Just Economy Conference – May 6, 2021
With newly appointed Secretary Marcia Fudge at the helm, the United States Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) has key goals to restore enforcement of the Fair Housing Act, COVID-19 response and recovery, and closing the homeownership gap. Attendees will meet newly appointed officials at HUD. Presenters will discuss HUD’s latest policy changes and priorities to support the housing community. Stakeholders will learn how their organizations can support the Biden Administration’s aim to Build Back Better.
- Ibijoke Akinbowale, Director, Housing Counseling Network, NCRC
- Peggy Bailey, Senior Advisor on Rental Assistance in the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Dept. of HUD
- David Berenbaum, Deputy Assistant Secretary, US Dept of HUD – Office of Housing Counseling
- Ethan Handelman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Multifamily Housing, U.S. Dept. of HUD
NCRC video transcripts are produced by a third-party transcription service and may contain errors. They are lightly edited for style and clarity.
It’s not a zoom or a live event unless someone’s on mute, so we’re starting off in good shape.
Good afternoon, everyone and welcome to today’s final session of the just economy conference. I am your moderator up Joe k Kimball Wiley and be director of our housing counseling network here at NCRC. I’m so excited to have this panel on presentation today. If you all have been joining us all week, that means that you’ve heard the earlier keynote address by Secretary budge this week. And I’ve never been more fired up to learn about the programs at HUD and meet the new team that’s ushering out this administration’s objective to build back better. So we’ve got a lot to talk about. I promise I won’t bore you with the details. But I want to remind everyone that you have the opportunity to share your questions via the chat box on your right. And I’m going to set the stage for this conversation by introducing today’s presenters will first be joined and hear remarks from former NCRC COO and current deputy assistant secretary David Berenbaum. And I’ll tell you a bit about their team and the objectives under the Office of housing counseling. Overseeing more than 16 150 housing counseling agencies oases mission is to ensure that families have the knowledge they need to obtain, sustain and retain their housing via HUDs network. The program serves over 1 million consumers and supports numerous departmental programs, including the Federal Housing Administration single family housing program. David, of course, is a alum of NCRC but is a former executive officer of the homeowner prep homeownership preservation Foundation, and has held executive positions at the Equal Rights Center, the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington and Long Island housing services. Joining David today is also going to be Ethan Handelman. Appointed in February of 2021, Ethan is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of multifamily housing programs at HUD. The Office administers the Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance program for multifamily properties and oversees more than 23,000 assistant properties, including affordable housing for elderly and persons with disabilities. Approximately 2.6 million families find housing in the multi families portfolio of 30,000 over 30,000 properties. Prior to joining HUD, Ethan was the Senior Policy Analyst at the Federal Housing Finance Agency in the Office of Housing and Community Investment. There he wrote the amendments to the housing goals for the Federal Home Loan Banks and worked on the duty to program and other affordable housing policies. And finally rounding things out for our panel discussion today is Peggy Bailey. She is the senior advisor on a rental assistance for and in the Office of the Secretary at HUD. Her responsibilities include improving policy and practices related to the department’s rental subsidy and supply programs. This includes the Housing Choice Voucher and public housing programs, which helped over 3 million people afford housing. Prior to joining HUD. Peggy was the vice president of housing policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Welcome and thank you all for joining us today.
So let’s set the stage. We’re more than one year into the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there are more than 2.6 million consumers in forbearance, the average renter owes approximately $6,000. In background, the homeownership rate itself is historically low for minorities, for minorities, and the climate we’re in is full of civil unrest around the country. With this historic migration of President Biden and vice president Harris, a lot of us are very interested in how we move forward and what we should expect from here, as we continue to address these issues from a housing perspective. Let’s hear from David.
