Disaster Response for Rural Communities

Disaster relief efforts in the United States are coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. Not every disaster warrants FEMA’s intervention, but under the provisions of the legislation that established FEMA, when a disaster “is beyond the capabilities of state and local resources,” the President may declare a “major disaster” or an “emergency.” Local, state, and FEMA officials evaluate the disaster, and submit a request for a declaration to the FEMA Regional Office, which reviews the request, submits it to the President, and makes recommendations to the President. As a result of the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act, federally recognized Indian tribal governments now also have the option of pursuing a declaration directly from the President.

When the President makes a major disaster declaration, FEMA establishes offices in the federally declared disaster area to serve as centralized points of relief management. FEMA aids disaster survivors by directing them to the assistance program(s) (both public and private) for which they are eligible and that will be of the most benefit to them. In sum, the agency serves as the umbrella organization that coordinates the relief efforts of all relief agencies, public and private, local and national. Thus, it brings disaster recovery assistance into the stricken community.

FEMA’s role is especially important to disaster victims in rural areas due to a scarcity of local institutions with ready access to potential recovery resources and the ability to coordinate relief efforts. However, in spite of FEMA’s coordination, one of the most serious problems facing disaster victims in rural areas is still a lack of information about the resources and assistance available to them. This guide to short- and long-term housing and community development resources serves as a partial response to that critical need. It is intended for use by disaster-affected individual households as well as by community organizations acting on their behalf.

After a disaster strikes, responding may seem like a monumental task, but with support, cooperation, and drive, you can lead your community forward. Use the following resources to locate local, state, and federal funds and tools that will support your organization through the recovery process.

Resources

  • American Red Cross – The Disaster Relief and Recovery Services provides information on staying safe after a disaster, checking your home’s safety, recovering emotionally, and recovering financially. The Emergency Resource Library offers tips and strategies for preparing, responding, and recovering from disasters like, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and winter storms.
  • FEMA Disaster Recovery Center – These accessible facilities and mobile offices are set up after a disaster to facilitate disaster recovery. Links are available to find assistance, apply online, and check the status.
  • Figuring Out FEMA – A free pocket guide to help people applying to FEMA’s Individual Assistance program.
  • HUD CDBG-DR – The Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program is a flexible source of funding that can be used to rebuild the affected areas and help with the recovery process.
  • HUD CDBG-MIT – The Community Development Block Grant Mitigation funds can be used to carry out strategic and high-impact activities to mitigate disaster risks and reduce future losses. The website provides program information such as notices, requirements, and best practices in one place.
  • HUD State Information – Disaster relief and emergency assistance resources relevant to each state.
  • USDA-RD Disaster Assistance – Information for single-family housing loan borrowers, multi-family housing loan borrowers, Community Facilities loan borrowers, Community Facilities Grants, business owners, and Emergency Community Water Assistance Grants.
  • Navigating the Road to Housing Recovery – A comprehensive guide to resources and steps to take for individuals and families affected by natural disasters. It provides general disaster recovery information, guidance and resources for those with a clear housing recovery goal, and guidance and resources for those still deciding on their housing recovery goal.
  • VA Disaster Assistance to Veterans – The VA offers specific resources to benefit veterans related to health, home loans, pension benefit assistance, and special adaptive programs. Links and phone numbers provide even more information.
  • VHA Office of Emergency Management – The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) coordinates essential VA emergency medical response and support services at the local, regional, and national levels to ensure the health and safety of veteran patients and their families, staff, and visitors, and continued delivery of VHA health care services.

HAC News: August 20, 2020

HAC News Formats. pdf

August 20, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 17

CONGRESS

Congress may consider economic relief in Post Office bills.   
When negotiations on further coronavirus relief funding hit an impasse in early August, members of Congress left Washington and it appeared no action would be taken until after Labor Day. Now, after media reports on the U.S. Postal Service’s challenges, the House is returning to vote on added USPS funding and other provisions on Saturday, August 22. Senate leaders are drafting a bill covering the USPS as well as provisions from the HEALS Act (introduced in late July) but have not called the Senate back into session. They are reportedly considering combining coronavirus relief with a continuing resolution to fund the federal government for the first part of fiscal year 2021, which starts October 1.

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD offers ROSS service coordinator grants.
Nonprofits, resident associations, tribal governments and TDHEs, and PHAs can apply by November 19 for funds to employ Resident Opportunity and Self Sufficiency Service Coordinators to work with residents of public or Indian housing. For more information, contact HUD staff, ROSS-PIH@hud.gov.

Indian Housing Block Grant funding competition open.
Applications are due December 10 for Indian Housing Block Grants. Tribes and tribally designated housing entities are eligible for these grants, which can be used for a range of housing activities. For more information, contact HUD staff, IHBGCompetitiveProgram@hud.gov.

