Policy News from the Administration

Budget Requests Increases in Most Rural Housing Programs

The Biden Administration’s budget for fiscal year 2023 proposes funding increases for almost every U.S. Department of Agriculture rural housing program, along with some important program changes for preservation of aging rental housing.

The March 28 budget release is only the first step in the process of developing federal appropriations for the fiscal year that begins on October 1, 2022. HAC held a webinar to review the budget’s contents and what to expect over the coming months; view the slides and recording here.

— HAC’s analysis of the HUD portion of the budget is available here.  —

Rental Housing

The USDA budget proposes to quadruple Section 515 rental housing from $50 million in FY22 to $200 million in FY23, with the funds to be used for preserving existing Section 515 properties. The Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization program, which finances efforts to upgrade and maintain aging units constructed with Section 515 financing or the Section 514/516 farmworker housing program, would jump from $34 million this year to $75 million in FY23.

Farmworker housing loans and grants would almost double, with $6 million in Section 521 Rental Assistance set aside for new Section 514/516 units. The Section 538 loan guarantee program would see a large increase as well. (Details are provided in the table below.)

The $1.564 billion requested for Section 521 Rental Assistance renewals “will enable 272,000 existing contracts to be renewed, including making permanent the approximately 27,000 units that were brought into the program by the American Rescue Plan Act supplemental funding,” according to USDA’s budget explanation. The same document states, however, that RA assisted 284,194 tenant households in FY21.

The budget also asks Congress to “decouple” Rental Assistance from Section 515. Currently the programs are linked: RA cannot be made available to a property unless it has a USDA Section 515 or 514 loan. Separating them, so that RA could be offered after a property pays off its USDA mortgage, would help keep properties affordable for their tenants.

To protect tenants whose properties leave the USDA portfolio without decoupling, the administration proposes to provide $20 million in HUD Tenant Protection Vouchers. Based on the assumption that decoupling and the availability of HUD vouchers will eliminate the need for new USDA vouchers, the budget requests only enough Section 542 funding to renew existing assistance.

Homeownership

The budget proposes to increase funding for all USDA’s homeownership programs. It would also provide $20.8 million to expand the Native American Section 502 Relending pilot program. The pilot has enabled Native Community Development Financial Institutions to assist Native American homebuyers in tribal communities of South Dakota and North Dakota.

Rural Partnership Program

Pursuing an idea proposed in the Build Back Better Act, which has not been passed by Congress, the budget proposes $39 million for the Rural Partnership Program. In a statement about the budget, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack described it as “a renewed and expanded initiative to leverage USDA’s extensive network of county-based offices to help people in high poverty counties, including energy communities.”

Placemaking

The budget would provide $3 million for the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge “to provide planning support, technical assistance, and training to foster placemaking activities in rural communities.” [NOTE: This sentence was corrected on March 29 to say $3 million. When this post was published, it stated incorrectly that the amount was $3 billion.]

Energy Efficiency and Climate Resilience

All USDA housing production would be required to “improve energy or water efficiency, indoor air quality, or sustainability improvements, implement low-emission technologies, materials, or processes, including zero-emission electricity generation, energy storage, building electrification, or electric car charging station installations; or address climate resilience of multifamily properties.”

USDA Rural Dev. Prog.

(dollars in millions)

FY21 Final Approp. Amer. Rescue Plan Act FY22 Admin. Budget FY22 Final Approp. FY23 Budget
502 Single Fam. Direct $1,000 $656.6 $1,500 $1,250 $1,500
502 Single Family Guar. 24,000 30,000 30,000 30,000
504 VLI Repair Loans 28 18.3 28 28 50
504 VLI Repair Grants 30 30 32 45
515 Rental Hsg. Direct Lns. 40 40 50 200
514 Farm Labor Hsg. Lns. 28 28 28 50
516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grts. 10 10 10 18
521 Rental Assistance 1,410 100 1,450 1,450 1,564
523 Self-Help TA 31 32 32 40
533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants 15 15 16 30
538 Rental Hsg. Guar. 230 230 250 400
Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR) 28 32 34 75
542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers 40 45 45 38
Rental Prsrv. TA 2 0 2 0
Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init. 6 6 6 12
Community Facil. Loans 2,800 2,800 2,800 2,800
Community Facil. Grants 32 32 40 52
      Tribal Colleges CF Grts 5 10 10 10
Community Facil. Guarantees 500 500 650 500

 

 

Policy News from the Administration

HUD Budget Proposes New Housing Investments

The Biden Administration’s budget for fiscal year 2023 proposes substantial investments in existing Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs (details are in the table below) and new initiatives targeted to:

  • Increasing affordable housing supply;
  • Expanding rental assistance and increasing its impact on households experiencing homelessness and family mobility; and
  • Addressing climate change.

