the Obama Administration’s effort to reform FHA. With the downturn of the housing markets, FHA, like other insurers and lenders, has experienced greater losses than expected, causing FHA’s capital reserve to fall below its statutorily required levels. A financially strong FHA is important to the HUD budget as well as to homebuyers. The Obama Administration has estimated that the proposed FHA reforms will result in net receipts of $5.8 billion for the HUD budget. In an April 21 hearing before the Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations, FHA Commissioner David Stevens described the FHA reform proposals and discussed the role FHA plays in the HUD budget (see Memo, 4/23). He noted that the Congressional Budget Office has determined the proposed changes will result in net receipts of only $1.9 billion, but he expressed confidence that the $5.8 billion in receipts estimated by the Administration will be realized and available for the HUD budget.
For information on the mark up of H.R. 5072 go to: http://www.house.gov/apps/list/speech/financialsvcs_dem/mrkup_04222010.shtml
For a copy of Commissioner Stevens’s testimony go to: http://www.house.gov/apps/list/speech/financialsvcs_dem/mrkup_04222010.shtml
New Allocation Estimates for National Housing Trust Fund from HUD–top
The Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) at HUD has new estimates of the allocations that each state and insular area will be awarded once the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) is funded at $1 billion. These estimates come from an update to the regulatory impact analysis that was first posted in December 2009.
This update was completed in order to incorporate more recent data and to make some corrections to the procedures that were used in the original analysis. The original estimates were based on a special tabulation of 2000 census data known as the Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) data, but the CHAS data were recently updated; they are now based on American Community Survey data from 2005 through 2007 (See Memo, 12/18/09 for more on CHAS data).
Advocates should be aware that these allocations are still estimates; final numbers will likely be released once the money is appropriated to the NHTF. However, the use of more current data and the corrections made by PD&R in this analysis should provide a much closer estimate to what the final allocations will actually be. The updated analysis, including the new state allocation estimates, is available at: http://www.huduser.org/portal/periodicals/cityscpe/vol12num1/ch7.html.
Definitions of Foreclosed and Abandoned Expanded for NSP–top
In an effort to increase use of Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds, HUD posted two notices on its NSP-HELP web page on April 5 expanding the definitions of “foreclosed” and “abandoned.” One of these notices also implements a statutory amendment allowing a state that received the minimum NSP allocation of $19.6 million to use NSP in areas not originally identified as those with greatest need, if funds remain after addressing foreclosures in previously targeted areas.
Recent reports indicate that jurisdictions that received NSP dollars through the formula allocation have been slow to use their funds. All funds must be obligated by September 1; HUD will rescind unused dollars after that date.
The original NSP definition of “abandoned” required a property to be vacant for at least 90 days. According to the notice, this requirement prevented jurisdictions from using NSP funds to address a property that was still occupied by tenants even though it had been abandoned by the owner. The new definition considers a home or residential property abandoned if either:
- A mortgage or tax payment is at least 90 days delinquent;
- A code enforcement inspection has determined that a property is not habitable and the owner has taken no corrective actions within 90 days notice; or
- The property is subject to a court-ordered receivership or nuisance abatement related to abandonment according to state or local law, or otherwise meets a state definition of an abandoned home or residential property.
On foreclosures, HUD states that the original definition of “foreclosed” limited jurisdictions’ ability to intervene when a lender initiated a foreclosure but did not complete it, or when a default was allowed to linger. HUD also observed that many lenders were transferring their properties to aggregators or servicers, and that in some of these cases the original HUD policy did not consider the properties to still be “foreclosed” because the title was transferred to the aggregator or servicer.
The new definition considers a home or residential property “foreclosed” if any of these conditions apply:
- The mortgage payment is at least 60 days delinquent, and the owner has been notified;
- The owner is at least 90 days behind on tax payments;
- Foreclosure proceedings have been initiated or completed under state or local law; or,
- Foreclosure proceedings have been completed and title has been transferred to an intermediary aggregator or servicer that is not the NSP grantee, contractor, subrecipient, developer, or end user.
A third change covered in one of the notices implements a May 20 statutory amendment made by Section 105 of the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 (HFSHA). That amendment pertains to the 18 states and Puerto Rico that received the minimum $19.6 million NSP allocation.
The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) required HUD to use a distribution formula that limited allocations to states and local governments with the greatest need, allowing HUD the discretion to base need on the percentage of foreclosures, defaults, or delinquencies, as well as the percentage of homes financed by a subprime mortgage. Grantees had to indicate in their Action Plans which geographic areas had the greatest need and limit use of NSP to those areas.
HFSHA allows states with a minimum NSP allocation to expand the use of NSP to geographic areas where homeowners are at risk of foreclosure or are in foreclosure, without regard to the percentage of foreclosures in those areas, as long as funds remain after meeting all of the needs in areas the original Action Plan indicated had the greatest need. A substantial amendment to the locality’s ConPlan is required.
According to a HUD media release, these changes are effective immediately.
