Congressional action needed on government funding by December 16
It is not yet clear whether Congress will be able to pass an omnibus appropriations measure to cover the rest of FY23 before the current continuing resolution expires on December 16. A full-year continuing resolution, holding most programs at FY22 levels, is also a possibility. Lawmakers may first enact another short-term CR to give themselves another week to negotiate. The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding, a coalition of organizations including HAC, explains how a full-year CR could harm housing programs.
USDA launches simple transfer pilot for preserving rental properties
A pilot program simplifying the process of transferring ownership of Section 515 properties will be in effect from December 9, 2022 through December 9, 2024. USDA’s notice explains and lists the requirements for three types of transfers. The most complex of the three is the “two-step” transfer process USDA tested previously, which allows a nonprofit or public agency to close on a purchase of a Section 515 property based on a plan for undertaking rehabilitation/recapitalization within two years. For general information about the pilot, contact Stephanie Vergin, USDA. Those interested in participating in the pilot program should contact their property’s assigned servicing specialist.
HAC and other organizations offer technical assistance to nonprofits on transfers of Section 515 properties. Current owners of 515 properties who are interested in transferring ownership to a nonprofit organization, or nonprofits who are interested in acquiring one, can reach out to Kristin Blum, HAC, or find another TA provider on the Contact tab at this link.
HAC comments on defining colonias, preserving rural rental housing, and reducing greenhouse gases
Responding to federal agency requests for comments, HAC recently submitted information on three topics relevant to affordable rural housing.
- Defining colonias: The Federal Housing Finance Agency proposed to change the way it determines what geographic areas are considered colonias for purposes of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve activities. The proposal was based on research conducted by HAC. HAC’s comments support FHFA’s approach and suggest that activities in rural colonias census tracts, where needs are greater, should receive more weight than those in urban or suburban places.
- Preserving rural rental housing: FHFA requested comments on modifications Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac requested in their Duty to Serve plans for 2023. HAC’s response opposed Freddie Mac’s proposal to remove support for Section 515 rural rental housing loans, supported Fannie Mae’s addition of equity investments in Native CDFIs, and reminded FHFA of comments HAC previously submitted on improving service to Indian Country.
- Reducing greenhouse gases connected with housing: The Environmental Protection Agency is developing a new $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund program that could fund a variety of activities, including those related to housing. HAC recommended that EPA include CDFIs and housing improvements in the program, address the unique needs of rural and persistent poverty communities, and incorporate equity principles throughout the program design.
The number of jobs approved for the H-2A visa program, which allows U.S. agricultural employers to hire foreign workers temporarily, increased from around 75,000 in FY 2010 to around 275,000 in FY 2020, when they accounted for about 10% of the average employment on U.S. crop farms. Source: USDA Economic Research Service.
HAC offers capacity building for housing provision to people in recovery from substance use
Safe, healthy, and affordable housing is foundational to successful recovery from substance use disorders and opioid use disorders. HAC’s Affordable Housing and Recovery in Rural Communities Cohort is accepting applications through December 20. Rural nonprofit organizations and local municipalities aiming to create safe, healthy, and stable housing for residents in recovery from substance use disorders and opioid use disorders are encouraged to apply. The scheduled cohort activities include access to HAC’s Rural Resource Guide: Affordable Housing and Recovery in Rural Communities, the Housing and Recovery Symposium, and an in-person peer exchange and learning experience. For more information and to apply, visit HAC’s website.
YouthBuild grants available
Nonprofits, state, local, and Tribal governments, and others can apply by February 7 for YouthBuild grants to provide pre-apprenticeship services that support education, occupational skills training, and employment services to youth, ages 16 to 24, who left high school prior to graduation and also have other risk factors. For more information, contact Department of Labor staff, YB_FOA-ETAfirstname.lastname@example.org.
USDA will make grants to aid small rural businesses
Rural Business Development Grants are available to nonprofits, coops, and state, local, and Tribal governments. Recipients provide targeted technical assistance, training, and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas. Applications are submitted to USDA RD state or local offices, which have varying deadlines. For state-specific information, visit the RBDG website and select a state from the drop down menu.
REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES
New regulations proposed for Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program
HUD’s proposed rule is intended to encourage homeownership opportunities in Indian Country by modernizing the Section 184 program’s regulations and providing clarity for lenders who make mortgage loans with Section 184 guarantees. Comments are due March 6. For more information, contact Krisa Johnson, HUD, 202-402-4978.
HUD names Tribal Intergovernmental Advisory Committee members
HUD has announced the members of the first-ever Tribal Intergovernmental Advisory Committee. The group is intended to supplement HUD’s Tribal consultation process to strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship between HUD and Tribal communities, coordinate policy across all HUD programs, and advise on the housing priorities of the American Indian and Alaska Native peoples. For more information, contact Heidi J. Frechette, HUD, 202-401-7914.
