News

HAC News: November 23, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 24

TOP STORIES

House approves Build Back Better Act.

On November 19 the House passed the Build Back Better social infrastructure bill, H.R. 5376, which includes about $2 billion for USDA rural housing and $1 billion for the new Rural Partnership Program. The bill now moves to the Senate.

Federal funding ends December 3.

During the week of November 29, Congress will decide the length of another continuing resolution to keep the government open at FY21 funding levels. Watch HAC’s website for updates.

There’s STILL time to register for the 2021 Virtual HAC National Rural Housing Conference!

HAC invites you to join us virtually on November 30-December 3! Speakers will include Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, Rep. James Clyburn, HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, and more. The conference also features more than 30 workshops, a variety of musicians and artists, and a pre-conference day with gatherings for coalitions, associations, and working groups. For more information, contact HAC staff, 202-516-6271.

Online book addresses rural prosperity.

Investing in Rural Prosperity, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in collaboration with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, is intended to show ways to approach rural development successfully and present stories of progress in different communities. The chapters, available online, touch on topics ranging from energy efficient manufactured housing to digital inclusion, entrepreneurship support, and workforce development. A chapter titled Geographic Equity Belongs in Federal Policymaking was authored by HAC President and CEO David Lipsetz.

RuralSTAT

In the most recent reporting year, over 100,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses – up nearly 30 percent from the previous pre-pandemic year. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – National Center for Health Statistics

OPPORTUNITIES

Supportive Services for Veteran Families: funds available, rule amended.

Nonprofits and consumer coops can apply by February 7 for SSVF grants to coordinate or provide supportive services to very low-income veteran families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The VA also requests comments by January 10 on an interim final rule that increases the support available for families in some areas and extends some time limits for aid. For more information on either notice, contact John Kuhn, VA, 727-273-5619.

Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grants offered.

Apply by February 15 for grants to carry out plans to revitalize severely distressed public and/or HUD-assisted multifamily housing projects located in distressed neighborhoods into viable, mixed-income communities. Local governments, PHAs, and tribal entities are eligible, and owners of HUD-assisted housing can be co-applicants. For more information, email ChoiceNeighborhoods@hud.gov.

HAC seeks Loan Processor Associate, Housing Specialist, and Community Facilities Housing Specialist.

  • The Loan Processor Associate is an entry-level position and will assist in managing HAC’s portfolio of loans made to entities engaged in affordable housing activities throughout the rural U.S. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Housing Specialist is primarily based in either the Southwest or Western states (within two hours of a major airport) and works with local partner organizations to identify financial resources and funding opportunities to support the preservation and development of affordable housing and community and economic development strategies specifically throughout expanses of Southwest and/or Western rural America. This position is remote location eligible.
  • The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This is a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Disaster-affected homeowners can extend forbearance on USDA guaranteed loans.

Temporary guidance from USDA addresses the possibility that homeowners with Section 502 guaranteed mortgages who are currently on forbearance may also be impacted by a hurricane or other disaster. These borrowers may have their mortgage payments reduced or suspended for additional time. For more information, contact Rural Housing Service staff, 202-720-1452.

Two USDA Rural Development state directors announced.

On November 18, the White House named RD state directors for Colorado and Iowa. Others were previously announced for Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Input requested on mortgage lending data collection.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau requests comments as it assesses the effectiveness of its current Home Mortgage Disclosure Act regulations, particularly regarding institutional coverage and transactional coverage, data points, benefits of new data and disclosure requirements, and operational and compliance costs. Comments are due January 21. For more information, contact Katherine LoPiccalo, CFPB, 202-435-7700.

FEMA extends reimbursement for pandemic spending.

Through April 1, 2022 FEMA will continue to cover the full cost of some coronavirus-related expenditures, including non-congregate shelters such as motels for people experiencing homelessness.

HUD announces Tribal Intergovernmental Advisory Committee.

The committee is intended to further communications between HUD and federally recognized tribes on HUD programs, make recommendations to HUD regarding current program regulations, provide advice in the development of HUD’s American Indian and Alaska Native housing priorities, and encourage peer learning and capacity building among tribes and non-tribal entities. It will be made up of duly elected tribal leaders representing small, medium, and large federally recognized tribes. Comments on the committee’s proposed structure are due January 14. For more information, contact Heidi J. Frechette, HUD, 202-402-7598.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

California farmworkers describe pandemic’s impacts.

Experts in Their Fields: Contributions and Realities of Indigenous Campesinos in California during COVID-19 focuses on the lived experiences of farmworkers from home communities in Southern Mexico and Central America where Indigenous languages other than Spanish are spoken. Based on surveys and interviews, the study found the pandemic worsened already precarious situations including chronic job and income insecurity, unhealthful and over-crowded housing conditions, and language barriers. This report is a product of the COVID-19 Farmworker Study, undertaken in California, Oregon, and Washington by the California Institute for Rural Studies and numerous partners. An article based on the Oregon findings appears in the most recent issue of HAC’s Rural Voices magazine.

ERS reports on rural America.

USDA’s Economic Research Service recently released its 2021 edition of Rural America at a Glance. This year’s report provides statistics on rural communities during the coronavirus pandemic, including population and employment change, intensity of infection and vaccination rates, and internet availability and adoption.

Data analysis shows FEMA disaster mitigation funds slower for rural, poor, and white-minority areas.

The Washington Post analyzed data on FEMA funding for disaster mitigation efforts, finding that counties wait an average of seven years to complete these projects. The Ring in the Ashes reports that FEMA is about half as likely to fund grants for rural areas and that poor counties and places where white people are a minority face longer delays in getting grants approved.

GAO considers improving accuracy of homelessness count.

A Government Accountability Office report, Homelessness: HUD Should Help Communities Better Leverage Data to Estimate Homelessness, notes that during the pandemic HUD allowed communities to use public and nonprofit agencies’ data on people they served to supplement their in-person counts of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. GAO determined this approach likely improved the counts’ accuracy. It recommends that HUD provide communities more information about how best to use such data to improve point-in-time counts moving forward.

Racially restrictive covenants still present in deeds.

Racial Covenants, a Relic of the Past, are Still on the Books Across the Country, a National Public Radio story, reports that many deeds for homes and property records of land still contain racially restrictive covenants. Although outlawed by the 1968 Fair Housing Act, the language still exists in property records in most states. A homeowner from Golden Valley, MN, Maria Cisneros, noticed the covenant in the deed to her home. Based on her personal experience of having the language removed, she created Just Deeds, a network of attorneys committed to helping homeowners remove the racially restrictive covenants from their property records.

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).