Each issue of HAC’s Rural Voices magazine focuses on a single topic important to rural communities, with subjects ranging from housing for older rural residents to the future of housing finance to citizen-led design. Local rural housing professionals from around the country write most of the articles, sharing their expertise, best practices, and even the mistakes they’ve learned from. To hear when a new issue of the magazine is published, sign up for HAC’s email list or watch for announcements in the HAC News and on social media.

Rural Voices: Understanding Your Market

Rural Voices: Demystifying Rural Data: Do You Know Your Market?

It’s been said that oil was the most valuable resource of the 20th Century, but in the 21st Century data is now arguably the most important resource. Quality data and research are increasingly essential to any business, including mission-oriented organizations. Data and information have proliferated due to AI and other resources, but quality data are still often more difficult to access in rural communities.

Data resources are also ever-changing with advances in technology and methodologies almost daily. Rural America is changing too. There are 60.4 million people living in rural America today. Rural communities are more diverse than ever and HAC’s recent Taking Stock report revealed several important trends across rural areas over the past five decades. Understanding demographic, economic, and housing dynamics is essential for communities, local governments, organizations, advocates, and individuals looking to expand their capacities, utilize available resources, and share information with the people they serve.

The ‘Rural Voices’ in this issue include experts, practitioners, policymakers, and community-based organizations across the nation seeking to expand access to quality data and information for rural America. They share tools, processes, and how to manage a rapidly changing information landscape. HAC hopes this issue of Rural Voices can illuminate how access to data, resources, and innovations can better enable solid decisions, strategies, and solutions for rural communities across the nation.

Rural Voices: Understanding Your Market



Everybody Counts
by Robert Santos

The Census Bureau Director shares his insights on the importance of Census data and resources that can assist local communities.


For Good (and Bad), Artificial Intelligence (AI) Is Now a Reality in Housing
by Kristen Klurfield and Emma Waters

5 Ways AI Can Help Boost Housing Supply and Affordability.

Empowering Rural Communities
by Nicole Opfer

The Housing Assistance Council’s Approach to Data Driven Decision Making.

Revitalizing Communities Through Strategic Housing Planning
by Maggie Leftwich & DeWayne Ennis

Two Rural Communities Use Data and Analysis to Inform Housing Strategies and Solutions.

Illuminating Rural and Tribal Lending Landscapes
by Jason Richardson

Insights from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Data.

Using Information on Disaster Risk, Insurance, and Community Planning
by Michael Craig

Each year, thousands of communities across the country experience natural disasters and unpredictable weather.


Download this infographic: PNG | JPG | PDF

Rural Voices - Recovery in Rural America - Cover

Rural Voices: Recovery in Rural America: Housing Helps Address the Substance Use Disorder Crisis

In 2021, 46.3 million people in the U.S. were diagnosed with substance use disorders, including 6.7 million rural residents. From December 2021 to December 2022, approximately 105,000 lives were lost due to the overdose epidemic. Many rural communities and households have been impacted by this epidemic through the loss of loved ones, incarceration, chronic homelessness, mental and behavioral health challenges, and more. In some rural communities, every household has been impacted by substance use disorders.

This issue of Rural Voices highlights innovative approaches to providing housing for residents in recovery with a cross-sector analysis of successful collaborative approaches to addressing the issues associated with substance use disorders.

Rural Voices - Recovery in Rural America - Cover



Let’s Get to Work on Fighting the Housing and Substance Use Crises
by Senator Tina Smith

Minnesota continues to make progress in supporting its rural communities.


Addressing Substance Use in Rural America
by Dave Johnson

The Fletcher Group uses an innovative housing model and ground-breaking research.

Housing Finds its Niche in Supporting SUD Recovery in Kentucky
by Tom Manning-Beavin

Frontier Housing rehabilitates and finances suitable properties to provide safe and stable homes for those in recovery.

The National Alliance for Recovery Residences Standards

NARR provides national standards for effective, safe, and quality recovery residences.

Andy’s Place: Michigan’s First Permanent Recovery Supportive Housing Development
by Bob Beck

Housing has the power to make a difference in addressing the opioid crisis.

Action on the Opioid Epidemic and Rural Affordable Housing
by Alan Morgan

Rural advocates can act on the opioid epidemic and connected housing needs.

Bringing Mental Health Support and Resources to Northeast Oklahoma
by Denise Phelps

GRAND Mental Health offers an array of services for those experiencing homelessness, mental health crisis, and drug/alcohol emergencies.

HAC’s Inaugural Affordable Housing and Recovery Cohort

HAC shares resources and builds the capacity of organizations working to address their communities’ substance use disorder crises.


Download this infographic: PNG | JPG | PDF

Rural Voices would like to hear what you have to say about one, or all, of these issues. Please comment on these stories by sending a tweet to #RuralVoices, discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.