Okay, well, Ibijoke, thank you so much. And it’s a pleasure to be among my friends at ncrc and colleagues. And I want to do a special shout out for the 27 housing counseling agencies that are no doubt in the room and on the front lines working with consumers across the country to ensure that they have a safe and affordable place to call home. Secretary fudge launched the conference at her opening plenary really focusing on the priorities that we in each of the HUD offices are being asked to address and each of our disciplines, adjust economy where every American can thrive. The realization of a community where equity and equality are the norm. And as well, for us to create solutions to systemic forms of racism, that ensure that every American enjoys choice in our housing markets, and the ability to ideally purchase a home in time to have affordable rental housing. And as well to live in the community of their choice. Their housing is back at HUD. And it’s such an energizing moment right now working with Secretary budge. And all of my colleagues those with me today and across the entire program. Our priorities are not surprising, and frankly, very straightforward right now, addressing the pandemic. Even just today, I think everyone is aware of the Federal Circuit Court decision and the District of Columbia, which invalidated as an overreach, the eviction prohibitions right now the moratoria as an overreach from the CDC. This is extremely unfortunate. And one of our focuses, particularly right now, as we see the number of consumers who are in rental situations, asking for housing counseling assistance increasing and disproportionately increasing among low to moderate income consumers, African American, Latinos and Asian populations is to focus in on this issue. We see the numbers increasing, we see the work that’s being done to connect consumers to the safety nets that in fact have been realized through legislation this year, whether it be assistance from some of the legislation previously under the cares act, where groups are working together with legal services groups, housing counseling groups, other social service providers, with housing finance agencies, or most recently, under the more recent bill that passed, we’re in fact assistance is available for rent. We are very sensitive to the fact that many landlords are not collaborating with, in fact, consumers, and we ask your assistance and challenging those landlords and reporting them to local authorities so that consumers rights can be protected not only through the private sector, such as legal services groups, and the advocacy that you were doing on the ground, but also with appropriate government agencies. It is unacceptable, as well, if we look at homeownership in the nation, just proportionally consumers who are not taking advantage of in fact the opportunity for forbearance in the FHA loan program and conventional loan programs. In recent studies, it’s becoming clear remain African Americans, Latino, low to moderate income consumers and certain portions of the country, Asian Pan Pacific consumers as well. We’re doing our best to outreach we issued media kits for your use to reach consumers in multiple languages. We’re also working collaboratively to really power through education and training the housing counseling community to be on its best game, knowing the rules, knowing the legislation, and knowing the funding sources, so we can make a difference. And we are prioritizing outreaching to those consumers, particularly in the FHA loan program in the coming weeks, because we want every consumer who can bail themselves have a forbearance before June 30, to take advantage of it. But more significantly, we know the perfect storm that’s coming. And working with the housing counseling community across the nation, we are building our capacity to work with consumers who may need assistance pursuing modifications, who may need assistance, tapping into government programs to restore their credit after the pandemic, and to move forward in a healthy and viable way. This is part of our commitment to working with you. But we have other issues we need to be examining. Just proportionally there is there’s particular market segments that are being impacted. We see an increase in scams, particularly in elders, but others also increasing. We see many runs of veterans as well being targeted right now. And disproportionately, unfortunately, experiencing homelessness, we plan on working with the VA to educate the housing counseling community to play a larger role in this space. The reverse mortgage product for many seniors for many elders, is going to be a viable alternative to really living in a very cash poor environments. And with the appropriate counseling and financial guidance from other consultants. It may be a viable alternative. Fair Housing remains an issue. Obviously, during the conference, I’m sure you’ve been touching on issues of appraisal and other related issues to fair lending and fair housing, had the use of credit score’s criminal background issues. These are other areas that we are focused on. And it’s a very exciting time for housing counselors in that space. But we have clear challenges ahead. Let’s move to homeownership. And then I’ll turn it over to my colleagues who are on the panel. There is no question that this administration is committed to addressing the homeownership gap. There’s a lot of exciting legislation that’s pending on the hill. Obviously, I take no position on that, as a member of the HUD staff. But no doubt you in your discussions during the course of the conference, I’ve been looking at some of these concepts that look at first generation homeownership that also look at downpayment assistance, and look at the expanded utility of housing counseling to make a difference. And we are working to apply housing counseling in a way to expand that opportunity. Because we firmly believe that Moving to Opportunity means intergenerational intergenerational wealth that comes about through homeownership. So we are focusing our activities in the coming months and working collaboratively with the Office of single family housing, and other divisions around HUD so that we can be very creative with how we address these issues. President Biden announced his first day of office, his executive order to address systemic racism, to look at, in fact racial equity issues, and to challenge ourselves meaning within HUD and all federal agencies to examine how we could do better working with you in our communities. And I assure you that the Office of housing counseling team is excited to be doing that and will remain available to each of you. Also, I know a very large percentage of the counselors in the audience have participated as ncrc trainings, and you have passed the housing counseling certification exam. Congratulations, it’s really professionalizing our movement, and we’re going to continue to do everything we can to offer support for others to pass the exam by August 1, as well as to market your role as housing professionals in the greater economy. And then on a personal note, I’d like to close with congratulating my colleague, John Taylor, on his recent announcement that he plans to retire from ncrc. I must say that during my years of NCRC, I’d never saw a more strong advocate for fair housing for civil rights for HUDs mission and agenda and a strong interpretation of the roles of our offices. And I wish John a heartfelt Good luck in all of his future endeavors. He has made a dynamic difference in his role. And I’d like to also congratulate my colleague, Jesse and his new expanded role as president and CEO, and as well as the incoming new chairperson, Katy Crosby. Terrific team. And with that, I’ll close my remarks. Thank you.
Thank you, David. I mean, of course, I’d be remiss in saying that our panelists, today’s are certainly friends, allies and veterans in our housing community, and so we appreciate hearing from you all and providing the great key position spective of what’s happening at HUD and how we can support again this administration’s objectives. And so I’ll turn it over to Ethan Handelman to hear a little bit more about multifamily housing.
