HAC News: July 20, 2023

HAC News: July 20, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 15

TOP STORIES

House committee approves HUD funding measure

On July 18 the House Appropriations Committee passed an FY24 spending bill for the Departments of Transportation and HUD that would maintain funding for tenant vouchers, public housing, and Native American housing programs but would cut programs including HOME, Section 202 elderly housing, Section 811 housing for people with disabilities, and SHOP. HOME would be the most drastically impacted, with its funding cut from $1.5 billion in FY23 to $500 million in FY24. The bill also proposes to block HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulations. More details are available on HAC’s website. The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark up its FY24 Transportation-HUD appropriations bill on July 20, but has not yet made the bill’s contents public. HAC’s site will be updated when more information becomes available.

Torres Small confirmed as USDA Deputy Secretary

Xochitl Torres Small was confirmed by the Senate on July 11 and sworn in on July 17 as Deputy Secretary at USDA, after serving as Under Secretary for Rural Development since October 2021. Roger Glendenning is now Acting Under Secretary.

National Rural Housing Conference registration opens!

Register by August 11 for early bird rates at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference! Stakeholders in the field of rural affordable housing, community development, and placemaking will come together October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The 2023 conference theme is Build Rural. Thriving rural communities don’t happen by accident.  It takes collaborative effort, leadership, investment and planning to build equitable and just communities. Build Rural is both a literal and figurative appeal to explore and provoke action to build and renew rural communities by addressing housing affordability and preservation, community infrastructure and essential facilities creation and revitalization, resident led placemaking, capacity building, and community inclusion and justice efforts.

RuralSTAT

In the parts of North and South Carolina outside metro areas, home prices and median household income both grew between 2016 and 2021, but home prices increased by 13 percentage points more than incomes. Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

OPPORTUNITIES

EPA offers Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund grants

All three funding notices under the new $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund have now been released. Details and resources are posted on EPA’s website. For more information, email ggrf@epa.gov.

  • The $14 billion National Clean Investment Fund will make grants to two or three national nonprofit lenders or coalitions, which will partner with the private sector to finance clean technology projects in homes, businesses, and communities. An informational webinar is scheduled for July 26. Applications are due October 12.
  • The $6 billion Clean Communities Investment Accelerator will make grants to between two and seven hub nonprofit organizations, enabling them to provide funding and technical assistance to public, quasi-public, and nonprofit community lenders. An informational webinar is scheduled for July 27. Applications are due October 12.
  • The $7 billion Solar for All program, announced in June, will award up to 60 grants to states, territories, Tribal governments, municipalities, and nonprofits to expand the number of low-income and disadvantaged communities primed for residential solar investment. Notices of intent to apply are due July 31 for states, DC, and Puerto Rico; August 14 for territories, municipalities, and nonprofits; and August 28 for Tribal governments and intertribal consortia. Applications are due September 26.

Community Facilities disaster grants available

USDA has $50 million for Community Facilities grants to repair essential community facilities damaged by presidentially declared disasters in calendar year 2022. Applications will be accepted until funds are expended. Contact a USDA RD state office to discuss a potential project. For more information, contact Surabhi Dabir, USDA, 202-768-5875.

PHAs eligible for radon funding

Under the Radon Testing and Mitigation Demonstration for Public Housing, HUD will fund public housing agencies to conduct testing and, if applicable, mitigation of radon in the units they manage and to support the development of a plan for future testing and mitigation as needed. The deadline is August 21. For more information, contact Rhona P. Julien, HUD, 202-402-6842.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Some Section 504 repair program rules waived for disaster areas

A pilot program in 24 states and territories, effective from July 18, 2023 through July 18, 2025, waives four regulatory requirements for Section 504 loans and grants in presidentially declared disaster areas. The waivers (1) remove the requirement for grant recipients to be at least 62 years old, (2) allow the program to cover costs incurred before an application, (3) allow the program to cover the cost of moving or delivering a manufactured home, and (4) allow assistance to applicants who are not currently living at the property. For more information, contact Anthony Williams, USDA, anthonyl.williams@usda.gov, 202-720-9649.

USDA taking applications for Discrimination Financial Assistance Program

On July 7, USDA opened the application process for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who experienced discrimination in USDA farm lending programs prior to January 2021. The program’s website offers applications in English and Spanish, information on how to get help to apply, and other resources and details about the program. Applications can be filed online, by mail, or in person at the program’s local offices. USDA will consider all applications submitted by October 31; this is not a first come, first served process. Eight organizations including the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Intertribal Agriculture Council, and Rural Coalition will assist applicants. For more information, call 1-800-721-0970 or email info@22007apply.gov.

Energy efficiency comment deadline extended

The deadline is now August 7 to submit comments on HUD’s and USDA’s adoption of updated energy efficiency standards for some of the housing they finance.

Online platforms agree to improve information about junk fees for renters

The White House and HUD announced on July 19 that three of the largest online rental platforms – AffordableHousing.com, Zillow, and Apartments.com – will provide new tools to help inform renters about fees that increase the actual cost of a rental unit, such as application fees, move-in fees, and “convenience fees” for paying rent online. HUD also released a brief on Transparency in Rental Fees summarizing research on these fees and strategies to encourage transparency and fairness in the rental market. Several states have taken actions to limit or require disclosure of these fees. An article about efforts to create websites to help find affordable housing is available here.

2023 income limits for single-family rural housing published

USDA RD has released FY23 income limits for the Section 502 direct loan program and Section 504 direct loan and grant programs. Relevant websites, systems, and worksheets have been updated.

Corrections made for Section 538 lender submission process

A notice corrects errors in some provisions of USDA’s April update to the lender submission process for Section 538 guarantees. For more information, contact Jonathan Bell, USDA, MFHprocessing1@usda.gov, 254-742-9764.

EVENTS

Webinar on rural disaster preparedness set for August 1

Rural Disaster Preparedness: Partnering for Resilience and Resources, a new Rural Opportunity and Development (ROAD) Session on August 1, is hosted by Aspen Institute’s Community Strategies Group in collaboration with HAC, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Rural LISC, the International Economic Development Council, and the Federal Reserve Board. The webinar will be offered both virtually and in-person in Washington, DC.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Online disaster guide supports survivors of floods in Vermont

To assist our rural partners and communities affected by the recent flash flooding in Vermont, HAC offers an online resource guide with information for individuals and families in the disaster area. Other disaster resources from HAC include Rural Resilience in the Face of Disaster and a Disaster Response for Rural Communities Guide.

Mortgages under $150,000 should be more available, researchers say

Small Mortgages Are Too Hard to Get, an issue brief by the Pew Charitable Trusts, reports that from 2018 to 2021, only 26% of properties that sold for less than $150,000 were financed using a mortgage, compared with 71% of higher-cost homes. Inability to obtain small mortgages may make homeownership impossible or lead buyers to use alternative financing arrangements, which tend to be riskier and costlier than mortgages. The brief examines reasons for the shortage of small mortgages and suggests solutions.

