Notice of Funding Opportunity: Wildfire Smoke Preparedness in Community Buildings Grant Program

EPA is seeking applications from eligible entities for a new federal grant program to support enhancing wildfire smoke preparedness in community buildings. The Wildfire Smoke Preparedness in Community Buildings grant program will provide grants and cooperative agreements to states, federally recognized tribes, public preschools, local educational agencies, and non-profit organizations for the assessment, prevention, control or abatement of wildfire smoke hazards in community buildings and related activities.

The deadline to apply is May 9, 2023.

EPA will host an information session for potential applicants. During the webinar, EPA will provide an overview of the funding opportunity and the application process.

When: April 10, 3 – 4 p.m. ET

Learn more about the Wildfire Smoke Preparedness in Community Buildings grant program.

March 31- April 1 Midwest and Southern Tornadoes 2023 Disaster Guide

The National Weather Service confirmed more than 60 tornadoes hit the South and Midwest on Friday and Saturday, March 31 – April 1. The most affected states were Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Most of these governors have announced emergency or disaster declarations for their state. As of Monday morning, there are at least 32 deaths and many more people injured from the tornadoes. Hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed and have to be rebuilt.

HAC offers the following resources with information for nonprofits dealing with loss and damage from tornadoes: Rural Resilience in the Face of Disaster site and Disaster Response for Rural Communities Guide.

If you are in need of emergency, transient housing, you can text SHELTER and your Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find where the shelter closest to you is located.

TIPS

Disaster Assistance Improvement Program (DAIP)
Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621- 3362 or 1-800- 462-7585 TTY. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

Check Your Home: Structural Elements

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

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

To apply to disaster assistance funding, you must complete a multi-purpose application over the phone on FEMA’s toll-free national tele registration or online.
Toll-free helpline:
1-800-621-FEMA (3362)
For hearing impaired callers only:
1-800-462-7585 (TTY)
1-800-621-3362 (Video Relay Service)
For more information on federal aid programs visit FEMA’s website. Aid may include rental payments, home repair, unemployment payments, loans, and other assistance.

American Red Cross Disaster Service

For referrals and updates on Red Cross shelter services in your area, locate a local Red Cross office through: https://www.redcross.org/get-help.html or by calling the Public Inquiry Center at 1-800-214-0441. If an emergency has forced you to evacuate your home, the Red Cross has a list of Open Shelters on its website.

State and Local Housing Agencies

Each state has at least one agency that administers state and federal programs to promote decent affordable housing for low-income individuals. Typically, these agencies and authorities administer some aspects of state or federal programs. Below is a list of relevant organizations in states impacted by the tornadoes.

Alabama
Alabama Housing Finance Authority
7460 Halcyon Pointe Drive, Suite 200
Montgomery, AL 36117
(334) 244-9200
http://www.ahfa.com/

Arkansas
Arkansas Development Finance Authority
P.O. Box 8023
Little Rock, AR 72203-8023
(501) 682-5900
http://www.arkansas.gov/adfa

 Illinois
Illinois Housing Development Authority
111 E Wacker Drive, Suite 1000
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 836-5200
http://www.ihda.org

Indiana
Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority
30 South Meridian Street
Suite 900
Indianapolis IN – 46204
(800) 872-0371 (Inside Indiana Only)
(317) 232-7777
https://www.in.gov/ihcda/home/

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

Tennessee
Tennessee Housing Development Agency
502 Deaderick Street, Third Floor
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 815-2200
Fax: (615) 564-2700
https://www.thda.org

Federal Emergency Management Agency Regional Offices

REGION IV
(serves Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee)
(770) 220-5200
www.fema.gov/region-iv-al-fl-ga-ky-ms-nc-sc-tn

REGION V
(serves Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin)
(312) 408-4427
https://www.fema.gov/about/organization/region-5

REGION VI
(serves Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas)
(940) 898-5399
https://www.fema.gov/about/organization/region-6

Department of Housing and Urban Development State Field Offices

Alabama
417 20th Street North,Suite 700
Birmingham, AL 35203
(205) 731 2617
Director Kenneth E. Free
https://www.hud.gov/states/alabama/offices

Arkansas
425 West Capitol Avenue, Suite 1000
Little Rock, AR 72201-3488
(501) 918-5700
Director: Wanda C. Merritt
https://www.hud.gov/states/arkansas/offices

Illinois
Ralph Metcalfe Federal Building
77 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604-3507
(312) 353-6236
Director: Kimberly Danna
https://www.hud.gov/states/illinois/offices

 Indiana
Minton Capehart Federal Building
575 North Pennsylvania Street, Suite 655
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 226-6303
Director: Kimberly Wize
https://www.hud.gov/states/indiana/offices

Mississippi
Dr. A. H. McCoy Federal Building
100 West Capitol Street
Room 910
Jackson, MS 39269-1096
(601) 965-4757
Director: Adrenace Williams
https://www.hud.gov/states/mississippi/offices

Tennessee
200 Jefferson Suite 300
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 544-3367
Acting Director: Kenneth E. Free
https://www.hud.gov/states/tennessee/offices

Rural Development State Offices

Alabama
Nivory Gordon, Jr., State Director
4121 Carmichael Road, Suite 601
Montgomery, AL 36106-3683
(334) 279-3400
www.rd.usda.gov/al

Arkansas
Jill Floyd, State Director
Federal Building
700 West Capitol Avenue, Room 3416
Little Rock, AR 72201-3225
(501) 301-3216
https://www.rd.usda.gov/ar

Illinois
Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, State Director
2118 West Park Court, Suite A
Champaign, IL 61821
(217) 403-6200
https://www.rd.usda.gov/il

Indiana
Terry Goodin, State Director
5975 Lakeside Boulevard
Indianapolis, Indiana 46278
(317) 290-3100
https://www.rd.usda.gov/in

Mississippi
Trina George, State Director
Federal Building, Suite 831
100 West Capitol Street
Jackson, MS 39269
(601) 965-4316
www.rd.usda.gov/ms
 
Tennessee
Arlisa Armstrong, State Director
441 Donelson Pike, Suite 310
Nashville, TN  37214
(615) 783-1300
www.rd.usda.gov/tn

State Emergency Management Agencies

Alabama
Alabama Emergency Management Agency
5898 County Road 41
Clanton, Alabama 35046-2160
Phone: (205) 280-2476
Fax: (205) 280-2442
https://ema.alabama.gov/

Arkansas
Building 9501
Camp Joseph T. Robinson
North Little Rock, AR 72199
(501) 683-6700
https://www.dps.arkansas.gov/emergency-management/adem/

