HAC’s full length research reports provide detailed information and analysis on a wide array of social, economic, and housing issues that impact affordable housing needs and provision in rural America.

Taking Stock of Rural America



First published in 1984, Taking Stock is a decennial research publication of the Housing Assistance Council. The 2023 edition of Taking Stock continues this legacy of presenting social, economic, and housing trends for rural places and rural people.

In the early 1980s, the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) published its initial Taking Stock report. This seminal work was one of the first comprehensive assessments of rural housing and rural poverty conditions in the United States. The first Taking Stock also exposed the plight and housing need of the nation’s high poverty rural areas. HAC’s decennial Taking Stock analysis continued in 1990, 2000, and 2010 and has increasingly expanded to cover a broader scope of social, economic, and housing trends in rural areas. The 2023 edition of Taking Stock continues its legacy of presenting a composite picture of trends and issues important to rural people, places, and housing.

Affordable Housing and Recovery in Rural Communities, Federally Assisted Housing Opportunities for Residents

Rural Resource Guide: Affordable Housing and Recovery in Rural Communities

Federally Assisted Housing Opportunities for Residents with Substance Use Disorders and Opioid Use Disorders

Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and opioid misuse have proliferated across the U.S. in the past decade – and rural America has been particularly impacted. Effectively addressing the opioid epidemic and supporting recovery includes a holistic community approach with an essential shared foundation; safe, stable, affordable housing. In an effort to equip local organizations with proper resources the Housing Assistance Council presents its new Rural Resource Guide: Affordable Housing and Recovery in Rural Communities, Federally Assisted Housing Opportunities for Residents with Substance Use Disorders and Opioid Use Disorders.

The guide serves as a resource to housing practitioners seeking to provide homes to households affected by substance use disorders. It presents the federal regulations for federally subsidized housing programs from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Resource Guide Launch Webinar

Fiscal Year 2021 USDA Rural Development Housing Activity Report - Cover

Fiscal Year 2021 USDA Rural Development Housing Activity Report

Since the 1950s, USDA has provided financial assistance for the construction, repair, and affordability of millions of homes for low- and moderate-income rural Americans. USDA accomplishes this activity through its Rural Development (RD) agency. In FY 2021, USDA obligated 139,221 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling about $24.2 billion. Since the first USDA housing loan was made (around 1950), the agency has funded the construction, purchase, or repair of over 5.5 million rural housing units representing $384.1 billion.

Beginning in 1978, USDA also provided funding for rental assistance to help tenants better afford to rent housing in agency-financed multi-family housing units. In FY 2021, USDA obligated 291,455 annual units of tenant assistance representing about $1.54 billion through the combined total of the Section 521 Rental Assistance and the Section 542 Rural Housing Voucher programs. Since the late 1970s, USDA has funded over $28.8 billion for rental assistance and tenant vouchers representing nearly 4.4 million annual units.

Download the document.

USDA Housing Activity Report - Fiscal Year 2021

Understanding the Colonias Investment Areas

Located along the U.S. and Mexico border, colonias communities lack a widely accepted definition and standardized boundaries, hindering investment. Fannie Mae and the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) have partnered to address this underserved market. Insights gained from our research are leading to greater understanding of the colonias region and potential investment opportunities.

Working Toward a Better Understanding of Colonia Communities for Mortgage Access and Finance

This research proposes an industry-standard, universal definition of colonias communities. The adoption of this definition can increase the effectiveness of future research and can help increase the understanding of potential investment opportunities. Learn more about this unique region and the 2.5 million people who call it home.

Colonias Mapping Tool

Find colonias communities and explore detailed tract and county data using our interactive mapping tool.

Download census tract level data that defines Colonias Investment Areas. The data also identifies how many communities in each Colonias Investment Area are associated with a federal, state, or local program.

In Search of "Good" Rural Data Cover Image

In Search of “Good” Rural Data

In Search of "Good" Rural Data Cover Image

The Housing Assistance Council has long been working to address the shortcomings of rural data for rural housing developers nationwide. The efforts of one organization alone, however, cannot address the significant issues with rural data collection, dissemination, and use. Data is essential to understanding demographics, housing costs, poverty, housing finance, and financial well-being. This report familiarizes us with the limitations of commonly used data sets and identifying shortcomings that could be addressed through new methods. Check out this new report, “In Search of Good Data: Measuring Rural Prosperity,” now.

Rural Prosperity Report Cover

Revealing Rural Realities: What Fuels Inaccurate and Incomplete Coverage of Rural Issues?

Rural Prosperity Report Cover

This report underscores and articulates how ongoing changes in the structure and business of media and journalism contribute to the gap between rural realities and public perception of rural America. It also highlights the outsized role that social media is playing in shaping public perceptions. Interviewees shared their recommendations for overcoming the challenges they identified and for making the most of emerging opportunities. Accordingly, this report provides a set of recommendations that could result in better rural-focused journalism.

Picking Up the Pieces: HAC’s Natural Disaster Guide

Picking Up the Pieces - CoverWhen a disaster strikes a rural area, one of the most serious problems may be a lack of information about resources and assistance available for recovery efforts. HAC’s guide, Picking Up the Pieces: Restoring Rural Housing and Communities After a Disaster, is intended to help survivors and local organizations identify resources to rebuild their homes and communities. This report emphasizes housing assistance.

Rental Housing for a 21stCentury Rural America

Rental Housing for a 21st Century Rural America: A Platform for Production

In their new report, Rental Housing for a 21st Century Rural America: A Platform for Production, The Urban Institute examines the issue of maturing mortgages in USDA’s Section 515 rental housing portfolio. This report is a companion piece to HAC’s Platform for Preservation report, the report analyzes the demand for new affordable rental housing in rural places and suggests ways to increase funding and capacity to deliver new units.

Rural America is Losing its Affordable Rental Housing

Native American Mortgages White Paper

Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities for Mortgage Finance in Indian Country

This report, Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities for Mortgage Finance in Indian Country, examines mortgage lending to American Indian and Alaska Natives particularly activity on federally recognized reservation lands (“reservations”). The analysis touches on the historic and social factors that have helped create the constrained mortgage lending environment on reservation lands. In addition to barriers like geographic isolation, economic distress, and mistrust, which are often found in rural areas, these lands have a nonstandard land ownership situation and an extra layer of federal oversight, as well. A review of mortgage lending data for Native American borrowers confirms activity is constrained on reservations. Such activity includes low origination rates, high denial rates, and a high proportion of loans made for manufactured homes.

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Sponsored by The Wells Fargo Housing Foundation.