October ACTION Newsletter: Covid-19 Relief Negotiations May Open Back Up; Fed Advances ANPR on CRA Rulemaking

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ACTION Updates

Legislative Outlook & Housing Credit Advocacy Strategy

Negotiations on coronavirus relief legislation, which had remained at a standstill since the August recess, may start up again. This past Friday Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated they will reopen talks, though whether they will have more success this time remains to be seen. House Democrats are currently in the process of drafting what is expected to be a $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which the House could vote on this week. The as-yet unreleased bill is about $1 trillion less than the HEROES Act, which the House passed last May. While it is a significant price cut from the HEROES Act, $2.4 trillion is still much higher than Republicans have indicated they would be willing to go; the Senate having passed only a $650 billion measure earlier this month.

The ACTION Campaign is working closely with our affordable housing champions on the Hill to determine whether this could present an opportunity for our Housing Credit emergency relief priorities – particularly the minimum 4 percent rate should a deal come together. However, as Housing Credit provisions were not included in either the HEROES Act or the Senate-passed legislation, securing them in this package is likely to be a steep road to climb.   Meanwhile, the House on September 22 passed a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government through December 11, which the Senate is expected to pass before the fiscal year ends on September 30, when current federal funding expires. This means Congress will need to reconvene after the election for a “lame duck” session to deal with appropriations. Historically, Congress considers tax legislation during lame duck sessions to address expiring tax provisions and make other tax changes. This will be another key opportunity for the ACTION Campaign to pass Housing Credit legislation.

The outcome of the election will certainly influence our opportunity and the timing for tax legislation. But regardless of which party wins control of the White House and in Congress, we need to continue to advocate for our Housing Credit priorities. We urge advocates to be in contact with their members of Congress to press for ACTION’s Housing Credit priorities for emergency relief, and ask them – particularly those on key tax and housing committees – to communicate their support for these critical priorities to leadership.

Senator Wyden Introduces Disaster Relief Bill with Housing Credit Allocation Increase

On September 17, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the 2020 Disasters Tax Relief Act, S. 4621, to provide tax relief to individuals, businesses, and states where a major disaster is declared under the Stafford Act between January 1, 2020 and 60 days after the bill’s enactment. The bill would increase states’ 2021 Housing Credit allocation for states that experience a disaster during the covered time period. The increase would be the lesser of: the total Housing Credit amount the state Housing Credit agency had allocated to projects in the qualifying disaster zones; or 50 percent of the state’s 2020 Housing Credit ceiling. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) join Senator Wyden as original cosponsors of the legislation. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3) plans to introduce companion legislation in the House. Read Senator Wyden’s press release and access the full bill here.

Additional Updates

CDC Issues Nationwide Temporary Eviction Moratorium

On September 4, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a nationwide eviction moratorium to help prevent the further spread of Covid-19. The order, effective through December 31, 2020, is intended to prevent evictions of covered renters for nonpayment of rent. It does not provide any rental assistance, and tenants would need to repay back rent as well as any interest and fees when the order expires at the end of the year. To receive these protections, renters must submit a form to their landlord or property owner verifying that, under penalty of perjury:

  • They made best efforts to get available government assistance for rent or housing;

  • They either qualified for an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) under the CARES Act, or expect to earn no more than $99,000 for an individual or $198,000 for joint filers in calendar year 2020;

  • They are unable to pay the full rent or payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of hours of work or wages, or large medical expenses;

  • They will continue best efforts to make timely partial payments that are close to what their earnings permit; and

  • The eviction would likely cause them to become homeless or require them to move into and live in close quarters or a shared living setting.

Without rental assistance to accompany an eviction moratorium, tenants remain at risk and will face massive rent burden upon expiration of the order. Independent research released today by ACTION co-chair the National Council of State Housing Agencies estimates that American renters will owe up to $34 billion in back rent by January 2021, when the CDC eviction moratorium expires. By this time, as many as 8.4 million renter households, which include 20.1 million individual renters, are likely to experience an eviction filing. Moreover, without expected rental income, property owners may not have the resources they need to continue paying their mortgages and other bills. The CDC order could impact Housing Credit tenants and property owners as well as those within the market at large.

Federal Reserve Board Advances ANPR on CRA Rulemaking

On September 22, the Federal Reserve Board (the Fed) unanimously voted to issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) that invites public comment on an approach that would modernize regulations that implement the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) for financial institutions regulated by the Fed. Comments will be accepted 120 days following when the ANPR is published in the Federal Register, which is anticipated shortly.

The Fed, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) are the three federal banking agencies responsible for overseeing CRA compliance for the banks they regulate. CRA requirements ensure banks invest in low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities. Approximately 85 percent of the annual Housing Credit equity investment is CRA-driven. In May of this year, the OCC issued a final rule to substantially revise its CRA regulations, which would only impact OCC-regulated banks. Though initially the FDIC had joined the OCC in issuing the proposed rule preceding the final rule, the OCC issued this final rule alone, and thus the rule does not apply to FDIC-regulated institutions.

Though the Fed’s ANPR differs from the OCC’s final rule (read more about these differences in a recent NCSHA blog here), the agency has noted that it hopes it can work with the OCC and the FDIC to develop a set of common set of CRA regulations. As the OCC’s final rule would not take effect until 2023 for larger banks and 2024 for smaller banks, this may still be possible. The ACTION Campaign will continue to analyze the details of the Fed’s ANPR and will monitor any further rulemaking. To read the Fed’s press release, click here.

ACTION Membership

The ACTION Campaign is pleased to welcome Inglis of Pennsylvania, who joined our coalition in September. Help our coalition continue to grow by inviting your state and local partners to join ACTION.

Housing Credit Research

Novogradac Analysis Estimates Housing Credit Provisions from Moving Forward Act Could Finance Over One Million Additional Affordable Rental Homes

On September 9, Novogradac released an analysis estimating that 1,014,000 additional affordable rental homes could be financed between 2020 and 2030 if the Housing Credit provisions from in the Moving Forward Act, H.R. 2, were enacted. According to research from the National Association of Home Builders, those homes would house approximately 2.4 million low-income people. The projected number of additional affordable homes from the H.R. 2 provisions include:

  • 320,000 new homes from the boost in 9 percent allocations;

  • 205,000 new homes from the state-determined basis boost for bond-financed properties;

  • 194,000 new homes from lowering the 50 percent test to 25 percent for bond-financed priorities;

  • 137,000 new homes from a 4 percent minimum rate for bond-financed properties;

  • 114,000 new homes from a 10 percent cap increase for extremely low-income (ELI) households and ELI basis boost; and

  • 44,000 new homes from the 10 percent increase in private activity bond authority.

Novogradac Updates State Housing Credit Property Maps

Novogradac has updated its state Housing Credit property maps, which detail the Housing Credit properties in each state using congressional district boundaries from the 116th Congress. The maps were updated using HUD’s latest Housing Credit data, which now includes projects placed in service through 2018. Novogradac plans to release its congressional district Housing Credit property maps in the coming months.

Krista D'Alessandro is the tax policy analyst at Enterprise Community Partners. The ACTION Campaign is co-chaired by Enterprise and the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

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