Research presents persistent poverty by census tracts rather than counties

Efforts to address persistent poverty – poverty rates above 20% for at least 30 years – have focused on county-level designations, and 81% of persistent poverty counties are outside metro areas. Advancing Economic Development in Persistent-Poverty Communities, an Economic Innovation Group analysis, suggests analyzing long-term poverty at the census tract level in order to capture more urban places. This would bring the total persistent poverty area population to 35 million, compared to about 20 million using the county definition. The report proposes typologies that would show key differences and similarities, as well as a development assessment that would identify strengths and weaknesses in local economies and could inform development strategies.

HAC

Leonel Parra becomes HAC’s Chief Financial Officer

HAC is excited to welcome Leonel Parra as our new CFO. With extensive expertise in the nonprofit, financial and professional services, technology, and manufacturing sectors, Leonel brings a wealth of knowledge that will help HAC sustain our unprecedented growth and deepen our impact. More details about Leonel’s background are available on HAC’s website.

HAC provides input on Duty to Serve

On July 17-19 the FHFA hosted its annual series of listening sessions on Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve, focusing on the three components of the Duty to Serve Plans: rural housing, manufactured housing, and affordable housing preservation. Jonathan Harwitz, HAC’s Director of Public Policy, provided oral comments, accompanied by longer written comments, on behalf of HAC. HAC’s comments, which will be posted here, focused on maintaining USDA Section 515 preservation as a core goal of the rural Duty to Serve Plans; permitting targeted equity investments in CDFIs; using, and further refining, the new Colonias Census Tract definition; and meeting rural LIHTC equity investment goals. FHFA is still accepting written comments (at the link, select Duty to Serve Listening Sessions).

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).

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Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

Policy News town

HAC’s Comments on Duty to Serve – July 2023

The FHFA requested comments on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve plans as part of their annual Duty to Serve Listening Sessions. Jonathan Harwitz, HAC’s Director of Public Policy, provided oral comments, accompanied by longer written comments, on behalf of HAC. If implemented robustly, Duty to Serve has the potential to improve the lives of people living in the most underserved communities. HAC’s comments focused on:

  • Maintaining USDA Section 515 preservation as a core goal of the rural Duty to Serve Plans;
  • Permitting targeted equity investments in CDFIs;
  • Using, and further refining, the new Colonias Census Tract definition; and
  • Meeting rural LIHTC equity investment goals.

Read HAC’s full comments.

HAC DTS Rural Listening Session Comments

HAC Welcomes Leonel Parra as Chief Financial Officer

Leonel Parra, CFO

Leonel Parra, CFO

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is excited to welcome Leonel Parra as our new Chief Financial Officer (CFO). With extensive expertise in the non-profit, financial, and professional services, technology, and manufacturing sectors, Leonel brings a wealth of knowledge that will help HAC sustain our unprecedented growth and deepen our impact.

Leonel joins HAC from his most recent role as CFO at United Way Worldwide. Before that, Leonel was at mortgage giant Freddie Mac as a Head of Business Management and Chief of Staff charged with integrating Risk and Finance operations. Much of Leonel’s early career was with General Electric where he held various CFO and financial leadership positions across five business units, three industry sectors, and four countries. Notably, he was CFO for GE Capital Commercial Lending with their $5.5B loan portfolio.

“HAC has been building momentum and expanding our work. As we forge ahead, the demand for HAC to be a more sophisticated organization increases. We aim to meet the needs of small-town housing organizations across the country that rely on HAC for support and guidance.,” said HAC CEO David Lipsetz. “We are incredibly excited to have Leonel join the HAC team and help us build the systems to sustain and supercharge that progress.”

Leonel is a licensed CPA, with a degree in Accounting from Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua, Mexico. He volunteers for organizations that promote financial literacy and has a passion to leverage his extensive experience to help communities in need. Leonel lives in North Potomac, MD, with his wife and three children.

July 2023 Vermont Flash Flood Disaster Guide

Flash floods in Vermont triggered by torrential rainfall hit the state causing President Joe Biden to declare a state of emergency on Tuesday, July 11, 2023. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has begun its efforts to coordinate disaster relief efforts in Vermont as communities across the state are experiencing historic flooding. Vermont Governor Phil Scott stated that the flooding is wreaking havoc as more rain is expected later this week. HAC offers the following resources with information for organizations and communities dealing with loss and damage resulting from the flash floods in the Northeast: Rural Resilience in the Face of Disaster site and Disaster Response for Rural Communities Guide.

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. Additional resources are available as flooding continues:

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.

For more information on federal aid programs visit FEMA’s website. Aid may include rental payments, home repair, unemployment payments, loans, and other assistance.

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.

DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT FIELD OFFICES

Vermont
Burlington Field Office
95 Saint Paul Street,
Suite 440
Burlington, VT 05401-4486

Phone: (802) 951-6290

State Director: Sean Thomas

https://www.hud.gov/states/vermont

USDA RURAL DEVELOPMENT FIELD OFFICE

Vermont Rural Development State Office

87 State St., Ste. 324, PO Box 249, Montpelier, VT  05601
Phone: (802) 828-6080

Director: Sarah Waring
https://www.rd.usda.gov/vt

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCIES

Headquarters

Eric Forand
Interim Director
45 State Drive
Waterbury, VT 05671-1300
Phone: (800) 347-0488

https://vem.vermont.gov/

Taiga Christie
Regional Coordinator – South
Phone: (800) 347-0488
Email: Taiga.Christie@vermont.gov

Harry Schoppman
Regional Coordinator – Northwest
Phone: (800) 347-0488
Email: harry.schoppmann@vermont.gov

HAC News, July 6, 2023

HAC News: July 6, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 14

TOP STORIES

Fannie Mae proposes steep reduction in rural LIHTC investments this year

Explaining that it is has stopped participating in multi-investor LIHTC investment funds because of a legal concern, Fannie Mae has asked the Federal Housing Finance Agency for approval to reduce its FY23 Duty to Serve target for LIHTC equity investments in rural areas to 20-40 transactions rather than 70. FHFA seeks comments on the request by July 21. For more information, contact FHFA staff, DutyToServeStakeholders@fhfa.gov. A group of senators has asked the Treasury Department to resolve the underlying legal issue.

Interagency Community Investment Committee releases 2023 action plan

The ICIC – comprised of USDA, HUD, the Departments of Commerce, Transportation, and Treasury, and SBA – says in its just-released plan that this year it is focused on improving federal community investment programs that support community financial institutions; providing technical assistance and capacity-building for community development organizations, small businesses, and consumers; and attracting additional private sector investment or leverage. The plan responds to comments submitted in December by stakeholders including HAC, and includes a section on connecting rural communities to capital. It was released at the same time as a White House memo titled Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Advancing Equitable Community and Economic Development in American Cities and Urban Communities which, the White House says, “is complementary to the Administration’s efforts to equitably lift up rural and Tribal communities across the nation.”

