News

HAC News: December 22, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 26

TOP STORIES

As social spending bill negotiations go on, refundable Child Tax Credit ends.

The Senate will not vote until at least January on the Build Back Better social infrastructure bill, H.R. 5376, though the House passed its version of the bill in November including $2 billion for USDA rural housing programs and substantial investments in many other housing programs. The bill would also continue the expanded Child Tax Credit, restructured in the American Rescue Plan Act to provide monthly payments to low-income families. That version of the tax credit was in place only from July through December 2021 and was particularly beneficial for rural children, according to research by the Daily Yonder and the Niskanen Center.

Response and recovery continue for South and Midwest tornadoes.

A 200-mile line of devastating storms on December 10-11 left scores dead and resulted in massive property damage estimated to be in the billions of dollars across six states in the South and Midwest. President Biden signed federal disaster declarations for affected communities in Kentucky, Illinois, and Tennessee, HUD announced aid for Kentucky, and USDA provided guidance for owners and managers of its rental housing properties. For more information about preparing for and recovering from natural disasters, visit HAC’s new resource Rural Resilience. For those wishing to help with recovery efforts, FEMA provides general guidance and numerous national and local organizations seek support for their work, including:

CRA rule rescinded and replaced.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is finalizing the Community Reinvestment Act regulation it proposed in September, making few changes. The new rule rescinds the June 2020 regulation adopted under the Trump administration and replaces it with rules based on the regulations that were in effect before 2020. OCC notes that it continues to work with the Federal Reserve Board and FDIC to modernize the rule. OCC is also requesting public comment by February 14 on proposed revisions to the form that banks and others can use to confirm whether an activity qualifies under CRA. For more information, contact OCC’s Chief Counsel’s Office, 202-649-5490.

Happy Holidays from HAC!

“Home” takes on even more meaning during the holiday season. HAC wishes everyone a safe, healthy, and affordable place to call home.

RuralSTAT

Between November 20 and December 20, 2021, the average rate of daily deaths from COVID-19 was more than twice as high outside metropolitan areas as in metropolitan areas of the United States (cases per 100,000 population – 14 day average). Source: Housing Assistance Council tabulations of public health data from the New York Times.

OPPORTUNITIES

HAC offers aid for rural veterans’ housing.

HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans initiative helps local nonprofit housing development organizations to meet the affordable housing needs of veterans 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 home repair and rehab needs, support homeless veterans, help veterans become homeowners, and/or secure affordable rental housing. This initiative is funded through the generous support of The Home Depot Foundation. Applications are due January 21. For more information, contact HAC staff. No phone calls please.

Rural job accelerator funding available.

The Rural Innovation Stronger Economy program makes grants of up to $2 million to consortiums of local governments, nonprofits, industry, and other entities to support innovation centers and job accelerator programs that improve the ability of distressed rural communities to create high-wage jobs, form new businesses, and identify and maximize local assets. Apply by April 19. For more information, contact a USDA RD State Office.

HAC seeks Loan Processor Associate, Housing Specialist, and Community Facilities Housing Specialist.

  • The Loan Processor Associate is an entry-level position and will assist in managing HAC’s portfolio of loans made to entities engaged in affordable housing activities throughout the rural U.S. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Housing Specialist is primarily based in either the Southwest or Western states (within two hours of a major airport) and works with local partner organizations to identify financial resources and funding opportunities to support the preservation and development of affordable housing and community and economic development strategies specifically throughout expanses of Southwest and/or Western rural America. This position is remote location eligible.
  • 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 is a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

USDA addresses cost concerns for new single-family homes.

Because of cost increases and construction delays in the current economic climate, USDA has announced some temporary authorizations for new construction financed under its Section 502 and 504 direct loan programs. It has increased the permissible construction contingency in these loans and eased some of the requirements for borrowers to obtain subsequent loans at the end of construction to cover cost overruns. For more information, contact a USDA RD State Office.

Thompson nominated as head of Federal Housing Finance Agency.

President Biden has nominated Sandra L. Thompson, who has served as FHFA’s acting director since June, to become the agency’s director. She will need to be confirmed by the Senate.

More Rural Development State Directors named.

President Biden has appointed USDA RD State Directors for Maine and Missouri, as well as for Delaware and Maryland, Illinois, Nebraska, New York, and Tennessee. The administration had previously announced the State Directors for Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

HUD seeks input on strategic plan.

HUD requests feedback on the four proposed focus areas in its draft FY22-26 Strategic Plan: support underserved communities, ensure access to and increase the production of affordable housing, promote homeownership, and advance sustainable communities. Comments are due January 28.

Housing goals set for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has established benchmarks for Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s single-family housing goals and subgoals for 2022-2024 and multifamily housing goals for 2022. FHFA also recently announced that in 2020 Fannie Mae met all of its single-family and multifamily housing goals, while Freddie Mac met all except its single-family low-income refinance goal.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Lack of regulations contributes to affordability problems.

A segment on the Marketplace Morning Report titled For Unincorporated Communities, Limited Ways to Regulate Housing examines the challenges high amenity communities like Joshua Tree, CA have with rental housing affordability. Lance George, HAC’s Director of Research and Information, offered a national perspective on factors that contribute to these challenges.

Communities observe Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day.

December 21, the first day of winter and the longest night of the year, is recognized by the National Consumer Advisory Board, the National Coalition for the Homeless, and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council as an opportunity to remember people experiencing homelessness who have died and to strengthen the resolve to work for change. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness acknowledged the event with recommendations for actions to address homelessness.

Emergency Rental Assistance programs and needs examined.

Recent reports consider the use of the Treasury Department’s Emergency Rental Assistance funding and ways to estimate need.

Rural workforce shrinking.

A recent Daily Yonder analysis of county-level data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that rural counties have gained jobs in the last year but have not reached the same number of jobs as before the beginning of the pandemic. The data reflects fewer people in rural America available to work, though the data do not show whether this is because working-age people are leaving rural counties, retiring, or just not looking for work.

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).