USDA Obligations FY 2021 Featured Image

USDA Rural Development Obligations FY 21 – December

USDA Rural Development Obligations Report Cover - FY 2021

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

As of the end of December, USDA obligated 35,111 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling about $5,972,304,527. This is nearly $1 billion higher than obligation levels from this time last year. At that time, there were 32,361 loans, loan guarantees, and grants obligated totaling $4,973,305,990.

The agency operated under several short-term continuing resolutions during the month of December. A final CR was signed into law on December 27, 2020 which will provide funding for the remainder of the fiscal year. Since March 20, 2020, USDA offices have been operating from remote locations due to the COVID-19 virus.

Single Family Housing Program Highlights

The Section 502 Guaranteed loan program, the largest of the Single Family Housing programs, obligated $5,746,294,375 (32,823 loan guarantees) up from $4,759,272,406 (29,808 loan guarantees) this time last year.

For the Section 502 Direct program, loan obligations totaled $179,758,120 (975 loans), similar to last year’s obligation level of $151,845,219 (899 loans.) Over 41 percent of the loan dollars went to Very Low-income (VLI) applicants. VLI loans represented over 47 percent of the total number of Section 502 Direct loans.

The Section 504 Repair and Rehabilitation programs obligated 498 loans representing $2,838,485 compared to 586 loans representing $3,462,472 at this time last year.) There were also about $4,863,579 (788 grants) obligated in the Section 504 grant program compared to $6,336,917 (1,029 grants) last year.

USDA’s Section 523 Self Help Housing Grant program funded 5 grants and contracts totaling $3,449,175 up from last year’s 2 grants and contracts totaling $1,870,512.

No credit sales have been funded yet this year, similar to last year at this time.

Multi-Family Housing Programs

USDA’s Section 538 Multifamily Housing obligated 17 loan guarantees totaling $35,082,487 compared to last year’s 23 loan guarantees ($34,064,126.) There have not yet been obligations this year in the Section 515 Rural Rental Housing, the Farm Labor Housing, or MPR programs yet this year. It should be noted that funding in these programs is more prominent later in the fiscal year for most MFH loan and grant programs.

USDA obligated funds for 38,592 rental assistance units under the Section 521 Rental Assistance program totaling $219,583,640 compared to 46,336 units ($272,857,393) obligated same time last year. There were also 1,277 Rural Housing Vouchers totaling $6,508,033 compared to 913 vouchers representing $4,664,688 this time last year.

Download the combined document.

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

HAC News - 1/7/2021

HAC News: January 7, 2021

HAC News Formats. pdf

January 7, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 1

TOP STORIES 

Eviction moratorium and rent aid included in final coronavirus relief package.

  • The coronavirus relief legislation enacted in late December extends through January 31 the Centers for Disease Control’s nationwide moratorium on evictions of tenants for non-payment of rent. CDC has updated its declaration for tenants and its Frequently Asked Questions document to reflect the new expiration date. The revised FAQ also now points out that state or local law may allow a landlord to challenge the truthfulness of a tenant’s declaration. USDA issued a reminder about the moratorium’s applicability to USDA-financed rentals.
  • The law also provides $25 billion for a new Emergency Rental Assistance program. The Treasury Department will distribute ERA funds to states, local governments with populations of at least 200,000 and tribes. Eligible government entities must submit information to Treasury by January 12 in order to receive funds.
  • Among its other provisions, the law extends the deadline for states, localities and tribes to use CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds to December 31, 2021; revives the Paycheck Protection Program and other aid for small businesses (more information under Opportunities below); and provides funding for broadband and for CDFIs.

Agencies extend housing relief into 2021.
Federal housing agencies are again extending special provisions that were put into effect early in 2020 to help people deal with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, including moratoriums on foreclosures and evictions, forbearance for owners of single-family or multifamily properties, and waivers of some requirements. HAC has posted a table showing the status of these extensions, and will update it as more are announced.

Most rural housing programs have level funding for FY21.
The final omnibus appropriations measure for fiscal year 2021, signed into law on December 27 as part of the package that also included coronavirus relief, holds most USDA rural housing programs at FY20 levels. It provides increases for Section 521 Rental Assistance and Section 542 vouchers. HUD’s HOME, CDBG, SHOP and Native American housing programs also receive the same funding as last year or small increases. Dollar levels for homeless assistance, HUD vouchers, Section 202, Section 811 and fair housing are increased.

Permanent floor set for 4% Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.
The legislative package that includes the coronavirus relief bill and omnibus appropriations also establishes 4% as the minimum rate for the 4% Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, effective immediately. LIHTC experts at Novogradac estimate this change could finance an additional 130,000 rental units in the next ten years.

RuralSTAT
In 2020, from February 20 – the first reported case of COVID-19 outside a metropolitan area – to December 31, there were 3 million reported cases and over 52,000 reported deaths from the coronavirus in rural America. Source: Housing Assistance Council tabulations of New York Times COVID-19 data.

OPPORTUNITIES

HAC seeks proposals for Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans Initiative.
HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans initiative supports local nonprofit housing development organizations that meet or help meet the affordable housing needs of veterans in rural places. Grants typically range up to $30,000 per organization and must support bricks-and-mortar projects that assist low-income, elderly and/or disabled veterans with home repair and rehab needs, support homeless veterans, help veterans become homeowners and/or secure affordable rental housing. AHRV is funded through the generous support of the Home Depot FoundationApplications are due by February 1. For more information, contact HAC staff,  ahrv@ruralhome.org. No phone calls please.

Rural microenterprise loans offered by USDA.
USDA is seeking nonprofit entities, institutions of higher education and tribes to serve as partners for its Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). It will provide loans and technical assistance grants for applicants to support rural microenterprises. Deadlines are March 31 and June 30. For additional information, contact a USDA RD state office.

HAC job openings: Community Facilities Housing Specialist, Loan Officer, Senior Portfolio Manager.
For details, visit HAC’s website.

  • The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This includes helping them identify, utilize and apply for financial resources such as USDA Community Facilities grants and loans. This a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Loan Officer represents HAC in its lending activities – to include loan underwriting, marketing, and research and product development – and originates new loan transactions. This position is based in HAC’s Washington, DC headquarters and is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Senior Portfolio Manager provides leadership and oversight to a team that performs a range of lending activities – closing, disbursement, monitoring, servicing and asset management of single-family and multifamily housing development loans. This position is based in HAC’s Washington, DC headquarters and is eligible for telecommuting.

