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Flood insurance and housing affordability

By: Kristen Walsh

Last month, President Obama signed a flood insurance relief bill which will help make flood insurance more affordable for homeowners. The "Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013" is a response to increased flood insurance premiums that were unaffordable to homeowners living in high-risk areas for floods. These increased premiums came into effect after the government’s flood insurance program was revamped in 2012.

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Joint Center for Housing Studies releases annual report

Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies yesterday afternoon released their annual housing report, The State of the Nation's Housing 2013. A live webcast featuring a panel of housing experts accompanied the release, briefly discussing the major themes running throughout the report. This year the focus was largely on housing affordability, specifically for low- to moderate-income Americans. The report raises concerns about the growing number of severely cost burdened households nationwide, falling rates of homeownership, a shortage of affordable housing, and weak income growth.

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U.S. General Accounting Office releases report on Foreclosure Review Process

The "robosigning" controversy that came to light in 2010 caused foreclosure practices across the nation to come under close scrutiny, and millions of foreclosures to be halted. Ultimately, 14 mortgage servicers entered into consent orders, which required reviews by third-party consultants of their loan files for errors in servicing and foreclosure practices.

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How Housing Matters Survey: Attitudes about renting are shifting

The MacArthur Foundation today released the results of their national How Housing Matters Survey conducted by Hart Research Associates. 1,433 adults were surveyed via telephone and asked about their perceptions regarding the current housing market and attitudes about renting vs. homeownership.

Key findings include:

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Report: Housing has become a greater financial burden for boomers

The January 24, 2013 issue of the MacArthur Foundation's Housing Matters SmartBrief features a report conducted by AARP indicating that middle-income households age 50 or older spent a larger percentage of their incomes on mortgages in 2009 than they did a decade earlier.

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New York Times Editorial: "The Mount Laurel Doctrine"

An editorial in Monday's New York Times focuses on the Mount Laurel Doctrine – the 1983 New Jersey Supreme Court ruling limiting the use of exclusionary zoning as a means of preventing construction of affordable housing in wealthy communities.

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New York Times Editorial: "Fight for the Housing Trust Fund"

A recent Editorial in The New York Times cites the lack of affordable housing as "one of America's most vexing problems," and urges that "more must be done to create affordable housing." Specifically, the piece suggests the new Congress should put money into the National Housing Trust Fund.

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Housing and the 'fiscal cliff'

This week, Ethan Handelman, Vice President for Policy and Advocacy for the National Housing Conference (NHC), outlined several important actions for housing that have come from the recent 'fiscal cliff' discussion. The American Taxpayer Relief Act (also known as HR 8) includes:

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New York Times Editorial spotlights: The Affordable Housing Crisis

A recent editorial in the New York Times calls for better investment in programs that will help lower income families afford housing, particularly those who are renting. The editorial cites the increase in the number of families across the country who are paying more than half their income on housing, along with the $2.5 billion reduction in federal financing of affordable housing programs from 2010 to 2012.

"With nearly nine million households teetering on the verge of homelessness, the country clearly needs more support for affordable housing, not less," the editorial notes.

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