Registration for Virtual National Rural Housing Conference Coming Soon

A Message from HAC’s President & CEO

We’ve had a remarkable year here at the Housing Assistance Council and look forward to finishing the year in that same fashion with HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference, scheduled to take place virtually on November 30 – December 3, 2021. This year’s virtual format will allow us all to reconnect and gather safely, regardless of location. With an exciting and full schedule of workshops and new virtual gathering spaces, the Conference will offer attendees a premier opportunity to learn from experts and connect with the entire affordable housing industry.

We will host more than 30 workshops and stakeholder convenings—covering topics including best practices for rural housing and community development, resource development, organizational management, and creative placemaking. This conference offers an excellent opportunity to connect with federal agencies, national housing organizations, and on-the-ground practitioners from across rural America. For many, this conference represents the year’s only opportunity to connect directly with federal policymakers, program experts, friends around the affordable housing industry and others who share their interests in a thriving rural America.

Registration opens soon. Be on the lookout for our announcement so you can reserve your place as we gather for HAC’s 2021 National Rural Housing Conference. We look forward to connecting with you this December!

Warm Regards,

David Lipsetz
President & CEO

HAC News: September 16, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 19

TOP STORIES

Fiscal year 2022 will start with a continuing resolution.

Congress has not passed any of the appropriations bills to fund the government for the new fiscal year, which begins on October 1, so a continuing resolution will be needed. Its length has not yet been determined. Information about the appropriations levels proposed for USDA and HUD is posted on HAC’s site.

House bill includes over $5 billion for rural housing.

Substantial funding for USDA and HUD housing programs would be provided in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill now being developed by House committees. The full reconciliation package, which covers social services not included in Congress’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, is expected to pass the House but its fate in the Senate is uncertain.

  • On September 14 the Financial Services Committee passed its portion of the package, which includes funds for new construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of USDA-financed rental properties; Section 521 Rental Assistance; Section 502 direct loans; Section 504 repair grants, and Section 523 self-help housing. Details are posted on HAC’s site.
  • HUD’s Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) would receive an additional $50 million over 10 years.
  • The Agriculture Committee’s section of the package includes $3.87 billion over 10 years for a Rural Partnership Program to support rural development.
  • The Low Income Housing Tax Credit would get an increased allocation each year from 2022 through 2028 under the Ways and Means Committee’s section. Tax credit basis boosts would be provided for some properties, including those in rural or Native American areas. The bill would make several other changes in the program as well.

Census Bureau calculations show aid reduced poverty in 2020.

The Census Bureau’s annual report on income and poverty shows that the official poverty rate rose from 10.4% in 2019 to 11.4% in 2020, the first increase after five consecutive annual declines. When the calculation includes stimulus payments, poverty fell from 11.8% in 2019 to 9.4% in 2020. Using that measurement, poverty in places outside metro areas fell from 11.6% in 2019 to 8.3%. U.S. median household income fell from $69,560 in 2019 to $67,521 in 2020, the first statistically significant decline in median household income since 2011. For places outside metro areas, changes in median income and the official poverty measurement were not statistically significant.

OCC proposes to withdraw CRA regulation.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has issued a notice requesting comment on a proposal to withdraw its controversial 2020 Community Reinvestment Act regulation. The 2020 rule would remain in effect while the banking regulatory agencies develop a new CRA regulation, with a transition period while some aspects of the 2020 rule are replaced. Comments are due October 29. For more information, contact Emily Boyes, OCC, 202-649-5490.

Registration for virtual National Rural Housing Conference coming soon.

HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference is scheduled to take place virtually on November 30-December 3, 2021. With an exciting and full schedule of workshops and new virtual gathering spaces, the conference offers attendees a premier opportunity to learn from experts and connect with the entire affordable housing industry. Be on the lookout for a registration announcement. We look forward to connecting with you this December!

Last chance to nominate individuals or organizations for rural housing awards – deadline extended to Sept. 24!

As part of the 2021 National Rural Housing Conference, HAC will recognize individuals and/or organizations that have, through their continued work and/or newly established initiatives, made a positive and lasting impact in rural America. HAC invites nominations by September 24 of those who have made outstanding and enduring contribution to affordable housing in rural America. This year, HAC will consider each nomination on its own merits, relative to the specified contributions. More details and a list of potential categories are posted on HAC’s site. For more information, contact Miguel Guevara, HAC.

September 15 – October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month.

September is National Preparedness Month.

USDA Rural Development published a guide to RD programs and services that can help with disaster preparedness and recovery, and offers a webpage with information for RD customers.

RuralSTAT

There are nearly 20 million workers in rural America. Source: HAC tabulations of Bureau of Labor Statistics LAUS data.

OPPORTUNITIES

“Scaling down” webinar set for September 28.

HAC presents the second in a series of webinars designed to share innovative solutions for affordable housing developers dealing with escalating prices and implementing additional regulations. “Scaling Down” to Address Rising Costs will share pilot programs to reduce square footage and overall costs while increasing energy efficiency, including partnerships with Auburn University Rural Studio to design small, energy-efficient affordable homes.

Webinars offer training to help residents enroll in Child Tax Credit program.

Free webinars to inform housing and service providers who are helping residents claim the enhanced Child Tax Credit will be offered by the National Housing and Rehabilitation Association on September 24; by HUD on September 24; and by the White House and Treasury Department on September 20.