Paycheck Protection Program to restart.
A summary of the new coronavirus relief bill’s Paycheck Protection Program provisions is available on HAC’s site. The maximum loan amount will be $2 million, down from $10 million for the first PPP. Loans will be available for businesses that qualified under the CARES Act but did not receive a PPP loan, those that did receive one but need additional funding, and those that returned all or part of one. The Treasury Department and Small Business Administration have developed two interim regulations (here and here) to govern the second PPP round. Comments will be due 30 days after the rules are published in the Federal Register. The two agencies also have a new PPP document titled “Guidance on Accessing Capital for Minority, Underserved, Veteran and Women-Owned Business Concerns.”

CORONAVIRUS

Delivering vaccinations through pharmacies disadvantages some rural places.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services plans to increase access to COVID-19 vaccinations through partnerships with large chain pharmacies and networks that represent independent pharmacies and regional chains. A recent Rural Policy Research Institute study found, however, that in 750 (out of a total of 1,962) counties outside metropolitan areas there are no pharmacies affiliated with one of HHS’s partnerships. In 110 counties there are no eligible pharmacies at all.

“Rural Downtowns Were on the Mend. Then Came Covid.”
This Bloomberg opinion piece explains that certain rural areas, particularly those involved in tourism, experienced considerable economic growth by investing in their downtown areas, but the coronavirus pandemic set them back. The author suggests that attracting people relocating from urban areas, along with well planned and targeted investment, can help them recover.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

USDA releases annual tenant data.
Characteristics of tenants in USDA’s Section 515 rental and Section 514/516 farmworker housing properties changed very little from September 2019 to September 2020, according to USDA’s annual summary of tenant data. Average annual income of Section 515 tenants rose from $13,551 in September 2019 to $13,640 in September 2020, while the average income for Section 515 tenants receiving Section 521 Rental Assistance was $11,380 in 2020. About 10.6% of all tenants in USDA’s portfolio remain rent burdened and almost 70% of tenants continue to receive rental assistance of some sort. Elders and people with disabilities comprise 65.3% of Section 515 households.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac affordable housing goals and Duty to Serve plans set for 2021.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency has announced Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s 2021 goals for purchases of affordable housing mortgages. It has also published their Duty to Serve plans for this year, which address activities related to rural housing, rental housing preservation and manufactured housing. A third notice requests public comments by February 28 on potential changes to the housing goals regulation. FHFA asks a number of specific questions and invites comments on any other issues commenters think should be addressed. For more information, contact Ted Wartell, FHFA, 202-649-3157.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Health data available for all geographies.
The PLACES Project from the CDC and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation links health to place by providing census tract estimates for chronic disease risk factors, health outcomes and clinical preventative services. Access the data for a local area here.

HAC

Need capital for your affordable housing project?
HAC’s loan funds provide 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, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. 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).

HAC News: December 17, 2020

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 17, 2020

Vol. 49, No. 25

TOP STORIES

Coronavirus relief bill may include eviction moratorium extension, rent aid and unemployment relief.

On December 17, congressional leaders continued to negotiate the terms of legislation based on the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020, which was proposed by a bipartisan group of senators and representatives. The proposal would extend the CDC eviction moratorium through January 31. It would not add funding for any HUD or USDA housing programs, but would provide $25 billion in rental aid to be distributed to state, local and tribal governments via the Coronavirus Relief Fund. The final agreement is also expected to provide another round of direct payments to individuals and revive the Paycheck Protection Program. It is likely to provide supplemental unemployment benefits as well, although there could be a delay before states can get the funds out later in January.

FY21 federal funding deal pending.

Action on a final omnibus appropriations bill covering the rest of fiscal year 2021 has been delayed pending resolution on a coronavirus relief measure. The omnibus bill’s text has not been released. Final funding levels for USDA and HUD housing programs will be similar to FY20 amounts, with compromises where the House and Senate proposals for FY21 differed. The current continuing resolution expires at midnight on December 18, so another short-term CR may be needed to keep the government open while discussions on the coronavirus bill extend over the weekend.

Biden names Vilsack as USDA Secretary, Fudge for HUD.

President-elect Joe Biden has selected Tom Vilsack, who was Secretary of Agriculture throughout the Obama Administration, to fill the same position again. He named Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. A HAC statement congratulates both nominees. HAC looks forward to working with them in their new roles to place a renewed focus on the needs of rural communities.

HAC’s virtual symposium highlighted rural resiliency.  

Hundreds of rural housing developers, government officials, community members and housing advocates attended HAC’s virtual Rural Housing Symposium: Recovery Through Resiliency on December 3, exploring how the communities we all serve can move forward together from this difficult year. Recordings of the entire day and of individual panels are posted on HAC’s YouTube channel.

OPPORTUNITIES

Rural Energy Savings Program loans offered.

USDA’s Rural Utilities Service is now accepting applications for the Rural Energy Savings Program, which makes loans to intermediaries that re-lend the funds to rural residents and small businesses to implement energy efficiency measures. The funds can also be used to replace a manufactured housing unit with another manufactured housing unit if the replacement would be more cost effective in saving energy. Letters of intent will be reviewed as received. For more information, contact Robert Coates, RUS, 202-260-5415.

RuralSTAT

According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.1 million workers outside metropolitan areas are unemployed. Source: HAC tabulations of Bureau of Labor Statistics LAUS data.

CORONAVIRUS

COVID-19 cases surpass 2.2 million in rural America.

As of December 3, there were more than 2.2 million reported cases of COVID-19 and approximately 38,000 associated deaths in communities outside metropolitan areas. HAC’s most recent data analysis found that between November 3 and December 3, communities outside metropolitan areas reported 859,000 new cases of COVID-19, a 63% increase in one month.

ERS examines coronavirus and recession.     

The USDA Economic Research Service released the 2020 edition of its Rural America at a Glance report on December 17, focusing on how the pandemic and the ensuing recession have impacted demographic and economic conditions in rural areas. ERS will host a webinar on December 18 presenting findings from the report.

Many families with children are struggling.

Kids, Families and COVID-19: Pandemic Pain Points and the Urgent Need to Respond, published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, presents state-level data on financial stability, hunger, education, health insurance and mental health before and during the pandemic. It recommends immediate action by federal, state and local decision makers.

“‘The most lopsided economic event imaginable’: Wave of evictions threatens Black, Latino tenants.”