HAC seeks applicants for workshops on accessible and universal design

HAC’s Accessible and Universal Design workshop series will guide 30 housing professionals on integrating accessible and universal design principles into housing design and construction activities to address the accessibility, mobility, and design needs of every client. Participants will be eligible to receive reimbursement for travel and training expenses (up to $1,500 per training) to attend the two required in-person training events. Apply by July 14. For more information, email apply@ruralhome.org.

July is Disability Pride Month

Disability Pride Month commemorates the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act into law on July 26, 1990. Shelterforce’s newest Under the Lens series, Not Just Ramps – Disability and Housing Justice, discusses the connection between disability and affordable housing. The [Un]Affordability of Accessibility: The Challenge of Retrofitting American Homes, an article in that series, reports that older adults and those with disabilities are an ever-increasing portion of our population. While there are laws in place, like the American with Disabilities Act, there is a lack of oversight and enforcement, resulting in few affordable and accessible housing options. To respond to the need, several nonprofits are working to reduce costs and retrofit homes so people can live comfortably in their homes.

RuralSTAT

In 2021, just over 80% of the U.S. population lived in urban places, with a disability rate of 12.6%. Among the slightly less than 20% of U.S. residents in rural places, 14.7% had a disability. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey.

OPPORTUNITIES

Continuum of Care funding available with new rural options

Applications are due September 28 for Continuum of Care funds to address homelessness and renewal or replacement of Youth Homeless Demonstration Program Grants. Based on a recent amendment to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, projects in rural areas can use funds for short-term emergency lodging, housing repairs, and staff training, professional development, skill development, and staff retention. Other revised provisions include newly eligible costs related to the Violence Against Women Act. For more information, email CoCNOFO@hud.gov.

HUD offers $75 million for Tribal community development

The Indian Community Development Block Grant program helps support development of housing, community facilities, and economic development in Tribal communities. Apply by September 5. For more information, contact HUD, ONAP-ICDBG@hud.gov.

EPA opens Solar for All competition

Solar for All will award up to 60 grants to help expand the number of low-income and disadvantaged communities primed for residential solar investment. This is one of the three Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund competitions; application periods for the others have not yet been announced. Interested applicants must submit notices of intent to apply, due July 31 for states, DC, and Puerto Rico; August 14 for territories, municipalities, and nonprofits; and August 28 for Tribal governments and intertribal consortia. An informational webinar is scheduled for July 12 and will be recorded and posted online. For more information, email GGRF@epa.gov.

Nominees sought for USDA Tribal Advisory Committee

USDA is establishing this committee to advise on matters related to Tribal and Indian affairs. Nominations for membership on the committee are due August 14. For more information, contact Josiah Griffin, USDA, 202-205-2249.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

USDA to hold virtual feedback sessions on decoupling as a rental preservation tool

USDA’s Rural Housing Service will host two online listening sessions to obtain stakeholder information on potential decoupling of Section 521 Rental Assistance from Section 515 rental housing loans so that some tenants can continue to receive RA after their properties’ mortgages end. Register to attend or speak on July 19 or July 25. USDA is also accepting written comments until July 31. For more information, contact Stephanie Vergin, USDA, 651-602-7820, decoupling@usda.gov.

CDFI Fund requests input on Capital Magnet Fund

The CDFI Fund asks for comments on ways to improve recipients’ understanding of its Capital Magnet Fund program requirements, ensure the program addresses activities and current business practices in the affordable housing industry, reduce the burden of administering CMF awards, better align the program with other significant federal funding sources, and determine how the program can better promote and incorporate policy priorities such as economic development in conjunction with affordable housing and affordable homeownership. Comments are due September 5. For more information, email cmf@cdfi.treas.gov and include “CMF RFI” in the email subject line.

List of distressed or underserved geographies outside metro areas released

The federal bank regulatory agencies have published their annual list of distressed or underserved middle-income geographies outside metropolitan areas. Bank financing for community development in these census tracts is eligible for Community Reinvestment Act consideration.

HUD publishes final notices implementing new inspection standards

HUD’s final rule for the National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) is accompanied by three subordinate notices. Information about inspection standards was released in June. Now an explanation of the scoring methodology and a notice covering administrative procedures have been published also. For more information, email NSPIREregulations@hud.gov.

Multifamily housing programs explain policy on electronic signatures

USDA’s multifamily staff encourages use of electronic and digital signatures and will accept them so long as they comply with applicable laws, regulations, and policies, according to recently issued guidance. Unacceptable types of electronic signatures are also listed. USDA regulations, which supersede this guidance, require some notices to tenants be provided in specific ways. For more information, contact the appropriate staff listed here.

Homeownership value limits set for HOME and Housing Trust Fund

HUD has established new limits, effective July 1, for the initial purchase prices or after-rehabilitation values of homeownership units assisted through the HOME program and Housing Trust Fund.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Inequities in child well-being persist, Kids Count reports

The 2023 version of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual KIDS COUNT data analysis shows that disparities continue among states and racial/ethnic populations. This year the report focuses on the national shortage of available and affordable childcare.

HAC

National Endowment for the Arts funds 25 rural communities through Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design

NEA, in partnership with HAC and To Be Done Studio, has announced the 25 towns and Tribal communities taking part in this year’s Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design™. Working with communities with populations of 50,000 or less, this national initiative has two primary components: local design workshops and a design learning cohort. This year CIRD will support eight workshops across the country, twice the number of workshops funded in previous years. The members of the peer learning cohort come from 17 communities as geographically diverse as Dalhart, Texas, and Ellsworth, Maine. Sign up for the CIRD newsletter to keep up to date on the cohort and other news.

HAC’s network supports rural housing improvements in letter to Congress

More than 100 organizations working in rural areas across the country signed a letter supporting bipartisan, cross-committee collaboration to consider improvements to USDA’s rural housing programs as part of the larger Farm Bill. Historically, the housing programs have not been included in the Farm Bill, but in recent months there has been increased momentum to include some bipartisan modernizations. HAC thanks all the organizations who signed the letter.

National Rural Housing Conference set for October

Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27 in Washington, DC and online.

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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

HAC News: June 23, 2023

TOP STORIES

USDA funding bills approved by House and Senate committees

On June 14, the full House Appropriations Committee passed a FY24 funding bill for USDA. The committee did not change any of the dollar amounts for rural housing or community facilities programs that were adopted by the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, but its report does show details that were not previously available. For example, Section 514/516 farmworker housing loans and grants, Section 504 repair grants, and Section 533 Housing Preservation Grants would all be reduced. Funding for the community facilities grants competition would fall from $25.3 million in FY23 to just under $3.6 million in FY24. Like the subcommittee, the full committee states that $1.607 billion will fully fund Section 521 Rental Assistance, without explaining why the amount is lower than the administration’s budget request. More information is posted on HAC’s website.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the USDA bill on June 22. It would cut Section 502 direct loans from $1.25 billion this year to $850 million and would raise the program’s minimum interest rate to 2% instead of the current 1%. It would provide $1.6 billion for Rental Assistance and would decouple RA from Section 515 mortgages. HAC is reviewing the bill and will post more information online on June 23.

