HAC News: December 3, 2020

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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

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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

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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

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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.

HAC News: October 1, 2020

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 1, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 20

TOP STORIES

Federal funding continues through December 11.

continuing resolution passed the House on September 22 and the Senate on September 30, then was signed into law by President Trump. It keeps the federal government running at fiscal year 2020 levels for most programs, including housing programs, through December 11. Congress will need to convene after the election to consider funding for the rest of fiscal year 2021.

Revised HEROES Act introduced in House.

The House may vote October 1 on a new version of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, H.R. 8406. In May the House approved a coronavirus relief measure with the same name, H.R. 6800, that was never considered by the Senate. The revised bill would provide a total of $2.2 trillion in aid, compared to $3.4 trillion in the May HEROES Act and $300 billion in a September 8 Senate proposal. It would establish national moratoriums on renter evictions and homeowner foreclosures. Like the May bill, it would reopen the Paycheck Protection Program and add funds to a number of HUD programs, as well as $309 million for additional USDA Section 521 Rental Assistance. This RA would be available for tenants who are not currently receiving RA as well as those who are. The bill does not, however, include a provision in the earlier bill that would have allowed up to $25 million to be used for Section 542 vouchers.

Legal disputes continue over ending census count.

On September 24, federal judge Lucy H. Koh issued an injunction telling the Census Bureau not to end its decennial data collection on September 30. The Census Bureau appealed Koh’s ruling, then posted a one-sentence tweet and news release setting October 5 – rather than its previous October 31 deadline – as the “target date” to end data collection. Koh is now reportedly considering whether that announcement could constitute contempt of court. A Commerce Department Inspector General’s publication, as well as other reports, explain that ending the count early jeopardizes its accuracy.

Federal Reserve requests input on Community Reinvestment Act.

The Federal Reserve Board, one of the three federal banking regulatory agencies, has issued a notice asking for comments on revisions to its Community Reinvestment Act regulations. Responses will be due 120 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register. For more information, contact S. Caroline (Carrie) Johnson, Fed, 202-452-2762. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency finalized a different CRA regulation in May. The third regulator, the FDIC, joined OCC’s initial proposal but not its final rule.

Native self-determination bill goes to President for signature.

The Practical Reforms and Other Goals to Reinforce the Effectiveness of Self-Governance and Self-Determination (PROGRESS) for Indian Tribes Act, S. 209, passed the Senate in June and the House on September 21. In addition to revising the Department of Interior’s process for approving self-governance agreements, the law will allow tribes participating in self-governance to assume some federal responsibilities with respect to construction projects.

OPPORTUNITIES

Community Connect broadband funds offered.

Nonprofits, for-profits, coops, state and local governments, and tribes can apply to USDA by December 23 for Community Connect grants to provide broadband service to underserved rural areas. For more information, contact USDA staff, community.connect@wdc.usda.gov, 202-720-0800.

HAC announces webinar on infill development.

Benefits of Infill Development: A Primer for Nonprofit Housing Developers will be offered on October 7. Successful infill development not only fills an empty lot with a new home. It also crafts a complete, well-functioning neighborhood with homes where resources are readily available and amenities are nearby, ensures the new development fits within the existing neighborhood context, and supports a cooperative partnership between government, community, financial institutions, nonprofits, neighborhood organizations and other stakeholders.

RuralSTAT

Seven states have more than 1 million rural homes as part of their housing stock. To view an interactive version of this map visit: https://arcg.is/0CGjD5

rural homes

Source: Housing Assistance Council tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014-2018 American Community Survey. For more information on rural homes in your state, visit www.ruraldataportal.org. 

CORONAVIRUS

Survey finds high levels of housing and food insecurity.

The Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey revealed that during the second half of August, 15% of renters were behind on paying their rent, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The rates were even higher for Black, Latino and Asian renters, those with incomes below $35,000 and those who had lost employment income. In early September the Household Pulse Survey found that 10.5% of adults in the U.S. said their households did not have enough to eat during the past week, compared to 3.7% in a different pre-pandemic survey. Hunger was more common in households with children than in those without, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which analyzed the data. Black and Latino families were more likely than others to lack sufficient food.

