Housing Advocacy Day 2011
Make plans to join us for the 2011 Housing Advocacy Day at the Virginia General Assembly
on Wednesday, February 2nd from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm! The Virginia General Assembly
session is the perfect occasion for civic engagement. Housing Advocacy Day allows
advocates like YOU from across Virginia to come together at Capitol Square to observe the
legislative process and influence your elected officials. This FREE event includes meals,
materials, and more! You will leave Housing Advocacy Day as an engaged citizen that knows
how to work for meaningful policy and social change in your community. Limited seating is
available. For complete details or to register, click here.
Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity Partners
with Dominion on Energy Efficient Home in Henrico
December 9, 2010
Organizations that provide shelter or housing assistance for the homeless and others in need
are benefitting from donations from Dominion totaling more than $1 million. The
donations were made on December 9, 2010 to organizations throughout Virginia including
Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity which received $70,000 for an energy-
efficient home rehab initiative in Henrico County.
―Dominion wants to help our friends and neighbors who are encountering hardships during
the current recession,‖ said Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president and chief executive
officer of Dominion. ―Housing-related organizations and programs are facing increased
demand for their services, while their own budgets are stretched thin. More than $1 million
in grants will provide additional resources to help nonprofit organizations assist our
―The true value of these grants is that they will help the recipients save money month after
month, producing savings many times the initial grant amount,‖ Farrell said. ―We are
working to help ensure that safe, warm shelter is available to those in need.‖
Donations will assist organizations including homeless shelters, shelters for abused women
and programs to provide housing for low-income families. In many instances, grants will be
used to make the shelters or housing units more energy efficient, thereby cutting the
operating costs for the recipients.
A team of Dominion volunteers worked with Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity
on December 9th to begin a complete energy-efficient renovation of a Henrico County
home. Energy-efficient features will include a solar hot water system and radiant heating,
high-R value insulation, EnergyStar appliances and Low-E windows. The finished home is
expected to qualify for ―silver‖ certification from the Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design (LEED) program for meeting stringent standards for its energy usage
and environmental impact – an expected first for Habitat affiliates in Virginia.
―Thanks to the generosity and hard work of Dominion and its volunteers, Lachesia Turner
and her son, Corion, will soon have a safe, comfortable, and environmentally sustainable
home,‖ said Leisha LaRiviere, Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity president and
chief executive officer. ―It is through on-going collaborations with companies like
Dominion that we are able to provide this type of quality, affordable housing in partnership
with working families in our community.‖
To view the press conference held by Dominion and Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for
Humanity, follow the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VJFRtpjAso
Housing Pick Faces Opposition
By Nick Timiraos
Wall Street Journal
December 20, 2010
The White House's pick to head the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
appears unlikely to win Senate confirmation before Congress adjourns due to a sharp policy
disagreement between the White House and Senate Republicans over how to regulate the
Senate Republicans are pressing to delay the confirmation of Joseph A. Smith, the North
Carolina banking commissioner, to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. They are
concerned he might allow Fannie and Freddie to participate in an Obama administration
initiative to write down loan balances, say people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Smith first appeared to be headed for a quick confirmation. But he has become tripped
up by a broader fight between the White House, which wants to use the firms to help heal
housing markets, and GOP critics that say they shouldn't be run as policy vehicles that create
So far, the firms and their regulator have resisted participating in the program, which is being
managed by the Federal Housing Administration and allows banks to write-down loan
balances for borrowers who owe more than their properties are worth.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told a congressional panel on Thursday there "is a
pretty good economic case for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to participate in those
While the housing finance agency is independent, it has an awkward relationship with the
executive branch because the Treasury effectively owns Fannie and Freddie, which are being
propped up with $150 billion in Treasury money. The housing finance agency's goal to
conserve assets and limit losses can sometimes conflict with the policy agenda of the White
While writing down mortgage principal could lead to larger upfront costs, Mr. Geithner
encouraged policymakers on Thursday to take a broader view. "If you do things that
improve the odds that home prices will be higher in the future, that defaults will be lower in
the future, then you can...reduce the overall losses to the taxpayer," he said.
Republicans say such initiatives would be too expensive. At a recent hearing, Sen. Richard
Shelby (R., Ala.) said allowing Fannie and Freddie to participate in the writedown program
would amount to "redistribution from taxpayers in general to certain classes of home
Mr. Smith hasn't publicly indicated support or opposition to the proposal. In written
testimony, he said he would consider any proposal "first and foremost" with an eye towards
"protecting taxpayers." As the head of an independent state agency, he wrote, "I understand
how important that independence is."
Republicans have raised concerns that Mr. Smith has been too evasive in answering
questions posed by lawmakers, that he might be too willing to accommodate the
administration, and that his nomination was being considered too quickly, these people said.
Mr. Smith, who has served as North Carolina's top banking regulator since 2002, helped
implement some of the nation's first regulations to protect borrowers from predatory
lenders. Mr. Obama nominated him last month to head the housing finance agency, which
has been without a permanent director since August 2009. His nomination was approved on
Tuesday by the Senate Banking Committee on a 16-6 vote.
In a statement last week, Mr. Shelby, the top Republican on the committee, questioned
whether Mr. Smith had enough experience and whether he would be sufficiently
independent from the administration. "We need a watchdog not a lapdog," he said.
On Friday, Sen. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.), who is set to chair the committee next year, called
on the Senate to "put politics aside and confirm his nomination quickly" given the challenges
facing housing markets.
The nomination of Mr. Smith, who remains well regarded by banking executives and
consumer advocates alike, would need to be resubmitted when the Senate reconvenes next
year if a speedy deal is not reached.
Democrats will retain control of the Senate, but with more Republican opposition, it could
now take longer to secure his confirmation. It isn't uncommon for lawmakers to hold up
nominations in order to seek more clarity about a candidate's views on policy matters.
