Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced their co-sponsorship of the Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021, legislation to address growing concern of rising home prices, lack of access to home-buying assistance, and the widening wealth and homeownership gaps in Virginia and throughout the country. This bill would provide federal grants, administered through local entities, to aid first-generation homebuyers with qualifying expenses toward purchasing their first home—including downpayment costs, closing costs, and costs to reduce the rates of interest. The Senators are pushing to include the legislation in the Build Back Better package.

“As a former fair housing attorney, I have long worked to increase access to affordable housing for Virginia families,” said Senator Kaine. “This bill will not only help first-time homebuyers achieve their dream of owning a home; it will also strengthen our communities by helping families build wealth and economic stability for generations to come. As I work with my colleagues to pass the Build Back Better bill, I will continue pushing to include this critical support to make homeownership more accessible for families across the Commonwealth.”

“The number one way Americans build wealth in this country is through homeownership, and this bill will make it easier for more people to own a home — particularly those who have been held back from this opportunity by structural inequality and racism for far too long. I am proud to join my colleagues in making the American dream more accessible to all Americans,” said Senator Warner.  

Introduced by Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), the bill is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH, Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Accompanying legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters and has received enthusiastic support from housing, homeownership, and racial equity organizations across the country.

The Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021 has vast statewide and national support. A full list of endorsing organizations can be found here.

To find the full bill text of the Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021, click here and to find a one-pager, click here.

Last month, Warner and Kaine introduced the Low-Income First Time Homebuyers (LIFT) Act to establish a new program to help first-time, first-generation homebuyers – predominantly Americans of color – build wealth much more rapidly. The LIFT Act will establish a program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, to sponsor low fixed-rate 20-year mortgages for first-time, first-generation homebuyers who have incomes equal to or less than 120 percent of their area median income to increase access to homeownership for millions of families.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA), members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, along with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) today introduced the Low-Income First Time Homebuyers (LIFT) Act to establish a new program to help first-time, first-generation homebuyers – predominately Americans of color – build wealth much more rapidly.  By offering new homeowners a 20-year mortgage for roughly the same monthly payment as a traditional 30-year loan, LIFT will allow them to grow equity twice as fast.   

“The number one way that middle class Americans build wealth is through homeownership, an opportunity that due to racism and structural inequality has been denied to too many families of color. Today, Black families in this country have an average net worth just one-tenth the size of their white counterparts,” said Sen. Warner. “The LIFT Act will help close the racial wealth gap by allowing qualified home buyers to build equity – and wealth – at twice the rate of a conventional 30-year mortgage.”

“Homeownership is a key tool for Americans to grow their wealth and build economic stability, but for far too many people, especially people of color, this goal remains out of reach. This is a direct result of the systemic racial discrimination that has plagued our nation’s housing policies for generations. It’s time to right this wrong and implement policies that will allow us to close this gap. I’m proud to introduce this legislation that will help all first-time, first-generation homebuyers succeed in building more wealth through homeownership with a 20-year mortgage. I’ll be working to pass this crucial bill to help bring more economic opportunity and prosperity to all,” said Sen. Van Hollen.

“For too long, too many of our neighbors have been excluded from our nation’s housing market, unable to build equity and security after buying and moving into their first home,” said Sen. Reverend Warnock. “Home equity accumulation is one of the best ways to build generational wealth for hardworking families in Georgia and across the nation, and to close the racial wealth gap. For that, I am proud to stand alongside Sen. Warner in introducing the LIFT Act, which will help to level the playing field by making it easier for first-time homebuyers to build wealth all while boosting our state and national economy.”

“This is about helping first-time homebuyers pay down their mortgages and build wealth in their homes more quickly. I'm teaming up with Senator Warner to help low-income Georgians and first-time homebuyers build generational wealth,” Sen. Ossoff said.

“As a former fair housing attorney, I have long been passionate about giving more families access to stable housing and economic mobility,” said Sen. Kaine. “This bill will help families in their pursuit of the American dream by making home ownership more accessible to first-generation homebuyers and enabling them to build equity faster. I will continue working in the coming weeks to deliver Americans historic reforms to make housing more affordable.”

The LIFT Act will establish a program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, to sponsor low fixed-rate 20-year mortgages for first-time, first-generation homebuyers who have incomes equal to or less than 120 percent of their area median income. Working through Ginnie Mae, Treasury would subsidize the interest rate and origination fees associated with these 20-year mortgages such that the monthly payment would be in line with a 30-year Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured mortgage. By allowing borrowers to build equity through their homes at twice the rate of a comparable 30-year loan without meaningfully increasing the monthly payment, LIFT will improve the power of homeownership for millions of families. Coupled with well-targeted down-payment assistance, the LIFT program will make meaningful progress in closing the racial wealth gap, expanding and greatly strengthening the wealth-building benefits of homeownership in communities too long left behind by our existing financial structures.

A two-page summary of the bill is available here. Text of the legislation is available here.

“The LIFT Act would be a groundbreaking new approach to help close the nation’s significant and troubling shortfall in homeownership among people of color and the associated substantial wealth racial gap.  Focusing eligibility on first-time, first-generation homebuyers would target this assistance to families and individuals most in need of assistance while also narrowing racial homeownership gaps. And the use of subsidies to make a 20-year mortgage as affordable as a 30-year loan puts homebuyers on a path to rapidly accumulate home equity while also making homeownership less risky. The proposed approach is also highly cost effective by leveraging federal subsidies to enable homeowners to build wealth over time more quickly and effectively,” said Chris Herbert, Managing Director, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.

“Homeownership is the major source of wealth and assets for most American families. Senator Warner's proposed LIFT Act is a worthy initiative that can help families build equity faster and Opportunity Finance Network is pleased to endorse this legislation,” Jennifer A. Vasiloff, Chief External Affairs Officer, Opportunity Finance Network, said.

“Homeownership is the best way to build wealth, especially for lower and moderate income households and families of color, and LIFT supercharges that wealth-building. By helping homeowners get a 20-year mortgage with a lower monthly payment consistent with a 30-year mortgage, LIFT preserves affordability and supports homeownership, but also allows homeowners to rapidly accumulate equity in their homes,” said Mark Zandi, Chief Economist, Moody’s Analytics. “LIFT is among the most effective ways policymakers have to address the nation’s pernicious problem of large and widening economic disparities.”

“The Virginia Housing Alliance applauds Senator Warner’s leadership and commitment to ensuring that the wealth building opportunity of homeownership becomes a reality for many more Americans through the Low-Income First Time Homebuyers Act (LIFT Act). In Virginia, the homeownership rate for non-Hispanic white households is 73% compared to just 48% for Black households. The LIFT Act will provide a transformative opportunity to close this gap and make the American dream of homeownership a reality for thousands of first time homebuyers in Virginia,” said Brian Koziol, Executive Director, Virginia Housing Alliance. 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $15,627,024 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help Virginians access affordable housing across the Commonwealth. The funding was awarded through the Emergency Housing Vouchers (EHV) Program, and authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which both Senators voted to pass in March.

“We are glad to see this federal funding from the ARP go toward supporting Virginians who are feeling the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Senators said. “This critical aid will help ensure people across the Commonwealth have access to safe and affordable housing, while Virginia begins to build back better.”

The EHV program is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to help American families and individuals access quality housing resources.

The funding will be distributed as follows:

Virginia Housing Recipients

Amount

Virginia Housing Development Authority

$4,822,200.00

Fairfax County Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$3,079,560.00

Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,333,128.00

Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$933,240.00

Prince William County Office of Housing & Community Development

$1,095,132.00

Alexandria Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,008,444.00

Arlington County Dept. of Human Services

$659,988.00

Virginia Beach Dept. of Housing & Neighborhood Preservation

$488,484.00

Newport News Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$426,468.00

Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$320,280.00

Hampton Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$332,712.00

Portsmouth Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$257,484.00

Bristol Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$136,188.00

Hopewell Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$185,580.00

Lynchburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$148,272.00

Charlottesville Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$214,776.00

Petersburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$185,088.00

Total:

$15,627,024.00

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $1,037,043 in federal funding through the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to support seven AmeriCorps VISTA projects across Virginia. The AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program is a national service program that supports organizations dedicated to reducing poverty and increasing economic opportunities in the United States. 

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, local organizations have played a vital role in supporting communities in need,” said the Senators. “We’re pleased that this funding will ensure that seven organizations across the Commonwealth have the resources to continue serving their communities as we recover from the devastating health and economic effects of the past year.” 

The funding will be distributed as follows: 

  • In Alexandria, United Way Worldwide will receive $351,540 to increase access to economic opportunities by improving job readiness and increasing financial literacy.
  • In Bristol, the Appalachian Sustainable Development will receive $105,462 to develop programming on sustainable food production and distribution of agricultural products for local farmers. Volunteers will also support efforts to increase access to affordable, healthy food in rural communities.  
  • In Lynchburg, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lynchburg will receive $35,154 to increase access to mentorship programs and services for low-income youth. The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lynchburg provides educational opportunities to youth in an effort to reduce high school drop-out rates. 
  • In Norfolk, the Hampton Roads Workforce Foundation will receive $105,462 to expand access to job opportunities through career and workforce development.
  • In Richmond, the Virginia Housing Alliance will receive $246,078 to support statewide and local homelessness response systems and increase access to affordable housing in the area.
  • In Washington County, the Bristol Redevelopment and Housing Authority will receive $105,462 to assist with capacity building projects and the creation of a service delivery model across the Commonwealth.
  • In Washington County, the Friends of Southwest Virginia will receive $87,885 to expand access to workforce development and improve job readiness. 

The AmeriCorps VISTA program partners with non-profit organizations, schools, and local government agencies to reduce poverty through capacity building. AmeriCorps VISTA members focus on reducing homelessness and food insecurity, supporting community projects, and improving students’ academic performance. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers have also been assisting local COVID-19 testing efforts and vaccine distribution.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and 40 of their Senate colleagues in a letter to the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee urging them to provide at least $185 million in funding for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (NeighborWorks America) in order to address the nation’s affordable housing crisis, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the letter, the Senators state that additional funding for NeighborWorks America will help create housing opportunities for more Americans to live in affordable homes.