Politico article describes how evictions could further exacerbate health disparities and risks of COVID-19 infections by forcing families to move to doubled-up cramped quarters or out on the street. A relief package from Congress and eviction moratorium extension can prevent long-term negative consequences to economic and mental health.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

USDA RD issues temporary appraisal authorization. 

An Unnumbered Letter dated December 7, 2020 provides temporary authorization regarding appraisals for Section 502 direct and Section 504 financing. Through September 30, 2021, self-help grantees, certified loan application packagers and USDA-approved intermediaries can order appraisals from local entities so long as they meet certain requirements. For more information, contact an RD office.

Final rules for faith-based organizations adopted by agencies including USDA and HUD.

Revisions to existing regulations for faith-based organizations’ participation in federal programs will take effect on January 19 under a final rule first proposed by USDA and others in January 2020 and by HUD in February. Among other changes, faith-based organizations will no longer be required to offer referrals to other providers and will be able to claim nonprofit status without obtaining a Section 501(c)(3) determination.

Flexibility for hiring H-2A farmworkers extended to June.

The Department of Homeland Security has revised its permission for farmworkers with H-2A visas to begin work for new employers without first leaving the U.S. The change, previously applicable when employers filed H-2A petitions by December 17, 2020, now applies through June 16, 2021. For more information, contact Charles L. Nimick, USCIS, 240-721-3000.

“SpaceX gets almost $900 million in federal subsidies to deliver broadband to rural America.”

The Federal Communications Commission has awarded SpaceX funding to explore providing broadband internet access to rural communities via satellites, CNN Business reports. SpaceX’s plan involves a yet unproven approach that will, if it works, rely on thousands of satellites to beam internet access back to households. This was just one of several grants, most going to more traditional internet providers, seeking to improve high speed internet access in rural areas.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

“LIHTC in Rural Persistent Poverty Counties.”

A Freddie Mac white paper highlights the importance of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program in developing affordable housing in lower-income rural areas. Over 40% of the multifamily stock in rural persistent poverty counties received assistance from LIHTC.

Coastal flooding risk to affordable housing is growing, report says.

Climate Central, a climate change research organization, calculates that the number of affordable units in the U.S. exposed to coastal flooding will more than triple by 2050. Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Threaten Affordable Housing is a scientific report published in Environmental Research Letters, supplemented by interactive maps and a non-technical report that includes links to other online resources.

Fact sheet offers strategies on how community development can end homelessness.

Preventing and Ending Homelessness: Community Development’s Role,” a new publication by the Build Healthy Places Network and NeighborWorks America, highlights the convincing evidence that ending homelessness improves health outcomes. This publication offers information on permanent supportive housing, the intersection of housing and health, case studies and tools for community development practitioners.

HAC

HAC remembers Bill Powers.

The affordable housing community has lost a dear friend and advocate: Bill Powers, one of HAC’s first staff members and later board member and chair, passed away on Thanksgiving Day. You can read HAC’s tribute and share memories of Bill on HAC’s facebook page.

Happy holidays from HAC.

With the holiday season upon us, HAC would like to take a moment to reflect on 2020. We have mourned the loss of family and friends to COVID-19, celebrated the focus on racial justice and longed for a more civil society. We know every American needs a safe, stable and affordable home like never before and we thank our allies, local partners, sponsors and supporters for your support this year. Our full holiday message is posted here.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan funds provide 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, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at  hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.
Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

USDA Obligations FY 2021 Featured Image

USDA Rural Development Obligations FY 21 – November

USDA Rural Development Obligations Report Cover - FY 2021

As of the end of November, USDA obligated 23,321 loans (direct and guaranteed) and grant representing $3,960,074,070. This is $622,009,470 higher than obligation levels from this time last year. At that time, there were 21,676 loans, loan guarantees, and grants obligated totaling $3,338,064,600.

The agency is operating under a continuing resolution providing funding through December 11, 2020 which provides limited funding. Since March 20, 2020, USDA offices have been operating from remote locations due to the COVID-19 virus.

Single Family Housing Program Highlights

The Section 502 Guaranteed loan program, the largest of the Single Family Housing programs, obligated $3,788,050,163 (21,758 loan guarantees) up from $3,216,244,331 (20,191 loan guarantees) this time last year.

For the Section 502 Direct program, loan obligations totaled $142,394,439 ( 756 loans), similar to last year’s obligation level of $89,013,254 ( 520 loans.) About 42 percent of the loan dollars went to Very Low-income (VLI) applicants. VLI loans represented over 47 percent of the total number of Section 502 Direct loans.

The Section 504 Repair and Rehabilitation programs obligated 317 loans representing $1,777,504, lower than obligations at the same time last year (349 loans representing $2,132,997.) The Section 504 grant program obligations totaled $2,955,589 (478 grants) compared to $3,678,139 (595 grants) at this time last year.

USDA’s Section 523 Self Help Housing Grant program funded 5 grants and contracts totaling $3,449,175. There were no program obligations this time last year for the Section 523 program.

Multi-Family Housing Programs

USDA’s Section 538 Multifamily Housing obligated 7 loan guarantees totaling $21,447,200. Last year at this time, there were 14 loan guarantees ($21,354,379.)

In the Section 521 Rental Assistance program, funds for  30 rental assistance units under the totaling $150,564 compared to 16,278 units ($92,494,098) obligated same time last year. There were also  953 Rural Housing Vouchers totaling $4,882,173 compared to 796 vouchers representing $4,035,675 this time last year.

There were no other obligations for Single or Multi-Family programs as of the end of November.

Download the combined document.

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

Rural Voices: Cultivating Citizen-led Design

Design for the public interest takes on many forms, from Main Street redevelopment to landscape architecture to historic preservation. In all the rural towns HAC has worked with and featured in this issue of Rural Voices, there is also an element of engaging the community to create a shared vision for all town residents. Partnering with local artists to paint a mural or build a coalition for a local creative economy not only brings more beauty into public spaces, it can draw economic investment to the town. Ultimately, local citizens are tapping design to create a sense of place-that’s what creative placemaking is all about.

HAC’s foray into rural design has only solidified our housing work, while broadening the horizons for us and for our partners. Moreover, HAC’s founding documents cite the need for thoughtful design that engages the low-income rural people and communities that we’ve long served. Support from the National Endowment for the Arts makes it possible to carry out this charge.


VIEW FROM WASHINGTON

Boosting the Rural Creative Economy
by Rep. Chellie Pingree

Congressional Arts Caucus Chair weighs in on what works in her
home state – and beyond
.