The notices are on the NSP HELP web site, http://www.hudnsphelp.info, and were published in the Federal Register on April 9 at: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-8131.pdf.
HUD Announcements – ConPlans, Furthering Fair Housing, Section 3 –top
In sessions at NLIHC’s conference, senior HUD staff addressed several issues relating to the community planning processes and fair housing and equal opportunity.
Mercedes Márquez, Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development (CPD), said that it is HUD’s intent to refashion the Consolidated Plan (ConPlan) so that it includes all aspects of housing and community development. Specifically, she said HUD is considering fully integrating the Public Housing Agency Plan (PHA Plan) and Continuum of Care Plan (CoC Plan) with the ConPlan, while also embedding fair housing s across the board.
HUD wants the ConPlan to be needs-based, and will be asking stakeholders what needs ought to be included. In order to make statements of need more meaningful, HUD will expect jurisdictions to back needs assertions with data, much of which will be supplied by HUD’s Office of Planning, Development, and Research (PD&R). HUD will also ask that the ConPlan indicate how much money from specific sources will realistically be available to address those identified needs.
Assistant Secretary Márquez also acknowledged that in the past there has seldom been real community participation in the development of ConPlans. Therefore, HUD intends to require more rigorous public participation in the future.
Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.
John Trasviña, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO), acknowledged that HUD’s goal of issuing new regulations regarding affirmatively furthering fair housing choice (AFFH) is behind schedule. However, he said that this delay is due to HUD’s intent to better ensure that it succeeds in issuing regulations after a failed attempt to do so in the late 1990s. Because FHEO wants all of HUD’s programs to be steeped in AFFH, it is taking longer to prepare proposed regulations. FHEO also intends to update its 1996 Policy Guide, which provides communities with guidance on complying with AFFH.
Assistant Secretary Trasviña said there will be strong public participation requirements regarding the development of a jurisdiction’s analysis of impediments to fair housing choice (AI), and said that HUD will carefully monitor public participation. Specifically, HUD intends to enhance public participation by requiring AIs to be available on jurisdictions’ websites, and HUD plans eventually to post all AIs on its website.
Early in the new Administration, FHEO announced that it would aggressively promote jurisdictions’ Section 3 obligations to train and hire, to the greatest extent feasible, low income people from public housing and/or from the metro area benefiting from HUD funds that are used for construction activities. Assistant Secretary Trasviña reported that only 200 jurisdictions were submitting Section 3 performance reports when the new Administration began; now 3,000 (75%) are. The next steps are to assess what the reports say, and to work with the Department of Labor to better ensure that people have the training to take jobs available as a result of Section 3.
Merkley, Frank Describe Housing Agenda at NLIHC Conference –top
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), a member of Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, joined National Low Income Housing Coaltion (NLIHC) conference attendees at Tuesday morning’s Congressional Breakfast to speak about the housing agenda in the House and Senate. In their remarks, both Chairman Frank and Senator Merkley were optimistic about the prospects for affordable housing legislation, including funding for the National Housing Trust Fund.
Speaking on HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (see Memo, 3/19), Chairman Frank said he will insist that provisions for one-for-one replacement be included in the bill. And, he said, preservation legislation he has introduced (see Memo, 3/19) will prevent the displacement of low income tenants and ensure that their units will be preserved.
Chairman Frank said he is hopeful that Section 8 housing reform legislation (SEVRA; see Memo, 1/15) will pass, despite attempts by opponents to use immigration as a wedge issue to block SEVRA and other progressive policy proposals. Senator Merkley joined Frank’s optimism about the prospects for the SEVRA. He also wants to double the number of vouchers over the next decade.
The financial crisis has been especially hard on low income families, Senator Merkley said, pointing to predatory lending practices, subprime loans, and pre-payment penalties on credit cards as root causes of the recession. “When families are stressed over housing, they can’t provide a strong foundation for families and relationships,” he said. Senator Merkley endorsed the pre-payment penalty ban contained in the financial reform legislation authored by Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT), and said he strongly favors a federal consumer protection agency to monitor potential abuses in the future.
Comment on Reform of the Housing Finance System by July 21–top
From Tom Cusack, Oregon Housing Blog, 22 Apr
It took a while for this to get to the Federal Register but the Administration has opened the window for public comments on the reform of the housing finance system.
The Federal Register notice is HERE. Comments are due NLT July 21, 2010; the submit comment page for this item on the Regulations.gov website is HERE. (Note that you can see comments from others as they are made from this website, go to the view docket folder link HERE to see comments as they are posted. ).
PS: I will take the over on an over/under bet of 250 comments by the July deadline.
HUD Considers Introduction of Zip-Code Level Fair Market Rents –top
Under reforms being considered at HUD, Fair Market Rents (FMRs) may, beginning in 2012, be changed so that they are set at the Zip Code level in metropolitan areas, and updated annually using data from the American Community Survey. Public housing agencies may have the opportunity to pilot the new policy in 2011.
