Jennifer Emerling / There Is More Work To Be Done

HAC News: December 19, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 25


RHS Reform Act introduced in House

On December 14, Reps. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) introduced H.R. 6785, the Rural Housing Service Reform Act, a companion bill to S. 2790, introduced in September by Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Mike Rounds (R-N.D.).

Homelessness rises nationwide and in rural places

HUD data from January 2023 show the largest number of people in the U.S. experiencing homelessness since reporting began in 2007. The tally increased 12% nationwide from 2022 to 2023, according to the 2023 Annual Homeless Assessment Report: Part 1: Point-in-Time Estimates. HUD suggests major drivers of this growth were changes in the rental housing market and the winding down of pandemic protections and programs, noting a particularly sharp rise in the number of people who became homeless for the first time. Eighteen percent of all individuals experiencing homelessness in 2023 were in largely rural Continuums of Care. For individuals, these CoCs saw a 7.4% increase in sheltered homelessness and 17.8% growth in unsheltered homelessness from the previous year. The pattern was somewhat different for families with children in largely rural CoCs, with a 7.4% drop in unsheltered families and a 7.5% increase in sheltered families. Overall, more than a third of all people in families experiencing unsheltered homelessness were in largely rural CoCs.

President tells federal agencies to support Tribal sovereignty and self-determination

An executive order issued by President Biden on December 6 affirms support for “the next era of Tribal self-determination” by designing and administering federal funding and support programs for Tribal Nations in a manner that better recognizes and supports Tribal sovereignty and self-determination. OMB and the White House Council on Native American Affairs will coordinate collection of information on funding needs, and federal agencies are directed to improve program administration.

Cross-sector group encourages FHFA to use updated energy codes

Nearly 80 consumer, energy, housing, health, manufacturing, and environmental organizations, including HAC, sent a letter on November 30 asking the Federal Housing Finance Agency to require that all new homes with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac meet updated energy codes. HAC policy director Jonathan Harwitz also coauthored a recent opinion piece in Multi-Housing News urging FHFA to adopt these standards. The letter to FHFA notes that updating energy codes would lower home costs, increase disaster resilience, improve health outcomes, reduce emissions, and reduce default risks. It also points out that action by FHFA would create consistent energy requirements for nearly all federally backed mortgage financing. HUD and USDA are moving towards adoption of these codes for some of the housing they finance, and HAC submitted a comment letter in August, signed by over 80 organizations from around the country, supporting their actions.

Happy holidays from HAC!

The board and staff of the Housing Assistance Council wish peace, prosperity, and affordable housing to all!

HAC will be closed from December 23 through January 1.


The median household income in the United States in 2021 was $70,784 while the rural median household income was below $59,000. A higher proportion of low-paying jobs in rural areas, combined with older age dynamics and lower educational attainment levels, are substantial factors in this income gap. Source: HAC tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017-2021 American Community Survey.


HAC invites proposals for Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans grants

HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans Initiative supports local nonprofit housing development organizations that meet or help meet the affordable housing needs of veterans with low incomes in rural places. Grants typically range up to $30,000 per organization and must support bricks-and-mortar projects that assist low-income, elderly, and/or disabled veterans with critical home repair, make accessibility modifications, support homeless veterans, help veterans become homeowners, and/or secure affordable rental housing. The AHRV Initiative is funded through the generous support of The Home Depot Foundation. Applications are due by 4:00 pm Eastern on Monday, January 22. For more information, contact HAC staff, No phone calls please. Program staff will be available to answer questions during a webinar on January 10; check online for registration details.

Service coordinator funding available from HUD

Applications are due March 11 for the Service Coordinators in Multifamily Housing program, which supports service coordinator positions for elderly individuals and non-elderly persons with disabilities living in properties assisted through the Section 202, project-based Section 8, or Section 221(d)(3) below-market interest rate programs. For more information, contact Oluwayemisi Oni, HUD,

HUD extends a Green and Resilient Retrofit Program deadline

The application deadline for wave 3 of the GRRP Elements cohort is now March 28 rather than January 4. Elements funding can be used to add efficiency and resilience investments to rehabilitation projects that are in their final planning stages. For more information, email or join weekly office hours on Wednesdays (except for December 27).

Deadline extended for farm lending discrimination assistance

USDA will accept applications through January 13 for the Discrimination Financial Assistance Program, which offers financial assistance for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who experienced discrimination in USDA farm lending programs prior to January 2021.

USDA reopens broadband funding availability, requires applicants to resubmit

The Rural Utilities Service has revised the definition of eligible service areas in the funding notice for its Community Connect Grant program. Those who applied under the notice published on March 20, 2023 must reapply. Applications are due February 20. Nonprofits, for-profits, and state, local, and Tribal governments are eligible. For more information, contact Randall Millhiser, USDA, 202-578-6926.


