If you need information on affordable rural housing and rural America in a quick, easy-to-digest format, you need the HAC News.

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!

 

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!

 

HAC News: September 29, 2022

TOP STORIES

Federal funding expected to continue

The Senate and House are likely to pass H.R. 6833, a continuing resolution to keep the federal government open when fiscal year 2023 begins on October 1, and President Biden is expected to sign the measure. It will keep most federal housing programs at FY22 levels, with an additional $2 billion for the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program. The CR ends on December 16, so further congressional action on FY23 appropriations will be required by then.

Disaster guides online for survivors of Hurricanes Fiona and Ian

The Housing Assistance Council’s thoughts are with our rural partners and communities affected by the recent hurricanes in the South and the Caribbean. HAC offers online resource guides with information for individuals and families in areas hit by Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Fiona. Other disaster resources from HAC include Rural Resilience in the Face of Disaster and a Disaster Response for Rural Communities Guide.

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!

Rural housing preservation bill introduced in Senate

The Strategy and Investment in Rural Housing Preservation Act, S. 4872, was introduced on September 15 by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Tina Smith (D-MN). Like other measures introduced in the past several years, this bill would authorize USDA’s Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization (MPR) program, establish a preference for restructuring a property’s USDA mortgage loan when possible, and decouple Section 521 Rental Assistance so that tenants can continue to receive aid when mortgage restructuring is not possible. It would expand eligibility for Section 542 vouchers and would require USDA to improve its technology and submit a plan for preserving its rental portfolio. A companion bill, H.R. 1728, was introduced in the House by Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA) in March 2021.

Senate subcommittee hears ideas for improving USDA housing programs

Witnesses described the successes and shortcomings of the rural housing programs at a September 20 hearing titled Examining the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service: Stakeholder Perspectives, convened by the Senate Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development. Recommendations covered single-family and multifamily programs, as well as staffing and technology issues. HAC, the National Housing Law Project, and the National Rural Housing Coalition submitted written testimony.

RuralSTAT

In rural areas, recipients of disaster recovery aid from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program received less assistance (about 5.7% less on average) than those in urban areas. Source: Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center at Texas A&M University.

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD offers Section 202 elderly housing funds

The Section 202 program makes capital advances to sponsors to finance construction, reconstruction, moderate or substantial rehabilitation, or acquisition of a structure with or without rehabilitation, to provide housing to elderly persons who can live independently with some services. This year HUD is also supporting the development of intergenerational housing for elderly caregivers raising children. Applications are due January 25. For more information, contact HUD staff.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

New colonia determination proposed, based on HAC research

The Federal Housing Finance Agency proposes 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. Based on research conducted by HAC, FHFA suggests it would identify colonias by census tracts, even when they do not meet a definition of “rural.” Comments will be due 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

HOME regulation finalized

HUD has finalized without change an interim final rule issued December 2, 2016. The rule revised how HUD determines compliance with commitment requirements and made revisions to prevent loss of allocated HOME funds when program income is expended. For more information, contact Virginia Sardone, HUD, 202-708-2684.

HUD requests input on new green retrofit program

HUD is designing a new Green and Resilient Retrofit Program that will provide loans and grants to support energy and water efficiency retrofits and climate resilience of HUD-assisted multifamily properties. The department seeks public input by October 27 to inform prioritization of work, treatment of cost-benefit analyses, and key design elements. For more information, contact Lauren Ross, HUD, 202-402-5423.

Meetings will cover aligning HUD’s manufactured housing code with energy conservation standards

HUD’s Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee will hold meetings on October 18-20 and November 15-17 to discuss rulemaking to align the HUD Code for manufactured housing with the Department of Energy’s Energy Conservation Standards for Manufactured Housing, which have a required compliance date of May 31, 2023. The meetings are open to the public. For more information, contact Teresa B. Payne, HUD, 202-708-6423. To sign up to make comments at a meeting or to submit written comments, contact Home Innovation Research Labs, 1-888-602-4663.

USDA again extends authorization for third-party appraisals

In connection with Section 502 direct loans, USDA will continue to accept appraisals obtained by self-help grantees, certified loan application packagers, agency-approved intermediaries, and leveraged or other participating lenders. The temporary authorization was due to expire September 30, 2022, but now will remain effective through September 30, 2023. The appraisal fee is an out-of-pocket expense to the applicant but may be reimbursed with loan funds at loan closing. For more information, contact a USDA RD office.

Input requested on farm labor shortages and protections

USDA’s Farm Service Agency held listening sessions September 28 and 29 on the recently announced Farm Labor Stabilization and Protection Pilot Grant Program, which aims to address labor shortages in agriculture, reduce “irregular” migration, and improve labor protections for farmworkers. FSA will also consider written comments received by October 24. For more information, contact Linda Cronin, FSA, 202-692-4928.

EVENTS

HAC webinar to cover permanent supportive housing

Permanent Supportive Housing in Rural Areas, scheduled for October 5, will provide information on challenges and opportunities. Permanent supportive housing offers long-term affordable housing with access to supportive services for vulnerable populations. The session will cover supportive housing models and strategies as well as financial resources for acquisition, rehab, and new construction.

Nonprofit finances, homelessness funding, and disaster resilience information posted

Recordings and materials from three recent HAC webinars are available online.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Data, reports, and more available at Black Wealth Data Center

The Black Wealth Data Center site says it “intends to fuel the creation of a national standard for racial wealth equity and drive nonpartisan, evidence-based decisions with the comprehensive data necessary to unlock innovation.” The center was conceived and funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative and is hosted by Prosperity Now.

Report describes ways to prevent evictions

Home for Good: Strategies to Prevent Eviction and Promote Housing Stability, a recent paper from Enterprise Community Partners, describes holistic strategies for preventing evictions and promoting housing stability. Guidance includes ensuring housing stability and intervening early to help those most vulnerable to evictions.

