HAC News: January 19, 2023

TOP STORIES

HUD announces new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing proposal

HUD released the text of a new AFFH proposed rule on January 19. The proposal requires jurisdictions to develop equity plans every five years, incorporate those into Consolidated Plans and annual plans, and provide annual progress evaluations. It is based on a 2015 AFFH rule (which was only briefly in effect before it was rescinded in 2018 and replaced in 2020), with changes that are intended to simplify the required fair housing analysis, emphasize goal-setting, increase transparency for public review and comment, foster local commitment to addressing fair housing issues, enhance HUD technical assistance to local communities, and provide mechanisms for regular program evaluation and greater accountability, among other changes. Public comments will be due 60 days after the document is published in the Federal Register later this month. For more information, contact Tiffany Johnson, HUD, 202-402-2881.

Agencies propose changing regulations for faith-based organizations

Nine federal agencies, including USDA, HUD, and VA, propose to change their regulations related to faith-based organizations that receive government funding to provide social services. A 2016 rule required service providers to inform potential beneficiaries they could not be required to participate in faith-related activities. It also obligated them to offer information about alternative, non-faith-based providers. In 2020 these notice requirements were removed. The agencies now hope to reinstate a modified rule encouraging service providers to tell potential beneficiaries about alternative providers. They suggest additional changes also. Comments are due March 14. Agency contacts for more information are listed in the proposal.

New HAC guide covers substance use recovery and affordable rural housing

Rural Resource Guide: Affordable Housing and Recovery in Rural Communities, Federally Assisted Housing Opportunities for Residents with Substance Use Disorders and Opioid Use Disorders assists housing practitioners seeking to provide homes to those affected by substance use disorders. The publication was released at a webinar on January 18; the recording is available online.

Rural voters say housing costs are a serious problem

Rural and small town voters expressed strong concerns about inflation and the costs of essentials like housing and food in a bipartisan poll conducted in November for Save the Children and Save the Children Action Network. Housing costs are an extremely or very serious problem, 63% of respondents said – more than identified that level of worry about any other issue, including a lack of good-paying jobs, drug and alcohol use, and child care availability. Focusing on solutions to shortages of food and child care, the study found strong bipartisan support for federal policy remedies, including policies that increase government funding.

RuralSTAT

The number of home mortgage loans guaranteed by USDA declined by 44% between fiscal years 2021 and 2022. Source: HAC tabulations of USDA data.

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD opens two lead hazard control competitions

  • The Lead Hazard Reduction Program funds efforts to identify and control lead-based paint hazards in privately owned rental or owner-occupied housing. Applicants can also request Healthy Homes Supplemental funding to identify and address other housing hazards that affect occupant health. Local governments, some state governments, and some Tribes are eligible, and consortium applicants may include nonprofits. Funding will be set aside for applicants that have never received an award under the LHR program or whose grant period of performance ended two or more years ago. Apply by March 14. For more information, contact Yolanda Brown, HUD, 202-903-9576.
  • The Housing-Related Hazards & Lead-Based Paint Capital Fund Program is available only for public housing authorities. The deadline is April 13. For more information, contact HUD staff, PIHOCI@hud.gov.

Grants offered for housing innovations

From January 31 through March 3, Enterprise Community Partners and the Wells Fargo Foundation will open the second Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge, a $20 million competition to identify and support scalable housing innovations. The challenge offers grants of up to $3 million and technical assistance in three categories – financing, construction, and access and resident support. Eligible applicants include nonprofits, Tribal organizations and mission-driven for-profits in 37 states and D.C. A webinar for potential applicants is scheduled for February 2.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Construction cost relief for single-family homes extended

In 2021, because of cost increases and construction delays, USDA announced some temporary authorizations for new construction financed under its Section 502 and 504 direct loan programs. Those provisions expired December 31 and have now been renewed for another year. The changes increase the permissible construction contingency in these loans and ease some of the requirements for borrowers to obtain subsequent loans at the end of construction to cover cost overruns. For more information, contact a USDA RD State Office.

USDA considers use of multifamily reserve account cash for soft debt

USDA proposes to expand the uses of “surplus cash” in property reserve accounts at projects with Section 515 rental or 514 farmworker housing loans. To increase flexibility in project refinancing for additional capital improvements, borrowers would be allowed to use surplus cash to fund approved soft debt such as “cash flow notes.” Comments are due March 10. For more information, contact Jennifer Larson, USDA, 202-720-1615.

USDA and National Urban League announce partnership

The USDA and National Urban League will work together in areas including homeownership, access to broadband, help for veterans, and youth development. USDA’s press announcement says the civil rights organization will help enhance USDA’s ability to fulfill its missions efficiently and fairly.

EVENTS

Disaster webinars scheduled

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Culturally sensitive design approaches can improve Tribal housing

Participatory Models of Housing: Promising Design Practices for Affordable Housing on Tribal Lands, co-published by the Joint Center for Housing Studies and NeighborWorks America, explores promising, nascent efforts to develop housing that is affordable, higher-quality, and culturally sensitive.

Data can help address racial inequities in housing, report says

Leveraging Data to Improve Racial Equity in Fair Housing asserts that data can shed light on some of the historic drivers of housing inequity and help inform tailored solutions to their ongoing impact. Published by the IBM Center for the Business of Government and the Center for Open Data Enterprise, the report explores ways to apply data to address different types of housing discrimination.

Vermont governor recognizes small towns need capacity building to access funds

Gov. Phil Scott has proposed a $3 million Rural Infrastructure Assistance Program to help underserved rural communities in Vermont access federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. Housing development is among the types of projects that would be covered. The proposal must be funded by the state legislature.

National survey on drug use and health results available

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released its report on the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, including estimates by geographic region. In 2021, 46.3 million people in the U.S. were diagnosed with substance use disorders, including 6,742,000 in rural areas. The vast majority (94%) of people 12 years or older diagnosed with substance use disorder did not receive treatment.

Videos demonstrate fair housing analysis tool

HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Data and Mapping Tool (AFFH-T) Video Series is intended to show how the online AFFH-T and other local data sources can be used to analyze local conditions as part of a fair housing planning process.

HAC

HAC seeks Portfolio Manager, Closing and Disbursements

  • The Portfolio Manager, Closing and Disbursements is responsible for all aspects of loan closing and loan disbursements for an assigned portfolio of loans made to entities engaged in affordable housing activities in rural communities throughout the United States. This position is eligible for telecommuting.

National Rural Housing Conference set for October 2023

Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27, 2023 in Washington, DC and online.

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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

 

Affordable Housing and Recovery in Rural Communities, Federally Assisted Housing Opportunities for Residents

Rural Resource Guide: Affordable Housing and Recovery in Rural Communities

Federally Assisted Housing Opportunities for Residents with Substance Use Disorders and Opioid Use Disorders

Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and opioid misuse have proliferated across the U.S. in the past decade – and rural America has been particularly impacted. Effectively addressing the opioid epidemic and supporting recovery includes a holistic community approach with an essential shared foundation; safe, stable, affordable housing. In an effort to equip local organizations with proper resources the Housing Assistance Council presents its new Rural Resource Guide: Affordable Housing and Recovery in Rural Communities, Federally Assisted Housing Opportunities for Residents with Substance Use Disorders and Opioid Use Disorders.

The guide serves as a resource to housing practitioners seeking to provide homes to households affected by substance use disorders. It presents the federal regulations for federally subsidized housing programs from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Resource Guide Launch Webinar


HAC News: January 5, 2023

TOP STORIES

FY 2023 funding set, new Congress begins work

The omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2023 became law in late December. It holds most USDA and HUD housing programs near their FY22 funding levels, with increased support for rural rental preservation and rural capacity building. It provides $225 million for a new manufactured housing program at HUD, hailed as a “game-changing investment” in HAC’s statement on the bill, which also calls on the new 118th Congress to be bolder in both appropriations and the 2023 Farm Bill.