Illinois
Illinois Emergency Management Agency
2200 South Dirksen Parkway
Springfield, Illinois 62703
(217) 782-2700
24-hour Response (217) 782-7860
https://www2.illinois.gov/iema/Pages/default.aspx

Indiana
Indiana Dept. of Homeland Security
Indiana Government Center-South, Room E208
302 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2739
(317) 232-2222
https://www.in.gov/dhs/emergency-management-and-preparedness/

Mississippi
P.O. Box 5644 Pearl, Mississippi
(601) 933-MEMA
24 hour emergency line: 1-800-222-MEMA(6362)
https://www.msema.org/

Tennessee
Tennessee Emergency Management Agency
3041 Sidco Dr.
Nashville, TN 37204
(615) 741-0001
https://www.tn.gov/tema.html

HAC News: March 30, 2023

TOP STORIES

USDA and HUD predict impact of proposed funding cuts

House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) asked heads of federal agencies about the impact of cutting FY24 discretionary spending back to FY22 levels. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack responded that between 40,000 and 63,000 of the 288,000 tenant households currently receiving USDA Rental Assistance would lose that aid. The resulting loss of rental income could cause property owners to defer maintenance and fall behind on loan payments, Vilsack noted. HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge’s reply predicted mass evictions, increased homelessness, exacerbated dire housing conditions in Indian Country, and more.

HUD sets schedule for applying Buy America requirements

HUD has established an implementation schedule for applying the new Buy America preference for U.S.-made construction components. As of February 22, 2023, the requirements apply to iron and steel products used in infrastructure projects funded with new Choice Neighborhood, Lead Hazard Reduction, and Healthy Homes Production Grants. For most products in most other programs, the requirements will take effect in 2024. HUD has not yet provided further guidance on what activities under these programs will be considered to be infrastructure projects. This schedule does not apply to Tribes and Tribal entities because the requirements are waived temporarily for them under a separate notice, although the Tribal waiver will expire after May 14, 2023.

USDA explains timing for eligible areas review

USDA RD has posted details about the eligible areas review process, adding to the information previously available. (The new notice came from the Section 502 guarantee office but applies to all housing programs.) The new details include copies of all notices issued by State Offices between March 8 and 10 indicating where RD is reviewing population changes to determine whether area eligibility changes are required. The public now has 90 days to submit comments. Before final decisions are made, the public will have 30 days to review comments received from the 90-day notice, a description of any proposed boundary revisions, and a revised eligibility map. RD tentatively plans to make new boundaries effective on October 2, 2023, at the beginning of fiscal year 2024. For more information or to submit comments, contact the relevant State Office. Sign up here to receive email notices from your state (and other USDA RD notices).

HAC invites workshop proposals for October 2023 National Rural Housing Conference

HAC requests workshop proposals for its 2023 conference, to be held October 24-27 (with workshops on October 25 and 26) in Washington, DC. Workshops should seek to align themselves with the conference theme – Build Rural – or one of the following threads: Housing Affordability, Development, Preservation, Community Facilities, Rural Prosperity, Placemaking, Capacity Building, Housing Justice, or other adjacent threads. Proposals are due June 2. For more information, contact Kelly Cooney or Diane Hunter, HAC.

RuralSTAT

While racial/ethnic diversity has generally increased over the past 10 years among tenants of rental housing financed with USDA loans, the proportion of American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) tenants has not changed. In 2012, 68% of tenants were white, non-Hispanic; 18.5% were Black, non-Hispanic; 10.7% were Hispanic; and 1.7% were AIAN. In 2022, 64.4% were white, 20.4% were Black, 12% were Hispanic, and 1.7% were AIAN. Source: USDA Multi-Family Housing Annual Fair Housing Occupancy Reports, 2012 and 2022.

OPPORTUNITIES

USDA offers disaster repair grants for homeowners

USDA is now accepting applications for Single Family Housing Rural Disaster Home Repair Grants, newly funded in the final FY23 omnibus appropriations bill. Grants of up to $40,675 are available for low- and very low-income homeowners in rural places that experienced presidentially declared disasters in calendar year 2022. Very low-income homeowners may also be eligible for Section 504 loans and grants. For more information, contact a USDA RD office.

Fair housing education and outreach funds offered

HUD has opened a supplemental Fair Housing Initiatives Program Education and Outreach Initiative. Eligible applicants are Qualified Fair Housing Enforcement Organizations, Fair Housing Enforcement Organizations, public and private nonprofits, state and local governments, and agencies that participate in the Fair Housing Assistance Program. The deadline is May 11. For more information, contact Stephanie W. Thomas, HUD, 202-402-6938.

Community Connect broadband grants available

Nonprofits, for-profits, and state, local, and Tribal governments may apply by June 20 for Community Connect grants to construct rural broadband networks. For more information, contact Randall Millhiser, USDA RD, 202-578-6926.

Advisory Committee on Minority Farmers nominations open

The committee’s 15 members will include historically underserved farmers and ranchers, as well as representatives of minority serving institutions of higher education and community-based nonprofits, and people with civil rights and equity expertise. Nominations are due April 24. For more information, contact R. Jeanese Cabrera, USDA, 202-720-6350.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

HUD seeks input on NSPIRE scoring and ranking

The most recent step in HUD’s implementation of National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) is a notice requesting comments on proposed NSPIRE physical inspection scoring and ranking methodology. HUD previously published a proposed regulation for NSPIRE and proposed standards. NSPIRE applies to public housing and multifamily housing programs, including Housing Choice Vouchers, Section 8 Project-Based and other assisted housing, the Section 202 and 811 programs, and HUD-insured multifamily housing. Comments are due April 27. For more information, contact Tara J. Radosevich, HUD, NSPIRERegulations@hud.gov.

New temporary authorization to help address RD backlogs

Effective immediately, additional staff in USDA RD State Offices may receive temporary authority to make some decisions regarding Section 502 direct and Section 504 applications. The change is intended to help reduce application backlogs. For more information, contact a State Office.

Cost burden increased among USDA tenants, annual occupancy report shows

Characteristics of tenants in Section 515 and 514 properties remained largely the same from October 2021 to October 2022, USDA’s annual data report indicates. There were 3,154 fewer units in 2022 than in 2021, with a decrease of 158 Section 515 properties and 7 Section 514 FLH properties. In 2022, average annual income for all tenants was $15,502, while the average income for those receiving Section 521 Rental Assistance was $12,989. The number of cost-burdened households, which fell dramatically from 41,121 in 2020 to 3,227 in 2021 because the American Rescue Plan Act provided additional RA, rose to 4,975 in 2022. Past occupancy data reports are available on HAC’s website.