FEATURES

Arts, Placemaking, and Design Help Imagine a Bright Future
by Mary Anne Carter

In an interview with Rural Voices, National Endowment for the Arts’ Chair, Mary Anne Carter
offers an overview of rural design’s history and advice on how underserved communities can
persevere through difficult times.

Linking Rural Needs with America’s Architects
by Stephen Sugg and Alejandra Hardin

New American Institute of Architects working group helps to elevate rural architecture.

Cheyenne River Youth Project Carries on Creative Placemaking
by Julie Garreau

In an interview with Rural Voices, Julie Garreau of Cheyenne River Youth Project explains how the tribal nonprofit continues to serve its youth through the arts despite challenges caused by the pandemic.

Rural Studio and the Front Porch Initiative: What Good Design Can Afford
by Rusty Smith and Michelle Sidler

A college architectural program in the South describes their innovative approach to making
housing affordable to local residents.

Hard Times
by Stephen Sugg and Alejandra Hardin

The rural design community and CIRD look ahead by looking back.


INFOGRAPHIC

Impacts of Disaster Felt Far and Wide

Rural Design (JPG)

Rural Voices would like to hear what you have to say about one, or all, of these issues. Please comment on these stories by sending a tweet to #RuralVoices, discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.


 

HAC News: December 3, 2020

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 3, 2020

Vol. 49, No. 24

TOP STORIES
Coronavirus relief discussions continue.
Media reports about negotiations change daily, but there is still at least some possibility that additional coronavirus relief measures will be passed before the CDC eviction moratorium and the remaining CARES Act provisions, such as added unemployment payments, expire at the end of this month. Coronavirus provisions could be included in a broader federal government funding bill or could be considered separately.

Federal funding ends December 11.
Before that date Congress and the Administration must agree on either another continuing resolution to extend government funding at FY20 levels or appropriations to cover the remainder of FY21.

2020’s challenges have exacerbated housing challenges, Harvard reports. 
The coronavirus pandemic, social unrest sparked by racial injustice and climate change have worsened affordability problems and highlighted inequities in housing, according to the 2020 State of the Nation’s Housing report by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. The study’s authors call for “a comprehensive re-envisioning of national housing policy.”

Attend HAC’s virtual symposium on December 3 or view it later.
HAC’s Virtual Rural Housing Symposium: Recovery Through Resiliency kicks off today, December 3, at 11 am Eastern and registration will remain open throughout the event. Join us online from wherever you are for a day filled with engaging speakers, invaluable rural practitioner perspectives and a vast array of information on rural issues. The event will be live-streamed on HAC’s YouTube channel and the recording will be available there afterwards. Questions? Contact  registration@ruralhome.org.

CORONAVIRUS
Extensions and update from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and HUD.
Residents of single-family homes backed by or owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are now protected through January 31, 2021. The secondary market entities will continue their moratorium on foreclosure through that date, as well as their moratorium on eviction of residents in single-family homes acquired by Fannie or Freddie through foreclosure or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure transaction. In November,  HUD updated its guidance on the CDC moratorium for tenants using its voucher, public housing or Indian housing programs.

Links between eviction and COVID-19 examined in new studies.
“Expiring eviction moratoriums and COVID-19 incidence and mortality” and “Pandemic housing policy: examining the relationship among eviction, housing instability, health inequity, and COVID-19 transmission,” authored by teams of academic researchers, report how evictions harm renters during the pandemic, while eviction moratoriums and supportive measures help to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Data highlighted online for “Latinos in the Time of Coronavirus.”
Using data from the Census Bureau’s biweekly Household Pulse Survey, this UnidosUS dashboard shows trends nationally and in six key states for the total population, Hispanic/Latinos and non-Hispanic whites. The data include missing a mortgage or rent payment, losing employment income, having food insecurity and more.

RuralSTAT
Between 2010 and 2018, the non-white and Hispanic population increased in 92% of all U.S. counties. Source: HAC Tabulations of the U.S Census Bureau’s 2006-2010 and 2014-2018 American Community Survey.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES
Domestic violence guidance for USDA rental housing updated.
An Unnumbered Letter dated November 23, 2020 provides guidance applicable to the Section 515 rental, 514/516 farmworker, 538 guaranteed rental and 533 Housing Preservation Grant programs. It explains property owners’ and managers’ responsibilities in implementing the Violence Against Women Act’s protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking and members of their households. For more information, contact a USDA RD field office.

OCC asks for comments on CRA measurements.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency requests input on the approach it proposes to establish benchmarks and thresholds for measuring banks’ CRA performance under the revised Community Reinvestment Act regulations it issued earlier this yearComments are due in early February. For more information, contact Ioan Voicu, OCC, 202-649-5550.

USDA suggests requiring Section 502 guarantee lenders to use electronic systems.
Comments are due January 19, 2021 on a proposal to require lenders participating in the Section 502 Single-Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program to use the Guaranteed Underwriting System and the Lender Loan Closing System. For more information, contact  Ana Placencia, USDA, 254-721-0770.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA
Newest issue of Rural Voices magazine focuses on design.
HAC’s fall edition of Rural Voices, Cultivating Citizen-led Design, covers perspectives on design, architecture, and creative placemaking in rural America with contributions by Rural Studio, Cheyenne River Youth Project, the National Endowment for the Arts and others.

“The heavy toll of the Black Belt’s wastewater crisis.”
New Yorker article describes the dire consequences of inadequate sewage disposal for Black residents in Lowndes County, Alabama.

“A ‘public option’ for low-income homeownership?”
Shelterforce article by Joe Belden and Michael Feinberg, former and current HAC staff, looks at the USDA Section 502 direct loan program as a potential model for providing broader homeownership opportunities for lower-income borrowers.

New resources on creative placemaking available.
For communities interested in getting started with a creative placemaking project, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies published a new guide to accessing state agency funding, project planning and more. Additionally, creativeplacemakingresources.org identifies federal public resources.

HAC
Need capital for your affordable housing project?
HAC’s loan funds provide 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, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. 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).

