The Housing Assistance Council is an independent, non-partisan and regularly responds to Congressional committees, Member offices, federal agencies, and policy advocacy coalitions with the research and information needed to make informed policy decisions. Our research work, Rural Data Portal, and Veterans Data Central all provide valuable, educational context to frame the rural policy conversation. If you want to know how a new program or policy could impact America’s small towns and rural places, please don’t hesitate to contact us at policy@ruralhome.org.

Policy News from the Administration

HAC’s Recommendations to the CFPB on HMDA Rule Assessment

HAC submitted comments in response to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Request for Information regarding the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) Rule Assessment. HAC and our rural stakeholders have relied on HMDA data for decades to improve our understanding of rural mortgage markets. The CFPB will use these stakeholder comments to help better evaluate the effectiveness of these changes in meeting the purposes and objectives of Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Key takeaways:

  • Reporting Threshold

    HAC strongly urges the CFPB to return to the 25-origination reporting threshold, for closed-end loans, as opposed to the new 100-origination threshold, in order to more accurately capture rural markets that are disproportionately served by small financial institutions.

  • Reliability Index

    HAC Recommends that the CFPB resource and publish a HMDA “Reliability Index.” While not a fix for overly limited reporting thresholds, the development of an indicator would be helpful for the CFPB, data users, and consumers.

  • Additional Data

    HAC applauds increased HMDA data reporting, but additional data and reporting are still needed. While the new housing data points – specifically those on manufactured housing – enhance the HMDA data usefulness, more data could improve an understanding of certain underserved markets. This is particularly true when it comes to tribal lands and specific loan programs.

  • Data Browser

    HAC applauds CFPB’s HMDA data browser, which offers improved access to HMDA data over previous interfaces.

USDA Rural Development State Directors Named

This table identifies State Directors for U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development offices named by the Biden Administration as of January 20, 2022. These positions do not require Senate confirmation.

HAC will keep this list up to date as we learn of new appointments. Please send additions or corrections to HAC staff.

 

STATE STATE DIRECTOR
Alabama (AL) Nivory Gordon, Jr.
Alaska (AK)
Arizona (AZ) Charlene Fernandez
Arkansas (AR)
California (CA)
Colorado (CO) Armando Valdez
Connecticut (CT)
Delaware (DE) David Baker
Florida (FL) and Virgin Islands (VI) Lakeisha Hood
Georgia (GA) Reggie Taylor
Hawaii (HI) and Western Pacific
Idaho (ID) Rudy Soto
Illinois (IL) Betsy Dirksen Londrigan
Indiana (IN)
Iowa (IA) Theresa Greenfield
Kansas (KS)
Kentucky (KY)
Louisiana (LA)
Maine (ME) Rhiannon Hampson
Maryland (MD) David Baker
Massachusetts (MA)
Michigan (MI) Brandon Fewins
Minnesota (MN)
Mississippi (MS)
Missouri (MO) Kyle Wilkens
Montana (MT) Kathleen Williams
Nebraska (NE) Kate Bolz
Nevada (NV)
New Hampshire (NH) Sarah Waring
New Jersey (NJ)
New Mexico (NM) Patricia Dominguez
New York (NY) Brian Sheldon Murray
North Carolina (NC) Reginald Speight
North Dakota (ND)
Ohio (OH) Jonathan McCracken
Oklahoma (OK)
Oregon (OR) Margaret Hoffmann
Pennsylvania (PA) Bob Morgan
Puerto Rico (PR)
Rhode Island (RI)
South Carolina (SC) Saundra Glover
South Dakota (SD)
Tennessee (TN) Arlisa Armstrong
Texas (TX)
Utah (UT)
Vermont (VT) Sarah Waring
Virgin Islands (VI) Lakeisha Hood
Virginia (VA)
Washington (WA) Helen Price Johnson
West Virginia (WV)
Wisconsin (WI) Julie Lassa
Wyoming (WY)

 

HAC’s 2022 Rural Housing Policy Priorities

Federal policy has an important and lasting impact on rural places. For the last 50 years, the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) has been the voice for the poorest of the poor in the most rural places. Our deeply rooted work in communities across the country informs our research and drives our policy positions. Our independent and non-partisan work with members of Congress, federal agencies, affordable housing and community development organizations, and other stakeholders ensures the most vulnerable rural populations – especially those in high-needs regions like the Mississippi Delta, rural Appalachia, farmworker communities, the Southwest border colonias and Indian Country – have improved access to safe and affordable housing opportunities.