Some Senate staffers in recent days have questioned whether Mr. Smith would be a better
choice than Edward DeMarco, the agency's acting director, these people said.
Mr. DeMarco has taken a firm position against allowing the companies to participate in
policy initiatives that might lead to larger losses. Earlier this year, he directed the companies
not to participate in a White House-backed initiative to finance energy-efficient home
repairs. In July, the agency subpoenaed 64 issuers and servicers of mortgage-backed
securities to determine whether firms misled Fannie and Freddie when they issued those
A Plan to Make Homelessness History
By David Bornstein
The New York Times
December 20, 2010
This is a story about a plan to end chronic homelessness in the United States. It‘s not an
indeterminate ―war on homelessness,‖ but a methodical approach to do away with a major
social problem. Each day, roughly 700,000 people in the country are homeless. About
120,000 are chronically homeless. They often live on the streets for years and have mental
disabilities, addiction problems and life-threatening diseases like heart disease, cancer and
diabetes. They are also five times more likely than ordinary Americans to have suffered a
traumatic brain injury, which may have precipitated their homelessness. Without direct
assistance, many will remain homeless for the rest of their lives — at enormous cost to
society and themselves.
Against this backdrop, the 100,000 Homes Campaign has set the goal of placing 100,000
chronically homeless people — pinpointing those who face the greatest risk of dying on the
streets — into permanent supportive housing by July 2013. It‘s the human welfare
equivalent of NASA‘s race to put a man on the moon. Whether the goal is achieved or not,
the campaign is shifting the way cities address a problem that has often been seen as more of
a nuisance than a public health emergency.
The campaign was launched this past July by a New York-based organization called
Common Ground and close to 20 organizations that focus on homelessness, veterans‘
affairs, mental illness, housing and health care. So far 64 communities have come on board.
As of today, 6,816 people have been housed — on track to hit 98,000 by the deadline. But
organizers say they are gaining momentum.
The big story with street homelessness is that when cities make a concerted effort to reduce
it, they succeed. New
Wichita, Kansas and
Norfolk, Va., for
reduced their street
populations from 25
to 64 percent.
They‘ve done it by
between 85 and 90
Donna, who was homeless, with her original survey team,
showed off the key to her new apartment in Phoenix. – Mattie
People who live on the streets tend to cycle through emergency rooms, addiction treatment,
psychiatric care and jails. Housing them yields huge cost savings for society. In Los Angeles,
the nation‘s homeless capital, 4,800 chronically homeless people — about 10 percent of the
city‘s homeless population — consume half a billion dollars in services annually, well more
than the remaining 90 percent. Providing supportive housing in Los Angeles is 40 percent
cheaper than leaving people on the streets.
The shift in mindset that made it possible to solve this problem began in the early 1990s
when a group called Pathways to Housing pioneered an approach called ―housing first.‖
Historically, homeless people had to be deemed ―housing ready‖ — typically drug and
alcohol free — before they could become eligible for permanent housing. In reality, this
screened out most of the chronically homeless. Pathways showed that permanent housing
was, in fact, the first thing people needed to stabilize their lives. Today, it has been adopted
as government policy.
But even as a solution to chronic homelessness is within sight, housing agencies, and other
groups, need to change they way they work to implement it. It‘s not just that there is a
shortage of affordable housing, which is true. It‘s that, even when housing is available, public
systems remain slow, complicated and confusing, and disconnected from the streets. They
don‘t target the neediest people and they don‘t coordinate well with other agencies or
―There is no system that has existed to intentionally move people from homelessness into
housing,‖ explains Rosanne Haggerty, Common Ground‘s founder, who has helped 20 U.S.
cities, including New York, New Orleans and Denver, to reduce homelessness. ―The
problem isn‘t that hard to solve, but the connective tissue to make it happen has been
missing.‖ The main role of the campaign is to help cities learn how to connect the dots.
Haggerty had to learn this herself in the late 1990s after Common Ground opened the Times
Square Hotel, then the nation‘s largest supportive housing complex, and saw that it made no
dent in street homelessness around Times Square. In response, in 2003, she launched a
program called Street to Home, and recruited a graduate of West Point, Becky Kanis, who
had spent nine years in the military, to reach out to every one of the 55 individuals living on
the streets around Times Square, to persuade them to enter housing on their own terms.
Kanis and Haggerty wanted to learn how people on the streets lived; they were shocked to
discover how they died — often in their 40s and 50s. If it were any other population, it
would have constituted a health crisis. Homeless people had access to the health system —
they made extensive use of emergency rooms — but their diseases were impossible to
manage while they remained on the streets. Medicine for heart disease would get lost.
Diabetics had no refrigerators to store insulin. Doctors couldn‘t follow up with cancer
Drawing on the work
of two doctors, James
Stephen Hwang, who
had studied the
causes of death
Ground created a
— an algorithm to
rank people on the
streets by risk of
Street to Home‘s
outreach used that
index to prioritize the
homeless around Times
A volunteer surveyed a homeless woman in New Orleans –
Square, and they
managed to get every
person they met — except one holdout known as ―Heavy‖ — into housing. ―We learned
that the only way to get chronically homeless people into housing was to go out and beg
them to let us help them,‖ explained Haggerty. Along the way, Common Ground developed
the strategy that is now at the heart of the campaign: hit the streets and get to know the most
vulnerable people, keep talking with them until they agree to enter housing (without pre-
conditions), and then blanket them with supports to keep them there.
Another thing that Common Ground discovered was that the homeless were an amalgam of
many subgroups. They have now surveyed almost 14,000 chronically homeless people and
found that roughly 20 percent are veterans, 10 percent are over the age of 60, 4 percent have
H.I.V. or AIDS, 47 percent have a mental illness and 5 percent remain homeless because
they can‘t find housing with their pets.
