December 21, 2022 | Volume 16, Issue 1
Warm wishes from RCAC!
As we close out 2022, I hope this message finds you well. For RCAC’s holiday message, we asked the RCAC community to submit a word or phrase that depicts what they most look forward to during this time of year. I wanted to share the resulting wordle as it really warms my heart. It reminds me that despite our differences, there are so many more similarities! I am also reminded that this time of year can be difficult for those who are grieving or going through other difficult times and my heart goes out to those struggling.
The highlight of the wordle is “family”. RCAC’s board approved a Rest and Reset holiday week between Christmas and New Years in 2023 and subsequent years and I am looking forward to spending quality time with mine during RCAC’s Rest and Reset week. I am grateful for the opportunity to unplug, rest and focus on being a full-time mom, wife and friend during those ten days.
Mutual Self-Help housing is a labor of love! That is the beauty and the challenge of the program, whether as a TA provider, a participating family and their support system or as one of the numerous community organization staff members who foster and shepherd any part of the MSH process. I would like to remind you to take care of YOU, particularly during this time. As joyous as it can be, it can also challenge our mental health. I close with a reminder to give yourself as much grace, if not more, than you give others.
Wishing you and yours joy and love in 2023!
RCAC Chief Executive Officer
Habitat for Humanity of Seattle-King & Kittitas Counties celebrates groundbreaking for two groups
By Donna Lea Brooks, RCAC RDS – Housing
Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King & Kittitas Counties (HFHSKK) kicked off its new U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA RD) Mutual Self-Help Housing (MSH) project with a groundbreaking celebration in Stewart Meadows, Ellensburg, Washington. Once complete, Stewart Meadows will provide affordable homeownership for 18 families, helping to address the need for sustainable homeownership opportunities for families that are priced out in Kittitas County, Washington. Read more
Demystifying the relationship between eAuth, eForms and SHARES
By Anne Baker, RCAC RDS – Housing
Is the relationship between eAuth, eForms and SHARES confusing? Do you often get them confused or wonder who you should contact if you are having difficulties? We’ve created a quick reference guide to break down the relationship between them, what each system is and who you should contact when you need assistance. Read more
- I’m fairly new to this program and I’ve heard about SHARES, but I have not used it yet. Can you tell me more about it? What is it for and how do I get access? Sincerely, What is SHARES
- Would it be possible to get a quick poll of your other grantees to find out what company they are using for their tri-merge reports? Our report costs have increased significantly in the last five years, and I’d like to check with some other companies. Sincerely, Where’s the credit
Save the date: eForms training for Self-Help Grantees
Join us Tuesday, February 21, 2023 from 12:00 -1:30 Pacific Time for an eForms training webinar. This will include how to initially set up and get started in eForms and we’ll have an experienced self-help packager who will lead us through submitting a Section 502 loan package in eForms for self-help with an opportunity for questions and answers. Registration information will be made available after the new year.
News You Can Use!
USDA issues Procedure Notices 571 and 572
Procedure Notice 571 makes changes to Chapter 3. Highlights are:
- To clarify regardless of which type of loan is being packaged, Section 523 grantees will follow the packaging guidance in Attachment 3-A related to pre-eligibility counseling, applicant disclosures, application submissions, and the use of eForms and to further clarify what fee is permissible.
- Section 523 TA grantees submitting an application involved in a rehabilitation project that uses Section 504 loan funding are also subject to this guidance.
- To clarify when an applicant indicates they wish to withdraw their application that has already been submitted to the Agency, the packager must obtain written confirmation from the applicant requesting the Agency withdraw their application or have the applicant contact the Agency directly. To clarify intermediaries and self-help grantees must submit the application package via eForms.
- Attachment 3-D, to clarify rural areas typically include open country and places with a population of 10,000 or less and, under certain conditions, towns and cities between 10,000 and 20,000 population.
Procedure Notice 572 updates Handbook-1-3550, Chapter 5. Changes include but are not limited to:
- Removal of the 2,000 maximum square feet general guidelines and associated waiver criteria. The limit on size is removed, however other factors that prevent “above” modest housing remain (e.g., loan limits, income limits, income producing structures/land etc.).
- Added clarification related to ineligibility of “tiny homes” when not “real property” built to Agency standards (i.e., no trailer chassis-built units).
- Added guidance regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU). Clarifying that ADUs which are independent structures with separate kitchen, bath, HVAC, utilities are not eligible, whereas similar design features are not restricted when they are part of the main dwelling, and they serve the members of the household (such as multigenerational households).
- Clarifies that environmental reviews should be performed prior to ordering appraisals, and potentially amended if the appraiser indicates observation of adverse site conditions and a site visit by Agency staff confirms and warrants revision.
- Paragraph 5.23 (C), clarifies required construction documents when a contract exceeds $10,000 for any single contractor
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