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.

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.

Native American Creative Placemaking

Native American Creative Placemaking

That “Placemaking was always known to Native Americans” undergirds a new “Native American Creative Placemaking” report from HAC. The report examines a handful of established Native American creative placemaking efforts while offering a first of its kind interactive map of Native American creative placemaking projects. The paper also notes funding sources and emphasizes that placemaking “offers Native people on opportunity to reconnect with their traditional ways of life” as an antidote to injustices including forced assimilation, trauma in boarding schools, and extreme poverty.The paper encourages tribal leaders to establish a voice for Native Nations in placemaking efforts in the United States.

In 2016-2017, HAC took on a National Endowment for the Arts funded creative placemaking partnership with bcWORKSHOP aimed at sharing placemaking resources with HAC’s rural partners across the country.

Sponsored by The Wells Fargo Housing Foundation.

Soldier's Home Cover

Soldier’s Home: A Closer Look at the Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) Home Loan Program

This report provides a descriptive analysis of the VA home loan program between 2005 and 2014. The analysis provides an overview of the VA loan program, its trends, borrowers, and lenders. The findings highlight the growing role of VA loans in home finance markets since the beginning of the Great Recession. VA loans represented approximately 9 percent of all mortgage lending activity in 2014, up from less than 2 percent in 2005. The lenders originated at least one VA loan in 95 percent of all counties during the 2012 to 2014 period.

During this time, refinance loans came to represent a majority of VA lending for three straight years (2012-2014) because of historically low interest rates. VA origination rates are consistently high for minority home purchase loans, when compared to conventional home purchase loans, even as default rates are said to be low, which may, at least in part, reflect the programs’ approach. Private mortgage companies and large volume lenders play a big role in the market, with program lender requirements possibly limiting small lender involvement. As long as the program can adapt to future changes, such as a smaller and more diverse veteran population and an increased importance of internet access, the VA loan products will continue to be a source of high quality, affordable housing finance for many veterans and their families.

Outstanding CRA Institutions Map

Making CRA Work in Rural America: Finding “Outstanding” Financial Institutions

The Housing Assistance Council’s report exploring the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), entitled Making CRA Work in Rural America: Finding “Outstanding” Financial Institutions, takes a closer look at lenders who consistently excel in meeting their CRA obligations. Is this a common phenomenon? Are there things which these lenders have in common? This research begins a discussion about how we can learn from those lenders which already do an outstanding job of providing credit to all of their service areas.

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) requires federally insured lenders to make credit available in all areas where they do significant business or take deposits. The CRA charges federal bank regulators with evaluating depository institutions on a regular basis to ensure they are meeting this obligation.

The overwhelming majority of financial intuitions earned Satisfactory CRA ratings on their most recent CRA examinations. Regulators awarded Outstanding ratings to only 9 percent of lenders. Consistently Outstanding-rated lenders are important because they serve as examples of institutions that continually exceed CRA requirements in serving all portions of their service area. While making up a majority of all FDIC-insured depository institutions, little is known about rural lenders in general and even less about how they fulfill their CRA obligations.

This report looked more closely at the lenders who consistently received Outstanding ratings on their last three examinations. The data show that this is an uncommon occurrence, only 4 percent of lenders are consistently outstanding, and these banks most often large asset, urban headquartered institutions. While the inclusion of distressed and underserved census tracts in lender service areas was associated with being consistently rated outstanding, the analysis found no association with being headquartered in rural areas. Additional research of these lenders is needed to better understand how they are able to successfully serve all communities.

This report is part of HAC’s Three-Part “CRA in Rural America” series.

Aging Veterans in the United States Cover

Aging Veterans in the United States

A snapshot of older veterans and their social, economic, and housing characteristics.

To better understand and inform strategies and policies for America’s aging veterans, the Housing Assistance Council has published Aging Veterans in the United States an analysis of data describing the older veteran population.

The United States is on the cusp of an extensive and far-reaching demographic transformation as the senior population is expected to nearly double by 2050. This is similarly the case for the veteran segment of the population who make up about 9 percent of the U.S. population. A large and growing proportion of this veteran population is composed of those age 55 and over, “older” Americans. As this group grows older, it is important to consider their unique characteristics and issues, which include health problems and physical limitations associated with aging. A rapidly aging population will significantly impact nearly all aspects of the nation’s social, economic, and housing systems.

Outstanding Partnership in CRA

Making CRA Work in Rural America: Partnerships and Opportunities for Rural Community Reinvestment

Little is known about rural community development activity for which lenders earn CRA credit. While anecdotal evidence suggest such projects are uncommon, most rural CRA discussions focus on the need to increase rural activities. HAC’s Making CRA Work in Rural America: Partnerships and Opportunities for Rural Community Investment report serves to increase our knowledge of how CRA can work in rural areas by focusing on four successful rural community development projects.

The case studies in this report explore a preschool expansion in Maine, construction of rental housing for farmworkers in Colorado, construction of low- and moderate income housing in Minnesota, and the donation of a bank branch to a local credit union in Mississippi.

“The CRA will make a good project better, but not a bad project good”
– Greg Hohlen, Bremer Bank

The participants in the case studies identified the following key elements to the success of their projects and making the CRA work for rural areas:

  • Strong relationships between the lenders and the involved organizations,
  • Lender expertise in community lending, and
  • Understanding of alternative funding streams by all involved parties.

While the CRA-related activity was an important part of each case, the underlying fundamentals of the project were sound making these efforts a win-win for the bank and the community.

This report is part of HAC’s Three-Part “CRA in Rural America” series.

Housing an Aging Rural America: Rural Seniors and Their Homes

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Ensuring seniors have access to safe, secure affordable housing in a rapidly aging rural America

The United States is on the cusp of an extensive and far-reaching demographic transformation as the senior population is expected to more than double in the next 40 years. Rural America is “older” than the nation as a whole and more than one-quarter of all seniors live in rural and small town areas, and a rapidly aging population will significantly impact nearly all aspects of the nation’s social, economic, and housing systems. Most seniors wish to remain and age in their homes as long as possible, but rural elders are increasingly experiencing challenges with housing affordability and quality. These challenges point to an underlying gap in housing options and availabilities. With the scope and magnitude of the looming demographic shift of seniors, rural communities will need to develop a range of housing options available to seniors such as more rental housing, rehabilitation and repair programs, housing with services, and assisted living. These options not only enhance the lives of seniors but are fiscally prudent measures that are more cost effective than long-term care options.

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Rural Veterans Resource Guide

The report contains program sheets that describe various programs and initiatives available for veterans as well as eligibility requirements and additional resources for each program. Keywords are provided to better help orient the guide. Each keyword can be found at the back of the report with a list of corresponding programs and their page numbers within the guide. HAC’s Veteran Resource Guide aims to provide insights into how to better utilize available resources. Knowing where to refer veterans to for needed services is critical in ensuring that veterans receive the services that will enable them to remain in safe, secure housing.






A Brief History of Rural Mutual Self-Help Housing in the United States

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been funding mutual self-help housing since the early 1960s. The self-help housing model uses homeowner contributed labor to reduce the costs of their homes. This report provides a historical overview of the USDA program, including a brief narrative summary and detailed tables, updated through Fiscal Year 2013.