2016 proved to be a very busy and productive year as OHFA addressed a basic human need – decent, affordable housing. OHFA's First Time Homebuyer Program is experiencing its best results since 2008, while the State of Ohio received an additional $192 million in Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) resources that the Agency has used to reopen direct homeownership assistance efforts and to expand the state's blight elimination activities. Competitive housing credit awards were allocated to 42 developments, and use of multifamily bonds coupled with 4% LIHTC equity has enabled an increasing number of preservation deals to move forward. OHFA continues to meet its regulatory responsibilities in the timely monitoring of a growing portfolio of affordable rental properties, and the Agency is continuing its preparation of the 2018 Annual Plan, which includes a detailed assessment of housing needs and priorities, and ultimately a resetting of the Agency's strategic metrics for the next three years.
As we move forward into 2017, there will be challenges and opportunities in the markets in which OHFA operates. As a result of the November elections, the potential for tax reform could impact the availability and/or value of housing credits and municipal bonds, Dodd-Frank and HUD's Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing policies will likely see pullbacks, and increased spending on defense may put more pressure on discretionary spending, including the gap filling resources used in affordable housing. The uncertainty created by the possibility of tax reform has already impacted the pricing and timing of housing credit investment and the recent spike in interest rates is having a similar effect on rental and homeownership financing. In this environment of change and uncertainty, OHFA and its partners must continue to work together to tell the affordable housing story and help inform policy decisions that will impact the tools that we use to create and preserve affordable housing opportunities.
With my impending retirement at the end of March, OHFA will welcome a new Executive Director who has the vision and ability to lead in these challenging, yet opportunistic, times and take the Agency to an even higher level of achievement. My thanks to the Board, staff and partners for your support over the past 13 years – the best and most meaningful of my professional career – as the important work continues in our commitment to provide safe, decent affordable housing for those who need help the most.
Douglas A. Garver
Ohio Housing Finance Agency