Inflation Reduction Act’s housing energy provisions summarized

What Does the Inflation Reduction Act Mean for Housing?, a post from the Bipartisan Policy Center, presents a detailed summary of the housing-related efforts that will be supported by the recent Inflation Reduction Act. They focus on energy efficiency and climate resilience.

U.S. territories and mainland rural areas may be losing population for the same reasons

A Washington Post article entitled People are Fleeing Puerto Rico, Guam and Every Other U.S. Territory. What Gives? explores the universal population loss in the U.S. territories over the last decade. The article finds the territories are in a situation very similar to that of many rural areas on the mainland. Policy changes and the rise of China as a dominant manufacturer have meant declining job opportunities. People leave – particularly the best and brightest – and that creates a cycle where there are fewer resources and fewer opportunities for those who remain, so some of them leave, and so on. Climate change and other factors apply also.

Increased costs impact LIHTC developments

Filling Funding Gaps: How State Agencies are Moving to Meet a Growing Threat to Affordable Housing, a report for the National Council of State Housing Agencies, says unexpected cost increases have affected almost all deals that were awarded Low-Income Housing Tax Credits from 2019 to the present. Interviewees reported cost increases of around 30%, with some even larger. Many sought other funding to close the resulting gaps, reducing the resources available for other affordable housing efforts.

Aspen Institute launches new rural development website

The Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group’s site features CSG resources including the Thrive Rural Framework, a tool for local assessment, priority setting, and strategy. It will also offer content from partners including HAC.

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).

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

HAC News: September 15, 2022

TOP STORIES

Continuing resolution needed to keep government running

Before federal fiscal year 2022 ends on September 30, Congress will need to pass a continuing resolution holding most federal funding at current levels. The Biden administration requested a number of “anomalies” – variations from FY22 funding – in a CR, including added funding for CDBG-DR and FEMA disaster relief. A CR could last until mid-December, but nothing has been decided yet.

Poverty increased for rural residents and seniors in 2021, Census Bureau reports

On September 13 the Census Bureau released analyses of national-level income, poverty, and health insurance statistics for 2021, exploring year-over-year changes and other long-term trends. Income in the United States: 2021 did not report a statistically significant change in median household incomes, though the $53,750 median income outside metro areas is considerably lower than the $73,823 income in metro areas. Poverty in the United States: 2021 did not report a statistically significant change in year-over-year official poverty rates for the nation, but did note a statistically significant increase for places outside metro areas from 14.1% in 2020 to 15.0% in 2021, representing approximately 377,000 more people in poverty. There was also a statistically significant increase in the poverty rate for people age 65 or older and, given that rural populations tend to be older than others, that likely accounts for some part of the increase in the rural poverty rate.

Webinar to focus on preparing your organization for disaster

On September 21 HAC will present Preparing Your Organization for Disaster: A Guide to Rural Resilience. As disasters become more frequent, organizations will need to make themselves ready to address the associated housing challenges in their communities. Join HAC during National Preparedness Month to hear from local organizations that have experienced natural disasters from fires to flooding. Discover the value of being prepared and learn how to make your organization disaster resilient. We will also showcase our Rural Resilience in the Face of Disaster website and offer tools to help prepare your organization for disaster.

September is National Preparedness Month

FEMA has posted disaster preparedness resources online.

September is National Recovery Month

President Biden’s proclamation of September as National Recovery Month discusses the substance use disorder epidemic, affecting more than 20 million Americans, highlighting the amplified effects in rural communities. The president also mentions the importance of secure and reliable housing in the recovery process.

September 15 – October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month

The federal government’s website for the observance states, “We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month to recognize the achievements and contributions of Hispanic American champions who have inspired others to achieve success.”

RuralSTAT

During 2021, 6.7% of households living outside metro areas had low food security (difficulty providing enough food for all household members) and 4.1% had very low food security (reduced food intake by some members because of limited resources), slightly higher than the national rates of 6.4% and 3.8%. Source: USDA Economic Research Service.

OPPORTUNITIES

Healthy homes funding offered

State, local, and tribal governments, nonprofits, and consortia can use HUD’s Healthy Homes Production Grant Program funds to eliminate housing-related health and safety hazards in privately owned low-income rental or owner-occupied housing, conduct public education and outreach activities, build local capacity, and more. Applications are due October 18. For more information, contact Sacsheen Scott, 202-402-4370.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Housing aid won’t impact immigrants’ legal status under final “public charge” rule

U.S. immigration law provides that a noncitizen can be denied legal resident status if they are deemed likely to become a “public charge.” Until 2019, longstanding policy focused these determinations on receipt of cash assistance or long-term institutionalization. The Trump administration broadened the rule in 2019 to include non-cash assistance such as federal housing aid and Medicaid. The Biden administration cancelled that rule and resumed using the previous guidance in 2021 and has now issued its own final rule, which focuses on cash supports and takes effect December 23. The only programs considered in a public charge determination will be Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, state, tribal, or locally funded cash assistance for income maintenance, and long-term institutional care paid for by Medicaid. Information in nine languages is posted by the Protecting Immigrant Families Coalition.

USDA multifamily budgeting information posted, service coordinators now a permitted expense

USDA Rural Development has posted a recording and slides from a training on proposed budgets for borrowers with multifamily housing loans, who must submit annual proposed budgets before their projects’ fiscal years begin. The agency also reminds borrowers that for FY2023, service coordination is a permitted budget expense for RD properties. Service coordinators help residents connect with services available in their community; RD suggests using the resources and information available from the American Association of Service Coordinators. For more information, contact the RD Servicing Specialist assigned to the specific property.

Lease-up reserve reduced for Section 538 rental housing guarantees

Effective immediately, USDA has lowered the amount of the lease-up reserve required for the Section 538 Guaranteed Rural Rental Housing Program. To cover costs while units are being leased to their initial occupants, borrowers are required to provide cash for the lease-up reserve in addition to their initial operating and maintenance contributions. The agency calculates the new calculation will save borrowers an average of around $100,000 per transaction. For more information, contact Tammy Daniels, USDA, 202-720-0021.