This is vital information — because there are more than 20,000 housing authorities in the
country, but less than a third have subsidies for ―homeless‖ people. Far more prevalent are
government subsidies for other groups — ―VASH‖ for veterans, ―202 Housing‖ for the
elderly, ―Shelter Plus Care‖ for people with disabilities, ―HOPWA‖ for people with AIDS.
Historically, these big buckets have gone underutilized for the chronically homeless —
because nobody knew who they were. Now they can be tapped.
With new cities joining the campaign each month, Common Ground has outlined a standard
process to roll things out. A local lead organization pulls together support from politicians,
businesses, nonprofit groups, foundations, and volunteers. One of the early steps is
recruiting local volunteers to go into the streets to conduct vulnerability surveys with
homeless people — from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. three mornings in a row.
You might imagine that it would be hard to get people to show up in the pre-dawn hours,
venture into alleyways, and ask strangers personal questions about their health. Just the
opposite. In Phoenix, 175 people turned out; in San Diego, 250; in Omaha, 75; and in
Chicago over 150, including Mayor Daley. In Phoenix, after the surveys were complete,
organizers asked volunteers if they would like to contribute money — at $1,000 a shot — to
assist homeless people with furniture and move-in expenses. In 10 minutes, they raised
$50,000. ―This wasn‘t a room of philanthropists,‖ Kanis added. ―It was just volunteers. But
you had people saying, ‗I‘ll take the guy in the wheelchair.‘ ‗We‘ll take the two veterans.‘
There was probably a five minute standing ovation.‖
The other linchpin of the campaign is encouraging city partners — who participate in weekly
webinars and monthly innovation sessions — to teach one another how to get around
bottlenecks in government systems. ―There‘s a half dozen things that each community
struggles with that somebody has already figured out,‖ explains Kanis. ―When you go to
your housing authority with an idea they think is crazy, it helps if you can say, ‗We‘re just
trying to do what Baltimore did…‘ It takes away the excuses people have for saying
something will never work.
One leader on this front has been Laura Green Zeilinger, who led the effort by Washington,
D.C.‘s Department of Human Services to reduce homelessness. Zeilinger adopted Common
Ground‘s vulnerability index, registered homeless people across the district, and then re-
imagined a housing placement process that took six to eight months and required a homeless
person to make five separate visits to the housing authority. By pre-screening applicants and
pre-inspecting apartments so they could be matched quickly, Zeilinger boiled the process
down to one that can be completed in 10 days and requires a single visit by the homeless
person – to sit through an orientation, sign the lease and pick up the keys. As a result, in a
little more than two years, 1,200 of the most vulnerable people in Washington, D.C. have
been placed into permanent supportive housing. This contrasts with 260 during the previous
In times of emergency, people can accomplish big things. After the flash floods in Nashville
this past May, citizens mobilized quickly to house the homeless who had lived near
embankments for years. Until recently, however, chronic homelessness has been treated as
an inconvenience, not a life or death matter. When someone has been living on the streets
for 15 years, it‘s easy to think, ‗What‘s another few months?‘ But if you happen to know that
that person is Michael, who is a 62-year-old veteran with heart disease, it‘s a different matter.
―We think this campaign is about much more than homelessness,‖ says Haggerty. ―We‘re all
feeling so concerned for our neighbors who are struggling now. This is a way to do
something with neighbors that helps the most vulnerable among us in a very dramatic way.
And I think the feeling of having the power to change things is something that many people
are looking for these days.‖
First-Time Homebuyers React to Rising Rates
By Steve Cook
UPI.com Real Estate Economy Watch
December 20, 2010
A sharp increase in interest rates is driving first-time homebuyers back into the market,
increasing first-timer share of the home buying market according to the latest
Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey.
Rates on a 30 year fixed mortgage have increased 66 basis points in five weeks, encouraging
buyers to act now before rates climb any higher.
With rates headed towards 5 percent, forecasters at both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
expect rates will be relatively low next year. While some rise in fixed rates is expected, 30-
year fixed-rate loans are likely to remain below 5 percent throughout the year, and initial
rates on 5/1 hybrid ARMs will likely remain below 4 percent in 2011, Freddie's economists
Yet the swift rise from 4.17 percent on November to 4.83 percent on December 15 for a 30-
year fixed in Freddie's weekly mortgage survey has brought first-time buyers back to their
real estate agents' offices at a rate unseen since the first-time buyer tax cut expired in April.
The first-time homebuyer share of home purchases surged from 34.4% in October to 37.2%
last month as long-time mortgage rates started to climb from record lows in early
November, according to the survey.
"The recent surge in interest rates has made potential homebuyers nervous," explained
Thomas Popik, director of the HousingPulse survey. "If rates go up much more, then a good
percentage of them will no longer qualify for the properties they want. As a result, they're
making bids on homes and quickly closing before their rate locks expire."
Real estate agents responding to the latest survey commented on the rate-induced surge of
homebuyer interest. "First-time buyers are back looking at homes," reported an agent in
Oregon. "Interest rates have helped spur recent activity," added an agent in Colorado.
The surge in home buying did not affect sales of all properties equally. Short sales, which
require many months to obtain mortgage-servicer approval, were often left out. "Homebuyer
concern for locking in interest rates while rates are low caused them to bypass short sale
listings," commented an agent in Hawaii. "Most people are not prepared to wait for a short
sale to settle…Buyers are concerned that interest rates are rising and don't want to take a
chance by agreeing to settle 5 or 6 months in the future," wrote an agent in Virginia.
Dora Highway community gets home makeovers
Town to build or renovate 25 single-family homes
By Mary Hardbarger
The Roanoke Times
December 19, 2010
The Dora Highway neighborhood -- one of the
oldest in the town of Pulaski -- is getting a face-lift.
