Sec. 533 Housing Preservation Grants available

USDA’s Rural Housing Service offers grants under its Section 533 Housing Preservation Grant program. Nonprofit, local government agencies, and tribes are eligible. Funds can be used for repair and rehabilitation of owner-occupied or rental homes in rural places. Applications are due August 9, 2018.

Pre-applications for USDA Farmworker Housing Funds Due August 27

USDA’s Rural Housing Service is now accepting pre-applications for Section 514 Farm Labor Housing loans and Section 516 grants. The funds can be used to construct new housing and related facilities, or to purchase and substantially rehabilitate property that will become housing for farm laborers. Pre-applications are due to USDA Rural Development State Offices on August 27, 2018.

HAC Accepting Nominees for Rural Housing Awards

HAC is now accepting nominations for its 2018 Cochran/Collings National Service and Skip Jason Community Service Leadership Awards. Nominations are due Friday July 13, 2018. The awards will be presented at the 2018 Rural Housing Conference (RHC) in December. Complete the online nomination form.

Questions? Contact HAC’s Lilla Sutton at (202) 842-8600 or lilla@ruralhome.org.

New Webinar Series on Financing Farm Labor Housing with USDA Section 514/516 Funding

HAC will be hosting a three-part series of webinars focused on financing farm labor housing using Section 514/516 funding. Register now for all three!

Happy Holidays from the Housing Assistance Concil

Happy Holidays from your friends at HAC

The Housing Assistance Council would like to thank you for your dedication to building rural communities. We would also like to salute you for your continuous support of HAC and the work we do to provide quality affordable housing to the rural poor, especially the poorest of the poor in the most rural places.

As you celebrate the holiday season, we hope you will take a moment and make a donation to HAC. Your tax-deductible donation helps support HAC’s work in rural communities across the country.

Wishing you the brightest and happiest of holidays, and a joyous new year.

HAC Joins Summit on Addressing the Needs of Aging Veterans

On Friday, October 20, 2017, the Housing Assistance Council joined The Home Depot Foundation and the National League of Cities to support Purple Heart Homes in their 1st Annual Veterans Aging Summit. Held at the University of North Carolina, the summit convened nonprofit practitioners, Veterans’ service organizations, researchers, educators, public policy makers, community leaders, government representatives, and other interested stakeholders to collaborate on identifying and meeting the needs of aging Veterans and their caregivers.

HAC's Shonterria Charleston, Karen Boyce (The Veteran's Place) and Retha Patton (Eastern Eight CDC) discuss housing rural veteransHAC’s Shonterria Charleston, Karen Boyce (The Veteran’s Place) and Retha Patton (Eastern Eight CDC) discuss housing rural veterans.

HAC coordinated the Aging Veterans and Housing Panel, which featured two of its Home Depot Foundation-funded grantee organizations, The Veteran’s Place (Karen Boyce) and Eastern Eight Community Development Corporation (Retha Patton). Moderated by HAC’s Shonterria Charleston, the panel focused on housing (single and multifamily) and service provisions to aging veterans and provided context to rural challenges, best practices and opportunities for successful projects.

Funding support provided by The Home Depot Foundation

HAC's Joe Belden speaking at the Aging Veterans SummitHAC’s Joe Belden speaking at the Aging Veterans Summit.

HUD Releases Worst Case Housing Report

HUD released the its Worst Case Housing Needs 2017 Report to Congress. The report provides national data and analysis of the critical problems facing very low-income renting families. Households with worst case needs are defined as very low-income renters who do not receive government housing assistance and who paid more than one-half of their income for rent, lived in severely inadequate conditions, or both.

Webinar: What Will Rural Housing Funding be in 2018?

Materials Posted

Power Point Presentation | Webinar Recording

The Trump Administration’s budget for fiscal year 2018 will be released on May 23. Join rural housing experts to learn what the budget proposes for USDA and HUD affordable housing programs. Speakers will also explain the next steps in the budget process.

USDA Wants to Reorganize Rural Housing, Business, and Utilities Functions

USDA has proposed to “realign” its Rural Development mission area so the Rural Housing Service, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, and Rural Utilities Service administrators report directly to the Secretary of Agriculture.

This suggestion is offered in a report to Congress released on May 11, 2017. As the document’s title – Report on the Proposed 2017 Reorganization of the Department of Agriculture to Establish an Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs – indicates, it focuses on changing USDA’s trade functions; it also emphasizes changes related to farm production. In a brief paragraph, the report says USDA:

intends to realign the Rural Development agencies to report directly to the Secretary. . . . This reorganization recognizes and promotes the importance of rural development by placing it under the direct oversight of the Secretary. Placing rural development under the direct supervision of the Secretary will ensure the Secretary is also able to leverage USDA’s expertise with rural communities and new Administrative initiatives to focus on infrastructure investments in rural America.

The idea raises numerous questions that have not yet been answered. Will this change lower RD’s profile in the department because it will not have a representative at the Under Secretary level? What priority will RD receive among all the other things the Secretary’s staff must address? Will it become easier to cut RD or its programs if they can be viewed as projects in the Secretary’s office and therefore optional? How does this fit with the Administration’s budget proposals to reduce RD funding?

A budget table in the report shows Rural Development under a Deputy Secretary. The department currently has one Deputy Secretary, and presumably the budget refers to the current position, not a new one. The relationship between RD and the Deputy is not reflected in the revised organizational chart, however. It shows RD connected directly to the Secretary of Agriculture, while all the Under Secretaries connect to the Deputy Secretary, and administrative offices connect to both the Deputy Secretary and the Secretary.

The budget table seems to indicate the amount of resources – staff years and funding – allocated to RD would not change under the new organizational scheme. It shows 4,487 staff years and $3,078 million for RD in the current setup, and 4,847 staff years and $3,078 million under the new arrangement. Since the funding level does not change, the switch from 4,487 to 4,847 staff years appears to be a typo.

The proposal’s focus is on creation of a new Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs (TFAA) and a new Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation (FPC). A report in Politico Pro (subscription required) points out that by law USDA is limited to seven Under Secretaries. The reorganization would eliminate the current Under Secretary of Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS), reassigning the FFAS agencies to the two new positions. But it must eliminate another Under Secretary to remain at the limit of seven.

The 2014 Farm Bill required creation of the new TFAA Under Secretary. The RD Under Secretary position was also required by a statute – although the 1994 law that reorganized USDA says “the Secretary is authorized to establish” such an Under Secretary and “If the Secretary establishes the position . . . ,” language that could be read as discretionary rather than mandatory.

Rural Placemaking Participants Selected

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) and bcWORKSHOP [bc] are pleased to announce the selection of two organizations for the Rural Placemaking Program, supported by a Knowledge Building Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The smART Kinston City Project Foundation in Kinston, North Carolina and Woodlands Development Group in Elkins, West Virginia will be implementing rural creative placemaking initiatives during summer 2017 as a part of this program.

Over the next six months, smART Kinston and Woodlands Development Group will work in partnership with residents and artists to develop a creative, arts-based initiative in their communities. With the support of [bc] and HAC, both organizations will kickoff their creative placemaking pilot projects in June.

The project is funded in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). To find out more about how the National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities visit www.arts.gov.

For more information on the recipient groups and creative placemaking, visit https://www.bcworkshop.org.