Census Bureau revises urban and rural definitions

A list of places recently released by the Census Bureau shows the impact of a significant change in Census’s definition of urban and rural. Before March 2022, the bureau defined urban places as those with more than 2,500 residents. Now Census has raised the threshold to 5,000 residents and added a housing unit criterion so that places with over 2,000 homes are urban. Census considers any place that is not urban to be rural. The revision means rural communities now include 1,140 places previously classified as urban and 36 previously rural areas are now deemed urban. The change shifted Census’s national urban-rural proportions slightly, with the newly defined rural areas containing 20.0% of the U.S. population rather than the previous 19.3%. For more information, contact Vincent Osier, Census Bureau, 301-763-1128

Webinar will launch resource guide for housing and recovery

Substance Use Disorder and opioid misuse have proliferated across the U.S. in the past decade – and rural America has been particularly impacted. Effectively addressing the opioid epidemic and supporting recovery includes a holistic community approach with an essential shared foundation: safe, stable, affordable housing. On January 18 HAC will launch a new Rural Resource Guide: Affordable Housing and Recovery in Rural Communities, Federally Assisted Housing Opportunities for Residents with Substance Use Disorders and Opioid Use Disorders. Join us online for a discussion about the intersection of affordable housing and recovery and gain first access to the new rural resource guide.

HAC updates policy priorities for 2023

HAC’s revised policy priorities support increased capacity building for rural disaster resiliency and the equitable distribution of federal relief funding to rural and persistently poor communities. Other themes include the need for technical assistance and building the capacity of local affordable housing and community development organizations; expanding access to credit and finance; preserving rural rental housing and supporting homeownership; preserving, increasing, and tailoring resources for federal affordable housing programs serving rural populations; and deliberately considering high-needs rural regions in federal policymaking.

January is National Poverty in America Month

Resources are posted by the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities and relevant data is available from the Census Bureau.

RuralSTAT

Approximately 78% of persistent poverty counties in 2020 have been in this status consistently since 1980. Source: HAC tabulations of the 2016-2020 American Community Survey and Decennial Census Data.

OPPORTUNITIES

Assistance available for transferring Section 515 properties

HAC and other organizations offer technical assistance to nonprofits on transfers of Section 515 properties. Current owners of Section 515 properties who are interested in transferring ownership to a nonprofit organization, or nonprofits who are interested in acquiring one, can reach out to Kristin Blum at HAC or find another TA provider on the Contact tab at this link. TA is also available for transfers of Section 514/516 farmworker properties in some states; click the Contact tab at this link.

Deadline extended for strategic planning proposals

The deadline is now January 18 for strategic consultants who are passionate about working with CDFIs, nonprofits, and/or rural communities to submit proposals for HAC’s strategic planning process! HAC seeks a consultant to support the organization and our stakeholders in the creation of a three-to-five-year strategic plan. For more details, review the RFP on HAC’s website. Contact strategic@ruralhome.org with questions.

Free COVID test kits available for Section 202 providers

Free at-home COVID-19 test kits are available for owners of Section 202 elderly properties through a HUD partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services. Owners of Section 202 properties can register online and request weekly shipments of test kits to be delivered to their property for distribution. Questions related to the registration process can be emailed to CARS_HelpDesk@cdc.gov, or call 1-833-748-1979.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

HUD seeks input on implementing 2022 Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act

A notice explains HUD’s plans to implement the key changes made by the VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2022. Comments are due March 6. For more information, contact Karlo Ng, HUD, 202-402-7642.

Changes proposed to Native Hawaiian rental housing assistance

Comments are due March 6 on a proposed regulation from HUD covering rental housing assistance for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant program. The revisions are intended to clarify and improve consistency with NAHASDA’s statutory requirements and HUD’s Indian Housing Block Grant program regulations. For more information, contact Claudine Allen, HUD, 808-457-4674.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Homelessness response resources available

The Framework for an Equitable Homelessness Response released two new resources to transform current approaches to sheltering people experiencing homelessness. Reimagining Interim Housing: Stages and Action Areas for Transforming Approaches to Sheltering People Experiencing Homelessness and Tools for Strengthening Current Interim Housing Programs and Services help support and guide communities in implementing high-quality, low-barrier, housing placement-focused interim housing options for people experiencing homelessness.

Updated guide addresses housing for those with criminal records

An Affordable Home on Reentry, recently updated by the National Housing Law Project, is intended to assist advocates working with people who have criminal records and are seeking access to federally assisted housing.

EPA offers resources on Tribal indoor air quality

The Tribal Indoor Air Quality Training and Resource Directory compiles information and resources to help Tribes create or expand programs. More publications can be accessed on the agency’s website. Subscribe here to EPA’s new indoor air quality Tribal newsletter.

Public-private partnerships could harness modular housing technology

Using Economies of Scale to Produce Starter Homes, a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center and Abt Associates, suggests increasing the stock of unsubsidized affordable starter homes in rural communities and small towns and cities by using off-site construction techniques.

HAC

HAC seeks Portfolio Manager, Closing and Disbursements (new!) and Portfolio Manager, Self-Help Housing

  • The Portfolio Manager, Closing and Disbursements is responsible for all aspects of loan closing and loan disbursements for an assigned portfolio of loans made to entities engaged in affordable housing activities in rural communities throughout the United States. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Portfolio Manager, Self-Help Housing is responsible for the overall asset management, monitoring and reporting for an assigned portfolio of primarily self-help housing loans made to entities engaged in affordable housing activities in rural communities throughout the United States. This position is eligible for telecommuting.

National Rural Housing Conference set for October 2023

Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27, 2023 in Washington, DC and online.

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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

 

HAC News: December 22, 2022

TOP STORIES

Final FY23 funding bill supports rural rental preservation, adds new manufactured housing program

The omnibus appropriations bill to fund the federal government in fiscal year 2023, released on December 20, holds most USDA and HUD housing programs near their FY22 dollar levels. The bill is expected to pass both houses of Congress and be signed by President Biden before the current continuing resolution expires on December 23.

The bill’s funding levels support rental preservation efforts, although the measure does not decouple (separate) Section 521 Rental Assistance from USDA Section 514 and 515 mortgages, as the administration’s budget requested. It substantially increases USDA’s Section 538 rental housing loan guarantees, which are used for preservation as well as new construction, from $230 million in FY22 to $400 million in FY23. Section 515 direct rental housing loans receive a smaller increase, from $50 million this year to $70 million next year, but the Section 514 farm labor housing loan program drops from $28 million to $20 million, while Section 516 grants hold steady at $10 million. USDA’s Community Facilities grant program drops from $40 million to zero, presumably because over $325 million in CF grants will be distributed as Congressionally Directed Funding (earmarks). Another portion of the omnibus adds $50 million in CF grants to repair essential facilities in places where federally declared disasters occurred in 2022. More details on the USDA programs are posted on HAC’s website.

In the HUD portion of the omnibus, HOME, CDBG, tenant vouchers, and most other HUD programs remain close to FY22 levels. The bill increases the SHOP and Rural Capacity Building programs by a modest $1 million each and raises the Tribal VASH veterans voucher program from $5 million to $7.5 million, but cuts HUD’s veterans housing rehab program from $4 million in FY22 to $1 million in FY23. The new $225 million manufactured housing program can be used outside manufactured home communities or in communities with long-term affordability provisions, for a variety of repair, preservation, and infrastructure activities, as well as replacement of pre-1976 homes. More details on this and other HUD programs are posted on HAC’s website.

