Housing grant announcement season peaked in March with the Super Notice of Funding Availability (SuperNOFA), covering many major grant programs of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). SuperNOFA applications must be filed via Grants.gov for almost everything except McKinney-Vento Continuum of Care grants. Major grants offered in March include:

• HUD’s SuperNOFA: Refer to instructions in the “general section” portion of the March 14 webcast at www.hud.gov/webcasts/archives. Federal Register of March 8.

• The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and HUD: New demonstration program, with up to $16 million in vouchers for tenants of prepaid Sec. 515 buildings. Federal Register of March 20.

• USDA: Almost $1 billion in rural housing loans and grants under Secs. 515, 514/516, 521, and 533. Federal Register of March 20.

• USDA: $990,000 for rural household water wells and $495,000 in grants for rural nonprofit revolving loan funds. Federal Register of March 15.

The Federal Register is available via www.gpoaccess.gov.

Tax credits bloom in the spring

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) posted key notices affecting low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) available under both ordinary and hurricane recovery legislation, and nationwide availability of tax-exempt private activity bond cap. Notice 2006-21 gives official population figures for the Hurricane Katrina Gulf Opportunity Zone (GO Zone), which in turn determine the extra LIHTCs available for 2006 in those areas. At $18 per capita, it appears the amounts are: Alabama, $15,651,792; Louisiana, $56,759,274; Mississippi, $35,429,094. For the rest of the country, Notice 2006-22 names population figures for each U.S. state as a whole. These combine with the per capita multipliers in Revenue Procedure 2005-70 to set state-by-state LIHTC and tax-exempt bond authority caps for 2006. In other related notices, Revenue Procedure 2006-17 lists average national purchase prices and average purchase price safe harbors for use in capping prices for home purchases financed by tax-exempt mortgage revenue bonds. Notice 2006-38 offers guidance on rehabilitation tax credits for GO Zone properties. The IRS is seeking comments on its Notice 2006-11, which created exceptions from LIHTC income and residency rules for tenants displaced by Hurricane Rita. For advance copies of many notices and links to the Internal Revenue Bulletin, see www.irs.gov/taxpros/article/0,,id=98697,00.html.

A March 10 Federal Register publication of the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund says it will award $600 million in special New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) for hurricane recovery based on applications already filed in 2005. A further $400 million in special NMTC will be available in hurricane-affected areas through an application process to be announced this summer for the 2007 calendar year. See the Fund’s redesigned site at www.cdfifund.gov.

Regulators clarify exam standards

There’s a new regulatory statement in the Federal Register on the three federal banking agencies that have been working together on enforcement rules for the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). See the March 10 Federal Register for a question-and-answer guidance document clarifying that the Aug. 2, 2005, loosening of CRA exam procedures will not allow CRA credit for financing middle-income or upscale (as opposed to low-income) housing unless such activity also promotes community development or disaster recovery. Authors are the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Federal Reserve Board and the Comptroller of the Currency. The fourth CRA-enforcing institution, the Office of Thrift Supervision, has outpaced the others on CRA regulatory enforcement relaxation.

And more

In other HUD regulatory developments:

• The March 7 Federal Register finalized the new system of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) performance measurements.

• HUD’s Community Planning and Development Notice 2006-2, issued March 22 and available on hudclips.org, provides guidance on applying for “entitlement community” status, which affects CDBG and HOME eligibility.

• Most HUD debenture interest rates rose from 4-1/2% to 4-7/8% for the six months beginning Jan. 1, 2006.

• HUD issued regulatory waivers for Hurricane Wilma, with instructions for requesting more waivers via a checklist, as previously authorized for Katrina and Rita. See the March 13 Federal Register and www.hud.gov/offices/pih.

• HUD’s income limits for 2006 are at www.huduser.org/datasets/il/il06/index.html.

• HUD revised its Fair Market Rent amounts for New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and several other jurisdictions in the March 6 Federal Register.