February 25, 2013. The Housing Commission of the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) today released its much anticipated report entitled Housing America’s Future: A New Direction for a National Policy. In addition to major recommendations on mortgage finance reform, homeownership, rental housing, and demographic drivers, the BPC’s report devoted substantial attention to rural housing issues and priorities. Championed largely by Commission Co-Chair Kit Bond, former U.S. Senator and Governor from Missouri, the report presents four major recommendations on rural housing:
1. Support and strengthen USDA’s role in rural housing. The report specifically states that Congress should not pursue proposals to shift USDA programs to other government agencies where they will be absorbed by other federal programs, noting that USDA is well-positioned to leverage the existing resources and infrastructure of rural service providers that understand the unique conditions of local markets.
2. Extend the current definition of rural areas through the year 2020. Any area currently classified as rural for the purposes of USDA housing programs should remain so at least until after the receipt of data from the decennial census in 2020, provided the area’s population does not exceed 25,000.
3. Increase budget allocations to serve more households. The report states that additional funding for the Section 502 Direct Loan program would enable more rural households to become homeowners at relatively low cost to the federal government.
4. Dedicate resources for capacity-building and technology to strengthen USDA providers. The BPC recommends that local agencies receiving USDA funds should be incentivized to operate on compatible software to ease data and information sharing. These improvements could help USDA monitor and improve the performance of its rural housing programs.
Read the Rural Housing chapter of the report at:
Download the full BPC report at:
Founded in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is a non-profit organization that drives principled solutions through rigorous analysis, reasoned negotiation and respectful dialogue. With projects in multiple issue areas, BPC combines politically balanced policymaking with strong, proactive advocacy and outreach.