TIS' THE SEASON
As the hustle and bustle of the holidays begin, consider the gifts being prepared by the Walla Walla Quilt Guild. 18 "warm and colorful" handmade quilts, reports The Union-Bulletin, one for each of the 18 beds at the Helpline Women's Emergency Shelter opened last June thanks to support from Soroptimist International, Whitman College and Walla Walla University. "This would be a way to make the shelter more cheerful," says the Guild's Meredith Mitchell. "It usually takes about two months to complete a quilt. We might get sore fingers, but we will make all 18 quilts." The quilts, responded Helpline director Dan Williams at a recent Guild meeting, "are a blessing."
HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims visited Tacoma in November, interested in learning not just what Tacoma's done, but what more it would like to do using HUD's programs and funds. For example, he visited the Tacoma Housing Authority's Salishan community that's become a national model on how to transform World War II-era public housing into vital, mixed-income communities. He also met with residents of the Hilltop neighborhood where he spoke with them about the challenges - and the opportunities - they face in maintaining and strengthening what historically has been one of Tacoma's most diverse neighborhoods. And, finally, he headed with Mayor-elect Strickland to the waterfront to tour Pt. Ruston, a market-rate development that is rising on the shores of Commencement Bay.
Medford Mail Tribune says Building Hope - a foreclosure prevention partnership "spearheaded" by Access, Inc., Rogue Federal Credit Union and Homebuilders Association of Jackson County - has counseled more than 600 families in first year, helping them "make the tough decisions, to scale back on expenses and find other income sources, while considering the harsh of whether they have the financial wherewithal to keep their homes". . .Chefornak Traditional Council one of nine groups nationwide to win $6.1 million in USDA water & sewer grants. . .Neighborhood House celebrates grand opening of its LEED Gold High Point Center in Seattle, including largest solar array in state. . .Juneau Empire reports that "after a gap of several years" Douglas High School "has resurrected" a home-building project. . . Bremerton Housing Authority's control management division selected by Housing Authority of Los Angeles to help it manage 45,331 HUD-subsidized apartments in southern California. . .CASA of Oregon one of four groups nationwide to win Wachovia NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance. . .Bryan Ketcham moves from Washington Office of Rural & Farmworker Housing to become executive director of Catholic Charities Housing Services in Yakima. . .Newberg Graphic says Housing Authority of Yamhill County has sold more than a third of 70 public housing units in McMinnville and Newberg with plans, says its Cliff Hardy, "to take that money and funnel it back into affordable housing". . .SNAP celebrates grand opening of 51-unit Riverwalk II complex in Spokane that includes community center built of straw bales. . ,Telling Gresham Outlook the goal is "to take eyesores out of neighborhoods," Mayor Shane Bemis launches "Come Home to Gresham" initiative offering zero-interest loans of $10,000 for down-payment or closing costs "to help qualified buyers purchase foreclosed homes". . .Governor Gregoire awards nearly $4 million in Recovery Act CDBG funds to Garfield, Grandview, Long Beach, Oroville, Othello and Grant County to, among other things, repair water mains, y, rehabilitate a well, expand water treatment plant and rebuild streets and sidewalks. . .Idaho Mountain Express reports Ketchum Community Development groundbreaking for 32-unit Northwood Place affordable housing complex funded, in part, by Recovery Act.
Come New Year's Day 2010, homebuyers will be able to more easily shop around for the mortgage that best suits their circumstances and, at closing, to be better informed about the real costs of the papers they're about to sign thanks to a new HUD rule that, under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, requires lenders and mortgage brokers to provide buyers with a Good Faith Estimate that "clearly discloses loan terms" and requires closing agents to provide buyers with a HUD-1 Settlement Statement that "clearly compares consumers' final and estimated costs." To make the transition from the old to new way of doing business, HUD Secretary Donovan has announced that the staff of HUD's Mortgagee Review Board "will exercise restraint in enforcing" the new rules "in considering an action against FHA-approved lenders who have demonstrated that they are making a good faith effort to comply with the new rules." For more about what the new and improved RESPA will mean starting January 1st for both buyers and lenders, please visit website.