FMRs are the rent limits used in the Housing Choice Voucher program. One of the most frequent criticisms of the program is that the FMRs in urban and suburban areas are set for broad metropolitan areas. Under the current system, FMRs typically fall just below the middle of the combined rent distribution for a very large number of different local markets. As a result, many higher-rent communities are all but off limits for voucher holders. This restricts the ability of the program to deconcentrate poverty and limits the opportunity of residents to move closer employment, transit, and other amenities, except where PHAs have made the effort to establish HUD-approved exception payment standard areas. Moreover, there is a significant potential for the program to pay too much in lower rent communities. Not only does this require an unwieldy “rent reasonableness” regime to control rents, but there are concerns that this policy is inflating rents for unsubsidized tenants in some communities.
In an interim rule (65 FR 58870) that was published in 2000, HUD sought to increase the opportunities in metropolitan areas where voucher holders were concentrated in a few high poverty areas by increasing the FMR for the entire area. This policy has not been ideal, however, and has only increased the potential to over-subsidize in high poverty markets. HUD is now seeking to replace this rule with a more targeted policy.
The likely reforms were described by Kurt Usowski, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs in the Office of Policy Development & Research at HUD, at NLIHC’s annual policy conference. Mr. Usowski said the department intends to use the small area data in the 2000 Census to establish “rent ratios” between the current metropolitan area FMRs and the rent levels in local areas within metropolitan areas. (HUD intends to eventually use the small area data from the American Community Survey, sometime after the data are released in 2010.) By multiplying these ratios by the metropolitan area FMRs, arrived at using current methods, small area FMRs can be generated. The approach also means HUD will continue to generate FMRs for entire metro areas, which are currently used in many programs beyond the Housing Choice Voucher program.
HUD will continue to use state minimums and to generate county-based FMRs in rural areas. HUD plans to target the new FMRs by Zip Codes because of their broad familiarity to program users and landlords and because Zip Codes generally contain sufficient numbers of renter households to generate valid ratios.
The proposed reform bears significant similarities to reforms NLIHC proposed in response to HUD’s call for comments in its release of the proposed FY10 FMRs (see Memo, 7/31/09). Mr. Usowski said that if the reform moves forward it would be described in a notice released “ASAP.” FY10-equivalent hypothetical small area FMRs would be posted on Huduser.org when the notice announcing the demonstration is published. The hypothetical small area FMRs would be updated to FY11 equivalents when the proposed FY11 FMRs are published this summer. HUD would then publish a Federal Register notice requesting demonstration program applicants after considering comments received in response to the demonstration program announcement notice.
Communities could voluntarily pilot the program as early as FY11. If the demonstration proved successful, the reforms would be phased in more generally in subsequent years.
What Research Should HUD Fund in FY11 and Beyond? –top
The Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) at HUD is seeking suggestions for research to be funded in FY11 or in the coming years.
A new page on Huduser.org, the website that PD&R uses to distribute its research, provides links to current research and to HUD’s strategic plan, which lays out the department’s goals that PD&R’s research is intended to serve. HUD then asks for public suggestions in one or more of 12 ‘primary categories’ of research: fair housing, housing finance, HUD effectiveness, project-based assistance, sustainable communities, tenant-based assistance, homelessness, housing tenure, international, special needs, technology, and urban vitality. There is also a category for general comments.
There is currently no deadline for comments. The website can be found at: http://www.huduser.org/portal/research/research_agenda_2011.html#ra
Funding and Award Opportunities
Gresham Expands Come Home to Gresham Loan–top
HUD has officially approved the City of Gresham’s request to expand the target areas for the NSP program. Attached is the updated map for the $25,000 interest free Come Home to Gresham loan. If it’s foreclosed and in the green highlight area, the home should qualify for the program. There is still money available in the program and I encourage you to share this information in the community. All other details about the program can be found at http://cvision.org/connect-to-services/buy-a-home/
Doris Duke RFP Issued for Energy Efficiency Programs – May 24–top
The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to promote innovative, scalable strategies for energy efficiency retrofit programs or policies for the existing building stock in the U.S. Proposals may be targeted to any particular barrier or segment of the buildings market (e.g., office, commercial, institutional, retail, residential, single-family, or multi-family). Funding priorities include: sustainable business models for implementing energy efficiency retrofits; innovative financing models to ease upfront costs of making efficiency improvements; programs to drive deep energy efficiency retrofits in existing buildings; and mechanisms to increase the effectiveness of and property owner participation in state, local, utility-sponsored, or privately-sponsored energy efficiency programs. Grants ranging from $100,000 to $350,000 will be provided. Online pre-proposals must be submitted by May 24, 2010. Visit the Foundation’s website to download the RFP.
2010 MetLife Awards for Excellence in Affordable Housing – May 26–top
The best in green and service-enriched senior housing
In partnership with the MetLife Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. offers the MetLife Foundation Awards for Excellence in Affordable Housing. For 15 years, the awards have recognized organizations that demonstrate leadership, innovation, effectiveness and quality operations and services delivery in affordable housing.
