National Housing Trust
National Housing Trust Newsletter

May 13, 2010
In This Issue
Multifamily foreclosures threaten affordable housing
Dept of Energy: Preservation is a tenant benefit
NHT marks Earth Day by celebrating sustainable affordable housing
MD receives $20 million for energy efficiency
News from D.C.
Preservation in the news
TryoutOur efforts to advance H.R. 4868, the "Housing Preservation and Tenant Protection Act", continue.  Your help is needed to educate members of Congress about the importance of this legislation.

The Housing Preservation and Tenant Protection Act would make it much, much easier to preserve and improve needed affordable rental housing. Continued outreach to members of the House Financial Services Committee is crucial for ensuring that members understand what's in H.R. 4868 and why it's important. We understand Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA)  is working toward a markup of the bill as soon as an immigration issue can be resolved. A strong vote in Committee makes our work easier when the bill goes to the full House, and as we try to build support for action in the Senate.

Please contact members of Congress to voice your support for the bill. Click here for a list of House Financial Services Committee members. Click here for a one page overview of the legislation. Click here for sample email text you can send to Congress.

Choose your message carefully when contacting committee members. Some members will be more sensitive to the risk of homelessness, some to tenant rights, others to job creation, and others to fair treatment of owners and investors.

Stay Tuned,
Michael Bodaken
Rising multifamily foreclosures threaten affordable housing

No. of Troubled Multifamily Properties by Region















Source: Real Capital Analytics

Multifamily mortgage defaults are increasing throughout the country as economic conditions have reduced multifamily property values while current tight credit conditions have made refinancing difficult. Multifamily delinquencies and foreclosures result in deteriorating living conditions for residents as property maintenance is typically deferred and can mean a loss of housing for families even if they've never missed a rent payment. Given that a disproportionate amount of troubled multifamily housing is occupied by low and moderate income families, it's critical that we start to take steps to transition these properties into the hands of capable, mission minded organizations.  

LA troubled multifamily properties. See links to maps below.
LA Map
The first step is understanding the dimension of the problem. The National Housing Trust and Enterprise have acquired nationwide data on troubled multifamily properties. The data reveals an alarming number of multifamily properties that are in some sort of distress. Nationwide, there are nearly 2,100 troubled multifamily properties, including properties with mortgages currently in default or foreclosure or already Lender REO.

A recent report by the DePaul University's Institute for Housing Studies demonstrates the severity of distressed multifamily properties in Cook County and the implications for low income families. The foreclosure rate on large Cook County rental properties (7+ units) has increased 100-fold from .03% in 2004 to 3% by the end of 2009. The report also found Cook County multifamily foreclosures to be "highly concentrated (at least 3 or 4 times higher in concentration)" in low and moderate income neighborhoods.       

Additional resources and recent news stories about multifamily foreclosures:
Dept. of Energy: Preservation is a tenant benefit under the Weatherization program

In new guidance released on April 8, the Dept. of Energy (DOE) announced that long term affordable housing preservation can be used to demonstrate that the benefits of weatherization accrue primarily to the tenant.  This guidance helps resolve a major obstacle that has prevented multifamily weatherization from occurring in many states and is the result of the advocacy of the Trust and our partners. 

In order for a multifamily building to qualify for weatherization services, it must be shown that the tenant will directly benefit from the work.  It is up to each individual state and local weatherization grantee to establish criteria for making this determination. If tenants pay directly for energy, the accrual of benefits requirement can be assured by demonstrating a reduction in the tenants' energy bills. However, in some cases tenants do not pay directly for energy.  In the past, many states and local weatherization grantees have determined that these properties fail to meet the tenant benefit test and have excluded them from the program.     

DOE's guidance makes it clear that state and local grantees can take into consideration several categories of benefits to demonstrate that the benefits of weatherization accrue primarily to tenants, including, but not limited to:
  • longer term preservation of the property as affordable housing;
  • continuation of protection against rent increases beyond that required under the WAP regulations;
  • Investment of the energy savings in facilities or services that offer measurable direct benefits to tenants;
  • Investment of the energy savings from the weatherization work in specific health and safety improvements with measurable benefits to tenants; and
  • Improvements to heat and hot water distribution, and ventilation, to improve the comfort of residents.
State and local weatherization grantees still determine the procedures for ensuring that benefits accrue to tenants. State and local affordable housing advocates should continue to urge weatherization grantees to follow this latest guidance.
Additional resources:

Click HERE for our latest fact sheet on multifamily weatherization state best practices.

