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.

USDA Announces Rural Development State Directors

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a full list of State Directors for USDA Rural Development and for the Farm Service Agency on November 3, 2017. The RD list below is from USDA’s press release.

Rural Development State Directors

Alabama: Chris Beeker

Chris Beeker grew up on a catfish and cattle farm in the smallest county of his state and through extensive experience of working on the family farm and other business ventures has firsthand knowledge of the positive and important impacts of USDA programs for all communities and especially rural America.

Alaska: Jerry Ward

Jerry Ward is an Athabascan Indian from the Caribou Tribe, born and raised in Alaska, and has a record of public service, including in the U.S. Navy Seabees in Vietnam, as Rural Affairs Coordinator with the Department of Corrections, as Legislative Liaison for the Alaska Energy Authority. He has also served as a member of the State House of Representative, with a seat on the Finance Committee, and in the State Senate as Vice Chairman of the Finance Committee addressing rural Alaska issues.

Arizona: J.C. Sherman III

J.C. Sherman comes to USDA with vast experience from the Departments of Energy and Commerce, in addition to private sector experience from Executive Protection, Director of Sales Operations for a division of Schneider Electric and Business Development Director with other fortune 50 companies.

Arkansas: David Branscum

David Branscum is serving his fourth term in the Arkansas House of Representatives and is a cattleman who has been active with several civic organizations serving to empower rural Arkansas.

California: Kim Dolbow Vann

Kim Vann has been working and serving in California’s Rural Communities for nearly 20 years and her career gives her an excellent understanding of California’s’ Rural Communities needs and the experience to solve problems.

Colorado: Sallie Clark

Sallie Clark is a former El Paso County, Colorado commissioner, city councilmember, well known small-business entrepreneur, and past President of the National Association of Counties (NACo). She has spent much of her career representing rural America.

Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island: George Krivda

George Krivda has worked at the state Department of Agriculture for nearly ten years serving as a Project Manager, Public Information Officer, Legislative Program Manager and Chief of Staff.

Delaware and Maryland: Denise Lovelady

Denise Lovelady brings over 20 years of executive and management experience in both the public and private sectors to USDA, specifically in the areas of government, legislative affairs, public relations, economic development, agriculture, natural resources, real estate, and community outreach.

Florida: Sydney Gruters

Sydney Gruters has worked for U.S. Representative Vern Buchanan for more than 10 years in an official capacity and has served as the congressman’s liaison regarding all USDA issues that affect rural development.

Georgia: Joyce White

Joyce White served as Chief of Staff in the Georgia Department of Agriculture, was an executive assistant for the CEO of Georgia-Pacific, served the same role in Governor Sonny Perdue’s office, and has focused on helping rural Georgia.

Hawaii: Gigi Jones

Gigi Jones founded a grassroots organization known as Cool Our Keiki and has worked in construction, small business, engineering and business development for over 20 years. She knows first-hand the challenges of living in remote and rural areas as she has lived, worked and volunteered in rural areas inside and outside of the U.S. for many years.

Idaho: Layne Bangerter

Layne Bangerter comes to RD directly from his role at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He previously held varied roles in the Fish and Wildlife Service and served as State Director for Senator Mike Crapo.

Illinois: Douglas Wilson

Douglas Wilson is a 3rd generation farmer, lifelong resident of rural Illinois, and past Illinois State Director for RD. He has served in leadership roles in a variety of agricultural, community, and not-for-profit organizations.

Indiana: Michael Reed Dora

As a first generation agricultural producer of livestock and grains since 1975, Michael Dora brings to the Trump Administration a deep knowledge of farming and business skills along with wide-ranging experiences of dedicated service and leadership to his state and community.

Iowa: Annette Sweeney

Annette Sweeney brings local and international experience to Rural Development, having served as a teacher, family farmer, church volunteer, and most recently as a member of the Iowa House of Representatives.

Kansas: Lynne Hinrichsen

Lynne Hinrichsen joined the Kansas Department of Agriculture in 2013 as the Agribusiness Development Director. Prior to serving in the public sector, she worked in sales, marketing, advertising and human resource consulting.

