January 3, 2013
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Federal housing support is out of balance, study suggests
Smart Growth America researchers say the federal government spends a much higher proportion of money on single-family housing than is merited by the current population and housing trends. Single-family is still the dominant form of housing in America, but Geoff Anderson, the group's CEO, says that's because of federal incentives such as the mortgage-interest tax deduction.  The Washington Post (12/30)
Wins for mortgage industry in "fiscal cliff" deal
This week's last-minute agreement to avert the "fiscal cliff" extends a law that made mortgage insurance premiums tax deductible. The deal also extends for one year the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, which exempts from tax liability the principal that homeowners are forgiven during a short sale or write-down. Lawmakers did not make changes to the mortgage-interest deduction, though that issue could come up again as part of a long-term deficit-reduction plan.  Housing Wire (1/2), CNBC (1/2)
14 banks expected to settle over home-loan practices
Under a behind-the-scenes deal crafted over the past month, 14 lenders would pay $10 billion, and the federal government's efforts to hold them accountable for foreclosure abuses would end. The emerging deal arose from regulators' realization that a mandatory review of millions of loans was overly time-consuming and wasn't producing meaningful results, according to people familiar with the negotiations.  The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (12/30)
Trends in Housing
Rentals could be in demand for years, policy group says
A small inventory of homes, coupled with tighter lending standards and lower incomes for young households, could keep demand for rental properties high for years, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center. Other factors boosting the trend toward renting include increasing numbers of seniors who want to downsize and former homeowners who lost their homes in foreclosure.  Housing Wire (12/31)
Other News
Policy Roundup
Mass. will no longer use hotels as emergency shelter
Massachusetts plans to halt its policy of relying on hotel rooms as housing for homeless families when emergency shelters are full. The state will redirect the money spent on hotels toward homelessness prevention and affordable housing.  The Boston Globe (tiered subscription model) (1/2), SouthCoastToday.com (New Bedford, Mass.) (tiered subscription model)/The Associated Press (1/2)
Senate confirms FHA's Galante
The Senate has approved Carol Galante as an assistant secretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development in a 69-24 vote. Galante has been running the Federal Housing Administration since July 2011 in an acting capacity.  Reuters (12/30)
FHA imposes moratorium on some reverse mortgages
The Federal Housing Administration is halting its standard fixed-rate reverse-mortgage program. Borrowers can still obtain other types of reverse mortgages, such as those with smaller drawdowns and adjustable rates. The FHA also is considering additional rules for reverse-mortgage borrowers, such as financial-qualification standards.  Boston Herald (12/30)
Location, Location, Location
Dallas to push development near rail stations
City officials in Dallas are looking to form partnerships with the private sector to kick-start development around five selected Dallas Area Rapid Transit stations, with the help of a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The goal is to foster mixed-use development more quickly than it would happen organically, giving each area what its residents want and need while keeping the character and personality of the neighborhoods.  The Dallas Morning News (free content) (12/29)
Detroit-area officials use demolition to stabilize neighborhoods
Officials in Wayne County, Mich., are lauding a home-razing program funded by the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program that takes apart homes and salvages the building materials. They say taking down blighted homes in areas that can't afford to do so themselves helps add value to the communities.  The Detroit News (12/26)
Other News
Health and Housing
Boston public housing sees decline in asthma after targeting vermin
The incidence of asthma among adults living in Boston public housing dropped by nearly half from 2005 to 2010, city officials say. The decrease followed a city effort to eliminate roaches, rodents and pesticides, which can aggravate asthma symptoms.  The Boston Globe (tiered subscription model) (1/1)
Housing Matters Spotlight
Bipartisan Policy Center infographic details rental-housing demand
The Bipartisan Policy Center's Housing Commission has released an infographic detailing the intersection of supply and demand in rental housing. The infographic highlights three factors influencing rental-housing stock: the conversion of single-family homes, the construction of new apartments and losses from deterioration or demolition. It also outlines four demographic groups contributing to increased rental demand. View the infographic and read more.
About How Housing Matters
The How Housing Matters research initiative seeks to explore whether, and if so how, having a decent, stable, affordable home leads to strong families and vibrant communities. Research is showing that stable, quality housing has value beyond the provision of shelter; it improves school performance, diminishes health problems for children and adults, and decreases psychological stress. By illuminating the ways in which housing matters and highlighting innovative practices in the field, we hope to encourage collaboration among leaders and policymakers in housing, education, health, and economic development to help families lead healthy, successful lives. How Housing Matters is an initiative of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Learn more about The MacArthur Foundation ->How Housing Matters | The MacArthur Foundation
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