RURALSTAT

Approximately 15 million rural Baby Boomers comprise one-quarter of the rural and small town population.
Source: HAC tabulations of 2014-2018 American Community Survey Data. For more information on age and aging in rural America, see HAC’s newest Rural Research Brief.

CORONAVIRUS

New estimate: 30-40 million people at risk of eviction.
Several housing researchers from universities and nonprofits co-authored The COVID-19 Eviction Crisis: An Estimated 30-40 Million People in America are at Risk, aggregating existing research and providing new estimates. “If conditions do not change,” they conclude, “29-43% of renter households could be at risk of eviction by the end of the year.” The predicted tsunami of evictions has not yet begun in most places because the 30-day notice period added to the CARES Act moratorium does not expire until August 23, some areas still have state or local moratoriums in place, some emergency rental assistance programs are still operating, and data do not include tenants who move out before an eviction filing.

“Pandemic leads to more precarious housing situation.”
preview of a forthcoming report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research presents research findings on housing insecurity before and during the coronavirus pandemic. Almost one-third of renters and one-sixth of homeowners experienced housing insecurity, on average, each week from late April 2020 through July 2020. Housing insecurity increased most notably for Hispanic and Black renters from 2019 to July 2020.

Public charge injunction limited to three states.
An appellate court narrowed the recent injunction against USCIS implementation of its 2019 “public charge” regulation so that it applies in only Connecticut, New York and Vermont. The rule can be used in the rest of the country. The coronavirus-related lawsuit that led to this injunction, as well as other suits challenging the rule, are still ongoing.

The rate of new cases of Covid-19 is higher in rural areas than nationwide.
Daily Yonder analysis finds that as of August 13 the seven-day average of new cases in rural counties was 16.6 per 100,000 residents, compared to 15.9 new cases nationwide.

“Coronavirus surge brings suffering to the impoverished, underresourced Mississippi Delta.”
NBC News covers the intense challenge of providing medical care in one of the poorest rural parts of the country. A majority of the Delta’s population are Black and NBC reports that more than half the people who have died of COVID-19 in Mississippi are Black.

“These essential workers face evictions and could become homeless during pandemic.”
The Los Angeles Times describes the dire situation faced by migrant workers in rural California who have lost income during the coronavirus pandemic.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

HUD to extend moratorium on FHA foreclosures.
Politico reported August 18 that HUD will continue its moratorium on foreclosures and evictions of homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages through the end of 2020. Similar protections for homeowners with USDA single-family mortgages and those backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still scheduled to expire on August 31. President Trump’s August 8 executive order addressing evictions and foreclosures does not extend the CARES Act’s eviction moratorium for tenants; it directs federal officials to review options for protecting renters and homeowners, but does not require any specific action.

USDA RD summary of coronavirus relief measures updated.
The document reviews past guidance for housing, community facilities, business and utilities programs, and labels indicate new or revised provisions in the August 5 update. RD notes that it has processed over 4,000 requests for payment deferrals for Section 515 or 514 mortgages and is still accepting requests.

OMB releases 2020 compliance supplement for audits.
The 2020 Compliance Supplement to OMB’s Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements applies to audits of fiscal years beginning after June 30, 2019 for nonprofits, state and local governments and tribes receiving federal funds. Comments are due October 10. For more information, contact the relevant federal agency.

Fair Market Rents for fiscal 2021 posted.
In developing its proposed FMRs for the year that begins October 1, HUD updated its economic assumptions to reflect the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Comments are due September 30. For more information, contact HUD USER, 800-245-2691.

Temporary change extended for hiring H-2A farmworkers.
The Department of Homeland Security is extending part of a temporary final rule issued in April. Farmworkers with H-2A visas will not have to leave the U.S. before beginning work for new employers who file H-2A petitions between August 19 and December 17, 2020. DHS did not extend another April provision, which allowed H-2A workers to stay in the U.S. longer than three years. For more information, contact Charles L. Nimick, USCIS, 202-272-8377.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Rural unemployment rate declines, but 1.8 million rural workers still unemployed.
HAC analysis finds the June unemployment rate was 8.8% for counties outside metropolitan areas, using the most recent county-level data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Rural unemployment peaked at 13.6% in April.

New HAC Rural Research Brief looks at age and aging in rural America.
The impacts of the aging U.S. population are especially pronounced in rural America, due to natural population change as well as outmigration. More details are available in a new Rural Research Brief published by HAC.

State of Black America contends that in 2020 America has been unmasked.
The 2020 issue of the National Urban League’s annual State of Black America report offers analysis and commentary on inequalities in the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and U.S. institutions.