The House’s overall FY24 spending limits for non-defense discretionary programs, adopted by the House Appropriations Committee on June 15, are lower than the amounts provided in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the debt limit compromise. Roll Call calculates that these limits (called 302(b) allocations), would decrease total funding for USDA by 30% below FY23 levels and for Transportation/HUD by 25%. The House versions of the FY24 appropriations bills may propose larger or smaller cuts in specific programs.

The House and the Senate committees have not yet released proposals for FY24 HUD funding and have not announced when they will begin to consider HUD bills.

Housing markets cool but costs remain high, says State of the Nation’s Housing report

The sharp interest rate hikes over the past year continue to impact housing markets and affordability for both homeowners and renters across the U.S., according to the State of the Nation’s Housing 2023 report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. First-time homebuying dropped sharply as housing costs remain well above pre-pandemic levels. Black and Hispanic homeownership rates were 28.6 and 25.8 percentage points below white homeownership rates in 2022. The number of cost-burdened renters hit a record high of 21.6 million households – about half of all renters – with 11.6 million of them spending over half of their income on housing. People continued to move into lower-cost, lower-density areas in 2022. The aging housing stock and climate change require attention as well, the authors write.

Apply for conference poster sessions by July 1

The deadline is July 1 for researchers and policymakers at all levels to apply to share their research and innovative ideas through a series of poster sessions at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference, October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The research must be related to rural America and can be on housing or another field such as public health, community development, race and ethnicity, or creative placemaking. Posters will be reviewed and judged by a distinguished panel of rural experts. For more information, contact Manda LaPorte and Natasha Moodie, HAC.

Correction to June 8 HAC News

The last issue of the HAC News stated incorrectly that the debt ceiling compromise rescinded $2 million appropriated for preservation technical assistance for FY21. The Fiscal Responsibility Act did not rescind rental preservation TA funds. HAC apologizes for any confusion.

RuralSTAT

Homes in rural Appalachian counties are less likely to be single-unit buildings than homes in the rest of the rural U.S. (70.4% compared to 75.2%), and more likely to be mobile homes (19.5% compared to 11.4%). Vacancy rates are about the same (22.2% and 22.6%). Source: Appalachian Regional Commission tabulations of 2017-2021 American Community Survey. (Rural counties are defined as those outside of and not adjacent to a metro area.)

OPPORTUNITIES

Main Street Grants available for small cities

HUD’s HOPE VI Main Street Program provides grants to communities with populations under 50,000 to assist in the renovation of historic, traditional central business districts or “Main Street” areas by replacing unused, obsolete, commercial space in buildings with affordable housing units. The only eligible applicants are local governments whose jurisdiction includes the Main Street area. Nonprofit or for-profit entities and others can be subcontractors. The deadline is October 12. For more information, contact Susan Wilson, HUD, 202-402-4500.

CAPITOL HILL

House committee votes to cancel aid for disadvantaged farmers

At its June 14 markup of its FY24 USDA funding bill, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment eliminating an Inflation Reduction Act program created to make payments to anyone who could show they experienced past discrimination in USDA farm lending programs. The program also includes funds to address land access (including heirs’ property) and funds outreach, education, and other aid. That IRA program replaced one created in the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act to aid socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers because lawsuits had determined that USDA loan programs had discriminated against them. White farmers and ranchers sued, charging that the ARPA program itself was discriminatory.

Native American housing covered in Senate hearing

Witnesses and Senators discussed Indian Country’s housing needs and opportunities at a June 13 hearing on the State of Native American Housing convened by the Senate Banking Committee’s Housing Subcommittee.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

HUD releases new inspection standards

The inspection standards notice for the National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) is the first of three subordinate publications that accompany the final NSPIRE rule published in May. NSPIRE provides for consistent property condition evaluations across multiple HUD programs. Notices on scoring and administrative matters are expected later this summer. HUD is developing training that will be posted on the NSPIRE website. For more information, email NSPIRE@hud.gov.

USDA systematizes appraisal assignment guidance for multifamily programs

Applicants to the Section 515 rental housing, Section 514/516 farmworker housing, and MPR preservation programs now do not need to request specific appraisal assignment guidance for each individual transaction. Instead, an owner can download (scroll down to “Quick Links”) the applicable appraisal assignment guidance, based on their specific situation, and provide the guidance to their appraiser prior to obtaining an appraisal. For more information, contact Jonathan Bell, USDA, jonathan.bell@usda.gov.

Comment deadline set for appraisal technology rule

Comments are due August 21 on a proposed rule by five federal regulatory agencies to  establish standards for computer models that may incorporate discrimination in property appraisals.

Fair Market Rent calculation changes under consideration

Comments are due July 24 on a HUD proposal to redefine “recent movers” and to use private rent data in calculating FY24 FMRs. For more information, contact Adam Bibler, HUD, 202-402-6057.

USDA RD creates Tribal relations webpage

RD’s Tribal Relations Page offers information about funding opportunities, events, and publications. For more information, email aian@usda.gov.

HUD will establish working group on LGBTQI+ issues

A June 15 presidential Executive Order instructs several federal agencies to take specific actions to advance equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex people. HUD is tasked with creating a new Working Group on LGBTQI+ Homelessness and Housing Equity, which “shall lead an initiative that aims to prevent and address homelessness and housing instability among LGBTQI+ individuals, including youth, and households.”

Resources posted on homelessness and climate change disasters

Noting that people experiencing homelessness can face greater risks from natural disasters and have less ability to prepare for and recover from them, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness has posted Homelessness and Climate Change: A Roundup of Resources for Communities Before, During, and After Disasters.

EVENTS

Rural energy funding webinar set for June 27

Rural Clean Energy Funding Opportunities Across Federal Agencies will be offered on June 27 by USDA, EPA, the Department of Energy, and other federal agencies. The webinar will introduce over a dozen clean energy funding opportunities for rural stakeholders.

Equitable Greenhouse Gas Reduction webinar series began June 22

In a set of webinars offered on Thursdays from June 22 through August 3, the Center for Impact Finance at the Carsey School of Public Policy and the Natural Resources Defense Council will make the case for how the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund can deliver equitable greenhouse gas reduction in low-income and disadvantaged communities through traditional lending lines of business in key market sectors. Recordings will be available online.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Housing costs still out of reach nationwide

Out of Reach 2023: The High Cost of Housing, the new edition of the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s yearly report, documents the gap between renters’ wages and the cost of rental housing for every state, metropolitan area, and county, as well as the portion of each state that is outside metropolitan areas. There is no state, metro area, or county where a full-time minimum-wage worker can afford a modest two-bedroom rental home within 30% of their income. The gap between wages and housing costs is largest for people of color, particularly women of color.

Chartbook shows changes and challenges in Appalachia

The Appalachian Region: A Data Overview from the 2017-2021 American Community Survey, published by the Appalachian Regional Commission, provides data and maps on a variety of topics including population, age, race/ethnicity, housing, education, internet access, employment, and more. Figures are listed for each of the region’s 13 states, for subregions, for county types, and for the Appalachian and non-Appalachian parts of each state (West Virginia is the only state entirely within the region).

