HAC News: October 14, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 21

TOP STORIES

Some funding needs get short-term solutions in Congress, others still pending.

A continuing resolution funds the federal government through December 3 and provides new disaster recovery funds. The debt limit has also been extended into early December. As negotiations continue in Congress to reduce the cost of the budget reconciliation bill, H.R. 5376, HAC has issued a statement supporting the proposed rural housing and development resources.

Torres Small confirmed for USDA post, first state directors named.

The Senate confirmed Xochitl Torres Small on October 8 to serve as USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development. On October 12 the White House and USDA announced that Rural Development State Directors have been appointed for Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Chopra starts work at CFPB; hearings held for HUD nominees.

Rohit Chopra took office as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on October 12, having been confirmed by the Senate on September 30. Three HUD assistant secretary nominees received tie votes in the Senate Banking Committee on October 5, delaying their confirmations. They include David Uejio, who has been acting director of the CFPB and is nominated to be Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, as well as Julia R. Gordon for Housing/FHA and Solomon J. Greene for Policy Development and Research. The Banking Committee held hearings October 7 on additional HUD nominations but has not voted on those yet.

Register now for 2021 Virtual HAC National Rural Housing Conference!

HAC invites you to join us virtually on November 30-December 3! This year’s conference features more than 30 workshops, where participants will interact and engage around best practices for rural housing and community development, organizational management, and resource development. The Conference also includes a pre-conference day with gatherings for coalitions, associations, and working groups. Register by October 21 for the best rates. For more information, contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

RuralSTAT

There were 12,400 reported deaths associated with COVID-19 in rural communities in September, a 142% increase over deaths in August. Source: HAC tabulations of public health data from the New York Times. A Rural Research Note on COVID-19 in Rural America: October 6, 2021 is available here.

OPPORTUNITIES

USDA posts instructions for strategic community plan setasides.

In FY22, projects that support multi-jurisdictional and multi-sectoral strategic community investment plans will be eligible for setaside funds in certain RD programs: Community Facility Loans, Grants, and Guaranteed Loans; Water and Waste Disposal Guaranteed Loans; Water and Waste Loans and Grants; Rural Business Development Grants; and Community Connect Grants. To apply for the Strategic Economic and Community Development Program setaside, submit a form with the application to the relevant program. For more information, contact an RD state office.

NEW! HAC seeks Housing Specialist and Community Facilities Housing Specialist.

  • The Housing Specialist is primarily based in either the Southwest or Western states (within two hours of a major airport) and works with local partner organizations to identify financial resources and funding opportunities to support the preservation and development of affordable housing and community and economic development strategies specifically throughout expanses of Southwest and/or Western rural America. This position is remote location eligible.
  • The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This is a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

FEMA asks for input on floodplain management.

FEMA requests public views on revising the National Flood Insurance Program’s floodplain management standards, including what standards communities should adopt to become safer, stronger, and more resilient. Comments are due December 13. For more information, contact Rachel Sears, FEMA, 202-646-4105.

HUD to require eviction protections for assisted tenants.

During emergencies, including the current coronavirus pandemic, a new interim final rule will require owners of HUD-assisted properties to notify tenants about emergency rent relief and to wait 30 days between notification and eviction. The provisions will apply to public housing and properties with project-based rental assistance (Section 8, Section 8 Mod Rehab, Section 202, Section 811, and Section 236). The rule takes effect on November 8 and comments are due that day. For more information on public or Indian housing, email HUD staff at PIH-COVID@hud.gov; on other multifamily programs, email mfcommunications@hud.gov.

Details released on Emergency Rental Assistance reallocation.

Guidance issued October 4 by the Treasury Department explains how unspent funds from the first round of Emergency Rental Assistance (under the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act) will be reallocated. Treasury will examine the programs, plans, and needs of states and localities that did not obligate at least 65% of their ERA1 funds by September 30 to determine what funds to reallocate. Data to identify those places is not yet available. Grantees that did meet the 65% threshold can request funds be reallocated to them. Treasury will not recapture funds from Indian Tribes, tribally designated housing entities, or U.S. territories prior to April 2022.

VA loan deferment option extended.

Servicers of Department of Veterans Affairs mortgages may continue offering loan deferment as a coronavirus-related home retention option, the VA has announced. Other relief options also remain available into 2023. For more information, contact a VA lender or VA loan staff, 1-877-827-3702.

USDA announces 1-800 number for rental housing.

USDA now offers a toll-free phone number for stakeholders, tenants, and the general public to obtain information about the department’s multifamily housing programs: 1-800-292-8293. The multifamily office’s website has also been updated to make staff contact information easy to find.

Area loan limits revised for Section 502 direct and 504 in some places.

A USDA Rural Development email bulletin summarizes the changes.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

USDA obligations fell in FY21 for most housing programs.

HAC’s preliminary annual analysis found that overall dollar levels for the USDA rural housing programs’ FY21 loan and grant obligations were about 1.4% lower than FY 20 and the number of obligations was down about 8.3%. The Section 502 direct program used $1.0 billion for 5,355 loans, nearly the same dollar amount but fewer loans than last year. About 36% of Section 502 loan dollars obligated and over 43% of loans were for very low-income applicants. Obligations for the Section 502 guarantee program and the multifamily programs were also generally lower than last year, and fewer Section 542 vouchers were issued. There were more Section 521 Rental Assistance units this year, supported by American Rescue Plan funds. HAC will publish a more detailed FY21 report.