GAO reports homelessness probably underestimated.
A Government Accountability Office review concluded that HUD’s point-in-time counts for 2017-2019 probably underestimated the U.S. homeless population. In Homelessness: Better HUD Oversight of Data Collection Could Improve Estimates of Homeless Population (GAO-20-433), it recommends HUD provide better guidance to Continuums of Care, which collect the data. GAO also calculated that rent increases are statistically correlated with increases in homelessness.

Native Americans have disproportionate share of fatal encounters with police.
While much of the discussion of racial bias in police shootings has centered on Black Americans, the Center for Indian Country Development examined Native Americans’ fatal encounters with police. Female Native Americans’ police-involved deaths were more likely to result from vehicles, overdoses or other incidental causes, while males’ deaths were more often from police use of force. Nationwide, from 2000 to 2017, Black males and Native American females had four times as many fatal encounters per population as their white counterparts. In the upper Midwest, Native American males had 14 times as many fatal encounters as white males and Native American females had 38 times more than white females.

“Two local leaders discuss how smarter federal policy can save rural America during COVID-19.”
Brookings Institution blog post based on a webinar with local economic development leaders from Wytheville, VA and Charlevoix, MI considers needs including expanding broadband infrastructure and increasing access to finance. Reimagining federal policy for rural development can help “rural leaders meet the demands and opportunities of the modern economy and the additional pressures wrought by COVID-19.”

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: August 20, 2020

HAC News Formats. pdf

August 20, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 17

CONGRESS

Congress may consider economic relief in Post Office bills.   
When negotiations on further coronavirus relief funding hit an impasse in early August, members of Congress left Washington and it appeared no action would be taken until after Labor Day. Now, after media reports on the U.S. Postal Service’s challenges, the House is returning to vote on added USPS funding and other provisions on Saturday, August 22. Senate leaders are drafting a bill covering the USPS as well as provisions from the HEALS Act (introduced in late July) but have not called the Senate back into session. They are reportedly considering combining coronavirus relief with a continuing resolution to fund the federal government for the first part of fiscal year 2021, which starts October 1.

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD offers ROSS service coordinator grants.
Nonprofits, resident associations, tribal governments and TDHEs, and PHAs can apply by November 19 for funds to employ Resident Opportunity and Self Sufficiency Service Coordinators to work with residents of public or Indian housing. For more information, contact HUD staff, ROSS-PIH@hud.gov.

Indian Housing Block Grant funding competition open.
Applications are due December 10 for Indian Housing Block Grants. Tribes and tribally designated housing entities are eligible for these grants, which can be used for a range of housing activities. For more information, contact HUD staff, IHBGCompetitiveProgram@hud.gov.

RURALSTAT

Approximately 15 million rural Baby Boomers comprise one-quarter of the rural and small town population.
Source: HAC tabulations of 2014-2018 American Community Survey Data. For more information on age and aging in rural America, see HAC’s newest Rural Research Brief.

CORONAVIRUS

New estimate: 30-40 million people at risk of eviction.
Several housing researchers from universities and nonprofits co-authored The COVID-19 Eviction Crisis: An Estimated 30-40 Million People in America are at Risk, aggregating existing research and providing new estimates. “If conditions do not change,” they conclude, “29-43% of renter households could be at risk of eviction by the end of the year.” The predicted tsunami of evictions has not yet begun in most places because the 30-day notice period added to the CARES Act moratorium does not expire until August 23, some areas still have state or local moratoriums in place, some emergency rental assistance programs are still operating, and data do not include tenants who move out before an eviction filing.

“Pandemic leads to more precarious housing situation.”
preview of a forthcoming report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research presents research findings on housing insecurity before and during the coronavirus pandemic. Almost one-third of renters and one-sixth of homeowners experienced housing insecurity, on average, each week from late April 2020 through July 2020. Housing insecurity increased most notably for Hispanic and Black renters from 2019 to July 2020.

Public charge injunction limited to three states.
An appellate court narrowed the recent injunction against USCIS implementation of its 2019 “public charge” regulation so that it applies in only Connecticut, New York and Vermont. The rule can be used in the rest of the country. The coronavirus-related lawsuit that led to this injunction, as well as other suits challenging the rule, are still ongoing.

The rate of new cases of Covid-19 is higher in rural areas than nationwide.
Daily Yonder analysis finds that as of August 13 the seven-day average of new cases in rural counties was 16.6 per 100,000 residents, compared to 15.9 new cases nationwide.