FHA WANTS TO KNOW
For the next 30 days, the Federal Housing Administration is seeking comments on a proposed rule published November 30th in The Federal Register that will allow FHA to increase the net worth requirements of FHA-approved lenders, strengthen lender approval criteria, and make lenders liable for the practices of their correspondent mortgage brokers to further reduce risks to its single-family insurance fund as it continues to play a critical role in today's housing market. To read or comment on the rule, visit website.
The Continuing Resolution passed by Congress on October 20th included a provision to extend current Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA mortgage limits until the end of calendar 2010. They'd been set to expire and return to the lower limits in effect on January 1st, 2009. For the FHA limits in your market, please visit website.
WHAT THE HECK'S WITH HECM?
Since 1998, some 33,500 Northwest homeowners have taken out FHA home equity conversion - or "reverse" - mortgages. As boomers grow even grayer, many more will. Under FHA mortgagee letter 09-47, effective October 2nd, 2009, "only those counselors on the HECM Roster can provide HECM counseling to potential HECM borrowers." Find the Roster online.
BRIEF BRIEFS TOO
Former State Senator Vicki Walker named director of USDA Rural Development in Oregon. . .Mayor John McArdle of Independence elected President and Mayor Colleen John of La Grande Vice President of Oregon League of Cities. . . Pend Oreille Valley Network wins $834,164 - one of 22 USDA community connect grants nationwide - to bring broadband capacity to Clark Fork. . . .Thanks to Whitman College professor Ray Norsworthy, the Friends of Farm Labor Houses and Walla Walla housing authority, the after school "escuelita" at Farm Labor Homes has a opened new, permanent facility. . .Oregon Housing & Community Services' says it will have only one Consolidated Funding Cycle in 2010, with application materials on-line in February 19th. . .Dubsea Coffee opens doors at White Center, the first retail business in King County Housing Authority's Greenbridge revitalization project. . .Clark County wins Award of Excellence from National Association of County Community Economic Development for its Homeless Engagement Collaboration that is using extensive landlord outreach and education to increase opportunities for homeless to move from encampments to housing. . .Spokane Baptist Association celebrates grand opening of 50-unit Lilac Terrace for the elderly. . .Justice Department awards awards Recovery Act funds to Klamath, Squaxin, Swinomish and Tulalip tribes to combat domestic violence. . .54-unit International Place elderly housing in Tacoma opens Neighborhood Networks computer center. . ."Nobody will finance a single mom with four kids," Debbie Warren, the head of one of 10 families building their own home in Gervais under USDA's Mutual Self Help Housing Program through Yamhill Community Development, tells Statesman Journal, adding "It's nice getting to know your neighbors before you move in". . . Just in time for the holidays, Lower Columbia Community Action opens "CAP-tured Treasures," a boutique clothing store that, says manager Paul Yauch, will offer "quality brand name fashions at extraordinary savings" while also offering "jobs skill training" to clients who want to work in retail. . .Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Portland Youth Builders and ANEW - Apprenticeship & Nontraditional Employment for Women - in Seattle win Department of Labor Green Building Capacity Building grants to, says Secretary Hilda Solis, "help American workers do well while they are doing good". . .Bellingham Herald says City awards stimulus funds to Kulshan Community Land Trust to buy, refurbish and re0sell 10 homes to Whatcom County residents. . .Lake Oswego and Aumsville win 2009 Oregon League of Cities Good Government Awards. . .HUD Policy Development & Research publishes report on Revitalizing Foreclosed Properties with Land Banks at website.
UP ON MAIN
HUD has set January 20th as the deadline for units of local government serving communities with populations of 50,000 or fewer people and 100 or fewer public housing units to apply for $4 million in 2009 HOPE VI Main Street grants. The grants are designed to help the communities "in the rejuvenation of an historic or traditional central business district or "Main Street" area by replacing unused commercial space in buildings with affordable housing units." For more, visit website.