Rural Voices: 50Years of HAC - Cover

Rural Voices: 50 Years of HAC

HAC is celebrating its 50th anniversary! That does not mean we are simply congratulating ourselves for our good work and good fortune. We are glancing fondly backward, to be sure, but mostly we are looking forward. In May 2021 we launched a three-year capital campaign with an ambitious but achievable goal: “All families in rural America have a safe, decent, affordable place to live by 2071.”

This issue of Rural Voices considers the past 50 years while focusing on the next 50. It revisits some of the many rural communities in which HAC has worked, and it features visions of the future from rural places and rural housing leaders around the country.


A Half Century Legislating for a Thriving Rural America
by Senator Patrick Leahy

The Senate President Pro Tempore reflects on his time leading the Senate Appropriations Committee, making a priority of investments in housing programs, and the challenges that remain.


Building on Past Successes for a Bright Future
by David Lipsetz

HAC’s CEO considers what needs to be done in the next 50 years.

Vision2071: What do Rural Communities Need to Succeed?
by Mackenzie Webb

Across the diverse tapestry of rural America, dedicated housing professionals hold an equally diverse set of visions for their communities.

Building an Abundance Mindset for the Rural Future
by Brian Fogle

A Missouri nonprofit offers a new way of thinking to ensure rural growth.

Revisiting Rural Success Stories
by Mackenzie Webb

A safe, healthy, and affordable home has an immediate impact when a senior no longer has to live with mold or a family finally has a home of their own. But, many of the effects reveal themselves over the course of decades. That’s why we are revisiting success stories from the Housing Assistance Council’s 50 years of helping build rural communities. Our homes shape our lives and our communities for generations to come. Decades after they concluded, these projects in Alamosa, Colorado, and Concordia Parish, Louisiana, continue to positively impact their communities—places where HAC still works.


What is Your Vision for 2071?

During the 2021 National Rural Housing Conference, we asked attendees to share their vision for Rural America in 50 years. We would like to know: What is your vision for 2071?



Rural Voices would like to hear what you have to say about one, or all, of these issues. Please comment on these stories by sending a tweet to #RuralVoices, discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.

Creating the New Normal: COVID-19 leaves its mark on Rural America Cover

Rural Voices: COVID-19 leaves its mark on Rural America

Over the past a year and a half, the coronavirus pandemic has profoundly reshaped the world. COVID-19 has killed well over 4.5 million people across the globe, including approximately 96,600 in rural America. It closed down large segments of the economies of nearly every country, including the United States. It changed the way our children attended school. It deepened our political disagreements. And it altered our housing markets, the ways we work, and the needs of the low-income rural people we serve.

This issue of Rural Voices looks at some of the pandemic’s impacts on affordable rural housing efforts in the U.S. It also examines ways these impacts may be turning into lasting changes – a “new normal.”


Listening and Learning to Better Serve Rural Communities
by Steven K. Washington

HUD offers flexibility to help rural nonprofits weather the pandemic.


Rural Housing Efforts Continued Through Closures, Natural Disasters, and Financial Challenges

Four rural housing leaders describe how the pandemic changed the ways their organizations work.

Resilient in the Desert: Self-Help Housing Blooms in Arizona Despite the Pandemic
by Thomas Ryan

Housing America Corporation and its self-help housing program faced a series of challenges but adapted to a new normal.

Study Reveals Pandemic’s Impact on Oregon Farmworkers
by Jennifer Martinez-Medina

Survey results describe the pandemic’s threats to farmworkers’ family finances, housing conditions, and both physical and mental health. Community-based housing and rental aid programs have provided some relief.

Wisconsin Works to House Rural Residents and Eradicate Homelessness
by Carrie Poser and Michael Basford

The pandemic has exacerbated the homelessness situation, but federal aid helps.

Keeping Rural Renters Housed During the Pandemic
by Victoria Bourret, Daniel Threet, And Rebecca Yae

NLIHC presents best practices for ensuring rural tenants receive emergency rental assistance.

New Faces at HAC

We welcomed several new HACsters to the team this year. Their work will improve our ability to serve more rural Americans and bolster HAC’s efforts to support affordable housing in rural communities.


COVID-19 in Rural AmericaCOVID-19 Hot Spots


Rural Voices would like to hear what you have to say about one, or all, of these issues. Please comment on these stories by sending a tweet to #RuralVoices, discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.

Rural Voices: Cultivating Citizen-led Design

Design for the public interest takes on many forms, from Main Street redevelopment to landscape architecture to historic preservation. In all the rural towns HAC has worked with and featured in this issue of Rural Voices, there is also an element of engaging the community to create a shared vision for all town residents. Partnering with local artists to paint a mural or build a coalition for a local creative economy not only brings more beauty into public spaces, it can draw economic investment to the town. Ultimately, local citizens are tapping design to create a sense of place-that’s what creative placemaking is all about.