“Coronavirus surge brings suffering to the impoverished, underresourced Mississippi Delta.”
NBC News covers the intense challenge of providing medical care in one of the poorest rural parts of the country. A majority of the Delta’s population are Black and NBC reports that more than half the people who have died of COVID-19 in Mississippi are Black.

“These essential workers face evictions and could become homeless during pandemic.”
The Los Angeles Times describes the dire situation faced by migrant workers in rural California who have lost income during the coronavirus pandemic.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

HUD to extend moratorium on FHA foreclosures.
Politico reported August 18 that HUD will continue its moratorium on foreclosures and evictions of homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages through the end of 2020. Similar protections for homeowners with USDA single-family mortgages and those backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still scheduled to expire on August 31. President Trump’s August 8 executive order addressing evictions and foreclosures does not extend the CARES Act’s eviction moratorium for tenants; it directs federal officials to review options for protecting renters and homeowners, but does not require any specific action.

USDA RD summary of coronavirus relief measures updated.
The document reviews past guidance for housing, community facilities, business and utilities programs, and labels indicate new or revised provisions in the August 5 update. RD notes that it has processed over 4,000 requests for payment deferrals for Section 515 or 514 mortgages and is still accepting requests.

OMB releases 2020 compliance supplement for audits.
The 2020 Compliance Supplement to OMB’s Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements applies to audits of fiscal years beginning after June 30, 2019 for nonprofits, state and local governments and tribes receiving federal funds. Comments are due October 10. For more information, contact the relevant federal agency.

Fair Market Rents for fiscal 2021 posted.
In developing its proposed FMRs for the year that begins October 1, HUD updated its economic assumptions to reflect the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Comments are due September 30. For more information, contact HUD USER, 800-245-2691.

Temporary change extended for hiring H-2A farmworkers.
The Department of Homeland Security is extending part of a temporary final rule issued in April. Farmworkers with H-2A visas will not have to leave the U.S. before beginning work for new employers who file H-2A petitions between August 19 and December 17, 2020. DHS did not extend another April provision, which allowed H-2A workers to stay in the U.S. longer than three years. For more information, contact Charles L. Nimick, USCIS, 202-272-8377.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Rural unemployment rate declines, but 1.8 million rural workers still unemployed.
HAC analysis finds the June unemployment rate was 8.8% for counties outside metropolitan areas, using the most recent county-level data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Rural unemployment peaked at 13.6% in April.

New HAC Rural Research Brief looks at age and aging in rural America.
The impacts of the aging U.S. population are especially pronounced in rural America, due to natural population change as well as outmigration. More details are available in a new Rural Research Brief published by HAC.

State of Black America contends that in 2020 America has been unmasked.
The 2020 issue of the National Urban League’s annual State of Black America report offers analysis and commentary on inequalities in the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and U.S. institutions.

GAO reports homelessness probably underestimated.
A Government Accountability Office review concluded that HUD’s point-in-time counts for 2017-2019 probably underestimated the U.S. homeless population. In Homelessness: Better HUD Oversight of Data Collection Could Improve Estimates of Homeless Population (GAO-20-433), it recommends HUD provide better guidance to Continuums of Care, which collect the data. GAO also calculated that rent increases are statistically correlated with increases in homelessness.

Native Americans have disproportionate share of fatal encounters with police.
While much of the discussion of racial bias in police shootings has centered on Black Americans, the Center for Indian Country Development examined Native Americans’ fatal encounters with police. Female Native Americans’ police-involved deaths were more likely to result from vehicles, overdoses or other incidental causes, while males’ deaths were more often from police use of force. Nationwide, from 2000 to 2017, Black males and Native American females had four times as many fatal encounters per population as their white counterparts. In the upper Midwest, Native American males had 14 times as many fatal encounters as white males and Native American females had 38 times more than white females.

“Two local leaders discuss how smarter federal policy can save rural America during COVID-19.”
Brookings Institution blog post based on a webinar with local economic development leaders from Wytheville, VA and Charlevoix, MI considers needs including expanding broadband infrastructure and increasing access to finance. Reimagining federal policy for rural development can help “rural leaders meet the demands and opportunities of the modern economy and the additional pressures wrought by COVID-19.”

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).

Age and Aging in Rural America

Age and Aging in Rural America

Age and Aging in Rural America

We live in a multi-generational world which increasingly impacts every facet of society from healthcare to employment and housing. With the continued transition of Baby Boomers into older age, the United States is now squarely in one of the largest demographic shifts in our nation’s history. In rural America, the impacts of an older and aging population are even more pronounced. But, as is the case with other social elements, rural America is not a monolith and there are important dynamics in all rural age strata.

HAC News: August 6, 2020

HAC News Formats. pdf

August 6, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 16

CONGRESS

Negotiations continue on more economic relief.