HUD suggests changes related to floodplains

A proposed regulation is intended to improve the resilience of HUD-assisted or financed projects to the effects of climate change and natural disasters and provide for greater flexibility in the use of HUD assistance in floodways under certain circumstances. Comments are due May 23. For more information, contact Lauren Hayes Knutson, HUD, 202-402-4270.

Some USDA loan limits revised

Limits for USDA Section 502 direct loans have been revised for some places in Florida, New Jersey, and Virginia. For more information, contact an RD office.

HUD returns to 2013 disparate impact rule

HUD is reversing a change it made in 2020 to its fair housing discriminatory effects regulation and is reinstating a 2013 rule governing fair housing violation claims based on policies or actions with “disparate impacts” on categories of people protected by the Fair Housing Act. HAC supported this step when it was proposed. It requires no changes in practice because the 2013 rule remained in effect while the 2020 version was challenged in court.

EVENTS

Register now for upcoming HAC trainings

HAC Spring Training will be held April 11-13 in San Diego, with three different segments: “Housing and Services for Rural Veterans: A Symposium,” “Leading an Organization in Changing Times,” and “Creating Sustainable and Affordable Housing: A Workshop on Green Building Principles.”

Overcoming Cost Barriers: Innovative Approaches to Construction with Smart Building Techniques, Volunteers, and Sweat Equity is a series of five webinars:

Webinar to review federal funding for rural development

Seizing the Moment: Rural Development Hubs and the Historic Opportunity for Federal Resources, a new Rural Opportunity and Development (ROAD) Session, will be held on April 12. The webinar is hosted by Aspen Institute’s Community Strategies Group in collaboration with HAC, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Rural LISC, the International Economic Development Council, and the Federal Reserve Board.

Equity and resiliency connections to be covered

Rural Affordable Housing: Equity and Resiliency, a webinar offered on April 11 by the Technical Assistance Collaborative, will examine steps to center equity and mitigate effects of future disasters for vulnerable populations through thoughtful building and rebuilding.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Disaster guide online for survivors of southern tornadoes

HAC’s thoughts are with our rural partners and communities affected by the recent tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama. 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.

Blog considers how states and localities can support rural justice

Identifying Policies That Advance Racial & Economic Justice in Rural Places, a ChangeLab Solutions blog post, highlights several policies that “hold high potential to address multiple dimensions of oppression for BIPOC rural communities – for example, funding for Native arts programs; Native tourism alliances; targeted and local hiring; agricultural workers’ rights; funding and support for small water systems; broadband expansion; and reparations.”

HAC

National Rural Housing Conference set for October

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

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

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

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

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

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

USDA Multi-Family Fair Housing Occupancy Report FY 2022

Characteristics of tenants in Section 515 and 514 properties remained largely the same from October 2021 to October 2022, USDA’s annual data report indicates. There were 3,154 fewer units in 2022 than in 2021, with a decrease of 158 Section 515 properties and 7 Section 514 FLH properties. In 2022, average annual income for all tenants was $15,502, while the average income for those receiving Section 521 Rental Assistance was $12,989. The number of cost-burdened households, which fell dramatically from 41,121 in 2020 to 3,227 in 2021 because the American Rescue Plan Act provided additional RA, rose to 4,975 in 2022.

Southern Tornadoes 2023 Disaster Guide

On March 24th, a supercell storm caused a major tornado that wreaked havoc on Mississippi and Alabama. A state of emergency has been declared with federal funds deployed to the affected area. As of Monday morning, 25 people have been killed, dozens injured, and 36,000 people are without power. Much of the devastation is concentrated in Rolling Fork, MS, a poor rural town with a population of about 2000. The storm was particularly destructive because of the wide nature of the tornado that occurred at night, which made it difficult to see forming. Severe weather continues on Monday.

HAC offers the following resources with information for nonprofits dealing with loss and damage from tornadoes: Rural Resilience in the Face of Disaster site and Disaster Response for Rural Communities Guide.

If you are in need of emergency, transient housing, you can text SHELTER and your Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find where the shelter closest to you is located.

TIPS

Disaster Assistance Improvement Program (DAIP)
Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621- 3362 or 1-800- 462-7585 TTY. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

Check Your Home: Structural Elements

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

 

RESOURCES

Apply for FEMA Assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. FEMA Disaster Assistance Helpline answers questions about the help offered by FEMA, how to apply for assistance, or the information in your account.
Toll-free helpline: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362)
For hearing impaired callers only:
1-800-462-7585 (TTY)
1-800-621-3362 (Video Relay Service)
Operators are multilingual and calls are answered seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET

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

 

FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY REGIONAL OFFICE REGION IV
(serves Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee)
Federal Emergency Management Agency
3003 Chamblee Tucker Road
Atlanta, GA 30341
Main Number: 770-220-5200
Fax Number: 770-220-5230
www.fema.gov/region-iv-al-fl-ga-ky-ms-nc-sc-tn

 

STATE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCIES

Alabama
Alabama Emergency Management Agency
5898 County Road 41
Clanton, Alabama 35046-2160
Phone: (205) 280-2476
Fax: (205) 280-2442
https://www.ema.alabama.gov

Mississippi
P.O. Box 5644 Pearl, Mississippi
(601) 933-MEMA
24 hour emergency line: 1-800-222-MEMA(6362)
https://www.msema.org/

 

STATE HOUSING AGENCIES

Alabama
Alabama Housing Finance Authority
7460 Halcyon Pointe Drive, Suite 200
Montgomery, AL 36117
Phone: (334) 244-9200
http://www.ahfa.com/

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

 

DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT STATE FIELD OFFICES

Alabama
417 20th Street North
Suite 700
Birmingham, AL 35203
(205) 731-2617
Director Kenneth E. Free
www.hud.gov/states/alabama

Mississippi
Dr. A. H. McCoy Federal Building
100 West Capitol Street
Room 910
Jackson, MS 39269-1096
(601) 965-4757
Director: Adrenace Williams
https://www.hud.gov/states/mississippi/offices

 

USDA RURAL DEVELOPMENT STATE OFFICES

Alabama
4121 Carmichael Road, Suite 601
Montgomery, AL 36106-3683
Phone: (334) 279-3400
Fax: (855) 304-8456
Nivory Gordon, Jr., State Director
www.rd.usda.gov/al

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

HAC News: March 17, 2023

TOP STORIES

USDA budget requests growth in rural housing funding

The Biden administration’s budget for fiscal year 2024 would increase resources for almost all of USDA’s rural housing programs. It asks Congress to continue funding the 27,000 Section 521 Rental Assistance units added by pandemic relief legislation and renews proposals made in last year’s budget to improve rental housing preservation by increasing funding and decoupling Rental Assistance from USDA mortgages. It proposes ending subsidy recapture for Section 502 direct borrowers. The Rural Community Development Initiative for capacity building would grow to $22.8 million from $6 million in FY23. HAC’s analysis, as well as a recording and slide deck from HAC’s March 15 budget webinar, are posted online.