Oregon Housing & Community Services has announced the award of "nearly $70.5 million in grants, loans and tax credits" to create 444 units of affordable housing which, it estimates, will generate "as much as $775.5 million in economic activity" across the state. "Many of the projects," explained executive director Victor Merced, "will provide affordable housing for a great number of Oregonians with high needs, including people with developmental and/or physical disabilities, and very low-income individuals and families." Awarded under OHCS' 2009 Consolidated Funding Cycle, the winning projects are located in Aloha, Beaverton, Bend, Eugene, Grants Pass, LaGrande, Medford, Milwaukie, Portland, Roseburg and The Dalles. Predevelopment funds also went to projects in Beaverton, Klamath Falls, Prineville, Redmond and Salem. "We hope," added Merced, the projects help the intended beneficiaries "in reaching their goals and living as independently as possible."
The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation is giving new meaning to the phrase, "smart housing." Visit the village of Tanana on the Yukon River, for example, and you'll find six school teachers, but, reports the Corporation, only two units for rent. Same story in Teller. Ten teachers, but "very few rental units available." Across rural Alaska, says Corporation executive director Dan Fauske, "the lack of available housing" has been "a major impediment to recruiting and retaining good teachers." Help is on the way, with the Corporation in late October awarding $9 million in grants that will leverage another $12 million in loans and matching funds to nine Alaska communities under its Teacher-Health Professions-Public Safety Professional Housing Program. Competitively awarded, 30 units will go to teachers and six to health care workers where, says Fauske, it's a demonstrated "local priority." Since its start in 2004, the program's produced more than 300 units for teachers and other professionals in 55 villages.
BRIEF BRIEFS THREE
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awards almost million to the Legal Aid of Washington Fund and the Blue Mountain, North Central Washington, Southwest Washington, Orcas Island, Skagit, Inland Northwest, Three Rivers, Whatcom and Yakima Valley community foundations to help "thousands of families" in Washington state, said William H. Gates Sr., "who need a hand as they work toward economic recovery and stability". . .Kitsap's Asset Building Coalition of celebrates first anniversary. . .Community Development Inc. celebrates grand opening of Weeks Field Estates in Fairbanks. . .HUD okays $23.1 million loan to construct 25-bed acute care hospital in Grand Coulee. . .VA Secretary Shinseki unveils Department's 5-year plan to end homelessness among veterans. . .News-Review says Umpqua Community Action Network "has secured" Recovery Act funding for 10-unit Triillium Terrace for families with at least one member who is chronically mentally-ill. . .Bremerton Housing Authority says, thanks to Recovery Act, all financing for the 83-unit Summit at Bay Vista is complete with work to begin next Spring. . .If you're looking for the Portland Housing Bureau, it's moved to 421 SW Sixth Avenue, Suite 500, in Portland, 97204 -1629. . .National League of Cities confers Award for Municipal Excellence on Green Seattle Partnership - a five-year-old collaboration between the City and Cascade Land Conservancy committed to preserving and restoring 2,500 acres of forested parkland. . .KPVI-TV says Lake City Development buys property for an up-to 35 unit affordable housing project in Coeur d'Alene. . .Praise Covenant Church of Tacoma says it will open "safe haven for women who are transitioning from prison, drug or alcohol abuse, partner abuse or just plain poverty". . .Umpqua Community College students get to work helping the Roseburg affiliate of Habitat for Humanity build its 7th house. . .Russell Joyce of Prudential Jack White Vista Realty elected president and Helen Jarratt of REMAX Properties elected president-elect of Alaska Association of REALTORS. . .Seattle Housing Authority sets January opening for 44-unit South Shore Court, completing "top-to-bottom" renovation of Rainier Beach complex that was "a magnet for crime" . . .St. Vincent de Paul cuts ribbon on 15-unit Lynn Peterson House for disabled in Coeur d'Alene. . .Lower Columbia Community Action opens Financial Independence Centers to help families "manage their finances". . .News Miner says Fairbanks Homeless Coalition to develop 10-year plan to end homelessness. . .Tri-City Herald reports $4,000 Northwest Fair Housing Alliance grant to Catholic Family & Child Services in Pasco to build ramps for persons with disabilities. . .Treasury Secretary Geithner awards total of $245 million in New Markets Tax Credit allocations to Alaska Growth Capital in Anchorage, City of Everett, Ecotrust and National Community Trust Fund in Portland, Seattle Investment Fund and ShoreBank Enterprise in Ilwaco, Washington.
