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: January 4, 2024

Vol. 53, No. 1

TOP STORIES

Next appropriations crisis deadline is January 19

When the Senate and House reconvene on January 8 and 9, they will face two upcoming deadlines for fiscal year 2024 funding. The continuing resolution that is currently in effect split the 12 federal appropriations bills into two groups. Four of them – USDA, Transportation-HUD, Energy, and Veterans – expire on January 19, while the rest end on February 2. The Senate has passed funding measures for both USDA and HUD, each of them considerably different from its House counterpart. The House failed to pass its USDA bill and has not yet voted on HUD.

Congress could enact individual appropriations bills, minibuses, an omnibus, another short-term continuing resolution, or a CR that covers the remainder of the fiscal year, or it could allow all or part of the federal government to close. The Fiscal Responsibility Act, the debt ceiling compromise negotiated in spring 2023 that includes reductions in federal spending, requires funding cuts if full-year appropriations bills are not enacted by April 30, but the dollar amounts cannot be calculated yet, as explained in an OMB memo to heads of federal agencies.

January is National Poverty Awareness Month

The Census Bureau reports that the official poverty rate in 2022 was 11.5%, with 37.9 million people in poverty. Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which accounts for assistance and expenses that are not included in the official poverty measure, the 2022 poverty rate was 12.4%. The SPM child poverty rate more than doubled from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022.

RuralSTAT

Rural poverty rates, for all races and ethnicities, exceed those of their suburban or urban counterparts. One out of every three Black or Native rural Americans lives in poverty. These poverty levels are more than twice as high as the national poverty rate of 12.6%. Rural Hispanics, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, persons of two or more races, and those who identify as other races all have poverty rates at 20% or higher. Source: HAC tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017-2021 American Community Survey. To learn more about poverty and other economic conditions in rural America visit HAC’s Taking Stock report.  

OPPORTUNITIES

HAC invites proposals for Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans grants

HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans Initiative supports local nonprofit housing development organizations that meet or help meet the affordable housing needs of veterans with low incomes in rural places. Grants typically range up to $30,000 per organization and must support bricks-and-mortar projects that assist low-income, elderly, and/or disabled veterans with critical home repair, make accessibility modifications, support homeless veterans, help veterans become homeowners, and/or secure affordable rental housing. The AHRV Initiative is funded through the generous support of The Home Depot Foundation. Applications are due by 4:00 pm Eastern on Monday, January 22. For more information, contact HAC staff, ahrv@ruralhome.org. No phone calls please. Program staff will be available to answer questions during a webinar on January 10.

HUD launches Energy and Water Benchmarking

HUD’s new Energy and Water Benchmarking Service is available for properties participating in its project-based rental assistance programs. Property owners will receive data on energy and water consumption at their properties, as well as technical assistance and training. HUD intends the data to help identify opportunities for energy efficiency improvements and assess rehabilitation efforts that may be eligible for grant or loan funding under HUD’s Green and Resilient Retrofit Program or other sources of funding. HUD’s contractor, Leidos, will be contacting property owners to discuss the program. Owners may also contact HUD at mfbenchmarking@hud.gov to participate.

Resilience funding for government agencies available

FEMA’s Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) Revolving Loan Fund Program will make grants to state, territorial, and Tribal governments to capitalize revolving loan funds that will help local governments reduce risks from disasters, natural hazards, and other related environmental harm. Applications are due April 30. For more information, contact FEMA staff, FEMA-STORMRLF@fema.dhs.gov.

ConnectHomeUSA broadband program expanding

HUD hopes to add urban, rural, and Tribal communities to CHUSA, which provides technical assistance and information to help PHAs and Tribes improve broadband connectivity and use in HUD-assisted housing. Applications are due February 15. HUD will hold a webinar for applicants on January 11. For more information, email ConnectHome@hud.gov.

USDA hiring Climate Change Fellows

Forty Climate Change Fellows with a range of skills are needed to help with applications from farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses seeking funding for clean energy projects under the Rural Energy for America Program. Three of the fellows will work remotely, reporting to USDA RD’s national office; 36 will be based in offices around the country and one in Puerto Rico. Initial appointments may be for up to two years, with extensions possible. USDA’s search is part of a broader American Climate Corps effort involving several government agencies, which will hold listening sessions and accept written comments through January 31.

AARP award to honor nonprofit founders

The AARP® Purpose Prize® will honor people age 50-plus who founded nonprofit organizations at age 40 or older and are still active. Awardees’ organizations will receive $50,000 as well as a year of supports and resources to help broaden their impact. Applications are due February 29.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Compliance dates extended for HOTMA income calculation rule

HUD’s Community Planning and Development office has extended the date for its programs to comply with the final rule on tenant income and assets under the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA). CPD’s notice sets January 1, 2025 as the compliance date for the HOME, HOME-ARP, Housing Trust Fund, HOPWA, CDBG, Emergency Solution Grants, and Continuum of Care programs, as well as CPD programs funded through competitive processes. PIH Notice 2023-27 makes the same change for PHAs, and PIH Notice 2023-34 extends the deadline for the Indian Housing Block Grant program.

USDA RD announces new appointments

Sarah Dietch has been named Rural Development Chief of Staff. She has served most recently at the U.S. Peace Corps, and previously held senior roles at USDA RD and other federal agencies. Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, who has been RD’s State Director for Illinois since January 2022, will become the Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator when Dr. Karama Neal leaves the position in mid-January. Their appointments and others were announced in late December.

Treasury seeks input on financial inclusion strategy

The Treasury Department requests comments by February 20 to help develop a national strategy to broaden access to financial services among underserved communities and improve their ability to use financial tools and services. For more information, contact Natalia Li, Treasury, 202-622-1388.

HUD issues Buy America guidance for public housing

PIH Notice 2024-01 explains application of the Buy America requirements for PHAs. It does not apply to Tribes or Tribal entities.

Summer Meals for Children planning underway

States, Tribes, and territories can opt in to the Summer Meals for Children program offered by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. In addition to the traditional congregate summer meals program, some program operators now have the option to provide “grab and go” or home-delivered meals. A list of participating states and links to more information are posted here. Videos on the program are available in English (USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack) and Spanish (Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small).

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Guides help older adults evaluate housing choices

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has published four free guides for older homeowners making decisions about their homes: “Leaving Your Home to Children or Heirs,” “Making Housing Decisions after Losing a Spouse or Partner,” “Making Housing Decisions when your Health Changes,” and “Using Home Equity to Meet Financial Needs.”

Renewables work well with resident-owned cooperatives

Grist reports on the benefits of resident-owned cooperatives in building climate resiliency. The article, titled How Mobile Home Co-Ops Provide Housing Security – and Climate Resilience, explains that owners are able to upgrade infrastructure quickly, while the co-op provides a community and shared knowledge and resources to invest in climate-friendly projects that reduce utility costs.

Residents fight to save historic Black communities

An Associated Press article and video highlight residents struggling to preserve the remaining historic Black communities, defined as settlements founded by formerly enslaved people. Approximately 1,800 Black historic settlements once existed in the U.S., but now fewer than 30 incorporated historic Black towns remain. Residents of Daufuskie Island, South Carolina; Eatonville, Florida; and other historic Black communities fight against zoning ordinances, home devaluations, and private developers to preserve their homes, communities, and cultures.

Advocates hope to include farmworkers’ rights and protections in the next Farm Bill

Farmworker groups and other organizations are working to include farmworker protections, such as safer working conditions, higher minimum wages, and overtime pay, in the next Farm Bill, according to a Modern Farmer article. Advocates hope their cause will be helped by the additional time provided when the current Farm Bill was extended through September 30, 2024. Since labor rights are outside the USDA’s jurisdiction, historically farmworker rights – along with housing provisions – have been excluded from the Farm Bill since its inception in 1933. To describe what farmworker advocacy can achieve, the article cites New York state’s recent Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, which grants labor rights such as collective bargaining and overtime pay to farmworkers.

Toolkit shows how energy efficiency can reach underserved residents, including rural

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy offers a toolkit titled Adapting Energy Efficiency Programs to Reach Underserved Residents. It highlights strategies that utilities and third-party program administrators can use to expand energy-efficiency program participation among all underserved households, with specific guidance on reaching income-eligible households, renters and residents of multifamily buildings, and rural communities. Strategies are rated by feasibility and by impact.

HAC

HAC’s office has moved

HAC’s new street address, effective on January 1, 2024, is 1828 L Street, N.W., Suite 505, Washington, DC 20036. Our phone number remains 202-842-8600.

HAC is hiring

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

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

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

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

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

 

HAC News: December 19, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 25

TOP STORIES

RHS Reform Act introduced in House

On December 14, Reps. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) introduced H.R. 6785, the Rural Housing Service Reform Act, a companion bill to S. 2790, introduced in September by Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Mike Rounds (R-N.D.).

Homelessness rises nationwide and in rural places

HUD data from January 2023 show the largest number of people in the U.S. experiencing homelessness since reporting began in 2007. The tally increased 12% nationwide from 2022 to 2023, according to the 2023 Annual Homeless Assessment Report: Part 1: Point-in-Time Estimates. HUD suggests major drivers of this growth were changes in the rental housing market and the winding down of pandemic protections and programs, noting a particularly sharp rise in the number of people who became homeless for the first time. Eighteen percent of all individuals experiencing homelessness in 2023 were in largely rural Continuums of Care. For individuals, these CoCs saw a 7.4% increase in sheltered homelessness and 17.8% growth in unsheltered homelessness from the previous year. The pattern was somewhat different for families with children in largely rural CoCs, with a 7.4% drop in unsheltered families and a 7.5% increase in sheltered families. Overall, more than a third of all people in families experiencing unsheltered homelessness were in largely rural CoCs.

President tells federal agencies to support Tribal sovereignty and self-determination

An executive order issued by President Biden on December 6 affirms support for “the next era of Tribal self-determination” by designing and administering federal funding and support programs for Tribal Nations in a manner that better recognizes and supports Tribal sovereignty and self-determination. OMB and the White House Council on Native American Affairs will coordinate collection of information on funding needs, and federal agencies are directed to improve program administration.

Cross-sector group encourages FHFA to use updated energy codes

Nearly 80 consumer, energy, housing, health, manufacturing, and environmental organizations, including HAC, sent a letter on November 30 asking the Federal Housing Finance Agency to require that all new homes with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac meet updated energy codes. HAC policy director Jonathan Harwitz also coauthored a recent opinion piece in Multi-Housing News urging FHFA to adopt these standards. The letter to FHFA notes that updating energy codes would lower home costs, increase disaster resilience, improve health outcomes, reduce emissions, and reduce default risks. It also points out that action by FHFA would create consistent energy requirements for nearly all federally backed mortgage financing. HUD and USDA are moving towards adoption of these codes for some of the housing they finance, and HAC submitted a comment letter in August, signed by over 80 organizations from around the country, supporting their actions.