Federal eviction protections and increased unemployment assistance have expired, and congressional and White House leaders are still trying to agree on what to do next. On July 27, several Republican Senators released an eight-bill package collectively named the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act. Its supplemental appropriations provisions include $113.4 million for USDA Section 521 Rental Assistance, $2.2 billion for HUD Tenant-Based Rental Assistance and $1 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund. These figures and many other provisions in the bill differ from those in the HEROES Act that was passed by the House in May. The White House is reportedly considering reinstituting the eviction ban and unemployment payments, as well as suspending payroll tax collections, through executive orders, though it is not clear that such actions would have legal effect.

House passes FY21 funding bills for USDA, HUD, other agencies.

The House has approved two “minibus” bills, each of which combines appropriations measures for several federal departments and agencies. H.R. 7608, passed on July 24, includes USDAH.R. 7617, passed on July 31, includes HUD. The Senate has not yet begun considering appropriations legislation for FY21, which begins on October 1, 2020.

OPPORTUNITIES

Lead hazard reduction grants available.

Local governments and some states and tribes are eligible for grants to control lead hazards, build local capacity, educate residents and more. Apply by August 24. For more information, contact  Yolanda Brown, HUD.

HUD offers healthy homes grants for tribes.

The Healthy Homes Production Program for Tribal Housing is intended to address housing-related hazards in a coordinated fashion, rather than addressing a single hazard at a time. The application deadline is August 24. For more information, contact  Aaron J. Salkoski, HUD.

HAC seeks photographers to document U.S. rural housing and development.

With support from the National Endowment for the Arts and honoring the legacy of photographer George Ballis (1925-2010) and his deep ties to rural housing and community development, HAC seeks photographers for an upcoming exhibition, “There Is More Work To Be Done.” Selected photographers will be offered a stipend to document the impact of rural housing and rural community development programs in areas across the country and the work that still needs to be done. Applications are due August 14. For more information, visit HAC’s website or email  ballisphoto@ruralhome.org.

RURALSTAT

90% of manufactured home borrowers whose loans were secured solely by their manufactured homes received high interest rate loans in 2018.

Source: HAC Tabulations of 2018 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Data. For more information on manufactured housing in rural America, see HAC’s recently published Rural Research Brief.

CORONAVIRUS

Rural COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in July.

new HAC analysis shows that from July 2 to August 2 there were almost as many new reported rural cases (225,553) of COVID-19 as had been reported for the prior five months in total (235,201). Rates of cases and deaths increased most dramatically in the rural Southeastern U.S.

Guidance updated on Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness.

The Small Business Administration has updated its Frequently Asked Questions on forgiveness of PPP loans, which are intended to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the pandemic.

Webinar to consider immigrants and rural economies.

Our Essential Work: Immigrants and Rural Economies, Weathering the Pandemic Together, will be offered on August 19 and will include an opportunity for peer exchange. This is the second event in the Rural Opportunity and Development (ROAD) series sponsored by the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, HAC, RCAP and Rural LISC. The first webinar, on minority-owned small businesses, is available online.

Court halts public charge rule during coronavirus emergency.

A federal judge has issued an injunction against USCIS implementation of its 2019 “public charge” regulation for as long as the coronavirus public health emergency is in effect. USCIS will not apply the regulation, which had taken effect in February, to immigration determinations on or after July 29.

Executive order supports rural health access.

President Trump’s “Executive Order on Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access,” dated August 3,  calls for innovative payment models, investments in physical and communications infrastructure, steps to improve the physical and mental health of rural residents, and extension of telehealth flexibilities that have been instituted for Medicare patients and providers during the pandemic.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Decennial census to end a month early.

The Census Bureau will end its data collection, both by field workers and by self-response methods, on September 30, a month earlier than previously planned. After the pandemic delayed the launch of field operations, the change raises concerns about the response rates of traditionally undercounted populations, including rural residents, Native Americans and people of color. HAC encourages everyone in the U.S. to respond to the Census.

Lammers retires, new Rural Housing Service head named.

Elizabeth Green became Acting Administrator of RHS on August 3 after former Administrator Bruce Lammers retired. She was most recently USDA Rural Development State Director in Virginia.

New Duty to Serve plans delayed by coronavirus.

The Federal Housing Finance Authority has instructed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to structure their proposed Duty to Serve activities and objectives for 2021 as a one-year extension of their 2018-2020 plans, rather than as the first year in new three-year plans, because of market disruption caused by the pandemic. For more information, visit FHFA’s website and statement on this announcement.

Housing counseling certification deadline moved to 2021.