The omnibus does not include tax legislation that would have adjusted the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program and extended the Child Tax Credit.

Rural homelessness increased from 2020 to 2022

Homelessness rose nationwide by 0.4% from 2020 to 2022, HUD reports, but the increase was 5.7% in largely rural Continuums of Care, the largest growth rate among geographies. While the national rate of change included a 1.6% drop in sheltered homelessness and a 3.5% increase in people experiencing homelessness without shelter, the proportions were reversed for largely rural CoCs. There, sheltered homelessness increased by 10.4% and unsheltered dropped by 0.3%. Nationally, rates of homelessness also increased for individuals and for people who had chronic patterns of homelessness. Homelessness decreased for veterans, families with children, and unaccompanied youth. Black and Indigenous people continue to be overrepresented among those experiencing homelessness. These are among the findings published in Part 1 of HUD’s most recent annual assessment of homelessness, which provides estimates for a single night in January 2022. HUD attributes the low increase in the rate of overall homelessness to the “robust federal response” to the housing crisis that resulted from the coronavirus pandemic.

Capacity building and capital access are focus of HAC comments on community investment

On December 19 HAC responded to a request for comments from a new Interagency Community Investment Committee representing several agencies including USDA and HUD. ICIC sought public input on ways the agencies can promote economic conditions and systems that reduce racial disparities and produce stronger economic outcomes for all communities. HAC’s response encourages them to support capacity building for local organizations, provide equitable access to capital for rural America, address rural needs – particularly in persistent poverty areas – directly, accelerate interagency coordination and sharing of best practices, and improve data and information accuracy and availability.

Happy holidays from HAC!

“Home” takes on special meaning during the holiday season: a place to gather with friends and family, or just to recharge. HAC wishes everyone in rural America a safe, healthy, and affordable place to call home.

HAC’s offices will be closed from December 26 through January 2.

RuralSTAT

In 2022, families with children experiencing homelessness comprised larger shares of the homeless populations in largely rural (30%) and largely suburban (32%) Continuums of Care than in major cities (26%) or other largely urban CoCs (21%). Source: HUD’s 2022 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress.

OPPORTUNITIES

HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans initiative opens

HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans initiative supports local nonprofit housing development organizations that meet or help meet the affordable housing needs of veterans in rural places. Grants typically range up to $30,000 per organization and must support bricks-and-mortar projects that assist low-income, elderly, and/or disabled veterans with home repair and rehab needs, support homeless veterans, help veterans become homeowners, and/or secure affordable rental housing. AHRV is funded through the generous support of The Home Depot Foundation. Applications are due January 23. Register here for a January 11 webinar about this initiative. For more information and the application package, please visit HAC’s website.

HAC seeks consulting partner to assist with strategic plan

Are you a strategic consultant passionate about working with CDFIs, nonprofits, and/or rural communities? HAC invites you to submit a proposal for our strategic planning process! HAC seeks a consultant to support the organization and our stakeholders in the creation of a three-to-five-year strategic plan. Applications are due January 11. For more details, review the RFP on HAC’s website. Contact strategic@ruralhome.org with questions.

Grants offered for hazard mitigation revolving loan funds

FEMA’s new Safeguarding Tomorrow Revolving Loan Fund Program will make grants to states and Tribal governments to capitalize revolving loan funds that will help local governments reduce risks from disasters and natural hazards, and other related environmental harm. Applications are due April 28. For more information, contact FEMA staff, askcsid@fema.dhs.gov.

Family Unification Program funding preview published

HUD has published a preview of the FY22 Family Unification Program notice of funding opportunity. It expects the final NOFO will be issued on grants.gov in March and is making the preview available to give interested applicants more time to review it, submit questions, and prepare applications.  For more information, contact Ryan E. Jones, HUD, 202-402-2677.

CAPITOL HILL

Disaster resilience zones to be designated

The Community Disaster Resilience Zones Act of 2022, signed into law by President Biden on December 20, requires FEMA to assess the risk of natural hazards across the United States based on community exposure and resiliency. The census tracts receiving the highest hazard risk ratings in each state will be designated as community disaster resilience zones. States, Tribal governments, and local governments will be eligible for FEMA assistance for resilience or mitigation projects benefiting those zones. Residents displaced by such projects will receive comparable replacement housing.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

New national plan aims to decrease homelessness 25% by 2025

All In: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, released by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, focuses on developing solutions in the form of housing and supports, homelessness response, and prevention based on equity, data, and collaboration. The plan acknowledges that tailored guidance will be needed to meet its goals in rural, remote, and Tribal areas.

HUD seeks feedback on CDBG Disaster Recovery

HUD requests public comment on ways to improve the CDBG-DR program. Because the program does not receive regular appropriations and Congress authorizes funding only after a specific disaster, HUD has not had standardized requirements that can be used to deploy funds quickly. One comment request addresses the methodology HUD uses to allocate funds. The other asks how HUD can modify, expand, streamline, or remove CDBG-DR rules and requirements. Comments are due February 21. For more information, contact Jessie Handforth Kome, HUD, 202-708-3587 (phone), 202-708-0033 (fax).

CFPB revises threshold for lenders to report mortgage activity

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is reinstating a requirement that lenders who make at least 25 closed-end mortgage loans for two consecutive years must report data under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. A 2020 CFPB rule that raised the threshold to 100 loans was vacated by a court order in a lawsuit filed by consumer organizations. CFPB will not take enforcement actions against lenders with between 25 and 100 closed-end mortgage loans for data collected in 2022, 2021, or 2020. For more information, contact Jaclyn Maier or Alexandra Reimelt, CFPB, 202-435-7700, or submit a question online.

HUD finalizes three Buy America waivers

HUD has issued final versions of three waivers it proposed in November related to the Buy America preference enacted in 2021, which requires recipients of funding from HUD and other federal agencies to use iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials from the U.S. The waiver notices indicate more guidance is forthcoming. For more information, contact Joseph Carlile, HUD, 202-402-7082.

Previous HUD waivers cover all funding obligated by HUD on or before November 14, 2022 and HUD funding to Tribes and Tribal entities before May 14, 2023.

The de minimis and small grants waiver, effective on November 23, 2022, applies to “infrastructure projects” whose total cost falls under the Simplified Acquisition Threshold for federal procurement, currently $250,000. It also applies to de minimis portions of infrastructure projects. The notice does not explain what is considered to be infrastructure.

The exigent circumstances waiver applies when there are exigent circumstances, particularly related to maintenance, rehabilitation and repair activities at affordable housing and community development projects. It also took effect on November 23.

The phased implementation waiver enables HUD to implement the Buy America preference first in the CDBG formula grant program, by waiving it for all other HUD funding obligated through February 21, 2023.

Multifamily housing goals set for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

The Federal Housing Finance Agency used a new methodology to establish benchmarks for Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s purchases of mortgages for affordable multifamily housing for 2023 and 2024.

Public charge resources offered as new rule takes effect

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued policy guidance and a new form related to the public charge rule for noncitizens, adding to its other resources. A revised regulation was issued in September and takes effect on December 23, focusing on receipt of cash assistance or long-term institutionalization and excluding housing aid from the determination whether a noncitizen is likely to become a public charge. Resources for communities (in several languages) and for advocates are also available from the Protecting Immigrant Families coalition.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Opioid settlement distribution formulas result in less financial support for rural communities

The opioid epidemic severely affected rural communities. However, the allocation plans from multiple states for the $26 billion national settlement rely partly on county population totals. As a result, some rural communities in significant need of recovery housing, treatment facilities, and professionals are not receiving the funding they need to address the opioid epidemic.