The March 28 budget release is only the first step in the process of developing federal appropriations for the fiscal year that begins on October 1, 2022. HAC held a webinar to review the budget’s contents and what to expect over the coming months; view the slides and recording here.

— HAC’s analysis of USDA’s rural housing budget is available here

Increasing Affordable Housing Supply

The budget proposes $50 billion in mandatory spending to increase and streamline affordable housing production. HUD would administer $35 billion of this total as a Housing Supply Fund, consisting of two elements:

  • $25 billion in formula grants to be distributed to “State and local housing finance agencies and their partners, territories, and Tribes” to support streamlined financing tools for multifamily and single-family units, producing housing for both renters and homebuyers. The funding is intended to facilitate the production and preservation of smaller developments that struggle to obtain financing in the current housing finance system. The budget specifically notes that “many rural and midsize jurisdictions need a path to development that includes smaller building footprints to better integrate with existing communities.”
  • $10 billion in grants to: 1) support state and local jurisdictions that adopt policies that remove barriers to affordable housing and development; and 2) incentivize funding of housing-related infrastructure such as environmental planning, transportation, and water/sewer infrastructure.

The remaining $15 billion in mandatory funding is to be administered by the Department of the Treasury, divided into:

  • $10 billion in additional Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC); and
  • $5 billion in grants to Community Development Financial Institutions to support financing for construction, acquisition, rehab and preservation of rental and homeownership housing, with an emphasis on increasing the participation of small-scale developers and contractors. The grants will seek to:
    • increase the climate resiliency and energy efficiency of affordable housing;
    • focus on underserved markets, including single-family, small properties (1-4 units) and small multifamily properties with fewer than 100 units;
    • expand homeownership opportunities by targeting single-family properties for individuals and families with incomes up to 120 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) and up to 150 percent of AMI in high cost areas (including acquisition and rehabilitation); and
    • preserve affordable housing that is at risk of conversion to market rate.

Additional investments in existing HUD programs designed to complement the Housing Supply Fund grants include $2 billion in funding for the HOME Investment Partnerships program ($150 million above the FY 2022 enacted level), $100 million in funding for 1,100 new units in the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program, and 900 new units in the 811 Permanent Supportive Housing Program for Persons with Disabilities.

Rental Assistance, Homelessness, and Family Mobility

In addition to renewing all existing project-based rental assistance (PBRA) contracts and Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) currently in use, the budget proposes $1.6 billion in funding to expand the Housing Choice Voucher program by 200,000 subsidies – the largest one-year expansion since the program’s inception – with the incremental subsidies targeting individuals fleeing domestic violence and persons experiencing homelessness. This effort to combat homelessness is coupled with a $576 million increase in the Homeless Assistance Grants account to $3 billion. The budget also includes $445 million in mobility services connected to use of HCVs in a broad range of communities.

Addressing Climate Change

In addition to the sustainability and resilience incentives in the Housing Supply Fund, the HUD budget includes:

  • $300 million to increase energy efficiency and climate resilience in public housing;
  • $150 million in funding for housing initiatives on Native American lands to increase energy efficiency and climate resilience and improve water conservation; and
  • $250 million to rehabilitate HUD multifamily properties to be healthier, more energy efficient, and climate-resilient.