Comments requested on updated FEMA guide

FEMA seeks comments by September 23 on an update to its Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program and Policy Guide. The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to develop hazard mitigation plans and rebuild in a way that reduces future disaster losses. For more information, contact Jennie Orenstein, FEMA, 202-212-4071.

EVENTS

Senate subcommittee continues review of USDA rural housing programs

The Senate Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development will hold a hearing September 20 titled Examining the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service: Stakeholder Perspectives. This session follows one in May that featured Xochitl Torres Small, USDA’s Under Secretary for Rural Development.

Rural rental preservation policy webinar scheduled

Enterprise Community Partners’ Southeast Rural Rental Preservation Academy will hold a National Policy Summit on October 5 looking at how government, philanthropy, housing providers, and advocates can work together to preserve affordable rental homes in rural communities. Speakers will include Farah Ahmad, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development.

Listening session to consider Federal Home Loan Bank system

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is conducting a comprehensive review of the Federal Home Loan Bank system. The process will include two public listening sessions and a series of regional roundtable discussions to consider and evaluate the FHLBanks’ role or potential role in addressing housing finance, community and economic development, affordability, and other related issues. The kick-off event and first listening session, FHLBank System at 100: Focusing on the Future, will be held on September 29, in-person in Washington, DC, and virtually. Written comments can also be submitted through October 21.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Child poverty dropped more than half from 1993 to 2019

Child poverty in the U.S. fell from 28% in 1993 to 11% in 2019, according to a new study using the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which accounts for government aid and adjusts for local living costs, unlike the Official Poverty Measure. Still, over 8 million children live in poverty and, although the poverty rate fell for all racial and ethnic groups, Black and Hispanic children are far more likely than white children to be poor. (Data for Native American children were not robust enough to be included.) Lessons from a Historic Decline in Child Poverty, a study by Child Trends and the New York Times, found the drop was attributable to factors including lower unemployment, increased labor force participation among single mothers, increases in state-level minimum wages, and especially the expansion of government aid. The report includes a set of recommendations to further reduce child poverty.

Data released on sheltered homelessness in 2019 and 2020

Part 2 of HUD’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, Estimates of Homelessness in the United States, provides national-level estimates of people experiencing sheltered homelessness during 2019 and 2020. It reports demographics and patterns of shelter use, including not only emergency shelters, safe havens, and transitional housing programs, but also permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing rent subsidies. The data shows disproportionately low rates of shelter use in rural places for all demographic categories, but those findings seem likely to reflect the lower availability of shelters there rather than lower levels of need.

HUD offers important funding for rural and unsheltered homelessness

Kansas Reflector reports on the importance for rural places of HUD’s currently open initiative to address rural homelessness. Rural areas have few homeless programs and services and, while these areas may have vacant housing, it may not be safe to live in. Continuums of Care must apply for the available funding by October 20. For more information, visit HAC’s post about this initiative.

New maps show climate change risks in U.S.

  • A Climate Mapping for Resilience and Adaptation portal compiles data from several federal agencies into a live dashboard to help communities see climate change hazards for the present and the future. The tool aims to help communities track real-time impacts and access federal resources for long-term planning.
  • Hazardous heat is mapped by First Street Foundation, joining flood and fire dangers on the Risk Factor site, which provides property-level data about current and future dangers.

University students help rural town compile housing data

An article on UGA Today titled Students Help Gather Housing Data for Rural Community describes practicum work by University of Georgia Master of Public Administration candidates helping the city of Lyons perform a property assessment. The students got real life experience collecting data and turning it into useful information. Lyons, in turn, can use the information in planning and in applying for funds to address housing need.

HAC

HAC seeks Housing Specialist – Native American Communities and Community Placemaking Manager

  • 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.
  • The Community Placemaking Manager helps rural residents use their unique artistic and cultural resources to guide local development and shape the future design of their communities. The manager will cultivate the capacity of partner organizations and local communities, facilitate peer-to-peer learning engagements, manage day-to-day program functions and activities, communicate program success, and prepare funding applications. 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!

 

 

HAC News: September 1, 2022

TOP STORIES

HUD announces thousands of new vouchers, some with provisions to help rural applicants

  • HUD will use over $43 million to support around 4,000 new incremental vouchers for a new Stability Voucher program, which is intended to work with the special Continuum of Care funding targeted to unsheltered and rural homelessness. Stability Vouchers may assist households who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking, and veterans and families that include a veteran family member who meets one of these criteria. Program details are set out in HUD Notice PIH 2022-24. Stability Vouchers will be allocated to PHAs that administer Housing Choice Voucher programs, demonstrate a strategy to coordinate assistance with services available in the community, and register their interest with HUD by October 20.
  • HUD will award about 19,700 new regular Housing Choice Vouchers to PHAs, using $200 million that were included in its FY22 appropriation for this purpose. After the first year, these vouchers will roll into each PHA’s renewals. As explained in Notice PIH 2022-29, HUD will allocate as few as three vouchers per PHA to encourage rural and small PHAs to use them. HUD planned to notify PHAs of their awards by August 26 and PHAs were asked to inform HUD by September 2 if they chose to decline their awards.

Temporary Buy America waiver approved for USDA Rural Development

USDA RD has not yet determined whether it will consider housing and community facilities to be infrastructure and therefore subject to the Build America, Buy America (BABA) Act requirements adopted in the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. It has, however, activated a six-month waiver so that from August 4, 2022 through February 3, 2023, recipients of Rural Development funds will not have to consider the origin of iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials used in infrastructure projects unless specifically instructed to do so. The currently open funding round of the ReConnect Program is not covered by the waiver, so BABA does apply to those awards. RD states that the waiver will allow it time “to implement the new requirements and shepherd its customers through a transition to BABA.” A request for a longer-term waiver for de minimis, small grants, and minor components of infrastructure projects financed by all USDA agencies is still pending.

