News

HAC News: June 9, 2022

TOP STORIES

House committee to begin FY23 funding process.

The House Appropriations Committee has announced its schedule for considering funding bills covering the fiscal year that begins October 1. USDA appropriations will be marked up in subcommittee on June 15 and by the full committee on June 23. HUD’s mark-ups will be June 23 for the subcommittee and June 30 for the full committee.

Senators request input on USDA rural housing programs.

Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Mike Rounds (R-SD), Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over housing programs, are asking for stakeholders’ input on USDA Rural Housing Service programs. Comments can be emailed to rural_housing@smith.senate.gov by July 8.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac issue plans for equitable housing finance.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have developed Equitable Housing Finance Plans for 2022-2024, intended to help address the racial and ethnic disparities in homeownership and wealth. The plans’ activities include consumer education initiatives for renters and homeowners, credit reporting to help tenants build credit profiles, counseling services, technology use, and special purpose credit programs. The Federal Housing Finance Agency will also require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to maintain online lists of pilots and test-and-learn activities.

Administration supports building codes to improve climate resilience.

A National Initiative to Advance Building Codes aims to encourage states and territories, local governments, and tribes to adopt building codes requiring structures to resist extreme weather, and federal agencies will require federally funded housing and other buildings to meet high standards even in places without such codes. The Administration’s announcement notes the advantages of cost savings over time as well as the need to control upfront costs.

June is National Homeownership Month.

President Biden issued a proclamation and HUD’s press release notes that this is the 20th annual Homeownership Month. USDA Rural Development will honor the occasion by highlighting stories from rural, tribal, and underserved communities.

June is Pride Month.

President Biden declared June to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Pride Month. HAC celebrates the diversity that makes every community unique.

RuralSTAT

Of the $1.1 billion Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac invested in Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity in 2021, $287 million (26%) went to areas defined as rural under the Duty to Serve regulations. Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency, 2021 Mission Report: Affordable Housing Activities of the Regulated Entities.

OPPORTUNITIES

Website offers training information for Section 502 direct loan packagers.

Completion of a USDA-approved training is one prerequisite for those seeking certification as packagers to help rural Americans apply for Section 502 direct mortgage loans. The new USDA 502 Direct Training website provides one-stop access to information on packaging, the certification course, and more, from all three intermediaries that offer training – HAC, NeighborWorks America, and Rural Community Assistance Corporation. For more information, email 502Training@ruralhome.org.

Help offered for localities to access infrastructure funding.

The Local Infrastructure Hub, created by the National League of Cities, Results for America, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors with help from other national nonprofits and funders, aims to ensure that local governments can access federal infrastructure funding to improve their communities. The effort, which will launch on July 1, intends to help cities and towns of all sizes and from all regions of the country.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

HUD requests comments on “Buy America Preference.”

The 2021 infrastructure act requires that before HUD provides funds for infrastructure projects it must take steps to ensure that all the iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials used are produced in the United States. HUD seeks input on topics such as what HUD-financed projects might fall under exemptions from the preference, how materials are currently sourced, and more. It also asks what HUD programs might be considered to fund infrastructure in addition to those on a previously published list that includes HOME, CDBG, and SHOP. Comments are due July 1. For more information, contact Joseph Carlile, HUD, 202-402-7082.

Final energy conservation standards set for manufactured housing.

The Department of Energy has established energy conservation standards for manufactured housing, “tiered” based on size, except that the building thermal envelope requirements for single-section manufactured homes are less stringent than those for multi-section homes. Compliance with these standards is required by May 31, 2023.  For more information, contact John Cymbalsky, DOE, 202-287-1692.

HUD expands tools to find housing counseling.

HUD has revised its online search and toll-free telephone line (1-800-569-4287) to help people find HUD-approved housing counseling agencies. HUD’s announcement explains that the online locator is available in English and Spanish and includes improved navigation, smart-phone capability, and integration with map technology, as well as contacts to national intermediaries where there are no local agencies. The phone service allows users to speak to customer service representatives and to request assistance from translators in more than 200 languages.