QUOTE TO NOTE
For many low-income students, dreams of higher education have little chance of coming true. But in Tacoma, the public schools have teamed up with the leading low-income housing agency to help put more students on the path to college. The College Bound Scholarship program, created by the Legislature in 2008, is the vehicle for making those higher ed dreams come true. . .But the challenge is getting youngsters to apply for the program. They have to sign up at the end of their eighth-grade school year, and it can be hard to get kids that age to focus on anything, much less on a goal more than four years down the road. That's where the Tacoma School District and the Tacoma Housing Authority have excelled. They've both worked hard to make sure eligible students are aware of the scholarship program and what they need to do to apply and stay eligible. . .The results are impressive. In the 2008-2009 school year, 46 percent of the state's eligible students had signed up for the scholarship. But 77 percent of eligible Tacoma public school students and a whopping 83 percent of eligible THA residents were enrolled in the program." - The Tacoma News Tribune, November 24, 2009
December 3rd deadline to apply for HUD Family Unification Program grants. . .December 9th deadline to submit pre-applications for up to $11.3 million in Oregon Housing & Community Services' Housing Preservation Funds. . .December 14th deadline to apply for HUD Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly grants. . .December 15th deadline to apply for EPA Environmental Education grants. . .December 15th deadline to apply for Home Depot Foundation's Building Healthy Communities grants. . . December 17th deadline to apply for HUD Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities grants. . .January 8th deadline to apply for EPA's Environmental Justice Small Grants program. . .January 12th deadline for tribal organizations in "greater Puget Sound" to apply for $3.5 million in EPA funds for "high-priority environmental projects that benefit the Sound. . .January 13th deadline to apply for National Endowment for the Humanities Interpreting America's Historic Places planning and implementation grants. . .January 14th deadline for organizations to apply to Neighborhood Partnership to become or to renew status as fiduciary organization in Oregon Individual Development Account Initiative. . .January 15th deadline to apply for first cycle of Home Depot Foundation's Affordable Housing Built Responsibly and Community Trees grants. . .January 20th deadline to apply for HUD HOPE VI Main Street grants.
BIA Rural Providers Conference, November 30th to December 6th, Anchorage. Visit online.
HUD Spokane hosts Fair Housing Training for Housing Providers, December 2nd, Spokane. Visit online.
HUD Seattle hosts Basic Fair Housing Workshop, December 2nd, Seattle.
National Association of REALTORS & National Housing Council host Northwestern Regional Employer Assisted Housing Forum, December 3rd, Boise. Visit online.
Washington Department of Financial Institutions, City of Seattle Housing Office and Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco host free, all-day Foreclosure Prevention Workshop for at-risk homeowners, December 5th, Seattle. To attend, call the Urban League at 800/368-1455.
HUD Boise hosts Fair Housing Workshop for Landlords, Managers & Tenants, January 12th, Boise. Visit online
Northwest Association of Indian Housing Authorities, January 13th to 14th, Suquamish. Visit online
9th annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, February 4th through 6th, Seattle. Visit www.newpartners.org/about.html
Alaska Forum on the Environment, February 8th through 12th, Anchorage. Visit online
Association of Alaska Housing Authorities quarterly meeting, February 10th to 11th, Juneau. Visit www.aahaak.org/members.html
HUD Seattle hosts Basic Fair Housing Workshop. February 24th, Seattle. Visit online
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