Happy holidays from HAC!

The board and staff of the Housing Assistance Council wish peace, prosperity, and affordable housing to all!

HAC will be closed from December 23 through January 1.

RuralSTAT

The median household income in the United States in 2021 was $70,784 while the rural median household income was below $59,000. A higher proportion of low-paying jobs in rural areas, combined with older age dynamics and lower educational attainment levels, are substantial factors in this income gap. Source: HAC tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017-2021 American Community Survey.

OPPORTUNITIES

HAC invites proposals for Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans grants

HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans Initiative supports local nonprofit housing development organizations that meet or help meet the affordable housing needs of veterans with low incomes in rural places. Grants typically range up to $30,000 per organization and must support bricks-and-mortar projects that assist low-income, elderly, and/or disabled veterans with critical home repair, make accessibility modifications, support homeless veterans, help veterans become homeowners, and/or secure affordable rental housing. The AHRV Initiative is funded through the generous support of The Home Depot Foundation. Applications are due by 4:00 pm Eastern on Monday, January 22. For more information, contact HAC staff, ahrv@ruralhome.org. No phone calls please. Program staff will be available to answer questions during a webinar on January 10; check online for registration details.

Service coordinator funding available from HUD

Applications are due March 11 for the Service Coordinators in Multifamily Housing program, which supports service coordinator positions for elderly individuals and non-elderly persons with disabilities living in properties assisted through the Section 202, project-based Section 8, or Section 221(d)(3) below-market interest rate programs. For more information, contact Oluwayemisi Oni, HUD, ServiceCoordinatorNOFO@hud.gov.

HUD extends a Green and Resilient Retrofit Program deadline

The application deadline for wave 3 of the GRRP Elements cohort is now March 28 rather than January 4. Elements funding can be used to add efficiency and resilience investments to rehabilitation projects that are in their final planning stages. For more information, email GRRP@hud.gov or join weekly office hours on Wednesdays (except for December 27).

Deadline extended for farm lending discrimination assistance

USDA will accept applications through January 13 for the Discrimination Financial Assistance Program, which offers financial assistance for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who experienced discrimination in USDA farm lending programs prior to January 2021.

USDA reopens broadband funding availability, requires applicants to resubmit

The Rural Utilities Service has revised the definition of eligible service areas in the funding notice for its Community Connect Grant program. Those who applied under the notice published on March 20, 2023 must reapply. Applications are due February 20. Nonprofits, for-profits, and state, local, and Tribal governments are eligible. For more information, contact Randall Millhiser, USDA, 202-578-6926.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Senate committee supports Gooden for Under Secretary, RD names Denton to multifamily post

By a 23-0 vote on December 6, the Senate Agriculture Committee recommended the Senate approve Basil Gooden as USDA’s Under Secretary for Rural Development.

Angilla Denton, who has worked for Rural Development since 2002 and is currently RD’s Chief Risk Officer, has been selected to serve as the Rural Housing Service Deputy Administrator for Multi-Family Housing, effective December 31, 2023.

Pilot program will apply to Section 502 direct loans and community land trusts

USDA has launched a two-year pilot program to test alternative eligibility criteria for community land trust organizations. Community land trust sites are already eligible for Section 502 direct mortgages, but USDA’s notice explains that the community representation requirements are prohibitive for some affordable housing providers also acting as CLTs. The new pilot will test two waivers related to community representation. Affordable housing providers can apply to USDA RD state offices to participate. For more information, contact Jeremy Anderson, USDA, 202-302-3092.

Waivers for some Native programs in future disaster areas announced

Waivers and flexibilities from HUD requirements for the Indian Housing Block Grant, Indian Community Development Block Grant, and Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant will apply for grantees in areas covered by presidentially declared disasters during calendar years 2024 and 2025. Grantees may also request a waiver or flexibility of a HUD requirement not listed in this notice. These provisions do not apply to Covid-relief related programs because HUD has issued separate waivers and alternative requirements that apply to those programs. For more information, contact Hilary Atkin, HUD, 202-402-3427.

HUD explains small rural PHA assessments

Notice PIH 2023-33 describes how HUD will implement assessments of public housing properties run by small rural PHAs. It explains the definition of “small rural,” how the list of such PHAs will be updated, the assessment process, financial data submissions, and more. For more information, contact Lara Philbert, HUD, 202-475-8930.

VA seeks comment on minimum property requirements

The Department of Veterans Affairs is considering changing the minimum property requirements for VA-guaranteed and direct loans. It requests public input regarding improvements, including whether VA should consider aligning its approach with other industry-wide property standards already in existence. Comments are due February 9. For more information, contact Stephanie Li, VA, 202-632-8862.

Federal agencies call for housing providers to help fight the overdose epidemic

HUD, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a joint statement urging public health departments and housing providers to make overdose reversal medications readily available at assisted housing facilities.

EVENTS

Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day is December 21

National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day takes place annually on December 21, the longest night of the year. The National Coalition for the Homeless, the National Consumer Advisory Board, and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council offer an organizing manual to help communities hold memorial events or take other steps to remember people experiencing homelessness who have died in the past year. They are also collecting the names of those being honored.

National Alliance to End Homelessness launches course on providing trauma-informed care

The new online course, Providing Trauma-Informed Care in Homeless Response, covers the causes and effects of trauma and how to integrate this care into homeless response.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

U.S. not ready to provide housing and care for elders in coming decade

Housing America’s Older Adults 2023, a new report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, highlights housing statistics and conditions for the country’s growing older adult population, ages 65 and older. An all-time high of 11.2 million older adult households are housing cost burdened. Rural communities have higher concentrations of older adults, 40% of whom have annual incomes under $30,000. Racial homeownership and income gaps persist in the older adult population. Black and Hispanic older adults have less income and home equity than white seniors.

Housing shortages lead to healthcare worker shortages

Housing Shortages Are Making Recruitment and Retention Even More Challenging for Some Rural Healthcare Providers, an article on the Rural Health Information Hub, reports that towns without available rental and homeownership housing cannot find or keep much-needed workers in fields like health and education. The article relies on information from HAC, among others, about the shortfall.

Research identifies flood-prone “Climate Abandonment Areas”

The First Street Foundation has designated Climate Abandonment Areas in the contiguous United States, locations where population loss from 2000 to 2020 can be directly attributed to climate change related flood risk. First Street found that 113 million people live in areas where flood risk has already been impacting housing choice. The most extreme cases, Climate Abandonment Areas, saw a cumulative net loss of over 3.2 million in population in the last two decades, directly attributed to flooding. The report, Integrating Climate Change Induced Flood Risk into Future Population Projections, published in Nature-Communications, projects that over the next 30 years, the current Climate Abandonment Areas will continue to lose population while other flood risk places will begin losing residents and then will become Climate Abandonment Areas.

HAC

HAC’s office is moving

After 43 years in our current D.C. location, HAC is moving. Our new street address, effective on January 1, 2024, will be 1828 L Street, N.W., Suite 505, Washington, DC 20036. Our phone number will remain 202-842-8600.

HAC is hiring

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 30, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 24

TOP STORIES

HAC provides preliminary analysis of new CRA rule’s rural implications

The new Community Reinvestment Act rule announced in October includes some important provisions for rural housing and community development. A new post on HAC’s website offers a preliminary look at these changes. For example, community development and retail lending are now given equal weight in the exams for large and intermediate sized banks. Also, it is now clear that all of a bank’s community development activities, even those not located in the bank’s defined Assessment Areas, count for CRA purposes. Other revisions are explained as well.

Research posters from HAC conference posted online, awards announced

Explore research posters online from the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference’s research poster session! The posters examine some of the most pressing issues facing rural America. HAC is thrilled to announce our poster contest award winners:

Fannie Mae extends pilot that reports positive rent payments to credit bureaus

Fannie Mae’s Positive Rent Payment pilot is being extended through December 2024, after its first year saw credit scores increase for almost 58% of participants. Fannie Mae will cover the costs of collecting and disseminating rent payment data for a 12-month period for multifamily property owner/operators of Fannie Mae financed properties who use an approved vendor to collect the data. Owners can enroll online. An explanation for renters is also posted online.

RuralSTAT

Rural America has historically had high homeownership rates. Rates in rural places and nationwide, however, are substantially lower for nonwhite residents than for white non-Hispanic households. Source: HAC tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey.

OPPORTUNITIES

Environmental justice grants competition opens

EPA’s Community Change Grants program offers funds for environmental and climate justice activities to benefit disadvantaged communities through projects that reduce pollution, increase community climate resilience, and build community capacity to address environmental and climate justice challenges. Eligible applicants are community-based nonprofit organizations that partner with other CBOs, Tribes, local governments, or institutions of higher education. One of the program’s two tracks offers the option to focus on Tribes, U.S. territories, small unincorporated areas, or communities near the U.S.-Mexico border. Technical assistance is available. Applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis until November 21, 2024. For more information, email CCGP@epa.gov.

Grants offered for states and Tribes to create home efficiency rebate programs

State energy offices and Tribal entities are eligible for Department of Energy grants to create programs for Home Electrification and Appliance Rebates for high-efficiency electric homes and Home Efficiency Rebates for energy-saving retrofits in single-family and multifamily buildings. Rolling application processes are now open for states for both programs, and for Tribes for the Home Electrification and Appliance Rebates program. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy offers information on ways to make these programs work for low-income residents.

Guidance available on tax credits for energy efficiency and community energy projects

The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act created new tax credits and improved existing ones for both property owners and builder/developers, for both housing retrofits and new construction. An overview of new programs is offered by Novogradac. A more detailed chart, published by Home Innovation Research Labs, covers eligibility, requirements, possible combinations with other programs, and more. A Treasury Department post focuses on use of these resources for multifamily housing.

The Section 45L New Energy Efficient Home Tax Credit for developers, including those using the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, is summarized by Novogradac and IRS guidance is offered in Notice 2023-65.

The Department of Energy continues to accept applications for the Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit program, which provides up to a 20 percentage point boost to the Investment Tax Credit for qualified solar or wind facilities in low-income communities. The IRS released final rules and guidance on the program, also called Section 48(e), in August.