Crisis models address family homelessness.

Immediate and Flexible Crisis Options for Children and Families, a brief and two videos released by the Framework for an Equitable COVID-19 Homelessness Response, focus on crisis options for homeless families, paired with strong housing exits. One case study is rural and the Framework says other models can be replicated, adapted, and scaled up or down as needed.

Much Hispanic wealth is in residential property.

The 2021 State of Hispanic Wealth Report from the Hispanic Wealth Project shows that Hispanics may be on track to achieve wealth goals the project set for 2024. Their wealth is not well diversified, however, with residential property values (both their own homes and investment properties) making up 52% of Latino assets. The pandemic has impacted the stability of these assets: as of March 2021, Latino home loan borrowers were 2.3 times more likely to be in forbearance and 1.5 times more likely to be delinquent on mortgage payments than non-Hispanic white borrowers.

Equity considered in two webinars.

“Worst case” rental housing needs changed little from 2017 to 2019.

Only 62 affordable rental units were available for every 100 very low-income renters in 2019, according to HUD’s Worst Case Housing Needs: 2021 Report to Congress. Data is not yet available on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and economic recession that began in 2020. Households with worst case needs are defined as renters with very low incomes (at or below 50% of area median income) who do not receive government housing assistance and pay more than half their income for rent, live in severely inadequate conditions, or both. In 2019 there were 7.77 million such renter households in the U.S., 42.2% of all very low-income renters. About 74% of worst case renters in 2019 had extremely low incomes (at or below 30% of area median), the highest proportion since 2005.

38% of Black rural southerners lack home internet access.

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies conducted research on Affordability and Availability: Expanding Broadband in the Black Rural South across 152 rural counties in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The research found that 38% of rural Black southerners lack home internet access, and one in four do not have broadband options available around their homes.

Flooding risk assessed for every county.

The 3rd National Risk Assessment: Infrastructure on the Brink, published by the First Street Foundation, identifies flood risks to homes, roads, businesses, and other infrastructure. Risk is increasing significantly along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, with large increases in the Northwest and a concentration in the Appalachian Mountain region. Seventeen of the top 20 most at-risk counties in the U.S. are in Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, and West Virginia.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

Rural COVID Cases are Starting to Decline, but the Delta Variant Hit Rural Communities Particularly Hard

The Housing Assistance Council presents updated data on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on rural communities.

As of September 30, there have been more than 6.5 million reported cases of COVID-19 and approximately 114,163 associated deaths in communities outside metropolitan areas. During September, communities outside of metropolitan areas reported more than 870,000 new cases – a 24 percent increase over the month of August. Since the onset of the Delta variant this summer, death rates have been substantially higher in rural places than in metro areas.

USDA Obligations FY 2021 Featured Image

USDA Rural Development Obligations FY 21 – September

USDA Rural Development Obligations Report Cover - FY 2021

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents this month’s report on Fiscal Year 2021 USDA Rural Housing program obligations.

As of the end of September, USDA obligated 139,227 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling about $24.2 billion, $354.0 million more than last year. At the end of last year, the agency obligated 151,876 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling $24.5 billion.

Single Family Housing Program Highlights

The Section 502 Guaranteed loan program, the largest of the Single Family Housing programs, obligated $22.7 billion (127,389 loan guarantees) compared to $23.0 billion (137,970 loan guarantees) last year.

For the Section 502 Direct program, loan obligations totaled $1.0 billion (5,355 loans), nearly the same dollar amount as last year’s obligation level of $1.0 billion but fewer loans (5,821 loans.) About 36 percent of the loan dollars went to Very Low-income (VLI) applicants. VLI loans represented over 43 percent of the total number of Section 502 Direct loans.

The Section 504 Repair and Rehabilitation programs obligated 2,289 loans representing $14.8 million less than last year (2,739 loans representing $16.6 million.) There were also about $24.6 million (3,709 grants) obligated in the Section 504 grant program compared to $31.5 million (4,842 grants) last year.

USDA’s Section 523 Self Help Housing Grant program funded 51 grants and contracts totaling $31.8 million a bit less than last year’s 55 grants and contracts totaling $32.8 million.

Multi-Family Housing Program Highlights

USDA’s Section 538 Multifamily Housing program obligated 96 loan guarantees totaling $229.9 million compared to last year’s 150 loan guarantees ($228.5 million.) The agency funded 44 Section 515 Rural Rental Housing loans totaling $37.4 million compared to 40 loans ($40.0 million) last year. There have been 142 loans and 5 grants obligated in the MPR program totaling $89.2 million and $251,778 this year compared to 80 loans and 3 grants representing $57.1 million and $988,734, respectively last year.

The Farm Labor Housing program funded 2 loans and 1 grant have been funded representing $3.1 million and $1.6 million respectively compared to 15 loans and 7 grants ($20.1 million and $8.9 million) last year.

USDA also funded 283,781 units under the Section 521 Rental Assistance program totaling $1.5 billion compared to about 241,208 units ($1.4 billion) last year. There were also 7,261 Rural Housing Vouchers totaling $34.6 million compared to last year’s 7,489 vouchers representing $34.5 million.

Download the combined document.