Data tool tracks economic impact of COVID-19.

The Opportunity Insights Economic Tracker, developed by economists at Harvard and Brown Universities, illustrates the economic impacts of COVID-19 on people, businesses and communities across the United States in real time. Rates of unemployment show that the pandemic is hitting low-income Americans the hardest. Data across all indicators is available by county and downloadable.

Materials posted on rural housing in the pandemic.

The recorded webinar (with subtitles available in English and Spanish) and slide presentation from Shelter in Rural Places: Facing Rural Housing Challenges in the Unfolding Pandemic are posted online. This session was the third Rural Opportunity and Development (ROAD) webinar co-designed and hosted by the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, the Housing Assistance Council, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership and Rural LISC.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Changes proposed for rural rental assistance and rental housing management.

USDA RD requests comments by November 23 on possible changes in the Section 521 Rental Assistance program, particularly regarding reuse of RA, and in the management of Section 515 and 514/516 properties. For more information, contact Jennifer Larson, USDA, 202-720-1615.

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.

Proposed rule would expand and revise Family Self-Sufficiency program.

HUD’s proposal implements legislative changes to the FSS program, including expanding it to cover privately owned projects with project-based rental assistance as well as public housing. It also makes other changes intended to reduce burden and streamline the program for PHAs, property owners and eligible families. Comments are due November 20. For more information, contact HUD staff, FSS@hud.gov.

RD expands regional development plan priorities to include some rural housing programs.

Applicants for some USDA housing programs and Rural Community Development Initiative grants are now eligible for funding setasides or priority points if their regions have multi-jurisdictional, multi-sectoral strategic community investment plans. The 2018 Farm Bill expanded RD’s Strategic Economic and Community Development provisions to apply to Section 514/516 farm labor housing, Section 523 self-help technical assistance, Section 523 and 524 site loans, Section 533 Housing Preservation Grants, Section 538 multifamily guarantees and RCDI. A final regulation implementing the change was published September 22 and is effective immediately. For more information, contact Greg Batson, USDA, 573-239-2945.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

“Racial justice push creates momentum to protect Black-owned land.”

Four states have passed laws to protect the rights of Black families whose rural land is divided among numerous heirs when landowners die without wills. This Pew Trusts article points out that “heirs’ property contributes to the racial wealth gap and is among the strongest examples of historic and structural racism.”

“The path to rural resilience in America.”

The Center for American Progress explores the history of U.S. rural development policy and the changing nature of the rural economy in this new report. The authors propose an overhaul of the country’s approach to rural development to create a new framework that builds resilient rural communities.

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: September 17, 2020

HAC News Formats. pdf

September 17, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 19

TOP STORIES

Continuing resolution will not include economic relief.
Congress and the White House are negotiating details of a continuing resolution to fund the government when fiscal year 2021 begins on October 1, but reportedly have decided the measure will not include additional funding to address the economic impacts of the pandemic. Separate negotiations on a new relief package have not resulted in an agreement; on September 10 the Senate voted down the most recent proposal, a “skinny” bill introduced by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), which would not have provided any housing aid.

Online session to cover rural housing challenges in pandemic.
Shelter in Rural Places: Facing Rural Housing Challenges in the Unfolding Pandemic, to be held on September 22, will be the third Rural Opportunity and Development (ROAD) session. Rural and tribal organizations will share their analysis and useful strategies for helping rural residents, workers and families address housing distress and homelessness, including strategies that could help fend off further crisis if federal and state unemployment and housing assistance run dry. The ROAD sessions virtual exchanges are co-designed and hosted by the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, the Housing Assistance Council, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership and Rural LISC.

HUD posts final disparate impact rule.
HUD has posted online the final version of its revised disparate impact rule, though the department has not issued an announcement or statement about it and it has not yet been published in the Federal Register. The final rule is not identical to the proposed regulation released in August 2019, but retains the proposal’s heavy burden of proof for an injured party.

