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Recent Updates to USDA-RD Rural Housing Policies

USDA-RD published a proposed rule “Civil Monetary Penalties” in the Federal Register.

The rule would allow USDA-RD to impose civil monetary penalties against any person, (including owners, officers, directors, general partners, limited partners, or employees) who knowingly and materially violate, or participate in the violation of any laws, regulations, or agreements related to the Section 515, Section 521, Section 514, Section 516, and Section 542 housing programs. These violations may include :

(A) Submitting information to USDA-RD that is false;

(B) Providing USDA-RD with false certifications;

(C) Failing to submit information requested by USDA-RD in a timely manner;

(D) Failing to maintain the property subject to loans made or guaranteed by USDA-RD in good repair and condition, as determined by USDA-RD;

(E) Failing to provide acceptable management for a project which received a loan made or guaranteed by USDA-RD that is acceptable to the Agency; or

(F) Failing to comply with the provisions of applicable civil rights statutes and regulations.

In the proposed rule, USDA-RD states that it has the authority to implement civil monetary penalties under Section 543(b) of the Housing Act of 1949 and the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act of 1986.

For a copy of the proposed rule, please visit: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-01-04/pdf/2012-31712.pdf

Over the last few months, RD has published a number of rural housing policy changes that members should also be aware of. They are as follows:

· RD December Unnumbered Letters

o “Direct Loan Programs: Multi-Family Housing Occupancy Standards” (December 13, 2012)

The purpose of this Unnumbered Letter (UL) is to reiterate and clarify policies outlined at 7 CFR 3560.155 (e) and HB-2-3560, Asset Management Handbook, Chapter 6, concerning Occupancy Policies in Rural Development Section 515 and Section 514 Direct Loan properties. Borrowers must develop and follow occupancy standards that take into account the size and number of bedrooms needed based on the number of people in the family. Occupancy standards serve to prevent the over- or underutilization of units that can result in an inefficient use of housing assistance in general and Rental Assistance, specifically.

o “Fiscal Year 2013 Site Manager of the Year Recognition Program” (December 11, 2012)

The purpose of this UL is to announce the guidelines for RHS’s annual Multi-Family Housing Site Manager of the Year program for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013. Awards may be presented in each of the following three categories: (1) Site Manager of the Year for Housing for the Elderly; (2) Site Manager of the Year for Housing for Families; and (3) Site Manager of the Year for Farm Labor Housing. Award winners will be determined in the spring.

Copies of all the December ULs may be found here: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/SupportDocuments/uldecember12.pdf

· RD November Unnumbered Letters

o Multi-Family Housing – Optional Smoke-Free Housing Policy (November 21, 2012)

This Unnumbered Letter (UL) is reissued to provide continued guidance for Multi-Family Housing (MFH) borrowers should they choose to implement optional smoke-free housing policies. This guidance is similar to previous guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and replaces the Unnumbered Letter last issued on December 29, 2010.

· RD Administrative Notice No. 4692 “Procedure for Ordering Comprehensive and Individual Consumer Credit Reports for Single Family and Multi-Family Housing” (November 8, 2012)

This Administrative Notice (AN) provides guidance on ordering Comprehensive Credit Reports from Experian, for Single Family Housing (SFH) and Multi-Family Housing (MFH) programs. Additionally, this AN includes guidance on ordering individual consumer credit reports on the owner/principal(s) from CBCInnovis. Comprehensive credit reports are required for SFH general or dealer/contractor approvals and MFH loan making, including Farm Labor Housing (FLH). This AN replaces AN 4649 issued in May 2012.

All of this information has been posted to the NAHMA RHS website, which can be accessed here: http://www.nahma.org/member/usda.html.

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