Housing First

Introduction

Some may say the coronavirus pandemic was the event that defined the year. To a certain extent that has been true for PHFA. An abrupt change took place on Monday, March 16, 2020, when the agency shifted abruptly to working remotely. Its technology infrastructure had to be revamped, almost overnight, to keep more than 320 employees connected and productive. Organizational needs changed, so divisions adapted in ways to best support their business processes. The culture changed, by necessity, since people were no longer meeting face-to-face but instead by phone or via computer screen.

In addition to changing how we work, the pandemic has also brought new priorities. For instance, PHFA has been in regular contact with the management teams of apartments partly funded by the agency in order to minimize evictions and help multifamily operations adapt. The agency has provided its 63,000-plus home loan customers the option of forbearance for families hurt financially by COVID-19. Additionally, Governor Wolf signed the state’s CARES Act into law, allocating $175 million in financial assistance for PHFA to administer to renters and homeowners. The agency had just four weeks to create and launch these two statewide CARES relief programs before the fiscal year ended in June, which it managed to do successfully.

PHFA Programs Continued Uninterrupted  

Yet, for all the importance of the coronavirus, there was another dimension to the past year that is easily overlooked but which better defines the past 12 months at PHFA. That is, in spite of all the new work brought on by the pandemic, the agency never missed a day managing its core housing programs. PHFA remained fully operational from March through June, delivering its normal housing services while taking on the new demands brought on by COVID-19. Home loans still closed. Housing services remained in place for seniors and people with disabilities. Plus, the agency’s call center remained available for the many phone inquiries it received – some days more than 1,000 calls.

The year 2020 will be remembered for the coronavirus. But what should not be forgotten is that PHFA remained available to consumers in Pennsylvania 24/7 as the early weeks of the pandemic stretched into months. At a time when stable, quality housing was needed for sheltering in place, PHFA employees put in long hours to ensure that affordable housing options remained available to the state’s residents. The staff’s commitment to the concept of “Housing First” prioritized the need for shelter as a basic and fundamental requirement to ensure people’s well-being and quality of life during challenging times.

$45.8M

investments in local housing initiatives

3,224

affordable home loans closed with a total value of $465.9M

1,708

affordable rental units created or preserved in 39 developments

Our Leadership

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The agency’s 14 board members provide their time and expertise out of their desire to improve the availability of affordable housing throughout the commonwealth. They are appointed to serve by the governor or General Assembly, or they serve as part of the responsibility of their high-level state government position.

Our Housing Programs In Review

At the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, we embrace the concept of “Housing First” because we have seen firsthand that people can’t address other needs or desires in their lives until stable and affordable housing provides them a home base. Our many affordable housing programs and services touch people at every stage of their life, regardless of their family’s budget or their preference for renting or owning.

When PHFA was started in 1972, its initial emphasis was on providing financial assistance to help support the construction of affordable rental housing across the state. It continues that work today, using Low Income Housing Tax Credits and other funding sources to financially support the construction and preservation of thousands of rental units statewide every year.

Renters ready for the responsibilities of homeownership can prepare to be homebuyers by participating in housing counseling. A counselor acts like a coach to help people with such things as budgeting, raising their credit score and understanding the homebuying process. Recognizing that educated consumers make better housing decisions, PHFA underwrites the cost of this counseling so it’s free. Counselors are available statewide.

When people are ready to buy, PHFA has home loans with competitive interest rates. Our mortgages are intended to help families on low-to-moderate incomes, seniors and people with special housing needs. Our private sector lending partners work with consumers to close their home loans, and PHFA then services these mortgages for the life of the loan. The agency also offers specialized loans for home repairs, improved home accessibility and septic or sewer work.

Investments in mixed-use developments have tremendous potential for stimulating community revitalization during and after construction by spurring business growth around anchor projects. PHFA has several programs like ReCLAIM, the Community Revitalization Fund Program and New Markets Tax Credits that fund mixed-use, retail/residential projects promoting neighborhood stability and boosting economic development.

Local municipalities know their housing needs best. The Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE) fund, administered by PHFA, provides funding to help counties address their local housing needs

Homeowners sometimes experience unexpected troubles, like job layoffs or medical emergencies, that put them behind on their mortgage. PHFA’s Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, or HEMAP, provides foreclosure prevention loans to help people stay in their homes. Started in 1983, the program has become a national model for its approach to foreclosure prevention.

These programs and others are managed by PHFA to expand affordable housing options across Pennsylvania and, additionally, to promote community vitality.

Check out the five housing topics below to view video highlights from the 2020 fiscal year for these PHFA programs.

Woman in affordable rental housing The allocation of funding for the construction of thousands of affordable apartments is always a highlight of the year. Affordable Rental Housing Video Icon homeowner woman in wheel chair with dog In 2020, the agency offered a historically low interest rate on its home loans. But that wasn’t the only new development. Homeownership Video Icon woman in a consumer counseling class HUD certification for housing counselors will help them better assist housing consumers. Plus, technology brings enhancements. Consumer Counseling & Education Video Icon Building construction PHARE funding — ReCLAIM funding — Community Revitalization funding: Investments by the agency touched communities statewide. Community Revitalization Video Icon family in front of a house HEMAP continues to help homeowners behind on their mortgage, and it will be increasingly important as the pandemic affects people's employment. Foreclosure Prevention Video Icon

PHFA By The Numbers

For the first time ever, PHFA is using its annual report to provide detailed insights into its housing investments for fiscal year 2020 statewide. Clicking on a county in the map below will reveal the agency’s funding there for affordable rental housing, single-family home purchases, community development and foreclosure prevention. Clicking on the icons below the map will provide more comprehensive data. The goal is to share the many ways in which PHFA programs are addressing affordable housing needs across Pennsylvania. 

2020 Financial Highlights

The 2020 fiscal year was shaping up to be a typical one regarding PHFA’s financial performance – and then the pandemic struck in March 2020. The health crisis had the potential to be disruptive to the agency’s finances. But, upon review, PHFA has fared well considering the pandemic’s impact on the broader economy. In fact, our net position reflects an increase of nearly $15 million as of June 30, 2020.

PHFA is largely self-funded, receiving public tax dollars from the General Assembly only to administer those programs created by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, like the Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program. As a result, it is important that the agency manage its finances responsibly so as to maintain uninterrupted operation of the various statewide housing programs it oversees. These housing programs are not only important to the well-being of the state’s residents, but they also have a positive impact on the commonwealth’s economy. 

Consider these highlights from the past year that demonstrate the agency’s strong financial position:

  • An $86.9 million increase in mortgage loans receivable, net
  • A $172.3 million increase in total assets, and 
  • Assets totaling $4.502 billion 

During FY 2020, the agency closed on three single-family bond deals totaling more than $585 million in total proceeds to be used for the refunding of debt and new single-family loan originations. PHFA’s general obligation rating is Aa2/AA- from Moody’s and S&P, respectively, and Aa2/AA+ for our single-family indenture, which is unchanged from the previous year. Additional financial highlights are provided in the right margin of this report.   

Each year’s annual report, as well as quarterly financial statements, are conveniently accessible on the PHFA website.

Tap or hover over the charts to see dollar amounts.