Survey asks for lessons learned since 2008.

The NHP Foundation, in collaboration with Enterprise Community Partners, invites affordable housing stakeholders to respond to a survey intended to produce a comprehensive look at what has been learned as a result of housing challenges from the Great Recession through the pandemic. The survey should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

HAC seeks Community Facilities Housing Specialist.

The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This includes helping them identify, utilize, and apply for financial resources such as USDA Community Facilities grants and loans. This is a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Input requested on Equitable Housing Finance Plans for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is requiring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to develop Equitable Housing Finance Plans that will identify and address barriers to sustainable housing opportunities, including goals and action plans to advance equity in housing finance for the next three years. Public comments are due October 25 and FHFA will hold a public listening session​ on September 28.

HUD sets requirements for American Rescue Plan Act’s HOME funds.

Notice CPD-21-10 establishes requirements for the use of HOME-ARP funds, which must primarily benefit people experiencing homelessness, at risk of homelessness, or in other vulnerable populations. Several waivers and alternative requirements apply. The setaside for Community Housing Development Organizations is waived, but participating jurisdictions can use up to 5% of their grants to provide capacity-building operating assistance to CHDOs and other nonprofits. HUD also published several fact sheets related to this notice.

FY22 Difficult Development Areas and Qualified Census Tracts listed.

HUD’s annual lists of designations for use in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program have been posted online. For more information, contact Michael K. Hollar, HUD, 202-402-5878.

FEMA widens disaster aid access, including for homeowners without standard titles.

Several changes to FEMA policies are intended to reduce underserved populations’ access to disaster aid. The agency broadened the list of documents that can be used to verify occupancy and ownership. It will allow disaster survivors with heirship properties, travel trailers, and the like to self-certify ownership. Also, assistance will be available for disaster-caused damages even if they did not make a home uninhabitable, and survivors who incur disaster-related disabilities will be eligible for aid to adapt their damaged homes.

Hazard mitigation regulations revised.

FEMA has revised its Hazard Mitigation Assistance and mitigation planning regulations to reflect current statutory authority and agency practice. These regulations cover the Flood Mitigation Assistance grant program, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, financial assistance for property acquisition and relocation of open space, and mitigation planning. For more information, contact Katherine Fox, FEMA, 202-646-1046.

USDA requests comments on broadband rules changes.

USDA’s Rural Utilities Service adopted regulatory changes to implement provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill relating to broadband programs, effective immediately. Comments are due November 9. For more information, contact Laurel Leverrier, RUS, 202-720-9556.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

News consortium plans to expand coverage of rural America.

The Institute for Nonprofit News hopes to uncover the most pressing issues confronting rural communities, with a focus on solutions. Over 50 INN news outlets prioritize coverage of rural communities and will form the basis of this two-year collaboration. The Daily Yonder and Investigate Midwest will serve as hubs for the project. For more information, contact INN.

USDA Community Facilities programs may have reduced pandemic’s impact.

Counties where USDA’s CF programs invested in health care facilities between 2016 and 2020 had lower COVID-19 case and death rates than other counties, regardless of rurality or poverty level, according to USDA’s Community Facilities Program May Help Rural America Cope with COVID-19, published in the magazine of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association. The impact was strongest in remote counties.

Documentaries focusing on rural environmental justice to be shown across five states.

Working Films Rural Cinema, in collaboration with five nonprofit organizations across the country, is showing a total of 20 documentaries in rural communities in Georgia, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Utah.  These organizations intend to use the showings as a way to open a discussion about environmental topics.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides 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, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. 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).

Policy News from Congress

Updated Sept. 14 – Rural Rental Housing and Repairs for Homeowners Included in Draft Bill

UPDATE September 14, 2021 – More rural housing funding has been added to the House Financial Services Committee’s portion of the reconciliation package. It now includes:

  • $4.36 billion for new construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of Section 515 rental housing and Section 514/516 farmworker housing;
  • $200 million for Section 521 Rental Assistance;
  • $70 million in budget authority for Section 502 direct homeownership loans (estimated to support loans totaling about $3.7 billion);
  • $95 million for Section 504 repair grants; and
  • $25 million for Section 523 self-help.

The bill sets no time limits for spending most of these funds, although the Rental Assistance money would expire on September 30, 2024.

Funding for HUD’s Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) was also added when the draft was revised. An additional $50 million would be available for SHOP over 10 years. As noted below, the bill provides substantial new funding for numerous HUD programs.

The Financial Services Committee began its consideration of the bill on September 13 and is continuing on September 14. The markup session will also consider a bill to reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA), which would establish a new annual 5 percent setaside for tribes under USDA’s Section 502, 504, 515, 533, and 538 programs, as well as the Rural Utilities Service programs.

The Financial Service Committee’s portion of the reconciliation bill will be combined with pieces from other committees to create the full $3.5 trillion package. The House is expected to approve it. Then it will be considered in the Senate, where it needs only a majority vote to pass, but it is not yet clear whether enough Senators will vote for it.

 

September 9, 2021 – Congress’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation package includes $5 billion for USDA’s rural rental housing programs and $100 million for repairs to rural owner-occupied homes. The House Financial Services Committee released legislative text on September 9, providing details that were not previously available.

