News

HAC News: August 5, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 16

TOP STORIES

Eviction moratorium for renters expires, new limited moratorium issued.

The federal moratorium on eviction of tenants facing pandemic-related economic issues, which had been in place since the Centers for Disease Control imposed it in September 2020, expired on July 31. On August 3, CDC issued a new moratorium that applies through October 3 in “U.S. counties experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission” of the coronavirus, currently a large portion of the country. While this version is in effect, individual counties’ eligibility will change based on data tracked by the CDC, which categorizes the transmission rate in each county as high, substantial, moderate, or low. Resources for renters needing assistance to pay rent or utilities are compiled in many places online, including on HAC’s website.

Eviction moratoriums for defaulting homeowners extended to September 30.

Homeowners who have defaulted on federally backed mortgages are protected against evictions by moratoriums extended through September 30 by USDA for Section 502 direct borrowers and Section 502 guaranteed borrowers, VA, the Federal Housing Administration, and the Federal Housing Finance Administration (which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). These agencies did not, however, extend their moratoriums on foreclosure: those expired on July 31. The extended eviction moratoriums are intended to give foreclosed homeowners enough time to find financial assistance or to move. Information about mortgage forbearance (delayed payments) and other options for homeowners is available from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and each agency offers aid to its homeowners.

Save the date! 2021 National Rural Housing Conference scheduled.

The Housing Assistance Council is pleased to announce plans to convene its 2021 National Rural Housing Conference and Training! The conference provides an excellent opportunity to network and improve connections to federal agencies, national intermediary organizations, and other vested stakeholders. The HAC News will announce when registration opens.

Senate committee approves USDA funding bill, House passes USDA and HUD bills.

On August 4 the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a fiscal year 2022 funding bill for USDA. Details are posted on HAC’s site. Like the House bill, the Senate version would provide modest increases for some rural housing programs. It would take a different approach to rental housing preservation, increasing the Section 515 program from $40 million in FY21 to $92 million in FY22, while setting the Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization program at the $32 million figure requested in the administration’s budget. The House would keep Section 515 at $40 million and increase MPR to $60 million. The next step in the process will be full Senate consideration of the committee’s bill. The House passed H.R. 4502, a “minibus” package of seven appropriations bills, including USDA’s and HUD’s, on July 27.

Infrastructure deal moves forward without housing.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill under consideration in the Senate, H.R. 3684, does not provide any housing funding. It does include $2 billion for USDA’s rural broadband programs.

Confirmation hearing held for Torres Small.

The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing July 29 on the nominations of Xochitl Torres Small to be Under Secretary for Rural Development at USDA and Robert Bonnie to be Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. The committee has not yet voted whether to send either nomination to the full Senate for consideration.

RuralSTAT

Between July 1 and July 31, communities outside of metropolitan areas reported 178,000 new cases of COVID-19 – a 171% increase over the previous 30-day period. Source: HAC tabulations of public health data from the New York Times. A Rural Research Brief updating the COVID-19 situation in rural America is available on HAC’s site.  

OPPORTUNITIES

USDA farm labor housing loans and grants available.

From September 1 to November 1, USDA will accept pre-applications for Section 514 loans and Section 516 grants for off-farm farmworker housing. The funding notice published on February 2 provides details. For more information, contact Abby Boggs, USDA, 615-490-1371.

HUD offers Healthy Homes Production grants.

Nonprofits and state, local, and tribal governments can apply by October 19 for the Healthy Homes Production Grant Program, which addresses housing-related hazards in a coordinated fashion, rather than a single hazard at a time. For more information, contact Yolanda Brown, HUD, 202-903-9576.

VA two-year rental assistance funds can be used nationwide.

The Supportive Services for Veteran Families program offers several kinds of aid, including rental assistance for low-income veterans who might otherwise be homeless. In a few high-cost counties (listed here, with additions listed here), grantees have been permitted to provide rental assistance for up to two years before recertification. Describing the lack of affordable housing as “a national crisis,” VA is now extending this two-year provision to all counties and county equivalents throughout the U.S. and territories, effective immediately. For more information, contact John Kuhn, VA, 202-632-8596.

Economic development funding offered.

The Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration has opened several competitions, including one for Indigenous communities and one for coal communities, intended to assist economic recovery in previously underserved places impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Application deadlines vary, with the earliest on October 19.

Green building webinar scheduled by HAC.

“Build Smart” Webinar Series Part 1: Green Building Case Studies, scheduled for August 12, will showcase several projects that are successfully implementing Green Building practices in their affordable housing developments and share their best practices for green building on a budget and constructing net zero energy homes for low-income buyers.

