WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that rural agricultural producers and small business owners can now apply for resources to purchase and install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements. These efforts help farmers, ranchers and other small business owners save money on their energy bills, reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, support America's clean energy economy, and cut carbon pollution. These resources are made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill.
"Developing renewable energy presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America," Vilsack said. "The funding we are making available will help farmers, ranchers, business owners, tribal organizations and other entities incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology into their operations. Doing so can help a business reduce energy use and costs while improving its bottom line. While saving producers money and creating jobs, these investments reduce dependence on foreign oil and cut carbon pollution as well."
USDA is making more than $280 million available to eligible applicants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Application deadlines vary by project type and the type of assistance requested.
USDA is offering grants for up to 25 percent of total project costs and loan guarantees for up to 75 percent of total project costs for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. The REAP application window has been expanded. USDA will now accept and review loan and grant applications year-round.
Eligible renewable energy projects must incorporate commercially available technology. This includes renewable energy from wind, solar, ocean, small hydropower, hydrogen, geothermal and renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters). The maximum grant amount is $500,000, and the maximum loan amount is $25 million per applicant.
Energy efficiency improvement projects eligible for REAP funding include lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, fans, automated controls and insulation upgrades that reduce energy consumption. The maximum grant amount is $250,000, and the maximum loan amount is $25 million per applicant.
USDA is offering a second type of grant to support organizations that help farmers, ranchers and small businesses conduct energy audits and operate renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants include: units of state, tribal or local governments; colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning; rural electric cooperatives and public power entities, and conservation and development districts. The maximum grant is $100,000.
The REAP program was created in the 2002 Farm Bill. Because of the success of the program, Congress reauthorized it in the 2014 Farm Bill with guaranteed funding of no less than $50 million in annual funding for the duration of the 5 year bill. The 2014 Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.
Since 2009, USDA has awarded $545 million for more than 8,800 REAP projects nationwide. This includes $361 million in REAP grants and loans for more than 2,900 renewable energy systems. When fully operational, these systems are expected to generate more than 6 billion kilowatt hours annually – enough to power more than 5.5 million homes for a year.
In 2013, owners of the Ideal Dairy restaurant in Richfield, Utah, used REAP funding to install 80 solar modules and two 10-kilowatt inverters, which convert energy from solar panels to electricity. The owners have saved, on average, $400 per month. These savings have helped them preserve their restaurant and livelihood.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.
WASHINGTON–The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced today that the Impact Investment Fund of the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program has tripled in the last 12 months.
“Capital investment in some sectors, geographies and industries is still lower than you would expect and like. Through the Impact Investment Fund, we’ve sent a message to professional fund managers with expertise in areas like clean energy, education technology, and advanced manufacturing as well as those looking for 'off the beaten path' gems in low income or economic distressed communities across the country. SBICs as a whole, fill capital formation gaps at the low end of the middle market, the Impact Fund, puts a magnifying glass where the gaps are widest," said SBA Associate Administrator for Investment and Innovation Javier Saade.
The SBA began 2014 with two Impact SBICs managing $182 million and ended the year with six Impact SBICs collectively managing between $442 million and $572 million in total assets depending on the amount of credit guarantees approved and employed. Given the SBIC Impact Investment Fund is still well below the originally expected $1 billion leverage level, there is room to further grow the list of professional investors interested in pursuing impact strategies.
Three of the six Impact SBICs have not deployed capital. The other three have invested in 33 companies across the country and collectively employ approximately 4,600 people. These companies include an organic cage-free poultry operation in Texas, a wood waste-to-pellet fuel concern in Michigan and an educational institution in an urban low-income community in Puerto Rico.
One of the policy changes made was seemingly simple but equally meaningful – the Impact Investing Initiative became the Impact Investment Fund, making it a permanent feature of the SBIC Program. The Fund uses the rapidly evolving strategies that involve marrying financial gains and intentional social returns to narrow gaps.