Senate committee supports Gooden for Under Secretary, RD names Denton to multifamily post

By a 23-0 vote on December 6, the Senate Agriculture Committee recommended the Senate approve Basil Gooden as USDA’s Under Secretary for Rural Development.

Angilla Denton, who has worked for Rural Development since 2002 and is currently RD’s Chief Risk Officer, has been selected to serve as the Rural Housing Service Deputy Administrator for Multi-Family Housing, effective December 31, 2023.

Pilot program will apply to Section 502 direct loans and community land trusts

USDA has launched a two-year pilot program to test alternative eligibility criteria for community land trust organizations. Community land trust sites are already eligible for Section 502 direct mortgages, but USDA’s notice explains that the community representation requirements are prohibitive for some affordable housing providers also acting as CLTs. The new pilot will test two waivers related to community representation. Affordable housing providers can apply to USDA RD state offices to participate. For more information, contact Jeremy Anderson, USDA, 202-302-3092.

Waivers for some Native programs in future disaster areas announced

Waivers and flexibilities from HUD requirements for the Indian Housing Block Grant, Indian Community Development Block Grant, and Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant will apply for grantees in areas covered by presidentially declared disasters during calendar years 2024 and 2025. Grantees may also request a waiver or flexibility of a HUD requirement not listed in this notice. These provisions do not apply to Covid-relief related programs because HUD has issued separate waivers and alternative requirements that apply to those programs. For more information, contact Hilary Atkin, HUD, 202-402-3427.

HUD explains small rural PHA assessments

Notice PIH 2023-33 describes how HUD will implement assessments of public housing properties run by small rural PHAs. It explains the definition of “small rural,” how the list of such PHAs will be updated, the assessment process, financial data submissions, and more. For more information, contact Lara Philbert, HUD, 202-475-8930.

VA seeks comment on minimum property requirements

The Department of Veterans Affairs is considering changing the minimum property requirements for VA-guaranteed and direct loans. It requests public input regarding improvements, including whether VA should consider aligning its approach with other industry-wide property standards already in existence. Comments are due February 9. For more information, contact Stephanie Li, VA, 202-632-8862.

Federal agencies call for housing providers to help fight the overdose epidemic

HUD, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a joint statement urging public health departments and housing providers to make overdose reversal medications readily available at assisted housing facilities.


Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day is December 21

National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day takes place annually on December 21, the longest night of the year. The National Coalition for the Homeless, the National Consumer Advisory Board, and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council offer an organizing manual to help communities hold memorial events or take other steps to remember people experiencing homelessness who have died in the past year. They are also collecting the names of those being honored.

National Alliance to End Homelessness launches course on providing trauma-informed care

The new online course, Providing Trauma-Informed Care in Homeless Response, covers the causes and effects of trauma and how to integrate this care into homeless response.


U.S. not ready to provide housing and care for elders in coming decade

Housing America’s Older Adults 2023, a new report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, highlights housing statistics and conditions for the country’s growing older adult population, ages 65 and older. An all-time high of 11.2 million older adult households are housing cost burdened. Rural communities have higher concentrations of older adults, 40% of whom have annual incomes under $30,000. Racial homeownership and income gaps persist in the older adult population. Black and Hispanic older adults have less income and home equity than white seniors.

Housing shortages lead to healthcare worker shortages

Housing Shortages Are Making Recruitment and Retention Even More Challenging for Some Rural Healthcare Providers, an article on the Rural Health Information Hub, reports that towns without available rental and homeownership housing cannot find or keep much-needed workers in fields like health and education. The article relies on information from HAC, among others, about the shortfall.

Research identifies flood-prone “Climate Abandonment Areas”

The First Street Foundation has designated Climate Abandonment Areas in the contiguous United States, locations where population loss from 2000 to 2020 can be directly attributed to climate change related flood risk. First Street found that 113 million people live in areas where flood risk has already been impacting housing choice. The most extreme cases, Climate Abandonment Areas, saw a cumulative net loss of over 3.2 million in population in the last two decades, directly attributed to flooding. The report, Integrating Climate Change Induced Flood Risk into Future Population Projections, published in Nature-Communications, projects that over the next 30 years, the current Climate Abandonment Areas will continue to lose population while other flood risk places will begin losing residents and then will become Climate Abandonment Areas.


HAC’s office is moving

After 43 years in our current D.C. location, HAC is moving. Our new street address, effective on January 1, 2024, will be 1828 L Street, N.W., Suite 505, Washington, DC 20036. Our phone number will remain 202-842-8600.

HAC is hiring

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, 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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