Investing in rural infrastructure webinar announced.

Investing in Infrastructure: Rural Strategies for Building and Maintaining Healthy Local Economies, scheduled for August 16, will explore why new federal funding presents a momentous opportunity to invest in rural physical infrastructure and how communities can effectively take advantage of this funding to build thriving rural places. This is the latest in the Rural Opportunity and Development (ROAD) Sessions, virtual exchanges co-designed and hosted by the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, HAC, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Rural LISC, and the Federal Reserve Board.

Broadband improvement campaign needs consumer input.

Let’s Broadband Together, a project of Consumer Reports and a coalition of other groups, invites people with internet access to contribute information for a campaign aimed at improving access quality and cost. The process, which CR estimates takes seven minutes, includes an online test of the consumer’s internet speed, sharing an internet bill, and answering a few questions.

HAC job openings: Portfolio Management Associate and Community Facilities Housing Specialist.

For details, visit HAC’s website.

  • The Portfolio Management Associate is an entry-level position and will assist in managing HAC’s portfolio of loans made to entities engaged in affordable housing activities in rural communities throughout the United States. This individual will assist in a range of lending activities – including closing, disbursement, monitoring, and servicing single- and multifamily housing development loans – in the Loan Fund Division.
  • The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This includes helping them identify, utilize and apply for financial resources such as USDA Community Facilities grants and loans. This is a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

CORONAVIRUS

COVID-19 infection rates have resurged in rural America.

COVID-19’s impact on rural America continues to evolve. After declining case rates and signs of optimism, infection rates have begun to increase again in rural communities with certain areas and regions experiencing distressing levels of new COVID-19 cases. HAC’s latest Rural Research Brief, COVID-19 in Rural America, July 31, 2021, examines the health, employment, and housing impacts over the entire course of the pandemic.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Heirs’ Property Relending Program nears launch.

USDA expects to open a two-month signup window in late August for Community Development Financial Institutions to apply for funds they will relend to agricultural producers and landowners facing heirs’ land ownership and succession issues. Heirs who inherited family land without a will or legal documentation of ownership may use the loans to resolve title issues by financing the purchase or consolidation of property interests and financing costs associated with a succession plan. Comments on the program’s final rule are due October 8. For more information, contact Md Mutaleb, Farm Service Agency, 202-720-3168.

HUD to release FY22 Fair Market Rents.

Fair Market Rents that take effect on October 1 will be available on August 6. Comments are due September 30.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Rural U.S. economies will benefit from expanded Child Tax Credit, study concludes.

The effect of the one-year Child Tax Credit expansion will be proportionally greatest in places outside metropolitan areas, according to Measuring the Child Tax Credit’s Economic and Community Impact, a new report from the Niskanen Center. Researchers calculated the total dollar amounts the CTC expansion will generate and their impacts on household spending, state and local sales tax revenue, and jobs. Estimates are reported by state and congressional district.

Annual fair housing report shows increased harassment in 2020.

The National Fair Housing Alliance’s 2021 Fair Housing Trends Report provides an analysis of housing discrimination complaints filed last year at the local, state, and national levels. While the overall number of housing discrimination claims remained consistent in 2020, more than 1,000 harassment claims were reported, compared to 761 in 2019. Asian American and Pacific Islander communities reported a rise in harassment, and claims of sexual harassment also rose among tenants who were unable to pay their rent due to job loss or unemployment.

Lost rent means small landlords defer maintenance.

An Urban Institute analysis of May 2021 data found that 28% of “mom-and-pop” landlords deferred maintenance during the pandemic. Finances were the reason most commonly cited, and 41% of landlords who lost rental income deferred maintenance compared with 18% of those who did not lose rental income.

COVID-19 impact on farmers, farmworkers, and productivity estimated.

Researchers from Purdue University estimated the number of cases and deaths among farmers and farmworkers from March 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 and concluded the pandemic reduced U.S. agricultural output by about $309 million over that period. Purdue’s Food and Agriculture Vulnerability Index Dashboard provides cumulative estimates, updated daily, for workers across every state and several commodities.

Data on Native American labor market available.

The Center for Indian Country Development at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank has created a Native American Labor Market Dashboard to provide data on labor force participation, employment, and unemployment. The site allows users to compare American Indians and Alaska Natives to the entire U.S. population, and to compare residents of metropolitan areas with those outside metro areas.

Primer aims to help build healthy rural places.

The Build Healthy Places Network has published A Primer for Multi-Sector Health Partnerships in Rural Areas and Small Cities to provide guidance on cross-sector collaboration between the community development, finance, public health, and healthcare sectors.

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).