* The Rural Housing Service (RHS) monthly obligation reports are produced by the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) 1025 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 606, Washington, DC 20005. The monthly figures derive from HAC tabulations of USDA –RHS 205c, d, and f report data. For questions or comments about the obligation reports, please contact Michael Feinberg at 202-842-8600 or michael@ruralhome.org.

HAC News: September 30, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 20

TOP STORIES

Funding for early FY22 likely to pass on Sept. 30.

Congress is expected to pass a continuing resolution on September 30 to keep the government open until December 3, holding programs at their FY21 funding levels. Regular appropriations bills, including those for USDA and HUD, remain in limbo. Three other major legislative efforts are also ongoing: the increase in the U.S. debt limit; the bipartisan infrastructure bill (H.R. 3684); and the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that covers social programs including housing (H.R. 5376).

Agencies extend program flexibilities.

Some federal housing programs’ pandemic-related flexibilities were set to expire on September 30 but have been extended.

Treasury begins process to reallocate unspent Emergency Rental Assistance.

The Treasury Department has released a general description of its approach to reallocating some Emergency Rental Assistance funds from states and local governments that have not spent them to others with stronger distribution records. A September 24 letter to ERA grantees says Treasury is developing detailed guidance to govern its determinations about what funds will be moved and where they will go. It promises consultation with tribes and U.S. territories before reallocating any of their funds. Distribution of ERA funds has increased every month, but a large portion of the total has not yet been spent.

National homelessness partnership launched.

HUD and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness are inviting mayors, city and county leaders, tribal nation leaders, and governors to work with them in House America: An All-Hands-on-Deck Effort to Address the Nation’s Homelessness Crisis, using American Rescue Plan funding to address homelessness through a Housing First approach.

Comptroller of the Currency nominee announced.

President Biden has nominated Saule Omarova, a Cornell University professor, to serve as Comptroller of the Currency.

House committee supports NAHASDA reauthorization.

On September 15 the House Financial Services Committee reported out H.R. 5195, which would reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act. The bill must be passed by the full House next.

Registration for virtual National Rural Housing Conference coming soon.

HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference is scheduled to take place virtually on November 30-December 3, 2021. With an exciting and full schedule of workshops and new virtual gathering spaces, the conference offers attendees a premier opportunity to learn from experts and connect with the entire affordable housing industry. Be on the lookout for a registration announcement. We look forward to connecting with you this December!

RuralSTAT

From 2010 to 2020 the rural Hispanic population increased by roughly 1 million people, or 19.7%. Source: HAC tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 Census of Population and Housing and 2020 P.L. 94-171 Redistricting Data. A Rural Research Brief on race and ethnicity is available  here.

OPPORTUNITIES

Webinar to explore improving racial equity in rural places.

Shared Prosperity: Driving Change Towards an Equitable Rural Economy, to be held October 13, will explore the positive economic and social potential that comes with improving racial equity in rural places. This is the latest in the Rural Opportunity and Development (ROAD) Sessions, virtual exchanges co-designed and hosted by the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, HAC, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Rural LISC, and the Federal Reserve Board.

Recordings of recent webinars available.

The recording and materials from HAC’s September 28 webinar titled “Build Smart” Webinar Series Part 2: ‘Scaling Down’ to Address Rising Costs are now posted online. A recording of the Citizens’ Institute for Rural Design’s September 15 webinar, Models and Practices for Meaningful Community Engagement, has also been posted.

HAC seeks Community Facilities Housing Specialist.

The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This is a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

USDA invites nominations for new Equity Commission.

USDA is creating an Equity Commission to advise the Secretary of Agriculture by facilitating identification of critical USDA programs, policies, systems, structures, and practices that contribute to barriers to inclusion or access, systemic discrimination, or exacerbate or perpetuate racial, economic, health and social disparities. Nominations for committee membership are due October 27. For more information, contact Dewayne L. Goldmon, USDA 202-997-2100.

Guidance on HUD-VASH vouchers updated.

HUD has updated its policies and procedures for the administration of HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Section 8 vouchers. The changes add designated service providers to the definition of VA medical centers and provide new waivers and program flexibilities as well as additional general guidance. For more information, contact Ryan Jones, HUD, 202-708-0477.

Administration to tackle extreme heat danger for workers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other federal agencies announced they will take steps to protect workers better in hot environments and reduce the dangers of heat exposure. These efforts will impact workers in agriculture, construction, and other sectors, as well as vulnerable populations such as children and seniors.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

The U.S. is becoming more racially diverse – and so is rural America.

Race and Ethnicity in Rural America, a new Rural Research Brief from HAC, presents an initial review of characteristics, trends, and issues related to race and ethnicity in rural America. According to the 2020 Census, 74.8% of the rural population is White non-Hispanic, compared to 57.8% for the U.S. as a whole. Hispanics (who may be of any race) comprise 10.4% of the rural population, Black residents 7.4%, and American Indians or Alaska Natives about 2%. The number of rural residents identifying as multiracial (of two or more races) increased an astounding 148% from 2010, consistent with the national trend.

Tax credit expansion aids rural children.

Children living in counties outside metro areas are more likely than metropolitan children to benefit from the recent temporary expansion of the child tax credit, according to a data analysis by the Daily Yonder. About 49% of rural children are likely to receive increased child tax credits compared to about 39% in metro areas.

Recent research covers farmworker numbers and pandemic impacts.

Climate change adaptations for housing underway in Alaska.