The town and Community Housing Partners are
joining to renovate and build 25 single-family homes
in the neighborhood -- a $3 million development
made possible by the Community Improvement
Grant from Community Development Block Grant
funds from the Virginia Department of Housing and
The town applied for the grant in January 2009 after
a survey distributed to area residences showed that
the neighborhood needed help, Town Manager John
Image courtesy of Community Hawley said.
The rendering is an example of Through the Pulaski Dora Highway Revitalization
one of six houses to be built in Project, 14 homes will be renovated, five will be
Pulaski's Dora Highway substantially remodeled, six new homes will be built
Neighborhood as part of the and streets, sidewalks and water/sewer lines will be
revitalization project. improved.
Community Housing Partners
will be responsible for the Community Housing Partners will be responsible for
construction of these homes. the construction of the six new homes.
"This is the first time we've ever attempted something like this," Hawley said.
He the hopes the project will prove to be a model that can be used in other parts of town.
While the majority of owners have been identified for the 19 homes to be rehabilitated and
reconstructed, finding first-time home buyers to occupy the six new homes has been a
challenge, said Kamilia Lawson, director of home ownership for Community Housing
Community Housing Partners is a nonprofit community-development corporation that
serves the needs of modest-income individuals and families. Since 1975, Community
Housing Partners has served more than 206,000 people of all backgrounds.
Most recently, the corporation constructed 10 homes on Cedar Hill Drive in Blacksburg that
boast Energy-Star rated appliances, among other features.
To purchase a home, interested buyers must be mortgage-ready, a requirement that has led
many from backing out of buying, said Terry Vaughn, home ownership specialist for
Community Housing Partners. Another roadblock are people's perceptions of the type of
housing the group provides, she said.
"We're not building 'the projects' here," Vaughn said. "We're showing that affordable
housing doesn't have to be 'cheap.'"
The six, two- and three-bedroom homes to be built in Pulaski will reflect similar amenities of
the Blacksburg homes including Energy-Star rated windows and lighting packages, native
landscaping, low-flow water fixtures and high efficiency heat pumps.
These green and sustainable approaches to home-furnishing will help to lower families' cost
of living, Vaughn said. They'll range between 900 and 1,090 square feet and are intended for
first-time home buyers earning at or below 80 percent of the area medium income.
Both Vaughn and Lawson are confident buyers will eventually come forth, especially since
four of the six lots have been identified, renderings have been drawn and construction plans
have been set for early next year, making the project less of a dream and more a reality.
The entire development project is set to be complete by the end of 2011, Hawley said.
The next interest meeting about the six Community Housing Partners homes will be held
Monday at the YMCA in Pulaski from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
For more information, contact Vaughn at 382-2002, ext. 3307.
NHTF Omitted From Tax Bill, Advocates Continue
Fight for Funding
NLIHC Memo to Members
December 17, 2010
During the week of December 13, the House and Senate passed and President Obama
signed legislation to extend the Bush-era tax cuts and unemployment insurance. Provisions
important to housing advocates, including funding for the National Housing Trust Fund
(NHTF), were omitted from the final bill.
On December 15, the Senate passed H.R. 4853, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance
Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010. The legislation, negotiated by the White
House, did not include NHTF funding or an extension of the Low Income Housing Tax
Credit 9% exchange program.
During Senate consideration of the bill, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) offered an
amendment that would have eliminated the tax cut extension for the wealthiest 2% of
Americans, scaled back the estate tax exemptions, and provided $3 billion over two years for
the NHTF, among other provisions. NLIHC issued a Call to Action in support of the
Sanders amendment, but unfortunately it failed on a 43-57 vote. The Senate then passed
H.R. 4853 by a vote of 81-19.
The legislation then made its way to the House, where liberal Democratic members
expressed displeasure with several provisions. Ultimately, however, the House passed the bill
without amendment on December 17 on a 277-148 vote.
Although Congress did not fund the NHTF this year, the National Housing Trust Fund
campaign already is working on new avenues for revenues for the NHTF. The campaign will
start early in 2011 to educate members of the 112th Congress about the NHTF and the
important role it will play in addressing the critical shortage of housing affordable and
available to those with the lowest incomes.
State and local advocates should express their concern to their elected officials over the
failure to capitalize the NHTF this year. Advocates also are encouraged to review the
proposed NHTF regulations and NLIHC‘s sample comment letter and submit comments of
their own. The comment period ends December 28.
To read NLIHC‘s Call to Action on Senator Sanders‘ amendment, go to:
The proposed rule and instructions for filing comments are at:
The sample comment letter is at:
Senate Fails to Advance Omnibus, FY11 Appropriations
NLIHC Memo to Members
December 17, 2010
On December 16, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) decided to withdraw the
Senate FY11 omnibus appropriations bill, which included funding for HUD programs, from
consideration by the full Senate. Despite some earlier statements of support, all Republicans
said they would oppose the bill, thereby preventing its passage.
The House and the Senate each passed a third Continuing Resolution (CR) on December 17
to prevent a government shutdown when the second CR expired on December 18.
The government has been funded under a series of CRs since the fiscal year began on
October 1, 2010. The latest CR, which runs through December 21, provides Congress only
three additional days to devise a longer term FY11 appropriations plan. Congress is not
expected to pass any of its 12 appropriations bill for FY11 before it recesses for the
Christmas holiday. Instead, Senate Democrats have proposed a fourth CR that would last
until March 4, at which time Republicans will be in the majority in the House.