“As you consider the Fiscal Year 2022 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations Act, we write to ask that you provide at least $185 million for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, commonly known as NeighborWorks America. With the nation’s affordable housing crisis continuing to worsen, coupled with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to increase our investment in ensuring that Americans have access to reasonably-priced, quality housing options,” wrote the Senators.

“Given the program’s demonstrated record of success in increasing access to affordable housing and continued bipartisan support in Congress, we request that you provide at least $185 million in funding. With additional funding, NeighborWorks will be able to increase grants to network community-development organizations, leverage additional investments from private sources, and create opportunities for more Americans to live in affordable homes,” continued the Senators.

BACKGROUND: NeighborWorks America is a Congressionally-chartered, national nonprofit, that helps create opportunities for Americans to live in affordable and safe homes by providing community development organizations in all fifty states with financial resources and counseling services. In 2020, NeighborWorks created and maintained 43,800 jobs, repaired 76,200 homes, and empowered 23,400 new homeowners. That same year, NeighborWorks provided 149,200 families with vital housing and counseling services that helped prospective homebuyers and renters make informed housing decisions. Additionally, NeighborWorks leverages $59 in private capital for every $1 appropriated to the program.

This critically important program has provided funding to Nevada HAND and the Neighborhood Housing Services of Southern Nevada (NHSSN).

The letter was also signed by Senators Booker (D-NJ), Smith (D-MN), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Feinstein (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Menendez (D-NJ), Manchin (D-WV), Markey (D-MA), Sanders (D-VT), Cantwell (D-WA), Hirono (D-HI), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Padilla (D-CA), Reed (D-RI), Hassan (D-NH), Whitehouse (D-RI), Warren (D-MA), Van Hollen (D-MD), Peters (D-MI), Casey (D-PA), Durbin (D-IL), Shaheen (D-NH), Baldwin (D-WI), Merkley (D-OR), Carper (D-DE), Duckworth (D-IL), Brown (D-OH), King (I-ME), Warner (D-VA), Blumenthal (D-CT), Warnock (D-GA), Sinema (D-AZ), Klobuchar (D-MN), Wyden (D-OR), Murphy (D-CT), Cardin (D-MD), Lujan (D-NM), Kelly (D-AZ), Coons (D-DE), and Hickenlooper (D-CO).

The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Chairman Schatz and Ranking Member Collins:

As you consider the Fiscal Year 2022 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations Act, we write to ask that you provide at least $185 million for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, commonly known as NeighborWorks America. With the nation’s affordable housing crisis continuing to worsen, coupled with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to increase our investment in ensuring that Americans have access to reasonably-priced, quality housing options.

As a Congressionally-chartered, national nonprofit, NeighborWorks helps create opportunities for Americans to live in affordable and safe homes by providing community development organizations in all fifty states with financial resources and counseling services. In 2020, NeighborWorks created and maintained 43,800 jobs, repaired 76,200 homes, and empowered 23,400 new homeowners. That same year, NeighborWorks provided 149,200 families with vital housing and counseling services that helped prospective homebuyers and renters make informed housing decisions. Providing consumers access to this kind of accurate, comprehensive information throughout the home-buying process can help protect our nation from another mortgage crisis. This has all come at a relatively low cost – NeighborWorks has demonstrated the ability to attract private sector investments to its affordable housing projects, leveraging $59 in private capital for every $1 appropriated to the program.

Additionally, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the nation’s affordable housing crisis extend from urban centers to our rural communities, NeighborWorks’ Rural Initiative is specifically dedicated to delivering a range of services to rural communities in America that face unique challenges when it comes to creating affordable homeownership and rental opportunities. With approximately 20 percent of our nation’s population living in rural communities, NeighborWorks’ financial services, technical assistance, leadership development, and training for community-based development are critical to empowering rural homeownership and rental opportunities. 

Last year, Congress passed with broad bipartisan support a Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations package, increasing Neighborworks funding by more than $7 million above the Fiscal Year 2020 enacted level. Given the program’s demonstrated record of success in increasing access to affordable housing and continued bipartisan support in Congress, we request that you provide at least $185 million in funding. With additional funding, NeighborWorks will be able to increase grants to network community-development organizations, leverage additional investments from private sources, and create opportunities for more Americans to live in affordable homes.

As the COVID-19 pandemic ravages communities and the affordable housing crisis continues to affect an increasing number of Americans nationwide, we ask that you work with us to invest in our communities and our constituents by requesting robust funding for Neighborworks.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $95,560,265 in federal funding to help Virginians access safe and affordable housing across the Commonwealth. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the funding through four grant programs – the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) program, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program, and the Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) grant program.

“We’re glad to see these federal funds go toward providing housing resources for individuals who are struggling to stay afloat amid COVID-19,” the Senators said. “We will continue to push for federal assistance to better support Virginians in these challenging times.”

The CDBG program provides annual grants on a formula basis to states, cities, and counties to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment and expanding economic opportunities. The following localities will receive funding through the CDBG program:

Recipient Amount
Alexandria $1,173,007
Blacksburg $554,230
Bristol $265,409
Charlottesville $427,176
Chesapeake $1,164,279
Christiansburg $104,407
Colonial Heights $109,405
Danville $894,119
Fredericksburg $193,431
Hampton $963,720
Harrisonburg $532,571
Hopewell $221,881
Lynchburg $718,593
Newport News $1,308,136
Norfolk $4,488,314
Petersburg $619,273
Portsmouth $1,613,918
Radford $182,495
Richmond $4,505,969
Roanoke $1,835,201
Staunton $339,361
Suffolk $497,035
Virginia Beach $2,010,809
Waynesboro City $190,037
Winchester $278,923
Arlington County $1,323,025
Chesterfield County $1,531,472
Fairfax County $6,039,155
Henrico County $1,721,965
Loudoun County $1,442,139
Prince William County $2,659,547
Virginia Nonentitlement $19,090,101
Total: $58,999,103

The HOME Investment Partnerships program helps to expand the supply of quality, affordable housing to families by providing grants to states and local governments to fund programs that meet local needs and priorities. The following localities will receive funding through the HOME program:

Recipient Amount
Alexandria $618,934
Blacksburg $596,346
Charlottesville $676,615
Chesapeake $553,118
Danville $273,606
Hampton $539,408
Lynchburg $413,856
Newport News $771,200
Norfolk $1,246,498
Portsmouth $425,453
Richmond $1,611,568
Roanoke $675,808
Suffolk $400,819
Virginia Beach $1,059,622
Winchester $638,110
Arlington County $725,257
Chesterfield County $586,058
Fairfax County $2,175,471
Henrico County $887,581
Prince William County $924,474
Virginia Nonentitlement $10,712,842
Total: $26,512,644

The Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program provides annual grants to State, local, and private entities to help people find permanent and stable housing after experiencing a housing crisis and/or homelessness. The program also provides funding for outreach and for improving emergency homeless shelters. The following localities will receive funding through the ESG program:

Recipient Amount
Norfolk $384,637
Richmond $389,042
Roanoke $153,124
Virginia Beach $175,346
Fairfax County $508,353
Henrico County $147,536
Prince William County $229,863
Virginia Nonentitlement $3,007,657
Total: $4,995,558

The Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) program provides housing assistance and additional supportive services to local units of government, states, and non-profit organizations for projects that help low-income persons medically diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and their families. The following localities will receive funding through the HOPWA program:

Recipient Amount
Richmond $1,500,245
Virginia Beach $2,177,661
Virginia Nonentitlement $1,375,054
Total: $5,052,960

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $1,105,039 in federal funding to help seven Native American tribes in Virginia develop affordable housing within their communities. The funding was awarded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Indian Housing Block Grant Program (IHBG), and will go towards the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, the Pamunkey, and the Nansemond Indian Tribes.

“We’re pleased to see these federal funds go toward improving access to housing for Virginia tribes,” the Senators said. “It’s imperative that these communities have safe and affordable places to live.”

In 2018, Senators Warner and Kaine secured passage of the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017 to grant federal recognition for six Virginia tribes, which allowed them to be eligible for federal funding including CARES Act funds to respond to COVID-19. Kaine recently met with Tribal leaders from the Monacan Nation to hear about their progress and challenges they are facing amid the pandemic. In January, Warner and Kaine demanded the Trump Administration provide all necessary resources to state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments to help support vaccine distribution. 

The Indian Housing Block Grant Program (IHBG) provides grants to Tribes and Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs) to develop and implement affordable housing in Tribal communities.

The tribes that received funding are listed below:

Recipient

Location Amount

Chickahominy Indian Tribe

Providence Forge $262,063

Chickahominy Indian Tribe-Eastern Division

Providence Forge $74,418

Monacan Indian Nation

Amherst $302,115

Nansemond Indian Tribe

Suffolk $140,897

Pamunkey Indian Tribe

King William $74,406

Rappahannock Tribe, Inc.

Indian Neck $74,571

Upper Mattaponi Tribe

King William $176,569

Total:

$1,105,039

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WASHINGTON, D.C – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $46,328,480 in federal funding to support affordable housing development across Virginia. The funding, which will go to 26 municipalities across the Commonwealth, has been awarded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Public Housing Capital Fund. 

“Access to safe and affordable housing is crucial to a family’s health and stability,” said the Senators. “We’re pleased that these federal dollars will help support housing authorities as they continue to provide necessary assistance to Virginians amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Capital Fund provides federal dollars to Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) for the development, financing, and modernization of public housing developments and management improvements.

The Virginia housing authorities that received funding are listed below:

Recipient

Amount

Portsmouth Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,729,133.00

Bristol Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$912,801.00

Newport News Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$3,672,566.00

Alexandria Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,938,851.00

Hopewell Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$944,954.00

Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$8,426,268.00

Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$12,050,634.00

Danville Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,265,928.00

Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$3,836,496.00

Chesapeake Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,327,337.00

Lynchburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$973,030.00

Norton Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$547,006.00

Charlottesville Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,025,764.00

Hampton Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,675,827.00

Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority

$179,216.00

Petersburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$989,647.00

Wytheville Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$583,518.00

Waynesboro Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$483,003.00

Wise County Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$486,727.00

Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority

$1,229,244.00

Williamsburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$299,180.00

Cumberland Plateau Regional Housing Authority

$651,261.00

Marion Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$637,685.00

Scott County Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$232,420.00

Abingdon Redevelopment and Housing Authority

$75,075.00

Lee County Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$154,909.00

Total:

$46,328,480.00

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, today released a statement after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an extension of foreclosure and forbearance relief programs to help people stay in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic:

“More than 10 million homeowners are currently behind on their mortgage payments, and one in five renters is behind on their rent. Communities of color in particular are being disproportionately hurt by the ongoing health, economic and housing crises. I’ve been fighting in Congress to help Americans in danger of losing their homes, and I applaud the Biden administration for taking this step to help those who are struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Sen. Warner has fought to protect homeowners and renters facing eviction as a result of the economic crisis. In May, Sen. Warner introduced legislation to create a $75 billion Housing Assistance Fund to help protect renters, homeowners, and communities by preventing avoidable foreclosures, evictions, and utility shut offs.