In the Seattle Times, Housing in Alaska Can’t Survive Climate Change. This Group is Trying a New Model reports on the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, which has built 22 prototypes incorporating Indigenous wisdom and 21st-century technologies that can withstand the state’s unpredictable climate. These homes will replace those originally imported from the Lower 48 and incompatible with the extreme weather conditions of Alaska.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

The United States is Becoming More Racially Diverse – And So is Rural America

Race and ethnicity are central and often complex components of our national identity, history, and struggles. Racial dynamics also manifest themselves in our geographies and communities. Rural communities across the United States are comprised of many races, ethnicities, and cultural histories that have been essential to the story of the nation. Contrary to the long-standing narrative of racial and ethnic homogeny across rural America, many racial and ethnic groups are represented in rural communities.

Using the Census Bureau’s recently released P.L. 94-171 Redistricting data, the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents an initial review of characteristics, trends, and issues related to race and ethnicity in rural America.

HAC News: September 16, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 19

TOP STORIES

Fiscal year 2022 will start with a continuing resolution.

Congress has not passed any of the appropriations bills to fund the government for the new fiscal year, which begins on October 1, so a continuing resolution will be needed. Its length has not yet been determined. Information about the appropriations levels proposed for USDA and HUD is posted on HAC’s site.

House bill includes over $5 billion for rural housing.

Substantial funding for USDA and HUD housing programs would be provided in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill now being developed by House committees. The full reconciliation package, which covers social services not included in Congress’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, is expected to pass the House but its fate in the Senate is uncertain.

  • On September 14 the Financial Services Committee passed its portion of the package, which includes funds for new construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of USDA-financed rental properties; Section 521 Rental Assistance; Section 502 direct loans; Section 504 repair grants, and Section 523 self-help housing. Details are posted on HAC’s site.
  • HUD’s Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) would receive an additional $50 million over 10 years.
  • The Agriculture Committee’s section of the package includes $3.87 billion over 10 years for a Rural Partnership Program to support rural development.
  • The Low Income Housing Tax Credit would get an increased allocation each year from 2022 through 2028 under the Ways and Means Committee’s section. Tax credit basis boosts would be provided for some properties, including those in rural or Native American areas. The bill would make several other changes in the program as well.

Census Bureau calculations show aid reduced poverty in 2020.

The Census Bureau’s annual report on income and poverty shows that the official poverty rate rose from 10.4% in 2019 to 11.4% in 2020, the first increase after five consecutive annual declines. When the calculation includes stimulus payments, poverty fell from 11.8% in 2019 to 9.4% in 2020. Using that measurement, poverty in places outside metro areas fell from 11.6% in 2019 to 8.3%. U.S. median household income fell from $69,560 in 2019 to $67,521 in 2020, the first statistically significant decline in median household income since 2011. For places outside metro areas, changes in median income and the official poverty measurement were not statistically significant.

OCC proposes to withdraw CRA regulation.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has issued a notice requesting comment on a proposal to withdraw its controversial 2020 Community Reinvestment Act regulation. The 2020 rule would remain in effect while the banking regulatory agencies develop a new CRA regulation, with a transition period while some aspects of the 2020 rule are replaced. Comments are due October 29. For more information, contact Emily Boyes, OCC, 202-649-5490.

Registration for virtual National Rural Housing Conference coming soon.

HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference is scheduled to take place virtually on November 30-December 3, 2021. With an exciting and full schedule of workshops and new virtual gathering spaces, the conference offers attendees a premier opportunity to learn from experts and connect with the entire affordable housing industry. Be on the lookout for a registration announcement. We look forward to connecting with you this December!

Last chance to nominate individuals or organizations for rural housing awards – deadline extended to Sept. 24!

As part of the 2021 National Rural Housing Conference, HAC will recognize individuals and/or organizations that have, through their continued work and/or newly established initiatives, made a positive and lasting impact in rural America. HAC invites nominations by September 24 of those who have made outstanding and enduring contribution to affordable housing in rural America. This year, HAC will consider each nomination on its own merits, relative to the specified contributions. More details and a list of potential categories are posted on HAC’s site. For more information, contact Miguel Guevara, HAC.

September 15 – October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month.

September is National Preparedness Month.

USDA Rural Development published a guide to RD programs and services that can help with disaster preparedness and recovery, and offers a webpage with information for RD customers.

RuralSTAT

There are nearly 20 million workers in rural America. Source: HAC tabulations of Bureau of Labor Statistics LAUS data.

OPPORTUNITIES

“Scaling down” webinar set for September 28.

HAC presents the second in a series of webinars designed to share innovative solutions for affordable housing developers dealing with escalating prices and implementing additional regulations. “Scaling Down” to Address Rising Costs will share pilot programs to reduce square footage and overall costs while increasing energy efficiency, including partnerships with Auburn University Rural Studio to design small, energy-efficient affordable homes.

Webinars offer training to help residents enroll in Child Tax Credit program.

Free webinars to inform housing and service providers who are helping residents claim the enhanced Child Tax Credit will be offered by the National Housing and Rehabilitation Association on September 24; by HUD on September 24; and by the White House and Treasury Department on September 20.

Survey asks for lessons learned since 2008.

The NHP Foundation, in collaboration with Enterprise Community Partners, invites affordable housing stakeholders to respond to a survey intended to produce a comprehensive look at what has been learned as a result of housing challenges from the Great Recession through the pandemic. The survey should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

HAC seeks Community Facilities Housing Specialist.