Kentucky: Hilda Legg

Hilda Legg brings more than 30 years of experience in federal government agency management, as a consultant for rural infrastructure, in economic development in rural Appalachia, in education, project management, and as a business owner. She has served under three U.S. presidents to further opportunities for rural communities and residents in job creation and economic growth.

Louisiana: Dr. Carrie Castille

Dr. Carrie Castille served as the Associate Commissioner for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, held a faculty position with the Louisiana State University AgCenter, and created the successful Louisiana Master Farmer Program.

Maine: Tim Hobbs

Tim Hobbs brings over fifteen years of experience working with and for potato growers, processors, and dealers in Maine on issues that affect their competitiveness and profitability.

Michigan: Jason Allen

Jason Allen is a small businessman, veteran, and former State Senator, who currently works on rural development for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Minnesota: Brad Finstad

Brad Finstad served three terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives and is currently the CEO of the Center for Rural Policy and Development, which is Minnesota’s only statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan rural policy research center.

Mississippi: John Rounsaville

John Rounsaville served as State Director for USDA Rural Development in the Administration of President George W. Bush and brings to the Trump Administration two decades of experience in economic and community development, infrastructure planning, and public policy.

Missouri: Jeff Case

Jeff Case is Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager at Rabo AgriFinance, LLC and has spent his career working in the agriculture industry in the areas of Production, Finance and Education.

Montana: Charles Robison

Charles first joined USDA as a Forest Service firefighter in 1998, working on an engine crew, as a Hotshot and as a helitack rappeller. He looks forward to pursuing his passion for the struggles of rural Montana and the working families who call it home.

Nebraska: Karl Elmshaeuser

Karl Elmshaeuser has served as the Executive Director for the West Central Nebraska Development District for the past 11 years, served two terms on the Nebraska Rural Development Commission, currently serves on the Nebraska Regional Officials Council and the National Association of Development Organizations, served six years in the US Marine Corps, and is a University of Nebraska graduate.

Nevada: Philip Cowee

Philip Cowee has spent nearly 20 years developing properties and running businesses in Lyon County, lives in Dayton with his wife and five children, and is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno.

New Hampshire: Anthony Lindaros

Army Reserve Veteran Anthony Lindaros brings over 18 years of business development experience and executive management in the pharmaceutical industry.

North Carolina: Bob Chandler

Bob dedicated his career to agriculture from starting his first internship with USDA in 1974, serving for 35 years, and retiring in 2009. Since 2009, Bob has been Consulting for a Faith based Nonprofit and holding USDA Mediations for the North Carolina Agricultural Mediation Program and Farm Agricultural Resources and Mediation in Virginia.

North Dakota: Clare Carlson

Clare Carlson has served nearly eight years as the State Director of USDA Rural Development and was previously a member of the North Dakota House of Representatives.

Ohio: Dave Hall

Dave Hall’s experience in agriculture began in the late 1960’s when he started working on his grandparents’ farm and has since served as a Commissioner for the Ohio Exposition Commission for the Ohio State Fair and Chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Oklahoma: Lee Denney

Lee Denney practiced mixed animal practice for 35 years and has served as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and on the Cushing City Commission.

Oregon: John Huffman

John Huffman has spent the past 10 years as an Oregon State Representative and prior to his legislative work, he owned and managed a successful radio station for 22 years in North Central Oregon.

Pennsylvania: Curt Coccodrilli

Curt Coccodrilli has been integrally involved in numerous efforts to address the needs of rural Pennsylvania, promoting rural economic development and leading campaigns to ensure state and federal regulations recognize the need for such development.

South Carolina: Debbie S. Turbeville

Debbie Turbeville is being promoted to the position of State Director after spending her entire career serving in almost every role at the state level of the agency, having risen in the ranks from the GS-2 level when she started in 1982.

South Dakota: Julie Gross

Julie Gross is currently the Economic Development Director for the Lake Area Improvement Corporation in Madison. She understands and appreciates the needs of rural communities and is looking forward to helping them become stronger and more vibrant with the programs USDA offers.

Tennessee: Jim Tracy

Jim Tracy ran a small business in a rural middle Tennessee community for 24 years before being elected to the State Senate in 2004 as an advocate for agriculture issues in the state.