The $5 billion rural rental total would be used for new construction of Section 515 rental housing and 514/516 farmworker housing, and for preserving existing properties through the Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization program.

USDA’s Section 504 grant program, which covers the costs of health and safety repairs to owner-occupied homes in rural areas, would receive $100 million. These grants are usually available only to homeowners age 62 or older, but that age restriction would be waived for this pool of funds. The requirement that homeowners have very low incomes would remain in place.

The bill would also provide significant funding for numerous HUD programs including $35 billion for HOME and $8.5 billion for Community Development Block Grants. The colonias on the U.S.-Mexico border would receive a $1 billion setaside of CDBG funds.

The  Financial Services Committee will mark up this bill on September 13. (At the same session the committee will also consider two other bills, one to assist renters in the wake of the Supreme Court’s invalidation of the federal eviction moratorium, and one to reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act.)

All funds appropriated through the reconciliation bill would be in addition to the usual annual funding for these programs. Congress has not completed work on USDA’s or HUD’s annual appropriations for fiscal year 2022, which begins on October 1, 2021. The year is likely to begin with a continuing resolution holding programs at their FY21 levels.

HAC News: September 2, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 18

TOP STORIES

Supreme Court invalidates eviction moratorium.

The Centers for Disease Control did not have sufficient authority to issue its August 3 eviction moratorium, the Supreme Court ruled on August 26. The court held that the administration cannot impose another moratorium on tenant evictions unless Congress specifically authorizes it. HAC expressed concern about the decision’s impact on rural residents, given that the pandemic and the unprecedented job loss it caused have exacerbated longstanding rural housing challenges. Some state and local eviction limitations remain in place. Resources for tenants, landlords, and homeowners are collected on HAC’s site.

Agencies take steps to assist renters.

Federal agencies have instituted new flexibilities and issued reminders to help tenants who have fallen behind on rent and utilities payments.

  • USDA will work with its multifamily property owners to mitigate evictions. USDA also announced permission for owners to access reserves for operating shortfalls while waiting to receive Emergency Rental Assistance, financial incentives to property management agents that tap ERA to clear arrearages, and increased support from USDA field staff.
  • The Treasury Department issued revised FAQs and an announcement about policy changes intended to help state and local governments and their partners to distribute Emergency Rental Assistance funds.
  • “Shallow Subsidy” rental assistance funds for veteran households are now available nationwide from VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families program.
  • HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Attorney General Merrick Garland encouraged states and localities to act, including imposing eviction moratoriums and connecting eviction proceedings to rent aid applications.

Administration efforts to provide more affordable housing announced.

On September 1, the Biden administration announced a series of actions it intends to take to increase the supply of affordable homes for renters and owners. The provisions include raising the caps on Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit investments and requiring a larger portion of those LIHTC investments be targeted to rural places; increasing financing for CDFIs; emphasizing sale of foreclosed single-family homes to families and nonprofits; and increasing state housing finance agencies’ ability to finance affordable rental housing by restarting the Federal Financing Bank’s support of FHA’s Risk-Sharing Program. The administration also asked state and local governments to remove regulatory barriers.

Budget resolution and infrastructure bill move in House.

The House passed the $3.5 trillion budget resolution on August 24. Next, committees in both the House and the Senate will draft legislative language, including specific amounts for specific programs. The House also moved forward on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, scheduling a vote for September 27. Annual appropriations bills for FY22, which begins on October 1, 2021, have not advanced; Congress will need to adopt a continuing resolution to keep the government functioning beyond September.

Save the date! 2021 National Rural Housing Conference scheduled.

HAC is pleased to announce plans to convene its 2021 National Rural Housing Conference and Training! The conference provides an excellent opportunity to network and improve connections to federal agencies, national intermediary organizations, and other stakeholders. The HAC News will announce when registration opens.

Nominate individuals or organizations for rural housing awards.

As part of the 2021 National Rural Housing Conference, HAC will recognize individuals and/or organizations that have, through their continued work and or newly established initiatives, made a positive and lasting impact in rural America. HAC invites nominations by September 17 of those who have made outstanding and enduring contribution to affordable housing in rural America. This year, HAC will consider each nomination on its own merits, relative to the specified contributions. More details and a list of potential categories are posted on HAC’s site. For more information, contact Miguel Guevara, HAC.

RuralSTAT

Between August 1 and August 31, communities outside of metropolitan areas reported nearly 700,000 new cases of COVID-19 – a 291% increase over the previous 30-day period. Source: HAC tabulations of public health data from the New York Times. A Rural Research Note updating the COVID-19 situation in rural America is available on HAC’s site.

 

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD offers funds for Native American housing.

  • The Indian Housing Block Grant competitive program helps tribes and Tribally Designated Housing Entities maintain, develop, and operate affordable housing. The deadline is December 1. For more information, contact HUD staff.
  • The Indian Community Development Block Grant program will finance tribes to develop community facilities, carry out public works projects, and provide economic development assistance. Apply by October 25. For more information, contact HUD staff.
  • HUD will accept applications for ICDBG funds appropriated by the American Rescue Plan Act in accordance with HUD Notice PIH-2021-22. For more information, contact HUD staff.

Webinar planned on rural community engagement.