Pennsylvania housing lower quality in rural places than in urban

Using a definition of rural municipalities developed by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and a housing quality index, researchers found that, on average, the quality of rural housing in the state was lower than that of urban housing. Rural residences were more likely to burn coal or coke as heating fuel, less likely to have phone or high-speed internet, and more likely to have incomplete plumbing and kitchens. Their report, Assessment and Analysis of Housing Quality and Policies in Rural Pennsylvania, shows that characteristics such as income, education, marital status, and race all correlated with housing quality. The research also included an examination of municipal property maintenance codes; those findings are summarized in a Philadelphia Inquirer article titled Almost 90% of Rural Pennsylvania Municipalities Lack Property Upkeep Rules.

Article summarizes status of broadband in affordable rural housing

Many factors contribute to difficulties in increasing rural broadband access, according to an overview offered in a post from the Pew Trusts’ Broadband Access Initiative. Broadband Access Still a Challenge in Rural Affordable Housing concludes that more subsidies and government funding are needed to encourage providers to serve communities.

HAC

HAC seeks Portfolio Manager, Self-Help Housing and Housing Specialist – Native American Communities

  • The Portfolio Manager, Self-Help Housing is responsible for the overall asset management, monitoring and reporting for an assigned portfolio of primarily self-help housing loans made to entities engaged in affordable housing activities in rural communities throughout the United States. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Housing Specialist – Native American Communities is responsible for providing direct technical assistance, coaching, and training to tribal communities, tribal housing departments, tribal housing authorities, and nonprofit organizations serving tribal communities. Travel is required. This position is eligible for telecommuting.

National Rural Housing Conference set for October 2023

Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27, 2023 in Washington, DC and online.

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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

HAC News: December 8, 2022

TOP STORIES

Congressional action needed on government funding by December 16

It is not yet clear whether Congress will be able to pass an omnibus appropriations measure to cover the rest of FY23 before the current continuing resolution expires on December 16. A full-year continuing resolution, holding most programs at FY22 levels, is also a possibility. Lawmakers may first enact another short-term CR to give themselves another week to negotiate. The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding, a coalition of organizations including HAC, explains how a full-year CR could harm housing programs.

USDA launches simple transfer pilot for preserving rental properties

A pilot program simplifying the process of transferring ownership of Section 515 properties will be in effect from December 9, 2022 through December 9, 2024. USDA’s notice explains and lists the requirements for three types of transfers. The most complex of the three is the “two-step” transfer process USDA tested previously, which allows a nonprofit or public agency to close on a purchase of a Section 515 property based on a plan for undertaking rehabilitation/recapitalization within two years. For general information about the pilot, contact Stephanie Vergin, USDA. Those interested in participating in the pilot program should contact their property’s assigned servicing specialist.

HAC and other organizations offer technical assistance to nonprofits on transfers of Section 515 properties. Current owners of 515 properties who are interested in transferring ownership to a nonprofit organization, or nonprofits who are interested in acquiring one, can reach out to Kristin Blum, HAC, or find another TA provider on the Contact tab at this link.

HAC comments on defining colonias, preserving rural rental housing, and reducing greenhouse gases

Responding to federal agency requests for comments, HAC recently submitted information on three topics relevant to affordable rural housing.

  • Defining colonias: The Federal Housing Finance Agency proposed to change the way it determines what geographic areas are considered colonias for purposes of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve activities. The proposal was based on research conducted by HAC. HAC’s comments support FHFA’s approach and suggest that activities in rural colonias census tracts, where needs are greater, should receive more weight than those in urban or suburban places.
  • Preserving rural rental housing: FHFA requested comments on modifications Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac requested in their Duty to Serve plans for 2023. HAC’s response opposed Freddie Mac’s proposal to remove support for Section 515 rural rental housing loans, supported Fannie Mae’s addition of equity investments in Native CDFIs, and reminded FHFA of comments HAC previously submitted on improving service to Indian Country.
  • Reducing greenhouse gases connected with housing: The Environmental Protection Agency is developing a new $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund program that could fund a variety of activities, including those related to housing. HAC recommended that EPA include CDFIs and housing improvements in the program, address the unique needs of rural and persistent poverty communities, and incorporate equity principles throughout the program design.

RuralSTAT

The number of jobs approved for the H-2A visa program, which allows U.S. agricultural employers to hire foreign workers temporarily, increased from around 75,000 in FY 2010 to around 275,000 in FY 2020, when they accounted for about 10% of the average employment on U.S. crop farms. Source: USDA Economic Research Service.

OPPORTUNITIES

HAC offers capacity building for housing provision to people in recovery from substance use

Safe, healthy, and affordable housing is foundational to successful recovery from substance use disorders and opioid use disorders. HAC’s Affordable Housing and Recovery in Rural Communities Cohort is accepting applications through December 20. Rural nonprofit organizations and local municipalities aiming to create safe, healthy, and stable housing for residents in recovery from substance use disorders and opioid use disorders are encouraged to apply. The scheduled cohort activities include access to HAC’s Rural Resource Guide: Affordable Housing and Recovery in Rural Communities, the Housing and Recovery Symposium, and an in-person peer exchange and learning experience. For more information and to apply, visit HAC’s website.

YouthBuild grants available

Nonprofits, state, local, and Tribal governments, and others can apply by February 7 for YouthBuild grants to provide pre-apprenticeship services that support education, occupational skills training, and employment services to youth, ages 16 to 24, who left high school prior to graduation and also have other risk factors. For more information, contact Department of Labor staff, YB_FOA-ETA-23-17@dol.gov.

USDA will make grants to aid small rural businesses

Rural Business Development Grants are available to nonprofits, coops, and state, local, and Tribal governments. Recipients provide targeted technical assistance, training, and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas. Applications are submitted to USDA RD state or local offices, which have varying deadlines. For state-specific information, visit the RBDG website and select a state from the drop down menu.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

New regulations proposed for Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program

HUD’s proposed rule is intended to encourage homeownership opportunities in Indian Country by modernizing the Section 184 program’s regulations and providing clarity for lenders who make mortgage loans with Section 184 guarantees. Comments are due March 6. For more information, contact Krisa Johnson, HUD, 202-402-4978.

HUD names Tribal Intergovernmental Advisory Committee members

HUD has announced the members of the first-ever Tribal Intergovernmental Advisory Committee. The group is intended to supplement HUD’s Tribal consultation process to strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship between HUD and Tribal communities, coordinate policy across all HUD programs, and advise on the housing priorities of the American Indian and Alaska Native peoples. For more information, contact Heidi J. Frechette, HUD, 202-401-7914.

USDA adopts final rule for broadband program

The Rural Broadband Program, previously called the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, has been functioning under an interim rule since 2020. USDA has now adopted the interim rule as final. For more information, contact Laurel Leverrier, USDA, 202-720-3416.

FY 2023 median family incomes and income limits to be delayed

Following its usual process, HUD would have calculated median family incomes and income limits for fiscal 2023 using American Community Survey data from 2020, but the data collection was affected by the pandemic and the Census Bureau is not releasing the results. HUD intends to base its FY 2023 calculations on ACS 2021 data instead, and expects to release the figures around May 15 rather than in March or April as usual.

Administration hopes to make Tribal consultation more consistent

A memo from President Biden to executive branch agencies is meant to improve and streamline the process of consulting with Tribes when developing federal policies that have Tribal implications and to ensure more consistency between agencies. It requires each agency to designate a primary point of contact for Tribal consultation matters, provide an informational notice when it schedules a consultation, maintain records, provide training for employees involved in consultation, and more.

Final RD state director named

Maximiliano Trujillo has been named USDA Rural Development State Director in Puerto Rico. His background includes work on economic development and other topics in Puerto Rico and Washington, DC. All state director positions have now been filled.