Texas: Edd Hargett

Edd Hargett began working for Electric Cooperatives in 1974 and has served as general manager of both distribution and G&T systems.

Utah: Randy Parker

Randy Parker comes to the USDA having served as chief executive officer of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation for most of the past 14 years.

Virginia: Elizabeth Walker Green

Elizabeth has been working in Federal and State politics for over thirty years.

Washington: Kirk Pearson

Kirk Pearson has served in the Washington State Legislature for 17 years, serving on the Senate Agriculture, Water, Trade, and Economic Development Committee and as Chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee. He has promoted legislation to help rural communities grow and thrive in the state of Washington.

West Virginia: Kris Warner

Kris Warner has more than 25 years of leadership in West Virginia business development and is also a charter member of the state-wide program Leadership Monongalia, which is designed to educate and sustain community leaders.

Wisconsin: Frank Frassetto

Frank Frassetto has 30 years of public sector experience, previously served as state director at USDA RD from 2001 to 2009, was the Administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection at the WI Dept. of Agriculture, and resides in the rural town of Black Wolf and has been its Chairman since 1997.

Wyoming: Chad Rupe

Chad Rupe has served previously with USDA, as an officer in the U.S. Army, and as a community banker in Wyoming for 11 years.

HAC’s Testimony to the House Financial Service Committee on NAHASDA

“In carrying out its work in Native American communities since 1971, HAC has heralded the extraordinary resilience of Native American communities. Such resilience coupled with adequate and sustained federal resources toward housing in Native American communities can be transformative.” – Moises Loza, HAC Executive Director

HAC’s Moises Loza weighed in on NAHASDA at 20 Years via written testimony to the House Financial Services Committee’s Housing & Insurance, which held a field hearing last week at the LAC Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School in Hayward, Wisconsin. Loza’s testimony emphasized the importance of tribal self-determination and robust funding for programs authorized within NAHASDA in order to meet the housing needs of Native American communities.  Loza noted HAC’s long history with tribal housing, dating to the 1970s era “Worst in the Nation” HAC tribal housing report, which laid a foundation for HAC’s work on the issue.

A Trailer in pine ridge villageA trailer on the Pine Ridge Reservation

Senate Committee Approves FY18 USDA Funding Bill

On July 20 the Senate Appropriations Committee passed S. 1603, which would fund USDA, including the rural housing programs, for fiscal year 2018. The Senate bill keeps most rural housing programs at current levels, somewhat higher than the levels in the House bill.

The Senate bill does not include some changes in programs proposed in H.R. 3268, passed by the House Appropriations Committee on July 12. It does not mention the Rural Economic Infrastructure Grant program, which in the House bill would combine Section 504 grants and Section 533 grants with some utilities and business grant programs. In addition, it does not make H-2A visa holders eligible for Section 514/516 farmworker housing, a change in the House bill that was adopted at the committee level.

The Senate’s Committee Report (S.Rept. 115-131) discusses the need for solutions to the maturing mortgage issue for Section 515 rental housing, not mentioned in the House bill or report.

The Committee is very concerned about the alarming number of multi-family housing mortgages scheduled to mature in the next few years. As these mortgages mature, projects and units will be removed from USDA’s affordable rural housing program, placing very low income rural residents in jeopardy of untenable rent increases and possible eviction. In spite of numerous requests from the Committee, the Department has failed to identify and develop potential solutions to this looming crisis.

The Secretary is directed to engage affordable housing advocates, project owners, tenants, and others as practicable, to find acceptable and effective long term solutions that will retain projects in the affordable rural housing program. The need for affordable rural housing is too great to allow the program to expire.

As of noon on July 24, neither the Senate nor the House has scheduled USDA appropriations for floor action.

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USDA Rural Dev. Prog.
(dollars in millions)

FY16 Approp.

FY17 Approp.

FY18 Trump Budget Proposal

House Bill (H.R. 3268)

Senate Bill
(S. 1603)

502 Single Fam. Direct
Self-Help setaside

$900
5

$1,000
5

0
0

$900
5

$1,000
5

502 Single Family Guar.

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

504 VLI Repair Loans

26.3

26.3

0

24

26.3

504 VLI Repair Grants

28.7

28.7

a

a

28.7

515 Rental Hsg. Direct Lns.

28.4

35

0

28.4

35

514 Farm Labor Hsg. Lns.

23.9

23.9

(-11)b

15

23.8

516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grts.