- Award: Four $50,000 unrestricted grants
- Eligibility: 501(c)(3) nonprofits, tribes or tribally
designated housing entities
- Application deadline: May 26, 2010
- Find out more and apply online.
Oregon Capacity Building Funding Availability – June 1–top
Capacity building activity grants are funded through Oregon’s General Housing Account Program (“Document Recording Fee”), created by the 2009 Legislature to expand the State’s supply of housing for low and very low-income families and individuals. Funding was allocated to several different activities. This announcement is for capacity building activity grants only.
Oregon housing authorities and non-profits with the objective of affordable housing in by-laws or articles of incorporation – and a record of providing affordable housing.
Application period opens April 15
Application period closes June 1
Target date for award June 30
Funding maximum $50,000 per application
Available funds $300,000 (additional round of funding next FY)
Application Process Competitive
Activities which build capacity for asset management for a portfolio of affordable housing not performing up to expectations. This applies to existing portfolios and/or portfolios being considered for acquisition.
Other evaluation factors:
- Potential to preserve existing affordable housing.
- Potential to preserve existing project based rental assistance.
- Clarity of relationship between proposal and potential results.
- Need for activity relative to portfolio and/or pipeline.
- Unmet needs as defined by the Department.
- Need for ongoing Department funding.
- Plan to retain benefits if personnel or organization changes.
- Potential for results of activity to be replicated.
- How the need for the activity was determined.
- Specificity of goals, objectives, performance measures & timeline.
- Other factors deemed relevant by the Department.
Application materials http://www.ohcs.oregon.gov/OHCS/MFH_Capacity_Building.shtml
For more information, contact:
Loren Shultz, Program Advisor, OHCS
725 Summer St. NE, Ste. B, Salem, OR 97301-1266
503.986.2008; via email
Bank of America Neighborhood Builder and Local Hero Awards – June 1 –top
Bank of America Foundation Neighborhood Excellence Initiative works with community-based organizations, local heroes and student leaders to address critical neighborhood needs. The initiative has two award categories.
Neighborhood Builder awards: $200,000 in unrestricted grants will be awarded to two organizations in each of 44 cities nationwide. Neighborhood Builder awards carry with them national leadership programs for the Executive Director and an emerging leader from the organization.
Local Hero awards: $5,000 will be directed to an organization of their choice. Five winners will be selected in each of 44 cities nationwide. For both programs, online applications are due June 1, 2010.
Assets for Independence IDA Grants – June 25–top
The Assets for Independence (AFI) program invites all non-profit organizations, qualified state and local governments, community development credit unions, and other community-based organizations to apply for AFI grants by the next deadline Friday, June 25, 2010.
This date is the last day to submit any applications for the Office of Community Services’ (OCS) AFI Program in 2010. The next application deadline is January 15, 2011. The AFI program provides funding to eligible organizations to supply Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) for qualified individuals in their area. Each participant sets up an individual savings account that receives matched funding from the federal government and another source. The funds can be used for furthering education, purchasing a home, or starting a business. To date, over 62, 000 families have participated in AFI projects which have offered money management training, assistance resolving credit and debit issues and the opportunity to use AFI-funded IDAs to purchase assets and achieve long-term economic success!
For technical assistance and additional support, the AFI Resource Center is available to provide information about the application process. Participate in one of AFI Resource Center’s interactive webinars or conference calls which will:
- Present an overview of the AFI program and application process
- Provide suggestions to developing strong projects
- Highlight strategies for building partnerships with community organizations for bigger impact
- Allow the opportunity to listen to current grantees talk about their existing projects and application process
Lodestar Foundation Awards Long-term Community Collaborations–top
From their website:
We are among the very few foundations that focus on process rather than on specific fields of interest. A central feature of our focus on process is encouraging nonprofits to utilize efficient business practices in their operations.
We are interested in building the overall capacity of the nonprofit sector by strengthening organizations that encourage philanthropy, volunteerism and public service in the community. We support nonprofits that have as a primary mission the desire to (a) grow philanthropy, (b) promote and train volunteers, and (c) support, encourage or train citizen engagement in public-service activities.
On the collaboration front, while we applaud all forms of collaborative and cooperative activities by nonprofits, we have chosen a very specific niche in which to fund – we fund only efforts that are intended to lead to long-term collaborative activities of nonprofits working in the same area, that is, nonprofits that otherwise might be considered competitors. Within this niche, we have funded a wide variety of projects, ranging from innovative joint-use facilities to cooperative ventures to new organizational structures such as coalitions and mergers.
Once we have determined that a prospective grantee fits within the scope of our mission, we fund organizational capacity-building activities as well as specific projects and programs; we will support capital projects only if they directly advance our mission. Many of our grants are multiyear commitments.
Our grants are designed to leverage Lodestar’s assets to the fullest extent possible. Not only do we try to maximize strategic impact by focusing on projects that support systemic changes in the way nonprofits conduct business, we generally leverage our funds by establishing challenge and matching fund requirements which often are applicable to our grantees and their boards as well as third parties.
