Vol. 53, No. 2
Federal funding expected through February
It seems likely that Congress will pass, and President Biden will sign, another continuing resolution setting two new deadlines for government funding. Agencies that are currently funded until January 19, including USDA and HUD, will continue to receive FY23 levels of support through March 1. The rest of the government will be funded through March 8 instead of February 2.
House and Senate leaders have agreed on the total dollar amounts to be appropriated, with total non-defense discretionary funding – the category that includes housing – to be cut less than 1% from FY23 levels. They have not yet determined how to divide it among federal agencies, so it is not clear whether the bills proposed last year for USDA and HUD will fit these caps or how funding for specific programs will be impacted.
Tax bill agreement supports LIHTC but omits rural boost
A bipartisan tax bill, announced on January 16, includes changes to increase the availability of Low Income Housing Tax Credits, but does not incorporate all the provisions of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 1557 and H.R. 3238). One notable AHCIA provision that is not included in the new bill, but is supported in HAC’s 2024 Rural Housing Policy Priorities, would designate rural and Tribal places as Difficult Development Areas, giving their LIHTC properties a basis boost and enabling them to attract more resources. The bill also temporarily extends the Child Tax Credit, which helped decrease U.S. poverty when it was expanded during the coronavirus pandemic.
HAC sets 2024 policy priorities
The overarching themes of HAC’s 2024 policy priorities include the need for technical assistance and building the capacity of local affordable housing and community development organizations; expanding access to credit and finance; preserving rural rental housing; improving the quality, availability, and affordability of housing to buy and rent in rural places; and preserving, increasing, and tailoring resources for federal affordable housing programs serving rural populations.
USDA obligated 7,218 home purchase loans through its Section 502 direct loan product in FY23 – a 13% increase from FY22 levels. Source: HAC tabulations of USDA 205F and 205H reports.
Indian housing funds available
Tribes and Tribally Designated Housing Entities that have ever been allocated HUD Indian housing formula funding are eligible to apply for competitive Indian Housing Block Grant funds. The deadline is March 19. For more information, email IHBGCompetitiveProgram@hud.gov.
Appalachian Gateway Communities Initiative seeks to leverage community assets for improvement
In partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Conservation Fund will select teams from Appalachian communities near publicly owned lands for the AGCI. The program leads the community teams through developing collaborative projects. After completing a training program, teams can apply for seed grant funding to help implement their action plans. Letters of interest are due January 24 and applications are due February 6. For more information, contact Susan Elks, the Conservation Fund, 610-563-1516.
REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES
HAC reports on USDA housing activity in FY23
HAC’s annual review of USDA housing obligations and historical trends shows that in FY23 the department obligated roughly 65,500 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling about $10.6 billion, and over $1.5 billion in Section 521 Rental Assistance to approximately 228,000 rural renters.
New cap on HUD income limit increases proposed
Every year, HUD adjusts the income limits that determine eligibility for housing aid. Since FY10, the annual increase has been capped at the higher of 5% or twice the percentage change in national median family income. HUD now proposes to cap the annual income limit increase at 10% and to continue not adjusting the limits for inflation. Comments are due February 8. For more information, contact Adam Bibler, HUD, 202-402-6057.
HUD proposes revisions for CDBG, ICDBG, and Section 108
Comments are due March 11 on changes intended to make it easier to use the Community Development Block Grant and the related Section 108 loan guarantee program as well as the Indian CDBG program. HUD’s proposal also would revise provisions related to Consolidated Plan and citizen participation requirements and would institute quarterly reporting. Comments are due March 11. Information contacts vary by program.
Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee nominations sought
USDA suggests changes to smoke alarm requirements
USDA, which already requires smoke alarms in its multifamily housing, is proposing to modify its Section 515 and 514/516 regulations to align with new statutory requirements for hardwired or 10-year non-rechargeable, sealed, tamper-resistant, battery-powered smoke alarm devices. Comments are due March 8. For more information, contact Barbara Chism, USDA, 202-690–1436.