8.3

8.3

0

6

8.3

521 Rental Assistance

1,390

1,405c

1,345

1,345

1,345

523 Self-Help TA

27.5

30

(-4)b

25

30

533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants

3.5

5

0

a

5

538 Rental Hsg. Guar.

150

230

250

230

230

Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR)

22

22

(-4)b

15

22

542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers

15

19.4

16

20

19.4

Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init.

4

4

0

0

4

a. Would become part of Rural Economic Infrastructure Grant program.
b. Budget proposes to rescind unobligated funds from three programs: $11 million from Sec. 523 self-help, $4 million from Sec. 514/516 farm labor housing, and $4 million from MPR.
c. Includes $40 million in advance funding for FY18, so total available in FY17 is $1.365 billion and total available in FY18 would be $1.385 billion.

Senate Begins Marking Up USDA Funding Bill

The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its proposal for fiscal year 2018 funding for USDA, including the rural housing programs, on July 18. The full Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider the bill on July 20. The text of the bill will not be available until after the full committee markup. HAC has learned what the funding levels are for a few of the rural housing programs, and a few are available in statements released by the subcommittee (here and here). Funding levels not shown in the table below will be available when the bill text is released.

The House Appropriations Committee completed work on its bill on July 12. It adopted one housing-related change to the subcommittee’s bill, making H-2A visa holders eligible for Section 514/516 farmworker housing. [tdborder][/tdborder]

USDA Rural Dev. Prog.
(dollars in millions)

FY16 Approp.

FY17 Approp.

FY18 Trump Budget Proposal

House Bill

Senate Bill

502 Single Fam. Direct
Self-Help setaside

$900
5

$1,000
5

0
0

$900
5

$1,000

502 Single Family Guar.

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

504 VLI Repair Loans

26.3

26.3

0

24

504 VLI Repair Grants

28.7

28.7

a

a

515 Rental Hsg. Direct Lns.

28.4

35

0

28.4

35

514 Farm Labor Hsg. Lns.

23.9

23.9

(-11)b

15

23.9

516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grts.

8.3

8.3

0

6

8.3

521 Rental Assistance

1,390

1,405c

1,345

1,345

1,345

523 Self-Help TA

27.5

30

(-4)b

25

533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants

3.5

5

0

a

538 Rental Hsg. Guar.

150

230

250

230

Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR)

22

22

(-4)b

15

542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers

15

19.4

16

20

19.4

Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init.

4

4

0

0

a. Would become part of Rural Economic Infrastructure Grant program.
b. Budget proposes to rescind unobligated funds from three programs: $11 million from Sec. 523 self-help, $4 million from Sec. 514/516 farm labor housing, and $4 million from MPR.
c. Includes $40 million in advance funding for FY18, so total available in FY17 is $1.365 billion and total available in FY18 would be $1.385 billion.

HAC Weighs in on House Ag Appropriations Bill

HAC Executive Director Applauds Improvements over Administration’s Budget proposal, but calls for bringing back the Rural Community Development Initiative Program

The Housing Assistance Council’s (HAC) Executive Director Moises Loza recently wrote to Robert Aderholt and Sandford Bishop, the Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, weighing in on the Subcommittee’s fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill, which it marked up on June 17. Loza was one of many rural leaders bringing attention to the Administration’s budget proposal, which he said, “strikes particularly hard at rural and tribal communities.”

“The bill is a substantial improvement over the Administration’s budget request for rural development programs. And I appreciated members of the Subcommittee pledging to work toward an even better bill. A better bill starts with funding the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI),” Loza said. The competitive RCDI program allows experienced rural-focused organizations to bring capacity building to grassroots entities that take on affordable housing and economic development.

Loza’s letter noted that “without exception” HAC’s rural partners say that capacity building is “vital” to their work, and hard to access with limited philanthropic support in rural communities. Loza added that increased capacity of grassroots housing and community development organizations via RCDI makes federal investment go further.