Because of the pandemic, HUD is extending the time period for housing counselors to comply with new certification requirements. The deadline is now August 1, 2021. Comments are due September 4. For more information, contact  Lorraine Griscavage-Frisbee, HUD, 702-366-2160.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Interactive toolkit offers rural opioid resources.

The Rural Opioid Federal Interagency Working Group, in partnership with the University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health, developed an online toolkit to assist rural community leaders to assess the causes and impact of substance use disorder and find federal programs to help combat substance abuse disorder in their communities.

How do we change the narrative around housing?

Shelterforce examines recent research on messaging to advance housing justice. The article’s summary of the findings: “People want to have a conversation about housing, the opposition is weak, and moving away from commodity language toward basic human need language might offer a very powerful way to intensify support.”

How the Navajo Nation is flattening the coronavirus curve.

In May the Navajo Nation had one of the highest per capita rates of coronavirus infections in the U.S. NBC News examines how the tribe’s ongoing challenges of inadequate infrastructure and substandard housing have exacerbated the impacts of the virus.

Will the pandemic make it more difficult for rural students to attend college? 

Daily Yonder article looks at the challenges for students in rural areas related to attending college and how the coronavirus pandemic complicates an already trying decision.

HAC

HAC is hiring an External Affairs Associate.

HAC is looking for a dynamic and creative writer to help build a culture of storytelling at HAC. The External Affairs Associate develops content and key messages for external audiences that highlight the incredible impacts of HAC’s work. To apply, email a resume and brief cover letter to  jobs@ruralhome.org with “External Affairs Associate” in the subject line. Applications will be considered as received, with interviews starting immediately.

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: July 23, 2020

HAC News Formats. pdf

July 23, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 15

Eviction protections expiring, lawmakers negotiating.

The Trump Administration and House and Senate leaders are negotiating the next coronavirus relief package, but it is not yet clear what types of aid it will provide, how much or when. HAC spearheaded a sign-on letter from over 100 rural housing stakeholders urging congressional leaders to provide targeted funding for rural communities. Among the reasons for urgency is the imminent expiration of eviction protections while large numbers of low-income tenants are still unemployed or working reduced hours and federal assistance that helped cover housing costs is ending. The CARES Act protects tenants in federally assisted housing from eviction through August 23 (July 24 is the last day of the moratorium and then property owners must give tenants at least 30 days’ notice) and an array of state and local moratoriums have protected some additional tenants for varying amounts of time. One estimate is that 19-23 million people – one in every five people who live in renter households – in the U.S. are at risk of eviction by September. Undocumented people, low-income people, and people of color are the most vulnerable.

USDA and HUD provide new guidance for rental housing as eviction protections end.

Updates to USDA RD’s FAQs for multifamily property owners and managers, HUD Notice H 20-07 and a HUD brochure titled Promoting Housing Stability During the Covid-19 National Emergency: Information for Multifamily Property Owners and Management Agents all address the status of tenant protections as the CARES eviction moratorium expires. A National Housing Law Project analysis compares USDA’s provisions to those of HUD Notice H 20-07.

Administration moving forward to eliminate fair housing processes and transgender shelter protections.

HUD will announce a new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule on July 23, according to Politico, which reports the department will “essentially rely … on local governments to self-certify that they are ‘furthering fair housing.’” The regulation will not be the one proposed in January and will be issued in final form with no further opportunity for public comment, the article states. A separate proposal to remove current protections for transgender individuals in HUD-supported facilities, such as single-sex shelters or shelters with separate facilities based on sex, will be published in the Federal Register on July 24 with a 60-day comment period. That rule change would allow shelter operators to decide whether to rely on gender assigned at birth or gender identity.

House continues work on FY21 funding for USDA and HUD.

The House of Representatives is scheduled to begin consideration on July 23 of a “minibus” (H.R. 7608) that combines four funding bills for the fiscal year that begins October 1, including USDA (H.R. 7610), StateInterior and Veterans Affairs. The Transportation-HUD bill, H.R. 7616, was approved by the House Appropriations Committee on July 14 and is expected to be part of a second minibus that will be taken up in the House during the week of July 27. The Senate has not yet begun considering appropriations legislation.

USDA requests input on new program for rural job accelerators.

The 2018 Farm Bill authorized a new Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) program that will make grants to rural job accelerator partnerships to help distressed rural communities create high-wage jobs, accelerate the formation of new businesses and identify and maximize local assets. Public input on the program can be provided in writing or at online listening sessions on July 28 and July 30. For more information, contact Will Dodson, RBCS, 202-762-0592.

RuralSTAT: 456 rural counties do not have a Medicare-registered hospital. Source: Housing Assistance Council tabulation of data from the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services list of registered hospitals.

