SFH Direct Loan and Grant Programs
The purpose of this announcement is to inform partners, packagers, and stakeholders of the extension to temporary exceptions issued on March 20, 2020 pertaining to site assessments, appraisals, repair inspections and income verifications for the Single-Family Housing Direct Loan Programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All single-family housing direct loan and grant programs remain open for business. These temporary exceptions remain in effect:
- Credit report fees are waived for Section 502 applicants when complete Tri-Merge Credit Reports are provided by a third party certified packager, approved intermediary, or self-help housing grantee in accordance with the unnumbered letter dated April 17, 2020 through September 30, 2020.
- Site assessments of existing homes and new construction sites by RD staff may be waived to protect the safety of our staff and our most vulnerable customers through September 30, 2020.
- Appraisal orders through our vendors are continuing with minimal disruption. Exterior only appraisals for existing dwellings may be accepted in conjunction with a whole house inspection through September 30, 2020. This exception is not applicable to existing manufactured housing pilot program or new construction.
- For eligible applicants who have been issued a Certificate of Eligibility and impacted by COVID-19, an extension of eligibility is available through September 30, 2020. For approved applicants with a pending loan closing, please contact USDA staff so that we can work with your closing agent and other parties to potentially coordinate the closing via mail or email.
- Until further notice pre-construction conferences and reviews of work in progress can occur by phone or through qualified third parties.
- Applicants must remain eligible for assistance at the time of approval and closing. If an adverse change to applicant income or credit has occurred prior to closing, additional payment assistance subsidy may be available.
- Following to state and local requirements, self-help housing organizations supervising construction are encouraged to limit workers to immediate family members or small groups at worksites. This alternative method of construction may take some additional coordination and scheduling but will enable families to continue working on new homes. Volunteer labor outside of immediate households is discouraged and especially for higher risk populations. We understand that this can cause time delays, so requests for grant amendments and time extensions should be submitted in accordance with RD Instruction 1944-I, 1944.420 as early as practical. Please contact Rural Development and Regional Technical and Management Assistance contractor staffs so that we may offer additional assistance.
- Self-help housing grantees may relax work hour requirements outlined in their group membership agreement. Should the grantee need to relax weekly hour requirements, the RD State Office must be notified. Grantees may suspend weekly hour requirements for a given period so that build group members who cannot work do not fall behind in their minimum hours. The RD State Office must be notified of all relaxed work hours.
- Allowable self-help housing costs associated with grant activity may be charged to the grant during a stoppage including staff salaries for self-help housing tasks performed. For example, staff could work on items from home that benefit the self-help housing program such as marketing, packaging, development planning, soliciting new bids, reworking budgets, etc. Organizations may need to consider the value of this work as compared to the time it may take to finish the grant term once construction work stoppage ends. Part-time or reduced hours are other options for some organizations as opposed to layoffs. Hard costs such as rent, utilities, etc. may be allocated to grant costs unless an organization has other assistance to cover these costs.
- Self-Help Regional Technical & Management Assistance (T&MA) providers continue to offer uninterrupted technical assistance from remote locations to grantee organizations. Two quarterly visits may be conducted by T&MA providers from a remote location.
- With the exception of vacant or abandoned dwellings, foreclosures and related evictions for borrowers with USDA Single Family Housing Direct (SFHD) loans are suspended through June 30, 2020.
- Visit the USDA Disaster page on coronavirus at: https://www.usda.gov/coronavirus
- Rural Development offices at: https://www.rd.usda.gov/browse-state
- Loan servicing questions at: https://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/loan-servicing
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