Loza’s letter encouraged “sufficient” funding for the Section 521 Rental Assistance and Section 542 vouchers “while funding other rural housing and community development programs at no less than the fiscal year 2017 level.” Loza offered that the USDA Section 504 and Section 533 grants should remain stand-alone programs. The bill grouped both programs along with several others, into an infrastructure program. Loza noted that Section 504 and 533 grants “provide some of the poorest rural Americans with the opportunity to remain in their homes via the removal of health and safety hazards and other upgrades such as handicap accessibility.” Loza believes that grouping both programs with infrastructure needs will “divert” resources from the rural poor, who have “no other options.”

The text of Loza’s letter is here.

House Republicans Release Draft USDA Funding Bill

On June 27, 2017 the House Appropriations Committee released its draft agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal year 2018. The Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee will review the bill on June 28.

The House bill does not eliminate rural housing programs, as was proposed by the Administration. It does reduce funding for many programs below FY17 levels, as indicated in the table below.

It does follow the Administration in defunding the Rural Community Development Initiative, a capacity-building program. It does not specifically mention the Administration’s proposal to reorganize Rural Development and some other parts of USDA, but it does prohibit use of any funding to reorganize offices, programs, or activities.

The House bill adopts the Rural Economic Infrastructure Account proposed in the Administration’s budget, and moves several Rural Development programs into that pool: Section 504 grants, Section 533 grants, community facilities grants, grants for telemedicine distance learning, and broadband transmission grants. The Administration would eliminate Section 533 Housing Preservation Grants rather than moving them to the infrastructure account. The House would provide $122.7 million for the new account rather than the $162 million proposed by the Administration. Like the Administration’s budget, the House would set aside half of its funding total – $60 million – for Appalachia. The House also establishes a minimum amount for each program, 15 percent of the total, or $18.4 million. It is not entirely clear whether that minimum would apply to Section 504 and 533 combined, or to each separately.

For rental housing preservation, the House bill follows the final FY17 appropriations law. Like that legislation, it does not extend the voucher program to cover properties where mortgages matured, but it does require USDA to help nonprofits and PHAs to preserve rental properties. Nonprofits and PHAs would be allowed to receive returns on investment and asset management fees when purchasing rental properties to preserve them. [tdborder][/tdborder]

USDA Rural Dev. Prog.
(dollars in millions)

FY16 Approp.

FY17 Approp.

FY18 Trump Budget Proposal

House Subcmte. Draft

502 Single Fam. Direct
Self-Help setaside

$900
5

$1,000
5

0
0

$900
5

502 Single Family Guar.

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

504 VLI Repair Loans

26.3

26.3

0

24

504 VLI Repair Grants

28.7

28.7

a

a

515 Rental Hsg. Direct Lns.

28.4

35

0

28.4

514 Farm Labor Hsg. Lns.

23.9

23.9

(-11)b

d

516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grts.

8.3

8.3

0

d

521 Rental Assistance

1,390

1,405c

1,345

1,345

523 Self-Help TA

27.5

30

(-4)b

25

533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants

3.5

5

0

a

538 Rental Hsg. Guar.

150

230

250

230

Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR)

22

22

(-4)b

15

542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers

15

19.4

16

20

Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init.

4

4

0

0

a. Would become part of Rural Economic Infrastructure Grant program.
b. Budget proposes to rescind unobligated funds from three programs: $11 million from Sec. 523 self-help, $4 million from Sec. 514/516 farm labor housing, and $4 million from MPR.
c. Includes $40 million in advance funding for FY18, so total available in FY17 is $1.365 billion and total available in FY18 would be $1.385 billion.
d. Total budget authority for Section 514 and 516 would be $10.008 million, compared to $15.387 million available in FY17. The program level should be somewhat higher than the budget authority, depending how the funding is divided between loans and grants. Congress establishes that division in the reports that accompany the House, Senate, and final USDA appropriations bills, but there is no report yet for this bill.

HAC’s Moises Loza: Administration’s Housing Budget “Strikes Particularly Hard at Rural and Tribal Communities”

Moises Loza Speaking by Moises Loza, HAC’s Executive Director

I have worked in rural housing since 1973 and I have never seen a budget proposal that is indifferent to the needs of the most vulnerable rural people. Until now.