HUD budget proposes increased aid to tenants and downpayment assistance

While requesting significant new resources, the administration’s HUD budget would also make small cuts in the SHOP, Section 184 guarantee, and Rural Capacity Building programs. It would increase HOME from $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion, add $565 million for 50,000 new incremental vouchers, and provide $300 million for capital investments in public housing. A new mandatory spending program would provide downpayment assistance. Other proposed mandatory spending – which must be approved by legislation in addition to the annual appropriations bill, and therefore is very unlikely to pass in the current Congress – would add rent aid for specific populations as well as modernizing public housing and financing eviction reduction efforts. HAC’s analysis, as well as a recording and slide deck from HAC’s March 15 budget webinar, are posted online.

Eligible areas under review for rural housing programs

In early March, USDA RD State Offices sent email notices telling stakeholders that the agency is conducting its periodic review of area eligibility designations for its rural housing programs. Based on data from the 2020 census, this review could result in loss of eligibility for some locations. For examples, see these notices from Illinois and Minnesota. Public comments are due in early June, 90 days after the date of each notice. For more information, contact housing staff in an RD State Office.

HAC invites workshop proposals for October 2023 National Rural Housing Conference

HAC requests workshop proposals for its 2023 conference, to be held October 24-27 (with workshops on October 25 and 26) in Washington, DC. The biennial conference brings together rural affordable housing and community development leaders, practitioners, policy makers, funders, industry experts, and partners for learning and networking. Workshops should seek to align themselves with the conference theme – Build Rural – or one of the following threads: Housing Affordability, Development, Preservation, Community Facilities, Rural Prosperity, Placemaking, Capacity Building, Housing Justice, or other adjacent threads. Proposals are due June 2. For more information, contact Kelly Cooney or Diane Hunter, HAC.

RuralSTAT

During the pandemic, domestic migration (moving within the U.S.) to rural areas caused population increases in far more places than before the pandemic: 63% of counties outside metro areas had net population inflows in 2021, compared to only 39% in 2019. Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies.

OPPORTUNITIES

Rural community design support available

The National Endowment for the Arts and HAC, with To Be Done Studio, invite rural communities to apply to the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) for design support and technical assistance to host an on-site Local Design Workshop or participate in the Design Learning Cohort. Municipal, Tribal, or county governments, local rural nonprofits, rural regional planning organizations, university community design centers or agricultural/extension offices, and partnerships of these entities are eligible. An informational webinar will be offered March 22. Apply by April 21. For more information, contact CIRD, cird@ruralhome.org.

USDA offers Section 515 subsequent loans, info session on March 23

Borrowers with existing Section 515 loans or loan commitments can apply by April 30 for Section 515 subsequent loans to complete, improve, repair, or modify these properties. A second round of funding will be announced later this year. For more information, contact a USDA RD Processing and Report Review Branch (scroll down to the second map to see which branch to contact). USDA will hold a stakeholder information webinar on March 23.

Department of Justice to fund supportive housing and clinical services

The first segment of the Pay for Success grant application process closes on March 21. This grant program will provide six awards in the amount of $1 million each to local, Tribal, or state governments or PHAs for projects providing permanent supportive housing or clinical services for people with mental health, substance use, or co-occurring disorders who are or were involved in the criminal justice system. For more information, contact DOJ’s OJP Response Center, 800-851-3420.

Community Connect broadband grants offered

Nonprofits, for-profits, and state, local, or Tribal governments can apply by June 20 for the Community Connect Grant program to construct broadband networks in rural areas that do not currently have broadband service. For more information, contact Randall Millhiser, USDA, 202-578-6926.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Revisions proposed for rule on using federal property to assist homeless

HUD, the General Services Administration, and the Department of Health and Human Services are proposing to update the regulations for the Title V program, which allows states or local governments and nonprofits to use some unused federal properties to assist people experiencing homelessness. Comments are due May 19. For more information, contact Juanita Perry, HUD, 202-402-3970.

HUD revises some Fair Market Rents

New FMRs for Hawaii County, HI; Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI; Hood River County, OR; Wasco County, OR; and Seattle-Bellevue, WA take effect on April 19.

Limited English proficiency requirements repeated for rental housing providers and USDA staff

New USDA guidance reminds agency staff and owners and managers of USDA-financed multifamily housing that they must follow policies and procedures for ensuring that persons with limited English proficiency have meaningful access to USDA’s programs and activities.

EVENTS

HAC plans April workshops

Register for one, two, or all three days of Spring Training (peer networking and practical knowledge), to be held in person in San Diego. There is no registration fee, but space is limited and registration is required. HAC’s annual symposium on “Housing and Services for Rural Veterans” will be on April 11. On April 12 and 13 HAC will present two concurrent trainings, “Leading an Organization in Changing Times” and “Creating Sustainable and Affordable Housing: A Workshop on Green Building Principles.” For more information, contact HAC, 202-842-8600.

National Community Development Week set for April 10-14

This annual observance celebrates improvements achieved with support from the HOME and CDBG programs. Access the National Community Development Week toolkit and other resources online from the CDBG Coalition, which includes HAC.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

U.S. needs 7.3 million affordable rentals

The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual publication, The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, reports a shortage of 7.3 million affordable and available rental homes for the lowest-income renters in the country. The shortfall increased by 500,000 between 2019 and 2021. Nationwide, there are only 33 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 extremely low-income renter households; among states, the supply ranges from 17 per 100 in Nevada to 58 in South Dakota. The report calls for greater federal investment in the preservation and expansion of the affordable housing stock, more Housing Choice Vouchers, a national housing stabilization fund for renters who experience an unexpected short-term financial shock, and federal tenant protections.

Community organizations address rural homelessness and housing insecurity

Tackling Rural America’s ‘Hidden’ Housing Crisis, an article from the Daily Yonder, describes the work of local groups in rural Oregon and Kentucky to address homelessness and housing insecurity in their areas.

