Posted by Bill Osborne

Mr. Scott Spivey, Executive Director of Mississippi Home Corporation (MHC), spoke to the Rotary Club of North Jackson at the club’s July 14, 2020, meeting. Mr. Spivey joined MHC fresh out of Belhaven College in 1998 with a BA in English. While at MHC, Spivey earned an MA in English at Mississippi College. The subjects of Spivey’s talk were MHC and affordable housing. 

Spivey said that housing is both economic development and a social stabilizer and that politically, he is neither a Democrat nor a Republican, but is a member of the Housing Party.

MHC's mission is to enhance Mississippi 's long-term economic viability by financing safe, decent, affordable housing and helping working families build wealth. In keeping with its mission, MHC has developed various programs for groups such as homebuyers, realtors, lenders, developers, property managers, and a special program for renters adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This rental assistance program is known by the acronym RAMP (Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program).

Per the MHC website, ‘There is no question that the need for affordable housing in Mississippi is tremendous. The state of Mississippi is constantly working to increase the quality and affordability of the housing stock available to low- and moderate-income Mississippians. The Mississippi Home Corporation (MHC) was created by the Mississippi Home Corporation act of 1989 to address these housing needs. MHC plays a critical role in these efforts working with the Governor, the Mississippi Legislature, the U.S. Congressional delegation, and others in the affordable housing industry to develop private and public partnerships throughout the state and nation to increase the awareness of Mississippi’s desperate need for affordable housing.”.

Looking to the immediate future, there are challenges and opportunities. The challenges are primarily due to the job losses due to COVID-19 and the pending expiration of the extended unemployment payments created by the CARES Act of 2020 at the end of July. The loss of the unemployment payments is expected to result in a massive number of evictions which will mean that landlords will lose rent payments reducing their ability to make mortgage payments and ultimately lose their properties reducing the rental stock available to low and moderate-income people.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20 million Americans lost their jobs in March 2020 causing the employment rate to jump from about 4% in February to nearly 17% at the end of March. Spivey said that full employment is not expected to return until 2024. New spikes in the unemployment rate are expected at the end of July 2020 and later in the year if Congress can not agree on additional stimulus programs.

Spivey said that homeownership in Mississippi generally runs 7-10% above the rate in the US, but that these rates have been in steady decline due to a decline in family formation units and the difficulty in accruing down payment funds. MHC has programs to provide down payment assistance to moderate- and low-income first-time homebuyers. These assistance programs are threatened by rules by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Interestingly, Spivey said that 25% of first-time homebuyers get down payment assistance from family and friends and 15% get their assistance from government programs.

Discussing the real estate market, Spivey said that record low-interest rates of around 2.5% on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. He further said that demand is outpacing supply so there is a need for new housing units. 

We thank Spivey for his presentation and for his service to Mississippi and Mississippians. The following photo is from MHC.