HAC’s Shonterria Charleston appointed to USDA Equity Commission subcommittee

USDA recently announced the 12 members of its Equity Commission’s Subcommittee on Rural Community Economic Development, including Shonterria Charleston, HAC’s Director of Training and Technical Assistance. The RCED subcommittee, along with the full commission and its Subcommittee for Agriculture, will meet on September 20 and 21. The meetings are open to the public online. USDA invites public comments to equitycommission@usda.gov on issues that should be considered by the commission and its subcommittees.

RuralSTAT

A study of rural communities in 10 states found that nonfatal overdoses occurred more often in people using both methamphetamine and opioids (22%) than in those using opioids alone (14%) or methamphetamine alone (6%). Source: National Rural Opioid Initiative.

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD offers grants to modify older adults’ homes

The Older Adult Home Modification Program makes grants to experienced nonprofits, state and local governments, and PHAs for comprehensive programs that make low-cost, high-impact safety and functional home modifications to enable low-income elderly homeowners to remain in their homes. One third of the funding is set aside for communities with “substantial rural populations.” The deadline is October 13. For more information, contact Dr. Taneka Blue, HUD, 202-402-6846.

ReConnect broadband program funding available

From September 6 through November 2, USDA will accept applications for loans and grants under the fourth round of funding from the ReConnect Program. Funds can be used for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas. Eligible applicants include nonprofit or for-profit organizations, partnerships, cooperatives, states or local governments, Tribes, and U.S. territories or possessions. This funding round is not covered by USDA’s six-month waiver of Buy America requirements, so projects will need to comply with those mandates. For more information, contact Laurel Leverrier, USDA, 202-720-9554.

Heirs’ Property Relending Program announces lenders, seeks more

  • USDA has selected three intermediary lenders for its new Heirs’ Property Relending Program: Akiptan, Inc., the Cherokee Nation Economic Development Trust Authority, and the Shared Capital Cooperative, which has a partnership with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. These entities will make loans to help agricultural producers and landowners resolve heirs’ land ownership and succession issues. Details about geographic coverage and contacts for the lenders are posted on USDA’s HPRP site.
  • USDA’s Farm Service Agency is accepting applications from additional CDFIs to become HPRP intermediaries. For more information, contact Raenata Walker, USDA, 202-720-4671.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Rules revised for Section 502 guaranteed loans

Changes to program regulations for the Section 502 Single-Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program, effective on November 29, will update the requirements for lenders, provide guidance for processing applicants with delinquent child support payments, and align builder requirements with the credit program requirements of other federal agencies. For more information, contact Laurie Mohr, USDA, 314-679-6917.

Fair Market Rents posted

HUD’s Fair Market Rents for fiscal year 2023 are posted online and will be effective on October 1, 2022. Comments are due October 3. For more information, contact Adam Bibler, HUD, 202-402-6057.

FEMA plans to address disasters affecting Tribal lands

The 2022-2026 FEMA National Tribal Strategy is intended to help the agency “to better address its responsibilities to federally recognized tribal nations when responding to and preparing for disasters affecting tribal lands.” The strategy calls for FEMA to initiate a national study on Tribal emergency management capacity and capabilities, develop a program guide, develop Tribal-specific technical assistance resources, convene an annual meeting of national and regional Tribal liaisons, and expand training opportunities for Tribal nations.

HUD supports HIV/AIDS plan

Noting that “access to safe, stable, and affordable housing is a critical social determinant of health,” HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge committed to take several actions in support of the recently issued National HIV/AIDS Strategy Federal Implementation Plan for the United States, 2022-2025. HUD will distribute HIV prevention information to people who administer and people who receive HUD-assisted housing programs, including youth in HUD-assisted housing; partner with other agencies to address situations where homelessness or unstable housing is an identified factor for HIV/AIDS; make efforts to ensure racial and LGBTQ+ equity in access to Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS housing and services; and use scoring points to incentivize communities to address inequities.

Advisory committee to focus on affordable, equitable, and sustainable housing

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is establishing a Federal Advisory Committee on Affordable, Equitable, and Sustainable Housing to advise the agency as it oversees Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Bank System. FHFA will publish a notice in the future soliciting applications for committee membership from people representing diverse communities, points of view, institution asset sizes, and geographical locations. For more information, contact Erin Barry, FHFA, 202-649-3287.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Most Native American veterans cannot take advantage of VA home loan program

National Public Radio reports how rarely Native American veterans on tribal land use the VA’s Native American Direct Loan program to finance their homes. Barriers include limited data about the program’s results, out-of-date user manuals, and the fact that only 20% of the country’s almost 600 tribes have Memorandums of Understanding with VA, which are required before the VA can legally make loans on tribal land. GAO released a report in April with recommendations on ways for the VA to increase mortgage loan program participation.

Attorneys differ regarding Supreme Court decision’s impact on fair housing

Could This Supreme Court Ruling Affect Fair Housing?, a Shelterforce article, compiles the views of several housing attorneys on the possible impact of the court’s West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency decision, which held that EPA could not adopt a regulation with a significant economic impact because Congress had not explicitly granted it the authority to do so. The lawyers quoted in the article, all fair housing experts, reached varying conclusions about whether the same rationale could be used to challenge regulations on affirmatively furthering fair housing or on disparate impact.

HAC

HAC offers career opportunities

  • 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.
  • The Loan Officer, Rental Preservation, conducts rental housing lending and preservation technical assistance activities. This work includes marketing, originating, and underwriting new loan transactions. The Loan Officer also provides hands-on technical assistance to nonprofits that are seeking to acquire and preserve existing USDA-financed (Section 515) rental developments. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Community Placemaking Manager helps rural residents use their unique artistic and cultural resources to guide local development and shape the future design of their communities. The manager will cultivate the capacity of partner organizations and local communities, facilitate peer-to-peer learning engagements, manage day-to-day program functions and activities, communicate program success, and prepare funding applications. Travel is required. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Training Coordinator will support the successful management and delivery of HAC’s training activities as well as its biennial National Rural Housing Conference. The role requires strong logistical training events experience, exceptional attention to detail, and a passion for creating high-quality training events for attendees. 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!

