This post was updated on April 29 with a link to the webinar recording.
In an exclusive webinar for NAHB members, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Federal Housing Commissioner Brian Montgomery today outlined specific measures the agency has implemented to battle the COVID-19 pandemic and lauded the efforts of NAHB during this outbreak.
"I commend NAHB for your work in educating employees and subcontractors about jobsite practices to stop the spread of COVID-19 – while keeping our nation’s foundational industries moving," said Carson.
"NAHB has been a great partner in our fight to provide safe, quality housing to all Americans," the secretary added. "Our nation’s home builders are critical to the economy and I am confident they will help lead our country back to full strength when we have defeated the coronavirus."
On March 18, HUD authorized an immediate 60-day moratorium on foreclosures and evictions to help single-family home owners with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
"The last thing any of us wants is for Americans to lose their homes unnecessarily while we continue to fight this invisible enemy," Carson said.
On the multifamily side, Carson urged renters who can still make payments under the CARES Act – the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package passed by Congress — to continue doing so. "If you can pay, please do because that helps you, it helps your fellow American taxpayers and it helps the nation as a whole," he said. "Don’t take advantage of forbearance if you don’t need it."
The CARES Act supports a variety of programs and initiatives at HUD. Specifically, the CARES Act allocates:
- $4 Billion for HUD’s Emergency Solutions Grants Program;
- $1.25 Billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance; and
- $1 Billion for Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance.
An additional $5 billion has also been made available in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to alleviate unanticipated costs from COVID-19 in impacted communities.
FHA Commissioner Montgomery said that FHA’s mission is to be a source of strength for the housing market. Towards that end, FHA has put in a place a number of solutions to help lenders originate new loans, including electronic submission of documents, e-closings, flexibilities on appraisal inspections, and waivers for electronic condominium approval applications.
"Many of the changes we at FHA have made have been designed to increase access to FHA loans," said Montgomery. "If there is any silver lining (to this pandemic), it will result in online trends to make the origination process more efficient and lower costs to borrowers. We will continue to provide any and all flexibilities if and when they make sense."
Regarding the possibility of using CDBG or HOME funds to meet needs that have risen out of the COVID-19 crisis, Montgomery said that is in the works.
Montgomery also said that "whenever it makes sense," HUD would consider extending deadlines for construction and required inspections for the FHA-insured multifamily mortgage programs. He emphasized that FHA "wants to provide maximum flexibility. We provide waivers whenever we can."
"I am grateful for the continued partnership of NAHB members who are serving so many millions of Americans in need while we all do this essential work together," said Carson.
Members can access a replay of the webinar in the Webinars and Town Halls
section of nahb.org/coronavirus