Just before Christmas some of HUD's most important partners in the Northwest - some 250 on-the-ground programs designed and run by local governments, housing authorities and nonprofits who are members of local Continuums of Care - received the news they'd been waiting for - HUD's award of almost $60.3 million - up from total funding in the region in 2008 - to enable them to continue offering critically-needed housing and services to homeless families and individuals in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. For the first time, HUD awarded "renewal" funds to existing Continuum projects in advance of "new project" awards. "As we move into the coldest time of the year, it's critical that no program risk running out of money to keep their doors open," said HUD Secretary Donovan. "These grants will make certain that those programs on the front lines of helping the homeless have the resources they need to house and serve persons who might otherwise be forced to turn to the streets." A Continuum's service mix is set by the Continuums itself and includes permanent and transitional housing and services like outreach, job training, health care, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and child care. HUD will award funds for new projects in early 2010.
On December 18th, President Obama issued a declaration of disaster as a result of severe damage done by "severe storms, flooding, mudslides, and rockslides" from October 6th to 11th in the Kodiak Island Borough of Alaska. The declaration makes funds available on a cost-sharing basis to the State, eligible local governments and non-profits for emergency work, the repair or replacement of damaged facilities and hazard mitigation. It also permits HUD to allow the State to re-allocate previously allocated CDBG and HOME funds to disaster response and relief, to order a 90-day moratorium on the foreclosure of FHA-insured mortgages, to help "those who have lost their home" to use an FHA-insured mortgage insurance to purchase or refinance and to repair a house, and to offer the State or local governments federally guaranteed loans for housing rehabilitation, economic development and repair of public infrastructure. "Whether it's foreclosure relief for FHA-insured families or helping Kodiak Island Borough to recover," said HUD Secretary Donovan, "HUD stands ready to help in any way we can."
Washington Department of Commerce awards $22,490,000 from Housing Trust Fund to 11 multifamily affordable housing projects with total of 706 units in Clallam, Island, Walla Walla, King, Spokane, Pierce and Snohomish counties. . . 6th annual survey, Farmers Insurance Group study says Lewiston-Clarkston area is "most secure place" under 150,000 people to live and five Northwest communities - Olympia, Bellingham, Kennewick-Richland-Pasco, Bremerton-Silverdale, Yakima - are among most secure areas with populations between 150,000 and 500,000. . .Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter names David Wilson of Sun Valley as chairman of the Idaho Housing & Finance Authority board. . . Curry County Pilot says Brookings begins work on $2.9 million downtown street improvement project, the first major project implemented under city's 2002 Urban Renewal Plan. . .Longview Daily News says Cowlitz Tribe begins leasing up new, 32-unit elderly housing complex in Toledo, created by renovation of St. Mary's Catholic School & Convent. . .Silverton Appeal Tribune says City has picked Silverton Area Community Aid as this year's recipient of this year's Meters for Charity program. . .City of Gresham tells Oregonian it wants to offer $10,000 interest-free loans to help residents buy foreclosed homes. . .Tri City Herald reports consortium of four churches 14-unit Edison Terrace South independent living facility for the developmentally-disabled in Kennewick. . .Idaho Statesman says Boise Mayor Dave Rieter has tripled funds to provide emergency lodging to homeless families and has opened Pioneer Community Center day-shelter for up to 16 families. . . USDA says 84,021 "rural families throughout the country have become homeowners so far" as a result of the Recovery Act. . .First 18 Department of Commerce broadband projects under Recovery Act includes awards in Anchorage and Spokane. . .FHA posts RESPA in Plain English.
Some $2.8 million in Affordable Housing Program funds has been awarded by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle to help construct or reconstruct more than 200 additional units of affordable homeownership or rental housing across the Northwest. 2009 AHP funds have been approved for partnerships between Citizens Bank and Yamhill CDC in Gervais, Golf Savings Bank, Sterling Bank and the Colville Indian Housing Authority in Inchelium, Peoples Bank and Homestead Community Land Trust in Seattle and King County, Washington Trust and Inland Empire Residential Resources in Spokane, Banner Bank and Blue Mountain Community Action in Walla Walla, Sterling Savings Bank and Parkview Services in King and Snohomish counties, Bank of America, Spokane Housing Ventures and Whitewater Creek, Inc. in Liberty Lake and Banner Bank and Yakima Nation Housing Authority in Toppenish. The Bank also identified another four projects in Bend and Newport, Oregon and Kent and Deer Park in the event additional Affordable Housing Program "subsidy becomes available." "All of the projects," the Bank noted, "will reserve at least 20 percent of their units for households with special needs, five projects will serve the homeless and three will serve Native peoples."