Public charge rule now active nationwide.
In July a federal court issued an injunction halting implementation of the new public charge rule, which establishes limits on immigrants’ use of public assistance. In August an appeals court narrowed the injunction so it applied in only three states. On September 11 the appeals court stayed the injunction nationwide so that, while proceedings on the lawsuit continue, the Department of Homeland Security can enforce the rule throughout the United States. More information about the rule is available from the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign.

HAC posts disaster guide for West Coast wildfires.
The guide provides resources for people affected by the recent fires in California, Oregon and Washington.

September 15-October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month.

RuralSTAT

79% of rural homes are occupied. Nearly half the unoccupied units are vacation homes.
Source: HAC tabulations of 2014-2018 American Community Survey Data. For more information on housing change and occupancy in rural America, visit HAC’s newest Rural Research Brief.

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD offers funds for healthy homes and reduction of health hazards.
State, local and tribal governments, nonprofits, for-profits, public housing authorities and others can apply by November 9 for Healthy Homes and Weatherization Cooperation Demonstration grants to coordinate healthy homes and weatherization programs. For more information, contact Brenda M. Reyes, HUD. Public housing agencies are the only eligible applicants for the Lead-Based Paint Capital Fund Program, which will fund evaluation and reduction of lead-based paint hazards and other housing-related hazards including carbon monoxide and mold in public housing. The deadline is November 2. For more information, contact HUD staff.

October deadline approaching for stimulus check applications.
October 15 is the deadline 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. 

POLICY

Emergency rental relief is overdue.
HAC joined six other leading affordable housing organizations in a statement issued September 16 calling for immediate rental assistance, paired with financial support for affordable housing providers, to supplement the protection provided by the CDC’s recent eviction moratorium. While some property owners have resources to help them weather the temporary loss of rental income, many providers of affordable housing do not.

CORONAVIRUS

HAC finds rural share of COVID-19 cases still rising nationally.
As of September 10, all but 14 counties outside of metropolitan areas have reported COVID-19 cases, and nearly three-quarters of outside metro counties have also reported associated deaths related to the virus. HAC’s latest update on the pandemic’s rural impact is available online.

USDA updates its pandemic information.
USDA Rural Development has posted an updated version of its summary about actions taken in all its programs, a bulletin on servicing relief for homeowners with Section 502 guaranteed mortgages in disaster areas, revised FAQs for lenders using the Section 502 single-family guarantee program, and an announcement about the CDC eviction moratorium. For more information, contact an RD service center.

“Strained rural water utilities buckle under pandemic pressure.”
The Pew Charitable Trusts look at how the pandemic has reduced the revenue stream for many rural water systems which were already strained. While some rural systems received funding from the Paycheck Protection Program, these utilities generally have not benefitted from federal or state pandemic relief programs.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

USDA issues final rule on broadband infrastructure funding.
The final rule for broadband infrastructure allows awardees under select RD programs to use a portion of their funds to help expand access to broadband services for America’s rural businesses and residents. Eligible programs include Section 515 direct and Section 538 guaranteed rental housing loans. USDA requests comments by November 16 on this regulation. For more information, contact Michele Brooks, USDA, 202-690-1078.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Growth or decline in housing units and vacancy rates vary across rural America, HAC reports.
Housing Change and Occupancy in Rural America, a new Rural Research Brief, considers some of the factors contributing to, and resulting from, change in the rural housing stock.

Supportive housing resources posted online.
Materials and a recording from HAC’s Introduction to Supportive Housing webinar are now available online. This session, the first in a three-part series, provided a comprehensive overview of permanent supportive housing, explained the guiding principles of the Housing First approach, outlined supportive services, and presented the trauma-informed care and design framework. Part II will be held on October 15 and Part III on November 17. When registration opens, information will be posted on HAC’s website.