NHT, Enterprise, EPA, residents and others mark Earth Day by celebrating sustainability in affordable housing

This Earth Day, NHT joined Enterprise, the Environmental Protection Agency,  the Alliance to Save Energy, the National Park Service, Somerset Development, residents, and others at Galen Terrace to celebrate the many benefits of green affordable housing. Galen Terrace was preserved by the National Housing Trust- Enterprise Preservation Corporation and Somerset Development Company and was the first rehabilitated affordable Section 8 housing in the nation to meet the Enterprise Green Communities criteria.  

While enjoying a cookout, Galen Terrace residents learned about how to maintain their energy efficient apartments, and received donated reusable shopping bags and compact fluorescent lamps.

A special appearance was made by the Alliance to Save Energy's Energy Hog.

Click HERE to learn more about the green preservation of Galen Terrace.

MD to receive $20 million as part of Dept. of Energy's retrofit ramp-up initiative

The State of Maryland will receive $20 million to support the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development's (DHCD) plan, "Investment in Main Street: Energy Efficiency for Economic Growth." This strategy is a holistic, community-based approach to target individual households, multifamily rental properties, and commercial properties for energy-efficiency retrofits.

It is estimated that 20 buildings comprising over 2,000 affordable units will benefit from energy efficiency retrofits utilizing this funding.

The awards are the competitive portion of DOE's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, which was funded for the first time under the Recovery Act to help state, local, and tribal communities make strategic investments in improving energy efficiency, reduce energy use and fossil fuel emissions.

Click HERE to read the full press release about this award.

News from D.C.

Department of Energy Announces $30 Million to Accelerate Weatherization Innovation.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it will provide up to $30 million to fund DOE's new Weatherization Innovation Pilot Program to accelerate innovations in whole-house weatherization technologies and services. The competitive funding opportunity is open to collaborative partnerships that can include the private sector,  non-profit organizations, or existing weatherization providers.

The program is looking to fund new projects that will deliver measureable improvements in the cost, scope, and energy savings of low-income weatherization programs across the country.

DOE anticipates making between 10 and 15 awards under this announcement and anticipates grants to be between $2 million to $3 million each. Projects are tentatively expected to begin in October 2010 and will run for up to two years.

Click HERE for the Funding Opportunity Announcement. Applications due June 2.

Sen. Cantwell introduces LIHTC legislation.
Sen. Cantwell (D-WA) has introduced S. 3326, the "Job Creation and Affordable Housing Act of 2010". The bill would extend the LIHTC cash grant exchange program and expand it to include 4 percent LIHTCs. The legislation is co-sponsored by Sens. Kerry (D-MA) and Boxer (D-CA).

House committee approves major green incentives legislation.  On April 22 (Earth Day), the House Financial Services Committee voted to send to the floor H.R. 2336, the "Green Resources for Energy Efficient Nehighborhoods Act (GREEN Act). Authored by Reps. Earl Perlmutter (D-CO) and Judy Biggert (R-IL), among other provisions, the bill would direct HUD to establish a pilot program to facilitate cost-effective capital improvements to improve energy efficiency in HUD-assisted housing.

Preservation in the News

Nonprofit looks east of Anacostia River to increase affordable housing supply
(Washington Business Journal)

In an effort to bulk up the District's affordable housing stock, David Bowers is going east to what he calls D.C.'s "last frontier," the less-developed parts of the city east of the Anacostia River. Read on...

Nonprofits acquire transit-oriented affordable apartments in Denver
(Multi-Housing News)

Enterprise Community Partners Inc. and the Urban Land Conservancy (ULC), a Denver-based nonprofit real estate organization, have made their first property acquisition through the Denver Transit-Oriented Development Fund. Read on...

Federal funds to jump-start stalled D.C. housing project (The Washington Post)

Webster Gardens, the District's oldest garden-style apartment complex, will be renovated into affordable housing, using federal money to help local and state agencies fund projects stalled during the recession, city officials announced Monday. The District's Housing Finance Agency said it is one of the first such agencies in the country to close on a deal under the U.S. Treasury Department's New Issue Bond Program. Read on...

Checking in on ARRA work

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, (D-N.H.), toured the Wingate Village Apartments Friday afternoon to champion the efforts of weatherization projects made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Wingate Village is a HUD-assisted multifamily property developed by WinnDevelopment that recently received a Weatherization Assistance Program grant.  Read on...