On June 20 NAR participated in a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Policy Development & Research Stakeholder "HUDdle" on Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs). HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who is Chair of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, gave the opening remarks, and he highlighted the goal of the program to draw long-term investment, jobs, and economic growth to the distressed communities designated as QOZs. He shared that the Council has identified 160 programs across more than a dozen federal agencies to increase targting to QOZs, such as fee reductions and grant programs. In addition, he shared that the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) under HUD has created new incentives for multifamily property owners to invest in QOZs, including waiving application fees and creating a team of experienced underwriters dedicated to working with QOZ investors to speed the process along.
Following Secretary Carson's remarks was a panel of QOZ and community development experts from several organizations: Novogradac, the Economic Innovation Group, the Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development, the U.S. Impact Investing ALliance, and the George Washington University. Their remarks highlighted the optimism there is surrounding this new program and the potential it holds to improve communities. They cautioned however that in order for QOZs to be truly successful, there needs to be thoughtful planning around investments and what types of developments are being pursued, in order to lift up the communities without displacing current residents. To that end, they recommended that local governments and community groups work together to create plans and recommendations for QOZ investments, and possibly come up with further incentives for them. They also pointed out the need for data reporting requirements, in order to track how much money is being invested, where it's going, and what type of projects it is financing, as well as how many jobs are created and what the impact is on residents. To that end, the Treasury Department and HUD have both requested feedback on data reporting requirements for QOZ investors.
Rules for the QOZ program have not been finalized by the Treasury Department yet, but proposed rules - released in October 2018 and April 2019 - are in effect, so the program is officially open for participation.
For more information, visit the Qualified Opportunity Zones topic page.
Learn more about HUD's FHA incentives for Qualified Opportunity Zones.