Initially, SBIC’s were limited to SBA-identified impact investments, but now because of the flexibility of the Impact Investment Fund, participating funds can identify and pursue their own strategies. In addition to the expansion of this fund, SBA removed several key barriers that prevented access to it by:
- Lifting the $200 million restriction to offer licensed Impact SBICs better access to leverage;
- Removing the waiting period in accessing multiple leverage commitments; and
- Permitting existing SBICs to opt-in if they meet the Impact Fund requirements.
The reasons for the relatively slow deployment of impact investing strategies at the institutional level are varied and complex, but one of the main reasons, is the adoption of standards to measure intentional social impact has been spotty. The SBA and the federal government, supports the adoption of standards to further enable more institutional private capital flow to the small business community.
Information on the fund and the policy can be found here. The changes were made based on feedback from a significant number of private sector stakeholders and were consistent with themes the SBA heard from impact investors the White House roundtable on Impact Investing that was held this past summer. The comments align with the recommendations of the US National Advisory Board on Impact Investing released this summer and with the findings of the G8 Task Force on Social Impact Investing, Impact Investment: The Invisible Heart of Markets.
The six Impact SBICs are:
|2011||Michigan Growth Capital Partners SBIC, LP|
|2012||SJF Ventures III, LP|
|2014||Bridges Ventures U.S. Sustainable Growth Fund, LP|
|2014||Morgan Stanley Impact Fund|
|2014||Bluehenge Secured Debt SBIC, LP|
|2014*||Renovus Capital Partners, LP|
HUD-VASH vouchers in Indian Country will build on national effort to end Veteran homelessness
WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that the HUD and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) program that helps homeless veterans find permanent supportive housing will, for the first time, expand directly into Native American communities. This support for veterans is provided through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program which combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by VA.
The HUD-VASH program will now be opened to tribes so they may directly serve Native American veterans living on or near tribal lands. To expand the HUD-VASH program, $4 million will be invested specifically to support Native American veterans experiencing homelessness by providing them with secure housing and connecting them with clinical services and case management. This groundbreaking new effort will expand opportunity for approximately 650 veterans who are currently homeless or at risk of homelessness.
“Ensuring that our men and women who served in uniform receive the care and support they’ve earned is a national responsibility,” said HUD SecretaryJulián Castro. “But for too long, fulfilling that responsibility to many Native American veterans has been borne by Indian Country alone. We’re changing that this year.”
Expanding the HUD-VASH program will inform and improve how HUD serves Native American veterans, as well as further the goals of ending homelessness in tribal communities more broadly. While there is a need for the program in Indian Country, HUD is calling on both national and regional Native American leaders, associations and communities to offer insight into the design of the expansion, including ways that tribes estimate homelessness, what criteria HUD should establish in allocating funding, what medical providers are offering care to veterans, and how HUD can target program assistance in ways that encourage the creation of new housing.
To expedite the program expansion, HUD has requested tribal responses through its Office of Native American Programs within 30 days rather than the traditional 60 day comment period.
In addition, six of HUD’s Regional Field Offices will host public listening sessions with Native American communities in their areas. Those who can attend sessions are encouraged to do so.
As HUD celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Secretary Castro is focused on advancing policies that create opportunities for all Americans, including the broader Administration goal of ending homelessness among veterans. HUD-VASH is an important part of that effort to provide critical housing and services to veterans experiencing homelessness that also includes HUD’s Continuum of Care program, VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF), and the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.
Since the release of Opening Doors, the nation’s first ever Federal strategicplan to prevent and end homelessness, all forms of homelessness have declined significantly, particularly among veterans.In November 2014, HUD, VA and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) released a national estimate of veteran homelessness in the United States which showed a decline of 33 percent (or 24,837 people) since 2010. This includes a nearly 40 percent drop in the number of unsheltered veterans sleeping on the street.
