News

HAC News: March 17, 2022

HAC News: March 17, 2022

Vol. 51, No. 6

TOP STORIES

Final appropriations set for FY22.

An omnibus appropriations act establishes federal funding levels for fiscal year 2022, which ends on September 30, 2022.

  • Several USDA rural housing programs receive modest funding increases rather than the significant boosts for rental housing that were included in House and/or Senate versions. The bill expands eligibility for Section 542 vouchers, allows rental property owners to request 20-year Rental Assistance contracts, and continues to require that at least 10% of most USDA Rural Development programs, including most housing programs, be set aside for persistent poverty counties where the poverty rate has been at least 20% for 30 years. For more details, see HAC’s site.
  • Many HUD programs will receive more funding in fiscal year 2022 than in 2021, although the final figures generally fall below the highest increases proposed by the Biden administration, the House, or the Senate. The SHOP program was increased from $10 million in FY21 to $12.5 million – the first increase in the program since FY15. The spending agreement also encourages HUD to consider increasing SHOP’s current $15,000 per-unit cap. The measure includes funds for 25,000 new rental vouchers. For more details, see HAC’s site.

Census continues trends of undercounting some populations.

While there was not a statistically significant overcount or undercount for the total U.S. population, the Census Bureau recently announced that an analysis of the 2020 decennial census estimated national undercounts for renters and Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, some other race, and Hispanic or Latino populations. A second study identified undercounts of young children under age 5 and working age men. Additional estimates of coverage will be released later this year, including estimates on housing units as well as for race and Hispanic origin.

RuralSTAT

There are approximately 15 million ‘Baby Boomers’ in rural America making them one of the largest age groups in many rural communities. But rural America is not a monolith and there are important dynamics in all rural age strata. For more information on Age and Aging in Rural America visit HAC’s website. Source: HAC tabulations of the Census Bureau’s 2014-2018 American Community Survey.

OPPORTUNITIES

USDA offers loan deferrals for rental preservation.

Owners or purchasers of rental properties with USDA Section 515 or 514 loans can apply by May 16 for 20-year payment deferrals, with the cash flow to be used for revitalization and preservation of the properties. This notice does not offer other forms of preservation assistance and no additional Section 521 Rental Assistance is available. Preregister here for an April 5 USDA workshop on this opportunity. For more information, contact Fallan Faulkner, USDA, 615-812-0050.

USDA-financed farmworker housing eligible for repair funding.

Section 514 loans and Section 516 grants are available for repair of off-farm labor housing with current Section 514/516 funding. Funds can be used either for substantial rehabilitation or for limited improvements, repairs, or modifications such as accessibility compliance and health and safety issues. USDA will hold a workshop for potential applicants on April 13. Pre-applications are due April 25. For more information, contact Jonathan Bell, USDA, 254-742-9764.

HAC schedules webinar on healthy homes innovations.

Building Smart and Building Healthy, to be held March 23, is the third in a series designed to share innovative solutions for affordable housing developers dealing with escalating prices and implementing additional regulations. This session will explore innovations in building/repairing healthy homes and their impact on inhabitants and their communities. For more information, contact HAC staff.

Placemaking resources to be launched.

Under a new cooperative agreement with USDA, the University of Kentucky will offer a digital toolkit to connect local leaders with technical assistance providers, funding organizations, planning guides, and other placemaking resources. USDA’s announcement describes placemaking as a collaborative planning and technical assistance process that helps rural community leaders develop plans to create quality places where people will want to live, work, visit, learn and explore. A virtual workshop is planned for May 23 and 24. For more information, sign up to receive updates from USDA. The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with HAC, offers additional rural placemaking and rural design resources.

FY23 budget to be released this month.

The Biden administration is expected to publish its funding request for fiscal year 2023 before the end of March. HAC will post an analysis of the budget and will hold a webinar, to be scheduled when the budget is released.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Violence Against Women Act expanded.

The FY22 omnibus appropriations bill includes provisions reauthorizing and expanding the Violence Against Women Act. The law, which – among numerous other provisions – protects tenants in federally subsidized rentals, previously applied to rental properties with direct or guaranteed financing from USDA, Low Income Housing Tax Credit developments, and most HUD-financed rentals. The new provisions make it applicable also to USDA’s Section 542 voucher program, the Housing Trust Fund, and housing programs for homeless veterans.

CFPB initiative to consider rural financial issues.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has launched a new initiative on financial issues facing rural America, focusing initially on rural banking deserts, discriminatory and predatory agricultural credit, and manufactured housing. Rural residents are invited to share their stories on these and other issues through a link in CFPB’s blog post.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Racial wealth gap solutions examined.

A recent series of articles published by Shelterforce attempts to “widen the lens on the racial wealth gap and what needs to be done about it.” The series, titled The Racial Wealth Gap – Moving to Systemic Solutions, argues that homeownership, business ownership, and higher education are all important, but “we must go beyond simply promoting more of each.” Articles include Wealth Building Won’t Work While Wealth Extraction Continues, Increased Homeownership Won’t Close the Racial Wealth Gap, Blaming Redlining Is Too Easy, Credit Where Credit Is Due: Expanding Access to Capital for BIPOC Developers, and more.

Both policy and technology can help address appraisal bias.

Reducing Bias in Home Appraisals: The Roles for Policy and Technology, a blog post from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, explores appraisal bias’s impact on wealth creation in communities of color and how certain changes could reduce bias. The authors conclude that long-term change requires a combination of private sector technology innovations and policy changes related to identification of comparable properties, standardized approaches, and division of the appraisal process among individuals.

Local investments yield big changes.

Residents of Albion, a small Nebraska town, have come together to raise funds for a child care center, agriculture and education center, nursing home improvements, and more. Raising such funds is a significant challenge for many rural communities, but it has become easier over time in Albion because the town has many visible successes. An article in the Flatwater Free Press titled Albion, Investing in Itself, Shows How Small Towns Can Thrive notes that the area’s shortage of affordable housing remains on the list of issues to be addressed.

Newsletter for tenants focuses on Emergency Rental Assistance.

A new issue of Tenant Talk, subtitled Emergency Rental Assistance at All Angles, centers on the Emergency Rental Assistance program’s impact for tenants navigating the economic challenges of the pandemic. This National Low Income Housing Coalition newsletter is free online or by mail.

HAC

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).