The House already passed a full year CR on December 8 that provides FY10 levels of
funding to the majority of HUD programs. Under the House CR, only a few HUD
programs would receive a boost over FY10 levels including Tenant Based Rental Assistance,
Project-Based Rental Assistance and Homeless Assistance Grants. The increases to the
Tenant Based and Project-Based Rental Assistance programs would not have provided
additional vouchers but could have prevented currently assisted households from losing their
The Senate did not pass a concurrent resolution. Instead, the Senate prepared an FY11
omnibus appropriations draft bill that would have provided more significant increases to
several HUD programs than the House CR. The Senate bill would have provided $461
million more in Tenant Based Rental Assistance, $145 million more for Homeless Assistance
Grants, $30 million more for Tenant Protection Vouchers and $55 million more for the Self-
Help Homeownership Opportunity Program. The Senate bill would have also funded the
new Housing and Services for Homeless Persons demonstration vouchers at $85 million, the
amount requested in the President‘s budget. The Senate bill would have continued funding
the Disaster Assistance Housing Program.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Daniel Inouye (D-AL) was not pleased with the
decision to table the omnibus bill. ―Our Republican colleagues will now allow [the
Administration] to determine how our federal tax dollars are spent rather than letting the
Congress decide,‖ Senator Inouye said in a statement on the Senate floor on December 17.
When the House returns in January 2011 with a Republican majority, work will begin on
FY11 appropriations bills that could reduce HUD and other departments‘ funding to FY08
levels. These cuts would have devastating impacts on HUD programs. House Minority
Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has proposed breaking appropriations bills apart to create
individual bills for each federal department and cutting nondefense discretionary programs
by $101 billion.
The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities reports that cuts could result in a $4 billion cut
to Tenant Based Rental Assistance, a $2.3 cut to Project-Based Rental Assistance, a $1.5
billion combined cut to Public Housing Capital and Operating Funds, a $7 million cut to the
Community Development Block Grant and a $500 million cut to Homeless Assistance
Cutting $4 billion from Tenant Based Rental Assistance would result in 475,000 fewer
vouchers. Households currently housed through the voucher program would lose their
assistance and likely their homes.
NLIHC is monitoring Congress‘ appropriations actions and will issue a ―Call to Action‖
when calls from advocates will be most effective.
View NLIHC‘s budget chart at: http://www.nlihc.org/doc/FY11-Budget-Chart.pdf
Senate Passes 811 and 202 Bills
NLIHC Memo to Members
December 17, 2010
The one bright spot in low income housing policy in the lame duck session occurred on
December 17 when the Senate passed S. 1481, the Frank Melville Supportive Housing
Investment Act, by unanimous consent. The bill was reported out of the Senate Committee
on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on September 30.
S. 1481 was introduced in 2009 by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Johanns (R-
NE). The bill would improve the existing Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with
Disabilities through several methods. First, the bill would authorize a demonstration
program within the existing program to promote community integration for people with
disabilities. In the bill reported out of the Senate Banking Committee this demonstration was
a new program separate from the current Section 811 program. Senator Johanns offered an
amendment to the bill that would incorporate the demonstration as part of the existing
Section 811 program.
The bill would also improve the existing Section 811 production program by providing states
and localities with a new infusion of critically needed Section 811 capital and project-based
rental assistance funding to produce permanent supported housing. Senator Johanns‘
amendment would authorize $300 million for the program for fiscal years 2011-2015.
A House companion bill, H.R. 1675, was introduced by Representative Christopher Murphy
(D-CT) and passed the House in July 2009. The House may take up the bill on December
On December 18, the Senate passed S. 118, the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the
Elderly Act, also by unanimous consent.
S. 118 was introduced in 2009 by Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) and was reported out of the
Senate Banking Committee in September. The bill would make a variety of improvements to
how the Section 202 program supports the development and preservation of very low
income housing for seniors. The bill would modernize the program by improving the
condition of existing senior housing, preserving existing senior developments, making new
construction easier, and providing seniors more ways to age in place through increased
access to service coordination and assisted living services.
Similar program reform language was included in the House Housing Preservation and
Tenant Protection Act of 2010, H.R. 4868, which passed out of the House Committee on
Financial Services in July. The House was expected to pull the Section 202 bill language from
the larger preservation bill to pass as a standalone bill if the Senate passed S.118. It is not
known yet whether the House will take action on the bill before the end of this Congress.
NLIHC supports both of these bills and testified in support of them before the Banking
Committee‘s Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development in
View S. 1481 at: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-
View S. 118 at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111s118es/pdf/BILLS-
New Census Data Provide Detailed Look at Changing
Demographics and Housing Costs across Rural and
NLIHC Memo to Members
December 17, 2010
The U.S. Census Bureau has released its first five-year American Community Survey (ACS)
estimates. Begun in 2005, the ACS is an annual survey that replaces the detailed
questionnaire (―long form‖) that some households completed as part of prior decennial
censuses. The new data set, published December 14, provides localized statistics on income,
housing, ethnicity, economics, and other demographics. It combines data from annual
sample surveys sent to three million addresses between 2005 and 2009.
Previously, only increasingly outdated data from Census 2000 were available to describe
geographic areas with small populations like Census tracts, small towns and rural counties.
The new data include an estimated 670,000 geographic units across the nation, down to the
Census ―block group‖ level, which contains approximately 1,500 people.
This information will enable local officials to make more accurate and timely housing policy
decisions, and will empower advocates to strengthen their arguments on housing needs. For
example, updated data are available for Geneseo, New York, a village of 8,047 people near
Rochester, New York. According to ACS estimates, the town has a high percentage of
renters (64%), likely reflecting its status as a small college community. Meanwhile, the
median renter housing cost burden is 48%, a significant percentage. In contrast, Census 2000
reported 7,579 people, 61% of whom were renters, and a 34% cost burden.
The ACS also provides one-year data sets, available in their complete format since 2005 and
covering geographic entities with populations of 65,000 or more people. Three-year data,
available beginning with the 2005 to 2007 period, cover areas with a population of 20,000 or
The next significant development will be when the Census Bureau begins to make estimates
based on population control totals from the 2010 Census. Currently, it uses overall
population numbers from Census 2000 and projected forward.