Study compares access to housing voucher waiting lists in and outside of metro areas

Offline: Limited Access to Section 8 Vouchers reports on an Affordable Housing Online analysis of waiting list openings for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers from 2016 to 2020. Researchers found that counties outside metropolitan areas were more likely to have lists that remain open indefinitely, while metro counties tended to have waiting lists open for scheduled time periods. Renters were more likely to face barriers accessing Section 8 waiting lists in rural places than in urban areas; for example, their applications were less likely to be online, although overall use of online applications rose by 21% from 2019 to 2020.

Native American credit shortage documented

Native Americans Struggle to Obtain Credit: A Close Analysis of Native American Mortgage Lending From 2018-2021, a National Community Reinvestment Coalition blog post, reports that from 2018 through 2021, just 0.9% of all mortgages in the U.S. went to Native Americans, who make up 3% of the US population. Those who do purchase a home are more likely to choose a manufactured home. Also, mortgage lenders impose higher costs on Native Americans than other groups, even when they are buying less expensive homes. Factors contributing to this state of affairs, the post notes, include a lack of access to credit, discrimination, inadequate affordable housing stock, and a shortage of infrastructure to support development of new homes.

System to protect farmworkers falls short, investigation finds

As part of an ongoing series on farmworker housing, Investigate Midwest published Government System for Protecting Farmworkers Plagued by Staff Turnover and Lack of Outreach. The Monitor Advocate System, a federal-state joint effort, is intended to ensure that states protect farmworkers from unsafe housing, wage theft, and other abuses. Journalists found, however, that some states failed to conduct adequate outreach to farmworkers, employee turnover was high, and during the coronavirus pandemic some states stopped doing outreach at a time when farmworkers likely needed it most.

GAO summarizes ways to improve federal disaster spending

Disaster Assistance: Action Needed to Improve Resilience, Response, and Recovery is a two-page summary of GAO’s recent research and recommendations, released with a blog post and a video, all exploring ways to improve federal disaster recovery, disaster resilience, and the processes for assisting survivors.

HAC

HAC releases 2022 Loan Fund Impact Report

In fiscal year 2022, HAC’s Loan Fund provided $16.6 million of financing so that 36 organizations – including 14 minority-led borrowers – could build, rehabilitate, or preserve 689 affordable homes. More details are available in HAC’s Loan Fund Impact Report.

National Rural Housing Conference set for October

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

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

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

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

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

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

 

HAC News: March 2, 2023

HAC News: March 2, 2023

TOP STORIES

USDA RD produces Buy America guide

USDA Rural Development published a Build America, Buy America Customer Guide to help organizations receiving RD financial assistance comply with requirements that took effect on February 4. RD also revised its BABA webpage, which now makes clear that for-profit entities receiving federal funds are not subject to BABA. There are no changes to the list of affected rural housing and community facilities programs USDA provided in September: “Rural Housing Site Loans and Self-Help Housing Land Development Loans, Rural Rental Housing Loans, Section 538 Rural Rental Housing Guaranteed Loans, The RD Multi-Family Housing Revitalization Demonstration Program (MPR), and Community Facilities Loans and Grants (Includes Guarantees, Emergency Rural Health Care Grants and Tribal College Initiatives Grants).” For more information, contact an RD State Office or email sm.rd.babaa.inquiry@usda.gov.

Equity Commission issues interim report

USDA’s Equity Commission released an interim report on February 28, offering 32 recommendations to the department based on the work of the commission’s Agriculture Subcommittee. Topics include heirs’ property and fractionated land, equity within USDA, and improvements to farmworkers’ living and working conditions. Shonterria Charleston, HAC’s Director of Training and Technical Assistance, is a member of the commission’s Rural Community Economic Development Subcommittee. That group’s recommendations will be provided in the commission’s final report. For more information, email EquityCommission@usda.gov.

Executive Order calls for economic opportunity, including in rural America

An Executive Order issued by President Biden on February 16 asserts that the federal government will “invest in communities where Federal policies have historically impeded equal opportunity – both rural and urban – in ways that mitigate economic displacement, expand access to capital, preserve housing and neighborhood affordability, root out discrimination in the housing market, and build community wealth.” The directive also covers health, environmental justice, education, and other topics.

Contributions to Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund halved this year

In 2022 Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provided a record high $1.138 billion for the Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund. This year, because the housing market has slowed considerably, the total is $545 million. The HTF will drop from $740 million last year to $354 million this year. The CMF will fall from $398 million last year to $191 million in 2023. The amounts are based on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s new business purchases.

March is Women’s History Month

RuralSTAT

More than half of all banks in the United States (56%) are headquartered in rural areas. But these rural financial institutions hold only 6% of all bank assets nationally. Source: Housing Assistance Council tabulations of FDIC Deposit Market Share Reports – Summary of Deposits.

OPPORTUNITIES

Justice Department funding available for housing

Technical assistance offered

  • HUD’s Thriving Communities Technical Assistance program is intended to help units of general local government ensure housing needs are considered as part of their larger infrastructure investment plans. Requests will be reviewed as they are received, beginning March 15. HUD will give priority to jurisdictions with populations of less than 250,000 people. For more information, email ThrivingCommunitiesTA@HUD.gov.
  • Smart Growth America will provide TA to help community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, Tribal Nations, and groups of residents or businesses advocate for just climate and land use development. Apply by March 15. For more information, email Jamie Zouras, Smart Growth America.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Medicaid and CHIP “unwinding” reviews could mean lost health coverage

During the coronavirus pandemic, a “continuous coverage” requirement has prevented states from reviewing eligibility for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), so almost everyone who was enrolled has remained covered. Now the requirement is expiring and its “unwinding” means that states will begin reviewing eligibility of all enrollees. States must begin the process by April 1. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has estimated that 6.8 million people – disproportionately children and BIPOC residents – could remain eligible but lose their Medicaid coverage because, for example, they moved and do not receive state notices. HHS provides links and toll-free phone numbers for state Medicaid offices so people can update their contact details. Information to help service providers assist their clients is available from many sources, including HHS, the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, the National Indian Health Board, and the Rural Health Information Hub. On March 1, NIHB will host Medicaid Unwinding Webinar: Updates and Best Practices for Tribal Enrollment Assisters. On March 14, a webinar titled Medicaid Unwinding: Helping Service Recipients Keep Their Health Care Coverage will be offered by the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, and the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Area loan limits for USDA single-family direct programs updated

USDA Rural Development has announced the area loan limits that will apply, effective March 1, to loans under the Section 502 direct and Section 504 programs. For more information, contact an RD office.