CIRD: Models and Practices for Meaningful Community Engagement, scheduled for September 15, will ask what meaningful community engagement work looks like for rural communities. The webinar, sponsored by the Citizens’ Institute for Rural Design, will give participants a chance to share engagement strategies and learn new ways to strengthen community engaged design work. It will also cover engagement in the context of COVID-19 and building greater inclusivity with community members whose identities differ from our own.

HAC seeks Community Facilities Housing Specialist.

The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This includes helping them identify, utilize, and apply for financial resources such as USDA Community Facilities grants and loans. This is a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

“Public charge” comments sought.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is revising the regulation that bars immigrants considered likely to become “public charges” because of their use of government assistance. Comments are due October 22. USCIS will hold virtual listening sessions on September 14 (for the general public) and October 5 (for state, local, and tribal governments and nonprofits). For more information, contact Andrew Parker, USCIS, 240-721-3000.

Reimbursement for non-congregate shelters extended.

FEMA will provide 100% reimbursement for some emergency measures taken through December 31, 2021 by state, local, and tribal governments and nonprofits to protect against immediate threats to life, public health, or property. During the coronavirus disaster, this category includes non-congregate sheltering of people experiencing homelessness.

Input requested on federal homelessness plan.

The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness seeks public comments as it creates a new Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. USICH invites feedback from anyone, particularly people who have experienced or are currently experiencing homelessness; people who serve the LGBT, BIPOC, or veteran communities; and people whose work involves the justice system.

HAC agrees with HUD fair housing rule.

HAC has submitted a comment letter supporting HUD’s proposed cancellation of a fair housing regulation issued by the Trump administration in September 2020. This rule governs fair housing violation claims based on policies or actions with “disparate impacts” on categories of people protected by the Fair Housing Act.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

HAC offers information for survivors of Hurricane Ida and TN floods.

Disaster guides for areas hit by Hurricane Ida and for places in middle Tennessee that flooded on August 21 are posted on HAC’s website.

CDBG-CV Rural Economic Development Quick Guide published.

A new guide from HUD is intended to help states and rural places use Community Development Block Grant CARES Act (CDBG-CV) funding to support the local economic development infrastructure needed for pandemic recovery. The guide covers the economic development needs of rural communities, best practices, and duplication of benefits.

Housing helps Navajo Nation deal with pandemic.

For Navajo, Crowded Homes Have Always Been a Lifeline. The Pandemic Threatens That, an interactive video published by the Washington Post, illustrates both pre-pandemic housing inadequacies on the Navajo Nation and the cultural importance of multi-generational living. About 300 tiny homes have been built near existing residences to allow family members to isolate as necessary.

As federal pandemic relief ends, rural food insecurity is expected to rise.

The Daily Yonder reports in Experts: Food Insecurity in Rural Areas Likely to Increase in Months to Come that as federal benefits such as unemployment assistance expire in September, food insecurity will probably increase. Previous studies have indicated that rural areas have higher rates of food insecurity than the rest of the country.

Rural news providers try to bridge the information divide.

Nieman Reports provides an overview of six rural-based news outlets, including the Daily Yonder, Southerly, the News Reporter, High Country News, Ohio Valley ReSource, and Mountain State Spotlight. These outlets aim to provide culturally competent news that is important to local audiences.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides 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, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. 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).

Hurricane Ida Information

Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana, as a Category 4 storm in the early morning of August 29, 2021. More than 1 million customers are experiencing power outages. Ida was downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved northeast, but it has caused major flooding in New York and New Jersey, where the governors have declared emergencies. Central Park received a record breaking three inches of water in one hour. HAC offers the following guide as a source of information for individuals and families dealing with direct housing loss and damage from the storm. For more information, please see HAC’s report: Picking up the Pieces: Restoring Rural Housing and Communities After a Disaster and Disaster Response for Rural Communities Guide.

If your house is inaccessible or currently uninhabitable, emergency, transient housing will likely be made available to provide immediate shelter for those in need. Organizations and resources available to assist with emergency transient housing in previous similar disasters include the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Church World Service, Mennonite Disaster Service, and state- and city-run emergency shelters aimed at housing victims of Hurricane. If you are in need of emergency, transient housing, you can text SHELTER and your Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find where the shelter closest to you is located.

FEMA makes available temporary assistance funding available for residents of counties affected by hurricanes. Temporary assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. To see if you are eligible for funding, you can apply online at https://www.disasterassistance.gov/ or call FEMA’s toll-free helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA(3362). When applying, make sure to have a pen and paper as well as the following information: your social security number, current and pre-disaster address, a telephone number where you can be contacted, insurance information, total household income, a routing and account number from your bank if you are interested in having disaster assistance funds transferred directly into your bank account, and a description of your losses that were caused by the disaster.

Tips

Please keep in mind the following safety protocols for hurricanes and flooding:

  • Only call 911 if you have an immediate need for medical attention or evacuation assistance.
  • If you can’t get through to 911 on first try, keep calling.
  • DO NOT DRIVE through high water and DO NOT DRIVE AROUND BARRICADES! Just 2 feet of water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • DO NOT WALK through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down. 4
  • If your home floods, STAY THERE. You are safer at home than trying to navigate flooded streets on foot.
  • If floodwaters rise around your car but the water is NOT MOVING, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car and enter MOVING water.
  • STAY AWAY from streams, rivers, and creeks during heavy rainfall. These areas can flood quickly and with little warning.
  • MOVE important items – especially important documents like insurance policies – to the highest possible floor. This will help protect them from flood damage.
  • DISCONNECT electrical appliances and do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. You could be electrocuted.