Pleased that "Idahoans will directly benefit from this funding through the new jobs created and through the additional affordable housing that will soon be available for Idaho residents," Idaho Housing & Finance Association executive director Gerald Hunter says the Association has completed the award of $34.2 million in Recovery Act funds under HUD's Tax Credit Assistance Program and Treasury's Tax Credit Exchange Program. The goal, he explains, was "on creating and saving jobs in the near term and investing in infrastructure" providing "long-term economic benefits." The Association targeted on projects in Boise, Buhl, Caldwell, Chubbuck, Fruitland, Grand Valley, Idaho Falls, Ketchum, Marsing, McCall, Montpelier, Nampa Post Falls and St. Maries, Post Falls that had received Low Income Housing Tax Credit allocations between October 1, 2006 and September 30, 2009 but that may have stalled because of declining equity prices."
At its December meeting, the Oregon Housing Council okayed a Jackson County Housing Authority project in Medford and an Innovative Housing Inc. project in Portland were okayed for predevelopment loans while additional HUD Tax Credit Assistance Program funds were approved for projects in Astoria, Eugene, Gresham, Hood River, Portland and Tigard. The action, explained Oregon Housing & Community Services Victor Merced, "assure stable funding in this dynamic market for more than 450 affordable living units."
BRIEF BRIEFS TOO
Oregon Housing & Community Services says it will begin accepting applications January 2nd on first-come, first-served basis for more than $3.6 million in 2010 Farmworker Housing Tax Credits. . .Arbor South Architecture of Eugene wins U.S. Green Building Council's 2009 LEED for Housing Award for The Sage, a 1447-square foot infill project which, it says, is the "highest scoring LEED Platinum home west of the Rocky Mountains". . .REACH of Portland wins Bank of America Charitable Foundations Neighborhood Builders Award that includes $200,000 unrestricted grant. . . Seattle Times says Archdiocesan Housing Authority has changed its name to Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington. . ..Corvallis Gazette Times says Benton County Commissioners "unanimously voted" to establish commission to "focus on" implementation of 10-year plan to address "issues surrounding housing and homelessness". . .Umpqua Community Development Corporation wins $1.5 million Oregon Housing & Community Services grant to build 15 units of new housing in Roseburg for people with disabilities. . .Issaquah Press says City and YWCA break ground on 149-unit Family Village apartment complex deemed "key piece" to Issaquah Highlands urban village. . .EPA says that, in its first decade, Energy Star awards have been given to 380 buildings in Northwest "and approximately 4,700 buildings are actively involved in energy programs". . .SBA selects Allan Ahlgren of Juneau, Mara McMillen of Boise, Tara O'Keeffe-Broadbent of Sisters and Rory Lee Nay of Liberty Lake as 2009 State Small Business People of the Year. . . Cynthia Parker of Mercy Housing named CEO of BRIDGE Housing, one of the largest developers of affordable housing in California. . .With help from CASA of Oregon, Northwest Cooperative Development Center and Community Development Law Center, Green Pastures Mobile Home Park in Redmond is bought by residents who formed themselves into a cooperative. . .Central City Concern wins almost $9 million in HHS Recovery Act funds to build new behavioral health center in Portland. . .Idaho Office of Energy Resources awards $1.5 million in grants to spark development of Renewable Energy Enterprise Zones in Franklin, Hailey, Nampa, McCall, Sandpoint and Adams, Boise, Clark, Clearwater, Kootenai and Twin Falls county. .Hillsboro Argus says City of Beaverton and Providence Health Services have agreed to "explore" development of "multi-use housing & health center for low-income elderly.
It's always nice to see a government program work the way it's supposed to. Just ask Jack Battles. Four years back, says The Yakima Herald, he was making $52 an hour in the Bremerton shipyards. But then a mooring line "slammed into his knee." So much for $52 an hour. Trouble followed fast. He lost his job, his house and all his savings. At the suggestion of a friend, he, his companion and their two boys headed for Yakima. But prospects weren't much better and they spent most nights sleeping in their car or "surfing couches." But then he got a call from the county's veterans coordinator who told him his Vietnam-era service qualified him for rental assistance under a joint VA and HUD program run by the Yakima Housing Authority. Like Jack Battles. Within days, he found a three-bedroom apartment to which he contributes $250 of the $850 rent. "I kept praying to God and this came through for me," he told The Herald. "I wouldn't want anybody to go through" what he's gone through, he added, and "I don't want to go through it again."
As local governments and housing authorities continue to put Recovery Act dollars to work, you realize more and more that the glitziest work usually isn't always the most important work being done. Consider, for example, the $2 million in Recovery Act funds the King County Housing Authority is spending at Southridge House, an 80-unit public housing complex for the elderly and people with disabilities in Federal Way. The work planned is fundamental, not flashy. Southridge is made of brick. Brick is porous. And "porous" can be the kiss of structural death for 40-year-old buildings in a moist climate like the Puget Sound's. So, instead of "bells and whistles," the Authority is prudently using Recovery Act funds to seal the bricks, then wrap them with rigid insulation and then cover them with Hardie Board, creating a "rain screen" to prevent any further penetration or corrosion. Energy-efficient windows also will be installed to make an even tighter envelope. No glitz, no glamour? Absolutely! But so what. "This initiative will reduce operating costs and make Soutrhidge House a more comfortable and affordable place to live," says executive director Stephen Norman.