USDA changes tenant recertification for 2023

USDA regulations require incomes of Section 515 and Section 514/516 tenants to be recertified annually or whenever a change in household income of $100 or more per month occurs. Because Social Security and SSI benefits will rise by 8.7%, an average increase of $140 per month, beginning on January 1, USDA is temporarily waiving the recertification requirement for tenants whose household income, regardless of income type, increases by $100 or more, but less than $200. This temporary waiver will be in place through calendar year 2023. For more information, contact Michael Resnik, USDA, 202-430-3114.

EVENTS

Online summit scheduled on residential retrofits

Residential Retrofits for Energy Equity (R2E2) plans to center environmental justice and racial equity to address housing affordability, energy insecurity, and climate change. This new nationwide initiative will provide training to community-based organizations and to state, local, and Tribal governments to jumpstart energy upgrades for affordable housing. R2E2 will begin its training and technical assistance with a free online summit on January 19 and 20. The program is a partnership of the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy, Elevate, Emerald Cities Collaborative, and HR&A Advisors, with People’s Climate Innovation Center advising and with funding from several foundations. For more information, email R2E2@aceee.org.

Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day is December 21

National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day takes place annually on December 21, the longest night of the year. The National Coalition for the Homeless, the National Consumer Advisory Board, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, and the National Alliance to End Homelessness offer a resource manual for communities to hold memorial events or take other steps to remember people experiencing homelessness who have died in the past year.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Fair housing complaints increased in 2021

The National Fair Housing Alliance’s 2022 Fair Housing Trends report states that government agencies and private organizations received 8.7% more complaints in 2021 than in 2020. More than 72% of claims were processed by private nonprofits. Discrimination based on disability accounted for more than half the complaints filed. Race was the basis for just under 19% of all complaints, compared to almost 17% in 2020.

Community land trusts build resilient, affordable housing after hurricane

Yes! Magazine reports on a community land trust in the Florida Keys working to rebuild after Hurricane Ian. Disasters reduce housing stock and drive up rent, while CLTs stave off displacement and ensure long-term affordability.

Study finds differences increasing between “New West” and “Old West”

A report titled New West and Old West in the Twenty-First Century: The Rich Get Richer explores changes in rural areas of the Mountain West region. The study (which is online but behind a paywall) is summarized in Income Disparity Rising in Rural Communities, BYU Study Says, a KLS.com article. Researchers compared counties in 2000 and 2019, finding a large increase in income differences between residents of “New West” and “Old West” counties. New West counties have recreational amenities and are a draw for new, wealthier residents, while Old West counties’ economies tend to be based in government, mining and manufacturing, or agriculture. The growing New West counties in turn have increasing costs of living that may price locals out of communities.

USDA publishes 2022 rural America overview

USDA’s Economic Research Service published Rural America at a Glance: 2022 Edition discussing population trends, demographics of the labor force, and the structure of the economic sector. The rural workforce is becoming increasingly racially diverse in many economic sectors.

Black homeownership rate falling after early pandemic rise

Since the nationwide Black homeownership rate jumped higher in 2019-2020, it has fallen back to 45%, far below its high-water mark of nearly 50% in 2004. The National Association of Real Estate Brokers’ 2022 State of Housing in Black America: The Elusive Dream of Black Homeownership examines reasons for the decline. For the first time, this annual study also addresses the impact of climate change on Black communities.

HAC

HAC seeks Portfolio Manager, Self-Help Housing and Housing Specialist – Native American Communities

  • The Portfolio Manager, Self-Help Housing is responsible for the overall asset management, monitoring and reporting for an assigned portfolio of primarily self-help housing loans made to entities engaged in affordable housing activities in rural communities throughout the United States. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Housing Specialist – Native American Communities is responsible for providing direct technical assistance, coaching, and training to tribal communities, tribal housing departments, tribal housing authorities, and nonprofit organizations serving tribal communities. Travel is required. This position is eligible for telecommuting.

National Rural Housing Conference set for October 2023

Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27, 2023 in Washington, DC and online.

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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

 

HAC News: November 22, 2022

TOP STORIES

Congressional lame duck session must address spending, possibly tax measures

Remaining business for the outgoing Congress includes providing funds to keep the federal government open beyond the December 16 expiration of the current continuing resolution. Legislators may also decide to extend expiring tax measures before the end of December, and could use that bill to expand the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

HAC testifies on persistent poverty before House subcommittee

Lance George, HAC’s Director of Research and Information, was one of several witnesses at a November 15 hearing on Persistent Poverty in America: Addressing Chronic Disinvestment in Colonias, the Southern Black Belt, and the U.S. Territories before the House Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance. His testimony described persistent poverty’s impacts in these largely rural places.

Senators mention housing needs during Farm Bill hearing

Farm Bill 2023: Rural Development and Energy Programs, a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on November 15, featured testimony from USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small and others. Although rural housing is generally under the jurisdiction of the Senate Banking Committee rather than the Ag Committee, Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), who serves on both panels, and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who chairs the Banking Committee, mentioned rural housing needs during the hearing.

RuralSTAT

In 2021, people 65 years and older made up more than 20% of the population outside metro areas for the first time in U.S. census history, up from 16% in 2010. Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Rural America at a Glance: 2022 Edition.

OPPORTUNITIES

Healthy Homes and Weatherization Cooperation Demonstration funds available

Nonprofits and state, local, or tribal governments that have active DOE Weatherization Assistance Program grants or HUD Healthy Homes Production grants are eligible for Healthy Homes and Weatherization Cooperation Demonstration grants. Awards may be used for housing interventions in lower-income households that are served by both programs to determine whether coordination between the programs is cost-effective and leads to better outcomes in improving the safety and quality of homes. The deadline is January 5. For more information, contact Brenda M. Reyes, HUD.

Project for Public Spaces Community Placemaking Grant applications due

The Project for Public Spaces Fall 2022 Community Placemaking Grant closes November 28. Two selected applicants will receive $75,000 grant awards for physical and programmatic improvements to outdoor public spaces and technical assistance for community placemaking. Nonprofits or local governments with projects in specific counties in 14 states are eligible.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Community investment programs comment deadline extended

Housing, community facilities, and broadband programs are included along with programs to strengthen community lenders, small businesses, and more, in a request for comment from the new Interagency Community Investment Committee, which hopes to improve the operations and delivery of federal community investment programs through stronger federal collaboration. The comment deadline is now December 19, rather than December 5 as originally announced. For more information, contact Viraj Parikh, Treasury Department, 202-923-5161.

USDA releases new but incomplete guidance on Violence Against Women Act

A new Guide for Administering and Complying with the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (Attachment 6-K), issued September 30, provides explanations, examples, and forms to help USDA staff and multifamily property owners and managers comply with VAWA. It does not, however, include information about the VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2022, which took effect on October 1. Explanations of the expansions adopted in 2022 are available from the National Housing Law Project, which will also offer a webinar on November 29, The Violence Against Women Act 2022 Reauthorization: Overview and Updates.

FHA to accept private flood insurance

Effective on December 21, homeowners with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration will have the option to purchase private flood insurance rather than federally backed insurance. Like USDA, VA, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, FHA requires property owners (including owners of manufactured homes) who live in flood hazard areas to carry flood insurance. For more information, contact Elisa Saunders, HUD, 202-708-2121, or an FHA lender.