USDA seeks input on notices to tenants when owners apply for prepayment

USDA requests feedback from stakeholders as it revises the communications it sends to tenants when owners of Section 515 and Section 514 properties apply to prepay their loans. The agency will hold a listening session for stakeholders on March 9 to present its proposed draft letters and communication strategy and receive input on potential enhancements.

HAC comments on CDBG-DR

Responding to two requests for information from HUD, HAC recently submitted comments on some of the specifically rural concerns involved in using the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program. HAC also signed a comment letter prepared by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition.

HOTMA rule corrected

HUD has published corrections to its recent rule on rental housing under the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act.

USDA RD financial data posted on new gateway

USDA Rural Development’s Rural Data Gateway is intended to make information more easily accessible. Rural Investments Dashboards show data from more than 65 RD programs by program area (for example, single-family or multifamily housing), for Socially Vulnerable counties as defined by the Centers for Disease Control, or by county or congressional district. The data can also be downloaded. Figures from fiscal years 2012 to 2022 are currently posted. For more information, email USDA.RD.DATA@usda.gov.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Guide for housing advocates gets annual update

Advocates’ Guide 2023: A Primer on Federal Affordable Housing & Community Development Programs & Policies, published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, is intended to be a comprehensive resource for those involved in affordable housing and community development advocacy. This year’s new content includes sections on COVID-19-era housing programs and tenant protections.

Research identifies ways to improve state support for creative placemaking

A Report on State Enabling Environments for Creative Placemaking, published by the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations, draws from analyses conducted in Minnesota, New Jersey, and Texas to characterize the enabling environment for creative placemaking at the state level. NACEDA concludes that state policy mechanisms to enable creative placemaking exist, but they are not all rooted in equity and not sufficient to fully support the field; significant outside pressure can induce financial institutions to support placemaking; and leadership to enhance state support would accelerate local work, but is under-resourced.

Wind risk study adds to research on flood, fire, and heat risks

First Street Foundation estimates that in 30 years over 13.4 million U.S. properties will be exposed to hurricanes that are not currently, because a larger proportion of tropical storms will reach major hurricane status and storms will track further northward along the East Coast. The foundation also calculated the dollar values of expected damage and associated downtime. First Street’s RiskFactor.com site now includes wind factors along with flood, fire, and heat factors for many properties in the U.S.

Rural rental preservation draws attention in Maine

WMTV in Portland reports that Maine Could Lose Thousands of Units of Affordable Housing, describing the potential loss of many of the state’s 7,700 Section 515 rental units due to maturing mortgages. One Section 515 property (28 units in the town of Thomaston) was preserved because a new state affordable housing tax credit enabled a nonprofit to purchase the property and keep the units affordable. In First-of-its-kind Model for Protecting Affordable Rental Housing in Rural Maine Hailed as Success, Maine Public Radio reports on the same preservation deal, noting that the $1 million per year program also pays for renovations and that other funding sources were involved as well.

Heart disease research findings: housing instability contributes, rural residents have higher rates

Research from the University of Georgia concludes that cardiovascular disease decreased in the U.S. from 2009 to 2018, but rural counties and those with a higher percentage of Black residents consistently experienced higher rates of heart disease than urban and more predominantly white counties. Housing instability, food insecurity, and lower rates of Medicare coverage were also connected to higher rates of cardiovascular disease and death, researchers explained.

HAC

HAC is hiring a Loan Processor Associate

The Loan Processor Associate is an entry-level position and will assist in loan portfolio management functions including loan department reports, loan payments, loan closing, disbursement, monitoring, and servicing  loans. This position is eligible for telecommuting.

National Rural Housing Conference set for October

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

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

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

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

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

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

 

HAC News: February 16, 2023

TOP STORIES

Pandemic emergency declarations ending May 11

President Biden plans to end the coronavirus pandemic national emergency and public health emergency on May 11. Agencies are now preparing to wind down pandemic-related assistance programs, regulatory waivers, and other measures that were based on the existence of the emergency declarations. (Others may be scheduled to end on specific dates.) FEMA announced its Public Assistance funding related to the pandemic will end May 11. HAC will report other notifications as they are made.

Torres Small nominated as USDA Deputy Secretary

On February 15 President Biden announced he is nominating Xochitl Torres Small, who has been serving as USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development, to become Deputy Secretary. Secretary Tom Vilsack released a statement describing her as “a dedicated advocate for rural communities.” Torres Small’s nomination will have to be confirmed by the Senate.

HAC testifies before Senate Banking Committee

HAC was invited to testify at the first hearing held in the new 118th Congress before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. Titled The State of Housing 2023, the session featured Lance George, HAC’s Director of Research and Information, as one of three witnesses. His testimony covered key factors contributing to the state of rural housing including the pandemic, housing costs, manufactured housing, and race and ethnicity. His policy recommendations addressed homeownership, rental housing, and capacity building.

HAC launches USDA-backed placemaking program

HAC has selected ten communities to participate in our Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge (RPIC) cohort. RPIC is a USDA program that funds planning support, technical assistance, and training to encourage placemaking activities in rural communities. HAC’s cohort communities will receive 15 months of capacity building support, connection to a peer cohort, and seed grant funding.

RuralSTAT

In fiscal year 2022, the average loan amount for a USDA guaranteed home mortgage was $185,241 – up 31% from 2019. Source: HAC tabulations of USDA Data (increase represented in nominal dollars).

Buildings Upgrade Prize offered by Department of Energy

The Buildings Upgrade Prize (Buildings UP) will award cash and technical assistance for ideas to accelerate widespread, equitable energy efficiency and building electrification upgrades. In Phase 1, teams will submit innovative concepts to increase building energy upgrades. Winning teams will receive $200,000 or $400,000 in cash as well as expert technical assistance and coaching to help bring their ideas to life. The Phase 1 application period is open from February 18 to July 18. New and under-resourced teams can also apply, until funds are expended, for Application Support Prizes of $5,000 and 10 hours of technical assistance to help complete their Phase 1 applications. For more information, email buildingsup@nrel.gov.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

New requests for comments issued

  • Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing: HUD’s proposed AFFH rule has been officially published, with a comment deadline of April 10. For more information, contact Tiffany Johnson, HUD, 202-402-2881.
  • Build America, Buy America: OMB proposes to revise its guidance for federal agencies on grants and agreements to include Build America, Buy America Act requirements. Comments are due March 13. For more information, contact Dede Rutberg, OMB, 202-881-7359.
  • Radon in HUD environmental reviews: HUD has drafted a Departmental Policy for Addressing Radon in the Environmental Review Process. Comments are due April 14. For more information, contact Kristin Fontenot, HUD, 202-402-7671.
  • Broadening public engagement in the regulatory process: OMB suggests tactics for increasing public participation in developing federal regulations. Comments are due March 10 and a virtual listening session will be offered on March 7.
  • FHA 203(k) rehab mortgages: The Federal Housing Administration requests input by April 17 on barriers to the use of the FHA 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance Program by lenders and consumers. For more information, contact Elissa Saunders, HUD, 202-402-2378.
  • Rural broadband technical assistance and planning: The Rural Utilities Service will host two online listening sessions to collect feedback on how best to use new funding for TA and planning to provide broadband in the most rural communities. A session for rural communities interested in receiving TA will be held February 23 and one for TA providers will be February 28. For more information, use the online broadband program contact form.