The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This includes helping them identify, utilize, and apply for financial resources such as USDA Community Facilities grants and loans. This is a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Input requested on Equitable Housing Finance Plans for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is requiring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to develop Equitable Housing Finance Plans that will identify and address barriers to sustainable housing opportunities, including goals and action plans to advance equity in housing finance for the next three years. Public comments are due October 25 and FHFA will hold a public listening session​ on September 28.

HUD sets requirements for American Rescue Plan Act’s HOME funds.

Notice CPD-21-10 establishes requirements for the use of HOME-ARP funds, which must primarily benefit people experiencing homelessness, at risk of homelessness, or in other vulnerable populations. Several waivers and alternative requirements apply. The setaside for Community Housing Development Organizations is waived, but participating jurisdictions can use up to 5% of their grants to provide capacity-building operating assistance to CHDOs and other nonprofits. HUD also published several fact sheets related to this notice.

FY22 Difficult Development Areas and Qualified Census Tracts listed.

HUD’s annual lists of designations for use in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program have been posted online. For more information, contact Michael K. Hollar, HUD, 202-402-5878.

FEMA widens disaster aid access, including for homeowners without standard titles.

Several changes to FEMA policies are intended to reduce underserved populations’ access to disaster aid. The agency broadened the list of documents that can be used to verify occupancy and ownership. It will allow disaster survivors with heirship properties, travel trailers, and the like to self-certify ownership. Also, assistance will be available for disaster-caused damages even if they did not make a home uninhabitable, and survivors who incur disaster-related disabilities will be eligible for aid to adapt their damaged homes.

Hazard mitigation regulations revised.

FEMA has revised its Hazard Mitigation Assistance and mitigation planning regulations to reflect current statutory authority and agency practice. These regulations cover the Flood Mitigation Assistance grant program, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, financial assistance for property acquisition and relocation of open space, and mitigation planning. For more information, contact Katherine Fox, FEMA, 202-646-1046.

USDA requests comments on broadband rules changes.

USDA’s Rural Utilities Service adopted regulatory changes to implement provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill relating to broadband programs, effective immediately. Comments are due November 9. For more information, contact Laurel Leverrier, RUS, 202-720-9556.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

News consortium plans to expand coverage of rural America.

The Institute for Nonprofit News hopes to uncover the most pressing issues confronting rural communities, with a focus on solutions. Over 50 INN news outlets prioritize coverage of rural communities and will form the basis of this two-year collaboration. The Daily Yonder and Investigate Midwest will serve as hubs for the project. For more information, contact INN.

USDA Community Facilities programs may have reduced pandemic’s impact.

Counties where USDA’s CF programs invested in health care facilities between 2016 and 2020 had lower COVID-19 case and death rates than other counties, regardless of rurality or poverty level, according to USDA’s Community Facilities Program May Help Rural America Cope with COVID-19, published in the magazine of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association. The impact was strongest in remote counties.

Documentaries focusing on rural environmental justice to be shown across five states.

Working Films Rural Cinema, in collaboration with five nonprofit organizations across the country, is showing a total of 20 documentaries in rural communities in Georgia, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Utah.  These organizations intend to use the showings as a way to open a discussion about environmental topics.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

USDA Obligations FY 2021 Featured Image

USDA Rural Development Obligations FY 21 – August

USDA Rural Development Obligations Report Cover - FY 2021

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents this month’s report on Fiscal Year 2021 USDA Rural Housing program obligations.

As of the end of August, USDA obligated 127,867 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling about $22 billion. This is $417 million above obligation levels from this time last year. At that time, there were 134,422 loans, loan guarantees, and grants obligated totaling $21.6 billion.

Federal agencies operated under a series of short-term continuing resolutions (CR) for most of the first quarter of FY 2021. A final CR was signed into law on December 27, 2020 which provides funding for the remainder of the fiscal year. Since March 20, 2020, USDA offices have been operating from remote locations due to the COVID-19 virus.

Single Family Housing Program Highlights

The Section 502 Guaranteed loan program, the largest of the Single Family Housing programs, obligated $20.9 billion (117,579 loan guarantees) up from this time last year’s nearly $20.3 billion (121,671 loan guarantees).

For the Section 502 Direct program, loan obligations totaled $935 million (5,004 loans), a bit less than last year’s obligation level of $990 million (5,738 loans.) About 37 percent of the loan dollars went to Very Low-income (VLI) applicants. VLI loans represented nearly 44 percent of the total number of Section 502 Direct loans.

The Section 504 Repair and Rehabilitation programs obligated 1,961 loans representing $12.4 million. Loan volume was below this time last year (2,376 loans representing $14.4 million.) There were also about $21 million (3,189 grants) obligated in the Section 504 grant program compared to $27.7 million (4,248 grants) last year.

USDA’s Section 523 Self Help Housing Grant program funded 36 grants and contracts totaling over $24.9 million compared to last year’s 35 grants and contracts totaling $29.3 million.

Multi-Family Housing Program Highlights

USDA’s Section 538 Multifamily Housing program obligated 64 loan guarantees totaling $153.8 million compared to last year’s 136 loan guarantees ($216.9 million.) One Section 515 Rural Rental Housing loan has been funded so far this year compared to 29 loans representing $31.7 million last year. In the MPR program, no loans or grants have been obligated so far this year. Last year, there were 38 loans and 5 grants obligated representing $44 million and $251,778 respectively last year.

