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tv   Eye on Washington  CBS  February 6, 2016 1:37am-2:07am PST

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>> and good day to you. i'm marilee joyce and this is "eye on washington," the only statewide nevada news program produced in washington, d.c. every week "eye on washington" takes you straight to capitol hill for a discussion with nevada's delegation and other leaders about the federal matters that matter to you. today's topic, back on top. nevada sadly reclaims its worst in the nation ranking for foreclosure filings. my special guest here today to talk about it is mr. ethan handelman, the vice president for policy and advocacy for the national housing conference. thanks for being here again. >> thanks for having me. >> appreciate it. well, the nhc is the washington, d.c.-based organization that advocates for policy and legislation focusing on housing concerns, a lot of stuff of which we will be talking about today. just over a year ago, things were looking so much better. but today on "eye on washington," we're going to give you some bad news regarding foreclosures from realty trac.
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of our nevada veterans are homeless today. and we'll find out what my guest says must be done in congress to help make housing more affordable and accessible for all of us. well, realty trac has released its september foreclosure report. the news couldn't be much worse for nevada housing officials who were hoping that roller coaster ride was over. nevada again is the nation's top spot for foreclosures. the reason for this go-round is due to lenders repossessing homes. according to realty trac, one in every 507 homes across nevada got a foreclosure filing in august. now that was up 16% from july and 4% from a year ago. and when you're talking foreclosure activities, you're including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions. so that nevada foreclosure rate was the highest in the country last month, more than double the national average. that 1 in 507 number i gave you, more than doubled the 1205 with foreclosure filings nationwide. mr. handelman, welcome back to "eye on washington." >> thank you.
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couple of times. and, of course, chris estes, the president of your group has been on many times. the national housing conference is the kind of "eye on washington" go-to group in washington. we always appreciate you being here for the housing needs. >> it's our pleasure. >> appreciate it. so you know, sadly, as i said, the homeowners in nevada, they are not strangers to this kind of bad news. now, the state, as you know, led the nation in foreclosure for the five years leading up to march of 2012. and now, though, it's the repo's that are causing these horrid headlines, right. so that's up 230% from a year ago. >> it is up a lot. i think when i look at these numbers, it's certainly bad news right now for nevada. the only encouragement i take from it is that in the future, this is a good step towards what will be a long slow recovery. right? when you see bank repossessions, it means they are actually taking the property back so it can get into the hands of someone else who can live in it or rent it out. the idea is nevada is the leading edge of this for the
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the rest of the country, the numbers are actually down a little bit. for nevada, they are up. but i expect many other places will follow suit. >> in other words, other places are going to start seeing bad numbers of foreclosures as well? or worsening? >> repossessions, right? that's what's driving this. but repossession is sort of the end of the chain. >> right. >> whereas the default notice starts the process. >> the bad news is going to be good news in general. >> it will take a while though. this is going to be a long slow recovery from the foreclosure crisis nationwide. >> so, you know, when the housing crisis began, you know, say, of course, several years ago now, what were some initial actions that your group took to address the increase in the foreclosure in places hit so hard like nevada? >> so nhc was part of an alliance of a lot of folks who came together in support of many of the emergency rescue actions that the administration put together. so think of the neighborhood stabilization program which worked to help -- >> we covered with you on this
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places where some strategic intervention could really make a difference and keep people in their homes and help keep neighborhoods from slipping into decay. certainly, the hamp and harp programs, part of making home affordable effort that the treasury and hud have led, have been instrumental in helping a lot of folks work out problems with their loans or refinance into lower cost loans. >> so what actions are you recommending that nevada housing officials take as they kind of find theirselves reliving some of the same problems faced by the state in that long stretch back starting in 2009? >> i mean honestly, this is a stay the course moment. this is continue to focus on neighborhood health. continue to focus on making sure that focus aren't displaced unnecessarily. but also help the process move smoothly. so for the folks that need to do a short sale or that need to find a new place to live, use the resources that are counseling. i would say, you know, for any individual or folks in government who are referring
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housing counselor can really be your best friend in this >> great. and when we return, homeless heroes, the veteran homeless crisis in nevada and elsewhere and efforts to help.
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>> and welcome back to "eye on washington." our discussion of housing issues facing nevada and what one washington-based organization is doing on the hill to advocate for affordability and accessibility. our guest today is mr. ethan handelman, the vice president for policy and advocacy for the national housing conference. well, last year here on "eye on washington," the head of the national coalition of homeless veterans was here to share news about the uptick in the number of homeless vets in nevada and across the nation.