Great, thank you. And, um, you know, I should know better than to immediately follow David Berenbaum at an NCRC event. That is a tough act to follow. I will do my best. And I really do appreciate that opportunity to be with all of you today. You, if you’re familiar with HUD, you’re probably familiar with our multifamily work, at least in sketch, what I’m going to do today is give you a little sense of what we do and how it connects to the overall priorities of the administration. Recognizing that I think Peggy will talk more about the larger vision. But HUD multifamily is really about two things. It’s about people, and it’s about places on the people side, a lot of what we do is things like rental assistance, and creating more affordable housing opportunities, finding ways to connect people to the services and support that allow them to make of their lives what they want to make of them. affordable rental housing is a big stepping stone to homeownership. For other people, it’s just a great way to live. And that’s, that’s good, too. But research has told us that the single best tool we have as a society for changing outcomes at a household level is deep rental assistance if folks are really struggling, rent is a major if not the major obstacle. And so the work of multifamily with project based rental assistance, long term commitments, is helping to deal with those challenges. On the places side, the rental properties are a big part of building the sustainable communities that we all want to live in. So we use tools like financing, like rental assistance, like our oversight of properties, and our enforcement. To connect to that vision. We want to make sure that a HUD assistant property in whichever program it’s working in, whether it’s project based rental assistance, commonly called section eight, whether it’s 202, housing for the elderly, section 811 housing for people with disabilities, all of those are connected to making communities, places of opportunity in all sorts of ways. The three areas we do that in our production, so new FHA loans, asset management, existing properties, and recapitalisation ways to bring new capital to help properties be sustainable long term. Some of you may have heard that we are experiencing record volume on the production side, there is in fact, what we call a queue set of properties waiting to get assigned for underwriting. And that’s a product just of our business model and the economic environment we’re in. We’re a federally backed multifamily insurance program, which is great, right federal backing is one of the best ways to do this sort of business. But it also means that we’re opening all markets at all times. And we can’t change our staffing and products without going through a lot of laws and regulations. So when you combine that with a record low interest rates, it means we’re going to have a lot more applications. And we can process at any given point. So we have taken some steps, just in the few months that I’ve been here to help prioritize affordable housing within that queue within that set of properties that are waiting, so that if it’s a for instance, a low income housing tax credit development, a deep rental subsidy property, something that is tied to other resources, it goes closer to the front of the line to make sure that we are prioritizing the most important properties, recognizing that our plan is to get through the whole queue, and make sure that FHA financing is available to all who apply for it with good deals. When we think about the asset management side, a lot of our work there has been about response to the covid 19 pandemic. You may have seen our CSP program, the COVID supplemental payments, which has been one way that our asset management has made additional resources from the cares act available to help deal with the special costs that properties are facing, dealing with a pandemic, whether it’s personal protective equipment and cleaning initially. Now it’s really pivoting more to vaccine availability, and hosting vaccine clinics and helping with things like transportation, and in setting up the vaccine clinic so that everyone has full access to the wonderful vaccine that is, instead of vaccines that are really helping us to bounce back from this pandemic, there’s been a whole set of asset management work that is a bit more behind the scenes related to just offsetting the costs that properties have had to bear because a lot of folks have had even less income to pay their rent. So the share that tenants normally paid towards their rent has gone down. And we’ve been able to fill that gap of federal resources to help make sure that properties can be sustained, can pay their operating costs, pay their their debt service over time. The third big area of our work is their office of recapitalisation. You may have heard of the the RAD program, the rental assistance demonstration. This is an impressively innovative tool that I’ve been following long before my government service when I was at National Housing conference doing advocacy, working closely with, with David and John and Jesse and other folks. Or before that when I was in consulting, watching it as a tool for transforming properties that are under older or different subsidy arrangements into new project based rental assistance, easily financeable newly recapitalized properties. It is a tool for helping for instance, public housing properties shift from public housing subsidy streams to that project based rental assistance PBR. As I mentioned, it has also newly become a tool for creating new public housing units. So guidance we released just last month, works with what are called Faircloth limits, entertainingly named for a one term senator who didn’t like public housing. It’s a limit on the total number of public housing units anyone PHA can have? Well, there’s room under those limits to create new units. We have released some guidance that allows public housing authorities to do new development with the expectation that as soon as it is completed, it can then go through a rad transaction to be on sustainable project based rental assistance going forward. Complicated from a regulatory and financial standpoint, but the new guidance makes it possible to see new public housing development in a way we haven’t seen in a little bit. So I think that’s pretty exciting. There are other aspects of rad that work with older, affordable housing programs like older two Oh, twos mod rehab projects. For those of you who don’t speak, you know, inner HUD, that’s okay. It just means we’re finding ways to bring new capital to fix up these older properties. For those who want to go deeper, I’m happy to do that. All of these sorts of tools are efforts we are doing to connect to the greater vision that I hope you are seeing already and that Peggy’s going to talk about more. So some of it is about COVID response right vaccination efforts. It’s also connected to our efforts to fund more service coordinators to help connect people to the supports that they need during the pandemic. And afterwards, it’s also making our properties greener, so more energy efficient, healthier, more water efficient. We’ve done some of that, through our existing FHA program, we have a green MIT program that