Nominations open for historic preservation award

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and HUD offer the 2024 ACHP/HUD Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation, which will recognize developers, organizations, and agencies for success in advancing historic preservation goals while providing affordable housing and/or expanded economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income people. Eligible projects must promote the use of historic buildings for affordable housing, community development, and/or expanded economic opportunities; include HUD funds, financing, or other assistance; meet preservation guidelines; and contribute to local and/or Tribal community revitalization efforts. Nominations are due December 18.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Revisions proposed for Section 502 direct, Section 504, and Section 306C

USDA proposes to amend the regulations for these programs “to reduce the regulatory burdens on applicants, borrowers, and partners by enhancing program delivery, expanding customer service, promoting consistency between the direct and guaranteed SFH loan programs where feasible and aligning the programs with current housing market conditions and mortgage loan practices.” Comments are due January 19. For more information, contact Sonya Evans, USDA, 423-268-4333.

HUD proposes eviction notice for assisted tenants

A proposed rule would require that when tenants who live in public housing or in properties receiving HUD project-based rental assistance face eviction for nonpayment of rent, PHAs and owners would need to provide written notice at least 30 days before beginning a formal eviction procedure. Comments are due January 30. Contacts for more information vary by program and are listed in HUD’s notice.

Treasury clarifies timing for spending Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds

In an interim final rule, the Treasury Department proposes to amend the definition of “obligation” in its regulations for the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund and the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. The changes, which will clarify when monies must be committed and spent, are effective November 20, but Treasury will accept comments until December 20. For more information, contact Jessica Milano, Treasury, 844-529–9527.

EVENTS

HUD to offer “Manufactured Housing and Tribal Communities” webinar

The session, set for December 6, will discuss specific considerations and recommendations for Tribal grantees interested in developing manufactured housing. It is the latest in a series of HUD manufactured housing webinars. Recordings and materials of past sessions will be posted online.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

USICH releases homelessness research agenda

On November 30, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness published the first federal homelessness research agenda in more than a decade. The document, titled From Evidence to Action, is intended to shape federal investments in homelessness research and offer a roadmap to understand what works to prevent and end homelessness in the United States. It acknowledges that guidance must be tailored for specific populations and geographies including remote, rural, and Tribal lands.

ERS publishes rural data overview

USDA’s Economic Research Service has released its 2023 Rural America at a Glance report. The annual publication describes important demographic, economic, social, and housing trends over the last year. This year it shows that rural employment and annual growth rates are nearly back to pre-pandemic levels. A recorded webinar covering the report will also be available online.

HAC

HAC’s office is moving

After 43 years in our current D.C. location, HAC is moving. Our new street address, effective on January 1, 2024, will be 1828 L Street, N.W., Suite 505, Washington, DC 20036. Our phone number will remain 202-842-8600.

HAC is hiring

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 16, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 23

TOP STORIES

Temporary government funding extended

President Biden is expected to sign into law a continuing resolution passed by the House on November 14 and the Senate on November 16. It extends fiscal year 2023 funding levels to January 19 for several agencies including USDA and HUD, and to February 2 for the rest of the federal government. The National Flood Insurance Program is also extended through February 2 and the Farm Bill through September 30, 2024. Congress now will resume efforts to pass individual appropriations bills.

RuralSTAT

Single-family detached units make up about 60% of homes nationwide, but over 72% in rural America. Manufactured or mobile homes are nearly twice as common in rural areas as in the entire U.S., while structures with two or more units are less than half as common. Source: HAC tabulations of the U.S Census Bureau’s 2017-2021 American Community Survey.

OPPORTUNITIES

HAC assists Section 515 preservation/transfers in more places

HAC and other organizations offer technical assistance to nonprofits on acquisition, transfer, and preservation of USDA Section 515 multifamily properties, including assistance with third party costs. HAC’s Section 515 TA service area has expanded and now includes AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, HI, ID, KY, LA, MS, MT, NC, NM, NV, OK, OR, PR, SC, TN, TX, UT, VI, WA, and WY. Current owners of Section 515 properties who are interested in transferring ownership to a nonprofit organization, or nonprofits who are interested in acquiring one, can reach out to Kristin Blum at HAC or find another TA provider on the Contact tab at this link. TA is also available for development of Section 514/516 farmworker properties in some states; click the Contact tab at this link.

HUD offers funding to address youth homelessness

Nonprofits, PHAs, Tribal housing entities, and state, local, or Tribal governments are eligible for Youth Homelessness System Improvement grants. Projects can include youth action boards; regional committees to direct efforts across multiple systems including education, justice, and child welfare; data collection and use; leadership development; and improvement of homeless assistance projects to better serve youth. Additional points are offered for applications that cover either an entire state or geographic areas in two or more Continuums of Care. The deadline is February 15. For more information, contact Nili Soni, HUD, 202-402-2973, YHSI@hud.gov.

CAPITOL HILL

Senators hope to help rural places access federal resources

The Rural Partnership and Prosperity Act, S. 3309, introduced November 15 by U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Deb Fischer (R-NE), would create a grant program to address rural communities’ needs like affordable child care, housing, and job training; provide guidance to help rural communities navigate existing federal funding opportunities; and improve supportive services offered by the federal government to rural communities. Supporting the measure, HAC President and CEO David Lipsetz noted, “This bill would empower rural regions by supporting locally-led planning and capacity building efforts, and providing flexible funding to meet critical needs.”

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Comments invited on proposed changes to 2023 Duty to Serve plans

Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac propose to decrease loan purchase targets across multiple components of their Duty to Serve plans, citing reduced overall volume due to interest rates and market conditions as their reasons. Several of the changes would impact rural housing. Comments are due December 6. For more information, email DutyToServeStakeholders@FHFA.gov.

EVENTS

Energy efficiency webinar to include rural strategies

Bringing Energy Efficiency to Underserved Households: Examples to Emulate will explore a new toolkit from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy highlighting best practices for increasing energy efficiency program participation among underserved residential customers. The webinar, set for November 30, will cover strategies for programs to better reach all underserved households as well as specific strategies for reaching renters, income-eligible households, and rural households.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Low Income Housing Tax Credit recommendations updated

The National Council of State Housing Agencies provides recommended voluntary standards related to allocation, underwriting, and compliance monitoring for state agencies that administer the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. Recommended Practices in Housing Credit Administration: 2023 Update includes sections on facilitating rural and Native American housing development with the credit.

Research considers disasters and assisted housing

Natural Hazards and Federally Assisted Housing, a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation, analyzes the risks that natural hazards pose to federally assisted housing and its residents. The study notes that federally assisted homes in rural areas are more vulnerable to damages from natural hazards than homes in urban areas are, and discusses several factors that contribute to rural vulnerability.

Flood Damage and Federally Backed Mortgages in a Changing Climate, by the Congressional Budget Office, considers the costs of one specific type of disaster – floods – related to owner-occupied homes backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, VA, or FHA. USDA mortgages were excluded because of data limitations. CBO found that expected flood damage is concentrated in certain geographic areas, such as the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. About half of flood damage is estimated to occur in areas where homeowners are not required to carry flood insurance.

Disasters and the Rental Housing Community: Setting a Research and Policy Agenda, published by the Brookings Institution, points out the gaps in public responses to disasters for renters, rental properties, and rental housing stakeholders. Recommendations to address key challenges include: 1) universal renter protections; 2) the prioritization of low-income renters in all disaster programs; and 3) requirements for state and local governments to enforce tenant protections and support tenants and rental housing in exchange for access to federal disaster funding.

Research considers why Black families less likely to leave wealth for heirs

A new Urban Institute report, Intergenerational Wealth Transfers: Do Expectations of Leaving an Inheritance Differ Between Black and White Families?, shows that while Black families are as likely as whites to expect and desire to leave a sizeable estate to their descendants, Black families have less wealth to leave to younger generations because of the compounded effects of systemic racism. Barriers to wealth transfer include title issues such as heirs’ property and access to estate planning.

Farmworkers’ wages far lower than those of comparable workers

The Economic Policy Institute reports that in 2022, farmworkers earned 40% less than comparable nonagricultural workers. Another recent EPI post explains the varied data about the number of farmworkers employed in the U.S., concluding that 2.4 million is the best available estimate.

HAC

HAC’s office is moving

After 43 years in our current D.C. location, HAC is moving. Our new street address, effective on January 1, 2024, will be 1828 L Street, N.W., Suite 505, Washington, DC 20036. Our phone number will remain 202-842-8600.

HAC is hiring

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 2, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 22

TOP STORIES

Second continuing resolution needed by November 17

The federal government is currently funded by a continuing resolution that ends November 17, and a second CR will be necessary to keep programs running while full-year appropriations bills are prepared. Both the House and Senate are trying to move forward on enacting FY24 funding bills, but progress is slow and most of the bills, including those for USDA and HUD, differ widely between the two chambers. On November 1, the Senate passed a “minibus“ that includes funding for USDA, Transportation-HUD, and Military Construction-VA. The House may vote November 2 or 3 on some of its funding bills, including Transportation-HUD. In September the House voted on, but did not pass, its USDA appropriations bill. President Biden will veto the House THUD and USDA bills if passed in their current forms.

Final Community Reinvestment Act rule released

The federal banking regulatory agencies – the Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency – have issued a final revised Community Reinvestment Act rule, most of which will take effect on April 21, 2024. The rule modernizes the CRA evaluation framework in several ways that will benefit rural areas. Two modifications to the reliance on facility-based assessment areas should increase community development activities in rural areas: the rule uses counties rather than census tracts as the defining geography for facility-based assessment areas, and it enhances CRA credit for bank community development activities outside of facility-based assessment areas. For large banks, it gives equal weight to community development activities and retail lending. Community development activities in persistent poverty counties, Native lands, and colonias, all of which are disproportionately rural, are designated as impact factors. And it emphasizes “responsiveness to community need” and other qualitative factors as well as metrics.

HAC’s decennial Taking Stock report analyzes rural America

Taking Stock: Rural People, Rural Places, Rural Housing, released at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference, is the fifth in a series of decennial reports covering social, economic, and housing trends. For the first time the report includes interactive, digital, and new media resources. Chapters cover “The New (and Evolving) Rural America,” “Rural People and Places,” “The Rural Economy,” and “Rural Housing.”

President Biden launches “Investing in Rural America” events

On November 1, President Biden launched a two-week Investing in Rural America Event Series. Cabinet members including Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, as well as other administration officials, will visit a variety of rural places to announce funding awards in economic development (including housing), infrastructure (including community facilities), high-speed internet, agriculture, and renewable energy.

National Rural Housing Conference convenes stakeholders to “Build Rural”

Nearly 700 rural housing practitioners and policymakers came together in Washington, DC on October 24-27 for the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference. Recordings of the plenary sessions are available online, including a discussion with Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Mike Rounds (R-SD), a presentation by Professor Kathryn Edin on the injustice of place, an overview of HAC’s new Taking Stock report, and more. Anyone who registered for the conference can access workshop materials and more through the conference app or by logging into the Attendee Hub. HAC thanks our many sponsors, scholarship contributors, and partners for helping to make the event possible.