Rural America is home to about 20 percent of the U.S. population and covers more than 90 percent of the U.S. landmass. Its small towns and rural regions are diverse demographically and economically, and face a wide array of local challenges and opportunities for developing their communities and housing. While each place is unique, HAC has documented several themes. Persistent poverty is a predominantly rural condition. Habitable rural housing is in severely short supply. The adequate housing that does exist is often unaffordable because rural incomes are low and run well below the national median. Rural housing lacks adequate plumbing and kitchen facilities at a rate above the national average. Overcrowding is not uncommon in some rural regions. Decades of stagnant rural house prices have denied owners the wealth and mobility so often associated with buying a home. And racial inequity is endemic as the result of housing policies and banking practices that excluded rural people of color. Complicating these challenges, a lack of reliable rural data obscures rural realities.

In addressing these issues, HAC’s policy priorities include:

  1. Building the capacity of local affordable housing and community development organizations deeply rooted in rural places;
  2. Expanding access to credit and safe, affordable lending in underserved rural communities;
  3. Improving the overall quality, availability and affordability of housing to buy and rent in small towns and rural places; and
  4. Preserving, increasing and tailoring resources for federal affordable housing programs serving rural populations.

We invite you to view our 2022 Policy Priorities and explore the various policy issues facing rural communities.

HAC's Policy Priorities for 2022
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.

 

Policy News from the Administration

HAC Applauds OCC Rescinding 2020 CRA Rule

HAC submitted comments in response to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (OCC) proposal to rescind its June 2020 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) rule. HAC applauds the OCC’s move to rescind and replace this rule, and we look forward to working together in the future to improve and modernize the CRA in a way that equitably serves rural places. To explore HAC’s 2016 CRA research series, “The Community Reinvestment Act in Rural America,” click here [https://ruralhome.org/rural-cra-resources/].

Key takeaways:

  • Support the CRA

    HAC unequivocally supports the Community Reinvestment Act

  • Opposed June 2020 Rule

    For numerous reasons, HAC did not support the OCC’s June 2020 rule and is glad to see this proposed rescinding

  • CRA Modernization

    OCC should work together with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to thoughtfully modernize CRA

  • Promote Equity

    Any CRA modernizations should seek to equitably serves rural places

HAC OCC CRA Rule Rescinded Comment
Rory Doyle/ There is More Work to be Done

Historic Housing & Capacity Building Investments in Build Back Better Framework

Statement from HAC’s CEO

This is a moment housing advocates have been waiting for. Today, President Biden announced a Build Back Better framework that would make robust investments in affordable housing and capacity across the country. This historic investment would drive prosperity and equity for small towns and rural places.

Rural communities hold vast potential to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life for all Americans. Access to quality, affordable housing is key to jumpstarting that potential. Building and preserving homes creates jobs, improves education and health outcomes, and provides much-needed financial and physical stability to low-income families.

The framework includes a $150 billion investment in affordable housing nationwide, which would build more than a million new affordable homes, expand rental assistance, and help families afford down payments. It would also establish a new Rural Partnership Program, empowering rural communities (including Tribal Nations) with capacity building resources.

Everyone deserves a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home. The Build Back Better framework would bring our country much, much closer to achieving that vision.

 

David Lipsetz

CEO, Housing Assistance Council

 

Policy News from the Administration

HAC Recommends a Focus on Racial and Geographic Equity in FHFA Comments

HAC submitted comments in response to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) Request for Input (RFI) on the Enterprise Equitable Housing Finance Plan framework. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) have been instructed to submit Equitable Housing Finance Plans to FHFA by the end of 2021. The Plans will frame the Enterprises’ goals and action plans to advance equity in housing finance for the next three years. These plans will work alongside other FHFA efforts, including Duty to Serve, the importance of which HAC has long championed. HAC applauds the focus on equity outlined in this RFI, and encourages consideration of the unique needs of rural communities of color in the creation of the Equitable Housing Finance Plans.

Key Takeaways

  • Limited Activity

    Enterprise activity in rural communities of color has been very limited.

  • Support Capacity Building

    Enterprise support for capacity building and access to capital are critical factors necessary to build racial and geographic equity in rural places

  • Rural is Different

    Rural realities must be considered in the creation of the plans

  • Stakeholder participation

    Stakeholder engagement in the process of creating and revising the plans will be key

FHFA Equitable Housing Finance Plan Comments 10.25.21
Policy News from the Administration

HAC Urges Census Bureau to Expand Data Offerings

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) has submitted comments to the U.S. Census Bureau on its new 2020 Census Data Product Planning Crosswalk

HAC urges the U.S. Census Bureau to provide sub-county geographies in all elements of the new Data Product Planning Crosswalk, as well as all public-use data products it produces. Political and economic geography is an important consideration when determining the population and residential patterns of an area. The county is a commonly used unit of geography. In many rural areas, the county is often identified within political, social, and economic contexts.  However, county-based designations are not the optimum criteria on which to assess or research social, economic and housing conditions.

