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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Competition for Sustainable Urban Housing Solutions

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of State, in partnership with Ashoka’s Changemakers (the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs) and the American Planning Association, have launched an online competition to find creative solutions to integrate and develop affordable, inclusive and sustainable urban housing. The submission deadline is February 11, 2011.

The competition, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, seeks innovative products, policies and strategies that mobilize community resources and the ingenuity of designers, planners, environmentalists, developers, bankers, engineers, and civic and government leaders. The winners will promote collaboration by connecting key institutions and a broad network of entrepreneurial problem solvers and strengthening community engagement while simultaneously respecting the environment, local cultures and practices. The top three entries will win $10,000 each; competitive entrants will be viewed by public and private partners, including prospective funders, at a showcase event in June 2011. Submit your solutions—or nominate a project—on today!

New Site Focuses on Rule-Making for Dodd-Frank Act

Community developers and leaders can keep track of and comment on the rules being written to implement the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 at More than 200 regulatory reform rules are expected to be written, affecting numerous regulatory agencies. The web site is updated as new rules are proposed and move their way through the rule-making process.

Board Releases Information on Student Credit Cards

The Federal Reserve Board has released a report containing payment and account information about more than 1,000 agreements between credit card issuers and institutions of higher education or affiliated organizations (e.g., alumni organizations) that provide credit cards to students. Information includes the number of accounts opened, payments made, and the largest agreements in place. The report is available online at

The Board also launched an online database ( where users can access additional information about these agreements, including complete text, view information submitted by card issuers, and search for individual agreements using various criteria.

Truly Independent Real Estate Appraisals

An interim final rule meant to ensure that professional real estate appraisers remain independent as they assign home values was announced by the Federal Reserve Board. The rule aims to eliminate influence or pressure from those with interests in these transactions, protecting the integrity of the appraisal process as consumers secure home loans. The rule is required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act; compliance will be mandatory on April 1, 2011. Among other provisions, the rule:

  • prohibits coercion and other similar actions designed to cause appraisers to base the appraised value of properties on factors other than their independent judgment;
  • prohibits appraisers and appraisal management companies hired by lenders from having financial or other interests in the properties or the credit transactions; and
  • prohibits creditors from extending credit based on appraisals if they know beforehand of violations involving appraiser coercion or conflicts of interest, unless the creditors determine that the values of the properties are not materially misstated.

To read the interim rule, go to

The CRA Meets Higher Education

The federal banking and thrift regulatory agencies announced a final CRA rule to implement a provision of the Higher Education Opportunity Act. It requires the agencies to consider low-cost loans for higher education to low-income borrowers as a positive factor in their consideration of the financial institution’s record of meeting community credit needs under the CRA.

The rule also incorporates a CRA statutory provision that allows agencies to consider a financial institution’s capital investment, loan participation, and other ventures with minority-owned financial institutions, women-owned institutions and low-income credit unions as factors in assessing the institution’s CRA record.

The final rule was issued jointly by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Office of Thrift Supervision, and is available at