Main Street Lending program expands to nonprofits and aids tribal governments.

On July 23 the Federal Reserve expanded its Main Street Lending Program to provide greater access to nonprofit organizations. The program supports lending to small businesses to ensure access to capital during the coronavirus pandemic. In a less publicized change, on July 15 the Fed modified the program’s FAQs to allow tribal enterprises to provide capital distributions to their tribal government owners while participating in the program. They still cannot pay dividends or make distributions to other owners such as individuals. The waiver is important because tribal businesses are owned by tribal governments and distribute some of their income to tribal governments to pay for services to the tribe.

HAC seeks photographers to document U.S. rural housing and development.

With support from the National Endowment for the Arts and honoring the legacy of photographer George Ballis (1925-2010) and his deep ties to rural housing and community development, HAC seeks photographers for an upcoming exhibition, “There Is More Work To Be Done.” Selected photographers will be offered a stipend to document the impact of rural housing and rural community development programs in areas across the country and the work that still needs to be done. Applications are due August 14. For more information, visit HAC’s website or email ballisphoto@ruralhome.org.

Manufactured homes covered in HAC’s newest Rural Research Brief.

Manufactured homes are an often overlooked and maligned component of our nation’s housing stock, but these homes are an important source of housing for millions of Americans, especially those with low incomes and in rural areas. A HAC Rural Research Brief presents data on these homes, their residents and the system through which they are sold, financed and managed.

No change in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac housing goals proposed for 2021.

Because of the economic disruption resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Housing Finance Agency is proposing to keep the benchmarks for Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s affordable housing goals the same in 2021 as in 2018-2020. Comments will be due 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register. For more information, contact Ted Wartell, FHFA, 202-649-3157.

Housing costs were already out of reach before the pandemic.

The latest edition of the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual Out of Reach study compares minimum wages to housing wages – the amount needed to afford the HUD-determined Fair Market Rent for a one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment. In no state can a person working full-time at the federal minimum wage afford a two-bedroom apartment at FMR. In only 145 of the more than 3,000 U.S. counties can a full-time worker earning the minimum wage afford a one-bedroom rental home at FMR. Data for all states and counties are available from the interactive map posted at https://reports.nlihc.org/oor.

Housing an Aging Rural America.

HAC’s just-published summer 2020 issue of Rural Voices magazine covers the unique challenges – and opportunities – presented by housing for rural seniors. The coronavirus pandemic has also heightened the concern for older and potentially more vulnerable residents, who disproportionally reside in rural America, and makes this conversation more immediate.

Retirements lead to staff changes at USDA RD.

Roger Glendenning, Deputy Administrator of Single Family Housing, is retiring on July 31. Cathy Glover, who has most recently run the Section 502 guarantee program, has been selected to succeed Glendenning. Barry Ramsey, formerly the Director of the Single Family Housing Direct Loan Division and currently the Assistant to the Deputy Administrator, is also retiring on July 31. Brooke Baumann is now the Director of the SFH Direct Loan Division. 

Recent publications and media of interest

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 Voices: Housing an Aging Rural America

Rural Voices: Housing an Aging Rural America

Download a pdf version of Rural Voices
rv-summer-2020 cover

All members of our communities, particularly older residents, should have access to safe and affordable housing, quality healthcare, and a nurturing support system, regardless of where they live. With the transition of baby boomers into older age, the United States is now squarely in one of the largest demographics shifts in our nation’s history that will impact every facet of our society – especially housing. Quality and affordable housing for seniors lies at the intersection of healthcare, social well-being, and intergenerational living. Addressing this comprehensive issue requires collaboration in each of these areas.

Housing for rural seniors presents unique challenges – and opportunities. In rural America, the impacts of an aging population are already being felt. Nearly one-fifth of the nation’s population calls rural and small towns home, yet our rural communities house almost a quarter of the country’s elderly, and this trend will only grow. The recent world-wide health pandemic has also heightened the concern and care for our older and potentially more vulnerable residents who disproportionally reside in rural America and makes this conversation more immediate.

HAC thanks AARP Foundation for their generous support of this edition of Rural Voices.

Manufactured Housing in Rural America

 

Manufactured homes are an often overlooked and maligned component of our nation’s housing stock, but these homes are an important source of housing for millions of Americans, especially those with low incomes and in rural areas. Although the physical quality of manufactured housing continues to progress, the basic delivery system of how these homes are sold, financed, and managed is still in need of improvement to ensure that they are a viable and quality source of affordable housing.

HAC News: July 9, 2020

HAC News Formats. pdf

July 9, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 14

FY21 funding process begins in the House, rural voucher expansion included.