This flooding event is a reminder that all residents in this area should carry flood insurance. Contact your insurance agent for more information about purchasing flood insurance or visit the National Flood Insurance Program at www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program or call 1-888-379-9531. Please keep in mind that new insurance policies take 30 days to go into effect.

If your home has experienced damage, remember to check the outside of your home before you enter. Look for loose power lines, broken or damaged gas lines, foundations cracks, missing support beams, or other damage. It may be safest to ask a building inspector of contractor to check the structure before you enter. Do not force jammed doors open, as they may be providing needed support to the rest of the home. Sniff for gas to ensure there are no natural or propane gas leaks. If you do have a propane tank system, make sure to turn off all valves and contact a propane supplier to check the system before you use it again. Check floors and ceilings to ensure they are not sagging from water damage. This can be especially hazardous. Take photographs of any damage as you may need them for insurance claims or FEMA claims later on.

Resources

Apply for FEMA Assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. FEMA Disaster Assistance Helpline answers questions about the help offered by FEMA, how to apply for assistance, or the information in your account.

Toll-free helpline: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362)
For hearing impaired callers only:
1-800-462-7585 (TTY)
1-800-621-3362 (Video Relay Service)
Operators are multilingual and calls are answered seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET

American Red Cross Disaster Service: For referrals and updates on Red Cross shelter services in your area, locate a local Red Cross office through: https://www.redcross.org/find-help or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767)
The Red Cross helps disaster victims by providing safe shelter, hot meals, essential relief supplies, emotional support and health services like first aid. Trained Red Cross workers often meet one-on-one with families to develop individual plans and identify available resources to help aid recovery.

STATE HOUSING AGENCIES

Louisiana
Louisiana Housing Corporation
2415 Quail Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
Phone: (225) 763-8700
Fax: (225) 763-8710
https://www.lhc.la.gov

Mississippi
Mississippi Home Corporation
735 Riverside Drive
Jackson, MS 39202-1166
Phone: (601) 718-4642
Fax: (601) 718-4643
https://www.mshomecorp.com

New Jersey
New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency
637 S Clinton Avenue
Trenton, NJ 08611-1811
Phone: (609) 278-7400
Fax: (609) 278-1754
https://www.njhousing.gov

New York
New York State Homes and Community Renewal
641 Lexington Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10022-4503
Phone: (212) 688-4000
Fax: (212) 872-0789
http://www.nyshcr.org

DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT STATE FIELD OFFICES

Louisiana
Hale Boggs Federal Building
500 Poydras Street
9th Floor
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 671-3001
Director: Tammy Fowler

Mississippi
Dr. A. H. McCoy Federal Building
100 West Capitol Street
Room 910
Jackson, MS 39269-1096
Phone: (601) 965-4757
Director: Jerrie G. Magruder

New Jersey
Newark Field Office
One Newark Center
1085 Raymond Boulevard
13th Floor
Newark, NJ 07102-5260
Phone: (973) 622-7900
Director: Justin Sheid

New York
Jacob K. Javits Federal Building
26 Federal Plaza
Suite 3541
New York, NY 10278-0068
Phone: (212) 264-8000
Director: Vacant

USDA RURAL DEVELOPMENT STATE OFFICES

Louisiana
Diana Smith, Acting State Director
3727 Government Street
Alexandria, LA 71302
Voice: (318) 473-7920
Fax: (844) 325-6949
www.rd.usda.gov/la

Mississippi
Douglas Simons, Acting State Director
Federal Building, Suite 831
100 West Capitol Street
Jackson, MS 39269
Voice: (601) 965-4316
Fax: (601) 965-4088
www.rd.usda.gov/ms

New Jersey
Brandon R. Pfeilmeier, Acting State Director
521 Fellowship Road, Suite 130
Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054
Voice: (856) 787-7700
Fax: (855) 305-7343
www.rd.usda.gov/nj

New York
Brian Murray, Acting State Director
The Galleries of Syracuse
441 South Salina Street, Suite 357
Syracuse, NY 13202-2541
Voice: (315) 477-6400
Fax: (315) 477-6438
www.rd.usda.gov/ny

STATE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCIES

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency
Voice 601-933-MEMA
24 hour emergency line: 1-800-222-MEMA(6362)
https://www.msema.org/

Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
7667 Independence Boulevard
Baton Rouge, LA 70806
Voice: (225) 925-7500
Fax: (225) 925-7501
http://gohsep.la.gov/

New Jersey Office of Emergency Management
http://www.ready.nj.gov/

New York Homeland Security and  Emergency Services
http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/

Rural America Now Has More Than 5 Million Reported Cases and Over 100,000 Deaths from Covid-19

Rural America Now Has More Than 5 Million Reported Cases and Over 100,000 Deaths from Covid-19

COVID-19 in Rural America – September 1, 2021

As of August 31, there have been more than 5.6 million reported cases of COVID-19, and approximately 101,741 associated deaths in communities outside metropolitan areas. Between August 1 and August 31, communities outside of metropolitan areas reported nearly 700,000 new cases of COVID-19 – a 291 percent increase over the previous 30-day period. There were 5,122 reported deaths associated with COVID-19 in rural communities in August, which represented a 254 percent increase in deaths from July 2021. Communities outside of metropolitan areas accounted for over 19 percent of all COVID deaths and 16 percent of new cases in August. The dramatic increase in rural cases and deaths mimics national trends related to the ascendancy of the more contagious delta variant.