November is National Native American Heritage Month

 

November is National Veterans and Military Families Month

 

RuralSTAT

In 1790, nearly 95% of the U.S. population, over 3.7 million people, lived in rural places. By 2020 the rural population grew to more than 60 million people but accounted for just 18.1% of all U.S. residents. Source: HAC tabulations of historic Census Bureau data.

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD offers funding for Section 811 housing for persons with disabilities

Nonprofits and limited partnerships can apply for capital advances and rental assistance under the Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program, which supports the development of, and ongoing rental assistance for, permanent supportive rental housing for very low-income persons with disabilities. The deadline for both capital advances and Project Rental Assistance Contracts is February 12. For more information, contact HUD staff, 811CAPAdvance@hud.gov or 811PRANOFO@hud.gov.

ROSS service coordinator funds available

HUD’s Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency Service Coordinator Program funds service coordinators for public and Indian housing. Nonprofits, PHAs, Tribal governments and Tribal housing entities, resident associations, and some owners of multifamily housing are eligible to apply by December 18. For more information, contact HUD staff, 202-402-3624, ROSS-PIH@hud.gov.

Government entities can apply for hazard mitigation funds

FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program provides funds to states, U.S. territories, federally recognized Tribal governments, and local governments for hazard mitigation activities including capacity building, hazard mitigation projects, and management costs. Apply by February 29. For more information, contact FEMA staff, 1-877-585-3242, femago@fema.dhs.gov.

Initiative will help rural communities plan to address substance use issues

Reaching Rural: Advancing Collaborative Solutions, a one-year initiative sponsored by a group of federal agencies, will help individuals or cross-sector teams develop plans to address substance use issues in their communities. The planning fellowships do not offer funding but include an opportunity at the end of the year to apply for grants of up to $100,000 to launch projects. An informational webinar will take place on November 14 and applications are due December 15. For more information, email COSSUP@iir.com.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Community Facilities program input requested

USDA Rural Development is considering changes to its Community Facilities direct loan and grant programs, including expanded eligibility for housing funding. Comments can be presented at an online listening session on November 7 or submitted in writing by December 8. For more information, contact Surabhi Dabir, USDA, 202-568-9315.

HUD has new Buy America info page and webinars, OMB issues new memo

A new Build America, Buy America Act page was recently launched on the HUD Exchange to provide resources for entities receiving funding from HUD’s Community Planning and Development programs, which include HOME, CDBG, SHOP, Continuum of Care, Veterans Housing, and more. Three quick guides are offered, and more are planned in both English and Spanish. Submit questions on CPD topics here. Also, several webinars are scheduled, including one on November 2.

A more general BABA section on HUD’s website provides information such as what types of assistance are not covered by the Buy America preference and an illustration of HUD’s phased implementation schedule.

The Office of Management and Budget, which oversees BABA for all federal agencies, issued a new implementation guidance memorandum on October 25, M-24-02, replacing M-22-11 issued in April 2022. The new memo aligns with OMB’s recent final rule on the subject.

Use of CDBG funds for housing, including manufactured housing, described

HUD Notice CPD-23-10, Use of CDBG Funds in Support of Housing, describes how Community Development Block Grant grantees can use this funding to support and promote the development of decent, accessible, equitable, and affordable housing in their communities. It includes changes relating to manufactured housing, and those provisions will be the subject of a November 8 webinar.

HUD considers allowing agencies to opt out of in-person housing counseling

A proposed change in HUD’s housing counseling regulations would allow counseling agencies to provide their services virtually rather than in-person. Agencies that choose not to provide in-person services would be required to refer clients to local providers that provide such services, when requested. Comments are due December 26. For more information, contact David Valdez, HUD, 713-718-3178.

Multifamily insurance changes proposed by USDA

Revisions to the requirements on multifamily housing insurance coverage and deductibles are intended to bring the 2004 regulations in line with current affordable housing industry standards. Comments are due December 26. For more information, contact Michael Resnik, USDA, 202-430-3114.

Broadband expansion in HUD-assisted communities planned, comments requested

HUD plans to expand its ConnectHomeUSA initiative to between 50 and 100 new communities to further the collaborative efforts by government, industry, and nonprofits to accelerate broadband internet adoption and use in HUD-assisted homes. Comments are due December 18. HUD will accept applications between December 19, 2023 and February 15, 2024. For more information, contact Dina Lehmann-Kim, HUD, 202-402-2430.

Duty to Serve and other housing activities evaluated

A new Federal Housing Finance Agency report describes Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s affordable housing activities during 2022. Both entities met their single-family and multifamily affordable housing goals. Under the Duty to Serve requirements, both received “low satisfactory” ratings for affordable housing preservation activities and “high satisfactory” ratings for rural housing activities. For manufactured housing, Fannie Mae’s performance was rated “low satisfactory” and Freddie Mac’s was rated “high satisfactory.”

EVENTS

Monthly virtual trainings set for Section 502 guarantee program

Free virtual trainings on topics related to USDA’s Section 502 guarantee program will begin on November 8 with Program Overview: 101. Future sessions are planned through September 2024. In-person training will also be offered in spring 2024.

Manufactured housing webinar series begins

HUD’s four-part webinar series aims to help increase understanding of how manufactured housing can be a sustainable solution to meeting a community’s affordable housing needs. Introduction to Manufactured Housing was held November 1. Overview of the Updated CPD Notice on CDBG Housing Activities is set for November 8. Future sessions will include “Using Federal Funding Sources to Develop Manufactured Housing” and “Manufactured Housing and Tribal Communities.” For more information, contact the series registrar, info@capitalaccessinc.com.

HUD session to cover cash aid and housing

Cash Assistance and Housing, a hybrid event to be held in Washington, DC and online on November 16, will examine guaranteed income programs, which provide direct payments to local participants, and their impact on housing opportunities in Philadelphia and Denver.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Policies and biases left the rural economy behind, research concludes

The booming knowledge economy of the last four decades has contributed to the increasing disparity in opportunity between rural and nonrural places, according to an analysis by the Center on Rural Innovation. The Equity of Economic Opportunity in Rural America argues that policies and biases have concentrated knowledge economy resources and investment in nonrural places, making it more difficult for rural areas to compete. Investing in rural knowledge economies is the best way to address these root causes and help rural economies catch up, the report concludes.

Study suggests changes for HUD program addressing homelessness after disasters

Plugging the Gaps: Recommendations for HUD’s RUSH Program, published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the National Housing Law Project, reports on HUD’s new Rapid Unsheltered Survivor Housing (RUSH) program, which is intended to help people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in disaster-affected areas. Its recommendations include ensuring equity in allocation decisions, providing RUSH funds up front instead of by reimbursement, and imposing requirements for timely use of funds.

Analysis considers why census found huge increase in Native Americans

The 2020 census counted 9.6 million people with fully or partly Native American heritage, compared to 5.2 million in 2010. A Washington Post data analysis, The Native American Population Exploded, the Census Shows. Here’s Why, examines the reason for the jump and concludes it was not due to procreation or to immigration of Natives from other countries, but instead to the way the race question was phrased on the census form and, even more importantly, how responses were coded.

HAC

HAC is hiring

  • The Rental Housing Development and Preservation – Housing Specialist will provide technical assistance support to nonprofit organizations involved in multifamily housing programs, with a specific focus on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs. This position is remote work eligible.
  • The Rental Housing Development and Preservation Housing Specialist – Senior Level Position is a senior-level role that combines expertise in multifamily housing programs, specifically focusing on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs, with the responsibility of providing technical assistance, with a particular focus on transfers of USDA 515 properties. This position is remote work eligible.
  • The Senior Accountant is responsible for applying technical and leadership skills to guide accounting practices and recording of transactions. This position is hybrid, based in Washington, DC.
  • The Executive Assistant supports the work of HAC’s Chief Executive Officer, senior leadership, and board of directors. The position is a blend of administrative work and project assignments. This position is based in Washington, DC.

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 12, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 21

TOP STORIES

Government funded through November 17

On September 30, Congress passed a continuing resolution and the President signed it into law. It funds the federal government through November 17, keeping most programs at FY23 levels, and also extends the National Flood Insurance Program to the same date. If there is no agreement by then on full-year funding, the government could face a shutdown threat again. The House and Senate have other priorities to address and also have very different funding proposals for most agencies. The only USDA or HUD appropriations bill that has received a floor vote so far, the House’s Agriculture bill, did not pass.

Next HAC News to be published November 2

The HAC News will be published in three weeks rather than two because on October 26 HAC’s staff and many of our readers will be busy at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference. Look for the next issue in your email on Thursday, November 2!

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

President Biden’s proclamation includes a reminder that for 24/7 immediate and confidential support, survivors can connect with the National Domestic Violence Hotline at thehotline.org, call 1-800-799-7233 (TTY 1-800-787-3224), or text “START” to 88788. Resources on the Violence Against Women Act, which includes legal protections related to assisted housing, are available from HUD and from the National Housing Law Project.

October 22-28 is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

HUD has posted resources and links to more from EPA and the Centers for Disease Control.

RuralSTAT

The average cost of homeowners insurance and a flood insurance policy could account for around 7% of the median household income in the eastern Kentucky counties impacted by the 2022 flood. Only 5% of damaged homes had flood insurance, and households earning $30,000 or less per year accounted for 60% of damaged homes. Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Resilience and Recovery: Insights from the July 2022 Eastern Kentucky Flood.

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD offers fair housing initiatives funding

The application deadline is November 30 for four separate opportunities: the Education and Outreach Initiative, the Education and Outreach Initiative – Test Coordinator Training, the Fair Housing Organizations Initiative, and the Private Enforcement Initiative. For more information, contact Stephanie Thomas, HUD.

Agencies launch tools to find energy and environment funding

HUD’s Build for the Future Funding Navigator offers information on funding opportunities aimed at decarbonization, sustainable development, and community resilience. The Energy Department’s Funding and Incentives Resource Hub is intended to help identify rebates, funding, and other incentives for energy efficiency upgrades, renewable energy and decarbonization projects, and other sustainability initiatives.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

USDA, HUD, and others address discrimination based on shared ancestry, ethnic characteristics, or religion

Eight federal agencies have clarified in writing that the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics in federally funded programs and activities (HUD, USDA, White House). This includes forms of antisemitic, Islamophobic, and related discrimination and bias. HUD and USDA offer fact sheets that include examples of discriminatory actions.

