By Stanley Keasling, RCAC chief executive officer

Well, the Grinch did not steal Christmas this year. In spite of the President throwing down the gauntlet on immigration, the House and Senate moved ahead with a full year Omnibus Appropriations Bill, except for the Department of Homeland Security. The bill includes $27.5 million for self-help housing, which is a 10 percent increase over last year. In addition, there is $900 million in 502 direct lending available for the year. It took a significant increase in appropriations to keep the 502 direct loan levels, but our friends in both houses prevailed. (It helps that Congressman Rogers, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, is a big fan of the self-help housing program at Kentucky Highlands.)

Rural Development has removed the constraint that limited reapplications to 90 percent of their previous amount, and Rural Development is allowing grantees who were funded at the 90 percent level to modify their grants and request the additional 10 percent.

Finally, and this just happened on Thursday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency director Mel Watt directed Fannie and Freddie to start making payments into the Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund. It is estimated that these payments could total several hundred million dollars each year. Although payments are to start immediately, the actual funds will most likely not be available until next fiscal year or early 2016.

Happy Holidays,