HAC’s foray into rural design has only solidified our housing work, while broadening the horizons for us and for our partners. Moreover, HAC’s founding documents cite the need for thoughtful design that engages the low-income rural people and communities that we’ve long served. Support from the National Endowment for the Arts makes it possible to carry out this charge.

Cultivating Citizen-led Design (pdf)


Boosting the Rural Creative Economy
by Rep. Chellie Pingree

Congressional Arts Caucus Chair weighs in on what works in her home state – and beyond.


Arts, Placemaking, and Design Help Imagine a Bright Future
by Mary Anne Carter

In an interview with Rural Voices, National Endowment for the Arts’ Chair, Mary Anne Carter offers an overview of rural design’s history and advice on how underserved communities can persevere through difficult times.

Linking Rural Needs with America’s Architects
by Stephen Sugg and Alejandra Hardin

New American Institute of Architects working group helps to elevate rural architecture.

Cheyenne River Youth Project Carries on Creative Placemaking
by Julie Garreau

In an interview with Rural Voices, Julie Garreau of Cheyenne River Youth Project explains how the tribal nonprofit continues to serve its youth through the arts despite challenges caused by the pandemic.

Rural Studio and the Front Porch Initiative: What Good Design Can Afford
by Rusty Smith and Michelle Sidler

A college architectural program in the South describes their innovative approach to making housing affordable to local residents.

Hard Times
by Stephen Sugg and Alejandra Hardin

The rural design community and CIRD look ahead by looking back.



The Rural Design Process

Rural Design (JPG)

Rural Voices would like to hear what you have to say about one, or all, of these issues. Please comment on these stories by sending a tweet to #RuralVoices, discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.


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.

Rural Voices: Hope After Disaster: Rural Resilience and Recovery

Wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and other disasters leave serious damage in their wake and can cause housing crises. No community is immune, but rural areas can experience greater challenges due to a lack of existing disaster recovery infrastructure and fewer local organizations with capacity. Low-income renters, the elderly or those with disabilities and many owners of manufactured homes are disproportionately affected because they lack the financial resources to recover.

This issue of Rural Voices magazine provides perspectives on disaster recovery contributed by entities ranging from local housing organizations to national lenders. They offer resources for affected families, lessons learned and policy solutions. Several of the articles agree that successful disaster recovery requires dedicated financial resources for the affected families and a coordinated effort between the local and federal governments, housing organizations and service providers.


Iowa Flooding Shows Links between Disaster Recovery and Rural Housing
Representative Cindy Axne

Increased capacity and investment can help make disaster recovery successful.


Rural Disasters: Preparedness, Response, Recovery
by Ilene J. Jacobs and Christina Davila

An equitable recovery is possible.

The RAPIDO Model: Disaster Preparation to Improve Disaster Recovery
by Nick Mitchell-Bennett and Omar Hakeem

Texas nonprofit partnership develops innovative disaster recovery model.

Providing Resources and Stability for Disaster Recovery
by Connie Wright

Wells Fargo accelerates recovery for customers with Mobile Response Unit.

Risk Models can Improve Rural Disaster Preparation
by Howard A. Kunst

Wildfire and flooding impacts can be minimized using risk models.

Paradise Lost: Impacts Extend Beyond the Disaster Area
by Karl Ory

A northern California wildfire offers lessons learned.

Driving Change in Disaster Recovery
by Timothy Carpenter

GSE improves program to serve disaster-affected families.


Impacts of Disaster Felt Far and Wide

Impacts of Natural Disasters Felt Far and Wide (PDF) (JPG)

Rural Voices would like to hear what you have to say about one, or all, of these issues. Please comment on these stories by sending a tweet to #RuralVoices, discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.

Rural Voices: Building Capacity for Rural America

Affordable rural housing and stronger rural communities are a longterm endeavor. There are no quick fixes. But there is one constant magic elixir, and it is worthy of ongoing investment: capacity building. That is how local organizations learn skills, tap information, and gain the wherewithal to do what they know needs to be done.

This issue of Rural Voices magazine describes in more detail what it means to build the capacity of rural housing organizations, why it is important, who does it, how it is done, and how it is financed. These stories show that capacity building succeeds. They also show that capacity building is an ongoing process – when an organization masters one set of tasks, it can move on to tackle something different or more complex. Affordable housing development, like life, requires continual learning.


Rural America Will Thrive
Representative Bennie G. Thompson

The Delta’s future depends on a sustained investment in local economies and residents’ well-being.


The U.S. Must Invest in Capacity Building for Affordable Rural Housing
by David Lipsetz

HAC works to empower local entities in rural regions and tribes so they may flourish.