 

HAC News: August 18, 2022

TOP STORIES

Inflation Reduction Act includes housing energy provisions

On August 16, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, the scaled-back version of the Build Back Better Act. BBB would have put substantial funding into existing USDA and HUD housing programs, whereas the IRA’s housing provisions focus on increasing energy efficiency and climate resilience. They include creation of a new HUD-administered program that will make loans and grants to properties assisted by HUD’s Section 202, 811, and 236 programs, and those with Section 8 project-based vouchers.

Loan payment program for Black farmers replaced

The Inflation Reduction Act replaces the loan repayment program for Black and other disadvantaged farmers that was created in the 2021 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Implementation of the ARPA effort had been frozen pending the resolution of several lawsuits claiming that basing repayments on race was discriminatory. The IRA’s version will provide payments to anyone who experienced past discrimination in USDA farm lending programs. It also includes grants and loans “to improve land access (including heirs’ property and fractionated land issues) for underserved farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners.” Additional funds are allocated for outreach, education, research, equity commissions, and other aid.

Assistance available for transferring Section 515 properties

USDA recently awarded funding to technical assistance providers, including HAC, to help nonprofits acquire and preserve Section 515 rental properties. HAC will assist properties located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. 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. To find a TA provider in another state, click 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.

Census estimates housing units undercounted in rural and Native areas, requests input

  • Nationwide, there was no statistically significant undercount or overcount of housing units in the 2020 decennial census, the Census Bureau calculates. The bureau’s Post-Enumeration Survey report on the housing unit count does identify some statistically significant variations at the regional and state levels. It also estimates a 4.2% net undercount in the most remote rural places where internet and mail delivery are limited. It calculates a national net undercount of 7% for housing units on American Indian Reservations, though not in other types of Native lands. PES reports on the 2020 counts of population and of certain characteristics were published earlier this year.
  • The Census Bureau requests comments on improving participation in the 2030 Census. It is particularly interested in ways to reach the Black, American Indian and Alaska Native, and Hispanic or Latino populations, as well as young children aged 0-4, because these groups were undercounted in 2020 and previous years. Comments are due November 15. For more information, contact Jennifer Reichert, Census, 301-763-6712.

RuralSTAT

With 39 confirmed deaths, the July floods in eastern Kentucky were the deadliest non-tropical flash floods in the U.S. since 1977. Source: The Weather Channel.

OPPORTUNITIES

Housing Stability Evaluation Incubator offers support

The Housing Stability Evaluation Incubator will assist housing service providers to increase their capacity to generate and utilize evidence about programs that aim to address homelessness or foster housing stability. The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab offers funding, training, and technical support for nonprofits, government agencies, and others to design randomized evaluations of their programs. An existing data collection infrastructure is not necessary, and sample sizes can be small for some projects. J-PAL will hold a webinar for potential applicants on August 25. Letters of interest are due October 17. For more information, sign up for a conversation with J-PAL staff or contact Bridget Mercier, J-PAL.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Fair lending data to be required for mortgage loans in secondary market

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will require lenders that service loans to obtain and maintain fair lending data on borrowers’ age, race, ethnicity, gender, and preferred language. The data will transfer with servicing throughout the mortgage term. Servicers must implement this change starting on March 1, 2023.

New multifamily benchmarks proposed for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

The Federal Housing Finance Agency proposes to set 2023 and 2024 multifamily housing goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac based on percentages of loan purchases rather than number of units. Comments are due October 17. For more information, contact Ted Wartell, FHFA, 202-649-3157.

Ahmad becomes RD Deputy Under Secretary

Farah Ahmad, formerly Chief of Staff in the Office of the Under Secretary for Rural Development, was recently promoted to Deputy Under Secretary, after Justin Maxson left USDA.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

New tool maps environmental justice and health by location

An Environmental Justice Index from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides census tract level analysis ranking the cumulative impacts of environmental injustice on health. CDC suggests this tool can be used by organizations, researchers, and others to “identify and prioritize areas that may require special attention or additional action to improve health and health equity, educate and inform the public about their community, analyze the unique, local factors driving cumulative impacts on health to inform policy and decision-making, and establish meaningful goals and measure progress towards environmental justice and health equity.”

Treasury makes economic argument for racial equity

In the first of a planned series of blog posts detailing the strain that racial inequality places on the economy, Treasury Department officials outline the origins and persistence of racial inequality and its importance for U.S. economic growth. As an example of its impact, they note that up to 40% of growth in U.S. GDP per capita between 1960 and 2010 can be attributed to increases in the shares of women and Black men working in highly skilled occupations. “Our economy as a whole cannot be as productive as possible,” the authors write, “unless all individuals are given the opportunity to be as productive as possible.”

Survey finds CDBG Disaster Recovery program important to grantees

The Bipartisan Policy Center and the Council of State Community Development Agencies surveyed officials from 36 Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program grantees about the program’s benefits and difficulties, as well as their priorities for reform. Almost all (94%) said CDBG-DR funding was very or somewhat important to their state or community’s recovery. A majority (69%) said that housing was the most important unmet need CDBG-DR addressed. Respondents strongly supported permanent statutory authorization of the program as well as more standardized program forms and templates.

Climate change brings higher temperatures

An analysis of current and future heat events released by First Street Foundation predicts that much of the middle of the U.S. will experience heat indices above 125 degrees by 2053. Find your home’s risk factors on First Street’s map. For a different perspective, Brown University’s Climate Opportunity Map shows local benefits that would result from investment in clean energy and climate solutions.