Two Farm Labor Housing loans totaling $3.1 million, and no grants have been obligated so far this year. Last year at this time, 14 loans and 6 grants were obligated ($19.8 million and $6.2 million, respectively.)

USDA obligated funds for 197,018 rental assistance units under the Section 521 Rental Assistance program totaling over $1.1 billion. This compares to about 186,940 units (almost $1.1 billion) obligated same time last year. There were also 6,671 Rural Housing Vouchers totaling $32 million compared to 6,693 vouchers representing $30.9 million this time last year.

Download the combined document.

* The Rural Housing Service (RHS) monthly obligation reports are produced by the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) 1025 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 606, Washington, DC 20005. The monthly figures derive from HAC tabulations of USDA –RHS 205c, d, and f report data. For questions or comments about the obligation reports, please contact Michael Feinberg at 202-842-8600 or michael@ruralhome.org.

HAC News: September 2, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 18

TOP STORIES

Supreme Court invalidates eviction moratorium.

The Centers for Disease Control did not have sufficient authority to issue its August 3 eviction moratorium, the Supreme Court ruled on August 26. The court held that the administration cannot impose another moratorium on tenant evictions unless Congress specifically authorizes it. HAC expressed concern about the decision’s impact on rural residents, given that the pandemic and the unprecedented job loss it caused have exacerbated longstanding rural housing challenges. Some state and local eviction limitations remain in place. Resources for tenants, landlords, and homeowners are collected on HAC’s site.

Agencies take steps to assist renters.

Federal agencies have instituted new flexibilities and issued reminders to help tenants who have fallen behind on rent and utilities payments.

  • USDA will work with its multifamily property owners to mitigate evictions. USDA also announced permission for owners to access reserves for operating shortfalls while waiting to receive Emergency Rental Assistance, financial incentives to property management agents that tap ERA to clear arrearages, and increased support from USDA field staff.
  • The Treasury Department issued revised FAQs and an announcement about policy changes intended to help state and local governments and their partners to distribute Emergency Rental Assistance funds.
  • “Shallow Subsidy” rental assistance funds for veteran households are now available nationwide from VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families program.
  • HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Attorney General Merrick Garland encouraged states and localities to act, including imposing eviction moratoriums and connecting eviction proceedings to rent aid applications.

Administration efforts to provide more affordable housing announced.

On September 1, the Biden administration announced a series of actions it intends to take to increase the supply of affordable homes for renters and owners. The provisions include raising the caps on Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit investments and requiring a larger portion of those LIHTC investments be targeted to rural places; increasing financing for CDFIs; emphasizing sale of foreclosed single-family homes to families and nonprofits; and increasing state housing finance agencies’ ability to finance affordable rental housing by restarting the Federal Financing Bank’s support of FHA’s Risk-Sharing Program. The administration also asked state and local governments to remove regulatory barriers.

Budget resolution and infrastructure bill move in House.

The House passed the $3.5 trillion budget resolution on August 24. Next, committees in both the House and the Senate will draft legislative language, including specific amounts for specific programs. The House also moved forward on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, scheduling a vote for September 27. Annual appropriations bills for FY22, which begins on October 1, 2021, have not advanced; Congress will need to adopt a continuing resolution to keep the government functioning beyond September.

Save the date! 2021 National Rural Housing Conference scheduled.

HAC is pleased to announce plans to convene its 2021 National Rural Housing Conference and Training! The conference provides an excellent opportunity to network and improve connections to federal agencies, national intermediary organizations, and other stakeholders. The HAC News will announce when registration opens.

Nominate individuals or organizations for rural housing awards.

As part of the 2021 National Rural Housing Conference, HAC will recognize individuals and/or organizations that have, through their continued work and or newly established initiatives, made a positive and lasting impact in rural America. HAC invites nominations by September 17 of those who have made outstanding and enduring contribution to affordable housing in rural America. This year, HAC will consider each nomination on its own merits, relative to the specified contributions. More details and a list of potential categories are posted on HAC’s site. For more information, contact Miguel Guevara, HAC.

RuralSTAT

Between August 1 and August 31, communities outside of metropolitan areas reported nearly 700,000 new cases of COVID-19 – a 291% increase over the previous 30-day period. Source: HAC tabulations of public health data from the New York Times. A Rural Research Note updating the COVID-19 situation in rural America is available on HAC’s site.

 

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD offers funds for Native American housing.

  • The Indian Housing Block Grant competitive program helps tribes and Tribally Designated Housing Entities maintain, develop, and operate affordable housing. The deadline is December 1. For more information, contact HUD staff.
  • The Indian Community Development Block Grant program will finance tribes to develop community facilities, carry out public works projects, and provide economic development assistance. Apply by October 25. For more information, contact HUD staff.
  • HUD will accept applications for ICDBG funds appropriated by the American Rescue Plan Act in accordance with HUD Notice PIH-2021-22. For more information, contact HUD staff.

Webinar planned on rural community engagement.

CIRD: Models and Practices for Meaningful Community Engagement, scheduled for September 15, will ask what meaningful community engagement work looks like for rural communities. The webinar, sponsored by the Citizens’ Institute for Rural Design, will give participants a chance to share engagement strategies and learn new ways to strengthen community engaged design work. It will also cover engagement in the context of COVID-19 and building greater inclusivity with community members whose identities differ from our own.