During bipartisan negotiations over the COVID-19 relief legislation that Congress passed in December, Sen. Warner secured an extension of a federal eviction moratorium until January 30, 2021 – giving the new Biden administration time to put in additional policies, such as those announced today, to help keep Americans in their homes during the pandemic. Sen. Warner also successfully fought to ensure that the relief bill, which was signed into law by President Trump on December 27, 2020, included $25 billion in federal assistance for renters facing financial insecurity as a result of COVID-19. 

The actions announced today by the Biden administration will help homeowners with HUD, VA and USDA loans by:

  • Extending the foreclosure moratorium for homeowners through June 30, 2021;
  • Extending the mortgage payment forbearance enrollment window until June 30, 2021 for borrowers who wish to request forbearance;
  • Providing up to six months of additional mortgage payment forbearance, in three-month increments, for borrowers who entered forbearance on or before June 30, 2020.

Last week, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would extend their foreclosure moratorium through March 31, 2021. Together, the actions taken by the Biden administration will cover 70 percent of existing single-family home mortgages.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine applauded Senate passage of the bipartisan, bicameral spending bill to fund federal programs crucial to Virginia and keep the federal government open through 2021. The legislation also includes comprehensive measures to help Americans amid the ongoing economic and public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Following today’s Senate passage, the bill now heads to the President’s desk for signature. 

“For nine long months, folks waited for Congress to deliver critical relief as they watched COVID-19 further devastate their communities. Today, despite that unacceptable delay, relief is officially on its way,” said Warner. “I’m proud to have worked with a bipartisan group of colleagues to help get this legislation into shape and in the hands of House and Senate leaders. And while I know that this bill is not perfect, I’m glad to know that it will help American families weather this winter and get through the holidays.”

“While this relief should have been passed much earlier, I’m pleased to see families, small businesses, hospitals, schools, and more get the assistance they need,” Kaine said. “This legislation makes critical investments in unemployment assistance, food aid, housing assistance, and other areas to directly help those struggling amid the pandemic. Though we still have more work to do to help Americans get back on their feet, I’m relieved Congress was able to come to this bipartisan compromise and fund these priorities before the holidays.” 

The following list includes some of the priorities Warner and Kaine advocated:

  • Assistance for out of work Virginians: Extends federal unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, preventing hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Virginians from losing benefits over the holidays. The senators were cosponsors of the legislation that provided the model for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), through which more than 9 million Americans are currently receiving benefits. More recently, the Senators called on leadership to extend and add additional weeks of federal employment benefits to both PUA and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs. Additionally, it gives states the option to offer additional weekly financial relief for Americans with a mix of traditional (W-2) and independent employment income who are not able to claim their full benefit, modeled after Senator Warner’s legislation.
  • Stimulus checks: Includes a stimulus payment for low- and middle-income Americans; with $600 for individual filers and $1,200 for joint filers, with an additional $600 for each qualifying child in the household. Early in the crisis, Senator Kaine called for stimulus efforts to include direct payments to households. 
  • Vaccines: Includes over $19 billion for vaccines and therapeutics and an additional $8.75 billion to support vaccine distribution, particularly for states and localities, to slow the spread of the pandemic and take a step towards a future where COVID-19 is managed.
  • Emergency housing aid and protections: Creates a new $25 billion emergency rental assistance fund to prevent evictions during the pandemic, which will be delivered through state and local governments. Earlier this year, the Senators joined their colleagues in introducing legislation to provide emergency housing assistance for those facing potential evictions. The bill will also extend the CDC eviction moratorium to allow time for implementing the emergency housing aid.
  • Relief for hard-hit small businesses and nonprofits: Provides targeted relief for small businesses struggling with the effects of the pandemic. This includes a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgivable loans for small businesses and nonprofits that experienced a substantial revenue decline in 2020, as well as other funds for small business relief. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is directed to provide guidance to ensure priority access for underserved communities, such as minority-owned businesses. The bill also includes grants for small businesses and nonprofits in sectors likely to continue to see substantial drops in revenue in 2021, particularly in the live entertainment sector. This aid will ensure that Virginia’s small businesses are able to stay afloat during the pandemic, keep workers on payroll, and return to job creation as COVID-19 is controlled. The Senators have been strong supporters of providing relief to small businesses, cosponsoring the Heroes Small Business Lifeline Act, which included many of the provisions in the final bill, and the Save our Stages Act, on which the live entertainment grants are modeled. 
  • Targeted relief for underserved communities: Provides the largest single investment in our country's history for minority-owned and community-based lending institutions. Largely drawn from Senator Warner’s Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act, the provision provides $12 billion to community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and minority depository institutions (MDIs) to build capital and unlock affordable access to credit for underserved and minority neighborhoods, which have been particularly hard-hit by COVID-19.
  • Education Stabilization Fund: Provides $82 billion to provide emergency support to K-12 schools and higher education institutions. The legislation includes provisions of Kaine’s Coronavirus Relief Flexibility for Students and Institutions Act that allow colleges to use emergency stabilization funds to cover lost revenue and better target funds designated for colleges hardest hit by COVID-19 by requiring an application to demonstrate need. 
  • Broadband: Includes $7 billion towards broadband, including $3.2 billion for an Emergency Broadband Benefit to help low-income families maintain their internet connections, $285 million to support broadband access in minority communities, and $300 million in broadband grants modeled on provisions Senator Warner drafted with bipartisan Senators. Additionally, the bill includes an extension of the deadline to use Coronavirus Relief Funds so that state and localities interested in using the money for broadband expansion have more time, as Senator Warner called for.
  • Support for child care providers and families: Includes $10 billion in flexible funding for the Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to help support child care providers and ensure that working parents have access to child care during the pandemic. The bill also includes $250 million for Head Start programs.
  • Public health data modernization: Includes Senator Kaine’s Saving Lives Through Better Data Act, which will improve the nation’s public health data systems at CDC and through grants to state and local health departments to expand and modernize their systems, promoting more seamless communication, which can save lives when we’re faced with public health threats such as COVID-19. The omnibus authorizes $100 million for each of fiscal years 2021 through 2025.
  • Telehealth: Includes Senator Kaine and Senator Schatz’s Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act of 2019, which creates a grant program to evaluate, develop, and expand the use of distance health education models such as ECHO to increase access to specialty care in rural and medically underserved populations. The omnibus authorizes $10 million for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2026. The funding bill also permanently expands coverage of and payment for telehealth to treat mental health care, which is in line with Senator Warner’s CONNECT for Health Act, which Senator Kaine is a cosponsor.
  • Ends surprise billing: Includes a provision to end surprise billing, something Senators Warner and Kaine have long advocated for. 
  • U.S. Postal Service: Converts the CARES Act $10 billion loan into direct funding for USPS without requiring repayment. These funds will be used for operational costs and other expenses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Warner is a cosponsor of the Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act, which would provide USPS with significant direct funding. 
  • Veterans: Provides $104.4 billion in funding for the VA, an increase of $12.5 billion over FY20 levels. This funding increase provides $2.7 billion more than the previous fiscal year for health care delivered at VA facilities nationwide. The bill provides robust funding in several areas important for Virginia veterans, including $815 million for critical VA Medical and Prosthetic research, an increase of $1.18 billion over FY20 levels for electronic health record modernization, nearly $2 billon in support of programs to prevent veteran homelessness and $312.6 million for suicide prevention.
  • Infrastructure: Includes funding for key projects that were championed by Warner and Kaine to benefit Virginia’s infrastructure:
    • Includes a provision pushed for by Senators Warner and Kaine to allow for the construction of a new Long Bridge on the Potomac River, which will double the capacity of the rail crossing between Virginia and D.C. The current two-track Long Bridge is the only rail bridge connecting Virginia to Washington, D.C., and it is at 98 percent capacity during peak hours, which means it is one of the most significant rail chokepoints along the East Coast. The new Long Bridge program will double the capacity of the Potomac River rail crossing by adding a second two-track bridge adjacent to the existing bridge and including a new bike-pedestrian shared use path spanning the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Potomac River. Senators Warner and Kaine introduced the Long Bridge Act of 2020 in August to allow for this construction.
    • Includes the full federal funding of $150 million for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to fund critical capital investment and safety projects. In addition, the bill provides $14 billion in emergency relief for public transit agencies to continue operations during the pandemic, ensuring access to transportation for frontline workers and civil servants.
    • Includes a one year extension of Community Development Block Grant funds to the City of Norfolk and other localities to build climate resilient infrastructure projects. Senators Kaine and Warner joined Senator John Hoeven in introducing S.4017 in June, which would also have provided an extension for the NDRC program.
    • Includes $87.5 million for the Chesapeake Bay Program—an increase of $2.5 million from FY 2020. The Chesapeake Bay Program coordinates Chesapeake Bay watershed restoration and protection efforts, and the majority of its funds are passed through to the states and local communities for on-the-ground restoration.
    • Authorizes federal funds to cover 65% of the costs associated with construction projects to address close to $1.5 billion of flood control needs in the City of Norfolk.
    • Grants a critical cost adjustment to allow work to continue on the Deep Creek Bridge inChesapeake to address traffic concerns.
    • Authorizes over $102.7 million in federal funds for construction of the North Landing BridgeReplacement project.
    • Provides up to $9 million for the Federal Aviation Administration to continue its remote tower system pilot program at smaller airports, including the Remote Air Traffic Control Tower at Leesburg Executive Airport.
  • Great American Outdoors Act: With Senator Warner’s Great American Outdoors Act now law, the FY21 omnibus affirms funding for several deferred maintenance projects in Virginia:
    • George Washington Memorial Parkway – A $207 million project to restore 7.6 miles of northern section of the GW Parkway and implement critical safety measures. The Senators have long advocated for federal funding for this project for several years as seen here and here.
    • Shenandoah National Park – A $27 million project to pave and restore nearly 50 miles of Skyline Drive and various overlooks. Shenandoah will also receive nearly $3.5 million to remove unnecessary buildings and restore greenspace within the park.
    • Colonial National Historical Park – A $16.5 million project to restore nearly 5 miles of shoreline along the York River.
  • FBI Headquarters: Provides no funding for a new FBI headquarters and includes language that encourages General Services Administration (GSA) to provide a new prospectus, particularly after the Trump Administration abruptly abandoned plans to develop a new campus headquarters for the FBI. Earlier this year, Senators Warner and Kaine opposed an attempt in an earlier Republican COVID-19 relief package that would have provided $1.75 billion for construction of a new FBI HQ in its current downtown D.C. location.  
  • Miners’ Benefits: Extends the funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund until the end of 2021 by extending the tax on mining companies that helps fund the program. Both Kaine and Warner introduced the Black Lung Benefits Disability Trust Fund Solvency Act calling on Congress to extend the excise tax through the end of 2030.
  • Shipbuilding & MILCON funding: Provides $23.27 billion for shipbuilding for 10 battle force ships including full funding for a second Virginia-class submarine, which Senators Warner and Kaine personally advocated for. The bill also appropriates $237 million for 6 MILCON projects in Virginia, including:
    • Humphreys Engineer Center, Training Support Facility (Army) - $51m
    • Norfolk, E-2D Training Facility (Navy) - $30.4m
    • Norfolk, Corrosion Control and Paint Facility (Navy) - $17.671m
    • Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Access Control Point Main Gate with Land Acquisition (Air Force) - $19.5m
    • Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Story, Operations Facility and Command Center (Def-Wide) - $54.5m
    • JEB Little Creek-Story, NSWG Facilities (Def-Wide) - $58m
  • Federal contractors: Senators Warner and Kaine also pushed to extend a provision from CARES (3610), which allows contractual adjustments for a paid leave program, allowing contractors to keep employees on the payroll if federal facilities close due to the pandemic – an important provision for our defense industrial base and cleared national security workforce. 
  • Foster care and homeless youth: Includes key provisions of Senator Kaine’s bill with Senator Murray and Senator Portman, the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act, to remove barriers to financial aid for students experiencing homelessness or students formerly in foster care by easing the application and determination for becoming eligible for aid. The bill also includes language allowing foster youth to remain in the system until October 1, 2021, regardless of their age—a move that Senators Warner and Kaine called for in a recent letter to the administration.
  • Funds Childhood Disease ResearchProvides $12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program to conduct pediatric cancer and disease research. The Senators worked to enact the legislation authorizing this program, named for 10-year-old Gabriella Miller of Loudoun County, who passed away from cancer in October of 2013.
  • Supporting working students and families: Includes key provisions of Senator Kaine’s bill with Senator Baldwin, the Working Students Actto reduce the “work penalty” that many students who work while attending school face. Currently, students who work while attending school often are eligible for less financial aid due to their work income. The appropriations bill enacts a 35% increase for working students and 20% increase for families to the income protection allowance (IPA), shielding more of their income from reducing their financial aid.
  • Student Loan Repayment: Extends an important change to existing tax policy allowing employers to use pre-tax dollars to help pay down employees’ student debt until 2025 – a provision modeled after Senator Warner’s bipartisan Employer Participation in Repayment Act to help more than 44 million Americans with student loan debt.
  • Ashanti Alert: Includes $1 million in federal funding to help with the nationwide implementation of the Ashanti Alert system. Following the abduction of 19-year old Ashanti Billie, who did not meet the criteria for an Amber or Silver Alert, Senator Warner secured unanimous passage of this national alert system through the Senate on December 6, 2018, and has been a leader in the fight to implement the Ashanti Alert nationwide ever since.
  • Nutrition: Provides $13 billion in nutrition assistance, including a 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits through June 30, 2021 for all SNAP participants. Excludes unemployment compensation from being counted as income for the purposes of calculating SNAP benefits and eligibility. Provides $400 million for food banks through The Emergency Food Assistance Program.
  • Farmers: Provides $13 billion for direct payments, purchases, and loans to producers who have suffered losses due to the pandemic, including funds to support the food supply chain through food purchases, donations to food banks, and support for local food systems. Additionally, it includes $5 billion for supplemental payments to row crop producers; $3 billion for supplemental payments to cattle producers and contract growers of livestock and poultry, dairy farmers, and producers who were forced to euthanize livestock or poultry; $225 million for producers of specialty crops; and $1.5 billion to purchase food for distribution to those in need.
  • Timber Harvesting/Hauling: Provides up to $200 million to support timber harvesting and timber hauling businesses impacted by COVID-19. 
  • Dairy: Provides up to $400 million for a Dairy Product Donation Program, modeled after the 2018 Farm Bill pilot program to facilitate the donation of dairy products and minimize food waste. 
  • Textiles: Allows USDA to make payments to users of upland cotton and extra-long staple cotton.
  • Fisheries: Provides $300 million in assistance to help fisheries mitigate COVID-19 related impacts. 
  • Water Utility Bill Assistance: Provides $638 million for a new program to help low-income families cover the costs of drinking water and wastewater utility bills by making funds available to states and Tribes. These localities will provide dollars to owners or operators of public water systems or treatment works to reduce arrearages and rates for low-income households.
  • Appalachian Regional Commission: Includes a record $180 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission, an increase of $5 million from FY20.

