March 7, 2013
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Fannie-Freddie securitization company in the works, FHFA says
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will launch a joint company responsible for home-loan securitization, said Edward DeMarco, acting director of the U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency. "The overarching goal is to create something of value that could either be sold or used by policymakers as a foundational element of the mortgage market of the future," DeMarco said.  Reuters (3/4)
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Trends in Housing
Housing affordability is linked to increased "mega-commutes"
The number of so-called mega-commutes -- in which employees travel more than 50 miles or 90 minutes each way -- is growing, according to census data. About 600,000 Americans face a commute that long, and more than 25% of them work in the Washington, D.C., area. Housing affordability is behind the long commutes for some employees.  The Washington Post (3/4)
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How changing demographics could hurt housing again
Baby boomers who look to move out of large suburban single-family homes might not find many interested buyers, says researcher Arthur Nelson, director of the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah. Younger generations are more interested in smaller homes and condos, and the growing numbers of Hispanics in the U.S. generally do not have incomes high enough to buy larger homes. The confluence of these demographic trends could prompt another housing crisis, Nelson says.  The Atlantic Cities (3/5)
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Policy Roundup
FHA will issue its own QM rule
The Federal Housing Administration says it will publish its own version of a rule issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that addresses a borrower's ability to repay a mortgage. The Dodd-Frank Act allows the FHA to devise its own qualified-mortgage rule. The agency says upcoming fee increases could disqualify FHA loans from the CFPB's definition.  Bloomberg (2/28)
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Sequester will hit housing programs, low-income Americans
Federal budget cuts that Congress allowed to take effect under the sequester will affect funding for housing vouchers, emergency shelters for the homeless, foreclosure prevention programs and aid to Hurricane Sandy victims. Local housing officials throughout the country are dealing with reduced funding.  The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (3/3), Housing Wire (3/4)
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Mobile app arms homebuyers with anti-discrimination tools
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has released a mobile application for homebuyers, putting information on fair housing practices and the ability to file complaints at their fingertips.  The Washington Post (2/28)
Location, Location, Location
Analysis finds NYC housing doesn't always match needs
In looking in-depth at New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's New Housing Marketplace Program, the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development found that all affordable housing is counted equally, despite sometimes vast differences in the units. In addition, some "affordable" housing units are not actually affordable in the neighborhoods where they are located. In a new report, the organization breaks down how well the program matches needs in four areas: depth of affordability, length of affordability, location and household size.  National Housing Institute/Rooflines blog (2/28)
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Health and Housing
Health assessment guides redesign of Denver neighborhood
The Denver Housing Authority is factoring in physical activity and environmental sustainability as it prepares to overhaul a 17-acre housing development. Staircases with natural lighting, for example, are planned to draw residents away from elevators. The buildings will have gardens and will feature ecologically advanced construction materials.  The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (3/5)
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The Economy and Housing
Housing recovery spurs new jobs in hardest-hit states
California and Arizona are among the states where the housing crisis hit hardest. Now, as the U.S. housing market recovers, those states are experiencing faster-than-average growth in jobs tied to the housing sector, finds an analysis by Stateline. (2/26)
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Housing Matters Spotlight
Mapping energy efficiency opportunities in multifamily housing
Multifamily buildings represent a large and mostly untapped potential for saving energy, as traditional energy efficiency programs have focused on single-family homes or commercial office buildings. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a MacArthur Foundation grantee, has released Scaling up Multifamily Energy Efficiency Programs: A Metropolitan Area Assessment, a report that maps the opportunities to expand utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs for multifamily buildings in the 50 U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest multifamily housing markets. The report is the first step in a multiyear ACEEE Multifamily Energy Savings Project to expand utility customer-funded energy efficiency programs for multifamily housing. Read more.
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Bipartisan commission's recommendations for future directions in housing policy garner attention
Just last week, a bipartisan commission of former Cabinet secretaries, former senators and other leading housing and economic experts unveiled a new vision for housing policy that aims to further our nation's economic recovery and improve the lives of millions of Americans. The report from the Bipartisan Policy Center's Housing Commission, a grantee of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, titled "Housing America's Future: New Directions for National Policy," proposes scaling back the government role in the nation's housing finance system and reforming housing assistance programs to better meet the needs of America's most vulnerable households. The report has drawn significant attention from policymakers, experts, advocates, opinion leaders and industry players.
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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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