The data set is available on the Census Bureau‘s website at:
Republican Panelists Dissent on Cause of Crisis
The New York Times
December 15, 2010
The Republican members of the commission appointed by Congress to investigate the
causes of the financial crisis plan to release a document on Wednesday that assigns
government housing policies substantial blame for the origins of the 2008 financial crisis,
Sewell Chan reports in The New York Times.
The release of the 13-page document is an indication of a major partisan division within the
10-member Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which was required to deliver its report on
Dec. 15 but has pushed that deadline back to January. Two people close to the work of the
commission provided copies of the document to The New York Times on Tuesday.
The Republican members of the panel were angered last week when the commission voted 6
to 4, along partisan lines, to limit individual comments by the commissioners to 9 pages each
in a 500-page report that the commission plans to publish next month with Public Affairs,
an imprint of the Perseus Books Group, one Republican commissioner said.
Commission backs more money for affordable housing
By Daily Progress Staff Reports
The Daily Progress
December 15, 2010
The Charlottesville Planning Commission would like to see more local dollars go into the
city‘s large housing fund that allocates money for affordable housing projects.
Commissioners recommended Tuesday that the Charlottesville Housing Fund should
contain more than $1.4 million in city dollars in fiscal 2012. Currently, the proposed fiscal
2012 Capital Improvement Program would set aside $1 million in city money in the housing
fund, and the city would seek to potentially spend additional non-local funding for
Commissioners recommended more local money for the Charlottesville Housing Fund in
light of a city housing report adopted by councilors earlier this year that recommended local
funding amounts the city should set aside to increase its affordable housing stock.
The Housing Advisory Committee‘s report said that to up the city‘s affordable housing
percentage to 15 percent, it would require the city to commit an average of $1.7 million each
year until 2025, or a total of roughly $25.7 million. This would be needed to add and
preserve 2,350 affordable housing units.
The funding recommendations were based on local dollars, not those and other funding
sources the city may use. But Mayor Dave Norris said Tuesday that, when councilors
adopted the report, ―I think it is safe to say it was not explicit either way‖ whether the
recommendations were meant to be fulfilled using only local dollars or those in combination
with other sources.
Advisory committee Chairwoman Karen Waters said the committee concluded those levels
of local dollars, independent of any other state and federal funds, were necessary to achieve
the report‘s recommended goals.
―We just want to provide some clarity and guidance at this point,‖ she said.
Next fiscal year‘s proposed $23.4 million CIP, which contains the city‘s largest projects,
shows a sizable dip in spending from the city‘s current program, which is $33.9 million. This
year‘s CIP is noticeably heftier because of federal and state funding allocated for the future
interchange at the U.S. 250 Bypass and McIntire Road, which will serve as the endpoint of
the Meadow Creek Parkway.
The fiscal 2012 CIP is also proposing to take out millions more in bonds: $15.6 million
compared with 2011‘s $6.9 million.
Most commissioners supported increasing local investment in affordable housing, but a
couple disagreed with putting more than $1.4 million in the Charlottesville Housing Fund
next fiscal year. Commissioner John Santoski said he supports the principle but it was
difficult to support in a struggling economy.
―That‘s what I‘m wrestling with,‖ he said.
Few projects in the fiscal 2012 spending plan are slated to receive more than $1 million. A
project for Old Lynchburg Road improvements is slated to have $3 million, and a new fire
station off Fontaine Avenue is proposed to have $8.75 million.
The CIP also proposes roughly $1.5 million for street reconstruction, $1.2 million for new
football bleachers at Charlottesville High School and $500,000 for a new bathhouse at the
Washington Park pool.
Additionally, planning commissioners recommended Tuesday that $100,000 be set aside in
the CIP for a synthetic turf field at Charlottesville High School.
Like the rest of the fiscal 2012 budget, the City Council will adopt the fiscal 2012 CIP in
Housing authority board approves Pinewell request
By Cheryl Ross
December 14, 2010
NORFOLK – Pinewell residents are one step closer to being included in the West Ocean
View conservation district, a move that would make them eligible for grants to upgrade their
On Monday, the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority's Board of Commissioners
unanimously approved a request to add 14 blocks of the Pinewell neighborhood to the
Now, the request must be approved by the city's Planning Commission before it can come
before the City Council for final approval, said Ed Ware, NRHA's director of
communications and marketing.
Through Norfolk's aesthetic improvement grant, residents in the city's 16 active
conservation districts can receive one-for-one matches up to $5,000 for projects such as new
roofs, windows and siding.
The West Ocean View district generally receives about $100,000 a year for the improvement
Some board members cautioned that there will not be enough money to pay for renovations
for everyone's homes, Ware said.
―That will always be a challenge,‖ he said.
1 in 5 mortgage borrowers in Hampton Roads
By Josh Brown
December 14, 2010
The number of homeowners in Hampton Roads who owed more on their mortgages than
their homes were worth climbed to more than 70,900 at the end of September, according to
a report released Monday.
That's more than 1 in 5 local mortgage borrowers - 21.5 percent - who are "underwater" on
the loans, according to CoreLogic, a Santa Ana, Calif.-based company that tracks mortgages
across the country.
The number is up slightly from the 21 percent who were underwater at the end of June.
CoreLogic's quarterly report also said that 22,659 more mortgages in the region will be
underwater if home prices decline 5 percent from their current levels.
Economists and real estate experts say that owing more on a home than it's worth is one of
the most common precursors to foreclosure.
For homeowners who aren't in jeopardy of falling behind on payments, being underwater
means they are shackled to their homes - unable to sell without paying their lender the
difference or negotiating a short sale.
Homeowners who purchased or refinanced at the peak of the housing boom were the most
susceptible to finding themselves underwater in a loan as home values fell and eroded any
equity the buyers had built up. Some new buyers also might find themselves underwater if
they financed their home purchases with little or no down payment.