Comments sought on flood risk management

FEMA proposes to amend its regulations to implement the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and update its decision-making process for floodplain reviews. To supplement the regulations, it also suggests a policy that would further clarify how it would apply the FFRMS. Comments are due December 1. For more information, contact Portia Ross, FEMA, 202-709-0677.

Guidance released on HUD-assisted tenants’ income and assets

HUD Notice PIH 2023-17 offers guidance for public housing agencies and owners of HUD-assisted rental properties to implement Sections 102 and 104 of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016. These provisions change the requirements for tenant income reviews and tenant assets for public housing and Section 8 participants.

HUD suggests no changes to Section 3 benchmarks

HUD proposes to keep using its 2020 benchmarks to gauge compliance with Section 3, which requires employment and other economic opportunities generated by federal housing and community development programs to be directed toward low- and very low-income persons to the greatest extent feasible. The department requests public comments, particularly on experiences with the benchmark goals, with no specific submission deadline. For more information, contact Nathan Roush, HUD, 678-732-2045. General email inquiries regarding Section 3 may be sent to Section3@hud.gov.

OMB to revise guidance on grants and agreements

The Office of Management and Budget suggests revisions to several parts of its Guidance for Grants and Agreements in Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations, including Part 200 (Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards). Comments are due December 4. For more information, email mbx.omb.offm.grants@omb.eop.gov.

USDA extends deadline for manufactured housing comments

Comments are now due October 31 rather than October 16 on USDA’s proposed rule that would expand use of the Section 502 direct and guaranteed programs for manufactured housing. For more information, contact Sonya Evans, USDA, 423-268-4333.

EVENTS

Register for the National Rural Housing Conference

Register now to join stakeholders in the field of rural affordable housing, community development, and placemaking at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The 2023 conference theme is Build Rural – both a literal and figurative appeal to explore and provoke action to build and renew rural communities by addressing housing affordability and preservation, community infrastructure and essential facilities creation and revitalization, resident led placemaking, capacity building, and community inclusion and justice efforts.

Webinar on rural housing set for November 6

Rural Housing Webinar, offered free by SaveYour.Town, will discuss demographic changes and what to do about them, creative ways to tailor housing solutions locally, and converting existing buildings into new housing through adaptive reuse.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Climate Vulnerability Index shows disproportionate risk for Black and Native Americans

The Environment Defense Fund and Texas A&M researchers created the U.S. Climate Vulnerability Index, a new mapping and data tool, which outlines 184 climate risks for every census tract in the country. Socioeconomic and health disparities result in Black and Indigenous residents being most susceptible to death due to extreme heat. Systemic disinvestment in Black communities results in disproportionately higher risks of climate change effects. Seven of the ten most at-risk counties have a higher proportion of Black residents than the U.S. average of 12%.

Study examines philanthropy for the rural U.S.

“Giving for Rural Communities” is part of a State of American Philanthropy series published by Inside Philanthropy. The paper describes rural philanthropy, reviews rural issues and philanthropic responses, considers fundamental questions about rural designation and giving data, and offers recommendations to support the continued evolution of the field.

Recommendations address heirs’ property

Preserving Generational Wealth by Untangling Titles for Heirs Property Homeowners explains how heirs’ property develops as landowners die without wills. The paper, published by the JPMorgan Chase & Co. Policy Center, offers strategies to resolve existing heirs’ property cases and to prevent development of such title problems in the future.

States improving fair housing provisions in tax credit plans

Many states’ Qualified Allocation Plans show significant improvement in provisions related to fair housing since 2015, the Poverty and Race Research Action Council reports in Building Opportunity III: Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. Some states, however, still lag behind.

Kentucky flooding and housing studied

In July 2022, serious flooding turned 13 eastern Kentucky counties into federally declared disaster areas. The impact on housing is the focus of Resilience and Recovery: Insights from the July 2022 Eastern Kentucky Flood, a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. In addition to findings on the prohibitive cost of flood insurance and the shortage of affordable housing, the report notes that floods increase population out-migration, which, in turn, impacts the local labor force; and that the pre-existing weakness of local labor markets will likely impact housing recovery, particularly due to a lack of skilled tradespeople.

U.S. gets failing grade on human right to housing

The U.S. receives an F in “affordability” and still has much room for improvement in other areas, according to the Human Right to Housing Report Card 2023 issued by the National Homelessness Law Center and University of Miami Law School Human Rights Clinic. The report card assesses the U.S. government’s performance on ensuring that adequate, affordable housing is available to all. It also cites numerous areas of hope, drawn from federal interventions to protect vulnerable homeowners, renters, and unhoused persons during the pandemic.

Social services organizations important in rural economic development work, survey finds

Large metropolitan areas have a disproportionately large share of community economic development (CED) groups’ revenues, expenditures, and assets compared to these places’ share of poverty, a recent survey found, while medium-sized metro areas have a disproportionately small share. Nationwide, the number of CED groups outside metro areas and their revenues are roughly comparable to their share of national poverty, with an outsized share of their revenues from government, probably because many are social services groups. These findings and others are reported by the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA) in Community Economic Development Organizations, Geography, and Financial Resources.

HAC

HAC is hiring

  • The Rental Housing Development and Preservation – Housing Specialist will provide technical assistance support to nonprofit organizations involved in multifamily housing programs, with a specific focus on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs. This position is remote work eligible.
  • The Rental Housing Development and Preservation Housing Specialist – Senior Level Position is a senior-level role that combines expertise in multifamily housing programs, specifically focusing on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs, with the responsibility of providing technical assistance, with a particular focus on transfers of USDA 515 properties. This position is remote work eligible.
  • The Senior Accountant is responsible for applying technical and leadership skills to guide accounting practices and recording of transactions. This position is hybrid, based in Washington, DC.
  • The Financial Controller is responsible for day-to-day management of HAC’s finance and accounting processes. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Senior Human Resources and Payroll Administrator oversees all aspects of human resources and payroll practices and processes. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Executive Assistant supports the work of HAC’s Chief Executive Officer, senior leadership, and board of directors. The position is a blend of administrative work and project assignments. This position is based in Washington, DC.

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 28, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 20

TOP STORIES

Government may shut down

As of Thursday morning, September 28, Congress has not been able to agree on a funding measure to keep the government operating beyond the end of the fiscal year on September 30. What HAC knows about the possible effects on housing assistance is explained on our website and is currently the same information we reported in the HAC News of September 18. We expect USDA RD will soon release more details about potential impacts on its rural housing programs. As we learn more, we will update the website and post notices on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

Shutdown would threaten flood insurance

The National Flood Insurance Program, run by FEMA, provides coverage for a large proportion of all U.S. homes with flood insurance. Its authorization will expire on September 30 unless Congress reauthorizes it in a continuing resolution or other legislation. If it lapses, contracts entered into before September 30 will remain in effect until 30 days past their renewal dates and FEMA will continue paying claims as long as it has funds available. NFIP will not be able to issue new insurance or renew existing contracts when they expire, however, and the National Association of Realtors® estimates that a lapse in NFIP authorization could threaten 1,300 property transactions per day.

RuralSTAT

No geography – central cities, urban suburbs, rural suburbs, or places outside metro areas – comes close to having enough affordable, available, and adequate housing units for renters with extremely low (below 30% of area median income) or very low (below 50% of AMI) incomes. Outside metro areas, there are only 44.2 such units for every 100 extremely low-income renters and 66.5 for every 100 very low-income renters. Source: HUD, Worst Case Housing Needs: 2023 Report to Congress.

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD opens Healthy Homes and Weatherization Cooperation Demo

Nonprofits and state, local, and Tribal governments that have active Department of Energy Weatherization Assistance Program grants or subgrants or HUD Healthy Homes Production grants are eligible for HUD’s Healthy Homes and Weatherization Cooperation Demonstration to explore the potential advantages of coordinating these home intervention services. Applications are due October 31. For more information, contact Brenda M. Reyes, HUD, 202-402-6745.

Small cities main street grants deadline is October 12

HUD’s HOPE VI Main Street Program provides grants to communities with populations under 50,000 to assist in the renovation of historic, traditional central business districts or  “Main Street “ areas by replacing unused, obsolete commercial space in buildings with affordable housing units. Applicants must be local governments whose jurisdiction includes a Main Street area; nonprofits, for-profits, and others can be subcontractors. For more information, contact Susan Wilson, HUD, 202-402-4500.

Coronavirus funds can be used for disasters, transportation, and community development

Comments are due November 20 on a Treasury Department interim rule expanding allowable uses of State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to include disaster relief, surface transportation, and CDBG-eligible community development. For more information, contact Jessica Milano, Treasury, 844-529-9527.

Deadline extended for USDA Discrimination Financial Assistance Program

The original October 31, 2023 application deadline has been changed to January 13, 2024 for farmers, ranchers, and forest owners who experienced discrimination when seeking USDA farm loans before January 2021.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

HUD extends NSPIRE compliance date for additional programs

HUD’s National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) final rule will take effect on October 1, 2024 rather than October 1, 2023 for the Housing Choice Voucher and Project Based Voucher programs. HUD recently made the same change for the HOME, Housing Trust Fund, Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS, Emergency Solution Grants, and Continuum of Care programs. For more information, contact Dana M. Kitchen, HUD, 202-708-1112.

DDAs and QCTs designated

HUD has released its 2024 lists of Difficult Development Areas and Qualified Census Tracts for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. For more information, contact Michael K. Hollar, HUD, 202–402–5878.

USDA requests input on research access

USDA will hold virtual listening sessions on September 27 and October 12 on public access to the results of research funded wholly or in part by any USDA component agency. Written comments are due November 15. For more information, contact Cynthia Parr, USDA, 301-837-8917.

FHFA considers private transfer fee covenants for shared equity loans

FHFA proposes to allow Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks to buy and sell mortgages with certain types of private transfer fee covenants (PTFCs), which require the buyer or seller to pay a private fee when a property is sold. Currently the only PTFCs permitted are for homeowners’ associations. The revised regulation would also allow PTFCs related to resale restrictions in shared equity loan programs such as community land trusts. Comments are due November 27. For more information, contact Ted Wartell, FHFA, 202–649–3157.

EVENTS

Register for the National Rural Housing Conference

Register now to join stakeholders in the field of rural affordable housing, community development, and placemaking at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The 2023 conference theme is Build Rural – both a literal and figurative appeal to explore and provoke action to build and renew rural communities by addressing housing affordability and preservation, community infrastructure and essential facilities creation and revitalization, resident led placemaking, capacity building, and community inclusion and justice efforts.