Vast proposed cuts to federal housing programs couple with a wholesale ripping of the social safety net for the most vulnerable. The budget strikes particularly at tribal and rural communities. Many of these communities, in decline for decades, are now awash in a national opioid crisis and are far-removed from Wall Street’s economic recovery. The budget falls hardest on those whom HAC’s partners serve: the elderly and/or disabled, often with incomes of $15,000 per year or less. Eliminating housing, food, and related assistance for vulnerable rural people destabilizes communities and upends families.

Today’s budget proposal sends a message to the nation: Rural America is not worthy of investment.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Housing Service—a linchpin of rural affordable housing built on public-private partnerships—would become a shell of its former self under the budget proposal. Doing away with rural housing, water, sewer, and other rural development mainstays would derail decades of infrastructure investment, particularly in rural counties mired in persistent poverty. Though much work remains, investments in rural America have improved the quality of life for millions.

Today’s budget proposal sends a message to the nation: Rural America is not worthy of investment.

How do we respond to this? HAC and our partners will continue to do what we have always done: Innovate with already meager resources to bring safe, decent, and affordable housing to those who most need it. In carrying out such efforts, I encourage HAC’s partners to make sure that members of Congress and the Administration are aware of this indispensable work. We invite USDA Secretary Perdue and HUD Secretary Carson to meet with HAC and our rural partners to hear this message.
I am heartened that Republicans and Democrats alike are speaking up to defend rural investments that make us all stronger.

Time and time again, leaders across the political spectrum have stepped forward to champion investment in rural housing and communities upon seeing the impact of such work in their communities. We need champions for rural America now more than ever.

Trump Administration Proposes to Eliminate Most Rural Housing Programs

Register for HAC's webinar overview of Trump Administration's BudgetRegister for HAC’s webinar overview of Trump Administration’s BudgetThe Administration’s first full budget request, released on May 23, would eliminate all USDA rural housing programs except tenant aid, loan guarantees, and grants for home repairs. It would create a new Rural Economic Infrastructure Grant program, comprised of four existing programs – no new infrastructure efforts are provided, at least for areas covered by USDA Rural Development. It does not mention, and does not provide funding for, USDA’s recently proposed reorganization that would eliminate the Under Secretary for Rural Development.

Section 521 Rental Assistance (RA) would get $1.345 billion, and Section 542 vouchers would receive $20 million. All RA funds would be used to renew existing contracts. All rural housing direct loan programs would be defunded, as would farmworker housing grants, housing preservation grants, the MPR rental preservation program, and the Rural Community Development Initiative.

A stack of President Trump's FY 2018 Budget Proposal to Congress

Section 502 guarantees for homeownership and Section 538 guarantees for rental housing production would remain at, or slightly above, FY17 levels. Because these programs cover their own costs through fees, the government pays only the costs of administering them.

The Rural Economic Infrastructure Grant program would receive $162 million to replace Section 504 grants (Section 504 loans would be eliminated), community facilities grants, telemedicine distance learning grants, and broadband grants. There are no guidelines for dividing the funds among those four purposes, so some of these programs could receive no funding at all. Also, almost half – “not more than $80,000,000” – of this pool of funding can be used in Appalachia, while no other regions are mentioned.

Congress will now take over the FY18 appropriations process. House Republican leaders are expected to release their own budget in June. [tdborder][/tdborder]

USDA Rural Dev. Prog.
(dollars in millions)

FY16 Approp.

FY17 Approp.

FY18 Trump Budget Proposal

502 Single Fam. Direct
Self-Help setaside

$900
5

$1,000
5

0
0

502 Single Family Guar.

24,000

24,000

24,000

504 VLI Repair Loans

26.3

26.3

0

504 VLI Repair Grants

28.7

28.7

a

515 Rental Hsg. Direct Lns.

28.4

35

0

514 Farm Labor Hsg. Lns.

23.9

23.9

0b

516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grts.