EVENTS

HAC offers USDA 502 packaging training in South Carolina

The three-day USDA Section 502 Direct Certified Loan Application Packaging Training, designed for those experienced in using Section 502, will provide participants with a strong understanding of 502 direct underwriting and packaging standards, which will ensure that submitted loan dockets are complete and accessible for processing. The course will be held in Charleston, SC, on December 6-8. Registration is $750. For more information, contact HAC staff, registration@ruralhome.org, 202-516-6271.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

90% of U.S. counties experienced climate disasters in last 10 years

Maps and data for the 50 states show county-by-county climate impacts in an Atlas of Disaster compiled by Rebuild by Design, APTIM, and iParametrics. Recognizing that disasters are experienced unequally based on underlying vulnerabilities such as race/ethnicity and income, the maps depict which areas have been hit the hardest by recent climate events, where recovery funds are focused, where people with high social vulnerabilities live, and which areas have the least energy reliability. The report’s recommendations focus on addressing inequities.

News reports describe homelessness for rural youth and elderly

Young and Homeless in Rural America, a New York Times article and podcast, describes the plight of homeless youth in rural Ohio, where the lack of support systems leaves schools and churches to fill gaps. The impact of rising housing costs on elders is covered in More Older Americans Become Homeless as Inflation Rises and Housing Costs Spike, a National Public Radio piece focusing on Montana, where a survey found 44% of older adults struggled with housing and only 10% considered housing affordable.

HAC

HAC seeks Portfolio Manager, Self-Help Housing; Research Associate; and Housing Specialist – Native American Communities

  • The Portfolio Manager, Self-Help Housing is responsible for the overall asset management, monitoring and reporting for an assigned portfolio of primarily self-help housing loans made to entities engaged in affordable housing activities in rural communities throughout the United States. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Research Associate conducts original research, manages data, and disseminates information that informs local strategies and national policies to improve conditions for rural Americans. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Housing Specialist – Native American Communities is responsible for providing direct technical assistance, coaching, and training to tribal communities, tribal housing departments, tribal housing authorities, and nonprofit organizations serving tribal communities. Travel is required. This position is eligible for telecommuting.

National Rural Housing Conference set for October 2023

Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27, 2023 in Washington, DC and online.

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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

 

HAC News: November 10, 2022

TOP STORIES

USDA indicates Buy America requirements apply to multifamily housing, HUD requests comments on three waivers

Federal agencies including USDA and HUD have been developing plans to implement the Build America, Buy America (BABA) Act that was adopted as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. BABA mandates that iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials used in federally funded “public infrastructure” projects – whether funded through the 2021 Act or not – be American made. Owner-occupied housing seems likely to be exempted because in implementation guidance the Office of Management and Budget stated that a project “consisting solely of the purchase, construction, or improvement of a private home for personal use . . . would not constitute an infrastructure project.” In comments to both USDA and HUD, HAC has argued that no housing or Community Facilities projects should be considered “public infrastructure.”

  • USDA has posted a document stating that BABA will apply to all Community Facilities financing and to specific housing programs: Section 515 loans, Section 538 loan guarantees, the MPR rental preservation program, and Section 523/524 site loans and self-help housing land development loans. This information was provided in a waiver, approved by OMB on September 13, that exempts all USDA-funded projects with total costs under $250,000, as well as minor components of larger projects, from BABA requirements. USDA RD has not yet provided full implementation details for funding recipients or information about a process to request project-specific waivers on other grounds.
  • HUD requests comments by November 15 on two proposed waivers of BABA’s requirements. One would apply when the total cost of a project or the HUD funding provided is less than $250,000 and for minor components of larger projects. The second would apply in “exigent circumstances” such as recovery from natural disasters. Both proposed waivers refer to “infrastructure projects” and do not indicate whether HUD considers housing projects to be infrastructure. For more information, contact Joseph Carlile, HUD, 202-402-7082.
  • A third HUD proposal would phase in BABA requirements, making them active initially only for the purchase of iron or steel products in infrastructure projects funded by CDBG formula grants obligated by HUD on or after November 15. Comments are due November 17. For more information, contact Joseph Carlile, HUD, 202-402-7082.

November is National Native American Heritage Month

President Biden issued a proclamation and USDA Rural Development announced it is renewing its commitment to strengthen its partnerships with Tribes and Tribal communities.

November is National Veterans and Military Families Month

President Biden’s proclamation states, “During National Veterans and Military Families Month, we pay homage to the unrelenting bravery and dedication of all who wear the uniform and to the unwavering love and support of all who serve alongside them.”

RuralSTAT

Approximately 4 million veterans live in rural America, comprising 8.5% of the adult rural population. Nationwide, veterans make up roughly 7% of the adult population. Source: HAC tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016-2020 American Community Survey.

OPPORTUNITIES

VA offers funds to aid veterans experiencing homelessness

  • Supportive Services for Veteran Families Grants are available to community-based nonprofit agencies and consumer collaboratives to coordinate or provide services to very low-income veteran families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Apply by February 10, 2023. For more information, contact John Kuhn, VA.
  • Per Diem Only grants under the Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem program will fund nonprofits, PHAs, tribes and tribal housing entities, and state and local governments to provide transitional supportive housing beds or service centers. Apply by February 6, 2023. For more information, contact Chelsea Watson, VA.
  • Transition in Place grants, also through the Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem program, support provision of permanent housing by nonprofits, PHAs, tribes and tribal housing entities, and state and local governments. Apply by January 30, 2023. For more information, contact Chelsea Watson, VA.

HUD multifamily housing eligible for COVID-19 Supplemental Payment funding

HUD has announced the final opportunity for owners of properties participating in HUD’s Section 202 elderly housing, Section 811 housing for persons with disabilities, and Section 8 project-based rental assistance programs to request reimbursements of expenses associated with protecting residents and staff from COVID-19 between March 27, 2020, and January 31, 2023. Apply by February 21, 2023. Contacts for more information vary by program and are explained in HUD’s notice.

HOPE VI Main Street Program open to communities under 50,000

The HOPE VI program makes grants to local governments for affordable housing connected to Main Street revitalization that is already in progress. To be eligible, a community must have a population below 50,000 and 100 or fewer physical public housing units within its jurisdiction. The deadline is January 31, 2023. For more information, contact Susan A. Wilson, HUD, 202-402-4500.

Some USDA RD programs will have community planning setasides

USDA Rural Development’s Strategic Economic and Community Development program is intended for projects that support multi-jurisdictional and multi-sectoral strategic community investment plans. Funds will be set aside for SECD under upcoming funding notices for Community Facility Loans, Grants, and Guaranteed Loans; Water and Waste Disposal Loans, Grants, and Guaranteed Loans; Rural Business Development Grants; and Community Connect Grants. Applicants may request the setaside funds when applying under one of these programs. For more information, contact an RD State Office.

EVENTS

Congressional hearing to examine persistent poverty

On November 15, Persistent Poverty in America: Addressing Chronic Disinvestment in Colonias, the U.S. Territories, and the Southern Blackbelt will be the focus of a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee’s housing subcommittee. HAC’s Director of Research and Information, Lance George, will be one of the witnesses.

HAC offers USDA 502 packaging training in South Carolina

The three-day USDA Section 502 Direct Certified Loan Application Packaging Training, designed for those experienced in using Section 502, will provide participants with a strong understanding of 502 direct underwriting and packaging standards. The course will be held in Charleston, SC, on December 6-8. Registration is $750. For more information, contact HAC staff, registration@ruralhome.org, 202-516-6271.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Comments sought on Duty to Serve plans

Public comments are due December 5 on Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s proposed modifications to their plans for serving underserved markets. Both suggest increasing some goals and decreasing others. Freddie Mac proposes to eliminate its objective of purchasing loans to preserve Section 515 properties, stating that the need is being met by Section 538 guaranteed loans.

Rural Partners Network expands

Communities in Alaska, Nevada, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, West Virginia, and Wisconsin have been added to the RPN, described on its website as “an all-of-government program that helps rural communities find resources and funding to create jobs, build infrastructure, and support long-term economic stability on their own terms.”

