Healthy Homes

HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims unveiled HUD’s new Healthy Homes Strategic Plan, a blueprint for housing reform to keep homes dry, clean, well-ventilated, pest- and contaminant-free, and safe. The document emphasizes protecting the health of children in low-income households through improved construction practices and home safety precautions. In 2007, asthma took a toll on the U.S. economy, representing $19.7 billion in direct medical costs and indirect costs associated with lost work and school days, according to estimates by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Additionally, one in five cases of asthma are linked to mold and moisture in the home. —Jenny Sullivan

Troubled Times

Large, aggressively underwritten loans are increasingly going south, and declining fundamentals for the multifamily industry mean that CMBS delinquencies are accelerating as the year goes on. Overall, the multifamily sector has the highest 30-day delinquency rate (5.4 percent as of July 1) of all property types, according to New York-based Trepp. A year ago, that figure was just 1.76 percent. There are various reasons for this, but the main culprit is some incredibly large loans that recently took a turn for the worse, skewing the numbers. First, there’s the New York effect, as several large CMBS repositioning deals have failed, including The Riverton and a $192 million pool for 36 properties called the Upper Broadway Portfolio, which is now on the verge of default. Other large delinquencies include a 51-building multifamily portfolio in San Francisco from The Lembi Group and The Bethany Group’s Houston and Austin portfolios. To stop history from repeating itself, the Treasury Department is reportedly working on new regulations for conduit lenders. —Jerry Ascierto.

Call for Change

HUD’s oversight processes should focus more on identifying potential inappropriate use of mismanagement of public housing funds, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO analyzed financial data on about 3,300 housing agencies and found that many housing agencies showed signs of being at risk of misusing public housing funds. From 2002 to 2006, 200 housing agencies had written checks for more than the funds available in their bank accounts on average of $25,000 or more. However, 75 percent of these agencies received passing Public Housing Assessment System scores. —Donna Kimura

Vantage Point

Business people joining hands together for deal
George Doyle Business people joining hands together for deal

Notable fee management companies that have made key acquisitions or entered new markets in 2009—including Charleston, S.C.-based Greystar Real Estate Partners; Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Laramar Group; McLean, Va.-based Kettler; and Irvine, Calif.-based Western National Group—are finding the obvious economies of scale that come with acquisitive fee management expansion. But the companies also are gaining an additional edge: strategic visibility into markets and submarkets for the eventual purchase of hard real estate assets and portfolios. “It is tough to just parachute into a market and buy anything more than a one-off transaction without having someone physically there,” says Western National CEO Tom Shelton. “Anytime that you have operations on the ground—and I mean real day-to-day operational expertise—it certainly helps when you go to underwrite acquisition deals. You just have a better ability to understand the fundamentals better.” —Chris Wood