 

HUD Program

(dollars in millions)

FY21 Final Approp. FY22 Admin. Budget FY22 Final Approp. FY23 Admin. Budget
CDBG $3,475 $3,770 $4,841* $3,770
HOME 1,350 1,850 1,500 1,950
Self-Help Homeownshp. (SHOP) 10 10 12.5 10
Veterans Home Rehab 4 4 4 4
Tenant-Based Rental Asstnce. 25,778 30,442 27,370 32,130
    VASH setaside 40 0 50 0
    Tribal VASH 5 5 5 5
Project-Based Rental Asstnce. 13,465 14,060 13,940 15,000
Public Hsg. Capital Fund 2,942 3,678 3,388 3,720
Public Hsg. Operating Fund 4,864 4,917 5,064 5,060
Choice Neighbrhd. Initiative 200 250 350 250
Native Amer. Hsg. 825 1,000 1,002 1,000
Homeless Assistance Grants 3,000 3,500 3,213 3,576
Hsg. Opps. for Persons w/ AIDS 430 450 450 455
202 Hsg. for Elderly 855 928 1,033 966
811 Hsg. for Disabled 227 272 352 287
Fair Housing 72.6 85 85 86
Healthy Homes & Lead Haz. Cntl. 360 400 415 400
Housing Counseling 57.5 85.9 57.5 65.9

* The substantial increase in CDBG funding was driven nearly entirely by the return, after a 10-year absence, of $1.5 billion for the Economic Development Initiative for the purpose of funding Community Projects/Congressionally Directed Spending (popularly known as “earmarks”).

Solar panels covering parking spaces at Calistoga Family Apartmentshttps://flic.kr/p/CpXy7x The U.S. Department of Agriculture

Housing Assistance Council Receives Gift from Mackenzie Scott

Contact: Jennifer McAllister
(202) 842-8600
jennifer@ruralhome.org

Washington, DC, March 23, 2022 – The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is pleased to announce a $7,000,000 gift from MacKenzie Scott, the largest private gift in HAC’s 50-year history. HAC will leverage this funding to establish and grow local organizations that build affordable housing in the nation’s poorest and most rural places. This gift ensures that more people and more communities will enjoy the benefits of American prosperity.

“HAC and our local partners work in small towns and rural communities to develop good quality housing that folks can afford,” said HAC CEO David Lipsetz. “Ms. Scott’s trust in our organization and encouragement to do more will help plenty of communities in need.”

“This gift helps HAC remain true to its mission,” said Maria Luisa Mercado, HAC’s Board Chair. “We will continue to be the voice for the poorest of the poor in the most rural places.”

About the Housing Assistance Council

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is a national nonprofit that supports affordable housing efforts throughout rural America. Since 1971, HAC has provided: below-market financing for affordable housing and community development; technical assistance and training for community-based organizations; research on life in rural places; and information for federal policy-makers on the impact of their work on rural places. To learn more, visit www.ruralhome.org.

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Build Healthy Places Network Launches Community Innovations for Racial Equity

Build Healthy Places Network (BHPN) is launching Community Innovations for Racial Equity to build BIPOC-led community development capacity, support innovative community ownership models, and address the barriers within community development and health partnerships to effectively propel racial equity.


Call for applications – Join Community Innovations for Racial Equity!

BHPN, with funding from The Kresge Foundation and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation has launched Community Innovations for Racial Equity (CIRE) to build BIPOC-led community development capacity, support innovative community ownership models, and address the barriers within community development and health partnerships to effectively propel racial equity. An RFP was just released, and applications are due Friday, March 18. CIRE is an 18-month program available for up to ten eligible organizations motivated to engage healthcare partners to advance racial equity. Selected organizations will be awarded up to $40,000 to support staff or a consultant to lead healthcare engagement, $60,000 of in-kind technical support provided by the BHPN, and facilitated connections to a national network of peer support. Please visit the RFP webpage to learn more about eligibility guidelines and award commitments.


Seeking input from BIPOC-led Community Development Corporations

BHPN wants to hear from BIPOC-led community development corporations (CDCs) about how they are engaging with the health sector to better support partnerships that advance racial equity. Our goal is to uncover the needs relative to challenges and impacts emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic among these partnerships. Whether your CDC has never thought about partnering with healthcare, has made it a priority, or falls somewhere in between, we want to hear from you. The results of this survey will inform tools and capacity building resources for the field.

The results will be shared in the aggregate – individual responses will be kept anonymous.


Housing Assistance Council Logo

Calling for Housing Equity on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Our homes affect every facet of our lives, including our wealth, health, and education. That’s why freedom from housing discrimination is a central pillar of the Civil Rights Movement’s vision for a more just, equitable, and free America. All people deserve a safe, healthy, and affordable home. Yet, for hundreds of years, the United States has not included all its communities in the full promise of a place to call home.