Along with our financial support, we provide substantial technical assistance to our grantees through our own staff and through outside consultants. We work with prospective grantees, often over extended time periods and in incremental funding steps, to help them achieve their goals.
We encourage you to review descriptions of our most representative grants by type:
Or, you can explore a complete list of Lodestar Foundation grantees.
Contact Info: The Lodestar Foundation 4455 East Camelback Road Suite 215 Phoenix AZ 85018 Phone: 602.956.2699 Fax: 602.840.1543. Or click here.
Lowes Improves Community Facilities and Gardens, Playgrounds–top
The Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation supports community improvement initiatives, particularly in communities where Lowe’s employees live. Community improvement projects include: park and neighborhood beautification, repair and enhancement of facilities serving the community, community clean-up initiatives, outdoor learning environments, and community garden, park or playground projects.
Oregon League of Minority Voters 2010 Liberty and Hope Awards Dinner – May 12–top
The Oregon League of Minority Voters (OLMV) is having their 2010 Liberty and Hope Awards Dinner on May 12, 2010 at the Memorial Coliseum, thanks to the generosity of the Blazers Organization. Especially with so much attention being paid to minority homeownership within the housing and CDC community, this event could be a great fit with the Oregon ON community.
This year, they are honoring former Senator Gordon Smith and the GM of TriMet, Fred Hansen for their outstanding commitment to social justice and for promoting self-determination in people of color.
Your support will:
· Assist in continuing OLMV’s current two-year statewide poverty campaign, Unite Oregon 2020. Launched last October, Unite Oregon 2020 aims at bringing Oregonians together across from all boundaries to confront the challenges of our state system’s inequities, which continue to exclude a sizable segment of Oregonians from opportunity.
· Help increase student involvement and participation through OLMV’s Speech and Leadership Debate Team program in Reynolds High School and expand into Woodburn and Hillsboro high schools.
· Contribute the resources necessary to support OLMV’s efforts to establish a Regional Equity Commission to help bring together voices from all regional entities to reconcile issues of development, sustainable planning, and equity.
Training and Conferences
Willamette Valley Development Officers’ Annual Conference – May 20-21–top
May 20-21, 2010, Willamette Valley Development Officers will host their 3rd Regional Conference May 20th & 21st 2010 at the Lloyd Center Doubletree in Portland Oregon. The Crystal Awards will be a central feature in the 2010 conference with special sessions and displays of materials from Crystal Award winners. Non-profit professionals attending the conference will explore emerging trends in fund development, learn through “best practices” and peer learning, and network with other professionals from around the region. Click here to learn more and to register.
Online Training on Successful Approaches to Greening NSP Rehab – May 27–top
Thursday, May 27, 2010, 2:00 – 3:30 PM (Eastern)
Sponsored by E*Trade Financial and presented by Enterprise’s Foreclosure Response Initiative, this event is the first in a 4-part series focusing on comprehensive neighborhood stabilization. The first event explores two programs that are using the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) as an opportunity to incorporate a comprehensive green strategy into rehabilitation of acquired foreclosed homes, and describes how other local programs can implement similar green strategies into their acquisition/rehabilitation programs.
Community Land Trust Homeowners Have Lower Foreclosure Rates –top
Defying national trends, community land trust homeowners continue to succeed based on a model of long-term affordability and post-purchase stewardship
Homeowners in community land trusts (CLTs) across the nation continue to have substantially lower delinquency and foreclosure rates than owners of market-rate homes, according to survey results released on April 26 by an independent researcher at Vanderbilt University working in partnership with the National Community Land Trust Network.
“Across the country, homeowners are losing their homes and jobs due to the economy and foreclosure crisis. CLTs emphasize stewardship to prevent our owners from becoming another sad statistic,” said Devika Goetschius, executive director of the Housing Land Trust of Sonoma County in California. “We educate them before they buy, we help them make good decisions while owning, and we intervene if they hit hard times.”
As a case in point, Goetschius explained the experience of an employed single mother with two children whose ex-husband lost his job so he could no longer pay child support, “Like all our owners, we had a trusting and supportive relationship with her, which we developed from the first day of homebuyer education and reinforced up until her financial situation created a crisis. So she called us immediately, and we acted immediately. We used our expertise to navigate the complex process of identifying state financing programs and refinancing options. We worked with her to write a letter of hardship and completed the paperwork on her behalf. She is now in a 30-year traditional mortgage that is affordable to her new situation.”
Results from the survey found that conventional homeowners were 8 times more likely to be in the process of foreclosure than CLT homeowners at the end of the 4th quarter of 2009. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) survey of market-rate mortgages, 4.6% were in the process of foreclosure, compared to only 0.6% of CLT mortgages. This represents a widening of the gap as compared to 2008, when market-rate homeowners were 6 times more likely to be in the process of foreclosure as compared to their CLT counterparts.