“For BIPOC communities, local news crisis extends beyond major cities.”
This article in the Columbia Journalism Review describes the “need for journalism’s reckoning regarding racial justice to extend beyond major cities to issues faced by [Black, Indigenous and people of color communities in small towns and suburbs.”

“Dead chicks, delayed prescriptions: Late mail leaves rural America disconnected.”
NBC News describes some of the many ways postal service is critical to connect rural communities with the rest of the nation. Many rural communities depend on their mail careers for essentials ranging from prescription medicines to paying bills.

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).

Housing Change and Occupancy in Rural America

Housing Change and Occupancy in Rural America

Housing Change and Occupancy in Rural America

A community’s housing stock is one of its most important resources. The presence of high quality and affordable housing units reflects vibrancy and makes a community attractive for both current and future households and businesses. Housing influences everything from community services to health outcomes. The absence of affordable high-quality housing puts a strain on a community and its residents. A community can also be negatively impacted if too many housing units are vacant and property values are not sufficient to generate revenues for local services and to entice development and growth.

HAC News: September 3, 2020

HAC News Formats. pdf

September 3, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 18

TOP STORIES 
Tenants must provide affidavits to be covered by new nationwide eviction moratorium.
The Centers for Disease Control has issued an eviction moratorium, in effect September 4-December 31, that will protect tenants against eviction for nonpayment of rent if they provide landlords with affidavits certifying specific information including their inability to pay. The CDC’s order, which explicitly recognizes the link between eviction and spreading communicable diseases, applies throughout the U.S., except where more stringent state, tribal or local government moratoriums are in place. It differs in some important ways from the CARES Act’s moratorium, which expired in late July. The new order is not limited to tenants in federally assisted housing. It does allow landlords to charge late fees on delayed rent payments. Also, unlike the CARES Act, the CDC’s order provides criminal penalties for violating the moratorium: a fine of at least $100,000 or a year in jail or both.

Federal agencies extend foreclosure moratoriums to December 31.
Prohibitions on lender action against homeowners with federal mortgage supports, previously set to expire on August 31, have been extended through December 31. The new deadline applies to borrowers with USDA Section 502 direct and Section 504 loans or Section 502 guarantees, mortgages purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration. USDA’s summary of these provisions and other coronavirus-related guidance for Rural Development programs was updated on August 28 and September 1.

Continuing resolution expected to start FY21.  
Congress has not agreed on federal funding for fiscal year 2021, which begins October 1, 2020. The House passed appropriations bills in July, but the Senate did not take up those measures or develop its own. Now legislators must agree on a continuing resolution to keep the government open. Additional economic relief measures may be included in a continuing resolution or considered separately. Both houses have been on recess during August; the Senate will reconvene on September 8 and the House on September 15.

September is National Preparedness Month, HAC provides disaster information.
As National Preparedness Month begins – this year’s theme is “Disasters don’t wait. Make your plan today” – HAC offers guidance for disaster-affected areas. Information and resources are compiled on HAC’s website and in the Picking Up the Pieces disaster guide. Specific information for survivors of Hurricane Laura is also posted.

OPPORTUNITIES
HUD offers Choice Neighborhoods and Jobs Plus funds.
Communities that are ready to implement plans to redevelop distressed public and/or assisted housing and neighborhood can apply by December 16 for Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants. A public housing authority, local government or tribal entity must be the lead applicant. The nonprofit or for-profit owner of the targeted housing may be a co-applicant. For more information, email  ChoiceNeighborhoods@hud.gov. December 1 is the deadline for PHAs with at least 200 non-elderly households to apply for Jobs Plus grants. For more information, email  JobsPlus@hud.gov.

POLICY
Ideas invited for reimagining federal response to housing challenges.
The Housing Playbook Project, launched on September 1 by Community Change and the Ford Foundation, will bring together housing policy ideas from leaders across the country, prioritizing those advocates who have been housing insecure themselves. Advocates and community members nationwide can submit their ideas for a robust housing agenda centered on racial equity and opportunity. David Lipsetz, HAC’s President and CEO, sits on the advisory committee guiding the project.