Policy News from the Administration

HAC’s Statement on the End of the CDC’s Eviction Moratorium

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is concerned by the Supreme Court’s decision ending the national eviction moratorium. Without federal protection, hundreds of thousands of families now face the threat of eviction. Across America, many of these families will lose their homes.

“This pandemic and the unprecedented job loss it caused have exacerbated the housing challenges that rural communities have faced for a long time,” stated HAC CEO David Lipsetz. Millions of tenants, homeowners, and landlords across the country have fallen behind on rent and mortgage payments. Rural residents including Native Americans and farmworkers are among the Americans hardest hit by the pandemic and its housing impacts.

The end of the eviction moratorium is particularly troubling because housing loss poses serious dangers for renters’ health, as well as their finances. Eviction increases the risk of COVID-19 transmission and falls hardest on people of color, who are most likely to be evicted. Plus, renters with eviction records find it much harder to rent decent housing in the future since landlords often screen applicants with prior evictions.

Assistance to help cover rent, utilities, mortgages, and other costs is available from the federal government, states, and county or city governments. HAC has compiled links to resources for tenants, homeowners, and landlords on our website: ruralhome.org.

HAC works to ensure that everyone has a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home. We will continue to serve rural communities with dedication and compassion, just as we have for the last 50 years.

Coronavirus news

Help for Renters, Homeowners, and Landlords as Federal Protections Expire

If the coronavirus pandemic has impacted your finances so that you can’t keep up on your rent, utilities, or mortgage payments – or if you are trying to help someone in this situation – this page is for you. It lists resources where you can get advice, information about financial assistance, and more.

Updated August 27, 2021 – On August 26, the Supreme Court invalidated the Centers for Disease Control’s moratorium on evictions. State or local moratoriums are still in effect in some places

Help paying your rent

Search for rent and utilities help in this list of over 480 programs across the United States run by states, counties, and cities. The list is also available on this site from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, including notes about which programs are currently taking applications.

If you can’t access either of these lists online, call HUD at 1-800-569-4287 to find a housing counseling agency near you. Then call the housing counseling agency for help finding rent assistance.

Other information for renters

This step-by-step guide for people at risk of eviction was prepared by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Some state and local governments have protected residents against eviction. This summary of state and local eviction protections is offered by a legal assistance site, which warns the information can change quickly.

Information about the kinds of help available for renters and advice about what you can do to protect yourself is posted here by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Legal advice

Legal Aid offices can provide free legal assistance to people with low incomes. To find a Legal Aid office, search on this site.

Housing counseling

HUD sponsors housing counseling agencies throughout the country that can provide free advice on renting, defaults, foreclosures, credit issues, and buying a home. Services from HUD-certified housing counseling agencies provide unbiased and free information. To find a HUD-certified agency in your area, search this site or call HUD at 1-800-569-4287.

Help for homeowners

Information for homeowners is collected on this website.

If you have a mortgage from one of the programs in the list below, the lender can foreclose on you because foreclosure moratoriums ended on July 31. But they cannot evict you – moratoriums on evictions of homeowners were extended through September 30.

Information about mortgage forbearance (delayed payments) and other options for homeowners is available from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Information for homeowners with VA mortgages

Information about assistance to help veterans avoid eviction is provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

New Protections for Homeowners with VA Mortgages, Effective July 27 is an article from the National Consumer Law Center.

Information for owners of rental property

If you need help because your tenants can’t pay rent, advice and resources are posted on this site by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

If your mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (check here and here to find out), contact the bank you send mortgage payments to and request a temporary delay in making payments.

More information on housing assistance

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has compiled this website with links to many different kinds of housing help.

Middle Tennessee Flooding Disaster Guide

On August 21, 2021, record-breaking rain (17 inches in 24 hours) caused major flooding in Middle Tennessee and at least 22 fatalities in Humphreys County. Roads, telephone lines, cars, and home foundations were washed away. HAC offers the following guide as a source of information for individuals and families dealing with direct housing loss and damage from the storm. For more information, please see HAC’s report: Picking up the Pieces: Restoring Rural Housing and Communities After a Disaster and Disaster Response for Rural Communities Guide.

If your house is inaccessible or currently uninhabitable, emergency, transient housing will likely be made available to provide immediate shelter for those in need. Organizations and resources available to assist with emergency transient housing in previous similar disasters include the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Church World Service, Mennonite Disaster Service, and state- and city-run emergency shelters. If you are in need of emergency, transient housing, you can text SHELTER and your Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find where the shelter closest to you is located.

FEMA makes available temporary assistance funding available for residents of counties affected by natural disasters. Temporary assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. To see if you are eligible for funding, you can apply online at https://www.disasterassistance.gov/ or call FEMA’s toll-free helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA(3362). When applying, make sure to have a pen and paper as well as the following information: your social security number, current and pre-disaster address, a telephone number where you can be contacted, insurance information, total household income, a routing and account number from your bank if you are interested in having disaster assistance funds transferred directly into your bank account, and a description of your losses that were caused by the disaster.