When the percentages of “seriously delinquent” mortgages for the end of 2009 were calculated (which includes delinquencies of 90 days or more and those in the foreclosure process), MBA percentages ranged from 5.4% to 30.6% (depending on loan types) compared to only 1.6% in CLTs. While market-rate delinquencies increased 1.3% to 7.5% from 2008, CLT percentages actually declined in that same period by 0.4%.
Community land trusts offer low-to-moderate income households the opportunity to buy homes at prices substantially below market rates, utilizing a combination of public and private subsidies. CLTs provide pre-purchase education and support that prepare families for homeownership, and after purchase, CLTs provide ongoing stewardship services to backstop homeowners for as long as they own their homes. In exchange, homeowners agree to limit the appreciation they receive when they sell their home to keep it affordable to future generations of homebuyers.
“What this shows is that CLTs are clearly outperforming the market. Unlike foreclosure trends in the market, which hit all time highs during 2009, CLTs keep finding ways to safeguard their homeowners from foreclosure,” said Roger Lewis, Executive Director of the National CLT Network.
The survey results were based on 2,173 mortgage holders in 42 CLTs across 22 states. The study also found that CLTs helped to prevent foreclosure for 51% of mortgages that were seriously delinquent during 2009. Lewis remarked, “Interventions that have been rolled out by the feds or used by the private-market haven’t come close to helping this percentage of homeowners in trouble.”
The survey found that, for homeowners in trouble, 57% of CLTs were providing financial counseling, and 72% were facilitating loan modifications with lenders. Over and above these activities, which are components of government-funded foreclosure prevention programs, approximately 50% of CLTs reported that they also try to rectify overdue mortgage payments to help owners keep their homes. And for those who are simply not able to hold onto their homes, CLTs facilitate short sales to prevent the adverse consequences of foreclosure.
Despite the success of CLTs in preventing foreclosure, only one-third of CLTs received outside funding in 2009 to cover the cost of providing foreclosure prevention services. “It is quite clear that foreclosure prevention is many times more cost-effective than allowing homes to go through foreclosure. When you find positive results like this, it makes you question why more isn’t done to support it,” said Emily Thaden, the researcher from Vanderbilt University.
Thaden continued, “There’s a chance to turn crisis into opportunity by supporting CLTs to acquire foreclosed properties and steward homeowners. Foreclosures hurt neighborhoods by contributing to increased crime rates and declining housing values. CLTs could be stabilizing forces in these neighborhoods.”
ABOUT THE 2009 CLT DELINQUENCY AND FORCLOSURE SURVEY
The National CLT Network, in partnership with a researcher from Vanderbilt University, surveyed 229 CLTs in 32 states during March 2010.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL CLT NETWORK
The National CLT Network is the umbrella organization for community land trusts in the U.S., with over 100 member organizations. The National CLT Network provides training, advocacy and resources for its member organizations, which nurture and sustain healthy and economically diverse communities by providing permanently affordable access to land, homes, and related resources. For information, visit www.cltnetwork.org.
Understanding First-Time Homelessness–top
HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research has released three important studies on homelessness in the United States: examining the cost of first-time homelessness, life after transitional housing for homeless families, and strategies for improving access to mainstream benefits and services. Taken together, the findings of these studies have significant policy implications as HUD seeks to understand the most effective and efficient ways of addressing homelessness among individuals and families.
HUD’s cost study is the most comprehensive research on the price tag associated with first-time homelessness and creates a foundation for comparing the costs of various homeless interventions. Costs Associated with First-Time Homelessness for Families and Individuals examines how much it costs to house and serve nearly 9,000 individuals and families in six areas of the country — Des Moines, Iowa; Houston, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida; Washington, DC; Houston, Texas; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and a large area of upstate South Carolina. Two additional studies have also been released: Strategies for Improving People’s Access to Mainstream Benefits and Services and Life after Transitional Housing for Homeless Families.
The first study documents how seven different communities (Albany/Albany Co., NY; Albuquerque, NM; Metropolitan Denver; Miami-Dade Co., FL; Norfolk, VA; Portland, ME; and Pittsburgh/Allegheny Co., PA) mobilized to improve homeless people’s access to mainstream benefits and services. The second study followed 195 families in transitional housing programs across five communities (Cleveland/Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Houston and Harris and Benton Counties, Texas; San Diego City and County, California; and Seattle/King County, Washington) for 3, 6, and 12 months after leaving the program in an effort to document the impacts of participation in a transitional housing program. The study looks at housing status, employment and education outcomes associated with the service-intensive transitional housing programs for families with children.
Poll Finds More Cautious Attitudes Toward Owning–top
A public opinion poll commissioned by Fannie Mae and released on April 6 suggests that Americans remain positive about the experience of homeownership and its importance to them and the economy, but are perceptibly more cautious when choosing between renting and owning than they were six years ago.
Today more than 80% of Americans say that homeownership is good for the economy, and nearly 85% of the general population say that that it makes more financial sense to own than to rent. However, just 65% said they would own if they were to move today, and the proportion of renters who expect to buy in the next three years is down 5% from a similar poll conducted in 2003. Nearly 70% of renters think it is more difficult now to buy a home today than it was for their parents. Among the general population, the rate is 60%. In the 2003 poll, the corresponding percentages were 62% and 49%.