helps provide a financing incentive for properties that make those sort of improvements. We are very much looking for new resources to come as part of the jobs plan. And Peggy will talk more about that I’m sure that it could be a real opportunity not only to make properties, better to live in and cheaper to operate, but directly address climate change through changes in our built environment, the part of the economy that we live in every day, and that consumes so much energy, economic recovery, underlies all of this. Some of that is HUD cooperating with other agencies to make sure that the emergency Rental Assistance Program is successful. Some of it is about the new investments from the American rescue plan and the American jobs plan that are going to flow in. But all of that rests on the underpinning of achieving racial equity. And HUDs efforts are central to that. Some of that is about creating new housing near opportunity right near jobs near transportation near the economic activity in places where people choose to build their lives. Some of it is also about creating more opportunity where people already live, because the choices we have should be greater, we should have more and better options for where to live, where to educate our kids, where to choose our places of work, find our places of worship, find the places where we where we seek to build our lives. And multifamily housing is a big part of that. Because not everyone can or should live in a single family home on a smaller, large lot. The way to make our communities successful and sustainable is to have a wide range of housing options, and rental housing in all of its forms, whether it’s a big tall apartment building, or smaller garden apartments, or even smaller developments that you’ll see in more rural areas. All of those are things that come out of HUD multifamily programs. So when we think about how we want our communities to be and what choices we want to offer, the financing and the assistance that HUD provides to the multifamily office is an important part but not the only part of all the pieces that come together. I will stop there because I know we have lots to talk about. And I for one really want to hear from Peggy. I’m sure you all do too. So I’ll pass it over to her.
Well, Ethan, thank you for those remarks. I’m really excited to hear you mentioned one in which the role that counselors can support helping communities get vaccinated. I know our networks Specifically, many of our organizations have become COVID testing sites. And they’ve really been hands on the ground and their communities, assisting the homeless population with making certain that they are keeping safe during these during the pandemic. So I am going to stop there. And I too, we’ll turn it over to Peggy to hear more about the rental assistance program.
Great, thanks so much. And thanks so much ncrc for inviting me here today, I really am excited to be before you and because the all the great work that you’re doing out in the out in the out in the world. And, you know, as you can tell from David and Ethan, and hopefully myself, as I get started, it is an amazing time to be at HUD and we were all just energized and overjoyed with a little bit of whiplash in trying to move forward the President’s agenda, as you could hear highlighted in both in what both David and Ethan said, and if you, you know, if you watch news even just a little bit, hopefully, you’ve gathered that for the president, there are four main pillars that all of our work is fitting into. There’s COVID and COVID response, there’s recovery and in an economic recovery from the pandemic, racial equity and climate. And as you could hear, through all of our remarks, and the Secretary, those things, weave into everything that we do. So my role here is you’ve likely heard about a variety of sorry, that’s what happens when you’re in the secretary’s office, your phone rings a lot. Um, there are a variety of things that have been thrown out as proposals in the in the world, and I’m going to try to line out what some of those things are, how those how those things are overarching, particularly, it’s specifically in the rental assistance space. Um, so you know, we’ve tried to lay out resources and Congress has been has given us resources to address each of the big buckets of housing need, right, people who are experiencing homelessness and now is unprecedented time that we’re going to be able to address the needs of people who are currently currently without a home vouchers, we were able to get voucher assistance, to help people who are going to need who are at risk, or currently homeless, who are going to need longer term assistance than maybe would be available through the emergency Rental Assistance Program. And then eviction prevention and emergency rental assistance. That piece while it is funded through the Treasury Department, HUD is a is right at Treasury’s right hand to help them implement that program, inform the work and help communities understand how to use this resource along with high resources. And so you know, in its it’s going to be particularly important for all of you to be able to weave into those to each of these buckets. So what are all of these plans that have been out in the world? So there’s the American rescue plan, that’s the one that’s passed already included over $60 billion in housing related investments, which is a and we know that more is needed, but to be able to talk in the housing space about billions of dollars of assistance, rather than than just millions that we’ve worked on before is is is it has been insane. You will first and foremost, as I said, there’s been there’s resources for homelessness assistance. And that’s $5 billion it through the Home program, those that the announcement on on that went out recently, and will and will be doing the work to help community stand up programs in the homelessness space. The uniqueness about being able to use home as the vehicle is that these resources can also be used to purchase properties and help with the supply needs in the homelessness space. And in places like California, where there’s you know, where people were communities are buying hotels and motels space and converting it into affordable or supportive housing. And this can be coupled with the $4 billion that were provided last year in the cares act to really also transform the homelessness system to reduce the congregate settings and help people access housing much more quickly. Also included in the rescue plan or the emergency vouchers that are targeted to people experiencing or high risk of homelessness or people fleeing or sort of domestic violence in domestic violence survivors. This is critical because oftentimes when we’re dealing with these crisis situations, we only have short term assistance for people and we know that so many people need longer term. assistance, and then make them have to plan for short term assistance and then maybe hopefully get into a voucher program that we already know was oversubscribed, was would be ridiculous. And so we were really happy to be able to get this $5 billion from Congress to execute on the voucher program. And, and just an hour ago, we were able to, we put up the guidance around around that.