HAC seeks Community Facilities Housing Specialist.

The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This includes helping them identify, utilize, and apply for financial resources such as USDA Community Facilities grants and loans. This is a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

“Public charge” comments sought.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is revising the regulation that bars immigrants considered likely to become “public charges” because of their use of government assistance. Comments are due October 22. USCIS will hold virtual listening sessions on September 14 (for the general public) and October 5 (for state, local, and tribal governments and nonprofits). For more information, contact Andrew Parker, USCIS, 240-721-3000.

Reimbursement for non-congregate shelters extended.

FEMA will provide 100% reimbursement for some emergency measures taken through December 31, 2021 by state, local, and tribal governments and nonprofits to protect against immediate threats to life, public health, or property. During the coronavirus disaster, this category includes non-congregate sheltering of people experiencing homelessness.

Input requested on federal homelessness plan.

The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness seeks public comments as it creates a new Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. USICH invites feedback from anyone, particularly people who have experienced or are currently experiencing homelessness; people who serve the LGBT, BIPOC, or veteran communities; and people whose work involves the justice system.

HAC agrees with HUD fair housing rule.

HAC has submitted a comment letter supporting HUD’s proposed cancellation of a fair housing regulation issued by the Trump administration in September 2020. This rule governs fair housing violation claims based on policies or actions with “disparate impacts” on categories of people protected by the Fair Housing Act.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

HAC offers information for survivors of Hurricane Ida and TN floods.

Disaster guides for areas hit by Hurricane Ida and for places in middle Tennessee that flooded on August 21 are posted on HAC’s website.

CDBG-CV Rural Economic Development Quick Guide published.

A new guide from HUD is intended to help states and rural places use Community Development Block Grant CARES Act (CDBG-CV) funding to support the local economic development infrastructure needed for pandemic recovery. The guide covers the economic development needs of rural communities, best practices, and duplication of benefits.

Housing helps Navajo Nation deal with pandemic.

For Navajo, Crowded Homes Have Always Been a Lifeline. The Pandemic Threatens That, an interactive video published by the Washington Post, illustrates both pre-pandemic housing inadequacies on the Navajo Nation and the cultural importance of multi-generational living. About 300 tiny homes have been built near existing residences to allow family members to isolate as necessary.

As federal pandemic relief ends, rural food insecurity is expected to rise.

The Daily Yonder reports in Experts: Food Insecurity in Rural Areas Likely to Increase in Months to Come that as federal benefits such as unemployment assistance expire in September, food insecurity will probably increase. Previous studies have indicated that rural areas have higher rates of food insecurity than the rest of the country.

Rural news providers try to bridge the information divide.

Nieman Reports provides an overview of six rural-based news outlets, including the Daily Yonder, Southerly, the News Reporter, High Country News, Ohio Valley ReSource, and Mountain State Spotlight. These outlets aim to provide culturally competent news that is important to local audiences.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

Hurricane Ida Information

Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana, as a Category 4 storm in the early morning of August 29, 2021. More than 1 million customers are experiencing power outages. Ida was downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved northeast, but it has caused major flooding in New York and New Jersey, where the governors have declared emergencies. Central Park received a record breaking three inches of water in one hour. HAC offers the following guide as a source of information for individuals and families dealing with direct housing loss and damage from the storm. For more information, please see HAC’s report: Picking up the Pieces: Restoring Rural Housing and Communities After a Disaster and Disaster Response for Rural Communities Guide.

If your house is inaccessible or currently uninhabitable, emergency, transient housing will likely be made available to provide immediate shelter for those in need. Organizations and resources available to assist with emergency transient housing in previous similar disasters include the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Church World Service, Mennonite Disaster Service, and state- and city-run emergency shelters aimed at housing victims of Hurricane. If you are in need of emergency, transient housing, you can text SHELTER and your Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find where the shelter closest to you is located.

FEMA makes available temporary assistance funding available for residents of counties affected by hurricanes. Temporary assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. To see if you are eligible for funding, you can apply online at https://www.disasterassistance.gov/ or call FEMA’s toll-free helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA(3362). When applying, make sure to have a pen and paper as well as the following information: your social security number, current and pre-disaster address, a telephone number where you can be contacted, insurance information, total household income, a routing and account number from your bank if you are interested in having disaster assistance funds transferred directly into your bank account, and a description of your losses that were caused by the disaster.

Tips

Please keep in mind the following safety protocols for hurricanes and flooding:

  • Only call 911 if you have an immediate need for medical attention or evacuation assistance.
  • If you can’t get through to 911 on first try, keep calling.
  • DO NOT DRIVE through high water and DO NOT DRIVE AROUND BARRICADES! Just 2 feet of water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • DO NOT WALK through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down. 4
  • If your home floods, STAY THERE. You are safer at home than trying to navigate flooded streets on foot.
  • If floodwaters rise around your car but the water is NOT MOVING, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car and enter MOVING water.
  • STAY AWAY from streams, rivers, and creeks during heavy rainfall. These areas can flood quickly and with little warning.
  • MOVE important items – especially important documents like insurance policies – to the highest possible floor. This will help protect them from flood damage.
  • DISCONNECT electrical appliances and do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. You could be electrocuted.

