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New Pilot Program Targets Affordable Housing

The ""U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development"":http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/Home.html (USDA-RD) recently announced a new pilot program targeting reduced regulatory burdens for those developing affordable housing. In conjunction co-creators of the project, the ""U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development"":http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/portal/HUD, the initiative focuses on helping developers and individual owners, in addition to easing the way for state and federal agencies to serve low-income families choosing to rent their homes.

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The USDA-RD and HUD have approved a first draft of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which is intended for alignment with the Subsidy Layering Review requirements established by the agencies. The ""Michigan State Housing Development AuthoritY"":http://www.michigan.gov/mshda (MSHDA) is also collaborating on the project, and the state will serve as the testing ground for the pilot program.

Dating back to April, the ""White House's Domestic Policy CounciL"":http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/dpc has been pushing for an improved federal rental policy, citing the difficult program requirements contained within the diverse rental housing government projects. Specifically, the Domestic Policy Council requested an examination of the statutory mandates that force the administration agencies to correlate the grant or subsidized loan with a total amount of

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subsidy, to ensure that it doesn't exceed eligible costs. While it's an understandable necessity, those developing affordable housing are frequently slowed down when receiving multiple sources of government funds due to the current review process, and the resulting delays cause extra expenditures for builders looking to start construction.

The enhanced communication maneuvers within the new program will help sync development applicants, facilitate implementation of timelines for speedy review, and provide a simplified application process. Through the new project, the USDA-RD, HUD, and MSHDA hope to create a ""one-stop shop"" method of review that leads to greater utilization and success of state and federal affordable rental housing programs.

The Michigan-based director for the state's USDA-RD office, James J. Turner, said, ""The goal of this agreement is to create seamless coordination between the agencies providing housing assistance. It only makes sense for all levels of government to work together, to better coordinate services and remove duplication. This effort is part of an ongoing Obama Administration effort to streamline services and better coordinate between federal and state agencies to make sure our taxpayers are not overburdened.""

Echoing Turner's commentary, the executive director of the MSHDA, Gary Heidel, stated, ""Today's initiative is an important step forward in MSHDA's effort to continue affordable rental housing's success in serving our most rent-challenged and at-risk families. Through the launch of MSHDA's pilot program, our partners and customers can begin to realize cost- and time-savings that will help enable low-income families to have access to affordable housing where it is needed most.""

If the program is successful, the USDA-RD and HUD will eye a national roll out of the project. For now, the initial MOU will begin the process of aching federal rental alignment in Michigan.

About Author: Abby Gregory

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