Despite the headlines about foreclosure, nearly 70% of the general population views purchasing a home as a safe investment, more so than putting money into an IRA or 401 K plan or buying government bonds, an insurance annuity, mutual funds or stocks. However, in the 2003 poll the purchase of a home was the investment most likely to be considered safe by 83% of the population. With a fall of 13 points since then, a home purchase is now second to a savings account, which 74% of the general population rated as safe.
Similarly, a significant shift has also occurred in the expectations for price appreciation. Despite a majority of respondents who feel homeownership is the better financial decision, in 2009 only 37% of the general population expects prices to increase over the next year, compared to 64% who felt that way in 2003. More tellingly, perhaps, in 2003 only 9% of the population expected prices to decline in the next year; in 2009 that number had risen to 23%.
Owners who expected prices to rise were more optimistic about their future financial situation. Just 16% of those expecting a rise in prices said their financial situation would worsen in the next year, compared to 36% of those who expect a decline.
Renters were the most likely to expect stability or improvement in their financial picture. Just 11% expected their family’s financial situation to get worse in the coming year. Fully 79% of renters say renting has been positive for them and their families.
Importantly, the poll finds the decision to buy is primarily related to stage of life and the quality of homeownership neighborhoods and buildings. Among those who have owned a home at any point in their lives, the top two reasons for purchasing a home are getting married (34%) and expanding family (30%). When asked about the reasons to buy a home, the vast majority (80%) of respondents agreed that it is a “good place to raise children and provide them with a good education.” Nearly the same proportion (79%) agreed that a major reason to buy a home is that it provides “a physical structure where you and your family feel safe.” Together these responses suggest the amenities of neighborhoods in which people might own their homes are as important as any inherent value in owning itself for many Americans.
The released poll data provides a wealth of information on attitudes and opinions on a wide range of subjects, including household financial management, the borrowing climate, confidence in lending information, mortgage satisfaction, underwater borrowers, and the act of walking away from a mortgage. The responses are generally split into renters, owners without mortgages, and mortgage holders, who are further split into delinquent and underwater borrowers.
One concern, at least with the publicly released data, is that very few of the graphics and tables include information on income or other economic variables. It is therefore very difficult to tell whether tenure and mortgage status alone play a significant role in respondents’ views and experiences of homeownership and the recession. Race data are more often presented, but only as a broad separate subgroup providing little additional information about the attitudes of owners and renters. Age variables, which are not included, would also be helpful in interpreting the data.
The poll was conducted from December 12, 2009, to January 12, 2010, and resulted in 3,451 telephone interviews. The margin of error for the overall general population is +/-1.77% and is larger for subgroups. The press release, fact sheet, and a presentation on the results can be found here: www.fanniemae.com/about/housing-survey.html
HUD Study Examines Costs Associated with First-Time Homelessness –top
A study released by HUD in March examines average costs per month for providing emergency shelter, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing for first-time homeless families and individuals in six study communities across the nation. In past studies, research mostly focused on costs associated with homelessness for individuals with chronic patterns of homelessness or severe mental illness.
For individuals experiencing homelessness for the first time, the overall costs are lowest for overnight emergency shelters. For families, however, emergency shelters are as or more expensive than transitional and permanent supportive housing. According to the study, these overall program costs for providing housing and services in an emergency shelter setting can vary widely, from $581 a month for an individual in Des Moines, IA, to as high as $3,530 for a family in Washington, DC.
The report suggests that transitional housing for individuals is more expensive than permanent supportive housing because services for transitional housing were usually offered directly by on-site staff, rather than through mainstream service systems. The study defines mainstream service systems as those that are not solely dedicated to serving people who are homeless, yet provide services that are needed and often used by them, including Medicaid, mental healthcare and substance abuse treatment services, and income supports.
The higher costs of emergency shelter for families stems from the fact that families are usually placed in private units or apartments. The study states that in almost all cases the program costs associated with providing housing for individuals and families exceeds the Fair Market Rent cost of providing rental assistance without supportive services.
Of the households studied, 50% to 65% of the first-time homeless single adults and 58% to 72% of families stayed in a homeless program only once during the 18-month period in which the study was conducted.
The report concludes that communities should explore cost-effective strategies to 1) prevent homelessness for the families facing first-time homelessness, including by using rapid rehousing interventions that address housing and income issues; 2) maximize mainstream systems already in place that service the needs of individuals and families struggling to stay housed; and 3) improve the way homeless assistance systems respond to individuals and families who are unable to remain stably housed and face repeated instances of homelessness.