 ###

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $1,526,115 in federal funding to help Virginians access affordable housing across the Commonwealth. The funding was awarded through the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, and authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“As housing insecurity continues to rise for many Virginians due to the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, now more than ever, Congress needs to offer critical assistance to those in need,” the Senators said. “We’re pleased to announce these federal funds that will go toward supporting affordable housing, and we will continue fighting to ensure people across the Commonwealth get the federal assistance they need.”

The HCV program is a collaborative effort between U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and local housing authorities that assists low-income families, seniors, and disabled Americans with finding affordable, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.

The funding will be awarded as below.

Recipient

Amount

 

Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority

 

$412,080

Chesapeake Redevelopment & Housing Authority

 

$305,021

Harrisonburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority

 

$209,026

Charlottesville Redevelopment & Housing Authority

 

$197,490

Wytheville Redevelopment & Housing Authority

 

$13,068

Wise County Redevelopment & Housing Authority

 

$132,242

Lee County Redevelopment & Housing Authority

 

$62,672

County of Albemarle/Office of Housing

 

$80,274

James City County Office of Housing

 

$47,643

Buckingham Housing Development Corp. Inc.

 

$66,599

Total:

$1,526,115

 

 

###

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) joined Sens.  Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and 13 of their Senate colleagues in sending a letter to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Kathleen Kraninger regarding the Bureau’s recent public enforcement actions against mortgage originators offering Veterans Administration (VA)-guaranteed loans. Between July 2020 and September 2020, the CFPB announced consent orders against eight different mortgage lenders for deceptive and misleading advertising of VA mortgages. In each case, the CFPB found that the originators’ advertisements contained false, misleading, or inaccurate statements that violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act’s prohibition against deceptive acts and practices, the Mortgage Acts and Practices Advertising Rule, and Regulation Z. The CFPB collected approximately $2.8 million in civil penalties from these eight violators, but did not require any of these companies to provide restitution to harmed consumers.

The lawmakers wrote, “We write to you regarding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau)’s recent public enforcement actions against mortgage originators offering Veterans Administration (VA)-guaranteed loans. We are deeply concerned by the Bureau’s failure to obtain restitution for consumers who were targeted by these companies’ deceptive marketing practices.”

“Unfortunately, because of extended travel and multiple relocations, often related to their service, servicemembers and veterans are particularly vulnerable to scams. The VA and the Bureau have long been aware of one such scam: direct-mail advertisements that contained inadequate disclosures or misleading and deceptive statements pertaining to VA home loans,” the lawmakers continued. “For instance, in 2016, the Bureau released a snapshot of servicemember complaints and highlighted that veterans had reported receiving misleading advertisements. And in November 2017, the VA and the Bureau issued a “Warning Order” alerting servicemembers and veterans to offers of mortgage refinancing that contained deceptive or false advertising.”

“As servicemembers, veterans, and their families make sacrifices for our country, they expose themselves to a number of financial risks and challenges; the Bureau must be clear that it is looking out for them in return. We are concerned that there has been no effort to ensure that thousands of servicemembers and veterans are made whole or at least compensated for damages caused by unscrupulous lenders seeking to profit by misleading homeowners,” wrote the lawmakers. 

The full text of the letter can be found here.

BACKGROUND:

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, complaints to the CFPB have increased 50 percent over the 2019 levels, including thousands of complaints about credit reporting, debt collection, credit cards and prepaid cards, and mortgages. 

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) requested an update from the Department of Defense (DoD) on the implementation of reforms to the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) – reforms the Senators were able to help secure in the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in response to pervasive and appalling health, safety and environmental hazards in private military housing.

“From the inception of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative in 1996, the Department of Defense and frankly, Congress, placed far too much trust in the private companies implementing the program. The agreements made, including 50-year leases between these companies and the military services, stacked the deck against servicemembers and their families,” wrote the Senators. “The companies frequently failed to properly address hazards and to meet their fundamental obligations to servicemembers and their families to provide safe, healthy and high-quality housing. The Department of Defense also did not conduct sufficient oversight of the housing within their purview, and dismissed legitimate and pervasive concerns of servicemembers and their family members regarding their housing.”

They continued, “For this reason, we introduced the Ensuring Safe Housing for Our Military Act (S.703) to begin reforming the privatized housing program, ensuring that our servicemembers have safe, healthy and high-quality housing. The FY20 NDAA included many provisions from this bill and put into place comprehensive reforms to right the program’s wrongs. Now the Department of Defense, with oversight by Congress, must see these reforms through.”

The Department of Defense released a Tenant Bill of Rights on February 25, 2020, as required by the NDAA FY20 and committed to making 15 of the 18 required rights available to military servicemembers and their families by May 1, 2020. According to DoD however, additional work remained in order to negotiate and implement the three remaining rights: a process for dispute resolution, a mechanism for the withholding of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) payments when disputes arise between the companies and the tenants, and a means by which to make a housing unit’s maintenance history accessible to tenants.  