Annual Kids Count report focuses on mental health

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2022 KIDS COUNT® Data Book presents annual data about economic well-being, education, health, and family and community at the national and state levels, and ranks states in overall child well-being. This year the report focuses on the mental health crisis in American children, linking it to poverty, housing cost burdens, and under-resourced communities. Challenges are greater for BIPOC children than for white children.

Most young adults stay close to home, even if wages are higher elsewhere

An interactive data tool created by the U.S. Census Bureau and Harvard University allows users to examine migration patterns from or to specific “commuting zones,” which are clusters of counties with strong commuting ties. An accompanying study, The Radius of Economic Opportunity: Evidence from Migration and Local Labor Markets, reports that 80% of young adults live within 100 miles of where they grew up. White young adults are more likely to leave their childhood CZ than their Black peers and to travel farther when they do leave. Those from higher-income families are also more likely to move. The researchers conclude that the individuals who benefit most from local wage growth are those who grew up nearby.

Paper examines links between housing justice and gender justice

The current housing crisis is based in underinvestment and policies that stripped wealth from women, people of color, and people with disabilities, says a report from the National Women’s Law Center, the Insight Center, and the Groundwork Collaborative. The Roots of Discriminatory Housing Policy: Moving Toward Gender Justice in Our Economy explains that before the coronavirus pandemic, women – particularly women of color – were more likely to rent their homes and to spend the majority of their income on housing. During the pandemic, Black and Latina women have been more likely than white, non-Hispanic men to be behind on rent and mortgage payments and to be at risk of eviction. The report’s recommendations for change are based on treating housing as a public good, not a commodity.

Dramatic overdose increases predicted for opioid epidemic’s fourth wave

Research from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine predicts that the historic high rates of overdose deaths will continue to grow exponentially in a coming fourth wave. The study’s primary author states that the combination of synthetic opioids and stimulants will continue to increase overdoses across both rural and urban counties.

HAC

HAC seeks Housing Specialist – Native American Communities; and Loan Officer, Rental Preservation

  • 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.
  • The Loan Officer, Rental Preservation, conducts rental housing lending and preservation technical assistance activities. This work includes marketing, originating, and underwriting new loan transactions. The Loan Officer also provides hands-on technical assistance to nonprofits that are seeking to acquire and preserve existing USDA-financed (Section 515) rental developments. 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).

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

 

HAC News: August 8, 2022

TOP STORIES

Senate proposes FY23 funding levels

On July 28, the Senate Appropriations Committee released its version of all appropriations bills for fiscal 2023, which begins on October 1, 2022. HAC has posted summaries and tables of relevant parts of the USDA and HUD bills. The Senate has not scheduled action on any of these measures. The House has passed a “minibus” bill that combines appropriations measures for several agencies, including USDA and HUD, but the fiscal year is expected to begin with a continuing resolution holding government spending at FY22 levels. Final appropriations are not likely to be completed until after the midterm elections.

  • Like the administration’s budget request and the bill passed by the House, the Senate committee’s USDA bill would keep many rural housing programs at or near their current funding levels. It would provide $100 million for Section 515, twice as much as in FY22 but lower than the amounts proposed by the administration and the House. It would not extend new RA contracts created under the American Rescue Plan Act. It includes $10 million for the Rural Partners Network and $15 million for the Institute for Rural Partnerships.
  • The Senate’s Transportation-HUD bill would increase funding for many HUD programs, including raising SHOP to $17 million from its current $12.5 million. It does not cover the new $500 million manufactured housing program that was in the House’s HUD appropriations bill or the Housing Supply Fund proposed in the administration’s budget, and does not match the House’s or administration’s numbers of new vouchers.
  • The Senate’s HUD bill would reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA). It would also permanently authorize the CDBG Disaster Recovery program and make other changes intended to get disaster recovery aid to survivors more quickly; similar provisions were also included in the House’s minibus appropriations bill.

HUD issues economic justice agenda to help renters build assets

Bridging the Wealth Gap: An Agenda for Economic Justice and Asset Building for Renters enumerates actions HUD will take to help low-income renters build assets through increased savings, access to mainstream banking, and credit score improvement. The agenda describes the expansion of asset building practices for renters as “a reparative tool for economic justice.”

HAC submits Community Reinvestment Act comments

In its response to a proposed rule from the three federal agencies that regulate banks, HAC generally supported their efforts to overhaul the process for determining whether lenders are complying with the Community Reinvestment Act, which requires them to meet the credit needs of the communities where they work. To increase CRA’s impact on underserved rural communities, HAC suggested the regulators should explicitly consider bank activities in rural areas and their performance based on race, should not raise the size threshold for determining whether a bank receives a more stringent evaluation, and should give more weight to community development activities.

RuralSTAT

40% of the most remote counties outside metro areas had no places with sufficient primary medical care in 2017, compared with only 16% of metro counties that lacked those resources. Source: Economic Research Service, USDA.

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD funds available for homelessness, Native housing, and self-sufficiency; HAC summarizes rural funding offer

Changes encourage governments to use recovery funds for housing

The Treasury Department has updated its guidance to state and local governments on their use of State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for pandemic-related housing needs. Items 2.14 and 4.9 in Treasury’s FAQs address allowable affordable housing expenditures, including those made in conjunction with USDA’s MPR rental preservation program. A new Affordable Housing How-To Guide explains how to combine SLFRF monies with other federal housing funds. For more information, email SLFRF@treasury.gov.

Uses updated for unobligated Emergency Rental Assistance funds

Revisions to the Treasury Department’s FAQs on the Emergency Rental Assistance program give some added flexibilities to state and local governments that spend most of their ERA2 funds by October 1. They can use the unobligated monies for affordable housing construction, rehabilitation, and preservation and for operations of affordable housing projects where ERA2 funds have been previously used.

Fed requests survey responses on pandemic impacts

The Federal Reserve System and partners are conducting a survey to learn how the effects of the coronavirus pandemic are evolving within low- to moderate-income communities and among the organizations serving them. Questions address supply chain disruptions, inflation, housing instability, employee retention, and more. Responses are requested by August 23. For more information, contact Surekha Carpenter, Federal Reserve.