And then on top of all of this is the emergency Rental Assistance Program. And that’s operated through the Treasury Department, this is going to be critical. And you play as David mentioned, such a critical role in this because because of the flexibilities within the program, which are needed, right, every locality is different, and needs their own flexibilities to be able to address the eviction crisis, we don’t have the levers at the federal level to make sure that the person who needs assistance the most is getting the assistance, and that and that, and that we’re preventing evictions and the way that this, that these resources want us meet us are meant to be used the way that these resources are meant to be used. So, you know, working with the Treasury Department, and being connected to the guidance that they’ve issued, on being on the ground, and, and seeing what’s happening to people reporting back to us, when you see successes, and when you see things that you know, the administration would be concerned about is vitally important, because we want to be able to address these things in the moment that they’re happening, um, and be able to lift up the best practices, you know, obviously, in the news, regardless of the administration, focuses on how when things aren’t working, we want to make sure we’re propping up when that things were things are working for people, and also as maybe a little peer pressure on the places where it’s not working for them to make change, and get the assistance to people who need it the most. And so really, what’s that what’s great about this is we’re trying to address the whole continuum of housing need for people with these resources. One piece that I don’t want to forget it are the resources that are directed to tribes and tribal designated housing agencies. For those of you who work on tribal lands, this is, again, unprecedented amount of resources that are going to Native American communities, we’ve done the work to help. So with the resources that were provided in the, at the end of 2020, those are operated by the Treasury Department. But again, HUD is at Treasury’s right hand to help them implement those resources on tribal lands correctly. And and then as a part of the American rescue plan, those resources have come back to HUD, and we’re doing the work to coordinate that. So that to make it as easy as possible to prevent evictions, but also addressing other housing needs, that have become even more apparent during the COVID crisis given the disparity in, in in contraction and deaths due to COVID that Native American people have experienced. And so that’s just the rescue plan. The other piece now, as Ethan laid out, we’re trying to think about Okay, so, you know, you think about the build back better plan? Well, this is the building, right? How are we going to make sure that we have the economy and the infrastructure needed to make this economic recovery as, as as maximize the benefits of the economic recovery and make sure that all the people with low and moderate incomes benefit from the economy. And that’s where the infrastructure package comes in. You, you hopefully saw that over $213 billion of housing resources are proposed as a part of the President’s infrastructure plan. And that doesn’t include the other 100 over $100 billion that would come from the tax proposals in the housing, from the low income housing tax credit, and the and the whole new homes Investment Act piece, which would help people on single family, people about purchasing single family homes be able to get into the housing market. This is this is highlighted by $40 billion to public housing, to help to help people to help renovate and modernize public housing in a way that we hope will also be sustainable for the future and leveraging some of the tools and from the multifamily side like the rental assistance demonstration initiative to be able to bring in private resources to leverage that $40 billion and make it make it much, much more. And I don’t want to I can’t leave without talking about the rental assistance proposals that the President plans to be put forward. President Biden has said that he wants to make rental assistance available to universally available to all those who are currently eligible. And it will take some significant steps to move in that direction. a first step was announced as a part of the President’s budget, an increase of 200,000 vouchers in the voucher program, and more is to come in, and we know it. And the key piece of these increases will be making sure that the services and supports that family needs the families need, like like the family self sufficiency program, and others, and housing counseling services to help them get into the house, homeownership market, or should be there as well for these families. So that we’re ensuring that not only do families have the assistance, but they have the supports that we know work within the HUD programs. Finally, I would just say that while these are all the things that are been proposed and are out in the world, there are other things that are high priorities for the secretary, particularly in the space of wealth building and savings building for families who are and helping families get become homeowners, but and helping renters build savings and credit. We know that people of color are disproportionately blocked out of the home ownership space. And we want to do the things it takes to not just mitigate that, but reverse the negative impact of systemic racism and discrimination that families have faced. So you know, as I said, that now is truly an amazing time to be in the federal government. And the administration is serious about helping renters and homeowners stabilize their lives and afford the basics and understanding that housing is the foundation for all things that families want to be able to do. So I hope that you have been excited by the things that you’ve seen from the Biden Harris administration. Never hesitate to reach out to us with, as I said, input on how we can do better, or sharing the things that are working. And I’m excited to take questions.
