USDA indicates Buy America requirements apply to multifamily housing, HUD requests comments on three waivers
Federal agencies including USDA and HUD have been developing plans to implement the Build America, Buy America (BABA) Act that was adopted as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. BABA mandates that iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials used in federally funded “public infrastructure” projects – whether funded through the 2021 Act or not – be American made. Owner-occupied housing seems likely to be exempted because in implementation guidance the Office of Management and Budget stated that a project “consisting solely of the purchase, construction, or improvement of a private home for personal use . . . would not constitute an infrastructure project.” In comments to both USDA and HUD, HAC has argued that no housing or Community Facilities projects should be considered “public infrastructure.”
- USDA has posted a document stating that BABA will apply to all Community Facilities financing and to specific housing programs: Section 515 loans, Section 538 loan guarantees, the MPR rental preservation program, and Section 523/524 site loans and self-help housing land development loans. This information was provided in a waiver, approved by OMB on September 13, that exempts all USDA-funded projects with total costs under $250,000, as well as minor components of larger projects, from BABA requirements. USDA RD has not yet provided full implementation details for funding recipients or information about a process to request project-specific waivers on other grounds.
- HUD requests comments by November 15 on two proposed waivers of BABA’s requirements. One would apply when the total cost of a project or the HUD funding provided is less than $250,000 and for minor components of larger projects. The second would apply in “exigent circumstances” such as recovery from natural disasters. Both proposed waivers refer to “infrastructure projects” and do not indicate whether HUD considers housing projects to be infrastructure. For more information, contact Joseph Carlile, HUD, 202-402-7082.
- A third HUD proposal would phase in BABA requirements, making them active initially only for the purchase of iron or steel products in infrastructure projects funded by CDBG formula grants obligated by HUD on or after November 15. Comments are due November 17. For more information, contact Joseph Carlile, HUD, 202-402-7082.
November is National Native American Heritage Month
November is National Veterans and Military Families Month
President Biden’s proclamation states, “During National Veterans and Military Families Month, we pay homage to the unrelenting bravery and dedication of all who wear the uniform and to the unwavering love and support of all who serve alongside them.”
Approximately 4 million veterans live in rural America, comprising 8.5% of the adult rural population. Nationwide, veterans make up roughly 7% of the adult population. Source: HAC tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016-2020 American Community Survey.
VA offers funds to aid veterans experiencing homelessness
- Supportive Services for Veteran Families Grants are available to community-based nonprofit agencies and consumer collaboratives to coordinate or provide services to very low-income veteran families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Apply by February 10, 2023. For more information, contact John Kuhn, VA.
- Per Diem Only grants under the Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem program will fund nonprofits, PHAs, tribes and tribal housing entities, and state and local governments to provide transitional supportive housing beds or service centers. Apply by February 6, 2023. For more information, contact Chelsea Watson, VA.
- Transition in Place grants, also through the Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem program, support provision of permanent housing by nonprofits, PHAs, tribes and tribal housing entities, and state and local governments. Apply by January 30, 2023. For more information, contact Chelsea Watson, VA.
HUD multifamily housing eligible for COVID-19 Supplemental Payment funding
HUD has announced the final opportunity for owners of properties participating in HUD’s Section 202 elderly housing, Section 811 housing for persons with disabilities, and Section 8 project-based rental assistance programs to request reimbursements of expenses associated with protecting residents and staff from COVID-19 between March 27, 2020, and January 31, 2023. Apply by February 21, 2023. Contacts for more information vary by program and are explained in HUD’s notice.
HOPE VI Main Street Program open to communities under 50,000
The HOPE VI program makes grants to local governments for affordable housing connected to Main Street revitalization that is already in progress. To be eligible, a community must have a population below 50,000 and 100 or fewer physical public housing units within its jurisdiction. The deadline is January 31, 2023. For more information, contact Susan A. Wilson, HUD, 202-402-4500.
Some USDA RD programs will have community planning setasides
USDA Rural Development’s Strategic Economic and Community Development program is intended for projects that support multi-jurisdictional and multi-sectoral strategic community investment plans. Funds will be set aside for SECD under upcoming funding notices for Community Facility Loans, Grants, and Guaranteed Loans; Water and Waste Disposal Loans, Grants, and Guaranteed Loans; Rural Business Development Grants; and Community Connect Grants. Applicants may request the setaside funds when applying under one of these programs. For more information, contact an RD State Office.
Congressional hearing to examine persistent poverty
On November 15, Persistent Poverty in America: Addressing Chronic Disinvestment in Colonias, the U.S. Territories, and the Southern Blackbelt will be the focus of a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee’s housing subcommittee. HAC’s Director of Research and Information, Lance George, will be one of the witnesses.
HAC offers USDA 502 packaging training in South Carolina
The three-day USDA Section 502 Direct Certified Loan Application Packaging Training, designed for those experienced in using Section 502, will provide participants with a strong understanding of 502 direct underwriting and packaging standards. The course will be held in Charleston, SC, on December 6-8. Registration is $750. For more information, contact HAC staff, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-516-6271.
REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES
Comments sought on Duty to Serve plans
Public comments are due December 5 on Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s proposed modifications to their plans for serving underserved markets. Both suggest increasing some goals and decreasing others. Freddie Mac proposes to eliminate its objective of purchasing loans to preserve Section 515 properties, stating that the need is being met by Section 538 guaranteed loans.
Rural Partners Network expands
Communities in Alaska, Nevada, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, West Virginia, and Wisconsin have been added to the RPN, described on its website as “an all-of-government program that helps rural communities find resources and funding to create jobs, build infrastructure, and support long-term economic stability on their own terms.”
USDA RD continues using 2010 census data
In February, RD anticipated that by October 1 it would be able to use updated figures for some of its income calculations, but the necessary data is not yet available from the Census Bureau. Therefore, the agency will continue to rely on 2010 census and American Community Survey data for its population, poverty, income, and state nonmetro median household income calculations. For more information, contact an RD State Office.
PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA
Veteran homelessness declines
Preliminary results of the 2022 Point-in-Time Count show an 11% decline in veteran homelessness since early 2020, the last time a full count was conducted. This is the biggest drop in veteran homelessness in more than five years and a 55.3% reduction in veterans experiencing homelessness since 2010. A full report on the 2022 PIT count will be released later this year.
Recovery Ecosystem Index maps county resources
East Tennessee State University’s Center for Rural Health Research, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and the Fletcher Group created the Recovery Ecosystem Index and associated geospatial map to demonstrate each county’s ability to support recovery from substance use disorders (SUD). The index scores counties on SUD treatment, continuum of SUD support, and infrastructure and social factors. Indicators include access to recovery residences and severe housing cost burden.
Eviction filings increasing with limited federal rental assistance available
NBC News reports on the many Americans who are unable to keep pace with rising rents and decades-high inflation. Rural Clay County in Minnesota, for example, had three times as many eviction filings in September as before the pandemic and about half of the county’s 60,000 residents spend more than 30% of their income on rent.
Chronic waiting for broadband connection reduces digital dignity for rural residents
A study published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication describes the impact of inadequate internet connections on rural residents’ lives, revealing “the unequal power dynamics of digital inequality and waiting.”
HAC seeks Research Associate and Housing Specialist – Native American Communities
- The Research Associate conducts original research, manages data, and disseminates information that informs local strategies and national policies to improve conditions for rural Americans. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
- 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.
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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