On June 1st – one month after its timeline – DoD indicated that only 14 of the 18 rights had been implemented. According to DoD, the three original unresolved rights remained outstanding, in addition to a fourth – the use of uniform forms and documents, including a standard lease across MHPI projects.

In their letter to Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper, Sens. Warner, Kaine, and Feinstein specifically asked for an update on the four tenants’ rights that have yet to be implemented – the withholding of the BAH, a dispute resolution mechanism, work history records and a standard lease. They also requested information on the progress of other NDAA provisions intended to further reform the privatized military housing program. Particularly, they inquired about the status of the following NDAA requirements, pulled from the Senators’ Ensuring Safe Housing for Our Military Act:

  • The establishment of a standard for minimum credentials for health and environmental inspectors of privatized military housing;
  • The approval of mold mitigation and pest control plans by installation commanders;
  • The withholding of incentives fees if landlords have not met established guidelines and procedures, and whether this authority has been invoked since the FY20 NDAA’s passage;
  • Landlords payments for reasonable relocation costs in the event of health, safety or environmental hazards; and
  • The prohibition on landlords imposing supplemental payments, in addition to rent, on tenants.

 

Noting the Pentagon’s lack of expertise in matters of housing, the Senators also urged DoD to consider convening a temporary housing advisory group of independent experts to offer sound counsel. They suggested that this expertise could help supplement the Councils on Privatized Military Housing that were required in NDAA to ensure adequate tenant protections. 

In May 2019, the Senators introduced legislation to make much-needed reforms to privatized military housing, following reports of health hazards in military homes across the country. They successfully secured large portions of this legislation in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed in December 2019. Since then, Sen. Warner has kept up the fight to get these reforms implemented quickly. He introduced an amendment to the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act, which was included in the Senate approved bill. Sen. Warner’s provision in the defense bill requires that the military services review the indicators underlying the privatized housing project performance metrics to ensure they adequately measure the condition and quality of the home. Additionally, the provision requires the Secretary of Defense to publish in DoD’s Military Housing Privatization Initiative Performance Evaluation Report underlying performance metrics for each project, in order for Congress to provide effective oversight.

Earlier this year, Sen. Warner issued a statement once again calling for the implementation of his military housing reforms, following a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study that found deficiencies in the DoD’s oversight of privatized military housing. That study issued a series of recommendations, including ones suggesting that DoD take steps to better track maintenance data and to improve communication with servicemembers and their families – measures that the Senators successfully worked to pass into law.  

Letter text is available here and below.

 

Dear Secretary Esper:

We are writing to request an update on the implementation of reforms for the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI), as included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, signed into law on December 20, 2019. These reforms addressed appalling conditions in privatized military housing, including health, safety and environmental hazards by increasing accountability and oversight of the private companies operating the MHPI program.

We strongly believe that Congress and the Department of Defense must exercise strong oversight over the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, the companies entrusted with housing, and the status of ongoing reforms required by Congress. Absent implementation of new oversight and accountability requirements, as outlined in the FY20 NDAA, and continued pressure, we worry that the tenuous progress achieved in improving privatized military housing could stagnate or even be reversed over time.

From the inception of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative in 1996, the Department of Defense and frankly, Congress, placed far too much trust in the private companies implementing the program. The agreements made, including 50-year leases between these companies and the military services, stacked the deck against servicemembers and their families. The companies frequently failed to properly address hazards and to meet their fundamental obligations to servicemembers and their families to provide safe, healthy and high-quality housing. The Department of Defense also did not conduct sufficient oversight of the housing within their purview, and dismissed legitimate and pervasive concerns of servicemembers and their family members regarding their housing.

For this reason, we introduced the Ensuring Safe Housing for Our Military Act (S.703) to begin reforming the privatized housing program, ensuring that our servicemembers have safe, healthy and high-quality housing. The FY20 NDAA included many provisions from this bill and put into place comprehensive reforms to right the program’s wrongs. Now the Department of Defense, with oversight by Congress, must see these reforms through. 

On February 25, 2020, the Department of Defense released a Tenant Bill of Rights, as required by the FY20 NDAA, and committed to making 15 of the 18 rights required by the NDAA available to military servicemembers and their families by May 1, 2020 . However, DoD noted that additional work was needed to negotiate with the MHPI companies to implement the three remaining rights. These included: a process for dispute resolution, a mechanism for the withholding of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) payments when disputes arise between the companies and the tenants, and a means by which to make a housing unit’s maintenance history accessible to tenants.

On June 1, 2020, the Department of Defense’s Chief Housing Officer, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, W. Jordan Gillis, stated that only 14 of the rights had largely been implemented, and that work still remained on implementing the 15th right – the use of uniform forms and documents, including a standard lease across MHPI projects . Negotiations with the MHPI companies related to the withholding of BAH, dispute resolution and work history records were still ongoing. 

We write to request an update on the status of the four rights that have not been implemented: the withholding of the BAH, a dispute resolution mechanism, work history records and a standard lease. We also are seeking information on the progress of other provisions in the FY20 NDAA that were intended to further reform the privatized military housing program. In particular, we are interested in the status of the following requirements that were pulled from our legislation, the Ensuring Safe Housing for Our Military Act (S.703), and were subsequently included in the FY20 NDAA: 

  • the establishment of a standard for minimum credentials for health and environmental inspectors of privatized military housing;
  • the approval of mold mitigation and pest control plans by installation commanders;
  • the withholding of incentives fees if landlords have not met established guidelines and procedures, and whether this authority has been invoked since the FY20 NDAA’s passage;
  • whether landlords are now paying reasonable relocation costs in the event of health, safety or environmental hazards; and
  • the prohibition on landlords imposing supplemental payments, in addition to rent, on tenants.

Finally, as negotiations continue with the private companies over the implementation of these remaining rights, we urge you to consider convening a temporary housing advisory group of independent experts to offer you sound counsel. Expertise from both within and outside of the DoD could supplement the Councils on Privatized Military Housing that were required by the FY20 NDAA, to ensure adequate protections for tenants. Multiple perspectives and deep expertise in housing, state and local housing regulations, and environmental hazards are necessary to make stronger agreements. Clearly, these areas are not the core expertise of Pentagon leadership, nor are they part of a military leader’s career trajectory. The Department of Defense has a long history of using advisory groups to provide independent and informed advice, such as the Defense Innovation Board, Defense Science Board, Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, and the Military Family Readiness Council.

Thank you for your attention to this serious matter. We look forward to a response, either in writing or through a brief.

###

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $35,719,247 in federal funding to support access to safe and affordable housing throughout Virginia, particularly in communities whose households face a higher rate of eviction. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the funding through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The funding is part of the $5 billion in supplemental CDBG funding authorized by the CARES Act in March.

 “Too many Virginians are in danger of losing their homes due to the economic impacts of the coronavirus,” said the Senators. “We’re pleased to see significant funding go directly towards supporting affordable housing, and we will continue fighting to ensure people across the Commonwealth get the federal assistance they need.”

 The CDBG program offers annual grants on a formula basis to states, cities, and counties to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment and expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.

 The following localities will receive funding through the CDBG program:

 

Recipient                      Amount

Alexandria

$943,356

Blacksburg

$210,594

Bristol

$116,003

Charlottesville

$335,024

Chesapeake

$876,358

Christiansburg

$111,118

Colonial Heights

$104,710

Danville

$228,845

Fredericksburg

$205,866

Hampton

$688,562

Harrisonburg

$326,630

Hopewell

$125,506

Lynchburg

$389,143

Newport News

$971,659

Norfolk

$1,250,901

Petersburg

$189,765

Portsmouth

$426,191

Radford

$74,893

City of Richmond

$1,362,346

Roanoke

$546,786

Staunton

$125,136

Suffolk

$323,149

Virginia Beach

$2,069,846

Waynesboro City

$117,476

Winchester

$182,191

Arlington County

$1,348,826

Chesterfield County

$1,216,799

Fairfax County

$4,850,209

Henrico County

$1,417,098

Loudoun County

$1,448,141

Prince William County

$2,145,011

Virginia Nonentitlement

$10,991,109

###

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement today before voting against moving forward on Senator McConnell’s latest attempt to pass a “skinny” COVID-19 relief bill:

“We’re not going to vote for a half-baked relief bill, pat ourselves on the back, and call it a day while families are left out in the lurch. The two of us are ready to vote for meaningful relief for small businesses and struggling families but not for something that deprives Americans of much-needed relief while nullifying Virginia protections to keep workers safe from COVID-19. It’s time for the Senate to take up a bill that offers what this one does not: paid sick leave, emergency rental assistance, adequate public school and child care support, funding for states and localities to continue critical services while so many are out of work, and other measures to help our troubled nation.”

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $8,978,420 in federal funding to help Virginians access affordable housing across the Commonwealth. The funding was awarded through the Housing Choice Voucher Program and authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act supported by Warner and Kaine.

“As housing insecurity continues to rise for many Virginians, now more than ever, Congress needs to offer critical assistance to those in need,” the Senators said. “We’re pleased to announce these federal funds that will go directly towards supporting some of the most vulnerable communities right now.”  

Through the CARES Act, Congress provided $1.25 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, which funds the Housing Choice Voucher program that helps lower-income families, the elderly, and disabled individuals afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing. This funding includes $400 million for increased subsidy costs and $850 million for administrative and other expenses incurred by public housing authorities (PHAs), including activities to support or maintain the health and safety of assisted individuals and families, and costs related to retention and support of participating owners.