Resources offered to help protect domestic violence survivors in HUD properties

HUD launched a new website as a clearinghouse for its resources on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and changes made when the law was reauthorized in 2022. Also, a new notice explains that HUD will implement and enforce VAWA in the same way it enforces the Fair Housing Act. Finally, HUD’s Community Compass funding notice includes VAWA among priorities for provision of technical assistance.

HAC welcomes rural homelessness funding awards

HUD has announced its selection of Continuums of Care in 27 states that will receive a total of over $54 million to address rural homelessness. Another $260 million will be used to assist people experiencing unsheltered homelessness around the country. HUD plans to make additional awards in the coming weeks and to allocate new incremental Stability Vouchers as well. HAC issued a statement hailing the attention to rural needs.

USDA RD updates guidelines on COVID-related loan refinances

Guidance for using Section 502 and 504 direct loan funds provided by the American Rescue Plan Act has been revised. The monies can be used through September 30 to refinance outstanding loans to existing direct loan borrowers who received payment moratoriums under pandemic guidelines.

Supportive services use at Section 202 properties explained

HUD has issued updated guidance for Section 202 elderly housing properties explaining the purpose and allowable uses of supportive services funds and how to include them in a property’s annual operating budget. Owners are required to have Supportive Services Plans and to update them every three years. HUD’s announcement also reminds staff at Section 202 properties they can order COVID tests free online.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Drop in rural mortgage guarantees reported in HAC research note

Home Mortgage Demand Declined in Rural America Too: Signs and Trends from a USDA Housing Finance Product reports that USDA’s Section 502 loan guarantees plummeted by more than 40% from FY21 to FY22 level, from 120,000 to 72,000. Increases in interest rates and home prices likely contributed to this decline.

Continuum of Care information for Tribes published

HUD has published the first set of resources from the Continuum of Care Program Series for Tribal Communities and Organizations New to the CoC Program. Tribes and Tribal housing entities became eligible for CoC funding in HUD’s FY21 appropriations act, and the series is intended to inform them about the program, its purpose, eligible activities, and funding opportunities. For more information, contact a HUD Native American Programs area office or submit a question through the online Ask-a-Question portal (select “CoC Program” at step 2).

Case studies cover “what’s working in rural”

Brief rural-focused case studies from the Aspen Institute’s Community Strategies Group cover developing leaders in historically excluded communities, competing for federal funds despite limited resources, and empowering leaders from all backgrounds. Other topics will be added.

Major media report on homeless counts in rural places

Recently published stories describe the point-in-time count conducted nationwide in late January. In the Washington Post, Rural America has Homeless People Too. But They’re Hard to Find describes the difficulty in finding people in rural Cumberland County, PA, where volunteers must cross miles of territory. The New York Times piece, 582,462 and Counting, describes the count in four places, including rural Mississippi. It points out that people experiencing homelessness in rural areas are often locals who are now “homeless in their hometown.”

Remote workers are relocating back to metro areas, but high rural housing costs persist

Remote work during the pandemic led to a migration of residents out of metropolitan areas, which contributed to increases in average rural home prices. The push for employees to return to office has led to workers returning to cities. High housing costs and supply shortages persist in rural communities, however, described by NBC News in The Remote Workers Have Left, But the Housing Havoc They Created Remains.

Prosperity Now Scorecard updated

Prosperity Now has released the 2023 version of its Scorecard, an interactive site providing data on household financial health, housing, and more. Data is available for states, counties, cities, congressional districts, tribal areas, and metro areas. This year the Scorecard increased its focus on racial economic inequality and reviews states’ implementation of policies to expand economic opportunity.

HAC

National Rural Housing Conference set for October

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

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

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

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

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

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

 

 

Home Mortgage Demand Declined in Rural America Too

Signs and Trends from a USDA Housing Finance Product

There have been numerous business and media reports on the slowdown in homebuying and mortgage activity in recent months. This market response is largely related to recent interest rate increases for 30-year fixed mortgages spurred by the Federal Reserve raising its benchmark rates. According to some estimates, the rate of mortgage applications nationally fell by half in 2022. Are mortgage markets behaving similarly in rural America too? Data from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) on its Guaranteed Home Loan product signals that rural homebuyers hit the brakes in 2022 as well. In the last fiscal year, USDA loan guarantees plummeted by more than 40 percent from their 2021 level and dropped well below the 100,000-loan mark to guarantee 72,000 loans.

Download the Research Note.

HAC News: February 2, 2023

TOP STORIES

Buy America requirements take effect February 4 for USDA multifamily housing, site development, and community facilities programs

On January 23, USDA Rural Development issued a stakeholder announcement saying that after February 3 “all non-Federal organizations receiving RD financial assistance for infrastructure projects will be required to exclusively use iron, steel, manufactured products and construction materials manufactured in the United States” under the Build America, Buy America Act. In September an RD document stated that the Rural Housing Service programs covered by the law are “Rural Housing Site Loans and Self-Help Housing Land Development Loans, Rural Rental Housing Loans, Section 538 Rural Rental Housing Guaranteed Loans, The RD Multi-Family Housing Revitalization Demonstration Program (MPR), and Community Facilities Loans and Grants (Includes Guarantees, Emergency Rural Health Care Grants and Tribal College Initiatives Grants).” For more information, email USDA staff, SM.RD.babaa.inquiry@usda.gov.

Budget request to be released March 9

Development of federal funding levels for fiscal year 2024 – which starts October 1, 2023 – will begin on March 9 when the Biden-Harris administration publishes its budget request. HAC will post information on our website that day.

White House announces renter protections

The Biden-⁠Harris administration on January 25 announced several actions to protect renters, to be undertaken by the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Department of Justice, and HUD. The administration also issued a Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights and launched a Resident-Centered Housing Challenge. The challenge calls on providers and other stakeholders to sign up to improve renters’ quality of life. For more information on the challenge, email White House staff, RCHousingChallenge@who.eop.gov.