Many of those communities are rural. Across the country, the deepest, most persistent poverty is largely in rural areas. And among those places, Rural Black communities are vastly overrepresented. It is why small towns like Grenada, Mississippi; Selma, Alabama; and Midway, Georgia played such big roles in the Civil Rights Movement.

Today, as we honor the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let us be even more dedicated to combatting inequity in all its forms. Achieving the dream of a nation in which everyone has a safe, healthy, and affordable place to call home will take significant, sustained investments in combatting racial and geographic inequity.

Rural Housing Awards 2021

HAC Celebrates Rural Housing at the 2021 National Rural Housing Conference

As part of the 2021 National Rural Housing Conference, the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) recognized individuals and/or organizations that have, through their continued work and or newly established initiatives, made a positive and lasting impact to affordable housing in rural America.
The Covid pandemic was a paradigm shift that tested the strength, and temerity of communities across the country and one that centered housing, not just as a critical human need, but as a human right. Acknowledging the difficulty of the past year and the many associated inequities revealed, HAC seeks to honor those that leaned into the challenges to create positive impacts in rural America. In doing so, HAC has invited nominations for both individuals and/or organizations who have made outstanding and enduring contribution to affordable housing in rural America. Having faced a number of impediments from a common enemy, and all working towards the betterment of society, HAC seeks to recognize positive contributions from the smallest grassroots and on-the-ground housers and practitioners, to the highest elected offices in the US.
Out of long list of nominees, the Housing Assistance Council is proud to announce the following selectees for a 2021 Rural Housing Service Award:
This award is in recognition of your distinguished service in housing for the rural poor, steadfast commitment to rural communities, and outstanding contributions to those in greatest need in the most rural of places. Please join us in recognizing these esteemed friends of rural America!

Watch the Awards

Past Recipients of Rural Housing Awards

 

Policy News from Congress

Federal Funding Extended to February 18

Hours before a temporary spending measure was set to expire on December 3, both houses of Congress passed and President Biden signed another continuing resolution that will carry funding through February 18, 2022. Fiscal year 2022 began on October 1, 2021.

The measure holds most government programs, including housing programs at USDA and HUD, at their fiscal 2021 funding levels. Bills proposing increased resources for housing at both USDA and HUD passed the House of Representatives in July 2021 and have been introduced in the Senate.

 

Need Help Logging in to the 2021 Conference?

How to access the 2021 Virtual Rural Housing Conference

Get the Conference App here. If you’re already registered, you will use the Conference App to access the conference sessions. NOTE: The App is the portal to all conference plenary sessions and workshops. You can install it on your phone, though you’ll probably want it on your computer for better viewing.

Need more guidance?

The National Rural Housing Conference participant support team is here to help. Reach out via telephone at (202) 516-6271 or email at NRHCsupport@ruralhome.org.

Trying to decide whether to register?

View conference details here.

 

Solar panels covering parking spaces at Calistoga Family Apartmentshttps://flic.kr/p/CpXy7x The U.S. Department of Agriculture

“Worst Case” Rental Housing Needs Changed Little from 2017 to 2019

Only 62 affordable rental units were available for every 100 very low-income renters in 2019, according to Worst Case Housing Needs: 2021 Report to Congress, released on October 5 by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). While data on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and economic recession that began in 2020 is not yet available, the report notes that they pose a “great risk of widespread housing problems.”

Households with worst case needs are defined as renters with very low incomes (at or below 50 percent of area median income) who do not receive government housing assistance and pay more than half their income for rent, live in severely inadequate conditions, or both. Cost burden – the mismatch between income and housing costs – is by far the most significant housing problem in all geographic areas. Inadequate housing quality caused only 3 percent of worst case needs nationwide.

In 2019 there were 7.77 million renter households with worst case needs in the U.S., 42.2 percent of all very low-income renters. This represents an improvement from the record high of 8.5 million (44 percent) in 2011 but it remains above the rate during the years preceding the 2007-2009 recession.

Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of worst case renters in 2019 had extremely low incomes (at or below 30 percent of area median), the highest proportion since 2005. Worst case needs were highest among American Indian or Alaskan Native households at 55 percent; 53 percent among Asian households, 45 percent among Hispanic households, 44 percent among non-Hispanic White households, and 36 percent among non-Hispanic Black households and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander households.

Worst case needs declined in the Midwest, Northeast, and South from 2017 to 2019, but those improvements were offset by an increase in worst case needs in the West.

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