HAC News: November 12, 2020

HAC News Formats. pdf

November 12, 2020

Vol. 49, No. 23

TOP STORIES
Senate releases FY21 funding bills.
On November 10 the Senate Appropriations Committee posted its versions of all 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2021, which started on October 1, 2020. The Senate will not take up these measures, but they establish starting positions for negotiations with the House and White House on an omnibus funding measure to cover the rest of the year. The current continuing resolution ends on December 11. For USDA’s rural housing programs, the Senate bill largely agrees with a bill passed by the House in July. Most would remain at their FY20 levels, though both the House and Senate increase Section 521 Rental Assistance to the $1.410 billion requested by the Administration. Both offer less than the $40 million requested by the Administration for the Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization program; the House provides $30 million, the Senate $28 million. For most HUD programs, the Senate proposes funding levels at or slightly above FY20 amounts, though many are lower than the House levels. The HOME program, which received $1.350 billion in FY20, would get $1.7 billion in the House bill but $1.375 billion in the Senate measure. CDBG received $3.425 billion in FY20 and would get $3.525 billion from the House or $3.455 billion from the Senate. Both FY21 bills would keep SHOP at $10 million and would hold Native American housing at essentially the same level as in FY20.

Register now for HAC’s 2020 Virtual Symposium: Recovery Through Resiliency.
The Housing Assistance Council’s 2020 Rural Housing Symposium: Recovery Through Resiliency is finally here and it’s a virtual affair! Join us online from wherever you are for a day filled with engaging speakers, invaluable rural practitioner perspectives, and a vast array of information on rural realities as well as opportunities to interact and reconnect with peers. There is no charge for this event. Register here and we’ll see you online on December 3!

Biden housing platform supports USDA rural housing programs, 10-20-30 plan and more.
The Biden-Harris campaign’s policy platform includes a plank to “ensure rural communities have access to affordable and accessible homes,” mentioning the Section 502 direct and Section 515 programs by name. To address persistent poverty, it supports requiring every federal program to spend at least 10% of funds to communities where 20% or more of the population has lived below the poverty line for the last 30 years. The platform also supports existing HUD programs and pledges to reverse the Trump Administration’s changes to regulations relating to affirmatively furthering fair housing, disparate impact, Housing First and the Community Reinvestment Act.

Possible candidates for USDA and HUD secretaries identified.
News media including Politico, the New York Times and USA Today name former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp as a leading contender to become Secretary of Agriculture. HUD Secretary possibilities include former HUD officials Alvin Brown, Maurice Jones and Diane Yentel as well as Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and mayors Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta and Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles. The names may change as the presidential transition process proceeds.

RuralSTAT
The unemployment rate outside of metropolitan areas stands at 5.9% (preliminary – not seasonally adjusted). For the same period in 2019, the outside metro unemployment rate was 3.6%.

 

OPPORTUNITIES
HAC webinar on managing and maintaining supportive housing set for November 17.
From lease-up and tenant selection plans to property and asset management, this webinar will explain how to manage, maintain and protect supportive housing to ensure compliance with requirements, maintain fidelity to the Housing First model, and ensure the property is a benefit to the residents and the community. This is the third in a three-part series. Each webinar can be viewed on its own or as a part of the series. Part I: Introduction to Supportive Housing and Part II: Financing Operations and Services in Supportive Housing are available on HAC’s YouTube channel. For more information, contact  HAC staff.

HOPE VI Main Street grants available for communities under 50,000.
Local governments (excluding tribal governments) can apply by January 19 for funds to assist in the renovation of an historic or traditional central business district or “Main Street” area by replacing unused, obsolete commercial space in buildings with affordable housing units. For more information, contact  Susan Wilson, HUD.

CORONAVIRUS
CDC updates “considerations” for community-based organizations.
The Centers for Disease Control suggests actions for community-based organizations to consider in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as they resume or increase their activities.

“Rural America has been forgotten during the coronavirus crisis.”
This issue brief from the Center for American Progress provides an update on the pandemic in rural counties, focusing on the spread of the virus and its impact on rural economies. The author notes that rural communities of color continue to experience the worst of the pandemic, but that now other rural communities – most notably in the upper Midwest and Great Plains regions – are experiencing severe outbreaks.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES
IRS proposes rule on income averaging in LIHTC properties.
Comments are due December 29 on implementation of the income averaging provisions adopted in 2018 legislation. The new Average Income Test will be one of three options for owners of Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties to ensure enough units are occupied by low-income residents to meet legal requirements. For more information, contact Dillon Taylor or Michael J. Torruella Costa, IRS, 202-317-4137.

HUD extends deadline for voucher comments.
Comments are now due January 6 rather than December 7 on HUD’s proposal to implement provisions of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act relating to the Housing Choice Voucher and Project-Based Voucher programs. For more information, contact HUD staff,  HOTMAquestions@hud.gov.

Farmworker wage protections weakened.
final rule from the Department of Labor changes the way that wage rate protections will be calculated for farmworkers whose employers use workers with temporary H-2A visas. Farmworker Justice explains that the rule means “the DOL will freeze the main wage rate under the H-2A program at the 2020 rates for two years, 2021 and 2022. In 2023 and later years DOL will adjust those rates based on a formula related to employment compensation trends generally in the prior year, locking in the impact of the two-year wage freeze forever and depriving farmworkers of recent modest improvements in wage levels.” The rule change appears to have been instituted hurriedly after USDA announced on September 30 that it was cancelling its quarterly Farm Labor Survey, which provides essential data used in the Department of Labor’s calculations. Because of the survey’s importance in wage calculations, the United Farm Workers filed a lawsuit challenging its cancellation. The judge hearing that case observed that DOL had very little advance notice of USDA’s decision to end the survey and surmised that DOL was “scrambling” to devise a methodology that did not rely on the survey. On October 28 the judge issued a preliminary injunction requiring USDA to continue to conduct and publish the Farm Labor Survey. The case is ongoing, but it does not directly impact the new DOL rule, which takes effect on December 21.

“Shortened census led to an incomplete count in some areas.”
A recent Pew Charitable Trusts article looks at where ending the census count on October 15, 2020 had the biggest impact. Challenges to collecting information were increased in areas hit by storms or outbreaks of COVID-19. Southwest Louisiana and tribal lands in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah faced some of the largest data collection gaps. Census undercounts could cause some areas to lose federal funding and congressional representation.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA
Multifamily buildings can save energy within units, research brief says.
Studies have demonstrated that whole-building energy efficiency multifamily retrofits can lead to substantial energy and cost savings, but the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy says less is understood about the specific end use savings opportunities that exist inside residents’ units. Understanding Multifamily Home Energy Efficiency Potential identifies these uses, explores how savings opportunities vary by region and considers which end uses are contributing to high energy burdens experienced by low-income, non-white and Hispanic multifamily households.

