Vol. 51, No. 3
Congress must address federal funding this month.
The continuing resolution that maintains government spending at fiscal year 2021 levels will end on February 18. Congress may pass an omnibus appropriations bill, possibly using another brief CR to obtain more time to negotiate, or may decide to adopt a full-year CR. FY22 appropriations bills proposing increased resources for some USDA and HUD housing programs passed the House in July and were introduced in the Senate. The FY23 funding process will begin soon as well, with the Biden administration’s budget proposal expected to be released sometime in March.
Bill introduced to target funds to neediest places.
On February 1, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced the Targeting Resources to Communities in Need Act of 2022, H.R. 6531, which would direct federal funding to persistent poverty areas throughout the country. The bill is based on the 10-20-30 formula that has been applied to require at least 10% of funds from some USDA Rural Development programs be spent in persistent poverty counties (those where the poverty rate has been at least 20% for at least 30 years). It instructs OMB to work government-wide, program by program, to increase the share of funds going to high and persistent poverty areas.
Rental housing study finds growing inequities by income and race.
America’s Rental Housing 2022, published by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, reports that in 2020 the rental vacancy rate fell to its lowest level since the mid-1980s, rents rose, and ownership of rental properties continued to shift from individuals to businesses – including a record high share of single-family homes. Lower-income renters were especially hard hit by pandemic-related income losses and likely to fall behind on rent, with Black, Hispanic, and Asian renters suffering far higher rates of rent arrearages than whites.
COVID-19 cases explode as Omicron variant hits rural America.
HAC’s most recent analysis of data on the coronavirus pandemic shows a dramatic rise in rural cases. Since the emergence of the Delta variant in summer 2021, the COVID-19 death rate has been substantially higher outside metropolitan areas than within them.
February is Black History Month.
Between December 20, 2021 and January 20, 2022 communities outside metropolitan areas reported more than 1.8 million new cases of COVID-19 – a 223% increase over the previous month. Source: HAC tabulations of public health data from the New York Times.
Grants offered for rural arts.
The Rural Arts Initiative of the Laura Jane Musser Fund offers grants of up to $10,000 to assist small nonprofit arts organizations in rural communities to develop, implement, or sustain exceptional artistic opportunities for adults and children in the areas of literary, visual, music, and performing arts. Applicants must be located in communities with under 20,000 population in Colorado, Hawaii, Wyoming, or specified parts of Minnesota, New York, or Texas. Applications must be submitted online between February 9 and March 9. For more information, contact the Musser Fund, 612-825-2024.
Webinar to cover “Building Momentum for Your Long-Term Vision.”
Join the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design on February 16 for a webinar about approaches and tactics to build support for design projects across rural America. The session will be led by Jun-Li Wang, Associate Director for Programs at Springboard for the Arts, and Emily Schmidt, award winning journalist and communications consultant.
REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES
CFPB updates lists of rural and underserved areas.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has posted its annual lists of areas determined to be “rural or underserved” and counties determined to be “rural” for purposes of mortgage lending regulations, and has updated the accompanying website tool.
CDBG disaster funds allocated and requirements explained.
A HUD notice describes the allocation of Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds for some jurisdictions where major disasters occurred in 2020, along with waivers and alternative requirements, relevant regulatory requirements, the grant award process, criteria for action plan approval, and eligible activities. These CDBG-DR funds will be used for disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and housing, economic revitalization, and mitigation.
U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness has new director.
HAC suggests ways to strengthen mortgage reporting.
HAC submitted comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regarding its assessment of the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act rule. HAC strongly urges the CFPB to return to requiring HMDA reporting by lenders originating as few as 25 loans, rather than its new 100-origination threshold, to more accurately capture rural markets that are disproportionately served by small financial institutions. HAC also supports development of a HMDA reliability index and addition of data points on topics such as manufactured housing to improve understanding of certain underserved markets.
USDA RD clarifies use of 2020 Census data.
Because Census Bureau release of new data has been delayed, USDA Rural Development programs will continue to use population data from the 2010 decennial census. Until October 1, 2022, RD programs will use state nonmetro median household incomes calculated from the 2006-2010 American Community Survey and then will switch to median incomes based on the 2015-2019 five-year ACS. For more information, contact an RD State Office.
Time periods for some youth vouchers extended.
A HUD notice explains newly extended time periods for vouchers provided to youth through the Family Unification Program. Some of these Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities amendments are already in effect. Comments are due March 25. For more information, contact Ryan E. Jones, HUD, 202-402-2677.
PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA
Tribal implementation of Emergency Rental Assistance examined.
Emergency Rental Assistance among Indigenous Tribes: Findings from Tribal Grantees, a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, explains that tribal grantees face unique challenges and barriers to implementing Emergency Rental Assistance programs: they serve households across jurisdictional boundaries and also have different housing needs and rental markets, administrative infrastructures, and ERA grant allocations. The research examines these key characteristics as well as lessons learned from tribal experience with the programs.
Development and population growth intensify flood risks, analysis shows.
In an academic paper and an article more accessible for non-scientists, researchers report that over the next 30 years, the cost of flood damage in the U.S. is on pace to rise 26% due to climate change alone. Factoring in population growth, however, makes the increase in flood losses four times higher than the climate-only effect. The study also found that the current flood risk is predominantly concentrated in white, impoverished communities, many of them on the coasts or in Appalachian valleys, whereas the 30-year increase in risk falls disproportionately on urban and rural communities with large Black populations on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. New Flood Maps Show US Damage Rising 26% in Next 30 Years Due to Climate Change Alone, and the Inequity is Stark includes an interactive map providing risk estimates by county.
Vision 2071 site celebrates history and looks to the future.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary and look toward the next 50 years, HAC has launched vision2071, a website covering stories about the communities HAC serves, milestones over HAC’s history, and an opportunity to consider what rural American will be in 2071. A recent post describes the visions of eight housing and community development leaders for their communities. You can donate to HAC’s anniversary campaign here or by contacting Jennifer McAllister at HAC. Together, we can make this vision of rural America a reality by 2071.
HAC seeks Community Development Specialist, Loan Processor Associate, and Housing Specialist.
- The Community Development Specialist works with nonprofits and local governments on all facets of developing community resources such as parks, community centers, public libraries, childcare centers, health care facilities, or other public spaces. Requirements include four years of relevant work experience. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
- 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
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).