The Housing Assistance Council is pleased to have this opportunity to provide comments to the U.S. Census Bureau on its new 2020 Census Data Product Planning Crosswalk. HAC looks forward to working with the Census Bureau to continually improve the provision of data for all communities – urban, suburban, and rural.

HAC_COMMENTS_2020_Census_Data_Products_U.S._Census_Bureau_10_21_21
Policy News from Congress

Updated October 20 – FY22 HUD Funding Bill Proposed in Senate

Updated, October 20, 2021 – The Senate Appropriations Committee has released nine proposed appropriations bills, including the Transportation-HUD bill, for the fiscal year that began on October 1. The committee would increase many programs above their FY21 funding levels, though generally it would not raise them to the figures proposed in the House bill. The Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) is an exception, set in both the House and Senate bills at $15 million rather than the $10 million it received in FY21. Native American housing would also receive more under the Senate bill than from the House. Details are provided in the table below.

Federal programs are currently funded through a continuing resolution that keeps them at FY21 levels. It will expire on December 3, 2021.

 

Updated, July 29, 2021 – The full House passed H.R. 4502, a “minibus” containing several FY22 appropriations bills, including the bills for both HUD and USDA.

 

Update, July 16, 2021 – The House Appropriations Committee has approved the Transportation-HUD funding bill. It is expected to be considered by the full House as part of a “minibus” package of several FY22 appropriations bills, which will also include the Agriculture bill.

 

On July 16, 2021 the House Appropriations Committee will consider a fiscal year 2022 funding bill for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. The bill was approved on July 12 by the T-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee.

The House bill would set funding levels for many HUD programs at or above the amounts requested in the President’s budget and would provide substantial increases above FY21 levels for almost all programs. Details are provided in the table below.

 

 

 

HUD Program

(dollars in millions)

FY20 Final Approp. FY21 Final Approp. FY22 Admin. Budget FY22 House Bill FY22 Senate Bill
CDBG $3,425 $3,475 $3,770 $4,688 $4,190
HOME 1,350 1,350 1,850 1,850 1,450
Self-Help Homeownshp. (SHOP) 10 10 10 15 15
Veterans Home Rehab 4 4 4 4
Tenant-Based Rental Asstnce. 23,874 25,778 30,442 29,216 27,719
    VASH setaside 40 40 20 50
    Tribal VASH 1 5 5 5 5
Project-Based Rental Asstnce. 12,570 13,465 14,060 14,010 13,970
Public Hsg. Capital Fund 2,870 2,942 3,678 3,718 3,794
Public Hsg. Operating Fund 4,549 4,864 4,917 4,922 5,044
Choice Neighbrhd. Initiative 175 200 250 400 200
Native Amer. Hsg. 825 825 1,000 950 1,000
Homeless Assistance Grants 2,777 3,000 3,500 3,420 3,260
Hsg. Opps. for Persons w/ AIDS 410 430 450 600 450
202 Hsg. for Elderly 793 855 928 1,033 956
811 Hsg. for Disabled 202 227 272 352 227
Fair Housing 70.3 72.6 85 85 85
Healthy Homes & Lead Haz. Cntl. 290 360 400 460 400
Housing Counseling 53 57.5 85.9 100 57.5

 

Shawn Poynter/ There is More Work to be Done

UPDATE – 120 organizations sign on to Support rural housing and capacity building in the Build Back Better Act

Thank you! With your help 120 organizations signed on Congressional leadership yesterday in support of the robust rural housing and rural capacity building investments in the House bills for the Build Back Better Act. Nearly 120 organizations from across the country signed on to support these important investments.

Read the Letter

HAC Rural Housing Reconciliation Sign-On

 

Congress is currently working to negotiate the Build Back Better Act. Rural housing and capacity building programs are currently included in the bill and we want to make sure they continue to be top priorities. HAC is circulating a sign-on letter to Congressional leadership in support of maintaining rural housing and capacity building investments in the Build Back Better Act. You can view the text of the letter below. As a valued friend of HAC, we hope that you will add your organization’s name to this effort.

If you have any questions, please reach out to HAC’s Government Relations Manager, Samantha Booth, at samantha@ruralhome.org. The deadline to sign on is Tuesday, October 12. We appreciate your help.