Modular construction and local financing make homes affordable and expandable

Housing Innovation in Rural America, the last in a Nonprofit Quarterly set of articles titled Eradicating Rural Poverty: The Power of Cooperation Series, highlights the housing affordability challenges faced in rural America. Modular housing with community-based financing is an innovative approach to addressing these issues, as demonstrated with MiCASiTA. This model was pioneered by come dream. come build (cdcb) in the Rio Grande Valley, Tex. and is now being expanded to Pine Bluff, Ark. The modules are constructed off-site but locally, allowing for low-cost home construction that is affordable to lower-income families, who can add sections as they can afford them.

Connecticut begins baby bonds program

A National Community Reinvestment Coalition post discusses the potential implications of Connecticut’s new baby bond program in addressing wealth inequities. Starting on July 1, every baby born into a Medicaid eligible household in the state – disproportionately Black and Latino – will receive a $3,200 deposit into a trust. Those who are still Connecticut residents can redeem the funds between ages 18 and 30 for specific uses including purchasing a home.

HAC

National Rural Housing Conference set for October

Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27 in Washington, DC and online.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

2HAC’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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

Policy News town

Senate and House Committees Adopt Different Figures for FY24 USDA Spending

Update, October 2, 2023 – The House voted against its USDA appropriations bill on September 28.

On June 22, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of USDA’s funding bill for fiscal year 2024. Senate appropriators are using the spending limits set in the Fiscal Responsibility Act —  the debt ceiling compromise — while the House is developing spending bills to fit lower caps. As a result, the Senate bill proposes higher amounts than the House for most rural housing and community facilities programs. It would keep most of them at FY23 levels.

— HAC’s analysis of FY24 appropriations for HUD is available here. —

Funding Levels

While keeping most programs at FY23 spending levels, the Senate bill would reduce funding for the flagship Section 502 direct mortgage program. It proposes $850 million rather than this year’s $1.25 billion. It would also increase the lowest possible subsidized interest rate for Section 502 direct loans to 2% from the current 1%.

Rescissions

The bill would cancel some funds appropriated in prior years but not yet spent: $3 million in the rural voucher account and $30 million intended for Section 504 grants.

Rental Preservation

The Senate bill, unlike the House’s version, adopts the administration’s proposal for decoupling Section 521 Rental Assistance from Section 515 and 514 mortgages in limited circumstances. When a USDA mortgage is paid off, an owner could continue to receive RA if the property has RA already and there is no other way to preserve the property as affordable housing. Decoupled RA could be provided for a maximum of 15,000 units in FY24.

Other Provisions

The report that accompanies the Senate bill “encourages” USDA to increase maximum grants for the Rural Community Development Initiative from $250,000 to $500,000 and “to allow an advance of 25 percent of grant funds prior to a match being supplied.”

The final section of the bill (Title VII) is separate from the main provisions relating to housing and CF programs but contains several housing-related provisions, including the Section 502 interest rate change (Sections 771 and 774) and rescissions (Sections 732 and 744). It would also extend the terms of Section 523 self-help land development loans and Section 524 site development loans to five years instead of the current two (Sections 761 and 762). It would raise the statutory cap on the number of rural housing vouchers, which has been raised for one year at a time in past appropriations bills, from 5,000 to 10,000.

 

USDA Rural Dev. Prog. (dollars in millions) FY22 Final Approp. FY23 Final Approp. FY24 Admin. Budget FY24 House Committee Bill
(H.R. 4368)
FY24 Senate Committee Bill
(S. 2131)
502 Single Fam. Direct $1,250 $1,250 $1,500 $900 $850
   Nat. Amer. SF Demo. 7.5 12 5 7.5
502 Single Family Guar. 30,000 30,000 30,000 30,000 30,000
504 VLI Repair Loans 28 28 50 25 28
504 VLI Repair Grants 32 32 40 25 32
515 Rental Hsg. Direct Lns. 50 70 200 60 60
514 Farm Labor Hsg. Lns. 28 20 50 13 25
516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grts. 10 10 18 5 10
521 Rental Assistance 1,450 1,488 1,650 1,607 1,608
523 Self-Help TA 32 32 40 25 32
533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants 16 16 30 10 16
538 Rental Hsg. Guar. 250 400 400 400 400
Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR) 34 36 75 34 35
542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers 45 48 38 48 48
Rental Prsrv. TA 2 2 0 0 2
Community Facil. Direct Loans 2,800 2,800 2,800 2,800 2,800
Community Facil. Grants – Earmarks* NA 325.5 NA 313 205.1
Community Facil. Grants – Other 40 25.3 87 3.6 32
Tribal Colleges CF Grts 10 10 10 6 10
Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init. 6 6 22.8 5 6
Rural Hospital Pilot 0 0 2 0 0
Community Facil. Guarantees 650 650 650 650 650

* In this row of the table, the total earmark amounts (called “Congressionally Directed Spending” or “Community Project Funding”) are linked to documents that list the specific earmarks approved. Earmarks were not permitted in FY22 appropriations.

House Committee Passes FY24 USDA Appropriations

The full House Appropriations Committee approved a fiscal year 2024 funding bill for USDA on June 14, 2023. The committee made some changes in the bill passed by the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on May 18, but none were related to housing and community facilities. The measure retains the housing and CF program cuts adopted by the subcommittee.

New Details on Proposed Cuts

The full House committee released report language to accompany the bill, which provides some details not previously available. The report makes clear there would be a large cut to the pool of funding for standard community facilities grants that would be available through USDA’s competition: the total would plunge by 86%, from $25.3 million in FY23 to just under $3.6 million in FY24. Section 514 loans for farmworker housing would fall from $20 million in FY23 to $13 million in FY24, and Section 516 grants would drop from $10 million to $5 million. Section 504 grants and Section 533 would also decrease.

Like its subcommittee, the House Appropriations Committee states that its $1.607 billion will “fully fund the [Section 521 Rental Assistance] program,” without explaining why the amount differs from the administration’s budget request or whether “all” includes the 27,000 contracts added by the American Rescue Plan Act. (The administration’s total also includes $6 million for RA in new Section 515 units; that amount is not included in the House bill because it would not provide Section 515 funding for new units.)

Disadvantaged Farmers Program Cancellation Proposed

The full House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment, proposed by Agriculture Subcommittee Chair Andy Harris (R-Md.), to eliminate a program for disadvantaged farmers that was created in the Inflation Reduction Act. The IRA program replaced one created in the American Rescue Plan Act. The ARPA program would have aided “socially disadvantaged” farmers and ranchers because lawsuits previously determined that USDA discriminated against them. Then white farmers and ranchers sued, claiming it was discriminatory to pay people based solely on their race/ethnicity. While those suits were pending, Congress replaced the ARPA program with a new one in IRA to provide payments to anyone, regardless of race/ethnicity, who could show they experienced past discrimination in USDA farm lending programs. It also included grants and loans to improve land access (including heirs’ property and fractionated land issues) for underserved farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. And it funded outreach, education, research, equity commissions, and other aid.

