Vol. 52, No. 18
Federal funding and other issues unresolved as Congress returns
It is still unclear whether the federal government will be funded through a continuing resolution or will shut down when fiscal year 2024 begins on October 1. The Senate returns from recess on September 5, with all of its appropriations bills having passed the Appropriations Committee, though none have been considered by the full Senate yet. The House reconvenes on September 12; its Appropriations Committee has passed most of its annual spending bills, including those covering both USDA and HUD, and the full House has passed only one of them. HAC has posted more details online on the appropriations bills for USDA and HUD. Other urgent issues awaiting action include a White House request for supplemental funding for FEMA disaster recovery, Ukraine, and more. A Farm Bill must also be passed to maintain authorization for various food and agriculture programs. HAC and others hope the Farm Bill will include rural rental housing preservation measures as well.
Worst case housing needs reach record high
HUD released the executive summary of its 2023 Worst Case Housing Needs report, revealing that from 2019 to 2021 worst case housing needs increased across demographic groups, household types, and regions throughout the United States. The number of very low-income families without housing assistance who paid more than half their income for housing or lived in severely substandard housing in 2021 exceeded previous record levels resulting from the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Even so, HUD researchers write, the data “suggest that a rise in homelessness was averted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when low-income families faced growing housing instability risks and cost burdens, and the federal government deployed historic funding and resources to keep people stably housed.” The full report, which is not yet available, should have more details about differences among geographies.
In rural places, 5.13% of American Indian or Alaska Native adults live with incomplete plumbing facilities, compared to 1.29% in urban areas. Source: University of Minnesota Rural Health Center analysis of 2015-2019 American Community Survey data.
Grants offered for affordable housing innovations
The TD Bank Group’s 2023 TD Ready Challenge is seeking innovative solutions to help address systemic barriers to affordable housing across the continuum from transitional to permanent homes, and to help increase access to affordable and stable housing for those that need it most. Applications are due September 13. The challenge offers ten $1 million grants for nonprofits that have designed innovative, scalable and/or replicable solutions addressing affordable housing issues. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disasters and community development to become eligible uses of state and local coronavirus funds
The Treasury Department has posted an interim final rule and an overview to broaden possible uses for Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF). The program provided monies to over 30,000 state, territorial, local, and Tribal governments, originally to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Effective when the interim final rule is published in the Federal Register, eligible activities will broaden to encompass natural disaster response (including providing emergency housing and repairing permanent housing), infrastructure, and CDBG activities. Comments on the rule will be due 60 days after publication. For more information, contact Jessica Milano, Treasury, 844- 529-9527.
Bootcamps offer infrastructure help to small cities and towns
The National League of Cities and the Local Infrastructure Hub are accepting registrations on a first come, first served basis from local governments with 150,000 or fewer residents for fall 2023 bootcamps. The programs are intended to help governments prepare competitive applications for federal infrastructure funds. Topics include climate action, internet access, transportation, and more. For more information, email LocalInfrastructureHub@nlc.org.
REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES
OMB finalizes Buy America guidance
The Office of Management and Budget has published a final rule and guidance on the Build America, Buy America (BABA) preference for federally funded infrastructure projects, addressing products covered, cost determinations, and waiver requests. OMB declined to clarify its earlier language about what housing-related construction is subject to these requirements. It repeated its previous statement that “projects consisting solely of the purchase, construction, or improvement of a private home for personal use … would not constitute an infrastructure project,” leaving details to USDA and HUD. USDA has stated that it will apply BABA to multifamily housing, site preparation for single-family housing, and community facilities. HUD has staggered implementation of the requirements, so some of its interpretations are not clear yet. More BABA information is posted on OMB’s website, USDA’s, and HUD’s.
Guidance issued on multifamily solar energy savings
HUD published updated guidance for its multifamily housing programs and public housing regarding the treatment of financial benefits received from off-site or on-site solar energy, and USDA issued similar guidance for its rental housing programs. The updates clarify how the financial savings from solar energy impact utility allowances and income calculations.