The funding will be awarded as below:

Recipient                                                                                          City                            Amount

Abingdon Redevelopment and Housing Authority                                 Abingdon                  14,067

Accomack-Northampton Regional Housing Authority                            Accomack                  70,053

Alexandria Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                  Alexandria                384,750

Arlington County Dept. of Human Services                                         Arlington                   382,489

Big Stone Gap Redevelopment and Housing Auth.                               Big Stone Gap           14,895

Bristol Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                        Bristol                       44,015

Buckingham Housing Development Corp. Inc.                                     New Canton              12,112

Charlottesville Redevelopment & Housing Authority                             Charlottesville           60,969

Chesapeake Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                Chesapeake              273,293

County of Albemarle/Office of Housing                                               Charlottesville           68,308

Covington Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                   Covington                 6,188

Danville Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                      Danville                    202,837

Fairfax County Redevelopment & Housing Authority                             Fairfax                      1,343,712

Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority                                   Franklin                     39,053

Hampton Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                    Hampton                   546,358

Harrisonburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority                              Harrisonburg              118,122

Hopewell Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                   Hopewell                    83,304

James City County Office of Housing                                                 Williamsburg               26,718

Lee County Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                 Jonesville                   60,122

Loudoun County Department of Family Services                                Leesburg                   141,428

Lynchburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                 Lynchburg                102,166

Marion Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                     Marion                       32,611

Newport News Redevelopment & Housing Authority                          Newport News           457,534

Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                    Norfolk                      670,205

Norton Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                    Norton                       13,554

People Inc. of Southwest Virginia                                                   Abingdon                  18,907

Petersburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority                              Petersburg                120,138

Portsmouth Redevelopment & Housing Authority                             Portsmouth               332,279

Prince William County Office of HCD                                              Woodbridge               467,993

Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority                               Richmond                  506,406

Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                 Roanoke                    250,704

Scott County Redevelopment & Housing Authority                           Duffield                     28,438

Staunton Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                Staunton                   26,821

Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority                                Suffolk                      158,077

Virginia Beach Dept. of Housing & Neighborhood Pres.                     Virginia Beach          363,274

Virginia Housing Development Authority                                         Richmond                 1,381,408

Waynesboro Redevelopment & Housing Authority                           Waynesboro              46,973

Wise County Redevelopment & Housing Authority                            Coeburn                    90,291

Wytheville Redevelopment & Housing Authority                               Wytheville                17,848

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) joined Sens. Bob Menendez and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in introduced the Coronavirus Housing Counseling Improvement Act to expand access to critical information, assistance programs and services for millions of families struggling to remain in their homes because of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout. The bill is also co-sponsored by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.),Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.),  Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).

“Millions of families across our country – already suffering through job and income loss -- are now living in fear that in a matter of weeks or months, they will be facing down foreclosure, eviction and even homelessness,” said Sen. Menendez. “Knowledge is power. Along with fighting for more federal assistance and protections – we’ve got to expand access to housing counseling so that these individuals and families can get help in finding affordable ways to stay in their homes.”

“Losing a home to foreclosure or eviction turns a family’s life upside down,” said Sen. Brown. “During a pandemic, it also puts their health at risk. Providing vital funding to housing counselors will ensure that homeowners and renters – especially Black and brown homeowners and renters who have been hardest hit by this pandemic – have the tools and support they need to navigate our nation’s complex housing system.”

“Millions of Americans continue to face financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sen. Van Hollen. “The Congress must do everything in its power to not only extend financial relief, but also to give families the information they need to access these relief options and keep a roof over their head. This legislation provides Americans with crucial resources to stay in their homes – especially those in communities of color who have been hit hardest – so that they can weather the COVID-19 storm.”

“Arizona families are facing tough times through no fault of their own. Increasing access to housing counseling resources helps ensure Arizona families can stay in their homes during this economic and public health crisis,” said Sen. Sinema

“COVID-19 has exacerbated our national housing crisis, putting thousands of families at risk of losing their home,” said Sen. Blumenthal.  “Foreclosure, eviction, and homelessness are traumatic experiences without the added risks associated with a contagious pandemic. Better access to housing counseling means that families facing foreclosure and eviction will know their rights and how to access resources.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the barriers to accessing affordable housing in Nevada,” said Senator Rosen. “Nevada families now face an even greater challenge as they work to keep their homes during this public health crisis. Our legislation would help NeighborWorks America in supporting housing counseling services across the country so Nevada families have resources to help them navigate their housing options during the pandemic and afterwards. I will continue fighting in Congress to ensure that Nevadans, and all Americans have the resources they need in these challenging times.” 

“We must do everything that we can to support homeowners and renters during this worldwide health crisis – and housing counseling is a critical tool for people to access and maintain stable, healthy, and affordable housing. I’m glad to join Senator Menendez and Senator Brown on a bill to increase access to housing counseling services during this crisis," said Senator Warren. 

“COVID-19 is forcing families in Oregon and across the country to make tough decisions – balancing how to get food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, all while protecting themselves against a global pandemic,” said Sen. Wyden. “Congress must step up to the plate in order to give homeowners and renters the resources they desperately need to stay in their homes.”  

“Expanding housing counseling and support services will keep more Delawareans in their homes, period,” said Sen. Coons. “Amid the economic struggles many families are facing due to COVID-19, Congress needs to lay the groundwork to prevent foreclosures, evictions, or other disruptive housing events. Our bill – in tandem with the housing relief provided by the CARES Act in March – will help Delawareans learn about the housing protections and resources available to them as we weather this crisis. I will work with my colleagues in Congress to ensure this information is broadly accessible in our communities.”

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, more than 4.2 million homeowners have entered foreclosure prevention plans since the end of March.

Low-income and minority households have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and economic fallout. According to a Census Household Survey taken between June 4 June 9, 12.43% of Hispanic households and 12.74% of Black households were not able to pay their mortgage, compared to 5.71% of white households. Additionally, 23.27% of Hispanic households and 25.77% of Black households were unable to pay their rent, compared to 11.78% of white households.

HUD-approved housing counseling agencies provide individual counseling and education services to help consumers avoid foreclosure, avoid eviction, purchase homes, secure affordable rental housing, and develop sustainable budgets. They can be especially important during an economic crisis.  According to a 2018 report from NeighborWorks America, households that utilized the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program through a housing counseling agency during the Great Recession were three times more likely to receive loan modifications and less likely to go into foreclosure or re-default on their home loans compared to those who did not.

“We applaud U.S. Senator Bob Menendez for advancing this critical legislation that will help millions of families to keep a roof over their heads during these uncertain times,”said Melissa Stegman, Senior Policy Counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending. “Robust funding for housing counseling is crucial during a time that so many are suffering economic pain as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, particularly families of color, low-income homeowners, renters, and people at risk of homelessness. The funding will ensure that economically vulnerable families receive access to quality housing counseling that they so urgently need. Therefore, helping them to significantly prevent delinquencies, foreclosures, and financial devastation.”  

“We are surging into homeowner and renter crises with record unemployment and unpredictable COVID-19 infection rates,” said Bruce Dorpalen, Executive Director for the National Housing Resource Center.  “As we saw in the foreclosure crisis, working with a housing counselor can make the difference on who can stay in their home.  This bill provides the funding and support to double the capacity of housing counseling agencies to work with housing consumers and find the most sustainable solutions for America's stressed households.”

“Having a safe, affordable place to call home is an essential pillar of the National Urban League’s mission,” said Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, too many of our minority communities and families of color are facing an unprecedented eviction and foreclosure crisis that we must address. We are so thankful that Senator Menendez has introduced this legislation to expand access to professional housing counseling and keep these families in their homes.”

“HUD certified housing counselors are bracing for a tidal wave of homeowners and renters in need of assistance when moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures expire,” said Staci Berger, President and CEO, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. “Housing counseling should be a key component of pandemic relief efforts and we applaud Senator Menendez for introducing a bill that invests in this valuable resource.”

The legislation is also endorsed by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The Coronavirus Housing Counseling Improvement Act would:

  • Provide $700 million for NeighborWorks to support housing counseling services to help homeowners, renters, people experiencing homelessness, and people at risk of homelessness navigate their housing options and rights during the COVID-19 crisis, including protections and resources provided through COVID-19 relief legislation.
  • Requires that no less than 40 percent of the $700 million fund is targeted to counseling organizations that serve minority and low-income homeowners and renters. 

The CARES Act included housing provisions to help homeowners and renters financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Homeowners with Federal Housing Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture or Veterans Affairs mortgages and those with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac can request forbearance on their payments for up to 6 months, with a possible extension for another 6 months without fees, penalties, or extra interest.  While it also included a temporary moratorium on eviction filings for tenants in properties with federal assistance or federally related financing, Senator Menendez is fighting to ensure the next federal stimulus package includes an extension of this vital protection. 

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WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and 6 of their Senate colleagues in a letter requesting additional information on the Borrower Protection Program that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced in April. The agencies’ announcement stated that the CFPB and FHFA would share data under the program but did not say how that data would be used to protect borrowers. The Senators asked the agencies what information they would share and how each agency would use this new program to avoid unnecessary borrower defaults and foreclosures, as well as misinformation, unequal treatment of borrowers, or otherwise address servicers not complying with the law.   

“It is critical that the CFPB and FHFA act quickly to ensure homeowners across the country can access the relief they need during this national emergency. Any delay could result in unnecessary delinquencies and foreclosures that will set consumers back, rather than helping them recover,” wrote the lawmakers.

In addition to Sens. Warner and Brown, the letter was signed by Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Catherine Cortez Masto (D- NV), and Tina Smith (D-MN).

A copy of the letter appears here and below:

 

We are writing regarding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) joint announcement of the Borrower Protection Program. The announcement states that the CFPB will share consumer complaint data and analytics with FHFA, and FHFA will provide the CFPB with its internal data on mortgage forbearances, modifications, and other loss mitigation.

Sharing information between your agencies is an important first step to ensure that homeowners are getting the help they need. The CFPB’s supervisory, research, and market monitoring tools and consumer-oriented perspective coupled with FHFA’s loan-level data could provide unique insights into borrowers’ experiences.

But information sharing alone will not protect borrowers. Once information is shared, the CFPB and FHFA must also have plans to use their respective tools and authorities to immediately address trends that indicate borrowers are receiving inaccurate information or unequal treatment, or that servicers are not complying with the law. Timeliness of the CFPB and FHFA’s oversight is critical to avoid unnecessary borrower defaults and foreclosures. Just a few weeks of delay could have disastrous outcomes for consumers who may lose the ability to access an affordable modification after just two months or face foreclosure after four months.

To help us better understand what steps your agencies will take to protect homeowners through the Borrower Protection Program, please respond to the following questions:

1.      It has been more than nine weeks since the COVID-19 national emergency declaration, and borrowers may already have experienced weeks of financial hardship.

a.      When will the CFPB and FHFA first share data under the Borrower Protection Program?  

b.      What specific actions will the CFPB and FHFA take, respectively, if either agency identifies noncompliance or consumer harm both to get consumers accurate information and to address noncompliance? Please list all tools that could be used by each agency.  