Creative placemaking webinar scheduled

The National Endowment for the Arts is offering a free webinar on November 1 to address funding and support for creative placemaking work – how to find it, who to ask, partnerships, and most effective approaches for building local funding and decision-making support.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Complete Worst Case Housing Needs report published

The executive summary of HUD’s 2023 Worst Case Housing Needs report, released in August, showed that worst case needs were at a record high level in 2021. The just-published full report provides additional details, including data for rural suburbs within metropolitan areas and for places outside metro areas. It also includes a new element, an examination of the intersection between worst case needs and housing overcrowding.

Disasters impacting insurance for homeowners and rental properties

Researchers and others have begun to examine climate change’s effect on the cost and availability of property insurance around the country. Recent items include The 9th National Risk Assessment: The Insurance Issue by the First Street Foundation, which estimates that millions of properties nationwide may face rising insurance rates and non-renewals due to the growing risks of wildfires, wind, and flooding. In many places the insurance industry is limiting or withdrawing coverage, leaving homeowners to rely on state-backed “insurers of last resort,” which are also raising their rates. As this homeownership cost rises, the report states, property values will fall. For rental properties, The State of Multifamily Risk Survey and Report from the National Multifamily Housing Council shows an average 26% increase in insurance premiums nationwide, with “triple-digit increases” for some. Majorities of NMHC’s survey respondents increased their deductibles to maintain insurance affordability or accepted new policy limitations reducing insurers’ exposure.

Ethnically and racially uneven investments in rural water infrastructure found

In The Ethnically and Racially Uneven Role of Water Infrastructure Spending in Rural Economic Development, researchers report their findings that, while water infrastructure investments were associated with economic development outcomes in rural communities, these investments did not counteract compounded effects of systemic racism, particularly for rural Indigenous and Hispanic communities.

Homeless data improvements recommended

Calculating Change: Future Directions for Homelessness Data Use and Reporting, a National Alliance to End Homelessness report, advocates for increased data efforts in service programming in order to identify and respond to challenges in the field. Along with recommendations to expand data collecting techniques, NAEH offers suggestions to local stakeholders and Continuums of Care struggling to navigate their Homeless Management Information Systems. At an October 11 webinar titled Calculating Change: The Continuing Conversation on Homelessness Data Reform, panelists will discuss the report and ways the field can improve its approaches to data.

Report covers adults’ recovery from substance use and mental health problems

The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released Recovery from Substance Use and Mental Health Problems Among Adults in the United States, a report that provides policy recommendations and data on the 20.9 million adults in recovery from substance use disorders and 38.8 million adults in recovery from mental health problems. Policy recommendations include access to affordable, safe, and stable housing options and community support.

HAC

HAC is hiring

  • The Rental Housing Development and Preservation – Housing Specialist will provide technical assistance support to nonprofit organizations involved in multifamily housing programs, with a specific focus on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs. This position is remote work eligible.
  • The Rental Housing Development and Preservation Housing Specialist – Senior Level Position is a senior-level role that combines expertise in multifamily housing programs, specifically focusing on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs, with the responsibility of providing technical assistance, with a particular focus on transfers of USDA 515 properties. This position is remote work eligible.
  • The Senior Accountant is responsible for applying technical and leadership skills to guide accounting practices and recording of transactions. This position is hybrid, based in Washington, DC.
  • The Financial Controller is responsible for day-to-day management of HAC’s finance and accounting processes. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Senior Human Resources and Payroll Administrator oversees all aspects of human resources and payroll practices and processes. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Executive Assistant supports the work of HAC’s Chief Executive Officer, senior leadership, and board of directors. The position is a blend of administrative work and project assignments. This position is based in Washington, DC.

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 18, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 19

TOP STORIES

Funding disagreements continue, government shutdown possible

Given the ongoing differences between factions on Capitol Hill, there may be no continuing resolution to keep the federal government open on October 1. Moody’s Analytics predicts a two-week shutdown and expects it to have little impact on the U.S. economy as a whole. A longer closure could harm recipients of housing assistance, however. A record 35-day shutdown from December 22, 2018 to January 25, 2019 led some owners of USDA-financed rental properties, unaware that the agency had enough Section 521 Rental Assistance funding to last through January, to threaten to evict tenants who could not pay full rent on their own. USDA RD’s shutdown contingency plan, dated September 2021, indicates that during a shutdown no new loans or grants would be committed and no new loan guarantees issued. Section 521 RA would continue “if funding is available.” If the agency used up all its RA funds, “additional servicing options” could be provided to rental properties. HUD’s contingency plan, from August 2023, says that programs operating with HUD funding that was obligated before a shutdown would continue. Monthly subsidy programs, however – including public housing operating subsidies, housing choice vouchers, and multifamily assistance contracts – would operate only while funding remained available. It is not clear what funding either department expects to have on hand after October 1.

Income fell and poverty rose from 2021 to 2022, Census Bureau reports

The expiration of temporary expansions to the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, as well as the end of pandemic-era stimulus payments, led to increases in poverty and drops in median income from 2021 to 2022, the Census Bureau reports. The Bureau’s annual reports on income, poverty, and health insurance highlight differences between the official poverty measure and the Supplemental Poverty Measure. The official poverty rate did not change significantly from 2021 to 2022, but the SPM, which accounts for government assistance and some other factors, increased by 4.6 percentage points to 12.4%. Even more dramatically, the SPM child poverty rate more than doubled, from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022. Geographically, SPM increases were greater for cities (from 9.8% in 2021 to 15.2% in 2022) and for places outside metro areas (7.1% to 12.2%) than for suburbs (6.8% to 10.8%).

Rural housing reform bill introduced in Senate

S. 2790, the Rural Housing Service Reform Act of 2023, was introduced on September 13 by Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Mike Rounds (R-N.D.) with several cosponsors. The bill would improve USDA’s rental preservation process in several ways, including decoupling Rental Assistance from USDA mortgages and permanently authorizing the MPR program. It would also establish the Native CDFI relending pilot as a permanent part of the Section 502 direct program, authorize the Rural Community Development Initiative, expand eligibility for Section 542 vouchers, adjust the mortgage requirement for Section 504 loans, and require USDA to release housing data.

Gooden nominated to head USDA Rural Development

President Biden has nominated Basil Gooden to become Under Secretary for Rural Development. Gooden, who has been USDA RD’s Director of State Operations since 2021, has also served in the Virginia state government’s agriculture and housing offices and as RD’s State Director for Virginia. The Senate will need to confirm his nomination.

September is National Preparedness Month

FEMA’s website for this year’s observance focuses on preparing older adults for disasters.

September is National Recovery Month

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released a toolkit for National Recovery Month. SAMHSA has also published updated Recovery Housing Guidelines outlining best practices for recovery housing. The guide is intended for elected officials and practitioners seeking to support long-term recovery.

September 15-October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month

Online resources include President Biden’s proclamation and a website prepared by several federal agencies.

RuralSTAT

Real median household income for the U.S. fell by 2.3% from $76,330 in 2021 to $74,580 in 2022. Outside metro areas, median income dropped by 3.5% from $57,960 to $55,960. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Income in the United States: 2022.

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD offers funds for seniors’ home modifications, barrier removal, lead and healthy homes, Choice Neighborhoods, and HIV housing

  • The Older Adults Home Modification Grant Program deadline is October 16. At least one third of the funds will go to communities with substantial rural populations. Eligible applicants are nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, and PHAs/IHAs with at least three years of experience in providing services to elderly adults. Funding is for low-cost, high impact home modifications, repairs, and renovations to enable low-income seniors – both homeowners and renters – to age in place. Contact Dr. Taneka Blue, HUD, 202-402-6846.
  • The Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing (PRO Housing) deadline is October 30. Using the CDBG statutory and regulatory framework, HUD will make PRO Housing grants to identify and remove barriers to affordable housing production and preservation. Local and state governments, metropolitan planning organizations, and multijurisdictional entities are eligible. Contact Jessie Handforth Kome, HUD, 202-708-3587.
  • The Lead and Healthy Homes Technical Studies Grant Program will fund studies to improve knowledge of housing-related health and safety hazards and to improve or develop new hazard assessment and control methods. Applications are due October 30 from nonprofits, for-profits, state and local governments, institutions of higher education, PHAs/IHAs, and Tribal governments and organizations. Contact Brenda M. Reyes, HUD, 202-402-6745.
  • Healthy Homes Production Grant Program applications are due November 7. Nonprofits, state, local, and Tribal governments, and consortia are eligible. The program aims to identify and remediate housing-related health and safety hazards in privately owned, low-income rental and/or owner-occupied housing. Contact Sacsheen Scott, HUD, 202-402-4370.
  • Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants carry out comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plans to revitalize distressed HUD housing and address challenges in the surrounding neighborhood. Local governments, PHAs, Tribal entities, and owners of HUD-assisted housing are eligible. Applications for new grants are due on December 11, and for supplemental grants on March 4, 2024. Contact HUD staff, ChoiceNeighborhoods@hud.gov.
  • Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS Competitive Grant: Housing Interventions to End the HIV Epidemic applications are due January 31, 2024. Nonprofits, states, and units of general local government are eligible for these grants to create and implement new projects that align with initiatives aimed at ending the HIV epidemic and elevate housing as an effective structural intervention. Contact HUD staff, HOPWA@hud.gov.

USDA corrects Section 504 disaster repair notice

A correction expands the geographic coverage of a pilot program intended to make it easier for Section 504 loans and grants to be used to repair homes damaged by disasters. The pilot will apply to all areas hit by presidentially declared disasters between July 18, 2022 and July 18, 2025. For more information, contact Anthony Williams, USDA, 202-720-9649.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

FEMA identifies Community Disaster Resilience Zones

The Community Disaster Resilience Zone designation applies to 483 census tracts in all 50 states and D.C., making them eligible for increased federal support for resilience and mitigation projects. FEMA will announce more Resilience Zone designations, including Tribal lands and territories, later this year.

NSPIRE compliance date extended for several HUD programs

HUD’s National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) final rule will take effect on October 1, 2024 rather than October 1, 2023 for the HOME, Housing Trust Fund, Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS, Emergency Solution Grants, and Continuum of Care programs. For more information, contact Caitlin Renner, HUD, 202-708-2684.

FEMA seeks comments on preparedness programs

FEMA requests public input by November 7 on ways to improve the management and administration of its preparedness grant programs. These 14 programs assist state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, as well as transportation authorities, nonprofits, and others. The agency is also conducting listening sessions. For more information, contact Pamela Williams, FEMA, 202-212-8007.

Homeland Security and Labor propose stronger protections for H2-A farmworkers

The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor have separate proposals to strengthen regulatory protections for temporary agricultural workers with H2-A visas and make other changes. Comments to DOL are due November 14. Comments to HHS are due November 20.