USDA RD continues using 2010 census data

In February, RD anticipated that by October 1 it would be able to use updated figures for some of its income calculations, but the necessary data is not yet available from the Census Bureau. Therefore, the agency will continue to rely on 2010 census and American Community Survey data for its population, poverty, income, and state nonmetro median household income calculations. For more information, contact an RD State Office.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Veteran homelessness declines

Preliminary results of the 2022 Point-in-Time Count show an 11% decline in veteran homelessness since early 2020, the last time a full count was conducted. This is the biggest drop in veteran homelessness in more than five years and a 55.3% reduction in veterans experiencing homelessness since 2010. A full report on the 2022 PIT count will be released later this year.

Recovery Ecosystem Index maps county resources

East Tennessee State University’s Center for Rural Health Research, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and the Fletcher Group created the Recovery Ecosystem Index and associated geospatial map to demonstrate each county’s ability to support recovery from substance use disorders (SUD). The index scores counties on SUD treatment, continuum of SUD support, and infrastructure and social factors. Indicators include access to recovery residences and severe housing cost burden.

Eviction filings increasing with limited federal rental assistance available

NBC News reports on the many Americans who are unable to keep pace with rising rents and decades-high inflation. Rural Clay County in Minnesota, for example, had three times as many eviction filings in September as before the pandemic and about half of the county’s 60,000 residents spend more than 30% of their income on rent.

Chronic waiting for broadband connection reduces digital dignity for rural residents

A study published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication describes the impact of inadequate internet connections on rural residents’ lives, revealing “the unequal power dynamics of digital inequality and waiting.”

HAC

HAC seeks Research Associate and Housing Specialist – Native American Communities

  • The Research Associate conducts original research, manages data, and disseminates information that informs local strategies and national policies to improve conditions for rural Americans. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Housing Specialist – Native American Communities is responsible for providing direct technical assistance, coaching, and training to tribal communities, tribal housing departments, tribal housing authorities, and nonprofit organizations serving tribal communities. Travel is required. This position is eligible for telecommuting.

National Rural Housing Conference set for October 2023

Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27, 2023 in Washington, DC and online.

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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

 

USDA Rural Development Obligations Cover

USDA Rural Development Obligations FY 22- September

HAC presents the FY 22 September USDA Rural Housing Service (RHS) monthly obligations report.*

Download the Spreadsheet.

* 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 Lance George at 202-842-8600 or lance@ruralhome.org.

HAC News: October 27, 2022

TOP STORIES

New HUD effort addresses homelessness in disaster areas

HUD’s new Rapid Unsheltered Survivor Housing (RUSH) program will provide funding to address homelessness in places hit by disasters. To fill gaps in other programs, RUSH funding will help people experiencing homelessness and those at risk of homelessness. Eligible activities include emergency shelter, rapid re-housing, and outreach assistance, including assistance to meet urgent needs. On October 24, HUD announced it will distribute the first of two 2022 RUSH allocations to the state of Florida and seven localities impacted by Hurricane Ian.

Five barriers to affordable rural housing in the Black Belt

The Montgomery Advertiser reports on a discussion of affordable housing held by experts, including HAC President and CEO David Lipsetz, in rural Alabama. They identified several hurdles, including heirs’ property complications, a lack of infrastructure, and a shrinking construction workforce.

RuralSTAT

In the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas, adult residents of counties on the U.S.-Mexico border were more likely than their non-border counterparts to report delaying healthcare because of cost (16.0% versus 14.0%), and disparities were particularly pronounced among those living in counties outside metropolitan areas: 24.1% in border counties compared to 16.1% in non-border counties. Source: National Rural Health Association.

OPPORTUNITIES

Supportive Services for Veteran Families grants offered

Nonprofits and consumer coops can apply by February 10 for SSVF grants to coordinate or provide supportive services to very low-income veteran families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. For more information, contact John Kuhn, VA.

Funds available to help manufactured housing residents with water and wastewater

USDA’s Water and Waste Disposal Technical Assistance and Training Grants program will fund nonprofits to provide technical assistance and training to help improve water treatment and waste disposal systems for rural people living in manufactured homes. Applications are due November 13. For more information, contact Lorrie A. Davis, USDA, 202-568-9046.

Microgrants support marginalized LGBTQ+ older people

SAGE, which provides “advocacy and services for LGBTQ+ elders,” is offering support for ongoing projects involving services and programming for marginalized LGBTQ+ older people (ages 50 and older), including those in rural places. Community groups, coalitions, or organizations with annual operating budgets of $50,000 or less are eligible. Awardees will receive unrestricted funds of up to $5,000, training and resources, and networking opportunities. Applications are due November 18. For more information, email equityinnovation@sageusa.org.

Pro bono staff capacity offered for reducing homelessness

The Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab’s Homelessness Prevention and Rehousing Accelerator offers free hands-on technical assistance for initiatives aimed at reducing homelessness. The GPL will provide dedicated staff capacity for at least 12 months, as well as training and information. State or local jurisdictions, or nonprofits that are Continuum of Care collaborative applicants with a government partner, are eligible. An informational webinar will be held November 2 and applications are due November 18. For more information, email govlab@hks.harvard.edu.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

FY23 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.

HAC makes recommendations for H-2A farmworker pilot

The USDA Farm Service Agency’s Farm Labor Stabilization and Protection Pilot Grant Program should incentivize accessible, affordable, and decent housing for farmworkers, HAC stated in recent comments. Responding to a request for input on the initiative, HAC also supported regular wellness checks, a survey to collect data on farmworker housing conditions, use of appropriate language and communications methods, and training in workers’ rights.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

New programs incentivize home energy upgrades

Home Energy Upgrade Incentives: Programs in the Inflation Reduction Act and Other Recent Federal Laws, a policy brief from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, summarizes programs that will or could provide significant resources for energy efficiency retrofits for existing single-family and multifamily homes.

HUD offers resilience resources for communities and PHAs

  • HUD’s Community Resilience Toolkit is designed to help communities enhance their resilience to climate-related natural hazards and risks. It offers resources to help identify climate-related natural hazard risks; enhance the resilience of housing, infrastructure, and residents to those hazards; and implement resilience actions using HUD funds and other innovative financing options.
  • An updated Public Housing Agency Disaster Readiness, Response, and Recovery Guidebook recommends actions and funding sources for PHAs.

Flaws identified in FEMA housing inspections process

Disaster Assistance: Actions Needed to Strengthen FEMA’s Housing Inspections Process reports on a GAO review of the housing inspections FEMA conducted for some applicants to its Individuals and Households Program after major disasters in 2018-2021. One change reduced award amounts, while allowing applicants to assess their own damages (now discontinued) resulted in underestimates of damages. GAO made several recommendations, including that FEMA assess the accuracy of its damage level approach and take steps to ensure that its policies on the use of self-assessments are supported by evidence.

Housing program changes needed for people with disabilities

“Disabled people are housing instable and housing insecure, and federal programs are not meeting their needs,” states a fact sheet from the Urban Institute and the Kelsey. People with Disabilities Living in the US Face Urgent Barriers to Housing: Federal Programs Are Not Meeting the Housing Needs of Disabled People reports that 84% of disabled people with low incomes in the U.S., nearly 18 million people, were eligible for housing assistance in 2021 but did not receive it. The authors include several recommendations to reduce barriers to affordable housing for people with disabilities.

Research considers digitalization and housing

Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies released Digitalization and Housing: Framing Paper for “Bringing Digitalization Home: How Can Technology Address Housing Challenges?” This is the first in a series of papers exploring how digitalization – “the strategic use of technologies that collect, create, process, organize, analyze, use, and monetize data” – can be used to address housing affordability, segregation, discrimination, displacement, resiliency, and other current housing-related challenges.