8.3

8.3

0

521 Rental Assistance

1,390

1,405c

1,345d

523 Self-Help TA

27.5

30

0e

533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants

3.5

5

0

538 Rental Hsg. Guar.

150

230

250

Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR)

22

22

0

542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers

15

19.4

20f

Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init.

4

4

0

a. Combined into a new Rural Economic Infrastructure Grants pool along with community facilities grants, telemedicine distance learning grants, and broadband grants.
b. Also proposes to rescind $4 million in unobligated 514/516 funds.
c. Includes $40 million in advance funding for FY18.
d. Only for renewals of existing RA contracts.
e. Also proposes to rescind $11 million in currently unobligated self-help funds.
f. Also proposes to rescind $4 million in unobligated MPR funds.

Moises Loza's Statement on Proposed USDA Rural Development Reorganization

Statement from Moises Loza, Housing Assistance Council Executive Director in Response to the Administration’s Proposal to Reorganize USDA Rural Development

Moises Loza, HAC's Executive DirectorMoises Loza, HAC’s Executive DirectorSince 1971, the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) has viewed changes to rural development policies, governance structures, and funding levels through an unchanging lens: What is the impact on the most vulnerable rural people?

Such criteria undergird HAC’s review of the proposed reorganization of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), including slated elimination of the Under Secretary for Rural Development position.

With a deepening opioid crisis and a frayed rural social fabric in the national spotlight, it is imperative that the Administration send a clear message of support to vulnerable rural people and communities. A vibrant USDA Rural Development infrastructure can best convey such a message.

USDA Rural Development programs are the linchpin of effective partnerships that are a bridge to private investment in rural America. It is impossible to decouple the proposed elimination of the Under Secretary for Rural Development with the Administration’s recent budget proposal that eliminates rural water and sewer and business programs while also de-funding priorities across federal agencies that allow HAC partners to create affordable homes and deliver services to the rural poor.

As the USDA noted in its press release today, persistent poverty is all too common in rural America. A USDA Rural Development with a profile within the Administration commensurate with the magnitude of its task would send a compelling and much needed message to the communities where HAC works.

FY17 Spending Agreement Supports USDA and HUD Housing

The omnibus spending bill for FY17, announced on May 1, provides full funding for USDA and HUD housing programs. It rejects the cuts in these programs proposed by the Trump Administration.

For many programs of both USDA RD and HUD, the omnibus includes the highest amount from the bills considered in the House or Senate last year. Some programs – such as USDA’s Section 542 vouchers and HUD’s Lead Hazard Reduction – receive more than last year’s bills would have provided.

The omnibus will be considered by the House Rules Committee on Tuesday, May 2. The committee is expected to recommend passage by the full House. The House floor vote may happen as early as Wednesday. Then the bill will go to the Senate. Under the Continuing Resolution currently in effect, both houses of Congress must pass the bill and President Trump must sign it by midnight on Friday, May 5.

USDA Funding

The omnibus bill increases funding for both Section 502 direct loans and the Section 523 self-help program. It raises Section 515 to $35 million, higher than the FY16 appropriation and the amount requested in the Obama Administration’s budget, although not as high as the figure in the Senate’s FY17 bill.

Several of the omnibus’s provisions address the need for rental housing preservation and tenant protections. In addition to providing the $1.405 billion in Section 521 Rental Assistance funding requested by the Obama Administration, it also includes $19.4 million for Section 542 vouchers for tenants in properties with prepaid mortgages. It does not extend the voucher program to cover properties where mortgages matured, but it does require USDA to continue helping nonprofits and public housing authorities to preserve rental properties:

The Secretary shall implement provisions to provide incentives to nonprofit organizations and public housing authorities to facilitate the acquisition of Rural Housing Service (RHS) multifamily housing properties by such nonprofit organizations and public housing authorities that commit to keep such properties in the RHS multi-family housing program for a period of time as determined by the Secretary, with such incentives to include, but not be limited to, the following: allow such nonprofit entities and public housing authorities to earn a Return on Investment (ROI) on their own resources to include proceeds from low income housing tax credit syndication, own contributions, grants, and developer loans at favorable rates and terms, invested in a deal; and allow reimbursement of organizational costs associated with owner’s oversight of asset referred to as ‘‘Asset Management Fee’’ (AMF) of up to $7,500 per property (pp. 39-40).