Comments requested on proposed federal homelessness research agenda

The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness asks for comments by September 22 on a draft research agenda. The draft does not include research questions related to geographic differences.

State Department to start over on amending public charge rules

The State Department has decided not to finalize an interim final public charge rule issued in 2019 under the previous administration. It will revert to its pre-2019 regulation and will begin a new rulemaking process. State’s notice says its new proposal will be consistent with the Department of Homeland Security’s 2022 final rule, which excludes housing aid from the determination whether a noncitizen is likely to become a public charge. Both departments are involved in public charge determinations. For more information, contact Andrea Lage, State, 202-485-7586.

USDA to amend Section 514/516 rules

Comments are due November 13 on a proposal to add a provision specifying that the period of performance for a Section 516 grant is five years. The five-year period is already stated in the applicable handbook, though not in the regulations. For more information, contact Christa Lindsey, USDA, 352-538-5747, mfh.programsupport@usda.gov.

EVENTS

Register for the National Rural Housing Conference

Register now to join stakeholders in the field of rural affordable housing, community development, and placemaking at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The 2023 conference theme is Build Rural – both a literal and figurative appeal to explore and provoke action to build and renew rural communities by addressing housing affordability and preservation, community infrastructure and essential facilities creation and revitalization, resident led placemaking, capacity building, and community inclusion and justice efforts.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

New HAC disaster guide published for Hurricane Idalia survivors

To assist those affected by Hurricane Idalia, HAC offers an online resource guide with information for individuals and families in the disaster area. Other disaster resources from HAC include Rural Resilience in the Face of Disaster and a Disaster Response for Rural Communities Guide.

Farmworker housing inspections collected

Investigate Midwest is obtaining housing inspection records for farmworker housing in multiple states and posting the information, including violations identified by inspectors. Their site also provides links to their reporting on housing and other issues for farmworkers.

HAC

HAC is hiring

  • The Rental Housing Development and Preservation – Housing Specialist will provide technical assistance support to nonprofit organizations involved in multifamily housing programs, with a specific focus on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs. This position is remote work eligible.
  • The Rental Housing Development and Preservation Housing Specialist – Senior Level Position is a senior-level role that combines expertise in multifamily housing programs, specifically focusing on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs, with the responsibility of providing technical assistance, with a particular focus on transfers of USDA 515 properties. This position is remote work eligible.
  • The Senior Accountant is responsible for applying technical and leadership skills to guide accounting practices and recording of transactions. This position is hybrid, based in Washington, DC.
  • The Financial Controller is responsible for day-to-day management of HAC’s finance and accounting processes. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Senior Human Resources and Payroll Administrator oversees all aspects of human resources and payroll practices and processes. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Executive Assistant supports the work of HAC’s Chief Executive Officer, senior leadership, and board of directors. The position is a blend of administrative work and project assignments. This position is based in Washington, DC.

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 31, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 18

TOP STORIES

Federal funding and other issues unresolved as Congress returns

It is still unclear whether the federal government will be funded through a continuing resolution or will shut down when fiscal year 2024 begins on October 1. The Senate returns from recess on September 5, with all of its appropriations bills having passed the Appropriations Committee, though none have been considered by the full Senate yet. The House reconvenes on September 12; its Appropriations Committee has passed most of its annual spending bills, including those covering both USDA and HUD, and the full House has passed only one of them. HAC has posted more details online on the appropriations bills for USDA and HUD. Other urgent issues awaiting action include a White House request for supplemental funding for FEMA disaster recovery, Ukraine, and more. A Farm Bill must also be passed to maintain authorization for various food and agriculture programs. HAC and others hope the Farm Bill will include rural rental housing preservation measures as well.

Worst case housing needs reach record high

HUD released the executive summary of its 2023 Worst Case Housing Needs report, revealing that from 2019 to 2021 worst case housing needs increased across demographic groups, household types, and regions throughout the United States. The number of very low-income families without housing assistance who paid more than half their income for housing or lived in severely substandard housing in 2021 exceeded previous record levels resulting from the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Even so, HUD researchers write, the data “suggest that a rise in homelessness was averted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when low-income families faced growing housing instability risks and cost burdens, and the federal government deployed historic funding and resources to keep people stably housed.” The full report, which is not yet available, should have more details about differences among geographies.

RuralSTAT

In rural places, 5.13% of American Indian or Alaska Native adults live with incomplete plumbing facilities, compared to 1.29% in urban areas. Source: University of Minnesota Rural Health Center analysis of 2015-2019 American Community Survey data.

OPPORTUNITIES

Grants offered for affordable housing innovations

The TD Bank Group’s 2023 TD Ready Challenge is seeking innovative solutions to help address systemic barriers to affordable housing across the continuum from transitional to permanent homes, and to help increase access to affordable and stable housing for those that need it most. Applications are due September 13. The challenge offers ten $1 million grants for nonprofits that have designed innovative, scalable and/or replicable solutions addressing affordable housing issues. For more information, email tdreadycommitment@td.com.

Disasters and community development to become eligible uses of state and local coronavirus funds

The Treasury Department has posted an interim final rule and an overview to broaden possible uses for Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF). The program provided monies to over 30,000 state, territorial, local, and Tribal governments, originally to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Effective when the interim final rule is published in the Federal Register, eligible activities will broaden to encompass natural disaster response (including providing emergency housing and repairing permanent housing), infrastructure, and CDBG activities. Comments on the rule will be due 60 days after publication. For more information, contact Jessica Milano, Treasury, 844- 529-9527.

Bootcamps offer infrastructure help to small cities and towns

The National League of Cities and the Local Infrastructure Hub are accepting registrations on a first come, first served basis from local governments with 150,000 or fewer residents for fall 2023 bootcamps. The programs are intended to help governments prepare competitive applications for federal infrastructure funds. Topics include climate action, internet access, transportation, and more. For more information, email LocalInfrastructureHub@nlc.org.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

OMB finalizes Buy America guidance

The Office of Management and Budget has published a final rule and guidance on the Build America, Buy America (BABA) preference for federally funded infrastructure projects, addressing products covered, cost determinations, and waiver requests. OMB declined to clarify its earlier language about what housing-related construction is subject to these requirements. It repeated its previous statement that “projects consisting solely of the purchase, construction, or improvement of a private home for personal use … would not constitute an infrastructure project,” leaving details to USDA and HUD. USDA has stated that it will apply BABA to multifamily housing, site preparation for single-family housing, and community facilities. HUD has staggered implementation of the requirements, so some of its interpretations are not clear yet. More BABA information is posted on OMB’s website, USDA’s, and HUD’s.

Guidance issued on multifamily solar energy savings

HUD published updated guidance for its multifamily housing programs and public housing regarding the treatment of financial benefits received from off-site or on-site solar energy, and USDA issued similar guidance for its rental housing programs. The updates clarify how the financial savings from solar energy impact utility allowances and income calculations.

FY24 Fair Market Rents published

The new FMRs were calculated using the methodology changes HUD proposed in June. They will become effective on October 1, 2023 (not 2024, as stated in one place in HUD’s notice). Comments are due October 2.

FCC and HUD to help tenants access internet service, final rule set for discount program

The Federal Communications Commission and HUD are partnering to promote awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program and reduce the time it takes for some tenants to sign up. HUD’s press release indicates all recipients of HUD assistance are eligible to receive free or reduced cost internet through the ACP, and ACP benefits will not impact their rent. The program provides monthly discounts toward internet service. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. FCC’s final regulation for the program will be published on September 1.

EVENTS

Register for the National Rural Housing Conference

Register now to join stakeholders in the field of rural affordable housing, community development, and placemaking at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The 2023 conference theme is Build Rural – both a literal and figurative appeal to explore and provoke action to build and renew rural communities by addressing housing affordability and preservation, community infrastructure and essential facilities creation and revitalization, resident led placemaking, capacity building, and community inclusion and justice efforts.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Special reporting project considers Indian Country’s housing crisis

A series of articles in Tribal Business News, accessible without a subscription, examines several topics related to federal housing assistance for Indian Country. Experts featured in the articles include Dave Castillo, CEO of Native Community Capital and HAC board member, and Louie Sheridan, Jr., HAC’s Housing Specialist-Native American Communities.

Resilience guides aim to help prepare homes for hazards

HUD released a set of five guides intended to provide practical, actionable guidelines for designing and constructing residential buildings, neighborhoods, and accessory structures to improve resilience to natural hazards. Each volume focuses on a major category of hazard: wind, water, fire, earth (seismic, earthslides, sinkholes), and auxiliary (other hazards such as volcanoes, hail, and temperature extremes).

Resources added for Maui recovery

In addition to assistance it announced earlier this month for survivors of the Maui wildfire, HUD is providing Rapid Unsheltered Survivor Housing funds to Hawaii to aid those experiencing or at risk of homelessness. A joint reminder about available mortgage assistance was issued by Ginnie Mae, FHA, FHFA, USDA, and VA. HAC has compiled a response guide with links and contact information from many sources.

Housing quality problems remain more common for rural residents

A higher proportion of rural residents than urban dwellers have incomplete kitchen or incomplete plumbing facilities, the University of Minnesota Rural Health Center reports in Housing Quality by Disability, Race, Ethnicity, and Rural-Urban Location: Findings from the American Community Survey. Incomplete plumbing is a problem for a higher proportion of rural people with a disability than of rural residents without a disability or urban residents with or without a disability. Among racial and ethnic groups, rural American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest rates of incomplete kitchen facilities and incomplete plumbing.

The “new” face of the opioid epidemic is rural Black residents

A TIME article, The Face of Rural Addiction Is Not What You Think, discusses the rising overdose rates among Black rural residents. It highlights how rural areas influence drug use patterns, including limited socialization and recreation possibilities, a prevalence of physically intensive jobs that are often associated with workplace discrimination and high social isolation, and deteriorating infrastructure and low-quality housing.

HAC

HAC is hiring

  • The Rental Housing Development and Preservation Housing Specialist is a senior-level role that combines expertise in multifamily housing programs, specifically focusing on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs, with the responsibility of providing technical assistance, with a particular focus on transfers of USDA 515 properties. This position is remote work eligible.
  • The Senior Accountant is responsible for applying technical and leadership skills to guide accounting practices and recording of transactions. This position is hybrid, based in Washington, DC.
  • The Financial Controller is responsible for day-to-day management of HAC’s finance and accounting processes, applying technical and leadership skills to determine proper application of accounting policies, practices, activities, and recording of transactions in accordance with GAAP and applicable industry standards. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Senior Human Resources and Payroll Administrator oversees all aspects of human resources and payroll practices and processes. People are HAC’s most important asset and this individual will be an impactful contributor to ensure we have a happy and productive workplace where everyone is inspired to bring their best work, realize their professional growth aspirations, and participate in helping HAC accomplish its mission. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Executive Assistant supports the work of HAC’s Chief Executive Officer, senior leadership, and board of directors. The position is a blend of administrative work and project assignments. Duties and responsibilities include maintaining an effective and well-organized Executive Office, serving as the primary point of contact for the CEO, and managing the meetings, materials, and other needs of HAC’s board of directors. This position is based in Washington, DC.