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that nearly 1,000 nevadans who nobly served us in the military were coming home with no place to call home. now, it's not as bad as it was. the recent peak was 2,419 in 2009. nationally nearly 58,000 veterans live on the streets or in shelters. so what's happening in washington to help keep vets in their homes? well, in september u.s. vets, which is located in southern nevada was awarded more than $850,000 to provide transitional housing with supportive services for homeless vets. the federal grant from the v.a.'s grant and per diem program is part of a $12.8 million aimed at helping the tens of thousands veterans who are homeless across the nation and nevada. so vets will use its u.s. grant to provide an average of 25 beds per day for homeless veterans under the transition in place housing model.
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house assistance and support services for veterans who upon completion of the program remain in the residence and transition to assume responsibility of the housing lease. anmr. handelman, so things are better for nevada veteran homelessness but it's far from ideal. i mentioned john driscoll of the national coalition of homeless veterans was telling us about the problem last year. how big a deal is this for an association like yours that's so focused on keeping people -- not only in homes, but in affordable homes? >> right. it's a very big deal. and one of the interesting things about veteran homelessness is it's a solvable problem. we know how to end it and there are cities that have ended veteran homelessness. new orleans did it recently. salt lake city has. there are others. the challenge is getting enough resources and putting the right model to work. so you talked about the grant and per diem program that provides transitional assistance. what you need at the other end of that is permanent housing.
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through the hud vash program, veteran affairs supportive housing that provides rental assistance combined with v.a. case managers to help veterans who are coming back and need that help to get back on their feet. >> and it's more permanent. >> exactly. it's permanent housing. so it's an apartment you rent. it's not a shelter, it's not a bed in a shelter. it's a home. >> our nevada congresswoman dina titus told the press at the time when u.s. veterans received that grant, she said quote, "a critical piece to ending veteran homelessness is transitioning a veteran from housing." which is pretty much what you have said as well. >> exactly. and part of that also means having enough affordable housing for them to go to. because there are plenty of veterans who coming home don't need a lot of supportive services. they need an inexpensive apartment near a job. we have to make sure that's available, too. >> so again, the grant kind of provides that boost up that the veteran needs to get independent and get back on their feet. >> right. >> exactly.
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>> uh-huh. >> so what else does congress need to do to kind of keep our veterans off the streets and out of shelters? >> so at this point, it's really about a commitment of resources. congress needs to fund sufficient funding for the hud vash program that i mentioned for things like the grant and per diem, for other v.a. and hud-related services to help conquer this problem in every city, not just in the few that have done it. >> you know, when mr. driscoll was here -- and also i have covered this issue before on this program. and, you know, especially in nevada's rural communities, although it might be, you know, these veteran heroes are proud and should be, you know, for what they have done. and i have been told that for some who are homeless, it's very hard for them to reach out to a group like yours or to your affiliates in states, etc. how does a person come forward? and what kind of assistance do they get and should they be
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>> it is a real challenge because there are folks who for whatever personal reasons don't want to self-identify as a veteran, don't want to ask for special help because they are a veteran. but they should know there really are resources available. so through the v.a. which is the best place to start, but also through hud, our local housing authorities, there are ways to ask for help. some of the most successful groups like u.s. vets, which is one of our strong partners and we love their work, are really good at finding ambassadors, finding veteran peers who have either gone through the program or really understand the challenges facing folks who have either just come back or been back many, many years, to help them seek the help that is available. >> so if you are a veteran watching today and you need some help, there's a lot of resources, a lot of people who want to help you out as well. and when we return, the affordability factor. how to help people both buy
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>> and welcome back to "eye on washington." our discussion of efforts in washington to help struggling homeowners. we have been visiting with ethan handelman, the vice president for policy and advocacy of the national housing conference. well, nowhere was the housing crisis of six years ago more acutely felt than in the state of nevada. and while nevada has made good progress, few would argue against the idea that any boost from washington is welcome. so earlier this year, that bit of a boost came in the form of a federal housing administration move to reduce annual mortgage insurance premiums. the action which is supported by the national association of realtors reduces the premiums by .5% in an effort to make mortgages more affordable and accessible for families. we have a quote here from nevada u.s. congresswoman dina titus saying that this, quote, "will help homeowners stay in their homes and enable millions of families to
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time." and, mr. handelman, now, a big part of your group's mission is to try to influence policy in a way that makes home ownership a reality for people. is this fha move -- does that help further your goal? if so, is it enough? >> it's not a bad thing. certainly the fha serves a lot of first-time home buyers. a lot of folks especially in the northern communities who are stepping into home ownership. making that less expensive does make home ownership more of an option for them. it is far from enough to solve the problem. there are a lot of challenges on the ownership side and the renting side to making sure that everyone has safe, decent and affordable housing. >> you know, i know that the renting side of this is important. so, you know, to be clear, when we say housing affordability, some people right away in their mind, they think, oh, you mean -- >> mortgages, right, their home. >> that the quote american dream, buy a home. but you have said for some