CAPITOL HILL

New congressional caucuses address CDFIs and disasters

The website of the newly formed Senate Community Development Finance Caucus says the body “will be the platform where policymakers can coordinate and expand on public and private-sector efforts in support of the missions of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs).” In the House, a new Congressional Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Caucus intends to advance legislation and policies that provide efficient, equitable relief for disaster survivors, help communities to recover, and support disaster preparedness.

Senate committee hears about rental housing affordability

An August 2 hearing convened by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, The Rent Eats First: How Renters and Communities are Impacted by Today’s Housing Market, included testimony from eviction expert Matthew Desmond and National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Diane Yentel. They offered data and recommendations for policy changes to support renters.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

USDA proposes to let lenders approve Section 502 loan guarantees

USDA review and approval is currently required at two stages in the process of making a Section 502 guaranteed loan. To streamline the process, USDA is proposing to allow lenders to obtain Delegated Lender status to approve Section 502 guaranteed loans with limited to no USDA involvement. Comments are due October 3. For more information, contact Sara Thieleke, USDA, 314-457-5242.

Revisions proposed for VA Homeless Grant and Per Diem Program

The Department of Veterans Affairs proposes to amend the regulations that govern its Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program. It would change the allowable per diem rate VA provides to grant recipients and eligible entities for homeless veterans, establish a new rate for homeless veterans who care for a minor dependent, and make technical corrections. Comments are due September 30. For more information, contact Chelsea Watson, VA, 813-979-3570.

Comments sought on minority CDFIs

The CDFI Fund requests comments on the criteria and process it will use to designate a Community Development Financial Institution as a Minority Lending Institution. No federal funding is currently connected to an MLI designation, but the CDFI Fund hopes to recognize these CDFIs and to identify barriers they experience in providing access to capital. Comments are due November 25. For more information, contact Jeff Merkowitz, CDFI Fund.

Rural and Tribal communities to receive wastewater assistance

USDA and the EPA have launched a pilot initiative to help address wastewater management issues in 11 rural and Tribal communities. The agencies intend to help historically underserved communities identify and pursue federal funding opportunities to address their wastewater needs. EPA plans to offer more information online about getting technical assistance for community wastewater.

EVENTS

Webinar series to address Housing First

Four webinars from the National Low Income Housing Coalition and National Alliance to End Homelessness will cover topics related to homelessness and Housing First. The sessions are designed to push back against increasingly negative attitudes about people experiencing homelessness. They begin on August 15 and continue every other Monday.

White House hosts summit on eviction reform.

A White House Summit on Building Lasting Eviction Prevention Reform held on August 2 emphasized the importance of creating long-term policy solutions to ensure Americans can remain in their homes. Speakers emphasized that eviction reform requires input and buy-in from many different sectors and is most successful when communities have a multifaceted approach.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Renters struggle as costs far outpace wage changes

The average minimum wage worker in the U.S. would have to work 96 hours per week to afford a modest two-bedroom rental home, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Out of Reach: The High Cost of Housing 2022 report. The annual study highlights the disparity between what renters can afford and what is available in the rental market. Information available on NLIHC’s site includes state summaries and the raw data.

HAC posts guide for Kentucky flood survivors

HAC offers an online resource guide as a source of information for individuals and families dealing with housing loss and damage from the recent rain and flooding in eastern Kentucky. Other disaster resources from HAC include Rural Resilience and a Disaster Response for Rural Communities Guide.

National Tribal broadband strategy recommended

Tribal Broadband: National Strategy and Coordination Framework Needed to Increase Access reports on a Government Accountability Office review of federal efforts to improve broadband on Tribal lands. Based on its research, GAO recommends that the White House and Commerce Department specifically address tribal needs within a national broadband strategy and within the American Broadband Initiative.

HAC

HAC seeks Training Coordinator and Loan Officer, Rental Preservation.

  • The Training Coordinator will support the successful management and delivery of HAC’s training activities as well as its biennial National Rural Housing Conference. The role requires strong logistical training events experience, exceptional attention to detail, and a passion for creating high-quality training events for attendees. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Loan Officer, Rental Preservation, conducts rental housing lending and preservation technical assistance activities. This work includes marketing, originating, and underwriting new loan transactions. The Loan Officer also provides hands-on technical assistance to nonprofits that are seeking to acquire and preserve existing USDA-financed (Section 515) rental developments. 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!

 

HAC News: July 21, 2022

TOP STORIES

House approves FY23 funding for USDA, HUD, others.

On July 20 the House passed a minibus appropriations bill, approving funding levels for several federal agencies including USDA and HUD. The Senate has not yet begun actions on FY23 appropriations, and a continuing resolution is expected to be needed to begin the fiscal year on October 1, 2022.

USDA considers Buy America waivers.

USDA proposes to waive Build America, Buy America (BABA) Act requirements for small awards, small parts of larger awards, and minor components of infrastructure projects financed by the department. Comments are due by August 2 to sm.OCFO.ffac@usda.gov. These waivers would be in effect for five years. USDA did not include any RD housing or community facilities programs on an initial list of programs that finance infrastructure, but it does mention multifamily housing and CF in the new waiver proposal, indicating it may be considering some of these activities to be infrastructure. (USDA has also requested the BABA requirements be suspended for all Rural Development-financed activities for six months.) For more information, contact Tyson Whitney, USDA, 202-720-8978. HAC has posted a summary of BABA requirements and their status, along with comments HAC submitted to HUD about its implementation of the law.

CDBG-Disaster Recovery authorization measure passes.

On July 14 when the House passed H.R. 7900, the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act, it included (p. H6599) an amendment that would permanently authorize HUD’s Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery program. Authorization could make the program’s funding more predictable and reliable. The provision must be adopted by the Senate as well in order to become law.