The House bill also cancels diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at USDA. During the markup Rep. Harris noted that it would not impact USDA’s civil rights office.

House Subcommittee Releases Rural Housing Funding Bill

On May 18, 2023, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee approved a fiscal year 2024 funding bill for USDA, proposing to fund many rural housing programs at levels lower than those requested in the administration’s budget, and in some cases lower than the amounts appropriated in FY23 or FY22.

The full House Appropriations Committee scheduled its own mark-up for May 24, then postponed it without setting a new date.

The administration’s budget documents state that its $1.65 billion request for Section 521 would renew all current Rental Assistance contracts, including 27,000 contracts added by the American Rescue Plan Act. The subcommittee’s summary says its $1.607 billion “fully funds existing rental contracts to ensure rural residents will not be displaced,” but does not specifically mention the ARPA units and does not explain the discrepancy between its figure and the budget’s. The administration’s total also includes $6 million for RA in new Section 515 units; that amount is not included in the House bill because it would not provide Section 515 funding for new units.

The House bill would also rescind unspent monies from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Inflation Reduction Act and would prohibit USDA spending on climate-change-related items including energy efficiency.

The Senate has not yet released proposed appropriations bills.

White House Budget Requests Increases in Rural Housing Funding

March 13, 2023 — The White House’s detailed budget request for fiscal year 2024 would increase funding for almost all of USDA’s rural housing and community facilities programs.

View a recording or the slides from HAC’s webinar on Rural Housing in the Fiscal Year 2024 White House Budget, which examined the budget’s contents and what to expect over the coming months.

Initiatives Requiring Legislation

The budget proposes legislative changes for Section 502 direct homeownership loans and for multifamily housing preservation.

For the Section 502 direct program, subsidy “recapture” would be eliminated. Recapture requires that, when a low- or very low-income homeowner with a Section 502 loan sells the house or moves, they must repay the subsidy amounts they have received over the life of the loan. The administration estimates that eliminating this penalty for current borrowers would cost USDA $996 million. It also proposes that Section 502 direct loans made in 2024 will not to be subject to recapture.

Like last year’s budget, the FY24 request proposes to provide HUD vouchers rather than USDA vouchers for tenants who lose Section 521 Rental Assistance when the USDA Section 515 or 514 mortgage ends for the property where they live. The HUD budget includes $20 million for these vouchers. USDA also again asks Congress to “decouple” RA from USDA mortgages so that some tenants can continue to receive RA after their properties’ mortgages end.

Funding Requests

The budget’s proposed $1.65 billion for Section 521 Rental Assistance would enable USDA to renew all of its RA contracts, including 27,000 contracts added by the American Rescue Plan Act.

The $200 million funding level for Section 515 is intended to provide enough for some new construction as well as preservation of existing properties. The Section 521 request includes $6 million to provide RA for the new Section 515 units.

The Rural Community Development Initiative, which funds capacity building for local organizations, would receive more than three times as much funding in FY24 as in FY23. The budget requests a leap from $6 million to $22.8 million, without explaining a particular reason for the increase. (RCDI is a setaside within the community facilities grants program but is not limited to recipients of CF funds.)

The budget asks Congress to authorize foreclosure authority for USDA RD’s multifamily office that would be equivalent to HUD’s.

All housing construction or rehabilitation would be required to improve energy or water efficiency, or address climate resilience.

HAC News: June 8, 2023

TOP STORIES

Debt ceiling compromise limits spending, rescinds some HUD and USDA housing funds

The Fiscal Responsibility Act – the recently enacted compromise that suspends the debt ceiling until January 1, 2025 – makes fewer cuts than the Limit, Save, Grow Act passed by the House in April, but it almost certainly will limit federal spending on housing aid for the next two fiscal years. In addition to the well-publicized work requirements for SNAP and TANF recipients, reallocation of IRS funding, and revised environmental reviews, the measure includes a variety of other provisions, several of which impact rural housing.

It rescinds USDA rural housing funds in two accounts: any unspent funds from the $39 million for Section 502 direct loans and 504 loans that was provided in the American Rescue Plan Act.  and $2 million appropriated for preservation technical assistance for FY21. That $2 million was included in a currently open notice of funding availability from USDA offering $6.9 million from several appropriations years. Correction: The deleted language was included erroneously in the HAC News as distributed on June 8. The Fiscal Responsibility Act did not rescind rental preservation technical assistance funds. HAC apologizes for any confusion.

Further information is available on HAC’s website about HUD funding rescissions, caps on future spending, and provisions intended to give Congress incentives to enact regular appropriations bills for FY24 and FY25.

Rural veterans and local nonprofits receive critical housing support in partnership with The Home Depot Foundation

Veterans and their families in 14 rural communities will have better lives, thanks to The Home Depot Foundation and HAC. The Foundation is awarding grants totaling $366,907 to 14 local nonprofit housing agencies around the country to preserve housing for veterans in rural America. The grants are part of The Home Depot Foundation’s mission to provide affordable and accessible housing solutions to U.S. veterans and invest $500 million in veteran causes by 2025. As part of its Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans Initiative, HAC works with The Home Depot Foundation to administer grants that bolster and support the work of rural nonprofit housing agencies to deliver critical housing support to veterans.

HAC extends poster session deadline

Researchers and policymakers at all levels can apply by July 1 to share their research and innovative ideas through a series of poster sessions at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference, October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The research must be related to rural America and can be on housing or another field such as public health, community development, race and ethnicity, or creative placemaking. Posters will be reviewed and judged by a distinguished panel of rural experts. For more information, contact Manda LaPorte and Natasha Moodie, HAC.

June is National Homeownership Month, National Healthy Homes Month, and Pride Month

RuralSTAT

According to the 2021 American Community Survey, there are 33.3 million homeowners in rural America. The rural homeownership rate is 72.5% compared to 64.6% for all households nationally. Source: HAC Tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey. For more information on rural homeownership visit Rural Research Brief: Homeownership in Rural America.

OPPORTUNITIES

EPA to help Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund applicants find partners

Potential applicants, coalition members, and partners wanting to find others interested in the three GGRF funds can fill out brief forms by June 19. EPA will compile a list and share it among those who provide their information. Consultants and other for-profit vendors will not be included. The agency expects to publish notices of funding opportunities this summer. For more information, email ggrf@epa.gov.

PHAs can request funding for Housing Mobility or Jobs Plus

PHAs that administer Housing Choice Vouchers can apply for Housing Mobility-Related Services funds to increase access to opportunity neighborhoods for families with children. The deadline is August 30. For more information, contact Alison Bell, housingmobility@hud.gov.

Jobs Plus program funds help PHAs assist public housing residents to find and continue jobs. The deadline is August 21. For more information, contact the program office, jobsplus@hud.gov.

