FHA’s Julia Gordon on 2024 Priorities at #MBACREF24

(Bob Broeksmit, left, and Julia Gordon; Image by Anneliese Mahoney)

SAN DIEGO–Getting policies to the finish line–and what could hold that up–was the big theme from a discussion between Julia Gordon, Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner at HUD, and MBA President and CEO Bob Broeksmit, CMB, here Feb. 13.

Gordon participated in the on-stage interview with Broeksmit during the MBA Commercial/Multifamily Finance Convention and Expo, to provide an update on Federal Housing Administration priorities and policies six weeks into 2024.

One policy that’s made it over that finish line: On the multifamily side, FHA has increased the large loan limit from $75 million to $120 million.

Gordon touted other accomplishments, including removing the dollar cap on the LIHTC pilot, eliminating duplicative assurance on completion requirements and creating new documents on the residential care and hospital side.

“A lot of this focus has been on process and making ourselves a better partner for you, making our requirements better fit in the market,” Gordon said.

Broeksmit pressed Gordon on at least one policy that hasn’t quite made it to the finish line yet–and one he highlighted in his keynote speech Feb. 12. That’s the increase to the wind/named storm insurance deductible, which had been announced at last year’s conference.

Gordon said that last year, when that was announced, the office did think it was imminent. But, there was some analysis and subsequent tweaks needed, and it’s making progress, she said.

Another focus for 2024 is asset management, Gordon stated. “That’s something that we’re almost taking a full-on surge strategy to try to address.”

Climate resilience and related efforts will also be key for the year, she said, with an infusion of cash from the Inflation Reduction Act to provide grants and loans for assisted rental properties to retrofit themselves to become more energy efficient and resilient.

Technology will also be a focus; Gordon highlighted the creation of a strategic plan, some of which may be released publicly at some point this year. The goal was to put together a plan that can be pursued regardless of what happens in terms of the budget, and scaled up or down, Gordon said.

Broeksmit inquired about requirements of FHA loans that can lead to increased costs beyond what is required by the GSEs, and if there are any conversations to remedy that.

“So we have certainly heard you on fees,” Gordon said. “And we are doing a pretty comprehensive review and trying to figure out what is doable, what isn’t doable.”

Both Gordon and Broeksmit lamented the state of government on budget matters, and its effects on such queries, noting that there’s currently no 2024 budget enacted. That affects everything from staffing to capacity.

Despite headwinds, Gordon said that that is a need to create housing people can afford at every income level.

But, she also stressed that FHA needs partnership–and there are plenty of welcome opportunities for the industry to get involved, and give feedback.

As an example, Gordon noted HUD on Feb. 9 released a request for input on the Build America, Buy America Act requirements, and urged industry stakeholders to participate.  

“Our team has been a really strong advocate, trying to protect the work you all do. But, we are constantly asked for details,” Gordon said. “So we need that really, really granular detailed information to do the best job we can in making sure we don’t see any unintended consequences.”