The House Appropriations Committee is expected to consider a bill on July 9 to fund USDA for the fiscal year that begins October 1, and a bill for HUD funding soon. The Senate has not begun work on its bills yet. The House USDA bill would keep most rural housing programs at their FY20 funding levels, with increases for Section 521 Rental Assistance and Section 542 vouchers that were requested in the Administration’s budget. It would also make Section 542 vouchers available for tenants in properties where mortgages have matured as well as those where mortgages were prepaid. In addition, the measure would provide $5 million authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill to make loans to intermediaries to help resolve ownership issues for farmers with “heirs’ property” – land that has multiple legal owners after ownership passed through several generations without wills or clear titles. HAC will post updates online as the appropriations process continues.

Paycheck Protection Program application deadline extended to August 8.

The Paycheck Protection Program, created in the CARES coronavirus relief act, is intended to help small employers (including nonprofits) weather the pandemic. Employers can apply for forgivable loans from lenders approved by the Small Business Administration to keep paying their workers. The program was originally scheduled to end on June 30, but new legislation has now moved the deadline to August 8.

NEA offers creative placemaking grants.

The National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town program support projects that integrate arts, culture and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities by advancing local economic, physical and/or social outcomes. Grants range from $25,000 to $150,000 and must be matched by recipients. Applications are due to grants.gov by August 6 and to NEA August 11-18. For more information, contact NEA staff, OT@arts.gov.

CFPB cancels requirement for payday lenders to evaluate repayment ability.

Adopting a regulatory change it proposed in February 2019, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is eliminating a requirement for payday lenders to determine whether a borrower can repay a loan. For more information, contact Joseph Baressi, Lawrence Lee or Adam Mayle, CFPB, 202-435-7700. In May other federal regulatory agencies took a very different approach, issuing lending principles to encourage banks and credit unions to make small-dollar loans that can be repaid without putting borrowers into cycles of debt.

Rural unemployment rate remains in double digits.

HAC analysis of the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that rural labor markets are still suffering economic fallout from the COVID-19 health crisis. The May jobs numbers revealed a seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 11.0% for counties outside metropolitan areas. Across the nation over 2.8 million rural workers were unemployed in May. Like the health crisis itself, rates of unemployment varied by county, but most rural communities still have unprecedented unemployment rates. County data are available in an interactive map.

RuralSTAT: 48% of rural homeowners own their homes outright and do not have mortgage debt. Source: Housing Assistance Council tabulations of 2014-2018 American Community Survey data 

Homeownership in rural America examined in new HAC research brief.

Rural Research Brief released by HAC in June looks at several aspects of rural homeownership. For example, while homeownership rates are higher in rural areas than in cities, they vary widely by age, race/ethnicity and other characteristics.

HUD updates income and rent limits.

The income limits, used in programs including HOME, CDBG, SHOP and others, and the rent limits for HOME and the Housing Trust Fund are available online. The new data took effect July 1.

CDC turns down coronavirus data requests from American Indian tribes.

Tribes and American Indian epidemiology centers battling coronavirus among their populations have reported that their requests for raw data were denied by the federal Centers for Disease Control and the states of Michigan and Massachusetts although the data is freely available to states. American Indians face serious health risks, and tribes are reporting that a lack of cooperation from data owners is making it more difficult for them to keep their communities safe. Several Senators and members of Congress have written to the CDC director urging the agency to be more transparent with data.

USDA Rural Development housing program data posted.

As of the end of June, nine months into fiscal year 2020, USDA has obligated 103,122 loans, loan guarantees and grants totaling over $16 billion. This is an increase of $5.7 million over this time last year. Most of the dollars obligated were for the Section 502 guaranteed loan program. Many of the loan programs seem to be on track to fully utilize this year’s funding.

Recent publications and media of interest

Webinar on minority-owned rural small businesses offered by HAC and partners.  

On July 22, HAC is partnering with Aspen CSG, Rural LISC, and RCAP to co-host a webinar on rural small business in the time of COVID-19. In this first Rural Opportunity and Development (ROAD) Session, rural minority business owners will detail their recent experiences, in partnered conversation with the regional intermediaries who have been helping them with technical assistance, funding and advocacy. Register 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).

Homeownership in Rural America Research Brief Cover

Homeownership in Rural America

Homeownership in Rural America Research Brief Cover

Owning a home has traditionally been the bedrock of the “American Dream,” conveying prosperity, financial security, and upward mobility. The United States is largely a nation of homeowners and homeownership is more prevalent in rural areas. But many rural households still face challenges in accessing, attaining and affording the purchase of a home. Lack of available stock, affordability and high cost loans are barriers to homeownership.

This Rural Research Brief examines the state of homeownership in rural America.