HUD announces new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing proposal
HUD released the text of a new AFFH proposed rule on January 19. The proposal requires jurisdictions to develop equity plans every five years, incorporate those into Consolidated Plans and annual plans, and provide annual progress evaluations. It is based on a 2015 AFFH rule (which was only briefly in effect before it was rescinded in 2018 and replaced in 2020), with changes that are intended to simplify the required fair housing analysis, emphasize goal-setting, increase transparency for public review and comment, foster local commitment to addressing fair housing issues, enhance HUD technical assistance to local communities, and provide mechanisms for regular program evaluation and greater accountability, among other changes. Public comments will be due 60 days after the document is published in the Federal Register later this month. For more information, contact Tiffany Johnson, HUD, 202-402-2881.
Agencies propose changing regulations for faith-based organizations
Nine federal agencies, including USDA, HUD, and VA, propose to change their regulations related to faith-based organizations that receive government funding to provide social services. A 2016 rule required service providers to inform potential beneficiaries they could not be required to participate in faith-related activities. It also obligated them to offer information about alternative, non-faith-based providers. In 2020 these notice requirements were removed. The agencies now hope to reinstate a modified rule encouraging service providers to tell potential beneficiaries about alternative providers. They suggest additional changes also. Comments are due March 14. Agency contacts for more information are listed in the proposal.
New HAC guide covers substance use recovery and affordable rural housing
Rural Resource Guide: Affordable Housing and Recovery in Rural Communities, Federally Assisted Housing Opportunities for Residents with Substance Use Disorders and Opioid Use Disorders assists housing practitioners seeking to provide homes to those affected by substance use disorders. The publication was released at a webinar on January 18; the recording is available online.
Rural voters say housing costs are a serious problem
Rural and small town voters expressed strong concerns about inflation and the costs of essentials like housing and food in a bipartisan poll conducted in November for Save the Children and Save the Children Action Network. Housing costs are an extremely or very serious problem, 63% of respondents said – more than identified that level of worry about any other issue, including a lack of good-paying jobs, drug and alcohol use, and child care availability. Focusing on solutions to shortages of food and child care, the study found strong bipartisan support for federal policy remedies, including policies that increase government funding.
The number of home mortgage loans guaranteed by USDA declined by 44% between fiscal years 2021 and 2022. Source: HAC tabulations of USDA data.
HUD opens two lead hazard control competitions
- The Lead Hazard Reduction Program funds efforts to identify and control lead-based paint hazards in privately owned rental or owner-occupied housing. Applicants can also request Healthy Homes Supplemental funding to identify and address other housing hazards that affect occupant health. Local governments, some state governments, and some Tribes are eligible, and consortium applicants may include nonprofits. Funding will be set aside for applicants that have never received an award under the LHR program or whose grant period of performance ended two or more years ago. Apply by March 14. For more information, contact Yolanda Brown, HUD, 202-903-9576.
- The Housing-Related Hazards & Lead-Based Paint Capital Fund Program is available only for public housing authorities. The deadline is April 13. For more information, contact HUD staff, PIHOCI@hud.gov.
Grants offered for housing innovations
From January 31 through March 3, Enterprise Community Partners and the Wells Fargo Foundation will open the second Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge, a $20 million competition to identify and support scalable housing innovations. The challenge offers grants of up to $3 million and technical assistance in three categories – financing, construction, and access and resident support. Eligible applicants include nonprofits, Tribal organizations and mission-driven for-profits in 37 states and D.C. A webinar for potential applicants is scheduled for February 2.
REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES
Construction cost relief for single-family homes extended
In 2021, because of cost increases and construction delays, USDA announced some temporary authorizations for new construction financed under its Section 502 and 504 direct loan programs. Those provisions expired December 31 and have now been renewed for another year. The changes increase the permissible construction contingency in these loans and ease 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.
USDA considers use of multifamily reserve account cash for soft debt
USDA proposes to expand the uses of “surplus cash” in property reserve accounts at projects with Section 515 rental or 514 farmworker housing loans. To increase flexibility in project refinancing for additional capital improvements, borrowers would be allowed to use surplus cash to fund approved soft debt such as “cash flow notes.” Comments are due March 10. For more information, contact Jennifer Larson, USDA, 202-720-1615.
USDA and National Urban League announce partnership
The USDA and National Urban League will work together in areas including homeownership, access to broadband, help for veterans, and youth development. USDA’s press announcement says the civil rights organization will help enhance USDA’s ability to fulfill its missions efficiently and fairly.
Disaster webinars scheduled
- Disaster Resilience: Preparation, Mitigation, and Recovery will be held on January 24 by the National Housing Conference. Panelists will discuss environmentally conscious building and green retrofitting to help prevent catastrophic damage, the policy changes needed to make disaster responses timely and equitable and address systematic failures, and best practices for comprehensive recovery efforts. Two of the panelists are from rural organizations.
- Rural Affordable Housing: Understanding the Steps to Disaster Recovery will be offered January 26 by the Technical Assistance Collaborative. This session will provide an overview of what to expect after a disaster and how organizations can prepare for disaster recovery related to affordable and supportive housing.
- Preparing your Organization for Disaster: A Guide to Rural Resilience, provided by HAC in September, can be viewed online. Panelists covered the value of being prepared and ways to make organizations disaster resilient. The session also showcased HAC’s Rural Resilience in the Face of Disaster
PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA
Culturally sensitive design approaches can improve Tribal housing
Participatory Models of Housing: Promising Design Practices for Affordable Housing on Tribal Lands, co-published by the Joint Center for Housing Studies and NeighborWorks America, explores promising, nascent efforts to develop housing that is affordable, higher-quality, and culturally sensitive.
Data can help address racial inequities in housing, report says
Leveraging Data to Improve Racial Equity in Fair Housing asserts that data can shed light on some of the historic drivers of housing inequity and help inform tailored solutions to their ongoing impact. Published by the IBM Center for the Business of Government and the Center for Open Data Enterprise, the report explores ways to apply data to address different types of housing discrimination.
Vermont governor recognizes small towns need capacity building to access funds
Gov. Phil Scott has proposed a $3 million Rural Infrastructure Assistance Program to help underserved rural communities in Vermont access federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. Housing development is among the types of projects that would be covered. The proposal must be funded by the state legislature.
National survey on drug use and health results available
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released its report on the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, including estimates by geographic region. In 2021, 46.3 million people in the U.S. were diagnosed with substance use disorders, including 6,742,000 in rural areas. The vast majority (94%) of people 12 years or older diagnosed with substance use disorder did not receive treatment.
Videos demonstrate fair housing analysis tool
HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Data and Mapping Tool (AFFH-T) Video Series is intended to show how the online AFFH-T and other local data sources can be used to analyze local conditions as part of a fair housing planning process.
HAC seeks Portfolio Manager, Closing and Disbursements
- The Portfolio Manager, Closing and Disbursements is responsible for all aspects of loan closing and loan disbursements for an assigned portfolio of loans made to entities engaged in affordable housing activities in rural communities throughout the United States. 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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