Tips

Please keep in mind the following safety protocols for flooding:

  • Only call 911 if you have an immediate need for medical attention or evacuation assistance.
  • If you can’t get through to 911 on first try, keep calling.
  • DO NOT DRIVE through high water and DO NOT DRIVE AROUND BARRICADES! Just 2 feet of water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • DO NOT WALK through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down. 4
  • If your home floods, STAY THERE. You are safer at home than trying to navigate flooded streets on foot.
  • If floodwaters rise around your car but the water is NOT MOVING, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car and enter MOVING water.
  • STAY AWAY from streams, rivers, and creeks during heavy rainfall. These areas can flood quickly and with little warning.
  • MOVE important items – especially important documents like insurance policies – to the highest possible floor. This will help protect them from flood damage.
  • DISCONNECT electrical appliances and do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. You could be electrocuted.

This flooding event is a reminder that all residents in this area should carry flood insurance. Contact your insurance agent for more information about purchasing flood insurance or visit the National Flood Insurance Program at www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program or call 1-888-379-9531. Please keep in mind that new insurance policies take 30 days to go into effect.

If your home has experienced damage, remember to check the outside of your home before you enter. Look for loose power lines, broken or damaged gas lines, foundations cracks, missing support beams, or other damage. It may be safest to ask a building inspector of contractor to check the structure before you enter. Do not force jammed doors open, as they may be providing needed support to the rest of the home. Sniff for gas to ensure there are no natural or propane gas leaks. If you do have a propane tank system, make sure to turn off all valves and contact a propane supplier to check the system before you use it again. Check floors and ceilings to ensure they are not sagging from water damage. This can be especially hazardous. Take photographs of any damage as you may need them for insurance claims or FEMA claims later on.

Resources

Apply for FEMA Assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. FEMA Disaster Assistance Helpline answers questions about the help offered by FEMA, how to apply for assistance, or the information in your account.

Toll-free helpline: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362)
For hearing impaired callers only:
1-800-462-7585 (TTY)
1-800-621-3362 (Video Relay Service)
Operators are multilingual and calls are answered seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET

American Red Cross Disaster Service: For referrals and updates on Red Cross shelter services in your area, locate a local Red Cross office through: https://www.redcross.org/find-help or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767)
The Red Cross helps disaster victims by providing safe shelter, hot meals, essential relief supplies, emotional support and health services like first aid. Trained Red Cross workers often meet one-on-one with families to develop individual plans and identify available resources to help aid recovery.

STATE HOUSING AGENCIES

Tennessee
Tennessee Housing Development Agency
502 Deaderick Street, Third Floor
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 815-2200
Fax: (615) 564-2700
https://www.thda.org

DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT STATE FIELD OFFICES

Tennessee
John J. Duncan Federal Building
710 Locust Street, SW 3rd Floor
Knoxville, TN 37902-2526
Phone: (865) 545-4370

Nashville Field Office
235 Cumberland Bend
Suite 200
Nashville, TN 37228-1803
Phone: (615) 515-8510
Director: Sernorma L. Mitchell

USDA RURAL DEVELOPMENT STATE OFFICES

Tennessee
Jim Tracy, State Director
441 Donelson Pike, Suite 310
Nashville, TN  37214
Voice: (615) 783-1300
Fax: (855) 776-7057
www.rd.usda.gov/tn

STATE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCIES

Region 4 (Mississippi and Tennessee)
Federal Emergency Management Agency
3003 Chamblee Tucker Road
Atlanta, GA 30341
Main Number: 770-220-5200
Fax Number: 770-220-5230

 

HAC News: August 19, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 17

TOP STORIES

Senate passes budget resolution and infrastructure bill.

On August 11, the Senate narrowly approved S.Con.Res. 14, the budget resolution that will serve as a vehicle for the $3.5 trillion economic recovery package. The resolution includes billions of dollars for housing programs, although details are not yet available. The bipartisan infrastructure bill, H.R. 3684, passed the Senate on August 10. The House is scheduled to return on August 23 to take up one or both of these measures, as well as a voting rights bill.

New eviction moratorium challenged in court.

A legal challenge to the moratorium issued August 3 by the Centers for Disease Control was filed by the Alabama and Georgia Associations of Realtors®, the plaintiffs that took a previous challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court. On August 13, the federal district court declined to halt implementation of the moratorium. The plaintiffs have appealed that decision. In a separate case, on August 12 the Supreme Court struck down a part of New York state’s eviction moratorium that protected tenants from eviction if they certified they were experiencing economic hardship, but did not provide a way for landlords to challenge those self-certifications.

Population growth in rural America was small – and uneven – between 2010 and 2020.

Using Census 2010 and 2020 data, combined with methodology from HAC’s Rural and Small-Town definition of location, HAC estimates that the rural population increased by approximately 164,000 residents over the last decade, a 0.3% growth rate. Overall, HAC estimates that approximately 60,551,165 people live in rural communities using the latest Census data. A HAC Rural Research Note analyzes recently released 2020 Census data and includes an interactive map showing population change for every county.

Committee sends Torres Small nomination to the full Senate.