USDA adopts final rule for broadband program
The Rural Broadband Program, previously called the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, has been functioning under an interim rule since 2020. USDA has now adopted the interim rule as final. For more information, contact Laurel Leverrier, USDA, 202-720-3416.
FY 2023 median family incomes and income limits to be delayed
Following its usual process, HUD would have calculated median family incomes and income limits for fiscal 2023 using American Community Survey data from 2020, but the data collection was affected by the pandemic and the Census Bureau is not releasing the results. HUD intends to base its FY 2023 calculations on ACS 2021 data instead, and expects to release the figures around May 15 rather than in March or April as usual.
Administration hopes to make Tribal consultation more consistent
A memo from President Biden to executive branch agencies is meant to improve and streamline the process of consulting with Tribes when developing federal policies that have Tribal implications and to ensure more consistency between agencies. It requires each agency to designate a primary point of contact for Tribal consultation matters, provide an informational notice when it schedules a consultation, maintain records, provide training for employees involved in consultation, and more.
Final RD state director named
Maximiliano Trujillo has been named USDA Rural Development State Director in Puerto Rico. His background includes work on economic development and other topics in Puerto Rico and Washington, DC. All state director positions have now been filled.
USDA changes tenant recertification for 2023
USDA regulations require incomes of Section 515 and Section 514/516 tenants to be recertified annually or whenever a change in household income of $100 or more per month occurs. Because Social Security and SSI benefits will rise by 8.7%, an average increase of $140 per month, beginning on January 1, USDA is temporarily waiving the recertification requirement for tenants whose household income, regardless of income type, increases by $100 or more, but less than $200. This temporary waiver will be in place through calendar year 2023. For more information, contact Michael Resnik, USDA, 202-430-3114.
Online summit scheduled on residential retrofits
Residential Retrofits for Energy Equity (R2E2) plans to center environmental justice and racial equity to address housing affordability, energy insecurity, and climate change. This new nationwide initiative will provide training to community-based organizations and to state, local, and Tribal governments to jumpstart energy upgrades for affordable housing. R2E2 will begin its training and technical assistance with a free online summit on January 19 and 20. The program is a partnership of the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy, Elevate, Emerald Cities Collaborative, and HR&A Advisors, with People’s Climate Innovation Center advising and with funding from several foundations. For more information, email R2E2@aceee.org.
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, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, and the National Alliance to End Homelessness offer a resource manual for communities to hold memorial events or take other steps to remember people experiencing homelessness who have died in the past year.
PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA
Fair housing complaints increased in 2021
The National Fair Housing Alliance’s 2022 Fair Housing Trends report states that government agencies and private organizations received 8.7% more complaints in 2021 than in 2020. More than 72% of claims were processed by private nonprofits. Discrimination based on disability accounted for more than half the complaints filed. Race was the basis for just under 19% of all complaints, compared to almost 17% in 2020.
Community land trusts build resilient, affordable housing after hurricane
Yes! Magazine reports on a community land trust in the Florida Keys working to rebuild after Hurricane Ian. Disasters reduce housing stock and drive up rent, while CLTs stave off displacement and ensure long-term affordability.
Study finds differences increasing between “New West” and “Old West”
A report titled New West and Old West in the Twenty-First Century: The Rich Get Richer explores changes in rural areas of the Mountain West region. The study (which is online but behind a paywall) is summarized in Income Disparity Rising in Rural Communities, BYU Study Says, a KLS.com article. Researchers compared counties in 2000 and 2019, finding a large increase in income differences between residents of “New West” and “Old West” counties. New West counties have recreational amenities and are a draw for new, wealthier residents, while Old West counties’ economies tend to be based in government, mining and manufacturing, or agriculture. The growing New West counties in turn have increasing costs of living that may price locals out of communities.
USDA publishes 2022 rural America overview
USDA’s Economic Research Service published Rural America at a Glance: 2022 Edition discussing population trends, demographics of the labor force, and the structure of the economic sector. The rural workforce is becoming increasingly racially diverse in many economic sectors.
Black homeownership rate falling after early pandemic rise
Since the nationwide Black homeownership rate jumped higher in 2019-2020, it has fallen back to 45%, far below its high-water mark of nearly 50% in 2004. The National Association of Real Estate Brokers’ 2022 State of Housing in Black America: The Elusive Dream of Black Homeownership examines reasons for the decline. For the first time, this annual study also addresses the impact of climate change on Black communities.
HAC seeks Portfolio Manager, Self-Help Housing and Housing Specialist – Native American Communities
- The Portfolio Manager, Self-Help Housing is responsible for the overall asset management, monitoring and reporting for an assigned portfolio of primarily self-help housing loans made to entities engaged in affordable housing activities in rural communities throughout the United States. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
- The Housing Specialist – Native American Communities is responsible for providing direct technical assistance, coaching, and training to tribal communities, tribal housing departments, tribal housing authorities, and nonprofit organizations serving tribal communities. Travel is required. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
National Rural Housing Conference set for October 2023
Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27, 2023 in Washington, DC and online.
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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