USDA RD produces Buy America guide
USDA Rural Development published a Build America, Buy America Customer Guide to help organizations receiving RD financial assistance comply with requirements that took effect on February 4. RD also revised its BABA webpage, which now makes clear that for-profit entities receiving federal funds are not subject to BABA. There are no changes to the list of affected rural housing and community facilities programs USDA provided in September: “Rural Housing Site Loans and Self-Help Housing Land Development Loans, Rural Rental Housing Loans, Section 538 Rural Rental Housing Guaranteed Loans, The RD Multi-Family Housing Revitalization Demonstration Program (MPR), and Community Facilities Loans and Grants (Includes Guarantees, Emergency Rural Health Care Grants and Tribal College Initiatives Grants).” For more information, contact an RD State Office or email email@example.com.
Equity Commission issues interim report
USDA’s Equity Commission released an interim report on February 28, offering 32 recommendations to the department based on the work of the commission’s Agriculture Subcommittee. Topics include heirs’ property and fractionated land, equity within USDA, and improvements to farmworkers’ living and working conditions. Shonterria Charleston, HAC’s Director of Training and Technical Assistance, is a member of the commission’s Rural Community Economic Development Subcommittee. That group’s recommendations will be provided in the commission’s final report. For more information, email EquityCommission@usda.gov.
Executive Order calls for economic opportunity, including in rural America
An Executive Order issued by President Biden on February 16 asserts that the federal government will “invest in communities where Federal policies have historically impeded equal opportunity – both rural and urban – in ways that mitigate economic displacement, expand access to capital, preserve housing and neighborhood affordability, root out discrimination in the housing market, and build community wealth.” The directive also covers health, environmental justice, education, and other topics.
Contributions to Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund halved this year
In 2022 Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provided a record high $1.138 billion for the Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund. This year, because the housing market has slowed considerably, the total is $545 million. The HTF will drop from $740 million last year to $354 million this year. The CMF will fall from $398 million last year to $191 million in 2023. The amounts are based on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s new business purchases.
March is Women’s History Month
More than half of all banks in the United States (56%) are headquartered in rural areas. But these rural financial institutions hold only 6% of all bank assets nationally. Source: Housing Assistance Council tabulations of FDIC Deposit Market Share Reports – Summary of Deposits.
Justice Department funding available for housing
- The Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation for federally recognized tribes and tribal consortia closes on March 21. These grants can support renovation, expansion, replacement, or completion of facilities including transitional housing, shelters, and staff housing.
- The Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Site-Based Program for local governments closes on March 21. It includes provisions for transitional or recovery housing and recovery support services.
- Improving Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Outcomes for Adults in Reentry is for state, local, and Tribal governments and nonprofit organizations. The program includes funding for transitional and recovery housing and closes March 28.
- Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Program Training and Technical Assistance will fund nonprofits, for-profits, and private and public institutions of higher education to provide technical and training assistance for response efforts including transitional housing and recovery services. It closes April 25.
Technical assistance offered
- HUD’s Thriving Communities Technical Assistance program is intended to help units of general local government ensure housing needs are considered as part of their larger infrastructure investment plans. Requests will be reviewed as they are received, beginning March 15. HUD will give priority to jurisdictions with populations of less than 250,000 people. For more information, email ThrivingCommunitiesTA@HUD.gov.
- Smart Growth America will provide TA to help community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, Tribal Nations, and groups of residents or businesses advocate for just climate and land use development. Apply by March 15. For more information, email Jamie Zouras, Smart Growth America.
REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES
Medicaid and CHIP “unwinding” reviews could mean lost health coverage
During the coronavirus pandemic, a “continuous coverage” requirement has prevented states from reviewing eligibility for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), so almost everyone who was enrolled has remained covered. Now the requirement is expiring and its “unwinding” means that states will begin reviewing eligibility of all enrollees. States must begin the process by April 1. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has estimated that 6.8 million people – disproportionately children and BIPOC residents – could remain eligible but lose their Medicaid coverage because, for example, they moved and do not receive state notices. HHS provides links and toll-free phone numbers for state Medicaid offices so people can update their contact details. Information to help service providers assist their clients is available from many sources, including HHS, the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, the National Indian Health Board, and the Rural Health Information Hub. On March 1, NIHB will host Medicaid Unwinding Webinar: Updates and Best Practices for Tribal Enrollment Assisters. On March 14, a webinar titled Medicaid Unwinding: Helping Service Recipients Keep Their Health Care Coverage will be offered by the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, and the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Area loan limits for USDA single-family direct programs updated
USDA Rural Development has announced the area loan limits that will apply, effective March 1, to loans under the Section 502 direct and Section 504 programs. For more information, contact an RD office.