Treasury explains reallocation of Emergency Rental Assistance for tribes.

An addendum to earlier guidance describes how the Treasury Department will reallocate funds from the first round of the Emergency Rental Assistance program to tribal governments.

Indian Country questions in CRA proposal highlighted.

Native American-focused provisions in the recent Community Reinvestment Act proposed rule are described in CRA Modernization and Indian Country: Banking Agencies Seek Feedback on New Rulemaking Proposal, an article from the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. The post points out that the proposal asks for comment on a new definition of Native Land Areas and on bank activities’ benefits to Natives. Comments on the proposal – which also covers many other topics – are due August 5.

Flood insurance Q&As revised.

The Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Flood Insurance issued by a group of federal agencies are intended to help lenders meet their responsibilities under federal flood insurance law and to increase public understanding of the agencies’ regulations. For more information, contact Rhonda L. Daniels, OCC, 202-649-5405.

FHFA reports on affordable housing.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s 2021 Mission Report: Affordable Housing Activities of the Regulated Entities describes the activities of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks to provide greater access to financing for targeted economic development and affordable, sustainable, and equitable housing.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Homeownership builds wealth but does not narrow the racial wealth gap.

Three Reasons Why Expanding Access to Homeownership Alone Won’t Close the Racial Wealth Gap, an Urban Institute post, summarizes research explaining why other policy approaches are needed. Black- and Latinx-led renter households do not benefit from policies targeted to homeowners; homeownership’s benefits are smaller and its costs and risks larger for people of color; and promoting homeownership contributes to negative climate effects, which disproportionately impact communities of color.

GAO recommends national broadband strategy.

A Government Accountability Office study identifies over 100 federal programs administered by 15 agencies that can be used to expand broadband access in rural places. Broadband: National Strategy Needed to Guide Federal Efforts to Reduce Digital Divide makes several recommendations to coordinate these efforts.

Drought’s impact in rural West draws attention.

Stories like CNN’s California Drought is Pushing Latino Farmers and Workers to Make Difficult Decisions and As California’s Big Cities Fail to Rein in Their Water Use, Rural Communities are Already Tapped Out describe climate change’s devastating impacts on rural economies. A report titled SGMA and Underrepresented Farmers says implementation of California’s groundwater management law does not adequately protect small and underserved farmers. A June 7 Senate subcommittee hearing addressed The Western Water Crisis: Confronting Persistent Drought and Building Resilience on Our Forests and Farmland. The federal Drought Resilience Interagency Working Group released a report on one year of Biden-Harris Administration actions, such as deployment of infrastructure funding.

Illustrated story explains Black farmers’ debt.

Illustrating the News: The Battle Over Debt Relief for Black Farmers, a graphic story published by the Daily Yonder, uses images to explain the need for the American Rescue Plan Act’s debt relief program for socially disadvantaged farmers and the lawsuits that have put the effort in limbo.

HAC

Rural veterans and local nonprofits receive critical housing support.

The Home Depot Foundation and HAC announced on June 8 that the Foundation is awarding grants totaling $375,107 to 13 local nonprofits around the country to repair the homes of 65 rural veterans and their families. As part of its Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans Initiative, HAC works with the Foundation to administer these grants that bolster and support the work of rural nonprofit housing agencies to deliver critical housing support to veterans.

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HAC seeks Housing Specialist – Native American Communities, Impact Specialist, and Community Placemaking Manager.

  • 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.
  • The Impact Specialist collects and reports impact metrics across HAC’s lines of business, assists in the preparation and review of investor and donor reports for HAC’s various sources of funding, and assists in the development and tracking of HAC’s new strategic plan. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Community Placemaking Manager helps rural residents use their unique artistic and cultural resources to guide local development and shape the future design of their communities. The manager will cultivate the capacity of partner organizations and local communities, facilitate peer-to-peer learning engagements, manage day-to-day program functions and activities, communicate program success, and prepare funding applications. Travel is required. This position is eligible for telecommuting.

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).