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April 5, 2016
HUD Warns Against Blanket Ex-Offender Bans
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Copyright: Digital Storm

HUD issued fair housing guidance yesterday that extends protections for individuals with criminal histories. This guidance builds on similar policies issued by HUD last year that only applied to public and federal-assisted housing. Most notably, the new guidance prohibits the use of arrest records to deny residency and denials based on convictions must consider the nature and severity of the incident.

Overall, the guidance seeks to end blanket exclusions of prospective residents based on criminal history in favor of a more individualized approach that is more narrowly tailored to achieve property safety and security goals.

NMHC’s Paula Cino was quoted in a related Wall Street Journal article, which was also published yesterday. “We all want to feel safe in our homes,” emphasized Cino. “It is critical to balance the housing needs for everybody with providing a safe and secure community.”

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NMHC Insider
Join Us: Fair Housing Webinar on April 28
NMHC and NAA will host a webinar on our new white paper entitled, “Fair Housing: Familial Status and Occupancy,” on Thursday, April 28 from 2 to 3 p.m. EDT. This in-depth white paper discusses fair housing protections for families and reviews seemingly routine business practices that could give rise to Fair Housing Act complaints. Mike Skojec, Partner at Ballard Spahr LLP, will provide insight into the white paper, including the areas most impacted by familial status claims such as amenity operations, leasing policies and safety rules. Register today!
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Leading Experts Call for Merging Fannie and Freddie
On March 23, a group of leading experts on housing finance and domestic economic policy released a paper entitled, “A Promising Road to GSE Reform,” outlining a path forward for reform of the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The paper recommends that they be removed from conservatorship, merged into one entity referred to as the National Mortgage Reinsurance Corporation (NMRC), and provided with an explicit guarantee for all future securitization activity.
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Industry Follows Up on Fannie, Freddie Duty to Serve Plans
NMHC and NAA provided in-depth feedback to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) on the agency’s draft “Duty to Serve” proposal on March 17. The proposal focuses on boosting mortgage finance by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs) in underserved markets for very low, low and moderate income families. The proposal concentrates on preserving affordable housing, adopting policies that help low-income borrowers purchase manufactured housing, and increasing the availability of affordable mortgage credit in rural areas.
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A Gender Pay Gap in Commercial Real Estate Continues
Commercial real estate leaders should make mentoring and sponsorship for women a priority, consider unconscious bias, and also check for pay disparities between men and women, suggests CREW Network’s 2015 benchmark study. The MIT Center for Real Estate served as CREW’s independent research partner to conduct the study. The report – CREW’s third comprehensive study measuring pay, advancement and career satisfaction among both women and men – covers management, brokerage, development and finance in commercial real estate. NMHC is a sponsor of the report.
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House Committee Says It's Time to Privatize Flood Insurance
On March 23, the House Budget Committee report recommended privatizing flood insurance as part of its Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposal as a way to cut Federal Government costs. The report outlined that there was “little to no” private sector alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which places the cost on taxpayers. According to the report, NFIP is currently $23 billion in debt and will not recover under its current structure given the likelihood of more natural disasters like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Multifamily firms with federally regulated and insured mortgages on properties in high-risk areas are required by law to purchase flood insurance.
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CMBS Market Struggles with Regulation Burdens, Volatile Markets
Beginning in the summer of 2015, the Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities (CMBS) market ran into a headwind of interest rate volatility, commodity price collapse, investors unease and regulatory burdens. As a result, the new issuance volume for CMBS has slowed dramatically. Once estimated to top $100 billion in new issuance in 2016, the new forecasts are coming in as low as $40 billion. The market is clearly struggling to find firm ground on what has been an earthquake of challenges.
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Senate Bill Aims to Curb Costly Drain of Patent Trolls
Introduced in the Senate this week, the “Venue Equity and Non-Uniformity Elimination Act of 2016” aims to help address the rise in patent infringement claims against end user businesses like apartment firms. The bill would require that these claims be filed in courts where the defendant is actually located or where the alleged infringement took place. Ultimately, it would prevent patent trolls from filing their often baseless claims in jurisdictions that are considered “friendly” to their cause. The legislation is clearly needed with nearly half of all new patent claims being filed in just one judicial district – the Eastern District of Texas. Frivolous, unsupported patent infringement claims are a costly drain for the multifamily industry, the real estate sector and economy as a whole.
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Keeping You Informed: Rent Control Laws by State