The report, Costs Associated with First-Time Homelessness for Families and Individuals, is available at: http://www.huduser.org/portal/publications/povsoc/cost_homelessness.html
Tax Credits Are Efficient Job Creator–top
By Michael J. Novogradac, CPA
Several recent studies have shown that state tax credits have generated considerable economic activity resulting in new and retained jobs that are often high-paying and sustainable, as well as new state and local sales and tax revenue and increases in investment. One of those studies, authored by researchers from the Center for Urban Policy Research at Rutgers University and released by the Historic Tax Credit Coalition, found that the federal historic tax credit (HTC) is a highly efficient job creator, accounting for the creation of 1.8 million new jobs over the life of the program. Thirty-one states have HTC programs and supporters are quick to remind us that historic rehabilitation generates jobs in the construction trades at a time when employment in this sector is needed desperately.
AARP Releases Housing Strategies Report–top
In March, AARP released Strategies to Meet the Housing Needs of Older Adults. The report reviews policies and recommendations for development of housing and communities where seniors can successfully age in place. The full AARP report is available at the organization’s Public Policy Institute website.
Important News for Nonprofits from the IRS–top
In 2006, federal legislation began requiring that most nonprofit organizations file an annual 990 notice with the IRS in order to retain their tax exempt status, including organizations with annual revenue under $25,000. Depending on your organization’s structure and annual revenue, the form you must file may be a 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF. Over the last two years NAO and TACS have provided training and Helpline resources to prepare organizations for these expanded requirements.
As you may have read in the New York Times and other media, on May 15, 2010, a provision of the Pension Protection Act of 2006 goes into effect that requires the revocation of federal tax-exempt status for nonprofit organizations that have not filed the required form 990 for three consecutive years.
Now is a good time for all nonprofits to review their 990-series and other IRS-related filings.
The IRS has a number of resources to help you ensure that your nonprofit is compliant with all of your federal reporting requirements. Be sure to check Oregon’s Department of Justice for information on the state filings necessary to maintain your tax exemption.
NAO’s member benefits include timely policy alerts on federal and state issues –like these – of importance to the nonprofit community. Click here to join NAO today!
NLIHC 2010 Advocates and Preservation Guides Available Online –top
NLIHC’s 2010 Advocates’ Guide to Housing and Community Development is now online and available for purchase in book form. The Guide contains updated chapters on 70 housing and housing-related programs and issues, from the National Housing Trust Fund and the Housing Choice Voucher program to the mortgage interest deduction and the Federal Housing Administration. Each chapter provides a program history and description as well as information on what advocates need to know now about current program issues. As applicable, advocates are also provided with information on what to say to legislators and with tips for making the program work well at the local level. In addition, the Guide’s appendices provide information on Congress, the Administration, and the policymaking process that is designed to help advocates weigh in on housing programs and issues.
New articles for 2010 include an overview of housing need and tips for accessing NLIHC resources as well as chapters on the Homeless Prevention and Rapid-Rehousing program, intergenerational housing, and service coordinators in multifamily housing. In addition, articles directly related to NLIHC’s policy agenda are marked for identification. Articles are written both by NLIHC staff and by staff of our partner organizations. The Advocates’ Guide is printed with the support of PNC.
The Advocates’ Guide can be accessed at http://www.nlihc.org/doc/2010-ADVOCATES-GUIDE.pdf. Copies of the book are available for purchase, for $40 for non-members and $25 for members. Bulk rates are available for advocates wishing to distribute copies more broadly; email for details.
NLIHC Preservation Guide Now Available
NLIHC has published The Preservation Guide, Federal Housing and Homeless Plans: Potential Tools in the Affordable Housing Preservation Toolbox to help residents and advocates of affordable housing issues learn how to work locally to help save federally assisted and public housing units that would otherwise be demolished or converted to market-rate housing. The first part of the Guide provides the information needed to participate in a community’s required federal planning processes, to ensure that these local plans address the need to preserve federally subsidized and public housing. The second part of the Guide describes how to create and maintain a preservation database that can help track federally assisted housing in a community on an ongoing basis.
The three required plans discussed in part one of the Guide are the Consolidated Plan, the Public Housing Agency Plan, and the Qualified Allocation Plan (for Low Income Housing Tax Credits). The Guide also refers to the Continuum of Care Plan and Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness, which are completed by many communities. The Guide presents a sketch of these five plans, their required content, and the processes for creating the three plans mandated by law. The Guide also suggests where federally assisted affordable housing preservation language can be inserted in the plans, as well as when during the planning processes such language can be inserted and jurisdictions’ actions monitored.
The second part of the Guide spells out, step-by-step, how to create and maintain a database of subsidized multifamily rental housing that integrates all publicly available data into an easy-to-use preservation catalog, or preservation database. A preservation catalog is an essential tool for understanding which properties are available to low income households in a community, where they are located, and what factors threaten the affordability of each project. Creating and maintaining such a catalog is important for preserving assisted housing in a community, and supplements the planning process.
The Preservation Guide, Federal Housing and Homeless Plans: Potential Tools in the Affordable Housing Preservation Toolbox is available at http://www.nlihc.org/doc/Preservation-Guide2010.pdf. A copy will be mailed to all NLIHC members shortly.