February is National Black History Month

 

RuralSTAT

From June 2020 to June 2022, expenses for rural households rose by 18.5%, while earnings grew by only 6.1%. Urban residents’ expenses rose by 14.5% and their earnings increased by 8.6%. Source: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

OPPORTUNITIES

Rental preservation grants available

Preservation of affordable rental housing is the theme for TD Bank’s 17th annual Housing for Everyone competition. Nonprofit organizations in specific geographic areas are eligible for grants of $150,000-$250,000 to rehabilitate property, provide rental assistance funds, or increase organizational capacity. The deadline is February 14. For more information, register for a February 7 webinar or email US-CharitableGiving@TD.com.

Competition opens for veterans case management funds

VA’s Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program Case Management Grant program offers two-year funding to nonprofits and state, local, or Tribal governments to provide case management services to support veterans in acquiring and maintaining permanent housing. Applications are due May 4; information should be available online on February 3. For more information, contact Chelsea Watson, VA, 727-273-5619.

Eligibility expanded for hazard mitigation revolving loan funds

FEMA’s new Safeguarding Tomorrow Revolving Loan Fund grant program has been expanded, allowing American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands – as well as states, D.C., and Puerto Rico – to apply for grants to capitalize revolving loan funds for resilience-related activities. Twenty Tribal Nations are now eligible to receive funds directly from FEMA, and all federally recognized Tribes are eligible to get this funding through a state. The application process opened on February 1. For more information, contact FEMA staff, askcsid@fema.dhs.gov.

Grants offered for rural arts

The Rural Arts Initiative of the Laura Jane Musser Fund offers grants of up to $12,000 to assist small nonprofit arts organizations in rural communities to develop, implement, or sustain exceptional artistic opportunities for adults and children in the areas of literary, visual, music, and performing arts. Applicants must be located in communities with under 20,000 population in Colorado, Hawaii, Wyoming, or specified parts of Minnesota, New York, or Texas. Applications must be submitted online between February 8 and March 8. For more information, contact the Musser Fund, 612-825-2024.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Agencies request comments on several programs

  • Section 502 guaranteed loans: Comments are due March 28 on changes to the use of special servicing options for non-performing loans. For more information, contact Ticia Weare, USDA, 314-679-6919.
  • Section 538 priorities: Comments are due April 3 on a proposal to remove from regulations the list of project types that receive priority for Section 538 rental housing loans, allowing USDA to establish new priorities without going through the regulatory process. For more information, contact Tammy Daniels, USDA, 202-720-0021.
  • Section 306C water and waste program for colonias and Tribes: Comments are due April 3 on revisions to the Section 306C Water and Waste Disposal Grants program, renamed the Water and Waste Facility Loans and Grants to Alleviate Health Risks program. For more information, contact Charles Stephens, USDA, 202-619-8500.
  • ReConnect program: Comments are due March 31 on changes to the Rural Utilities Service’s Rural eConnectivity (ReConnect) broadband program. For more information, contact Laurel Leverrier, USDA, 202-720-9556.
  • Tribal housing counselors: Comments are due March 27 on a proposed housing counselor certification option for employees of Tribes, Tribally Designated Housing Entities, and other Tribal entities. For more information, contact David Valdez, HUD, 713-718-3178.
  • Section 8: Comments are due April 3 on a HUD proposal to develop a single Section 8 project-based rental assistance program regulation consisting of a standardized set of Section 8 program requirements and to create a single renewal contract form. For more information, contact Jennifer Lavorel, HUD, 202-402-2515.
  • Data on race/ethnicity: Comments are due April 12 on the first revisions since 1997 to the Office of Management and Budget’s policy directive that provides standards for all federal agencies on maintaining, collecting, and presenting federal data on race and ethnicity. For more information, contact Bob Sivinski, OMB.
  • Government Auditing Standards: Comments are due April 28 to the Government Accountability Office on proposed revisions to the Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS), also known as the Yellow Book. For more information, contact Cecil Davis, GAO, 202-512-9362.

Final rule will affect rental housing under many HUD programs

HUD has posted a preview version of a final rule implementing provisions of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 that make changes impacting HUD-assisted rental housing, particularly income calculations and reviews. Some provisions will take effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and others on January 1, 2024. Contacts for further information vary by program and are listed in the rule.

Staffing changes coming at USDA

USDA Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh has announced she will leave the department. Nancie-Ann Bodell, the Rural Housing Service’s Deputy Administrator for Multifamily Housing, will leave her position February 28. Cathy Glover, Deputy Administrator for Single-Family Housing, is retiring this year. Chad Parker, Deputy Administrator for Community Facilities, retired at the end of December; Joseph Ben-Israel, the Assistant Deputy Administrator, is Acting Deputy Administrator.

Duty to Serve plan modifications posted

Final modifications to Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve plans have been released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Freddie Mac had proposed to delete the objective of purchasing loans to preserve Section 515 properties, but its final document keeps that item intact. For more information, email DutyToServeStakeholders@fhfa.gov.

EVENTS

HAC schedules second webinar on affordable housing and substance use recovery

Providing support for successful recovery and addressing the substance use disorder epidemic requires a collaborative cross-sector approach. Join HAC on February 15 as we host “Affordable Housing and Recovery Cross-Sector Collaborative Conversation” with professionals from criminal justice, behavioral and mental health, and housing discussing ways to support recovery in rural communities. Registration information will be posted on HAC’s site when available. An earlier webinar and a resource guide are also available from HAC.

Webinar will address federal funding

A February 10 webinar on FY23 Federal Funding & Outlook for FY24 will feature speakers from HAC and other members of the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding, covering HUD’s and USDA’s affordable housing, community development, and homelessness programs.

Rural recreation communities’ housing to be featured

A webinar titled Housing Solutions in Rural Recreation Communities will be offered February 15 by USDA RD, HUD, and EPA. The session will highlight federal resources and private sector strategies that help communities leverage their outdoor recreation and tourism venues to address housing solutions and improve economic resilience.

HAC

HAC seeks Portfolio Manager Associate (new!) and Portfolio Manager, Closing and Disbursements

  • The Portfolio Management Associate is an entry-level position and will assist in a range of lending activities including closing, disbursement, monitoring, and servicing single- and multifamily housing development loans. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Portfolio Manager, Closing and Disbursements is responsible for all aspects of loan closing and loan disbursements for an assigned portfolio of loans made to entities engaged in affordable housing activities in rural communities throughout the United States. This position is eligible for telecommuting.

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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