Q What are you doing when it comes to homelessness and special-needs housing?
A Auger: We’ve hired a supportive-housing coordinator who is working toward developing a coordinated approach with a variety of stakeholders who want housing for their consumers. Florida Housing finds that disability, homeless, and other special-needs groups tend not to work together on these issues; instead, each group advocates on its own behalf. We are working to build a collaborative approach between these groups, believing this will allow the state to do a better job of serving all groups, both with housing and services. Another strategy this year is to create relationships between mainstream developers using our programs and service providers to institute an environment throughout all of the rental housing financed by Florida Housing that will support tenants with special needs.

Bolen: See answer 6 (d) above.

DeVos: In 2006, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Department of Human Services, Department of Community Health and Department of Corrections partnered with local nonprofit organizations, elected officials and key stakeholders to implement 10-Year Plans to End Homelessness in every county of the state. With 100 percent participation by Michigan’s counties, our state became the first in the nation to develop an organized response that permanently addresses the issues related to homelessness. In celebration of this achievement, Michigan held its first Homeless Summit in October 2006.

Over the past two years, MSHDA has committed over $40 million to support the creation of supportive housing for homeless and special-needs populations. At least one project was funded in each of the eight regions of the state.

Dewey: Although Virginia’s Department of Housing and Community Development is the lead agency in these efforts, VHDA is an active partner in addressing these areas.

VHDA participates in a number of inter-agency work groups and task forces designed to address housing needs associated with homeless populations and person with disabilities. Such participation includes support for: 1) Virginia's Olmstead Initiative which promotes community integration for Virginians with disabilities, and 2) the Virginia Inter-Agency Council on Homelessness.

Likewise, VHDA supports low-interest loans for shelters and transitional housing opportunities that serve homeless populations as well as housing that promotes housing choices for persons with disabilities. Furthermore, VHDA is engaged in promoting opportunities associated with the utilization of universal design principles to maximize the ability of residents to age in place.

Garver: OHFA continues to work in conjunction with other state agencies and groups to tackle the homelessness issue. Over the past five years, we have strongly encouraged the development of permanent supportive housing for the chronic homeless. 12 projects have been developed using our LIHTC program over the past five years that has resulted in the creation of 600 new units across the state. Our goal is to support the strong local partnerships formed over the past few years through our LIHTC program and HDAP and help reduce this problem. In the 2007 QAP, we doubled the pool for permanent supportive housing and hope to fund four to five projects. The biggest obstacle in developing these projects is finding sources of operating support and rental subsides.

Herman: We have revised our tax credit program to support the development of housing for previously homeless persons, and this has helped many of the developers provide housing units for this special-needs group. We still have a focus on agricultural worker housing, which is a big need in eastern Washington. In our multifamily bond programs, we have done a significant amount of seniors housing in recent years. We are also a major supporter of the annual homeless conference in the state, and we support new state funding through our advocacy alliances.

Markowski: In 2002, Mayor Richard Daley endorsed an ambitious 10-year plan to end homelessness. Since then we have added 1,749 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless households, phased out approximately 1,948 beds of emergency shelter, and phased in 1,497 beds of interim housing which is a short-term housing program that focuses on rapid re-housing into appropriate permanent housing. We have also increased our prevention resources by 137 percent and provide prevention assistance to more than 6,900 households annually to help those households avoid the shelter system altogether.

Q What special projects or initiatives are you working on this year?
A Auger: See answers to questions 4 and 10 above.

Bolen: See answer to 4 (d) and 5 above.

DeVos: One of the most exciting initiatives that MSHDA is working on this year is the Cities of Promise Initiative. It is a whole-cloth quality of life initiative that aims to reduce poverty and promote community and economic development in the cities that have the highest rates of poverty per capita in Michigan including: Benton Harbor, Detroit, Flint, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Muskegon Heights, Pontiac, and Saginaw. Each city has a partnership team that includes state agency representation, local government partners, and other stakeholders including churches, schools, business, hospitals, community development corporations, and human service organizations.

This is a five-year initiative (pilot program), started in February 2006 by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. She asked state agencies to work “smarter” in our cities that need it most, and asked MSHDA to lead the charge. Long-term desired outcomes include: visible, positive change; sustainable movement toward revitalization; vested local champions; and a signature project that will be a "wow" for the city.

MSHDA has worked with our partners to bring many special programs/assistance to each of these cities, including: Safe Routes to School, IDA Partnerships with faith-based community, blight reduction, special mortgage products for person purchasing homes in the eight cities, Habitat for Humanity home builds, and more.

Dewey: We are currently working with a number of local governments in northern Virginia on their workforce housing goals and providing new loan products and programs that will assist them in providing mortgage funding resources for their county and city employees.

Likewise, VHDA has begun taking a more active role in promoting workforce housing opportunities to support local economic development efforts as illustrated by the financing of an affordable rental housing development for workers at a major tourist resort on land provided by the resort owners.

In southwest Virginia and the Eastern Shore, which are at opposite ends of the Commonwealth but have very similar characteristics, we are working to expand the outreach of our two Mobile Mortgage Vans, which provide mortgage access to potential homebuyers who have limited funding options. We are also completing the development of a new and improved version of our E-Learning program for homeownership education, which will provide broader access throughout Virginia with both a Spanish and English version.

Garver: The agency continuously looks at new ways to provide quality, affordable housing. Throughout 2007, we are looking at different ways to diversify our Homeownership Programs. We unveiled the Opportunity Loan Refinance Program on April 2. It is designed to help borrowers who may have had a change in circumstance such as a divorce, change in employment, medical situation, or have a lending product that no longer meets their needs such as interest-only mortgages or adjustable-rate mortgage loans which have entered or will soon enter the adjustable phase. Over the upcoming months, we are also evaluating programs aimed at veterans and community heroes such as first responders and teachers.

Herman: Workforce housing is on the agenda this year as well as looking for ways to lower condominium liability insurance for nonprofit developers and the development of a new land banking program for nonprofit developers to overcome the rapid increase in land costs.

Markowski: We are proposing an expansion of the Affordable Requirements Ordinance to include any type of city land, not just discounted city land, and any zoning change that increases residential density, including planned developments. We estimate that this expansion will create an additional 1,000 affordable units per year. We’re also working on a preservation compact to address the preservation of rental units across the city.