Fannie Mae offers first look at REO properties to community organizations

Community First by Fannie Mae™ manages the sale of REO properties to public entities, nonprofits, public funds users, and community-minded investors across the country. Approved partners receive access to Fannie Mae REO properties before the homes are traditionally listed for sale. The properties are made available with price concessions to facilitate affordable and sustainable housing. All interested organizations are required to register for approval to participate in the program. For more information or a demonstration of the platform, contact Fannie Mae’s Community First Sales Team, support_communityfirst@fanniemae.com.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Axne and Hsu join USDA

Cindy Axne, formerly a member of the House of Representatives from Iowa, has been appointed Senior Advisor for Rural Engagement, Delivery and Prosperity at USDA. Yvonne Hsu has been appointed Chief of Staff for the Rural Housing Service. She previously worked at the National Asian-Pacific American Women’s Forum, the National Council of State Housing Agencies, and HUD, and on Capitol Hill.

Temporary Buy America waivers for Tribes proposed by USDA, finalized by HUD

USDA is proposing a one-year department-wide waiver for Tribes of the Buy America domestic content procurement preference in order to conduct more Tribal consultation. An earlier Tribal consultation waiver for USDA RD has now expired. Comments on the new request are due June 16. For more information or to submit comments, email ffac@usda.gov with the subject “Tribal Consultation Waiver in the Public Interest for Indian Tribes.”

HUD’s request for a similar one-year waiver for Tribes has been approved. For more information, contact Faith Rogers, HUD, 202-402-7082.

USDA sets schedule for feedback on decoupling as a rental preservation tool

USDA RD seeks stakeholder input as it compiles a required report to Congress on how it could implement decoupling of Section 521 Rental Assistance from Section 515 mortgages so that some tenants can continue to receive RA after their properties’ mortgages end. Send comments to decoupling@usda.gov by July 31; attend an in-person session on June 15 at a National Council of State Housing Agencies conference or on June 27 at a Council for Affordable and Rural Housing conference; or join a virtual session on July 19 or July 25.

Comments sought on tenant protections

The Federal Housing Finance Agency requests input on tenant protections at multifamily properties with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. FHFA asks for information that highlights tenants’ experiences and stakeholders’ perspectives, as well as ideas for improved data collection. Comments are due July 31. Several tenant-supporting organizations have also set up a joint website to help tenants to comment.

Agencies propose rule on appraisal technology

A rule proposed by the Federal Reserve Board, CFPB, FDIC, FHFA, National Credit Union Administration, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency would establish standards for computer models used in property appraisals. These “automated valuation models” help appraise real estate that will be used as collateral for mortgage loans. A CFPB blog post explains that automated valuations rely on mathematical formulas and large amounts of data to estimate a property’s value but can embed bias and discrimination, depending on the information they are given and how they are programmed. Comments on the proposal will be due 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. For more information, contact Julie Giesbrecht, FHFA, 202-557-9866.

Freddie Mac launches mortgage product for Native American homebuyers

HeritageOne mortgages will provide conventional financing without income limitations for enrolled members of federally recognized Tribes. They will be available beginning in October for single-family homes on the lands of Tribes that are on HUD’s Section 184 Participating Tribes List or have memoranda of understanding with Freddie Mac. Lenders interested in originating these mortgages should contact their Freddie Mac account executive or the Customer Support Contact Center (800-FREDDIE). HeritageOne was developed under Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve plan.

FHFA plans online listening sessions on Duty to Serve

The Federal Housing Finance Agency will hold virtual Duty to Serve Markets Public Listening Sessions on July 17 (rural housing), July 18 (manufactured housing), and July 19 (affordable housing preservation). Register to attend or to speak. FHFA will provide more information soon about how to submit written comments. For more information, email DutytoServeStakeholders@fhfa.gov.

FHA considers new approach to help struggling homeowners

The Federal Housing Administration requests comments on a new Payment Supplement Partial Claim to help struggling homeowners with FHA loans to reduce their mortgage payments temporarily. Mortgage servicers would use the FHA Partial Claim, which is an interest-free loan secured by a subordinate mortgage, both to bring a borrower’s mortgage current and to provide temporary reductions to their monthly mortgage payments for up to five years. The homeowner would repay FHA when they sell their home or refinance. Comments are due June 30.

HUD announces third round of unsheltered and rural homelessness funding

HUD has awarded $45 million for 3,379 Stability Vouchers to 135 PHAs and partnering Continuum of Care communities across the country to address homelessness among people in unsheltered settings and in rural communities. The effort to address homelessness in these places began in June 2022 with a notice of funding opportunity, and earlier funding rounds were announced in February and April 2023.

EVENTS

HAC continues webinar series on construction

Overcoming Cost Barriers: Innovative Approaches to Construction with Smart Building Techniques, Volunteers, and Sweat Equity is a series of five webinars. Two will be held later this month:

Three sessions have already been held, and the materials and recordings are posted online:

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Local nonprofit partners develop energy efficient affordable housing on the Pine Ridge reservation

The Western Organization of Resource Councils reports how Red Cloud Renewable and InOurHands are working together to build naturally insulated cellular concrete tiny homes that can be heated with a small solar panel. In the next phase, Lakota businesses will build the homes and the Lakota Federal Credit Union will underwrite the mortgages.

Housing supply limits growth for small Illinois towns, article says

Rural Illinois Towns Defend their Quiet Communities, originally published in the Chicago Tribune, reports that the lack of growth in rural Illinois towns may indicate limited housing supply rather than economic decline – businesses and school enrollment may be stable. The town of Dieterich used tax increment financing to prepare 130 new lots where developers have built new homes, and also created a local community development corporation. Both efforts have contributed to substantial population growth and a stronger local economy.

New resources available for smaller distressed communities

HUD recently updated its Distressed Cities and Persistent Poverty Technical Assistance Program library with new resources including upcoming funding opportunities, webinars, and toolkits. For more information, contact distressedcities@hud.gov.

HAC

National Rural Housing Conference set for October

Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27 in Washington, DC and online.

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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

Debt ceiling compromise limits spending, rescinds some HUD and USDA housing funds

The Fiscal Responsibility Act – the recently enacted compromise that suspends the debt ceiling until January 1, 2025 – makes fewer cuts than the Limit, Save, Grow Act passed by the House in April, but it almost certainly will limit federal spending on housing aid for the next two fiscal years. In addition to the well-publicized work requirements for SNAP and TANF recipients, reallocation of IRS funding, and revised environmental reviews, the measure includes a variety of other provisions, several of which impact rural housing.