Awesome. Well, thank you guys so much. We will now transition into our question and answer segment of today’s panel. I learned a bunch and I have taken some really good notes here. But one common complaint amongst advocates during this pandemic has been home owners have more of a streamlined solution and the forbearance plan. What about the renters who now I think there are various reports some even suggesting that renters may owe $70 billion of back rent by the time we’re out of this. And so folks are really curious about what’s next for renters? What should we be expecting in terms of the eviction moratorium?
Well, I can start with that one. Um, um, but I can’t. So we’re still deciphering what is what will be the ramifications of the of the judgement from today. So I can’t speak to that. And we’re awaiting, if not, while we’ve started this panel very shortly, the Department of Justice will be issuing a statement. But what I can talk about is the mergency Rental Assistance Program and the work that Treasury will be doing in the White House and Hud and our partners at USDA to get the word out about the emergency Rental Assistance Program. work to help landlords be feel comfortable accepting the resources, do work with the communities to help them feel comfortable getting the assistance directly to tenants, if the landlords aren’t going to accept their resources, and most importantly, lifting up Legal Aid services, and housing counseling, who can be on the ground to help families connect with the resources within within the within communities are standing up? It is it is hard because there’s so many, you know, there’s there there, there’s not just one program, it’s not like, you know, with the Affordable Care Act, where you can call a phone or you know, you can you can there’s a portal and you can get resources and get resources, you’ve got to know how to connect with them locally. So and actually I should say that we are the Treasury is doing some work to try to bring it together so that at least you can we can we can create at least a portal like experience for people But that’s going to take a little bit of time to stand up. So um, so that’s the thing is now we knew we were under pressure, with the eviction moratorium being extended only until June. And now we may be under even more pressure to make sure we’re doing the things that it takes to connect the resources to people.
Ibijoke, can I jump in with just another thought that builds on what Peggy said, the working relationships between housing counseling groups and other providers on a local level are critical. And I’m just so excited by some of the partnership activity that I’m seeing between counseling agencies, and social service and legal service providers across the country. It’s critically important. But I also want to note the importance of housing counseling itself. A lot of people question the role of housing counseling groups as apart from educational efforts, the budget and financial health component of the work, the end of workup that housing counselors do is critical at this moment in time. And so many of NCR sees affiliates and housing counseling providers across the country are wonderfully proficient at building back better when it comes to financial health. And in fact, planning a successful financial return for the family or individuals they’re working with. And we’re going to be trying to support that moving forward into the end of the year. It’s not just helping in crisis, it’s also getting a family back to that good place where they can be in a more normal financial environment overall.
And I would just add real quick to build on my colleagues remarks that when we’re thinking about the impact of the eviction moratorium, it is primarily aimed at renters. But I know there’s a good section of ncrc membership that our property owners, right folks who may have one or two rental units are using that as part of building their own financial future. And so the moratorium hits them, too, it means they’re not taking in rent, to sustain the property, pay their mortgage, do what they need to do. So a lot of the challenge here is finding a forward looking solution for back rent that is a crude needs at the property level needs of the owner needs to have the renter. In a lot of circumstances, that’s going to probably mean owners taking a bit of a hit right writing off some of the back rent, it will probably mean some renters, maybe a lot of them working out a kind of payment plan over time, so they can sustainably pay their obligations going forward and make up somewhere all of what there was, the rental assistance can be a way to help bridge the gap between those two, right with owners taking some of the the the challenge on renters doing what they can, if there’s a gap between those two, that’s one of the places that things like a wrap can plug in to help make sure that we’re not displacing people, because that’s the worst outcome right? For the renter, obviously, it’s not great for the property owner either, right? Because they have to bring in a new tenant, it’s not generally the objective of a property owner to want to evict a lot of people, we see it too often. And it is an unsustainable model for property ownership and one that, you know, I want to discourage and I want to find more sustainable approaches. But generally speaking, most of the good owners we work with don’t want to evict a bunch of people.
Well, I have to thank you all. For those comments. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that, you know, black families really have not recovered yet the loss experienced during the oh eight crises. And so I can impress upon this audience, that housing counseling is going to be critically vital into helping Usher out the education that is necessary not only for the recovery, and the response, but really the ongoing forecast of the housing market and helping concert consumers to navigate that. On that topic. I’ll say more than 70% of NCR C’s and immediate portfolio participates in some form of rental assistance either through the ESG program and other options. I’m curious about how can we encourage more integration of housing counseling and better collaboration across HUD programs? counselors want to know what can they do? How can they connect to these agencies, especially giving the certification final rule?
So I’ll jump in there and I think the network probably already has observed that we have been doing a much larger volume of joy outreach programs through our webinars and the like, with other offices. It’s FHA, of course, dealing with the forbearance Of course, but as well with multifamily housing, as well as other offices, for example, looking to modular as a new source of growing affordability across the nation. And affordability once again, is becoming a major crisis or a bar for homeownership that we need to be thinking creatively to overcome. More significantly on an interagency basis, I think counselors can expect to see more programming. We’ve already started, for example, with the CFPB. With VA, we’re planning with FHA and others. The level of inter agency collaboration right now on these issues, has exponentially grown. And you and I look forward to it continuing.
