WASHINGTON–U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson announced an expansion of a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) pilot program that streamlines its mortgage insurance applications for affordable housing developments that have equity from the sale of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program, the nation’s primary source of affordable housing production.
Secretary Carson made the announcement at the National Association of Homebuilders International Builders’ Show.
In 2012, the FHA launched a pilot program to streamline FHA mortgage insurance applications for projects with equity from the sale of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, specifically applications to refinance mortgage debt under FHA’s Section 223(f) Program. The FHA is expanding this pilot program to include new construction and substantial rehabilitation under its Section 221(d)(4) and Section 220 Programs.
“Today, we take another important step to stimulate capital investment in affordable housing at a time when we need affordable housing more than ever,” said Secretary Carson. “We’re also applying the lessons we’ve learned from our earlier pilot program to streamline our processing for new construction and substantial rehabilitation developments, so we can get these deals done quicker and more efficiently.”
FHA’s expanded pilot program will ensure faster and more efficient processing for low-risk, LIHTC transactions by eliminating redundant reviews. Average processing time for Low-Income Housing Tax Credit deals is currently 90 days. Under FHA’s pilot, processing times are reduced to 30 days under the Expedited Approval Process track and 60 days under the Standard Approval Process track. A shorter application review period allows borrowers to lock in better interest rates sooner, an important capability in a rising interest rate environment.
This week’s action further aligns FHA’s policies and underwriting towards supporting affordable housing production and preservation. FHA multifamily transactions that include Low-Income Housing Tax Credits account for approximately 30 percent of FHA’s total multifamily volume. By aligning FHA’s Section 221(d) and Section 220 programs with Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program, it’s expected FHA will support more production and preservation of critically needed affordable multifamily housing.
The new expanded pilot will also encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities and supports development in Opportunity Zones. Opportunity Zones are census tracts in low-income communities experiencing economic distress. In July 2018, the Internal Revenue Service published a list of more than 8,700 qualified opportunity zones in the 50 states and U.S. territories.