2.      Consumer complaint data is an important source of information, but it is not the CFPB’s only tool to monitor consumer harm. In addition to consumer complaint data, what other information will the FHFA receive from the CFPB?

3.      The CFPB has regulatory and supervisory authority over many of the largest mortgage servicers, including depositories with more than $10 billion in assets and nonbank mortgage servicers.

a.      Will the information examined under the Borrower Protection Program show data by loan servicer? If so, how will the CFPB use any servicer-specific data to inform its supervisory activities?

b.      Will any servicer-specific data distinguish between loans in forbearance and delinquent loans? If so, how will the CFPB or FHFA monitor and address disparities in delinquency rates amongst servicers to ensure that those borrowers who are facing a financial hardship and eligible for forbearance can receive it?

c.      To the extent that the CFPB or FHFA receives information or identifies trends among mortgage servicers that do not fall within the CFPB’s supervisory authority, will the CFPB or FHFA communicate those findings to the appropriate regulator to ensure compliance with servicing laws and policies? If not, why not?

4.      Will information provided to the CFPB include borrower demographic information when available, including race, ethnicity, English proficiency, age, or other protected classes under the Fair Housing Act to facilitate fair lending oversight?   

a.      How will the CFPB use any available information to ensure that mortgage servicing policies and practices result in equal treatment for all borrowers? Will the CFPB monitor forbearance rates, delinquency rates, loan modifications, non-retention loss mitigation options, and foreclosures by protected class? 

b.      What tools will the CFPB and FHFA use to address any disparate outcomes?

5.      Will any information provided to either agency include a borrower’s servicemember status, when available, to monitor compliance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)? If possible violations of the SCRA are identified, which agency will address those violations? 

6.      Many mortgage servicers service not just Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, but also FHA, VA, USDA, and HUD Section 184 loans, as well as loans in private-label securities. 

a.      Will the CFPB enter into agreements with the other federal agencies, which collectively insure or guarantee more than 25 percent of loans, to share data and inform those agencies’ supervision of their servicers? If not, why not?

b.      Borrowers whose loans are not guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or insured or guaranteed through a federal program are not assured to receive forbearance or other relief if they face a hardship, and information about outcomes for these borrowers will be limited. How will the Borrower Protection Program protect borrowers whose loans are not guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or insured or guaranteed through a federal program? 

7.      Will the CFPB and FHFA publish regular, public updates on the Borrower Protection Program to share findings and actions? If not, why not?

It is critical that the CFPB and FHFA act quickly to ensure homeowners across the country can access the relief they need during this national emergency. Any delay could result in unnecessary delinquencies and foreclosures that will set consumers back, rather than helping them recover. Thank you for your prompt attention to this request. 

Sincerely,  

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WASHINGTON, DC Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined Senator Reed to introduce legislation to create a $75 billion Housing Assistance Fund to help protect renters, homeowners, and communities by preventing avoidable foreclosures, evictions, and utility shut offs. With the potential for a massive wave of evictions and foreclosures due to COVID-19, along with a possible second wave of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Senators are calling on Congress to act now and give Americans a lifeline to keep families in their homes, stabilize communities, and prevent multiple crises from intersecting and overwhelming the U.S. economy. The legislation would provide assistance to communities nationwide and includes a small state minimum, ensuring each state would receive no less than $250 million.

 “Too many families in Virginia risk being evicted or having their homes foreclosed on – a threat that could make it all the more difficult to recover financially, even once this pandemic is over,” said Warner. “That’s why we must make it a priority to ensure that Virginia’s renters and homeowners have continued access to safe housing during the biggest economic crisis in a century.”

“Many Americans are in danger of losing their homes due to the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic,” Kaine said. “Congress has to step up and prevent that from happening. I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce this legislation to provide federal aid to help hardworking Americans during this time of crisis.”

The Housing Assistance Fund would build off of the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF), which provided funds to state housing finance agencies to direct targeted foreclosure prevention assistance to households and neighborhoods in states hit hard by the economic and housing market downturn. The Housing Assistance Fund expands this model to provide a flexible source of federal aid to all state-level Housing Finance Agencies (HFAs) to help people keep up with housing payments and help keep them in their homes. 

Through channels developed for HHF, HFAs could quickly and effectively use federal funding to help struggling households remain in their homes while they search for new employment or wait to get back to work.  Financial assistance could go toward mortgage payment and rental assistance; utility and internet payments; and other support to prevent eviction, mortgage delinquency, default, or foreclosure, or loss of utility services.

 Along with Warner, Kaine, and Reed, the bill is cosponsored by every Democratic member of the Senate Banking Committee, including Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jon Tester (D-MT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), as well as Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Dick Durbin (D-IL).

The bill is supported by a diverse coalition of housing advocates, including: National Council of State Housing Agencies; Habitat for Humanity; National Housing Conference; National Community Reinvestment Coalition; National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders; National Leased Housing Association; Americans for Financial Reform; National Consumer Law Center, on behalf of its low-income clients; Center for Responsible Lending; Rhode Island Housing; and the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) was joined by Sens. Mike Rounds (R-SD), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Tim Scott (R-SC) in calling for Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) to take urgent and immediate action to avoid an impending crisis in the housing finance system due to the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In a letter to Sec. Steven T. Mnuchin, the Senators asked the FSOC to help avert instability in the broader mortgage market by providing temporary liquidity to mortgage servicers. Many servicers face an impending cash crunch as more Americans affected by the COVID-19 crisis are forced to seek economic assistance on their mortgages due to economic damage and job loss caused by the health crisis.  

“Given the magnitude of the economic stress that many Americans will face as a result of the virus, and the early numbers we are seeing from lenders across the country, it is likely that many families will be unable to make their payments as scheduled, triggering widespread participation in the program, with potentially up to 25% of borrowers seeking assistance. While this is a reminder of the program’s importance, it also presents a challenge,” wrote the lawmakers, who also pointed out that servicers could see as much as $100 billion in mortgage payments forborne. “To put this in perspective, according to Moody’s Analytics, last year servicers had total net profits of less than $10 billion.  The institutions that normally provide servicers with their liquidity will be unwilling to provide this unprecedented level of support, at least at a rate that many servicers could possibly afford.  This will leave many servicers with no way to cover the growing obligations.  Since this liquidity need was created by the CARES Act’s entirely appropriate, but extraordinary, requirement to provide widespread forbearance, measures should be taken to ensure that the businesses required to execute on that commitment can survive to see it through.”

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides much-needed protections for homeowners, allowing any homeowner experiencing financial hardship to receive up to 6 months’ forbearance on their mortgage payments, as long as their mortgage is insured or guaranteed by the federal government. Up to 25 percent of borrowers are expected to rely on this program, leaving mortgage servicers with the responsibility of paying investors on behalf of borrowers. 

In their letter, the Senators emphasized that non-bank mortgage servicers – which currently account for half of the $7 trillion market for agency mortgages – will likely be unable to remain solvent in the near future due to limited liquidity, and the repercussions of their collapse will severely affect homeowners and the broader mortgage market.   

“While we understand that some nonbank lenders may have adopted practices that made them particularly susceptible to constraints on their liquidity during a severe downturn, imposing a broad liquidity shock to the entire servicing sector is not the way to go about reform,” they continued.  

Noting the systemic consequences of allowing mortgage servicers to fail – which include the devaluation of mortgage servicing rights (MSRs), the subsequent financial deterioration of healthy nonbank lenders and the skyrocketing costs and risks associated with providing mortgages in the future – the Senators urged the Sec. Mnuchin, the FHFA and the GSES to work through FSOC to take action in order to ensure that the unfolding crisis does as little damage to the economy as possible.

A copy of the letter is available here below. A list of Sen. Warner’s work to protect Americans amid the COVID-19 outbreak is available here.

 

The Honorable Steven T. Mnuchin

Chair

Financial Stability Oversight Council

U.S. Department of the Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20220 

Dear Chair Mnuchin: 

Thank you for your ongoing work to help stabilize the U.S. economy and provide assistance to businesses and workers during the unprecedented health emergency caused by the onset of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).  We applaud recent efforts by regulators to consider and address liquidity constraints in the U.S. housing market, including the formation of a taskforce within the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) that is appropriately focused on these matters.  We believe urgent action is required to avoid a critical strain on liquidity for certain home mortgage servicers.  Failure to quickly address the liquidity challenges facing servicers could have much broader, systemic implications for our economy.  

As you know, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides much-needed protections for most homeowners.  Any homeowner with a mortgage that is insured or guaranteed by the federal government who is experiencing financial hardship is eligible for up to 6 months’ forbearance on their mortgage payments, with a possible extension for another 6 months.  These provisions will provide substantial relief to homeowners and will reduce the risk that reductions in homeowners’ income caused by this public health crisis will trigger a housing crisis in the months ahead.  

Given the magnitude of the economic stress that many Americans will face as a result of the virus, and the early numbers we are seeing from lenders across the country, it is likely that many families will be unable to make their payments as scheduled, triggering widespread participation in the program, with potentially up to 25% of borrowers seeking assistance.  While this is a reminder of the program’s importance, it also presents a challenge.  As you know, the companies to which borrowers would normally make these payments, mortgage servicers, are obligated to pass those amounts on to investors, whether borrowers make them or not.  Thus, as borrowers participating in this program don’t send in their payments, the mortgage servicers will have to step in to pay investors on their behalf.  

Given that we could see as much as $100 billion in mortgage payments forborne through this program, it presents an existential threat to these companies, and thus to the broader mortgage market.  To put this in perspective, according to Moody’s Analytics, last year servicers had total net profits of less than $10 billion.  The institutions that normally provide servicers with their liquidity will be unwilling to provide this unprecedented level of support, at least at a rate that many servicers could possibly afford.  This will leave many servicers with no way to cover the growing obligations.  Since this liquidity need was created by the CARES Act’s entirely appropriate, but extraordinary, requirement to provide widespread forbearance, measures should be taken to ensure that the businesses required to execute on that commitment can survive to see it through.