“Rural hospitals are dying. This one saved itself – and its community.”
This Time article describes an innovative approach to keeping rural hospitals open. The “swing bed” program has brought in enough funds to revive the hospital in Clinch County, Georgia and allowed patients to be better cared for. The broader concept “has the potential to work nationwide,” according to an expert quoted in the article.

“What’s it like to grow up Black in rural Ohio?”
This Columbus Dispatch article explores the racism that Black rural Ohioans of all ages feel living in primarily white communities.

The next HAC News will be published December 3.
In the meantime, breaking news will be posted on HAC’s website, ruralhome.org.

HAC
Need capital for your affordable housing project?
HAC’s loan funds provide 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, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. 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).

HAC News: October 29, 2020

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 29, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 22

TOP STORIES

Court halts new fair housing disparate impact rule.

A federal judge has issued a nationwide injunction against implementation of HUD’s new disparate impact rule, so the previous regulations will remain in effect while a lawsuit proceeds. The regulation, published on September 24 and due to go into effect on October 26, would make it more difficult to prove that an action violated the Fair Housing Act because of a different effect on people protected by the Act. At least two other lawsuits have also been filed challenging the regulation.

Forbearance deadline and other flexibilities for homebuyers and homeowners extended.

• USDA has extended exceptions for new Section 502 guaranteed loans. The flexibilities, which pertain to appraisals, repair inspections and income verifications, now apply until December 31.

• The Federal Housing Administration is extending to December 31 the date when homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages and financial hardship resulting from the pandemic can request forbearance (suspension) of mortgage payments for up to six months.

• The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees secondary market entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has extended loan origination flexibilities through November 30. These include alternative appraisals on purchase and rate term refinance loans, alternative methods for documenting income and verifying employment, and expanded use of powers of attorney.

• FHFA is also extending a temporary policy that allows Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase single-family mortgages in forbearance that meet specific eligibility criteria. The policy will apply to loans originated through November 30.

• Moratoriums preventing lenders from foreclosing on homeowners with federal mortgage assistance are in place through December 31.

More than 1 million rural Americans have been infected with COVID-19.

As of October 24, nine months after the first COVID-19 case was reported in a rural community, there are 1.2 million rural cases. Approximately 24,000 deaths in communities outside metropolitan areas have been attributed to the coronavirus. Rural deaths now consistently exceed 25% of the daily national total. All but four counties outside of metropolitan areas have reported COVID-19 cases and over 80% of outside metro counties have also reported associated deaths, according to HAC’s most recent analysis.

Save the date! HAC symposium online December 2-3.

The 2020 HAC Virtual Rural Housing Symposium: Recovery Through Resiliency will be held online on December 2 and 3 at no charge. With a focus on rural resiliency and moving toward a more vibrant future, Recovery Through Resiliency will discuss the state of rural housing, share and strategize replicable approaches that impact and drive equitable rural development, and connect old and new friends in the inclusive community HAC has fostered over the last 50 years. Save the dates and watch your email for more information.

November is American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage History Month.

RuralSTAT

In 2019, 87% of manufactured home loans for rural African American borrowers were considered “high cost” compared to 58% of manufactured home loans for rural white non-Hispanic borrowers. Source: HAC tabulations of 2019 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data. For more data on manufactured housing, see HAC’s Rural Research Brief.

 

CORONAVIRUS

Pandemic spurs 438 state and local rental assistance programs.

An October 27 update to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s research note on Emergency Rental Assistance Programs in Response to COVID-19 describes 68 state programs and 370 local programs created or expanded in response to COVID-19 and its economic fallout. One-third of them have already used all their funds and closed. NLIHC provides more information online about specific programs.

Data on family well-being compiled online.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Center provides interactive tables and maps that use the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey data to indicate economic well-being (including housing), education and health of families with children during the coronavirus pandemic.

Partners update equitable framework for coronavirus response.

The Framework for an Equitable COVID-19 Homelessness Response, updated on October 19, provides guidance to communities on how to use a wide range of federal funding sources, including CARES Act programs, strategically across key public health and economic recovery strategies to meet public health goals, increase housing stability and prevent future increases in homelessness – all with a racial justice and equity lens.

“Nearly a quarter of rural Americans unable to receive medical care during pandemic, School of Public Health poll finds.”

In a recent survey, 24% of rural households reported a lack of access to medical care during the coronavirus outbreak. The survey also found that approximately one in three rural households reported serious difficulty with internet connectivity. Nearly half also reported facing serious financial problems. The survey was conducted jointly by the Harvard School of Public Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and National Public Radio.

“Rural U.S. hospitals are on life support as a third wave of COVID-19 strikes.”

This article from Time reveals how financially struggling hospitals affect local residents’ health and life chances, with the poorest and least mobile residents most adversely impacted. Rural hospitals in states that have not expanded Medicaid, including Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama, are most at risk of closing.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Advocates reject new federal homelessness plan.

A new “strategic plan” issued by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, Expanding the Toolbox: The Whole-of-Government Response to Homelessness, calls for solutions such as employment, mental health care and deregulation to reduce housing construction costs. National homelessness organizations and others criticize the document’s rejection of the Housing First approach and point out that it offers no federal strategy.

HAC comments aim to improve Duty to Serve program.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have proposed 2021 Duty to Serve goals, as well as changes to their 2020 goals, that react to the housing and economic challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. On October 23 HAC submitted comments on the proposals to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. HAC’s comments covered all three Duty to Serve markets (rural housing, manufactured housing and affordable housing preservation). HAC staff also testified at three FHFA listening sessions in October.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

HAC rejects suggestion to combine housing programs.

HAC issued a statement on October 28 opposing a recommendation to combine some of USDA’s rural housing programs with HUD/FHA programs. While HAC agrees the nation’s affordable housing system can be streamlined – and should also be fully funded – HAC points out that urban models cannot meet rural needs. The consolidation proposal was made in a Senate Budget Committee staff report titled Housing Programs: The Need for One Roof. Following a roundtable held in September and based on past reports from the Government Accountability Office, the committee’s paper suggests that various federal housing programs overlap and could be merged.

Report recommends changes for CDBG disaster recovery and mitigation programs.

Towards a Just Recovery: Public Policy Recommendations Regarding CDBG-DR and CDBG-MIT Funds defines just recovery as “the right of people and communities to recovery plans and processes that address their needs, desires and human rights.” Published by Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico, it focuses on Puerto Rico, but its emphasis on preserving the rights of disaster survivors, particularly marginalized populations, applies to other places as well. The report is available in English and Spanish.