This flooding event is a reminder that all residents in this area should carry flood insurance. Contact your insurance agent for more information about purchasing flood insurance or visit the National Flood Insurance Program at www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program or call 1-888-379-9531. Please keep in mind that new insurance policies take 30 days to go into effect.

If your home has experienced damage, remember to check the outside of your home before you enter. Look for loose power lines, broken or damaged gas lines, foundations cracks, missing support beams, or other damage. It may be safest to ask a building inspector of contractor to check the structure before you enter. Do not force jammed doors open, as they may be providing needed support to the rest of the home. Sniff for gas to ensure there are no natural or propane gas leaks. If you do have a propane tank system, make sure to turn off all valves and contact a propane supplier to check the system before you use it again. Check floors and ceilings to ensure they are not sagging from water damage. This can be especially hazardous. Take photographs of any damage as you may need them for insurance claims or FEMA claims later on.

Resources

Apply for FEMA Assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. FEMA Disaster Assistance Helpline answers questions about the help offered by FEMA, how to apply for assistance, or the information in your account.

Toll-free helpline: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362)
For hearing impaired callers only:
1-800-462-7585 (TTY)
1-800-621-3362 (Video Relay Service)
Operators are multilingual and calls are answered seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET

American Red Cross Disaster Service: For referrals and updates on Red Cross shelter services in your area, locate a local Red Cross office through: https://www.redcross.org/find-help or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767)
The Red Cross helps disaster victims by providing safe shelter, hot meals, essential relief supplies, emotional support and health services like first aid. Trained Red Cross workers often meet one-on-one with families to develop individual plans and identify available resources to help aid recovery.

STATE HOUSING AGENCIES

Louisiana
Louisiana Housing Corporation
2415 Quail Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
Phone: (225) 763-8700
Fax: (225) 763-8710
https://www.lhc.la.gov

Mississippi
Mississippi Home Corporation
735 Riverside Drive
Jackson, MS 39202-1166
Phone: (601) 718-4642
Fax: (601) 718-4643
https://www.mshomecorp.com

New Jersey
New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency
637 S Clinton Avenue
Trenton, NJ 08611-1811
Phone: (609) 278-7400
Fax: (609) 278-1754
https://www.njhousing.gov

New York
New York State Homes and Community Renewal
641 Lexington Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10022-4503
Phone: (212) 688-4000
Fax: (212) 872-0789
http://www.nyshcr.org

DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT STATE FIELD OFFICES

Louisiana
Hale Boggs Federal Building
500 Poydras Street
9th Floor
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 671-3001
Director: Tammy Fowler

Mississippi
Dr. A. H. McCoy Federal Building
100 West Capitol Street
Room 910
Jackson, MS 39269-1096
Phone: (601) 965-4757
Director: Jerrie G. Magruder

New Jersey
Newark Field Office
One Newark Center
1085 Raymond Boulevard
13th Floor
Newark, NJ 07102-5260
Phone: (973) 622-7900
Director: Justin Sheid

New York
Jacob K. Javits Federal Building
26 Federal Plaza
Suite 3541
New York, NY 10278-0068
Phone: (212) 264-8000
Director: Vacant

USDA RURAL DEVELOPMENT STATE OFFICES

Louisiana
Diana Smith, Acting State Director
3727 Government Street
Alexandria, LA 71302
Voice: (318) 473-7920
Fax: (844) 325-6949
www.rd.usda.gov/la

Mississippi
Douglas Simons, Acting State Director
Federal Building, Suite 831
100 West Capitol Street
Jackson, MS 39269
Voice: (601) 965-4316
Fax: (601) 965-4088
www.rd.usda.gov/ms

New Jersey
Brandon R. Pfeilmeier, Acting State Director
521 Fellowship Road, Suite 130
Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054
Voice: (856) 787-7700
Fax: (855) 305-7343
www.rd.usda.gov/nj

New York
Brian Murray, Acting State Director
The Galleries of Syracuse
441 South Salina Street, Suite 357
Syracuse, NY 13202-2541
Voice: (315) 477-6400
Fax: (315) 477-6438
www.rd.usda.gov/ny

STATE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCIES

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency
Voice 601-933-MEMA
24 hour emergency line: 1-800-222-MEMA(6362)
https://www.msema.org/

Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
7667 Independence Boulevard
Baton Rouge, LA 70806
Voice: (225) 925-7500
Fax: (225) 925-7501
http://gohsep.la.gov/

New Jersey Office of Emergency Management
http://www.ready.nj.gov/

New York Homeland Security and  Emergency Services
http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/

Rural America Now Has More Than 5 Million Reported Cases and Over 100,000 Deaths from Covid-19

Rural America Now Has More Than 5 Million Reported Cases and Over 100,000 Deaths from Covid-19

COVID-19 in Rural America – September 1, 2021

As of August 31, there have been more than 5.6 million reported cases of COVID-19, and approximately 101,741 associated deaths in communities outside metropolitan areas. Between August 1 and August 31, communities outside of metropolitan areas reported nearly 700,000 new cases of COVID-19 – a 291 percent increase over the previous 30-day period. There were 5,122 reported deaths associated with COVID-19 in rural communities in August, which represented a 254 percent increase in deaths from July 2021. Communities outside of metropolitan areas accounted for over 19 percent of all COVID deaths and 16 percent of new cases in August. The dramatic increase in rural cases and deaths mimics national trends related to the ascendancy of the more contagious delta variant.