Enough is Enough

This has been a terrible week, full of pain and protest. Though further from the headlines, protests in small towns across America have erupted in recognition that racism and injustice must be rooted out of every corner of our country. The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) fights for equity and dismantling racism alongside people marching the rural streets of Whitefish, Palatka, Gunnison, Taylorville, Ruidoso, Cairo, Harlan and countless other places.

HAC believes that peace cannot be found where injustice also resides. We have an obligation to call out the systemic and structural inequities we witness in our work that are cutting short black and brown lives. We will keep a close watch on our own organization and programs to address bias and compensate for inequitable outcomes. We are committed to doing our part to dismantle racism and racist housing policy in partnership with the rural communities where we live, work, and invest our capital.

Census 2020: Half of Rural Households Have Responded to the Census

APPROXIMATELY HALF OF RURAL HOUSEHOLDS HAVE RESPONDED TO THE CENSUS

April 1st every 10 years is traditionally “Census Day” when, in decades past, most Americans received their Census forms in the mail. Census 2020 is different for several reasons. Even before the COVID-19 health crisis, the 2020 Census process was going to be different. For the 2020 count, Americans did not receive a traditional paper census form. Rather, most households were mailed an “invitation” with a code to respond to the census questionnaire on the internet. (Households are also given the option to respond via telephone or request a traditional mail back form). Most U.S. households – approximately 95 percent – received Census invitations from mid-March through early April.

At the Half-Way Mark

As of May 17, 59.6 percent of all U.S. households had self-responded to the Census. Using response data from the Census Bureau and incorporating a tract-level analysis, the Housing Assistance Council estimated current response rates for rural, suburban, and urban communities. Suburban communities have the highest Census response rate at 66 percent, while the rural and small-town response rate is currently at 53 percent.

Total Response Rate by Residence

Expectedly, Rural Communities Lag in Online Response

As noted previously, Census 2020 will rely heavily on the internet and online responses. Nationally, 48.8 percent of Census questionnaires have been submitted via the internet. This year’s Census response was always a concern for rural communities given long-established internet deficiencies, household dynamics and poor connectivity in many rural markets. Correspondingly, only 35 percent of rural households have responded to the Census online. In contrast, over 56 percent of suburban households have responded via the internet – and 48 percent of urban households completed their forms electronically.

Internet Response Rate by Residence

COVID-19 is Still Hindering Census Response – Especially in Rural Communities

Lower response rates in rural America are likely due to a combination of factors, but many rural households have not received their census invitations and have had no opportunity to participate.

Approximately 5 percent of US households – most of which are rural – were scheduled to have their census forms hand delivered March 15 – April 17. However, the Census Bureau suspended all field operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Census Bureau’s latest guidance, field operations will now take place June 13-July 9, and the Census has resumed field operations in some limited markets. But the Census Bureau, and the Housing Assistance Council encourages households to respond online now—even without an invitation by providing their address.

Rural America is half-way through the Census process. Let’s finish strong. The importance of participating in Census 2020 for rural communities cannot be overstated.

 

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USDA RD Historic Activity through FY 2018

FMHA/RHS Programs that Construct, Purchase, or Repair Rural Housing Units

— Historic Activity through FY 2018

The Housing Assistance Council has tracked USDA Rural Housing activity for the agency’s Single Family Housing and Multifamily Housing for many years. The Historic Activity report provides data for the number of housing units funded by fiscal year for each of the programs since program inception. The data includes:

  • USDA Programs Which Construct, Purchase or Repair Rural Housing Units
  • Section 502 Direct Homeownership Loan Program Totals, FY 1950 – 2018
  • Section 502 Guaranteed Loan Program Totals, FY 1977 – 2018
  • Section 502 Self-Help Program Total, FY 1966 – 2018
  • Section 504 Very Low-Income Repair Program Totals, FY 1950 – 2018
  • Section 514/516 Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants, FY 1962 – 2018
  • Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Program Totals, FY 1963 – 2018
  • Section 533 Housing Preservation Grant Program Totals, FY 1986 – 2018
  • Section 538 Guaranteed Multi-Family Housing Loan Program Totals, FY 1996 – 2018
  • Section 521 Rental Assistance Program Totals, FY 1978 – 2018
  • Section 542 Multifamily Housing Voucher Totals, FY 2006 – 2018

These data are updated annually.

Maturing USDA Rural Rental Housing Loans

In 1963, USDA made its first rental housing loans under the Section 515 Rural Rental Housing loan program. Since then, the Section 515 program financed nearly 28,000 projects containing over 526,000 affordable apartment units. Tenants in these projects include some of America’s most vulnerable residents: elderly persons, people with disabilities, and mothers with young children.

[ArcGIS2 url="//www.arcgis.com/apps/Embed/index.html?webmap=a31b2acf0d3948428367942aa2f947a5&extent=-127.2321,25.5602,-62.3248,54.5453&zoom=true&scale=true&disable_scroll=true&theme=light" title="USDA Section 515 Multifamily Rural Rental Properties"][/ArcGIS2]

Section 515 rental properties were financed with loans that could be amortized over terms as long as 50 years. Tenants in these projects may receive ‘Rental Assistance’, which reduces their monthly rent obligation to about 30 percent of their household income. Once the USDA loan is paid in full, owners are under no obligation to maintain the projects as affordable housing units and the tenants no longer eligible for USDA’s Rental Assistance.

USDA’s loan portfolio is an important affordable rental housing resource. Understanding property and tenant characteristics and the communities in which the properties are located is important in planning and implementing strategies for preserving the properties.

Additional Resources

USDA Rural Housing Data

Since the 1950s, the United States Department of Agriculture has financed the construction, repair, and affordability of millions of homes for low- and moderate-income rural Americans. This activity is accomplished primarily through its Rural Development (RD) agency (formerly the Farmer’s Home Administration). The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents regular information and data on USDA’s rural housing loan and grant obligation activity.

recent Rural Development Obligations

The USDA Rural Development Program Obligation Report is a monthly series detailing the year to date utilization of most USDA housing programs at the state and national level. HAC also produces the USDA Rural Development Year-End Obligations Report at the end of each Fiscal year.

Annual Program Obligations

The USDA Rural Development (RD) Year-End Report presents fiscal year utilization and activity of most USDA housing programs at the state and national level. These figures derive from HAC tabulations of USDA-RD 205c,d, and f report data. Additional data and information for the year end report were also provided by USDA’s Single Family and Multifamily Housing Divisions in the National Office.

Historic Program Activity

Funds obligated for USDA Rural Development Programs since inception.

Multi-Family Housing Annual Fair Housing Occupancy Report

This report includes occupancy information for both Section 515 rural rental housing and Section 514 farm labor housing properties. Starting in Fiscal Year 2013 the report includes demographics on the Section 521 rental assistance.

Documents: ADMINISTRATIVE Notices and unnumbered letters

An archive of Administrative Notices and Unnumbered Letters from USDA RD.

USDA RD Eligible Areas

Information about which areas are eligible to receive USDA Rural Development funding.


If you have problems accessing any of the documents on this page, contact Dan Stern, HAC, 202-842-8600
If you have questions about the data on this page, contact Lance George, HAC, 202-842-8600