A Step Toward Addressing Native American Homelessness

A Step Toward Addressing Native American Homelessness

by Eric Oberdorfer and Leslie Strauss

shelterforce_na_blog_postHomes in Indian Country are three times more likely to be crowded than those in the United States as a whole, according to the 2010 Census. Many of the people sleeping on sofas or floors in these crowded dwellings are homeless – not living outdoors or in a car, but not living in permanent homes of their own, either. Strong kinship networks often enable people to find a place to stay and there are few shelters and service providers in places with small, spread-out populations.

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10 Things That Did Not Happen in Rural Housing in 2012

10 Things That Did Not Happen in Rural Housing in 2012

10thingRLblogYear-end reviews generally cover events, but in 2012 the things that did not happen may have been more notable. That certainly seems to be the case regarding affordable housing for the lowest income residents of rural America. A couple of the non-events listed below are positive, but unfortunately most are not. Read More…

Basic Challenges Outlast Housing Crisis in Rural America

Basic Challenges Outlast Housing Crisis in Rural America

By Lance George
December 20, 2012

The United States is emerging from one of the most extensive and painful economic crises in memory. It is well established that housing markets were at the heart of this crisis, and millions of American households lost, or continue to lose, their homes to foreclosure. While the recent housing crisis is not to be overlooked, far too many rural residents have struggled with housing problems and inadequacies for years, if not decades, before the national crisis hit. Read the full blog post…

Loan Guarantees Are Not Enough

Loan Guarantees Are Not Enough

By Leslie Strauss
September 13, 2012

It’s less expensive for the government to guarantee a loan made by a bank than to be the lender itself. FHA and VA loan guarantees are well known and well used. It’s not surprising, then, that there has been a shift in USDA’s lending too, away from direct loans towards guarantees, especially after recent changes made USDA’s guarantee programs self-supporting. But guarantees cannot replace direct loans — they serve different populations.

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"True" Homeownership in Rural America

dailyyonderlogo“True” Homeownership in Rural America

 

The United States is largely a nation of homeowners. 

Owning a home has traditionally been a foundation of the “American Dream,” conveying prosperity, financial security, and upward mobility — or so it was thought until 2008. Today, the housing crisis and flagging economy have taken some of the luster from homeownership, and has called into question elements of our nation’s housing systems and policies.

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Why Keep Rural Housing Programs at USDA?

Why Keep Rural Housing Programs at USDA?

By Leslie Strauss
July 17, 2012

Rural housing professionals complain about USDA’s Rural Development/Rural Housing Service all the time. We also tout the advantages of using HUD programs, such as HOME, in rural areas. But we hate the idea of moving USDA’s housing programs to HUD. That is not the cure for rural housing’s problems.

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Housing Seniors, One Person at a Time

Housing Seniors, One Person at a Time

By Janice Clark
June 21, 2012

“How many people in the room consider their home a safe and affordable place to live?” I asked, and not one person raised a hand.

I was at the B. S. Ricks Memorial Library, in Yazoo City, Miss., conducting a focus group meeting with senior residents. Yazoo City (population 11,403) is strikingly rural, with dirt roads and a small commercial area. Working with Linda Smith, executive director of theEsther Stewart Buford (ESB) Foundation, we arranged to meet with 15 area seniors in December 2011. Among the seniors were two local aldermen and the former city mayor. The conversation focused on the condition of their homes and the services they would like to see in their community.

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Defining “Rural” for USDA’s Housing Programs

Defining “Rural” for USDA’s Housing Programs

By Leslie Strauss
June 8, 2012

This part is simple: a property must be in a rural place to be eligible for USDA rural housing funding. Beyond that simple statement, things get complicated. What places are rural, and why does it matter?

Congress used three characteristics to define rural for USDA’s housing programs: population size, rural character, and a serious shortage of mortgage credit. In various circumstances, the maximum population size can be 10,000 or 20,000 or 25,000. As a practical matter, it’s far easier to enter a property address at USDA’s property eligibility Web site than to try to figure out whether it fits the definition. And note that everything in this paragraph applies only to USDA’s housing programs; the rural eligibility definitions for community facilities, utilities, and business programs are different.

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What Does an Affordable Rural Rental Housing Strategy Look Like?

What Does an Affordable Rural Rental Housing Strategy Look Like?

By Leslie Strauss
May 22, 2012

Affordable housing advocates were happy recently to see the Senate Appropriations Committee tell the U.S. Department of Agriculture to get its act together on rental housing. USDA’s FY12 budget proposed to eliminate funding for the department’s flagship Section 515 rental housing loan program and focus its efforts on the Multi-Family Housing Revitalization Program known as MPR. Then the FY13 budget took the opposite approach, proposing to focus on Section 515 and eliminate funding for MPR. In S.Rpt. 112-163 the frustrated Senate committee “directs the Secretary, conclusively, to determine and articulate an effective long-term strategy to address rural rental housing needs.”

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