Wonderful. So let’s turn to some questions from the audience. Here. There’s a question about what’s the breakdown on the 5 billion homelessness assistance? Where can this information be found? I know Peggy that you’ve provided a link to this and we can certainly share it in the comment section. I don’t know if there was anything else you wanted to mention on this?
Um, no, no, I think that that link gives you access to the information. So if Kaylee can send that around to folks, that’ll be that’s perfect.
Absolutely. Another question here is if the DOJ is appeal of the DC Circuit court’s decision about CDC moratorium is not successful. Can HUD and FHFA at least moved to reinstate a moratorium for properties that fall under their assistance, as was done in the cares act?
Alright, I see my colleagues nodding at me, I will do my best on that one. And big thanks to Miriam for the complex question. Those are always fun. Um, so it is complicated. The way the cares act was structured, was time limited in terms of the moratorium to the extent FHA, HUD, and FHFA, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Home Loan Banks, the way they would prevent further evictions is primarily through the forbearance agreements with properties, right? So a property comes to its lender, the lender goes either to FHA, or to Fannie or Freddie and says, Hey, we’re having trouble paying our debt, we need forbearance. They work out an agreement that’s generally signed between the lender and the property owner that says, the lender will forbear on collecting the debt service payments, the owner will agree to certain things in that list of things the owner agrees to is not evicting people. Alright, so the mechanism for enforcing it is through that forbearance agreement. That’s good in the sense that it’s legal. And it’s it’s easily enforced. It’s challenging in the sense that it only applies to the properties that sign it to the properties that come in for forbearance. In the FHA portfolio that I oversee, we don’t have that many in forbearance, most of our properties are doing all right, or at least better than other sectors in the multifamily rental arena, in part because a bunch of my rental assistance, which means federal government’s paying the rent, in large part, and that helps a lot. So the the opportunities, there are somewhat limited, I am a not an attorney, be not an employee of FHFA. So I’m not going to speak for them, but their their limitations are comparable. Um, so the other thing I would say, as we’re thinking about how to deal with a crisis that is upon us is the eviction moratorium is very important. It has served a powerful tool to keep people housed at a time when it was for public health reasons, essentially, to keep people housed. It is not a permanent state solution. It is not something that we could have forever. Because if there was no way to evict a household that is not paying its rent, the economy starts to break down in that area. And what you see isn’t that no one gets evicted, what you start to see and I have observed this in Ireland two years ago, whether eviction courts weren’t functioning, you start to see informal evictions. You start to see people just leaving in the middle of the night, or getting kicked out under cover of darkness. And that’s not good for anyone. To the extent we have to have evictions, they need to have legal protections, oversight by the courts, rules of the road that we all have to follow so that they are as fair and safe as we can make them. We are still far from that a bunch of improvements need to be made in eviction. No question. But I would encourage us to begin thinking if we if you haven’t already about, hey, what comes next after just an absolute moratorium, just because we know that’s needed. I don’t know if Peggy or David have other thoughts?
No, that’s perfect. I can pick up from there on what you know the what’s next and that’s what the emergency rental assistance is. Trying to and making sure that we’re because, you know, it’s $46 billion that’s out in the world to prevent to help people pay the rent. Now, there are communities that have created some obstacles there are, you know, there, it’s not just it’s not, you know, as as efficient as cash assistance, but it is out there. And so that is where the work is. Right. And so there are many communities around the country who are trying to do that linkage, that at the worst, if someone’s coming into eviction court, can we connect them to resources then, but, and that’s it the worst at what’s better, right is to try to try to catch folks way before that happens. And in thinking about both the formal eviction and the informal evictions that Ethan mentioned. And so that’s really where the work where the work is going to shift now is trying to get the rental assistance to the people, because the last thing we want to do is have billions of dollars just sitting there unused.
And if I could just jump in with one other point, starting again, where I started, I’m very concerned about groups who have limited English proficiency, who may come from distinct cultures in our society, we’re approaching a government agency or even many not for profits is not the norm, sort of family and faith first for many cultures. And I’ve been in discussion with many of our housing counseling groups. And in fact recipients also a federal dollars on a state level. And they are very concerned that they are not seeing an adequate response from not only African American and Asian Pan Pacific and Latino communities. But overall, for those who have limited English proficiency. And we definitely need your help to connect these consumers to these resources, they’re available. And it would be simple if in fact, despite all the challenges were facing, consumers don’t tap into the safety net.
I couldn’t agree with all of your sentiments more on the limited English proficiency portion ncrc. And the HCM team, we’ve done a lot of work to translate content into the most five commonly used languages. And so if there are folks that are joining us today that need additional resources for your clients, definitely feel free to connect with the team. And even pre pandemic, we were certainly in the midst of an affordable housing crises, of course, it’s only been worse than by the pandemic itself. But there certainly is a need not only to connect resources directly to residents and consumers that need them, but to also protect the little guy, the small land landlord that overwhelmingly represents a huge portion of our affordable housing stock in the country.