“With no AC where they sleep, NC farmworkers risk the heat even after the sun goes down.”

The perspectives of farmworkers, doctors and scientists on the health dangers posed by housing lacking air conditioning are presented in this article and video in the Raleigh, NC News & Observer. Researchers reportedly expect such problems to increase as climate change progresses.

HAC partner sees building named to “most endangered historic places” list. 

Every year the National Trust for Historic Preservation identifies the country’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, highlighting examples of architectural or cultural history that risk irreparable damage and often bringing more awareness and support for organizations trying to restore these sites. Among them this year is the Hall of Waters, a unique Art Deco-style building that once housed a mineral water health resort and brought 10,000 visitors a day to the town of Excelsior Springs, MO. The town is a member of the Citizens’ Institute for Rural Design Learning Cohort.

 

HAC

Need capital for your affordable housing project?
HAC’s loan funds provide 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, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. 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).

HAC News: October 15, 2020

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 15, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 21

TOP STORIES

More federal coronavirus relief possible, but unlikely before election.
Recent negotiations on additional economic assistance have stalled, stopped and restarted. The House, Senate and White House could reach agreement but that seems unlikely, at least until after the election on November 3.

Guidance on CDC eviction moratorium says landlords can start proceedings before December 31.
FAQs were released October 9 by the Centers for Disease Control, HUD, and the Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice, providing “non-binding guidance” on the CDC’s September 4 eviction moratorium. The guidance allows landlords to begin eviction proceedings before the moratorium’s December 31 expiration date, so long as the actual eviction does not occur before that date. It also notes that landlords are not required to tell tenants about the moratorium or the declaration they must provide to be protected. In an updated version of its guidance for assisted rental housing, HUD “strongly encourages” property owners and managers to inform residents of the moratorium and its declaration requirement. USDA RD’s guidance for properties it assists was last updated on September 9. For more news about evictions, see the Coronavirus section of this HAC News, below.

Save the date! HAC symposium online December 2-3.
The 2020 HAC Virtual Rural Housing Symposium: Recovery Through Resiliency will be held online on December 2 and 3 at no charge. With a focus on rural resiliency and moving toward a more vibrant future, Recovery Through Resiliency will discuss the state of rural housing, share and strategize replicable approaches that impact and drive equitable rural development, and connect old and new friends in the inclusive community HAC has fostered over the last 50 years. Save the dates and watch your email for more information.

Rural infection and death rates are at their highest levels since the pandemic began.
As of October 1, there were more than 900,000 reported cases of COVID-19 and approximately 20,000 associated deaths in communities outside metropolitan areas, according to HAC’s most recent analysis of data on the pandemic. The levels of reported rural cases and deaths from the virus now consistently outpace the rural share of the national population.

Census count ending October 15.
On October 13 a Supreme Court ruling allowed the Census Bureau to end the 2020 decennial census earlier than planned. The court did not explain its reasoning, although Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissent explaining why she disagreed with the ruling. The same day, the Census Bureau announced that it is ending the count on October 15 and stated that 99.9% of U.S. households have been counted. As Justice Sotomayor pointed out, however, “the percentage of nonresponses is likely much higher among marginalized populations and in hard-to-count areas, such as rural and tribal lands.”

RuralSTAT

COVID-19 cases have now been reported in all but nine of the more than 1,700 counties outside metropolitan areas.
Source: HAC tabulations of New York Times data. For more data, visit HAC’s most recent update on the pandemic’s impact in rural America.

OPPORTUNITIES

Deadline to claim stimulus checks extended to November 21.
The IRS has changed the deadline to November 21 instead of October 15 for people to apply for the $1,200 stimulus payments authorized by the CARES Act earlier this year if they are eligible but did not receive funds automatically or request them. Anyone who misses this deadline will have to file a tax return for 2020 to claim the payment. Details are available from the IRS and from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. CBPP also offers outreach resources for informing eligible people about the deadline. Assistance for individuals is also available online or through United Way’s helpline, 1-844-322-3639.

Freddie Mac to host rural research symposium.
The second annual Rural Research Symposium, hosted by Freddie Mac, will take place virtually on November 9-10. This annual event provides an opportunity to share crucial data and research across the housing industry. The event will feature expert speakers from across the housing industry, including HAC. Registration for this event is complimentary.

HAC offers webinars on WaterSense Homes labeling program and downtown redevelopment.
WaterSense Homes V1.2: A Tool for Building Water Efficient Homes, set for October 21, will showcase examples of how designing and building homes with various water-saving strategies, such as efficient hot water distribution systems and appropriate landscaping, can increase a home’s overall efficiency and improve the homeowner’s experience. Downtown Redevelopment for Affordable Housing Development, to be held October 29, will discuss mixed use development in downtowns of small and rural communities. Affordable housing can be a very important element to mixed-use developments, but can be extremely difficult in small and rural communities. The webinar will explore what has and has not worked. Both events are free.

CORONAVIRUS

Affordable housing providers report pandemic impacts their finances.
The pandemic’s effect is greatest for “smaller” affordable housing owners with fewer than 1,000 units, according to Impacts of COVID-19 on Low- and Moderate-Income Housing Providers. Operating expenses increased an average of 14.8% for all survey respondents, while for smaller owners the increase was 16.7%. Similarly, revenues declined by an average of 11.8% overall, but 12.8% for those with fewer than 1,000 units. While 56.4% of all providers surveyed applied for government assistance, only 41.5% of smaller providers received it, compared to 76.2% of those with 1,000 to 5,000 units. Released by ndp | analytics and the National Leased Housing Association, the report is based on a survey conducted in August.

Translations of CDC eviction declaration available.
The Centers for Disease Control’s website provides a form in English that can be used for the declaration required for a tenant to be protected by the CDC’s eviction moratorium. Translations into a variety of other languages have been collected by HUD, the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the National Housing Law Project.

“We are Losing Parts of Our Culture: Virus Tears Through Choctaw Community.”
Adding to media coverage of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the Navajo Nation, this New York Times article describes the heavy toll in other Native American communities. The story focuses on the Choctaw Tribe in Mississippi. So far, more than 10% of the tribe has fallen ill and over 80 members have died.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Comments requested on Duty to Serve plans for 2021.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is seeking public input on their 2020 and 2021 plans to support manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation and rural housing. Comments can be submitted online by October 23. Comments will also be accepted during virtual listening sessions on October 16 (manufactured housing), October 21 (affordable housing preservation), and October 23 (rural housing). Advance registration is required.