BRIEF BRIEFS THREE
FHA Commissioner Stevens says December 15th Federal Register includes proposed rule to establish "nationwide standards of uniform licensing for loan originators" in order to "benefit both consumers and financial institutions". . .Telling The Times-News "they haven't put up a tree for several years and now they're picking out a place to put one," Magic Valley Habitat's Linda Fleming welcomes two families to new homes in Twin Falls just in time for Christmas. . .Community Partners for Affordable Housing wins green merit Multifamily Executive award for its Watershed at Hillsdale elderly housing complex in Portland. . . Thanks to Recovery Act, Association of Village Council Presidents reports "record year" with ground broken for 57 new homes and 124 weatherization projects completed. . . Seattle Housing Authority, Washington Housing Finance, the Enterprise Foundation, the City and Washington Housing Trust Fund celebrate completion of $11.1 million "top to bottom" transformation of Douglas Apartments into South Shore Court in Rainier Beach. . .Portland Business Journal survey of "more than 2,000 Oregon CEO's" ranks Umpqua Bank as Oregon's most admired financial institution based on "innovation, customer service and community investment". . .Bellingham Herald reports that Lighthouse Mission Drop-In Center that opened in June 2008 just "one-day-a-week" is now open five days each week with plans "to move to seven days a week in January". . .Daily Journal of Commerce says Colville Indian Housing Authority begins accepting expressions of interest from contractors to help build Buttercup Lane, a 27-unit single-family development near Inchelium. . .HomeAid, Compassion House and Master Builders Care Foundation break ground on duplex in Issaquah to provide transitional housing to temporarily homeless families. . .Telling Dalles Chronicle "we are seeing more people now" in Hood River, Sherman and Wasco counties "that have never before sought assistance with food, shelter and heat," Mid-Columbia Community Action's Jim Slusher says it will reduce weatherization waiting list of "about 1,000 families" by using Recovery Act to hire staff and more than quadruple weatherization projects this year.
ONE OF OUR OWN
Congratulations to Huston Prescott who came to HUD Anchorage from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation about 18 months ago. Earlier this year, President Obama urged Federal employees to electronically submit their ideas on "how government can save money and perform better." Efficiencies and innovations that made sense, he promised, would be included as part of his 2011 proposed Federal budget. More than 38,000 Federal employees responded. Including Prescott whose idea - to end redundant, duplicative inspections of Federally-subsidized housing - made the "final four" of ideas that the Office of Management and Budget thought most promising. We "salute the thousands of Federal employees who submitted their ideas," said a White House statement. "Their initiative proves that often the best ideas come not from management, but from those on the frontlines. Over the coming months, we hope to implement many of these excellent ideas as we seek to instill a new sense of responsibility for every tax dollar."
WHAT'S THE SCORE?
Speaking of inspections, HUD's Real Estate Assessment Center routinely conducts physical property inspections of a sampling of the 1.2 million public housing units and 1.4 million multifamily assisted housing units. Consistent with President Obama's Open Government Directive and to "give the public, public a better understanding of how we work" and "a real voice in how we do business," Secretary Donovan says HUD is taking the "huge step" of publicly posting these property inspection scores. Take a look.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"I think it's a landmark. It is and was the biggest, tallest building in North Bend and I hope the community can again be proud of it like they were in the '20s and '30s." - Umpqua CDC executive director Betty Tamm in The Coos Bay World on the grand opening of the refurbished, 33-unit North Bend Hotel as workforce housing. "There's some of everything. There's a young couple with an infant. There are senior individuals. ...There are people working in the community. There are people who are retired, We expected and hoped the demand would be there and indeed it was."
WORTH A READ
As one year ends, the next begins, you might want to take a look at Melissa Sanchez's December 20th account in The Yakima Herald Republic of a party celebrating the 68th birthday of Tomas Villanueva, a man credited as one of the founders of the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic. You'll find it at website.
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.
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.
HUD Portland hosts Fair Housing Training, January 20th, Portland. Visit online.
Northwest Center for Public Health Practice hosts workshop on Essentials for Healthy Homes Practitioners, January 26th and 27th, Seattle. Visit online.
Deadline to comment on HUD Public Housing Mortgage Program. January 31st. Visit online
9th annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, February 4th through 6th, Seattle. Visit online
Winter conference of Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, February 8th through 11th, Centralia. Visit online
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 online
HUD Seattle hosts Basic Fair Housing Workshop. February 24th, Seattle. Visit online
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