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more realistic, it's more what they want to do. and some people, that's what >> uh-huh. >> and others it just makes sense for now. >> exactly. there's folks -- affordable. >> there's folks that rent by choice. there's folks that rent because that's what fits their budget. about 2/3 of this country lives in owned housing and about 1/3 of it lives in rented housing. and that's been true for a very long time. so we need to make sure that renting is also affordable. based on research we have done, we just released our paycheck to paycheck survey in september. if you are working retail, there's no metro area where you can afford to pay for a two-bedroom apartment. if you are an e-commerce representative, those helpful people trying to order something and you can't and call them on the phone, there's very few places you can afford to rent. even fewer where you can afford to own. it's making sure the people who are helping us in all sorts of different ways have a way to have an affordable home. >> in your view, how is congress doing regarding both
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legislation that makes a real difference to housing affordability? >> well, honestly, there hasn't been a lot of activity there. one of the biggest challenges is getting congress to pass the appropriations that are needed. right now, only about 1 in 4 people who qualify for housing help actually get it. it's not an entitlement. it's not like social security or medicare where you just actually get it. only 25% of the people who are eligible receive it. >> why? >> it's a big budget challenge. congress needs to figure out a way to pass appropriations and really do it with enough support to get housing help to everyone. >> as we are winding down the segment, tell us how affordability in neighborhood stabilization, the top two focuses of your group -- how do they go hand in hand? >> so we're actually starting to see a shift from one to the other which is not uncommon. we're getting out of the foreclosure crisis slowly and painfully, but we are getting out it. we are already flipping to unaffordability in a lot of
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nevada is one of the places because there aren't a lot of restrictions on land and because it's a nonjudicial foreclosure state, where property values and occupancy can move very quickly. especially if you look to the coasts, we're going to very quickly see in places that didn't a year ago worry about affordability, real worries about -- are we retaining workers? do we have the folks we need able to afford homes and stay where they are? challenge. >> okay. and when we return, well, he is the nhc's federal policy and advocacy guy. so let's learn how he's using that big position to make a real difference in home ownership in nevada and
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we're going to ask him next. >> and welcome back to our closing segment of today's "eye on washington." our special guest today has been mr. ethan handelman, the vice president of policy and advocacy of the national housing conference. so affordable homes and stable neighborhoods, those are the top goals of the national and they are what my guest seeks to achieve as he advocates on the group's behalf to congress and other housing authorities. because in addition to the
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understanding of america's housing challenges including affordable housing, foreclosure recovery, neighborhood stabilization and more, my guest and other hc officials work with federal leaders on policies that advance these very goals. now, you can visit for the latest on issue advocacy and policy efforts. but we do have you here today, so we can talk a little bit. the man himself is here. so i thought i'd let you tell us kind of what policy work you are prioritizing right now and that particularly would matter to nevadans watching and listening to us on our 13 stations statewide. >> sure, happy to do it. so let me call out just three areas. one is around federal appropriations, right. this is the money that the federal government spends each year to help folks in rental housing, also to help home ownership efforts, especially self-help, sort of self-build opportunities, that needs to be larger. only 25% of the folks who are
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so reaching a big budget compromise could make a big step towards getting housing assistance better funded. >> you know, you and your president chris estes that i mentioned, you have been on here several times. and every show we talk about that mission statement to provide affordable housing to those who need it. so i want to ask, first, how do you decide need? in other words, what type of homeowner or a non-homeowner is your main focus when you think about we need more affordability? >> right. it varies from place to place. it's generally defined by someone's income relative to the area they are in. so hud's definition of low income is someone earning 80% or less of that area median. a lot of folks who are on assistance are at 30% or less. these are people earning $15,000 a year. this is not a lot of money. and they are the folks who really need a lot of help, especially in places where the cost of housing is very high. >> in the case of still
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what is your top priority? and, you know, what agencies are you connected with there? and what's the main thing that you are focused on in a state like that? >> when we are thinking nevada and especially thinking about home ownership which we have talked about a lot, it's about access to credit. it's so that people can get a mortgage they can afford and that that mortgage is a safe, sustainable mortgage that they will continue to afford for the rest of the life of that mortgage. some of the policy levers that affect that are decisions about what fha does, the federal housing administration. some is about what's going to happen to fannie mae and freddie mac and our mortgage finance system which really is still operating on temporary measures that were put in place in 2008. we haven't fixed that yet, and we need to. and congress is the one that needs to do it. we are working with fhfa. we are working with other agencies to help deal in the interim, but congress really does need to act. >> as we close out today, we are about done. but i want to just one more time say, you know, we did start with the bad news of
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but the good news is once we get through those repossessions, etc., things should be -- >> things should stabilize. >> a little bit more stable. sounds good. thanks for being here today. >> thank you. >> appreciate it. that does wrap up today's "eye on washington," but we are always here for you providing all the top federal news that nevadans need to know. you can just visit our website where you can subscribe to our nevada's washington watch newsletter while you're there. be sure to like us on facebook. you can follow me on twitter. thanks for joining us today on "eye on washington."
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