Median prices in South Hampton Roads were up slightly for the month of November, but
overall this year prices have fallen 1.4 percent compared with the same period in 2009,
according to Real Estate Information Network, the Virginia Beach-based multiple listing
Vinod B. Agarwal, an economist at Old Dominion University, said it's unlikely homeowners
who are underwater will get any help from the housing market improving any time soon.
"We would have expected prices to have come down more than they have," Agarwal said.
"So suffice it to say, we don't think prices are going to be rising next year."
Across the country, the number of homeowners owing more than their homes are worth fell
to 10.8 million as of Sept. 30, down from11 million on June 30, CoreLogic reported. That
represents about 23 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage nationwide.
CoreLogic attributed the decline to foreclosures of delinquent loans that were listed as
underwater in previous reports.
"Negative equity is a primary factor holding back the housing market and broader
economy," said Mark Fleming, CoreLogic's chief economist, said in a news release. "The
good news is that negative equity is slowly declining, but the bad news is that price declines
are accelerating, which may put a stop to or reverse the recent improvement in negative
The majority of such negative-equity loans are in such hard-hit states as Nevada, Arizona,
Florida, Michigan and California.
Multicity effort gives homeless a fresh start in
By Dave Forster
December 13, 2010
PORTSMOUTH – Nearly everything at 1600 South St. is spotless and new, from the
padded furniture in the social room to the solar panels on the roof.
Inside, Angela Menneffee opened the door to room 214.
"Welcome to my home," she said.
Menneffee, 49, was homeless for eight years. She brushed a hand over her tidy bed, wiping
away specks of lint.
"I love this," she said.
Menneffee was among the first to move in over the past two weeks to South Bay
Apartments. The 60-unit building is the latest in a cooperative, regional effort to provide
permanent housing for homeless people.
It is a project of Virginia Supportive Housing, a nonprofit, and follows Gosnold Apartments
in Norfolk and Cloverleaf Apartments in Virginia Beach. Unlike its two local predecessors,
which were renovated from older buildings, South Bay was constructed from the ground up
on land donated by the city.
Low-income housing tax credits, private donations and public contributions from
Portsmouth, Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake paid for most of the $7 million
construction cost, said Barbara Barnes, a Virginia Supportive Housing development
consultant. Virginia Supportive Housing is still looking for sponsors and donors for rooms,
supplies and services, she said.
On any given night, about 1,400 people are homeless in South Hampton Roads, Barnes said.
An annual count in January found 210 sheltered and unsheltered homeless residents in
Portsmouth, down from 303 in 2009.
Oasis Social Ministry, a Portsmouth nonprofit organization that helps feed and clothe
homeless and poor people, served 3,713 meals last month, up from 3,475 in November
2009, director Jo-Anne Roisen said.
Like Gosnold and Cloverleaf, South Bay will reserve 42 rooms for people from the host city.
Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake get six each.
"It's a start. It's a really good start. But there's a long way to go," said Annie White-Guertin,
executive director of Portsmouth Area Resources Coalition, a clearinghouse for services to
The coalition already received more than 150 applications for rooms, she said.
The housing might make only a dent in the area's homeless population, but for those lucky
enough to land a room, the opportunity can be life-changing.
Mary Williams, 47, another South Bay resident, recalled the time she applied for a hotel job
and offered to work for three days without pay to prove her worth. With no home address,
she gave them one for Oasis. She believes that killed her chance at the job.
When Williams moved into South Bay, she was so overwhelmed by her new room she just
sat in a chair for a while, alone in the dark.
"I thought it was a dream," she said. "I couldn't believe it."
She set out to earn her GED and hopes someday to get a nursing job. She hopes to be
established enough to move out within five years.
Residents can stay as long as they want. The apartments are intended as supportive
permanent housing, making it different from a shelter or transitional housing, which come
with time limits.
Residents must pay 30 percent of their income in rent, with minimum monthly payments of
$50. Menneffee, who takes the bus five days a week to bag groceries for tips, pays $249.
The apartments are about 380 square feet and have a bathroom and small kitchen. The
building has coin-operated laundry rooms and a small fitness room, which Wal-Mart
furnished with a donated treadmill and exercise bike.
There is a computer lab with two terminals. The staff hopes to find volunteers in the
business community to provide computer literacy courses.
Support services and skills training are offered but not forced on residents, Barnes said.
Likewise, donors who sponsor a room can reach out to the person living there, but it's up to
residents to decide if they want to have contact.
Security cameras monitor the building, and there are limits on the hours guests can visit.
Criminal records, if recent or serious enough, can disqualify an applicant.
There are stories of new residents kissing their dresser or jumping on their bed and crying
when they first see their rooms. But the transition is not always easy, especially for people
who have been homeless for years, if not decades, said Mary Aab, the regional support
services manager for Virginia Supportive Housing.
Others do so well that they move on to more independent housing. Between the 120 rooms
at Gosnold and Cloverleaf, six residents have left in the past year without becoming
homeless, Aab said.
In its 20-year history, Virginia Supportive Housing has had a 90 percent success rate with
residents not returning to homelessness, Barnes said.
From menswear to multifamily
By Al Harris
December 9, 2010
A Fredericksburg real estate investor is poised to take control of large swath of apartments
in Richmond‘s Northside.
Guy Prudhomme, a former menswear dealer who jumped into real estate investing a year
ago, has a contract to buy the Colonies at Ginter Park, a collection of 12 apartment buildings
along Chamberlayne Avenue. Combined, the properties total 267 apartment units.
―Our plan is to stabilize the property, get it to perform as best as possible, bring in fresh
management, cut back expenses and make it pleasant for residents to live in,‖ Prudhomme
And then Prudhomme plans to sell the properties off separately for a profit three to five
years down the road.