RuralSTAT

Sixty counties in metropolitan areas have limited banking options, compared to 399 counties outside metro areas. Source: HAC tabulation of FDIC data.

OPPORTUNITIES

Veterans housing repair grants available.

Nonprofit organizations offering nationwide or statewide programs that primarily serve veterans or low-income individuals are eligible for the Veterans Housing Rehabilitation and Modification Pilot Program from HUD and VA. Grants may be used to modify or rehabilitate eligible veterans’ primary residences or to provide grantees’ affiliates with technical, administrative, and training support related to those services. Apply by August 24. For more information, contact Jovette Bryant, HUD, 877-787-2526.

HAC offers rural creative placemaking grants.

HAC’s 2022 Creative Placemaking for Rural Initiative, under USDA’s Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge Initiative, will provide support and technical assistance to create and implement innovative placemaking strategies. USDA RD defines placemaking as a collaborative process among public, private, philanthropic, and community partners to strategically improve the social, cultural, and economic structure of a community. For more information, contact HAC staff, cpr@ruralhome.org.

CDFI Fund extends Equitable Recovery Program deadline.

The CDFI Equitable Recovery Program will make awards to certified Community Development Financial Institutions to expand lending, grant making, and investment activity in low- or moderate-Income communities and to borrowers, including minorities, that have significant unmet capital or financial services needs and were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to enable CDFIs to build organizational capacity to accomplish these activities. Applications are now due September 22. For more information, contact CDFI Fund staff, erp@cdfi.treas.gov, 202-653-0421.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Housing advocates push for more fundamental changes to the Community Reinvestment Act.

Shelterforce offers a roundup of feedback about the proposed CRA rule. Including explicit references to race, imposing stronger requirements for small banks serving rural areas, and making bank data available to the public are suggested. The deadline to submit comments is August 5.

Updated FAQs address Emergency Rental Assistance.

The Treasury Department has updated its Frequently Asked Questions on Emergency Rental Assistance for pandemic-impacted tenants. Among the changes, new answer 44 makes clear that ERA administrators may not impose additional eligibility criteria, including employment or job training requirements, as a condition of providing ERA assistance. Other new posts on the ERA site include a notice regarding ERA1 recapture for Tribal governments.

HUD proposes temporary Fair Market Rent calculation changes.

HUD’s methodology for calculating Fair Market Rents relies on the American Community Survey, but the Census Bureau is not releasing 2020 ACS data because of the pandemic’s impacts on data collection, so HUD proposes to changes the way it calculates FMRs for FY23.  Comments are due August 12. For more information, contact Adam Bibler, HUD, 202-402-6057.

Manufactured home code amendments suggested.

HUD proposes to adopt amendments to the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, along with relevant regulations and installation standards, recommended by the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee. Comments are due September 19. For more information, contact Teresa B. Payne, HUD, 202-402-2698.

USDA announces fees for some guaranteed loans.

FY23 fee rates will be effective October 1 with applications for guaranteed loans under USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities, Water and Waste Disposal, Business and Industry, and Rural Energy for America programs. These fees may be adjusted after passage of final FY23 appropriations. For more information, contact Michele Brooks, USDA, 202-690-1078.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Report quantifies “housing underproduction.”

Housing Underproduction™ in the U.S. 2022, published by Up for Growth, reports that the U.S. needed 3.8 million more homes in 2019, twice as many as in 2012. The report includes some rural data and some at the state level – noting, for example, that the extent of underproduction and the reasons for it vary from place to place – although it emphasizes metropolitan areas. The writers propose policy changes, but say that “socially vulnerable communities” need different, more targeted approaches.

Recommendations offered for building rural outdoor recreation economies.

Rural Outdoor Recreation Economies: Challenges and Opportunities, from the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, suggests tactics including collaborations, careful planning, workforce training, and requiring short-term rentals to be owner-occupied.

Survey found rising evictions in HUD properties.

A National Housing Law Project survey of legal aid attorneys found that in many places evictions in HUD-assisted housing are returning to pre-pandemic levels or higher. Tenants with housing vouchers have fared worse than tenants in public housing. Although HUD provided ways to adjust rents quickly, it did not require PHAs to use them and also did not require PHAs or voucher holders’ landlords to apply for emergency rental assistance, so many did not. The survey report includes recommendations for improvement.

Rural prosperity lessons summarized.

Learning Through Collaboration: Field Leaders Drive Critical Conversations, a post on the Aspen Institute’s community development blog, describes the work and learnings on equitable rural prosperity developed through the Rural Opportunity and Development (ROAD) collaboration among the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, HAC, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Rural LISC, and the Federal Reserve Board. For more information, contact Devin Deaton, Aspen Institute.

Some LIHTC properties have below market rents after leaving the program.

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) at Risk examines the risks of expiring LIHTC restrictions and the outcomes for properties that exit the program. Freddie Mac researchers found that about 61% of units that left the LIHTC program remained affordable for tenants with incomes at 60% of area median. The analysis did not include properties outside metropolitan areas because they were considered to have a lower risk of exiting.

HAC

HAC seeks Training Coordinator; Portfolio Manager, Self Help Housing; and Loan Officer, Rental Preservation.

  • The Training Coordinator will support the successful management and delivery of HAC’s training activities as well as its biennial National Rural Housing Conference. The role requires strong logistical training events experience, exceptional attention to detail, and a passion for creating high-quality training events for attendees. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Portfolio Manager, Self Help Housing, is responsible for asset management, monitoring, and reporting for a portfolio of primarily self-help housing loans made to rural affordable housing entities throughout the U.S. These responsibilities include SHOP grant management and compliance activities. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Loan Officer, Rental Preservation, conducts rental housing lending and preservation technical assistance activities. This work includes marketing, originating, and underwriting new loan transactions. The Loan Officer also provides hands-on technical assistance to nonprofits that are seeking to acquire and preserve existing USDA-financed (Section 515) rental developments. 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!