Affordable Connectivity Program begins to wind down
The 2021 the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act revised and funded the Affordable Connectivity Program, which covers part of the monthly cost for internet service to low-income households. Since the program is not included in the Federal Communications Commission’s annual appropriations and has not received supplemental funding, it is expected to run out of money in April 2024. The FCC has begun winding down the program. It will stop processing new applications after February 7. Participants should receive notices from their internet providers explaining the support will end soon. For more information, consumers can visit www.fcc.gov/acp or call the ACP Support Center at 877-384-2575. A telecom news site reports that ACP’s end could also undermine the financial feasibility of the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment rural connectivity program.
Poverty guidelines get annual inflation adjustment
The national poverty guidelines, used as eligibility criteria for various federal programs, have been updated by the Department of Health and Human Services based on the 4.1% increase in the Consumer Price Index between calendar years 2022 and 2023. The poverty threshold for a four-person household in the 48 contiguous states and D.C. is now $31,200. The figures for Alaska and Hawaii are higher.
Webinar will cover rural fair housing planning
HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity will hold an online “office hour” session January 30 providing tips on conducting a fair housing planning for rural and small metropolitan jurisdictions. Questions and answers will be included. This webinar is part of a series of monthly fair housing planning office hours.
PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA
New federal funds and programs offer significant resources to rural America, with some barriers
The Brookings Institution analyzed programs that received billions of dollars in pandemic-era economic stimulus legislation for infrastructure, clean energy, climate resilience, and more. The resulting report, What’s In It For Rural? Analyzing the Opportunities for Rural America in IIJA, CHIPS, and IRA, says that over $464 billion, or about 45% of the combined appropriations, present significant opportunities for rural America. Researchers identified 66 new rural-significant programs, and about 2% of the total funding is exclusively for rural places. At the same time, the report says, the number of programs and their designs can create barriers to access for rural communities with limited capacity. The report offers recommendations to maximize the programs’ rural benefits. A webinar on the study will be held January 31.
Rural employment hits pre-pandemic levels
A Daily Yonder analysis of November 2023 employment data found that employment levels for counties both in and outside metropolitan areas grew at about the same rate from mid-2020 to early 2022. Metro areas reached pre-pandemic employment in January 2022 and have continued to creep higher since then, but places outside metro areas have seen inconsistent job growth over the past two years. Counties depending on mining and natural resource extraction had the lowest recovery rate.
People with disabilities face continuing housing crisis
Priced Out: The Housing Crisis for People with Disabilities, a web resource produced by the Technical Assistance Collaborative and the Consortium for Constituents with Disabilities, was updated at the end of 2023 with the latest data on housing affordability for people with disabilities who rely on Supplemental Security Income. TAC reports that the 4.1 million people with disabilities ages 18 to 64 who receive SSI still cannot afford an apartment in any housing market in the U.S. without rental assistance, which is often unavailable. Data are provided for metro areas, states, and places outside metro areas aggregated by state.
Inadequate housing impacts the racial wealth gap
A new report from the Urban Institute, Implications of Housing Conditions for Racial Wealth and Health Disparities, highlights that inadequate housing conditions impact housing value for Black homeowners, contributing to the racial wealth gap often attributed to differing homeownership rates. Recommended policy changes to address these issues include support for renovation assistance.
Article examines population loss and ways to reverse it
The Long Decline: How Depopulation Hurts Alabama’s Rural Communities is the first in a series of Alabama Reflector articles describing demographic decline in the state’s rural Black Belt region. The story details the factors driving the decline and the efforts being made to change these trends.
HAC’s office has moved
HAC’s new street address, effective on January 1, 2024, is 1828 L Street, N.W., Suite 505, Washington, DC 20036. Our phone number remains 202-842-8600.
HAC is hiring
- The Rental Housing Development and Preservation – Housing Specialist will provide technical assistance support to nonprofit organizations involved in multifamily housing programs, with a specific focus on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs. This position is remote work eligible.
- The Rental Housing Development and Preservation Housing Specialist – Senior Level Position is a senior-level role that combines expertise in multifamily housing programs, specifically focusing on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs, with the responsibility of providing technical assistance, with a particular focus on transfers of USDA 515 properties. This position is remote work 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).
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