HUD suggests changes to voucher program rules.
Comments are due December 7 on a proposed rule that would implement provisions of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016. Changes would impact alternatives to HUD’s housing quality standard inspection requirements and several elements of both the Housing Choice Voucher and Project-Based Voucher programs. HUD also proposes revisions that are intended to reduce the burden on PHAs by either modifying requirements or simplifying and clarifying existing regulatory language. For more information, contact HUD staff,  HOTMAquestions@hud.gov.

Section 3 jobs and training rule finalized.
new HUD regulation will apply beginning July 1, 2021 to the “Section 3” requirement that jobs and employment training opportunities generated by some HUD program assistance must be provided to low- and very low-income community residents. A separate notice sets out benchmarks to be used to show compliance with the rule. Contacts for more information vary by program and are listed in HUD’s Federal Register post.

CDBG disaster recovery and mitigation waivers, alternatives and revisions published.
HUD notice applies to Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery funds awarded under several appropriations from fiscal years 2013 through 2019. It provides waivers and establishes alternative requirements for some grantees and revises action plan substantial amendment requirements for CDBG-Mitigation grants. For more information, contact Jessie Handforth Kome, HUD, 202-708-0033,  disaster_recovery@hud.gov.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

USDA obligations up in FY20 for homeownership programs, down for rental.
HAC’s preliminary analysis of rural housing obligations at the end of the fiscal year reports that the Section 502 direct program used $1.01 million for 5,821 loans in FY20, fewer than the 6,194 loans provided with almost the same funding amount in FY19. About 40% of Section 502 loan dollars obligated and almost 45% percent of loans were for very low-income applicants. The Section 502 and 538 guarantee programs increased their commitments as well. Obligations for the Section 515 rental housing loan program and the Multi-Family Preservation and Revitalization program were lower this year than last. The number of Section 521 Rental Assistance units fell from 252,319 to 241,208 and the number of Section 542 vouchers rose from 6,559 to 7,489. HAC will publish a more detailed FY20 report.

Jobs are down in rural counties.
Based on local area unemployment statistics published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Daily Yonder reports that jobs in rural areas were down by 4.3% as of the end of August, compared to one year earlier. The hardest hit counties were those dependent on recreation. Nationally, 6.4% of jobs were lost in the same time frame.

Rent reporting can build tenants’ credit histories, guide says.
Expanding Credit Building Opportunities for Latino & Immigrant Renters describes a pilot program by the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders that used “rent reporting” – nonprofit property owners reporting tenants’ rent payments to credit bureaus – to establish credit histories for Latino tenants. NALCAB found 80% of participating renters improved their credit scores. The report includes lessons learned and factors for success identified by pilot organizations.

Housing and health inequalities explored.
Health Equity Report 2019-2020: Special Feature on Housing and Health Inequalities, published by a Department of Health and Human Services agency, examines the performance of federal programs, including HHS’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, and how housing is linked not only to health, but also to health care inequalities. A chapter on rural-urban health disparities covers the opioid crisis’s disproportionate impact in rural places.

Infill development webinar recording posted.
The recording from HAC’s recent webinar, Benefits of Infill Development: A Primer for Nonprofit Housing Developers, is now available on HAC’s YouTube channel.

HAC

Need capital for your affordable housing project?
HAC’s loan funds provide 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, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at  hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.
Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

USDA Rural Development Obligations FY 20 – September

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents this month’s report on Fiscal Year 2020 USDA Rural Housing program obligations.

As of the end of September, USDA obligated 151,874 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling about $24,528,082,505. This is $8,149,932,673 higher than obligation levels from this time last year. At that time, there were112,764 loans, loan guarantees, and grants obligated totaling $16,378,149,832.

The agency operated under several continuing resolutions and a 35-day government shutdown last year and obligations have come back to a more normal level in FY 2020. The FY 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act was signed into law on December 20, 2019 which provided funding for the rest of this fiscal year. Since March 20, 2020, USDA offices have been operating from remote locations due to the COVID-19 virus.

Single Family Housing Program Highlights

 

The Section 502 Guaranteed loan program, the largest of the Single Family Housing programs, obligated $23,074,581,633 (137,970 loan guarantees) up from $14,865,886,386 ( 99,322 loan guarantees) last year.

For the Section 502 Direct program, loan obligations totaled $1,001,414,954 (5,821 loans), similar to last year’s obligation level of $1,001,607,718 (6,194 loans.) About 40 percent of the loan dollars went to Very Low-income (VLI) applicants. VLI loans represented nearly 45 percent of the total number of Section 502 Direct loans.

The Section 504 Repair and Rehabilitation programs obligated 2,739 loans representing $16,640,730. Loan volume was up from this time last year (2,735 loans representing $17,364,032.) There were also about $31,541,672 (4,842 grants) obligated in the Section 504 grant program compared to $24,796,734 (3,908 grants) last year.

USDA’s Section 523 Self Help Housing Grant program funded 55 grants and contracts totaling $32,783,534 up from last year’s 37 grants and contracts totaling $29,001,946.

USDA funded 4 credit sales representing $471,052.

Multi-Family Housing Programs

 

USDA’s Section 538 Multifamily Housing obligated 150 loan guarantees totaling $228,486,473, higher than last year’s 90 loan guarantees ($160,390,167.) In the Section 515 Rural Rental Housing program, there were 40 loans totaling $40,000,001 (including disaster assistance) obligated compared to 86 loans totaling $102,022,213 last year. There have been 80 loans and 5 grants obligated in the MPR program totaling $57,084,997 and $251,778 this year compared to 205 loans and 3 grants representing $130,308,556 and $988,734, respectively last year.

The Farm Labor Housing programs funded 15 loans and 7 grants totaling $20,094,577 and $8,935,855 respectively. Last year at this time, 17 loans and 7 grants were obligated ($19,985,387 and $8,707,162, respectively.)

There were 126 Section 533 Housing Preservation grants obligated this year totaling $15,626,425.

USDA obligated funds for 241,208 rental assistance units under the Section 521 Rental Assistance program totaling $1,375,000,000. This compares to about 252,319 units ($1,331,400,000) obligated same time last year. There were also 7,489 Rural Housing Vouchers totaling $34,544,766 compared to 6,559 vouchers representing $28,623,289 this time last year.

Download the combined document.

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