NMHC and NAA recently updated our online rent control table to reflect the latest information by state. Currently, five states have rent control laws in place, eleven states are without rent control policies and the remainder have a preemption to rent control. The multifamily industry maintains the viewpoint that rent control makes housing shortages worse, causes existing buildings to deteriorate and disproportionately benefits higher-income households. Notably, Forbes magazine listed rent control as one of the 10 worst economic ideas of the 20th century. We continue to urge lawmakers to reject price controls and pursue alternatives like voucher-based rental assistance in order to better address critical affordable housing shortages.
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Top Advisor to President Obama on GSE Reform, Affordability Leaves
Michael Stegman, the senior Obama Administration official working on reform efforts for the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, left the President’s National Economic Council (NEC) on March 25. Stegman also played a significant role when it came to affordable housing initiatives. His departure represents the most recent exit of a senior housing policy official. Ultimately, this further reduces the likelihood of any significant action on GSE reform before the end of the year.
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Industry Takes ACTION on LIHTC
NMHC and NAA are encouraging lawmakers to enhance the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) by increasing program resources to promote the production of more affordable housing. The nation is short 3.9 million affordable units for extremely low-income households. Recently, we supported an ACTION Coalition letter with more than 1,300 signatories that calls for Congress to expand housing credit authority by 50 percent and allow states to convert a portion of their private activity bond volume cap into housing credit authority.
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Check the 2016 Area Median Income Limits Today
HUD recently released its fiscal year 2016 Area Median Income Limits (AMIs). AMIs are used to set eligibility thresholds for several federal subsidy programs, including the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and Section 8 programs. Apartment owners, developers and managers should check the new income limits for the areas where they operate, as these new income limits are now in effect for federal programs.
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Flood Insurance Rates on the Upswing
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) experienced a scheduled rise in rates on April 1 as a result of reforms enacted by Congress in 2012 and 2014. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the average increase is 9 percent for property owners with most capped at 15 percent. The increases primarily impact single-family homeowners, but some apartment communities and businesses could be impacted.
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Don't Miss It: NMHC's 2016 Spring Board Meeting in Chicago
Register today for one of NMHC's most exclusive meetings of the year, the 2016 NMHC Spring Board of Directors Meeting, May 18-20 at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago. The Spring Board Meeting brings together top executives from the industry's leading firms to candidly share information and insight on key multifamily topics. A few speaker highlights include: CNN Senior Political Commentator David Axelrod; Equity Group Investments Chairman Sam Zell; Academic, Researcher, Writer and Entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa; and Former Secretary of the Treasury Henry M. Paulson, Jr. The three-day meeting will include a variety of panels covering topics such as cybersecurity and the risk landscape, innovative business models for rental housing, an analysis of capital markets and much more. The Spring Board Meeting is open to NMHC Executive Committee and Board of Directors members only.
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Spring Break is Over: Congress Heads Back to Work
No doubt there are many distractions in Washington these days, including the fight over U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, the presidential campaign and party convention planning. However, as always, NMHC remains laser focused on keeping the concerns of the multifamily industry front and center. 
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Hill Watch
Senate Committee hearing entitled, "The Federal Role in Keeping Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Affordable," on Thurs., April 7 at 10 a.m.
Senate Committee hearing entitled, "The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Semi-Annual Report to Congress," on Thurs., April 7 at 10 a.m.
House Committee hearing on Income Tax Reform Proposals, on Wed., April 13 at 3:30 p.m.
Senate Subcommittee hearing entitled, "Examining Current Trends and Changes in the Fixed-Income Markets," on Thurs., April 14 at 10 a.m.
House Subcommittee hearing entitled, "Blackout! Are We Prepared to Manage the Aftermath of a Cyber-Attack or Other Failure of the Electrical Grid?", on Thurs., April 14 at 10 a.m.
Media Roundup
Can Apt. Supply Meet the Coming Demand? (*Features Clyde Holland's affordability testimony)
FCC Approves Broadband Subsidy for Low-Income Households
New York Times
The "Supply-Side" Arguments, and Why Geography, Scale, and Migration Matter
Cities for Everyone
New York Times
Living From Rent to Rent: Tenants on the Edge of Eviction
Both Frontrunners are Playing Defense in Tuesday's Wisconsin Primary
Washington Post
Top Republicans Talking Up Paul Ryan as Nominee
Everything You Need to Know About the Supreme Court Battle
Roll Call
The Scoop
Why are Americans So Angry About the 2016 Election?

From Facebook to the water cooler to bitter family dinner debates, it does seem like Americans are really angry about the 2016 election and the state of the nation. But the data shows that our overall sense of satisfaction with the economy and more doesn’t actually compute – and something else is driving the outpouring of hostility over the elections. What’s really going on? Find out below.

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