Because one thing that made me realize is, I should have brought up but what has been really awesome in the last 100 days is to build a relationship with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And so I want to say that for you guys, that they are amazing, they have been amazing colleagues, and the partnership between hot and CFPB is fantastic. And you should definitely go to their resources. And after I’ll try to find a link and now I know how to get to the real comments line. So I will go and post it there. And, um, but they want to use their authorities, and have been using their authorities to protect people against eviction. And, and, and have been a partner in the moratorium and translating it to a whole array of languages. But now will be key is this is protecting consumers during in the eviction process. And I’ll pipe I’ll find see if I can’t find the link to the resources and put them in the comments.
Peggy, thanks for making that point. Because there’s also a responsibility for the housing counseling agencies on the line. I mean, we have to assist consumers and filing complaints and flagging the alarm when you know there are bad actors in the market not operating in accordance to the cares act or the various protections that are in place. And so I know we’ve all been waiting to see, hey, are we going to be in this big foreclosure crises once again. And so early knowledge of that and helping consumers advocate and express the rights and the current protections that we have will assist with this? I think we may have time for about two more questions. And so the next is the rental market values are increasingly substantially in order are increasing substantially. And in order for rent assistance participants to get into housing the payment standards need to increase to the levels of s SAF m RS will The funding help increase the standards.
So I’ll start. I think Peggy will probably have more thoughts from the voucher side, certainly from the project based rental assistance side, the payment standard matters a lot. And one of the issues that we are working through in all sorts of ways is how to set rents effectively in ways where property owners can roughly know what to expect. And so that when we set the rents, it allows sustainable operation and financing of properties in places where people want to be. And that’s a balance, we need to strike. So when the questioner is talking about the small area fmrs, es a fmrs, fmrs, fair market rent, it’s our it’s our payment standard, the small area fmrs are set as a way to make it clear what the rent is in a particular place. So it’s not the rent in the metro Boston area, which is a big place, right? It’s the rent in this neighborhood, this zip code, so that in higher cost places, the voucher is able to travel a little farther, we are still looking and thinking through what that would mean in a project based sense. And one of the things I’m very excited and hope will come with the American jobs plan is the ability to create new project based rental assistance. So we can put units in places that have historically excluded in bring that affordable housing, to where it needs to be. I’ll pass it to Peggy let her talk about the voucher implementation because she’s deeper into that it is a comparable tool on that side.
Yeah, I think on the so you know, the the ability to take up smaller FMR is wise at the PHA level. And so that, and so what comes along with that is then, then so there’s two ways that PUD can be helpful one is giving PHA is the administrative fees that it takes for them to be able to implement smaller FM Rs. Um, and then, um, and in order to give them the tools to be able, and then giving them the end, we help with the data that it takes to implement the the small area of FM RS as well. So that’s the way that were Oh, and the other way is that what’s, you know, with voucher proposals to come, right, it’s really important for all of us to understand that it that things don’t have to work the way the voucher program currently works. I mean, that’s the whole thing, right, we’re doing something new, and we’re providing new resources along with that becomes the opportunity to experiment with other with other models. And that includes how to implement better payment standards for the voucher program, and what needs to come along with the what needs to what what else needs to be in place to help communities implement small area fmrs, because that’s one piece of the puzzle for rental being able to rent in higher cost markets. But it’s not the only one, there’s also being able to raise the value of the voucher itself, so that the voucher can be used in above even the small area for more spin this is so you know, the example that I use the most is for people with disabilities. People who have made acne who rely on a wheelchair need an elevator, they need newer buildings that are going to be more expensive. And we’ve got to think about how do we help the Vout? How do we help voucher recipients with disabilities use their voucher in places that are accessible for them?
Well, I want one little quick piece because I know we’re tight on time, we also have to think about the supply of housing in places that if we’re if we greatly increase the amount of voucher assistance, that would be huge, right, you could have a transformative effect. If we don’t also allow places that have previously excluded to include more, we’re mostly going to be bidding up rents in the places we already know can add new housing. So there are there’s a lot of thinking going on, there are elements already sort of outlined in the American jobs plan to encourage places to be more inclusive, but it’s got to be part of our solution. And I know a lot of the activity happens at the state and local level, including work by all the folks included here and that ncrc touches.
Guys, unfortunately, we are at time, apparently an hour is not enough time to connect with the new folks at HUD. But I want to thank you all for attending today’s panel. There are a lot of really good questions left in the chat. And so what I’ll do is I’ll connect with your panelists today and make certain that we get those questions answered. And that will able to share it with the participants. I feel inspired and encouraged to continue the great work that we do. And I feel like this administration is behind us and that we also got a lot of work ahead. So I thank David, Peggy, Ethan, for joining us today. And thank you all for participating in the Just Economy Conference.