While it may be sustainable, if not difficult, for servicers that are part of banks, which have other business lines and also access to bank-centric sources of liquidity to remain solvent, it is likely especially unsustainable for non-bank mortgage servicers, which are typically monolines and currently account for fully half the $7 trillion market for agency mortgages.  At some point in the not-too-distant-future, the strain on these nonbank mortgage servicers will become too much for many institutions to bear, and we fear that the repercussions of their failure to homeowners and the market will be severe. 

While we understand that some nonbank lenders may have adopted practices that made them particularly susceptible to constraints on their liquidity during a severe downturn, imposing a broad liquidity shock to the entire servicing sector is not the way to go about reform.  Stated differently, even if there are servicers whose thin capital and poor risk management structure make them inappropriate for assistance, ignoring the broader liquidity strain on the market right now would risk stress well beyond these companies. 

The reasons for acting are systemic.  First, as weaker nonbank mortgage servicers begin to struggle they may be forced to unload their mortgage servicing rights (MSRs) to stay afloat.  This will drive down the value of MSRs generally, reducing the value of the assets of all other nonbank lenders.  This will deteriorate the financial position of healthier nonbank lenders so that they face some of the same risks that forced the less healthy nonbank lenders into a sell-off.  At best, we are disabling a large swath of previously healthy lenders at the worst possible time.  At worst, we may be risking a downward spiral. 

Moreover, when these nonbank lenders fail, regulators will be forced to find a home for their servicing at a time when there will be very few parties interested in absorbing these obligations.  MSR values will be declining, the costs and risks of servicing will be skyrocketing, nonbank lenders will be weakened, and we fear that banks will still be reticent to get into servicing for many of the same reasons they have stayed away in recent years. 

As we are learning again in this crisis, it takes time for programs to be established and for the assistance to reach the necessary parties.  Therefore, we are calling for immediate action to avoid an impending crisis in the mortgage servicing sector, that could further threaten the mortgage market.

The CARES Act includes an appropriation of $455 billion for purposes of economic stabilization activities under Section 4003.  Congress made these resources available to the Federal Reserve in order to address the types of liquidity challenges we expect mortgage servicers to encounter in the coming days and weeks.  Thus, action in accordance with this Section would be entirely appropriate under the circumstances.  Moreover, we also believe that the FHFA and the GSEs should ensure their policies mitigate, not increase, the liquidity demands facing servicers, consistent with the GSE’s mandate to serve all markets at all times. 

When workers are able to return to their jobs and millions of households can resume making the payments they intended to make, we must all take the opportunity to examine the many challenges, successes and failures of our current regulatory regime, including whatever steps are needed to strengthen the servicing sector going forward.  While some servicers entered this crisis with too much exposure to liquidity constraints, the focus now should not be on longer-term reform, but on ensuring that the crisis now unfolding does as little damage to the economy as possible. 

We appreciate your continued efforts to help sustain the American economy and our housing finance system during these challenging times and look forward to working together to protect homeowners during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Thank you for your consideration.   

Sincerely, 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $52,292,406 in federal funding to support access to safe and affordable housing throughout Virginia. The funding is part of the first allocation of grants from the coronavirus relief package signed into law last week.

“We’re pleased to see significant funding go directly towards supporting Virginians with affordable housing during this pandemic,” said the Senators. “We will continue fighting to ensure people across the Commonwealth get the federal assistance they need.”

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the funding through three grant programs – the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program, and the Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) program.

The funding will be awarded as shown below.

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program provides annual grants on a formula basis to states, cities, and counties to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment and expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons. The following localities will receive funding through the CDBG program:

Recipient

Amount

Alexandria

$671,570.00

Blacksburg

$314,277.00

Bristol

$159,013.00

Charlottesville

$246,699.00

Chesapeake

$690,158.00

Christiansburg

$62,234.00

Colonial Heights

$62,237.00

Danville

$517,740.00

Fredericksburg

$115,302.00

Hampton

$587,909.00

Harrisonburg

$314,293.00

Hopewell

$123,919.00

Lynchburg

$420,487.00

Newport News

$769,836.00

Norfolk

$2,653,164.00

Petersburg

$371,969.00

Portsmouth

$949,655.00

Radford

$105,448.00

Richmond

$2,683,549.00

Roanoke

$1,056,225.00

Staunton

$207,590.00

Suffolk

$282,715.00

Virginia Beach

$1,209,508.00

Waynesboro city

$114,079.00

Winchester

$133,624.00

Arlington County

$830,027.00

Chesterfield County

$861,295.00

Fairfax County

$3,506,542.00

Henrico County

$1,017,678.00

Loudoun County

$831,931.00

Prince William County

$1,585,562.00

Virginia Nonentitlement

$10,993,780.00

The Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program provides annual grants to state, local, and private entities to assist people in quickly regaining stability in permanent housing after experiencing a housing crisis and/or homelessness. In addition to rapid re-housing and homelessness prevention, the ESG program also provides limited funding for street outreach as well as for improving the quality and number of emergency homeless shelters. The following localities will receive funding through the ESG program: 

Recipient

Amount

Norfolk

$1,328,583.00

Richmond

$1,351,959.00

Roanoke

$525,434.00

Virginia Beach

$606,131.00

Fairfax County

$1,699,586.00

Henrico County

$508,566.00

Prince William County

$791,662.00

Virginia Nonentitlement

$10,375,562.00

The Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program provides housing assistance and related supportive services to local units of government, states, and non-profit organizations for projects that benefit low-income persons medically diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. The following localities will receive funding through the HOPWA program:

Recipient

Amount

Richmond

$194,445.00

Virginia Beach

$282,244.00

Virginia Nonentitlement

$178,219.00

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $1,844,898 in federal funding to support residents of public housing in five cities across Virginia. The funding, awarded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Resident Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (ROSS) program, helps individuals and families work towards economic independence and housing self-sufficiency. The program aims to help residents increase earned income and enhance their quality of life.

“This federal funding is important to help Virginians build self-sufficiency and make economic progress,” the Senators said. “We’re pleased to see this investment go towards making sure more people across the Commonwealth have access to these supportive services.”

The Virginia housing authorities that will receive funding are listed below:

City                            Virginia Housing Authority Recipient                                      Amount

Hopewell                  Hopewell Redevelopment and Housing Authority                   $230,916.00

Norfolk                      Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority                       $478,500.00

Portsmouth               Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority                $239,250.00

Bristol                         Bristol Redevelopment and Housing Authority                         $178,482.00

Richmond                  Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority                  $717,750.00

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $47,220,892 in federal funding to support public housing and workforce development programs in 26 localities across Virginia. The funding was awarded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Job Plus Initiative and Public Housing Capital Fund programs.

“It’s important for every Virginian to have the opportunity to secure stable housing and employment,” the Senators said. “We’re pleased that these federal funds will help ensure more Virginians have access to affordable homes and upward mobility.”

The Jobs Plus Initiative program develops locally-based, job-driven approaches to advance employment outcomes and increase earnings for residents of public housing.

The Capital Fund provides federal funding for the development, financing, and modernization of public housing developments.

The Virginia housing authorities that received funding from the Jobs Plus Program are listed here: 

City                                                          Virginia Housing Authority Recipient                                Amount

PORTSMOUTH

Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority

$2,300,000

 

The Virginia housing authorities that received funding from the Capital Fund are listed here:

 

City                                                          Virginia Housing Authority Recipient                                Amount

ABINGDON

ALEXANDRIA

Abingdon Redevelopment & Housing Authority

Alexandria Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$70,754

$1,907,939

BRISTOL

Bristol Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$930,998

CHARLOTTESVILLE

Charlottesville Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$960,618

CHESAPEAKE

Chesapeake Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,261,470

COEBURN

Wise County Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$459,136

DANVILLE

Danville Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,202,845

DUFFIELD

Scott County Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$219,382

FRANKLIN

Franklin Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$168,040

HAMPTON

Hampton Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,583,634

HOPEWELL

Hopewell Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$888,611

JONESVILLE

Lee County Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$146,191

LEBANON

Cumberland Plateau Regional Housing Authority

$615,483

LYNCHBURG

Lynchburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$926,987

MARION

Marion Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$573,088

NEWPORT NEWS

Newport News Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$4,295,157

NORFOLK

Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$7,978,621

NORTON

Norton Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$515,977

PETERSBURG

Petersburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$930,090

PORTSMOUTH

Portsmouth Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,628,891

RICHMOND

Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$11,547,123

ROANOKE

Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$3,702,478

SUFFOLK

Suffolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,161,115

WAYNESBORO

Waynesboro Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$453,879

WILLIAMSBURG

Williamsburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$263,260

WYTHEVILLE

Wytheville Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$529,125

 

 

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WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $1,191,750 in federal funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help seven Virginia tribes develop and manage affordable housing.

“We’re pleased to announce this funding to expand access to low-income housing for Virginia’s tribes,” the Senators said. “These grants will help ensure these communities have a safe and affordable place to live.”

The tribes that received funding are listed below:

 Location                                           Recipient                                                      Amount

Providence Forge                     Chickahominy Indian Tribe                                   $265,991

Providence Forge                     Chickahominy Indian Tribe-Eastern Division           $74,594

Amherst                                 Monacan Indian Nation                                         $372,748

Suffolk                                   Nansemond Indian Tribe                                       $150,023

King William                           Pamunkey Indian Tribe                                          $74,594

Indian Neck                            Rappahannock Tribe, Inc.                                      $74,594

King William                           Upper Mattaponi Tribe                                           $179,206

 

The grant was awarded through HUD’s Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) Program which provides grants, loan guarantees, and technical assistance to Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages for the development and operation of affordable housing.

In 2018, a bipartisan Warner and Kaine bill to grant federal recognition to six Virginia tribes was signed into law. The legislation granted these six Virginia tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government, allowing the tribes to compete for grants only open to federally recognized tribes.

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WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $2,056,299 in federal funding to support the development of 11 housing units in Frederick County to provide affordable housing to lower-income elderly households. The funding, available through the Section 202 program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), will allow older adults to live independently while also receiving supportive services.

“We are pleased that these federal funds will provide support for affordable housing in Frederick County,” said the Senators. “These new housing units will help improve the quality of life for older adults in the community.”

The Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program provides capital advances to finance the development of housing for low-income elderly residents. The program expands the supply of affordable housing with supportive services for the elderly such as cleaning, cooking, and transportation.

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