Since 2008, HUD and VA have awarded almost 70,000 HUD-VASH vouchers and served more than 82,000 veterans experiencing homelessness. Rental assistance and support services provided through HUD-VASH are a critical resource for local communities in ending homelessness among veterans.
In the traditional HUD-VASH program, VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) assess veterans experiencing homelessness before referring them to local housing agencies for these vouchers. Decisions are traditionally based on a variety of factors, most importantly the duration of homelessness and the need for longer term, more intensive support in obtaining and maintaining permanent housing. The HUD-VASH program includes both the rental assistance the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that VAMC staff offers.
Veterans participating in the traditional HUD-VASH program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. VA offers eligible veterans experiencing homelessness with clinical and supportive services through its medical centers across the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico.
MCLEAN, VA--- Freddie Mac announced today that it had another strong year with $28.3 billion in loan purchase and bond guarantee volume for its multifamily business in 2014, up 10 percent from $25.9 billion the previous year. This was the second largest year of multifamily purchases in the company's history.
New business volume reflects $25.8 billion of our $25.9 billion purchase cap for 2014 established by Freddie Mac's conservator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). In addition, new business volume not subject to the FHFA purchase cap totaled $2.5 billion and included certain affordable housing loans, loans for smaller multifamily properties, and loans for manufactured housing communities.
Quotes from David Brickman, executive vice president of Freddie Mac Multifamily:
- "We used 99.9 percent of our $25.9 billion volume cap for 2014 mortgage purchases by expanding our market presence and improving our market position as a leading multifamily debt capital provider in the U.S."
- "We are on a roll and growing by serving more markets including manufactured housing communities and smaller apartment communities. Our financing also increased for class B&C properties, as well as for those in secondary and tertiary markets due to rising demand for rental housing throughout the U.S."
- "We expect to have another year of double digit percent growth in our new business volume given that our volume cap for 2015 has been increased by 16 percent to $30 billion and we expect to increase our activity in uncapped products, particularly small property loans."
Freddie Mac Multifamily 2014 Business Highlights:
- Generated nearly $1.2 billion in total comprehensive income through the first three quarters.(Fourth quarter 2014 earnings data has not yet been released).
- Executed 21 Multifamily securities offerings in 2014 for a total transactions volume of $22.4 billion which, in addition to K-Deals, included a small volume of other securities, including the company's Q- and M-Deals.
- Issued $21.3 billion in K-Deals in 2014 and securitized almost $93 billion in multifamily loans since the program started in 2009, backing approximately $79 billion in guaranteed certificates and almost $14 billion in unguaranteed certificates.
- Settled roughly $2.7 billion in targeted affordable housing business of which approximately $1.4 billion were multifamily bond credit enhancements and Tax-Exempt Bond Securitizations (TEBS).
- Purchased just over $1.2 billion in seniors housing mortgages.
- Transacted close to $1.3 billion in student housing loans.
- Continued to provide a consistent source of liquidity to support affordable rental housing nationwide. Approximately 90 percent of the apartment units Freddie Mac finances are affordable to households earning up to the area median income, and most of those loans are securitized.
- Provided financing for nearly 1,800 properties amounting to almost 427,000 apartment units, of which the majority are affordable to families earning low or moderate incomes.
- Provided additional liquidity to more underserved markets by launching new initiatives to provide financing for Small Balance Loans and Manufactured Housing Community loans.
- Reported a low delinquency rate of 4 basis points as of December 31, 2014, reflecting our continued strong portfolio performance.
Click here to read the 2013 business volume press release.
Since the launch of Freddie Mac's multifamily business in 1993, it has provided more than $344 billion in financing for about 63,000 multifamily properties.
Freddie Mac was established by Congress in 1970 to provide liquidity, stability and affordability to the nation's residential mortgage markets. Freddie Mac supports communities across the nation by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Today Freddie Mac is making home possible for one in four home borrowers and is one of the largest sources of financing for multifamily housing.