$500 Million Awarded To Help Flood Victims By HUD

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro awarded a total of $500 million last week to help Louisiana, Texas and West Virginia to recover after severe flooding events that occurred earlier this year.  Provided through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program, these recovery funds will assist the most impacted communities that experienced the most serious damage to their housing stock.

President Obama signed the Continuing Resolution into law on September 29, 2016.  This stopgap spending measure directed HUD to allocate $500 million “in the most impacted and distressed areas” that experienced presidentially declared disasters in 2016, but prior to September 29th.  As a result of this limitation, HUD considered all 33 major disasters that occurred within this period of time.  Areas effected by Hurricane Matthew are not eligible as for these funds as disaster declarations for Matthew occurred after the Continuing Resolution became law.

“Immediately after President Obama signed this spending bill into law, my team began identifying the strongest cases to receive disaster recovery funds,” says Secretary Castro.  “These three states – Louisiana, Texas and West Virginia – experienced intense and destructive flooding causing great damage to residents’ homes and draining state resources. Today, we make a critically needed investment to help these communities recover and help families rebuild their homes.”

For more information, visit www.hud.gov.

Dealing With An Underwater Mortgage

Back during the real estate bust, we fell behind on our mortgage and worked with our lender to get a loan modification. The lender added the delinquent amount to the end of the mortgage. Now, almost 10 years later, we have retired and are looking to relocate to a smaller house. Although our home’s value has increased, we still are “underwater” on the mortgage due to the modification. We contacted our bank, but we were told that there was no help for our fairly unique situation. There’s nothing we can do?

Your bank’s representative gave you bad information. Your situation is far from unique. You can wait it out or try to complete a short sale. In a short sale, your lender will agree to accept less than it is owed and will release you from the mortgage.

Your house has regained most of the value it lost when the bubble burst. In a few more years, as long as values continue to rise, you no longer will be underwater. You could stay in your home and possibly refinance or move to a new home and rent this one. However, being a landlord is not for everyone. Consider whether you are willing to deal with a tenant and all that goes with that.

I think a better option would be to try for the short sale. You’ll need to list your property with a real estate agent and sign a contract with a buyer at market price. Then you apply to your lender for a short sale by filling out paperwork that is similar to the loan modification process. You’ll have to follow up consistently with the lender until the deal is approved.

Many people completed short sales during the housing collapse, and many complained that the process took too long and was fraught with bureaucracy. This still would take substantial time and effort, though it shouldn’t be as hard now that fewer people are seeking short sales. And it almost certainly would be faster than waiting out an underwater mortgage.

HUD and VA Work to Find Permanent Homes for Homeless Veterans

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced a second round of funding to help provide permanent homes to an estimated 108 veterans experiencing homelessness in seven states.  The rental assistance announced this week is provided through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program which combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by VA (see attached list of HUD’s voucher awards).

Recently, HUD, VA and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) announced the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States has been cut nearly in half since 2010. The data revealed a 17 percent decrease in veteran homelessness between January 2015 and January 2016—quadruple the previous year’s annual decline—and a 47 percent decrease since 2010. Additionally, while answering the Obama administration’s Mayor’s Challenge to end Veteran’s Homelessness, several mayors have declared their cities have officially ended it.

“There is momentum across the nation as community after community effectively ends veteran homelessness,” says Secretary Julián Castro. “Today’s funding will help more cities reach this important goal and ensure that we serve the brave men and women who have served and sacrificed for us. HUD and its local partners are determined to give every veteran the opportunity to secure a safe, stable place to call home.”

“The dramatic reduction in Veteran homelessness in recent years would not have been possible without the pairing of housing choice vouchers with case management and supportive services under the HUD-VASH program to help the most vulnerable Veterans become and remain stably housed,” says VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “The HUD-VASH awards announced [this week] will support the ongoing and important work underway to ensure that homelessness among Veterans is rare and non-recurring.”

In June, HUD awarded nearly $38 million to help more than 5,200 homeless veterans find homes. That funding ensured that communities could provide the critically needed housing assistance and case management services to those veterans and their families experiencing homelessness.

In 2010, President Obama and 19 federal agencies and offices that form the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) launched the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness. Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness serves as a roadmap for how the federal government will work with state and local communities to confront the root causes of homelessness, especially among former servicemen and women. To support communities as they progress towards the goal of ending veteran homelessness, USICH has identified strategies that increase collaboration and coordination among programs serving veterans experiencing homelessness.

Since 2008, more than 79,000 vouchers have been awarded and approximately 111,000 homeless veterans have been served through the HUD-VASH program. Rental assistance and supportive services provided through HUD-VASH are a critical resource for local communities in ending homelessness among our nation’s Veterans.

In the HUD-VASH program, VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) assess veterans experiencing homelessness before referring them to local housing agencies for these vouchers. Decisions are based on a variety of factors, most importantly the duration of homelessness and the need for longer term, more intensive support in obtaining and maintaining permanent housing. The HUD-VASH program includes both the rental assistance the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that VAMC staff offers.

Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. VA offers eligible homeless veterans clinical and supportive services through its medical centers across the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

For more information, visit www.hud.gov.