 CORONAVIRUS
“22 million owners and renters of manufactured homes are mostly left out of pandemic assistance.”
The Urban Institute reports that residents of manufactured homes tend to have lower incomes and work in industries that are vulnerable to the pandemic, but mostly fall outside federal protections. Manufactured home owners with chattel loans – loans for personal property rather than real estate mortgages – are not protected by provisions that apply to mortgage lenders.

RuralSTAT
The rural population grew by .8% between 2010 and 2018.The overall U.S. population grew by 6.2 percent during the same time period. Source: HAC tabulations of 2014-2018 American Community Survey Data. For more information on rural population change and growth visit HAC’s newest Rural Research Brief.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES
Census Bureau document and GAO report warn ending census early poses accuracy risks.
An internal Census Bureau document, leaked on September 2, agrees with concerns raised by many others that ending the 2020 decennial census count on September 30 and shortening the Bureau’s data review process will jeopardize the completeness and accuracy of the count. The Government Accountability Office’s latest report on the subject, 2020 Census: Recent Decision to Compress Census Timeframes Poses Additional Risks to an Accurate Count, lists additional concerns ranging from hiring to ensuring safety during the pandemic to monitoring IT risks. HAC encourages everyone in the U.S. to respond to the Census. 

USDA RD to target persistent poverty counties for FY20 funding.
FY20 appropriations law requires that, to the maximum extent feasible, at least 10% of certain RD programs’ funds must be allocated to persistent poverty counties. It also makes those counties’ county seats eligible if their population is up to 10% above the program’s authorized population. These provisions apply to the Section 502 direct, 504, 515, 523 and 533 housing programs, and to community facilities, business and utilities programs. USDA plans to provide implementation guidance in NOFAs or, for programs that do not use NOFAs, on program websites. For more information, contact an RD State Office.

HUD issues final Moving to Work operations notice.
The final operations notice for the expansion of the Moving to Work Demonstration Program establishes requirements for expanding the program and continuing to operate it. HUD requests comments by October 27 on the additional activities and waivers listed in this notice. For more information, contact  Marianne Nazzaro, HUD, 202-402-4306.

USDA Inspector General reviews rural housing programs.
In response to a congressional request, USDA’s Office of the Inspector General conducted an inspection to determine potential areas of overlap, duplication and fragmentation within USDA’s rural housing programs. On August 14, OIG issued a report summarizing the results of its review. While the review indicates there is some potential overlap, no instances of fragmentation or duplication were found. OIG concluded that there were no issues that would warrant recommendations.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA
Population change in rural America examined in new Rural Research Brief.
Rural Population Change and Growth, HAC’s latest brief, notes that rural population decline over the past few decades is well documented, but some communities are experiencing growth. Population changes drive significant impacts in rural and small-town communities.

Rural housing markets seeing more interest during pandemic.
As remote work continues to be available for a segment of the labor force during the coronavirus pandemic, rural areas are seeing an increase in homebuyer interest and home prices. According to Redfin, median sales prices in rural areas rose 11.3% as demand for homes in rural areas increased. Additionally, 19% of buyers reported a desire to find a home in a rural area, as compared to 9% at the same time last year. NBC News has also reported a 34% increase in online views of homes in rural areas from June 2019 to June 2020, greater than the 30% increase for suburbs, though “anecdotal evidence suggests some of [the interest] may be about searching for second-home getaways in more remote communities.” Speculation about a possible moving-to-rural trend has also been reported by The Hill and Yahoo Finance.

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).

Rural Population Change and Growth Cover Image

Rural Population Change and Growth

 

Rural Population Change and Growth Cover Image

Population change has been a factor in the vibrancy and vitality of rural areas for generations. Rural population decline over the past few decades is well documented, but like the rest of rural America, this trend is not monolithic and some communities are experiencing growth. Both population decline, as well as population growth, drive significant impacts in rural and small-town communities.