FY24 Fair Market Rents published
The new FMRs were calculated using the methodology changes HUD proposed in June. They will become effective on October 1, 2023 (not 2024, as stated in one place in HUD’s notice). Comments are due October 2.
FCC and HUD to help tenants access internet service, final rule set for discount program
The Federal Communications Commission and HUD are partnering to promote awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program and reduce the time it takes for some tenants to sign up. HUD’s press release indicates all recipients of HUD assistance are eligible to receive free or reduced cost internet through the ACP, and ACP benefits will not impact their rent. The program provides monthly discounts toward internet service. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. FCC’s final regulation for the program will be published on September 1.
Register for the National Rural Housing Conference
Register now to join stakeholders in the field of rural affordable housing, community development, and placemaking at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The 2023 conference theme is Build Rural – 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.
PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA
Special reporting project considers Indian Country’s housing crisis
A series of articles in Tribal Business News, accessible without a subscription, examines several topics related to federal housing assistance for Indian Country. Experts featured in the articles include Dave Castillo, CEO of Native Community Capital and HAC board member, and Louie Sheridan, Jr., HAC’s Housing Specialist-Native American Communities.
Resilience guides aim to help prepare homes for hazards
HUD released a set of five guides intended to provide practical, actionable guidelines for designing and constructing residential buildings, neighborhoods, and accessory structures to improve resilience to natural hazards. Each volume focuses on a major category of hazard: wind, water, fire, earth (seismic, earthslides, sinkholes), and auxiliary (other hazards such as volcanoes, hail, and temperature extremes).
Resources added for Maui recovery
In addition to assistance it announced earlier this month for survivors of the Maui wildfire, HUD is providing Rapid Unsheltered Survivor Housing funds to Hawaii to aid those experiencing or at risk of homelessness. A joint reminder about available mortgage assistance was issued by Ginnie Mae, FHA, FHFA, USDA, and VA. HAC has compiled a response guide with links and contact information from many sources.
Housing quality problems remain more common for rural residents
A higher proportion of rural residents than urban dwellers have incomplete kitchen or incomplete plumbing facilities, the University of Minnesota Rural Health Center reports in Housing Quality by Disability, Race, Ethnicity, and Rural-Urban Location: Findings from the American Community Survey. Incomplete plumbing is a problem for a higher proportion of rural people with a disability than of rural residents without a disability or urban residents with or without a disability. Among racial and ethnic groups, rural American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest rates of incomplete kitchen facilities and incomplete plumbing.
The “new” face of the opioid epidemic is rural Black residents
A TIME article, The Face of Rural Addiction Is Not What You Think, discusses the rising overdose rates among Black rural residents. It highlights how rural areas influence drug use patterns, including limited socialization and recreation possibilities, a prevalence of physically intensive jobs that are often associated with workplace discrimination and high social isolation, and deteriorating infrastructure and low-quality housing.
HAC is hiring
- The Rental Housing Development and Preservation Housing Specialist is a senior-level role that combines expertise in multifamily housing programs, specifically focusing on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs, with the responsibility of providing technical assistance, with a particular focus on transfers of USDA 515 properties. This position is remote work eligible.
- The Senior Accountant is responsible for applying technical and leadership skills to guide accounting practices and recording of transactions. This position is hybrid, based in Washington, DC.
- The Financial Controller is responsible for day-to-day management of HAC’s finance and accounting processes, applying technical and leadership skills to determine proper application of accounting policies, practices, activities, and recording of transactions in accordance with GAAP and applicable industry standards. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
- The Senior Human Resources and Payroll Administrator oversees all aspects of human resources and payroll practices and processes. People are HAC’s most important asset and this individual will be an impactful contributor to ensure we have a happy and productive workplace where everyone is inspired to bring their best work, realize their professional growth aspirations, and participate in helping HAC accomplish its mission. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
- The Executive Assistant supports the work of HAC’s Chief Executive Officer, senior leadership, and board of directors. The position is a blend of administrative work and project assignments. Duties and responsibilities include maintaining an effective and well-organized Executive Office, serving as the primary point of contact for the CEO, and managing the meetings, materials, and other needs of HAC’s board of directors. This position is based in Washington, DC.
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 email@example.com, 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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