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The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation recently released our 2014 Alaska Housing Assessment which identified challenges we have in statewide housing stock due to overcrowding, low energy efficiency and cost-burdened home owners.

These aren’t new issues as Alaska has seen a constant increase in population growth combined with new housing construction that hasn’t kept pace, particularly affordable housing. Although there is a shortage of housing throughout Alaska, AHFC’s interest rates remain low and with our Interest Rate Reduction for Low Income Borrower’s option, down payment assistance and First-Time Homebuyer programs, we are doing what we can to help Alaskans become homeowners.

The Housing Assessment also recognized that nearly 20,000 homes have the lowest energy rating of 1 Star. AHFC has received over half a billion dollars from the State of Alaska to boost our Weatherization and Energy Rebate programs across Alaska. This has resulted in nearly 40,000 homes increasing their energy efficiency but clearly there is more work to be done.  The continued success of these programs would ensure that homeowners, landlords and renters aren’t spending unnecessary dollars on utilities due to energy losses from their homes.

Along with our partners, AHFC is working diligently to mitigate housing and energy issues that affect Alaskans. To view the assessment on your community and across the state, click here.

Bryan Butcher
CEO/Executive Director

Misconceptions about Rent Reform

AHFC is one of only 39 housing finance agencies across the country recognized by the federal Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) as Moving to Work. Rent Reform has been implemented with a goal to provide financial assistance for housing more Alaskans who need it, and to empower work-able families living in public housing to become financially independent.

Misconception: Under Rent Reform, AHFC’s rental assistance programs no longer offer rental assistance based on a percentage of an individual household’s income  (income-based rent).
FACT:  Under Rent Reform, families participating in AHFC’s Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs  are included in one of two programs: If all adults in a family are older than the age of 62 or have a disability, the family is in the Classic Program and will continue to pay an income-based rent.  Families where at least one adult is able to work (not 62 years of age or a person with a disability) are included in the Step Program.  During the first year in the program, Step participants will pay an income-based rent.  After the first year, the rent the family pays in the Step Program is based on a fixed schedule.

Misconception: Under Rent Reform, AHFC no longer provides a utility allowance to help with the costs of tenant-paid essential utilities.
FACT:  Whether in the Classic or Step housing program, when a family pays an income-based rent, a utility allowance is still applied to determine the family’s rental amount. AHFC no longer pays a Utility Reimbursement Payment (UPR) to families when their total family share based on their income is less than the utility allowance. These families typically qualify for other state and tribal programs to help with the cost of utilities.

Misconception:  Under Rent Reform, all rental assistance programs are time-limited. 
FACT:  Only families that include a work-able adult (participating in the Step program) are subject to a time-limit.  The time-limit to receive assistance from AHFC under the Step program is five years.

Misconception:  Once a family has completed five years in the Step program they cannot reapply for housing assistance.
FACT:  After a Step participant has ended their participation in the program, the family may reapply but continued assistance is not guaranteed.

Misconception:  Any time a family experiences an increase in income, AHFC takes a part of it by increasing the family’s rent.
FACT:  One of the most significant goals behind AHFC’s Rent Reform is to encourage Step participants (work-able families) to increase their income and be able to pay market rent in their community by the end of their participation.  Once the family begins the program, a rent schedule is established and increases in income do not affect what the family pays in rent.

Congratulations Tiffany!

In April we featured a story about Tiffany who had utilized AHFC's Energy Rebate Program to make energy improvements to her home. After insultating, sheetrocking and framing her basement, insulating her attic and space above the garage, adding new large windows, a new boiler and a heat zone to her basement, Tiffany was excited to learn she was receiving the full $10,000 rebate.

Click HERE for more information about the Energy Rebate Program.

REAP SelfiEE Contest

Renewable Energy Alaska Project invites you to show off your energy efficiency improvements at home or work.  You can post photos from now until August 7, the winner will be announced at the 10th Annual Alaska Renewable Energy Fair on August 9 on the Anchorage Park Strip and will will receive a grand prize from Chugach Electric Association.

For contest details or to post a picture click HERE.

The Importance of Loan Servicing

Loan servicing is the process by which a company (mortgage bank, servicing firm, etc.) collects interest, principal and escrow payments from a borrower. Alaska Housing Finance Corporation works with 15 in-state companies that service fewer than 15,000 loans statewide. It is important to AHFC that its loans are serviced locally so that Alaskan borrowers can meet face-to-face if any issues arise.  AHFC's Servicing Department has a close working relationship with all of its Servicering partners, working together daily to prevent foreclosures and keep homeowners in their homes.

Although statewide foreclosures are slightly higherfor 2014 in comparison to the same time period last year, nationally there is a year-over-year decrease in foreclosures of 10 percent.

Alaska Foreclosures by Calendar Year
2011 Activity                           114
2012 Activity                           97
2013 Activity                           95
2014 YTD (Jan-May)              45     compared to 35 (Jan-May, 2013)  

For more national statistics click HERE.