Economic and Fixed Income Insights, March 19, 2019

The Federal Reserve concluded its two-day meeting today and decided to hold its benchmark funds rate in a range of 2.25%-2.50%. With economic growth slowing, the Fed scaled back their projected interest-rate increases this year to zero. The Fed also said it would start slowing the shrinking of its balance sheet in May and halt the drawdown altogether at the end of September.

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Mayor Bowser Releases 2020 D.C. Budget With More Money for Housing

In Mayor Muriel Bower’s State of the District Address, she announced an additional $55 in spending in programs to create or preserve affordable housing. “We are very focused on housing,” Bowser told the council during a budget presentation. “What we heard from residents across the city is that is the most significant pinch point.” The budget proposal also includes $26 million for the city’s plan to end homelessness, which would fund 260 new units for families, 345 new units for single adults and 68 new units for youth.

Sec. Carson Tours Miami Opportunity Zone

Secretary Carson recently traveled to Miami to tour Tuscany Village Housing Complex, an apartment community located in an Opportunity Zone. Tuscany Village Housing Complex was recently built to provide affordable housing for low-income, elderly families in the neighborhood. This Miami community is just one of 427 Opportunity Zones which were designated by the Florida Governor as areas in need of economic revitalization. Secretary Carson was joined for the tour by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

Sec. Carson: Developers in Opportunity Zones Will Get Preferences on HUD Grants

Secretary Ben Carson said HUD will give preference to developers and investors who build affordable housing in federal Opportunity Zones when it comes to certain grants. In an interview with The Real Deal, Sec. Carson said, “if you are doing a project within an Opportunity Zone and you are applying for one of our grants, you get some preference. So that, along with the tax advantages, will drive people to look at those (areas). We are also offering very specific technical assistance to help them coordinate their efforts.”

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Report Shows No State, Metropolitan Area Has Enough Affordable Housing

The National Low Income Housing Coalition released its annual report, The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes. Their analysis found that nationwide, there are only 37 affordable and available rental homes exist for every 100 extremely low-income renter households. Among states, the supply of affordable and available rental homes ranges from only 19 for every 100 extremely low-income renter households in Nevada to 66 in Wyoming. Among the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S, the supply ranges from 13 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 extremely low-income renter households in Orlando, FL to 51 in Pittsburgh, PA.

Senators Ask IRS for Clarification on PABs Use for Affordable Housing for Veteran

Six Senators sent a letter to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Charles Rettig requesting he issue a notice clarifying that affordable housing projects for veterans that comply with the LIHTC General Public Use criteria are also eligible for Private Activity Bonds (PABs). Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Kamala Harris (D-CA) Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) argue that, “given that LIHTCs and PABs are designed to be used in tandem, the General Public Use criteria explicitly laid out in the LIHTC statue should apply to PABs as well.”

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IRS Releases Resident Population Figures to Calculate 2019 LIHTCs, PABs

The Internal Revenue Service published Notice 2019-19, which provides population figures to use in calculating 2019 volume limits for the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) and private activity bonds (PABs). The LIHTC cap is the greater of the population multiplied by $2.75625 or $3,166,875 and the PAB cap is the greater of the population multiplied by $105 or $316,745,000. NH&RA estimates of 2019 LITHCs are available here.

Sen. Warren Reintroduces Affordable Housing Legislation

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and 17 other Members of Congress reintroduced the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act. The bill would invest about $475 billion in federal programs over a 10-year period to preserve or create more than 3 million housing units for low- and middle-income families. An independent analysis from Moody’s Analytics estimates that the investment would bring down rents by 10 percent and create 1.5 million new jobs. The bill would also change existing laws that protect discriminatory housing practices and lead to segregation.

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