The apartments are owned by the Virginia Housing and Development Authority, which
repossessed the properties in 2008 after the previous owned defaulted on a loan extended by
Michael Stoneman, a portfolio manager at VHDA, confirmed that the properties were under
contract and that the purchase price was around $5.6 million.
The purchase is a big step for Prudhomme — it is his first multifamily investment.
Until now Prudhomme, whose company is named Alternate VA Inc., has stuck to single-
family homes. He bought his first one in April 2009 and has since bought a total of 67.
He has flipped 55 of them, he said, losing money on only four.
―If you didn‘t have some bad ones, you are doing something wrong,‖ Prudhomme said.
Prudhomme decided to get into real estate after the economic crisis of 2008 threw his
menswear business in the lurch.
A native of the African island nation Mauritius, Prudhomme also spent seven years in India
working in textiles. In 2001, he moved to Fredericksburg and brought his import clothing
business with him.
That went well until the end of 2008, when he was left with more than $1 million in
inventory from canceled orders. Among his former customers was Richmond-based S&K
Menswear, which later filed for bankruptcy. Prudhomme had little choice but to liquidate
everything for 10 cents on the dollar and shut down the business.
Now that he is out, Prudomme said he doesn‘t miss the business at all.
―I‘m sad I didn‘t leave sooner, but you always fight to leave something you know,‖
Shortly thereafter, Prudhomme recognized the opportunity to acquire properties on the
cheap and sell them for a profit. He started his company and later the Fredericksburg Real
Estate Investors Association, a group of like-minded investors, to share opportunities.
Prudhomme has offered members to join in on his investment on Chamberlayne Avenue,
Prudhomme said he is a fast learner, which has suited him well in his foray into real estate
investing. But he said the fundamentals aren‘t that different from his past experience.
―After 30 years in business, 29 of which under self-management, everything applies. You
have to raise money and sell yourself.‖
Dominion gives $2 million to affordable housing
By Katherine Calos
December 9, 2010
More than $2 million in grants announced by Dominion Virginia Power today will create an
energy-efficient Habitat for Humanity house and bolster the company's EnergyShare
Dominion is partnering with Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity to rehabilitate a
home in Eastern Henrico County with solar hot water and radiant-heated floors, dual-flush
toilets, high R-value insulation, EnergyStar appliances and high-efficiency HVAC equipment.
Habitat and Dominion representatives will announce the project and the grants this morning
at the house in the 3400 block of Reynolds Road.
Dominion volunteers will also add volunteer hours to the "sweat equity" that homeowner
Lachesia Turner must put in to meet Habitat guidelines. The house was donated by a woman
Work is scheduled to begin today with removal of the kitchen cabinets, removal of the
bathroom fixtures, boarding up the windows and cleaning the exterior.
This year's grant program will spread $1 million among organizations in 14 states where
Dominion has a presence. The largest share, $625,000, is going to groups in Virginia.
In Richmond, the Better Housing Coalition and Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for
Humanity are recipients. In Petersburg, grants are going to Rebuilding Together *
Petersburg, the Salvation Army and Tricities Habitat for Humanity.
EnergyShare will receive $1 million to help Virginia and North Carolina families that can't
afford heating bills after all other forms of assistance have been exhausted.
―Housing-related organizations and programs are facing increased demand for their services,
while their own budgets are stretched thin,‖ said Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president
and chief executive officer of Dominion.
―The true value of these grants is that they will help the recipients save money month after
month, producing savings many times the initial grant amount. We are working to help
ensure that safe, warm shelter is available to those in need.‖
Lawmakers want to reform Virginia foreclosure law
Current law allows homeowners to be evicted in as little as two weeks
By Stephen Groves
Virginia Statehouse News
December 7, 2010
In Virginia, the home foreclosure process can send people packing in less than two weeks.
Two legislators — Sen. Chap Petersen, D- Fairfax, and Del. Bob Marshall, R-Manassas —
plan to introduce legislation next session to reform the process.
The proposal "would start to bring transparency to those who cut corners to make a profit,"
Virginia has one of the fastest foreclosure processes in the country. Once a foreclosure
notice of sale is posted, a house can be sold at auction just 14 days later in some cases,
although most foreclosure processes take more time.
And because few if any paper records are left when one lender purchases a mortgage from
another, foreclosure in the state can be confusing.
"It's a very disorganized system," Petersen said. "I'm looking to standardize the process."
Petersen plans to introduce three bills that aim to extend the notice period for a foreclosure
sale from two weeks to 30 days and make it illegal for loan servicers to fake signatures or
documents to obtain an order of foreclosure. Petersen also wants to make it mandatory that
loans transferred from one lender to another be recorded in the land records of the county
where the property is located.
"In modern day banking, the people who are collecting on a loan are not the people who
actually own it," Petersen said.
Marshall is introducing a similar bill to make sure borrowers can easily find out who owns
their mortgages. His bill would require county filing fees when a loan is transferred between
"I had constituents call me who didn't know who owned their loans," Marshall said.
And it's not because the process is illegal.
"Currently, Virginia law does not require that assignments of mortgages be recorded," said
Tom Domonoske, a Harrisonburg attorney who has represented homeowners facing
State legislatures across the country are facing the problems produced by the rash of
foreclosures that came when the housing market collapsed.
Heather Morton, legislative analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said
legislatures are tackling several issues such as providing relief to homeowners struggling to
make payments, regulating the industry so better records are kept when mortgages are
transferred, and keeping property values up in neighborhoods that have empty houses due to
"You're not just talking about a recession," said Ted Gayer, co-director of the economic
studies program at the Brookings Institute. "You're talking about a recession coupled with a
housing market bust."
The complexities of the market can leave lawmakers scratching their heads on how to react
to a complicated problem. But for Marshall, the motivation is simple: "To ensure people
who own homes or are paying their mortgages don't lose their investment."