  • It rescinds any unspent funds from the $39 million for Section 502 direct loans and 504 loans that was provided in the American Rescue Plan Act. (The June 8, 2023 HAC News reported incorrectly that $2 million in rental preservation technical assistance funds were also rescinded. The compromise did not rescind any preservation TA monies.)
  • It rescinds unspent monies appropriated by pandemic relief laws for the Emergency Rental Assistance and Homeowner Assistance Fund programs, and funds that were appropriated in the CARES Act but have not yet been spent by HUD for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, Project-Based Rental Assistance, Native American housing, Section 811, and Section 202.
  • It caps overall FY24 funding for discretionary programs at around FY23 levels. Despite this limit on total spending, specific programs may receive amounts that are higher or lower than their FY23 levels. As it does every year, the appropriations process in Congress will make key decisions for individual programs.
  • Overall discretionary spending can increase only 1% from FY24 to FY25. The annual appropriations bills will set amounts for individual programs.
  • If appropriations do exceed the limits in FY24 or FY25, a sequester would make across-the-board cuts to discretionary programs.
  • Discretionary spending increases are also capped at 1% for fiscal years 2026-2029, but Congress can waive these caps if it chooses. It has no such option for FY24 and FY25.
  • If Congress uses a continuing resolution to fund any part of the government beyond January 1 of FY24 or FY25, funding for that year would be reduced. If a CR were still in effect on April 30, the funding cut would be applied to the entire year.
HAC in the News

Rural Veterans and Local Nonprofits Receive Critical Housing Support in partnership with The Home Depot Foundation

Contacts: Dan Stern, dan@ruralhome.org
AHRV Team, ahrv@ruralhome.org
(202) 842-8600

Washington, DC, May 31, 2023 – Veterans and their families in fourteen rural communities will have better lives, thanks to The Home Depot Foundation and the Housing Assistance Council. The Foundation is awarding grants totaling $366,907 to fourteen local nonprofit housing agencies around the country to preserve housing for veterans in rural America.

The grants are part of The Home Depot Foundation’s mission to provide affordable and accessible housing solutions to U.S. veterans and invest $500 million in veteran causes by 2025. Many veterans and their families face major housing challenges, often exacerbated by issues related to unemployment, age, and service-related disabilities. The Home Depot Foundation and the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) are dedicated to giving back to those who have answered the highest call of service to our nation.

As part of its Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans (AHRV) Initiative, HAC works with The Home Depot Foundation to administer grants that bolster and support the work of rural nonprofit housing agencies to deliver critical housing support to veterans. “The Home Depot Foundation’s support remains a cornerstone of HAC’s work to strengthen local organizations that build and maintain homes for veterans across rural America,” said David Lipsetz, HAC’s CEO. “The more we support the local groups that are helping veterans, the more we see veterans and their hometowns thrive.”  As rural America is home to a disproportionately high number of service women and men, HAC remains deeply committed to supporting our nation’s service women and men by uplifting local nonprofits and their work to house and ensure the habitability of their homes and rural communities.

The grantee organizations – described below – provide a range of programs. With the grants, veterans who own homes in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee will obtain critical repair assistance. Altogether, 43 veterans and their families will benefit from these grants.

About The Home Depot Foundation 

The Home Depot FoundationThe Home Depot Foundationworks to improve the homes and lives of U.S. veterans, support communities impacted by natural disasters and train skilled tradespeople to fill the labor gap. Since 2011, the Foundation has invested more than $475 million in veteran causes and improved more than 55,000 veteran homes and facilities. The Foundation has pledged to invest half of a billion dollars in veteran causes by 2025 and $50 million in training the next generation of skilled tradespeople through the Path to Pro program.

To learn more about The Home Depot Foundation visit  HomeDepotFoundation.org and follow them on Twitter  @HomeDepotFound and on Facebook and Instagram  @HomeDepotFoundation.

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, research and information, and policy formulation to enable solutions for rural communities.

To learn more about the Housing Assistance Council, visit www.ruralhome.org and follow HAC on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter @RuralHome.

About the Grantees

  • Creative Compassion, Inc., Crossville, TN, will utilize $22,500 to provide needed critical repairs for three (3) rural, low-income veterans in Crossville and Jamestown, TN. For additional information on Creative Compassion, Inc., visit their website at https://ccihomes.org/.
  • Good Works, Inc., Coatesville, PA, will utilize $30,000 to provide critical repairs to the homes of two (2) low-income rural veterans in Coatesville, PA. For additional information on Good Works, Inc., visit their website at https://www.goodworksinc.org/.
  • GROW South Dakota, Sisseton, SD, will utilize $30,000 to provide critical repairs for three (3) rural, low-income veterans in Sisseton, SD. For additional information on GROW SD, visit their website at https://www.growsd.org/.
  • Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County, Tampa, FL, will utilize $30,000 to provide critical roof replacement and new roof installation to the homes of two (2) low-income rural veterans in rural Hillsborough County, FL. For additional information on Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County, visit their website at https://www.habitathillsborough.org/
  • Habitat for Humanity of South-Central New Jersey, Maple Shade, NJ, will utilize $20,000 to provide critical home repairs for three (3) rural low-income veterans. For additional information on Habitat for Humanity of South-Central New Jersey, visit their website at https://www.habitatscnj.org/.
  • Habitat for Humanity of York County, Rock Hill, SC, will utilize $10,000 to support critical repairs and accessibility modifications for one (1) rural low-income veteran. For additional information on Habitat for Humanity of York County, visit their website at https://yorkcountyhabitat.org/.
  • Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna, Bel Air, MD, will utilize $16,157 to support critical repairs and accessibility modifications for one (1) rural low-income veteran in Elkton, MD. For additional information on Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna, visit their website at https://habitatsusq.org/.
  • New Foundation Development, Inc., Calhoun, GA, will utilize $28,250 to provide critical repairs and ADA accessibility modifications for three (3) low-income rural veteran homeowners in Resaca and Calhoun, GA. For additional information on New Foundation Development, Inc., visit their website at https://nfdinc.org/.
  • Pensacola Habitat for Humanity, Pensacola, FL, will utilize $30,000 to provide critical home repairs for two (2) rural low-income veterans. For additional information on Pensacola Habitat for Humanity, visit their website at https://pensacolahabitat.org/.
  • Rebuilding Together Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, will utilize $30,000 to support the rehabilitation and modification of four (4) veteran owned units. For additional information on Rebuilding Together Minnesota, visit their website at https://rtmn.org/
  • Rebuilding Together Saratoga County, Ballston Spa, NY, will utilize $30,000 to provide critical repairs and ADA accessibility modifications for four (4) low-income rural veteran homeowners. For additional information on Rebuilding Together Saratoga County, visit their website at https://www.rtsaratoga.org/
  • Red Feather Development Group, Flagstaff, AZ, will utilize $30,000 to provide critical home repairs for four (4) rural low-income Native American veterans. For additional information on Red Feather Development Group, visit their website at https://www.redfeather.org/.
  • Swift County Rural Development Authority, Benson, MN, will utilize $30,000 to provide critical repairs, roof, plumbing, HVAC unit and water heater for one (1) very low-income veteran homeowner in Clontarf, MN. For additional information on Swift County Rural Development Authority, visit their website at https://www.swiftcounty.com/hra.
  • Transylvania Habitat for Humanity, Brevard, NC, will utilize $30,000 to provide critical repairs and accessibility modifications for ten (10) low-income rural veteran homeowners. For additional information on Transylvania Habitat for Humanity, visit their website at https://transylvaniahabitat.org/.