After a July 29 hearing, on August 10 the Senate Agriculture Committee voted to approve the nomination of Xochitl Torres Small to become USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development. A vote by the full Senate is now the final step needed for her confirmation.

Save the date! 2021 National Rural Housing Conference scheduled.

The Housing Assistance Council is pleased to announce plans to convene its 2021 National Rural Housing Conference and Training! The conference provides an excellent opportunity to network and improve connections to federal agencies, national intermediary organizations, and other stakeholders. The HAC News will announce when registration opens.

RuralSTAT

Rural and small-town places in the U.S. experienced only 0.3% population growth from 2010 to 2020, while suburbs and exurbs grew by 11.8%. Source: HAC tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 and 2020 Census of Population and Housing. A Rural Research Note on population growth over the past decade is available on HAC’s site.

OPPORTUNITIES

Emergency Rural Health Care Program offers grants.

Sub-state level governments, nonprofits, and tribes can apply to assist places with up to 20,000 population through the new Emergency Rural Health Care program. Track One will make recovery grants to support immediate financial relief needs. Track Two will provide impact grants to advance ideas and solutions to support the long-term sustainability of rural health care. The deadline for both is October 12. For more information, contact Jamie Davenport, USDA, 202-720-0002.

HAC seeks Community Facilities Housing Specialist.

The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This includes helping them identify, utilize, and apply for financial resources such as USDA Community Facilities grants and loans. This is a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

CORONAVIRUS

Online tool helps tenants use CDC eviction moratorium.

A2J Tech, which describes itself as a social enterprise that builds technology to improve access to justice, offers a free tool for renters to make sure they are eligible for protection under the CDC moratorium and then prepare the declaration they must give to their landlord.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

HUD and FHFA to work together on fair housing and fair lending.

On August 12, HUD and the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced a new memorandum of understanding regarding fair housing and fair lending enforcement. The agencies say the MOU promotes information sharing, coordination on investigations, compliance reviews, and the ongoing monitoring of the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks.

Housing goals proposed for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has proposed goals for Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s purchases of mortgages for low-income and minority owners and renters in 2022-2024. Comments will be due 60 days after the goals are published in the Federal Register. For more information, contact Ted Wartell, FHFA, 202-649-3157.

Fannie Mae will consider rental payments by homebuyers.

Lenders that work with Fannie Mae will be permitted to take positive rental payment histories into account when underwriting first-time mortgage applications. Fannie Mae predicts that allowing homebuyers to demonstrate their credit history this way will enable more people of color to qualify for mortgages.

2021 compliance supplement for audits released.

The 2021 Compliance Supplement to OMB’s Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements applies to audits of fiscal years beginning after June 30, 2020 for nonprofits, state and local governments and tribes receiving federal funds. Comments are due August 30. For more information, contact the relevant federal agency.

OMB recommends steps for federal agencies to advance racial equity.

Study to Identify Methods to Assess Equity: Report to the President, published by the Office of Management and Budget, responds to a provision in President Biden’s Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, which requested recommendations on ways to expand equity assessment in federal agencies. OMB found that equity assessment is still evolving, though a broad range of frameworks and tools have been developed. It suggested expanding opportunities for meaningful stakeholder engagement and instituting long-term change management. Agencies will need to include equity initiatives in their strategic, administrative, budget, and evaluation plans, the report says, and to make key investments in hiring and ongoing workforce training.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Case studies describe hotel/motel conversions to housing.

During the pandemic, numerous states and localities have acquired hotels and motels and rapidly converted them into permanent housing. A set of case studies by the Alliance to End Homelessness describes several such efforts, including statewide programs in Oregon and Vermont that conducted conversions in rural areas as well as cities.

CFPB reports on mortgage servicers’ pandemic responses, will continue monitoring them.

Based on a data review, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported the pandemic responses of 16 large mortgage servicers varied widely. CFPB told servicers to compare the report’s findings to their own internal metrics to identify opportunities for, and demonstrate concrete efforts toward, improvement.

Rural places may lose political power due to population changes.

A Pew Charitable Trusts analysis based on estimates of rural population decline predicts these communities will have less political clout once electoral redistricting occurs. The growing suburban/urban portions of states are likely to gain power.

86% of persistent poverty counties are outside metro areas.

USDA’s Economic Research Service reports 310 counties – 10% of all U.S. counties – had high and persistent levels of poverty in 2019. Of those, 267 counties were outside metropolitan areas and were concentrated in historically poor areas of the Mississippi Delta, Appalachia, the Black Belt, and the southern border regions, as well as on Native American lands.

Hispanics overrepresented in worker deaths from heat.

A National Public Radio report, Heat Is Killing Workers in the U.S. – and There are No Federal Rules to Protect Them, describes an increase in worker deaths due to environmental heat exposure. Hispanics, who are 17% of the U.S. workforce, account for a third of heat fatalities since 2010 because they are overrepresented in vulnerable jobs such as farm work and construction. Improved regulations may not be enough to protect workers, however; California is one of the few states with heat rules, but annual worker heat deaths there have remained steady over the past decade.

Guide addresses tenant issues in tax credit properties.

An Advocate’s Guide to Tenants’ Rights in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program, published by the National Housing Law Project, covers evictions, rent calculations, and eligibility.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides 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, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. 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).