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 17, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 17

TOP STORIES

Federal agencies offer assistance after Hawaii fires

President Biden’s major disaster declaration for Maui County makes federal aid available. FEMA’s site provides information about resources available from FEMA and other sources. HUD announced disaster relief and waivers available from many of its programs.

Information can help people keep Medicaid and CHIP health insurance

USDA’s multifamily housing office encourages stakeholders to help tenants keep Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Coverage Program health coverage as states are required to review eligibility of all enrollees, a process called “unwinding.” Many people who remain eligible have lost coverage for administrative reasons. USDA’s bulletin suggests actions to take and provides links for information. Links to resources are also included in the March 2 HAC News.

USDA proposes rule based on manufactured housing pilot

Comments are due October 16 on a proposed regulation that would expand use of the Section 502 direct and guaranteed programs for manufactured housing. Among other changes, the rule would remove current limits on what existing manufactured homes could be purchased with both direct and guaranteed loans. Both types of loans could also be used for new energy-efficient homes sited on leased land in communities operating on a nonprofit basis or on Tribal land. For more information on direct loans, contact Sonya Evans, USDA, 423-268-4333; on guaranteed loans, contact the Guaranteed Loan Division, 833-314-0168.

Rural Voices magazine shows how housing helps address the rural substance use disorder crisis

A new issue of Rural Voices, HAC’s magazine, highlights innovative approaches to providing housing for residents in recovery with a cross-sector analysis of successful collaborative approaches to addressing the issues associated with substance use disorders.

RuralSTAT

The Recovery Ecosystem Index analyzes the community-level factors that are in place to support individuals in recovery from substance use disorder. This map is based on a tool that allows creation of county-level maps to understand these factors and where additional resources are most needed to provide support to individuals in recovery. Source: The Fletcher Group, Inc., East Tennessee State University, and ETSU/NORC Rural Health Equity Research Center, Recovery Ecosystem Index.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Final Davis-Bacon regulation released

The Department of Labor has issued an extensive update of its Davis-Bacon regulation. The rule’s changes are intended to strengthen and streamline the process for setting and enforcing wage rates on federally funded construction projects. DOL also posted information about the revisions, including FAQs and a chart comparing the old and new rules. For more information, contact Amy DeBisschop, DOL, 202-693-0406.

Abatement could be required for lower levels of lead in buildings

EPA proposes to make stricter two standards related to dust-lead hazards in buildings constructed before 1978, and to adopt other changes as well. Comments are due October 2. For more information, contact the Toxic Substances Control Act Hotline, 202-554-1404, TSCA-Hotline@epa.gov.

HUD seeks input on application burden

The deadline has been extended to September 13 for commenting on the burden people face when applying for or maintaining eligibility for HUD’s housing programs. For more information, contact Todd Richardson, HUD, 202-402-5706.

Comments invited on allocation of Tribal home electrification and appliance rebates funds

The U.S. Department of Energy requests comments on the allocation formula for the Tribal Home Electrification and Appliance Rebates program, which will fund energy efficiency and electrification home upgrades. DOE’s notice also describes how consortia of Tribes may apply for funds. Comments are due September 15. For more information, contact Adam Hasz, DOE, 202-617-9081.

HUD proposes Buy America waiver for Pacific islands

HUD proposes an 18-month waiver of the Build America, Buy America requirement for construction materials that would apply to the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa. Materials must be shipped to these islands, which are thousands of miles from the U.S. mainland. Comments are due September 1. Send questions to BuildAmericaBuyAmerica@hud.gov or contact Faith Rogers, HUD, 202-402-7082.

Appraisal bias to be addressed by new partnership

HUD and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers announced a collaboration that will launch in October to increase efforts to combat racial appraisal bias in home property valuation. The partnership will include online training for counselors, roundtable discussions on bias and discrimination, educational material distribution, and appraisal-related training.

Regulations hope to promote trust in federal statistics

The Office of Management and Budget has proposed regulations that are intended to promote public trust in the federal agencies that produce federal statistics. The provisions cover topics such as statistical agencies’ relationships with, and autonomy from, their parent agencies; oversight by OMB; communication with the public and obtaining feedback; accuracy; objectivity; and confidentiality. Comments are due October 2. For more information, contact Kerrie Leslie, OMB, 202-395-5898.

USDA RD multifamily housing income limits posted

The July 20 HAC News provided the link to RD’s 2023 single-family income limits but left out the multifamily limits. For more information, contact Tammy Daniels, USDA.

Comments urge HUD and USDA to adopt new energy efficiency standards

HAC submitted a comment letter to HUD and USDA on August 7, signed by over 80 organizations from around the country and supporting adoption of updated energy efficiency standards for some newly constructed housing.  The letter asks the agencies to protect residents against any increased upfront costs, to provide technical assistance for those who implement the new standards, and expand strong energy efficiency requirements to additional programs.

HAC comments support decoupling USDA rental housing and Rental Assistance

Responding to a directive from Congress, USDA held stakeholder meetings and collected comments on decoupling USDA Section 521 Rental Assistance from Section 515 rental housing loans to facilitate the rehabilitation and preservation of the multifamily portfolio. HAC recently submitted comments in support of decoupling, emphasizing the need for long-term affordability, support for the entire suite of preservation programs, establishing a plan for prepayments, and more.

EVENTS

National Rural Housing Conference registration is open

Register now to join stakeholders in the field of rural affordable housing, community development, and placemaking at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The 2023 conference theme is Build Rural – both a literal and figurative appeal to explore and provoke action to build and renew rural communities by addressing housing affordability and preservation, community infrastructure and essential facilities creation and revitalization, resident led placemaking, capacity building, and community inclusion and justice efforts.

Webinar will cover rural creative placemaking

A webinar on August 30, hosted by USDA RD and the University of Kentucky, will help rural leaders learn about creative placemaking approaches to help improve the lives of people in their areas. Creative placemaking integrates arts, culture, and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities. Attendees will learn how rural leaders started their projects and how completed projects are impacting their communities.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

New persistent poverty approach could be detrimental for rural areas

Switching from counties to census tracts as the basis for defining persistent poverty may hurt rural communities and their chances when competing for federal dollars, HAC researcher Keith Wiley and former HAC deputy director Joe Belden explain in a Daily Yonder article. A recent report from the Economic Innovation Group suggests this change, which would shift the categorization from largely rural to primarily urban places. In Analysis: A New Approach to Defining Persistent Poverty, Wiley and Belden agree that these urban communities need investment and focused policies, but caution that such a change should lead to expanding investment rather than shifting where it occurs.

Rural poverty described in new book

In an article titled What the Best Places in America Have in Common: And What they Reveal about Alleviating Poverty Across the Country, the authors of a new book explain that, as urban researchers, they were surprised to discover that many of the most disadvantaged places in the U.S. are rural counties and that most have majority BIPOC populations. The book, The Injustice of Place: Uncovering the Legacy of Poverty in America, describes these areas. Many of their counties of greatest advantage are also rural, in the historically agricultural Upper Midwest states. When their Multidimensional Index of Deep Disadvantage was released in 2020, the HAC News noted the index’s map was strikingly similar to HAC’s map of persistent poverty counties.

Housing influences rural health

The University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center’s Housing as a Social Determinant of Rural Health Project evaluates the well-understood concept of housing as a social determinant of health from a rural perspective. The most recent of three publications, Differences in Residential Stability by Rural/Urban Location and Socio-Demographic Characteristics, reports that rural residents are more likely to live in their homes for more than 20 years and highlights the need for support for home repairs for rural residents. The earlier papers are Housing Quality by Disability, Race, Ethnicity, and Rural-Urban Location: Findings from the American Community Survey and Crowded Housing and Housing Cost Burden by Disability, Race, Ethnicity, and Rural-Urban Location.

Briefs discuss upgrades for manufactured homes

Topic Briefs: Upgrading Manufactured Homes, a set of three briefs published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, provides information on how states and utilities can help improve manufactured homes. The series includes an overview of manufactured housing and its residents, lessons learned from model state and utility retrofit and replacement programs, and key federal funding opportunities for upgrading manufactured homes.

HAC

Support HAC through the Combined Federal Campaign

We are excited to share that HAC is participating in the 2023 Combined Federal Campaign, the workplace giving campaign for federal employees.  Support raised through this year’s CFC will help ensure that families across rural America have a safe, healthy, affordable place to call home. If you are a current or retired federal government employee, we hope you will consider supporting HAC as part of your participation in the CFC (CFC#27823)!

HAC is hiring for several positions

  • The Senior Accountant is responsible for applying technical and leadership skills to guide accounting practices and recording of transactions. The successful candidate will have experience in a complex organization and demonstrate a balanced communication style and strong critical thinking skills. This position is hybrid, based in Washington, DC.
  • The Senior Housing Specialist – Multifamily is a senior-level role that combines expertise in multifamily housing programs, specifically focusing on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs, with the responsibility of providing technical assistance, with a particular focus on transfers of USDA 515 properties. This position plays a leadership role in offering specialized knowledge on USDA 515 transfers and affordable housing preservation, supporting the success of affordable housing initiatives, and ensuring program compliance. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Financial Controller is responsible for day-to-day management of HAC’s finance and accounting processes, applying technical and leadership skills to determine proper application of accounting policies, practices, activities, and recording of transactions in accordance with GAAP and applicable industry standards. The successful candidate will have experience in a complex organization and will demonstrate a strong customer service orientation, balanced communication style, and robust critical and strategic thinking skills. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Senior Human Resources and Payroll Administrator oversees all aspects of human resources and payroll practices and processes. People are HAC’s most important asset and this individual will be an impactful contributor to ensure we have a happy and productive workplace where everyone is inspired to bring their best work, realize their professional growth aspirations, and participate in helping HAC accomplish its mission. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Executive Assistant supports the work of HAC’s Chief Executive Officer, senior leadership, and board of directors. The position is a blend of administrative work and project assignments. Duties and responsibilities include maintaining an effective and well-organized Executive Office, serving as the primary point of contact for the CEO, and managing the meetings, materials, and other needs of HAC’s board of directors. This position is based in Washington, DC.

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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