Rural Research Briefs are a series of data and findings from the recently released decennial Census and American Community Survey (ACS), highlighting various social, economic, and housing characteristics of rural Americans.

COVID-19 in Rural America: Updated July 31, 2021

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents summary findings of COVID-19 and its larger impacts 528 days after the first identified case in rural America.

RURAL RESEARCH BRIEF: Housing Insecurity During COVID-19

COVID-19 has disrupted nearly every aspect of life and culture in rural America, and the economic fallout is most acutely felt through job losses. If rural unemployment rates remain high the collateral impacts to almost all sectors of the housing market could be substantial – notably the ability of unemployed households to make rent and mortgage payments. This Brief presents time series housing trends from the U.S. Census Bureau’s PULSE Survey. The Pulse Survey provides data to help understand the experiences of American households during the coronavirus pandemic.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Ground Truth from Rural Practitioners Cover

Ground Truth from Rural Practitioners

Ground Truth from Rural Practitioners Cover

Local and regional rural-serving organizations shape and strengthen the fabric of their communities. But what kinds of organizations are these? What is of the range of topics they work on? What expertise do they have—and what expertise do they need? Based on the findings from a survey of over 350 different rural-serving organizations in 45 states, this research brief strives to provide policy makers, funders and other well-meaning folks who want to do right by rural with information on the inner workings of rural-serving organizations. The survey results highlight policy, investments and partnerships that are better tuned to rural realities and the self-identified strengths, expertise and needs of rural-serving organizations. It also demonstrates the resilience and strength of rural organizations despite great odds, while guiding national partners and philanthropy to build on and invest in their success.

Apartments in rural America

Tax Considerations for Rural Housing Preservation

Tax Relief Rural Research Brief coverA crisis is building for many federally supported rental properties, which are an important source of affordable housing for low-income rural residents. Particularly, USDA Section 515 mortgages are nearing the ends of their terms, and property owners may wish to convert their properties to other uses (for example, market-rate housing) or sell them to others who will convert them. If owners sell to entities that will continue to use them as affordable rentals, rural tenants benefit and the existing federal investment in these properties is protected. Yet many owners are reluctant to sell their properties for preservation because they will experience adverse tax consequences at sale. This paper explores those tax consequences, indicates where they may have the greatest impact, and suggests ways they might be mitigated in order to encourage preservation.

Tax consequences arise as a result of depreciation over the lifetime of a rental property. Federal tax law allows a rental property owner to reduce their annual tax liability by claiming depreciation in the property’s value every year. When the property is sold, however, tax law requires that a portion of the taxes deferred by depreciation must be recaptured. If a property’s market value has appreciated over time, a higher sales price can cover the depreciation recapture and also provide the seller with a profit. If the value has not appreciated, however – as is the case in many rural areas – or when a purchaser needs to buy at less than market value in order to preserve affordability, the tax liability can use up most or all of the sales receipts.

The paper presents several technical, market and legislative strategies that could help mitigate the identified tax-related barriers and enhance preservation efforts.