USDA seeks input on notices to tenants when owners apply for prepayment
USDA requests feedback from stakeholders as it revises the communications it sends to tenants when owners of Section 515 and Section 514 properties apply to prepay their loans. The agency will hold a listening session for stakeholders on March 9 to present its proposed draft letters and communication strategy and receive input on potential enhancements.
HAC comments on CDBG-DR
Responding to two requests for information from HUD, HAC recently submitted comments on some of the specifically rural concerns involved in using the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program. HAC also signed a comment letter prepared by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition.
HOTMA rule corrected
USDA RD financial data posted on new gateway
USDA Rural Development’s Rural Data Gateway is intended to make information more easily accessible. Rural Investments Dashboards show data from more than 65 RD programs by program area (for example, single-family or multifamily housing), for Socially Vulnerable counties as defined by the Centers for Disease Control, or by county or congressional district. The data can also be downloaded. Figures from fiscal years 2012 to 2022 are currently posted. For more information, email USDA.RD.DATA@usda.gov.
PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA
Guide for housing advocates gets annual update
Advocates’ Guide 2023: A Primer on Federal Affordable Housing & Community Development Programs & Policies, published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, is intended to be a comprehensive resource for those involved in affordable housing and community development advocacy. This year’s new content includes sections on COVID-19-era housing programs and tenant protections.
Research identifies ways to improve state support for creative placemaking
A Report on State Enabling Environments for Creative Placemaking, published by the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations, draws from analyses conducted in Minnesota, New Jersey, and Texas to characterize the enabling environment for creative placemaking at the state level. NACEDA concludes that state policy mechanisms to enable creative placemaking exist, but they are not all rooted in equity and not sufficient to fully support the field; significant outside pressure can induce financial institutions to support placemaking; and leadership to enhance state support would accelerate local work, but is under-resourced.
Wind risk study adds to research on flood, fire, and heat risks
First Street Foundation estimates that in 30 years over 13.4 million U.S. properties will be exposed to hurricanes that are not currently, because a larger proportion of tropical storms will reach major hurricane status and storms will track further northward along the East Coast. The foundation also calculated the dollar values of expected damage and associated downtime. First Street’s RiskFactor.com site now includes wind factors along with flood, fire, and heat factors for many properties in the U.S.
Rural rental preservation draws attention in Maine
WMTV in Portland reports that Maine Could Lose Thousands of Units of Affordable Housing, describing the potential loss of many of the state’s 7,700 Section 515 rental units due to maturing mortgages. One Section 515 property (28 units in the town of Thomaston) was preserved because a new state affordable housing tax credit enabled a nonprofit to purchase the property and keep the units affordable. In First-of-its-kind Model for Protecting Affordable Rental Housing in Rural Maine Hailed as Success, Maine Public Radio reports on the same preservation deal, noting that the $1 million per year program also pays for renovations and that other funding sources were involved as well.
Heart disease research findings: housing instability contributes, rural residents have higher rates
Research from the University of Georgia concludes that cardiovascular disease decreased in the U.S. from 2009 to 2018, but rural counties and those with a higher percentage of Black residents consistently experienced higher rates of heart disease than urban and more predominantly white counties. Housing instability, food insecurity, and lower rates of Medicare coverage were also connected to higher rates of cardiovascular disease and death, researchers explained.
HAC is hiring a Loan Processor Associate
The Loan Processor Associate is an entry-level position and will assist in loan portfolio management functions including loan department reports, loan payments, loan closing, disbursement, monitoring, and servicing loans. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
National Rural Housing Conference set for October
Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27 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 firstname.lastname@example.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).
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