Using the MVA to Inform Delaware State Housing Authority Programs

As part of the State of Delaware’s 2015-2020 Housing Needs Assessment, the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) partnered with Reinvestment Fund to complete an MVA covering the entire state of Delaware.

Data from the statewide MVA plays an important role in many of DSHA’s programs. To help others …  interested using housing market data to inform their work, I’ve provided a summary of three ways that DSHA has integrated data from the MVA into major programs in homeownership, community development, and rental housing.

Coming out of the foreclosure crisis, and with the experience of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and other efforts in distressed neighborhoods, the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) realized the need for more nuanced housing market data to inform both its work and the work of the housing community in Delaware. To address this, DSHA partnered with Reinvestment Fund to complete a statewide Market Value Analysis (MVA) and incorporate it into the State of Delaware’s 2015-2020 Housing Needs Assessment.

The Delaware MVA classified census tracts (as opposed to the more usual MVA geography, census block groups) based on a reasonably typical set of MVA real estate market indicators and stands as the first statewide MVA completed by the Reinvestment Fund.

This document gives a brief overview of the ways that DSHA has integrated data from the MVA into major programs in homeownership, community development, and rental housing, and describes some of the adjustments we made along the way to meet the needs of different programs.

Evaluating Funding Proposals

One of the first ways we used the MVA was to determine eligible areas and evaluate proposals for first round funding available from the Strong Neighborhoods Housing Fund.

Funded by state revenue from mortgage settlements, the SNHF is intended to redevelop vacant and abandoned property in neighborhoods most impacted by the foreclosure crisis. Many of these neighborhoods were still facing severe distress. The first round of SNHF made $2.7 million available to four projects in FY2015.

The Fund was just allocated an additional $5.7 million in funds from subsequent settlements and will again use the MVA to prioritize projects and understand local conditions. We have also targeted these areas in the 2016 funding round for homeownership projects in the Housing Development Fund, Delaware’s housing trust fund.

Prioritizing Housing Development Investments

As the state’s Housing Finance Agency, DSHA also administers the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. In 2015, we expanded our use of the MVA to develop target geographies for the 2016 Qualified Allocation Plan.

Projects creating or preserving affordable rental housing in geographies that meet the state’s definition of Areas of Opportunity are prioritized. These geographies were made available in an interactive map with a reference guide explaining the underlying data.

Targeting Rental Assistance Programs

Most recently, DSHA announced increased payment standards in Areas of Opportunity for our tenant-based rental assistance programs.

DSHA administers over 900 Housing Choice Vouchers and over 700 state-funded vouchers via the State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP), which serves individuals with disabilities, youth exiting foster care, families for whom housing is a barrier to family reunification, and homeless families with students in school.

Under this new program, maximum rent payments will be increased by 10% in Areas of Opportunities. Increasing payments in Areas of Opportunity helps to further the department’s goal of encouraging rental housing opportunities and new development in areas that will alleviate the concentration of rental housing in distressed neighborhoods and provide working families with housing options in areas of high growth, near employment centers and quality schools.

For ease of use, Areas of Opportunity were rolled up to the ZIP code level and also made available in an online map.

Anas Ben Addi

Director, Delaware State Housing Authority

July 2016