Thinking Nationally, Building Locally
with Suzanne Anarde, Marietta Rodriguez, Terri Ludwig, and Sue Henderson

Rural Voices interviewed four national intermediaries to learn more about how they assist with capacity building needs unique to rural organizations.

Intermediary Support Continues to be Invaluable
by Fannie Brown

Central Mississippi Housing and Development Corporation benefits from intermediary partnerships.

Pillars of Capacity Building Help Improve Texas Colonias Housing
by Jose Alvarez

Building AYUDA’s capacity has empowered them to build the capacity of other local organizations.

A Communitywide Capacity Building Approach is Key

A West Virginia organization works with their community to find solutions to their housing issues.

Learn from Our Experience
by Randall Hrabe

Northwest Kansas Housing offers advice about building capacity.

Rural Voices would like to hear what you have to say about one, or all, of these issues. Please comment on these stories by sending a tweet to #RuralVoices, discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.

Rural Voices: What Broadband Means for Rural America

What Broadband Means for Rural America

The internet has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives, influencing how we learn, work, and communicate. This edition of Rural Voices explores how local rural housing organizations and local governments can help bring broadband to rural America – increasing the potential for innovation, educational opportunity, and economic growth.


Access to High-Speed Broadband Opens New Doors for Rural Communities
Senator Angus King

The federal government has the power and resources to expand rural broadband.


A Change in Mindset Opens a World of New Possibilities
by Dr. Roberto Gallardo

The Digital Age requires a new way to think about how we build communities.

Broadband Makes Rural Communities Stronger
by Dr. Kathleen Annette

Rural communities in Minnesota understand the value of broadband and strive to widen access.

Rural Maryland County Finds Multiple Ways to Expand Broadband
by Cheryl DeBerry

Garrett County becomes a model for connecting its residents to the internet.

Native Americans Create a Connected Future
by Katie Watson

Tribal members help themselves by building infrastructure and serving their communities with tribally run internet access.

Rural Broadband Expansion Creates Opportunities for All

Rural Voices sat down with Brendan Carr, Commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, to learn more about the importance of broadband in rural areas, and how the FCC is working to provide access for more Americans no matter where they live.

What is Washington, DC, Doing About the Rural Digital Divide?
by Allie Bohm

Actions underway at the FCC and in Congress could improve or impede rural broadband access.

Public-Private Partnership Will Build Out Affordable Broadband in Rural America
by Sarah Tyree

The Universal Service Fund supports the deployment of broadband in rural areas where access costs are high.


The Digital Divide in Rural America

The Digital Divide in Rural America The Digital Divide in Rural America

Rural Voices would like to hear what you have to say about one, or all, of these issues. Please comment on these stories by sending a tweet to #RuralVoices, discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.

Rural Voices: Working Toward Access for All

50 Years of the Fair Housing Act

Safe and affordable homes, free of discrimination, should be equally accessible to all. This edition of Rural Voices explores the state of fair housing half a century after the adoption of the Fair Housing Act and includes contributions from a federal agency, national nonprofits, and practitioners in the field.


HUD’s Fair Housing Office: Combating Discrimination
Anna María Farías

In a nation founded on the principles of justice and equality, it is unacceptable for anyone to be denied the housing of their choice.


Working Towards Fair Housing in 2018’s Rural America
by Leslie R. Strauss

Rural fair housing advocates rely on outreach, education, cultural sensitivity, and partnerships to address issues that may not have been evident 50 years ago.

HUD Suspends Implementation of Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule
by Renee Williams

In early 2018 HUD suspended implementation of a regulation put into place in 2015.

Vermont Tackles Fair Housing Along with Housing Affordability
by Ted Wimpey

Vermont’s Fair Housing Project encourages residents and local governments to improve zoning and permitting in order to further fair housing and the development of affordable housing.

Disasters Don’t Discriminate, Recovery Shouldn’t Either
by Maddie Sloan

Disaster recovery must be designed to be fair for all, even if pre-disaster housing situations were not.

Nuisance and Crime-Free Ordinances: The Next Fair Housing Frontier
by Renee Williams and Marie Flannery

Fair housing laws may conflict with local laws and policies that penalize tenants for calling law enforcement or having a history of arrest or conviction.

Fighting Hate with Fair Housing Laws

The recent increase in hate crimes includes housing-related hate activity, which can have criminal or civil remedies.

Fighting Hate in North Dakota
by Michelle Rydz

A statewide coalition supports victims of hate crimes, including crimes that are related to housing.


rv-may-2018-infographicFair Housing in Rural America – By the Numbers

Rural Voices would like to hear what you have to say about one, or all, of these issues. Please comment on these stories by sending a tweet to #RuralVoicesMag, discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.