Barbara Koelzer, Regional Government Affairs Director
Middle-Income Ballot Question: The City Council unanimously decided to move forward with a pilot down payment assistance program for people making up to 120 percent of the area median income (AMI). Boulder voters will consider a ballot question this November to give the City permission to issue a line of credit of up to $10 million to fund the program. Council members Bob Yates and Sam Weaver conceived the concept for the program to help Boulder’s middle-income residents, who often have difficulty getting approved for private sector loans large enough to make a purchase in Boulder’s expensive market.
The program will provide second loans to help middle-income Boulderites fill the gap. The second loan must be repaid for 10 years or when the home is sold, whichever comes first. Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights requires voter approval for government debt. Homes bought under the program would become permanently deed restricted and sold through the City’s home ownership program to another buyer at or below the 120 percent of the AMI at a price that won’t exceed 2 percent annual appreciation.
LAR Announces City Council Candidate Endorsements: LAR’s Board of Directors has confirmed the recommendations from the Government Affairs Committee to support the following candidates in the 2019 City Council election.
Brian Bagley – Brian served eight years on City Council before being elected mayor in 2017. He is pragmatic and said that while he doesn’t support the City’s inclusionary housing requirements, he knew that supporters had the votes to pass it and he worked to make it more palatable to developers. Likewise, he doesn’t support the wildlife and environmental policies of the current City Council, but he did the best he could to make the regulations less onerous for development. Brian said one of his top priorities for a second term is economic development.
Tim Waters – Tim is running unopposed but LAR believes it makes sense to support him. He often aligns with Mayor Bagley on key votes that are important to LAR (for example, the Mountain Brook development on Rodgers Road). He supports inclusionary housing because he thinks it will help create more housing for young families. However, he did help ensure that developers’ feedback was considered before the ordinance went through the public hearing process. Tim also said he is “committed to the notion that development needs to occur.
Regan Sample – Regan is a REALTOR® and it would be very beneficial to LAR if he were to be elected because he understands and supports our industry. He opposes inclusionary housing. He supports the concept of affordability, but he does not believe inclusionary housing will accomplish that. Regan argued the City needs to “drive the City’s economic engine.” He believes good partnerships can create a welcome environment for businesses and a consistent City message and plan can help businesses thrive. In turn, that will encourage people to live in Longmont.
Jeff Moore – Jeff served one term on City Council until he was ousted by Marcia Martin 2017. He is not a fan of inclusionary housing because he believes it will increase home prices and doubts it will make Longmont more affordable. Jeff said he thinks some current members of Council want to reduce the amount of property that is available for development by creating overly strict development regulations. He also believes Longmont’s development process is too complicated and costly. According to Jeff, the Longmont Area Economic Partnership is doing a good job in terms of its economic development activities and the City can help by providing infrastructure to support economic development efforts.
Tax Questions Headed for Ballot: The Council placed several important questions on the November 5th ballot. First, voters will be asked to make the City’s .75 percent transportation sales and use tax for operations, maintenance and improvement of city streets permanent. This tax was scheduled to expire in 2026.
In addition, voters will decide if they want to fund an aquatics center and ice rink by raising the City’s sales and use tax from 3.53 to 3.71 percent and bond up to $5.5M. The sales/use tax would expire in 2039 and would be used to repay the bond debt. The facility would feature a 50-meter, 10-lane competitive swimming pool, a leisure pool; a single sheet of National Hockey League-sized ice; and a fitness area. Mayor Brian Bagley argues the rec center is in essence an economic and development tool, because he believes this amenity will attract new businesses to town.
HUD Releases Condo Rule: On August 14 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the long-awaited final rule on project approval for single-family condominiums insured by the Federal Housing Agency (FHA). After years of advocacy by NAR, HUD’s final rule contains several elements that will enable more buyers to be able to use FHA-insured financing to purchase a condominium. Highlights include:
- The return of single unit approval, also known as spot loans, for units in non-FHA approved properties
- Increased certification period from two to three years, plus a six-month grace period to submit re-certification materials
- Increased acceptable commercial space to 35 percent of total area
- Reduced requirement for owner-occupancy percentage exceptions
NAR President John Smaby made the following statement: “We are thrilled that Secretary Carson has taken this much-needed step to put the American Dream within reach for thousands of additional families. It goes without saying that condominiums are often the most affordable option for first-time homebuyers, small families and those in urban areas. This ruling, which culminates years of collaboration between HUD and NAR, will help reverse recent declines in condo sales and ensure the FHA is fulfilling its primary mission to the American people.”
FHA Down Payment Assistance Changes Rescinded: As of August 14, 2019, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has officially rescinded guidance related to clarifying documentation requirements for government entities that provide down payment assistance to Federal Housing Administration (FHA) borrowers, including requiring entities to prove the property in question was within the jurisdiction where the government entity has authority to provide assistance. Following the release of the guidance, affected entities filed an injunction against HUD. HUD suspended the guidance while the legal challenges made their way through the courts. With the rescission of the original guidance, contained in Mortgagee Letter 19-06, policy guidance for FHA’s down-payment assistance program continues to be found in its Single-Family Housing Policy Handbook 4000.1 Section II.A.4.d. ii.
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