HAC

HAC seeks Research Associate and Housing Specialist – Native American Communities

  • The Research Associate conducts original research, manages data, and disseminates information that informs local strategies and national policies to improve conditions for rural Americans. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Housing Specialist – Native American Communities is responsible for providing direct technical assistance, coaching, and training to tribal communities, tribal housing departments, tribal housing authorities, and nonprofit organizations serving tribal communities. Travel is required. This position is eligible for telecommuting.

National Rural Housing Conference set for October 2023

Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27, 2023 in Washington, DC and online.

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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

 

HAC News: October 13, 2022

TOP STORIES

National Rural Housing Conference set for October 2023

Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27, 2023 in Washington, DC and online. The conference brings together stakeholders in the field of rural affordable housing from local nonprofits, federal agencies, Congress, state and local governments, and other industry leaders for two-and-a-half days of training, discussion, and networking. We are excited to see you all in DC in 2023!

USDA requests comments on new program for farmer discrimination, advocates sue USDA

  • USDA asks for suggestions on implementing its new program that will provide financial assistance to producers who have experienced discrimination in USDA’s farm lending programs. Created in Section 22007 of the Inflation Reduction Act, this effort replaced Section 1005 of the American Rescue Plan Act, which would have aided “socially disadvantaged” farmers and ranchers but was paused when white producers sued, claiming discrimination. Comments are due November 14. USDA will also hold virtual listening sessions for public input on October 20, October 26, and November 1. For more information, contact Liz Archuleta, USDA, 202-720-7095.
  • On October 12, attorneys announced Black and Native American farmers have filed a lawsuit against USDA claiming it breached a contract by changing the program after sending letters to farmers that would have implemented the original ARPA version.

Capacity building needed for rural areas to use infrastructure and resiliency resources

Two papers from the Center for American Progress report that rural places are often the most susceptible to climate disasters, but the least able to compete for funding against larger communities. Those with high levels of “social vulnerability” because of high poverty rates, older or BIPOC populations, or isolation, are at heightened risk and also more likely to be located in disaster-prone areas. Recommendations include providing more noncompetitive project funding, improving program alignment, providing technical assistance and capacity building, increasing rural competitiveness, and more.

HAC webinar to cover packaging Section 504 rehab applications

USDA Rural Development Section 504 eForm Packaging and Processing, to be offered on October 19, will provide a guided discussion on preparing Section 504 eForm loan packages. Presenters will provide live demonstrations of the eForms process with step-by-step instructions, best practices, and insight on producing complete and successful USDA 504 packages. For more information, contact HAC staff, 202-516-6271.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

As President Biden’s proclamation notes, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 became law earlier this year. It took effect October 1.

RuralSTAT

From 2019 to 2020, leisure and hospitality employment fell by an average of 12% across all U.S. counties, but increased in 332 counties, faring far better in rural places than in cities. Source: Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development.

OPPORTUNITIES

Choice Neighborhoods Implementation funds offered

Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants are available for local governments, PHAs, and tribal entities to implement comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plans. The application deadline is January 11. For more information, email ChoiceNeighborhoods@hud.gov.

Indian Housing Block Grant deadline extended

Tribes and tribally designated housing entities now can apply for HUD’s Indian Housing Block Grant competitive program by January 24, 2023, rather than the originally announced November 17, 2022 deadline. For more information, email IHBGCompetitiveProgram@hud.gov.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

LIHTC income test flexibility implemented

A final rule on the average income test for Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties implements a 2018 statutory change. The revision gives property owners the option to qualify for tax credits based on the average income served by all units in a building. It generally applies to existing or new LIHTC properties for taxable years that begin after December 31, 2022. IRS will accept comments, particularly on the rule’s recordkeeping and reporting provisions, through December 12. For more information, contact Dillon Taylor, IRS, 202-317-4137.

IRS extends changes to LIHTC deadlines

IRS Notice 2022-52 announces several deadline extensions for LIHTC properties, previously implemented because of the pandemic and now continued because of ongoing economic and supply-chain issues. Details about which deadlines are extended – and which are not – are explained in a Novogradac post.

Community investment program improvements requested

The Interagency Community Investment Committee, composed of representatives from USDA, HUD, and several other federal agencies, focuses on the operations and execution of federal programs that facilitate the flow of capital and the provision of financial resources into historically underserved communities, including communities of color, rural communities, and Tribal nations. The committee invites comments by December 5 on how it can promote economic conditions and systems that reduce racial disparities and produce stronger economic outcomes for all.

FHA seeks suggestions on reducing barriers for small mortgages

The Federal Housing Administration requests public input regarding barriers to the origination of small mortgages (under $70,000) in the FHA program. FHA will consider developing policies and programs to support and expand affordable homeownership opportunities in underserved markets with lower housing prices. Comments are due December 5. For more information, contact Kevin Stevens, HUD, 202-402-4317.

H2-A farmworker program changes finalized

Final regulatory changes for the H-2A visa program, which allows foreign farmworkers to work temporarily in the U.S., have been issued by the Department of Labor. The final rule differs in some ways, including in some of its housing provisions, from the version proposed in July 2019. It does not permit a 24-month housing certification period or employer self-certification of housing, which were suggested in the proposed rule. For more information, contact Brian Pasternak, DOL, 202-693-8200.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Nonprofit community developers’ financial health analyzed

The Financial Health of Community-Based Development Organizations: Using Internal Revenue Service Tax Data to Assess Sector Health finds that the sector has grown over time, but there are signs of financial stress and small CBDOs are in a more precarious financial position than large ones. Fact sheets are available for each state and some metro areas. The study was conducted for the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations by the Urban Institute.

Study considers inequities in rural broadband

The Brookings Institution Center for Technology Innovation in collaboration with IPSOS Public Affairs surveyed adults living in the rural South regarding their internet access and use. Why the Federal Government Needs to Step Up Efforts to Close the Rural Broadband Divide, the first report in a series of four, discusses how historically disadvantaged communities, particularly Black and Hispanic residents, face many systemic inequalities, including access to broadband. Brookings suggests that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding must provide broadband access to the least connected communities first.

Virginia program uses utilities to extend rural broadband access

Virginia Taps Electric Companies to Help Expand Rural Broadband Access describes the state’s efforts to expand broadband access by leveraging large investor-owned utilities’ work to upgrade electricity transmission in hard-to-reach rural areas. Virginia allows investor-owned utilities to lease fiber capacity to local internet providers, which can then focus their resources on the “last mile” connections with customers. The issue brief, published by the Pew Charitable Trusts, notes that Hawaii, Texas, and West Virginia have authorized similar efforts.

Pandemic innovations positively impact older adults

The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and the Hastings Center coauthored a report, Advancing Housing and Health Equity for Older Adults, about how the policies and practices around housing and other supports instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic could greatly benefit older adults over the long term.

Emergency Rental Assistance demographics analyzed

Equity in the Distribution of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, a report from the U.S. General Services Administration’s Office of Evaluation Sciences, compares the demographic profile of renters eligible for ERA with the demographic profile of renters who received ERA support. OES found the program served higher proportions of women, households with extremely low incomes, and Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Pacific Islander, or Hawaiian Native renters than were represented in the eligible population. Latinx and white renters with extremely low incomes were also overrepresented. Asians, as well as Latinx and white renters with higher incomes, were underrepresented.

HAC

HAC seeks Research Associate and Housing Specialist – Native American Communities

  • The Research Associate conducts original research, manages data, and disseminates information that informs local strategies and national policies to improve conditions for rural Americans. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Housing Specialist – Native American Communities is responsible for providing direct technical assistance, coaching, and training to tribal communities, tribal housing departments, tribal housing authorities, and nonprofit organizations serving tribal communities. Travel is required. This position is eligible for telecommuting.

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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!