The bill also directs USDA to “study effective means” to preserve properties with maturing mortgages to transfer Section 515 properties exiting the program due to mortgage maturity to qualified nonprofit organizations to preserve the properties in the Rural Housing Service multi-family program” (p. 113). Finally, it appropriates $1 million for technical assistance “to facilitate the acquisition of RHS multi-family housing properties in areas where the Secretary determines a risk of loss of affordable housing” (p. 113).

Finally, an Explanatory Statement accompanying the bill tells USDA to provide “a detailed analysis of the accuracy of the project-based forecasting tool used to estimate rental assistance needs” within 120 days after the bill is enacted (p. 20). [tdborder][/tdborder]

USDA Rural Dev. Prog.
(dollars in millions)

FY16
Approp.

FY17 Obama Budget Proposal

FY17 House Cmte. Bill (H.R. 5054)

FY17 Senate Cmte. Bill
(S. 2956)

FY17 Omnibus (H.R. 244)

502 Single Fam. Direct
Self-Help setaside

$900
5

$900
0

$1,000
5

$900
5

$1,000
5

502 Single Family Guar.

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

504 VLI Repair Loans

26.3

26.3

26.3

26.3

26.3

504 VLI Repair Grants

28.7

28.7

28.7

28.7

28.7

515 Rental Hsg. Direct Lns.

28.4

33.1

35

40

35

514 Farm Labor Hsg. Lns.

23.9

23.9

23.9

23.9

23.9

516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grts.

8.3

8.3

8.3

8.3

8.3

521 Rental Assistance

1,390

1,405

1,405

1,405

1,405

523 Self-Help TA

27.5

18.5

30

27.5

30

533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants

3.5

0

5

3.5

5

538 Rental Hsg. Guar.

150

230

200

230

230

Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR)

22

19.4

22

22

22

542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers

15

18

18

18

19.4

Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init.

4

4

4

4

4

HUD Funding

The omnibus provides full renewal funding for HUD programs, including CDBG, HOME, SHOP, which would have been eliminated by the Trump Administration’s proposal . It also includes $10 million for Section 202 that HUD can use either for new construction – the first such funding since 2011 – or for new Senior Preservation Rental Assistance Contracts (p. 1583 ).

HUD Program
(dollars in millions)

FY16
Approp.

FY17 Obama Budget Proposal

FY17 House Subcmte. Bill

FY17 Senate Cmte. Bill
(H.R. 2577)

FY17 Omnibus (H.R. 244)

Cmty. Devel. Fund
CDBG

$3,060
3,000

$2,880
2,800

$3,060
3,000

$3,000
3,000

$3,060
3,000

HOME

950

950

950

950

950

Self-Help Homeownshp. (SHOP)

10

10a

10

10

10

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance
VASH setaside

19,628
60

20,854
7c

20,189
7c

20,432
57

20,292
47d

Project-Based Rental Asstnce.

10,622

10,816

10,901

10,901

10,816

Public Hsg. Capital Fund

1,900

1,865

1,900

1,925

1,942

Public Hsg. Operating Fund

4,500

4,569

4,500

4,675

4,400

Choice Neighbrhd. Initiative

125

200

100

80

137.5

Native Amer. Hsg. Block Grant

650

700

655

647

654

Homeless Assistance Grantsb

2,250

2,664

2,487

2,330

2,383

Hsg. Opps. for Persons w/ AIDS

335

335

335

335

356

202 Hsg. for Elderly

432.7

505

505

505

502.4

811 Hsg. for Disabled

150.6

154

154

154

146.2

Fair Housing

65.3

70

65.3

65

65.3

Healthy Homes & Lead Haz. Cntl.

110

110

130

135

145

Housing Counseling

47

47

55

47

55

Local Housing Policy Grants

300

  1. The FY17 Obama Administration budget, like past budget requests, proposed to make SHOP a setaside in HOME.
  2. Includes the Rural Housing Stability Program, which is not yet operational.
  3. Tribal VASH setaside.
  4. $7 million for tribal VASH and $40 million for VASH.

Rural Affordable Housing