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. The conference brings together stakeholders in the field of rural affordable housing from local nonprofits, federal agencies, Congress, state and local governments, and other industry leaders for two-and-a-half days of training, discussion, and networking. We are excited to see you all in DC in 2023!
USDA requests comments on new program for farmer discrimination, advocates sue USDA
- USDA asks for suggestions on implementing its new program that will provide financial assistance to producers who have experienced discrimination in USDA’s farm lending programs. Created in Section 22007 of the Inflation Reduction Act, this effort replaced Section 1005 of the American Rescue Plan Act, which would have aided “socially disadvantaged” farmers and ranchers but was paused when white producers sued, claiming discrimination. Comments are due November 14. USDA will also hold virtual listening sessions for public input on October 20, October 26, and November 1. For more information, contact Liz Archuleta, USDA, 202-720-7095.
- On October 12, attorneys announced Black and Native American farmers have filed a lawsuit against USDA claiming it breached a contract by changing the program after sending letters to farmers that would have implemented the original ARPA version.
Capacity building needed for rural areas to use infrastructure and resiliency resources
Two papers from the Center for American Progress report that rural places are often the most susceptible to climate disasters, but the least able to compete for funding against larger communities. Those with high levels of “social vulnerability” because of high poverty rates, older or BIPOC populations, or isolation, are at heightened risk and also more likely to be located in disaster-prone areas. Recommendations include providing more noncompetitive project funding, improving program alignment, providing technical assistance and capacity building, increasing rural competitiveness, and more.
HAC webinar to cover packaging Section 504 rehab applications
USDA Rural Development Section 504 eForm Packaging and Processing, to be offered on October 19, will provide a guided discussion on preparing Section 504 eForm loan packages. Presenters will provide live demonstrations of the eForms process with step-by-step instructions, best practices, and insight on producing complete and successful USDA 504 packages. For more information, contact HAC staff, 202-516-6271.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month
As President Biden’s proclamation notes, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 became law earlier this year. It took effect October 1.
From 2019 to 2020, leisure and hospitality employment fell by an average of 12% across all U.S. counties, but increased in 332 counties, faring far better in rural places than in cities. Source: Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development.
Choice Neighborhoods Implementation funds offered
Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants are available for local governments, PHAs, and tribal entities to implement comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plans. The application deadline is January 11. For more information, email ChoiceNeighborhoods@hud.gov.
Indian Housing Block Grant deadline extended
Tribes and tribally designated housing entities now can apply for HUD’s Indian Housing Block Grant competitive program by January 24, 2023, rather than the originally announced November 17, 2022 deadline. For more information, email IHBGCompetitiveProgram@hud.gov.
REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES
LIHTC income test flexibility implemented
A final rule on the average income test for Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties implements a 2018 statutory change. The revision gives property owners the option to qualify for tax credits based on the average income served by all units in a building. It generally applies to existing or new LIHTC properties for taxable years that begin after December 31, 2022. IRS will accept comments, particularly on the rule’s recordkeeping and reporting provisions, through December 12. For more information, contact Dillon Taylor, IRS, 202-317-4137.
IRS extends changes to LIHTC deadlines
IRS Notice 2022-52 announces several deadline extensions for LIHTC properties, previously implemented because of the pandemic and now continued because of ongoing economic and supply-chain issues. Details about which deadlines are extended – and which are not – are explained in a Novogradac post.
Community investment program improvements requested
The Interagency Community Investment Committee, composed of representatives from USDA, HUD, and several other federal agencies, focuses on the operations and execution of federal programs that facilitate the flow of capital and the provision of financial resources into historically underserved communities, including communities of color, rural communities, and Tribal nations. The committee invites comments by December 5 on how it can promote economic conditions and systems that reduce racial disparities and produce stronger economic outcomes for all.
FHA seeks suggestions on reducing barriers for small mortgages
The Federal Housing Administration requests public input regarding barriers to the origination of small mortgages (under $70,000) in the FHA program. FHA will consider developing policies and programs to support and expand affordable homeownership opportunities in underserved markets with lower housing prices. Comments are due December 5. For more information, contact Kevin Stevens, HUD, 202-402-4317.
H2-A farmworker program changes finalized
Final regulatory changes for the H-2A visa program, which allows foreign farmworkers to work temporarily in the U.S., have been issued by the Department of Labor. The final rule differs in some ways, including in some of its housing provisions, from the version proposed in July 2019. It does not permit a 24-month housing certification period or employer self-certification of housing, which were suggested in the proposed rule. For more information, contact Brian Pasternak, DOL, 202-693-8200.
PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA
Nonprofit community developers’ financial health analyzed
The Financial Health of Community-Based Development Organizations: Using Internal Revenue Service Tax Data to Assess Sector Health finds that the sector has grown over time, but there are signs of financial stress and small CBDOs are in a more precarious financial position than large ones. Fact sheets are available for each state and some metro areas. The study was conducted for the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations by the Urban Institute.
Study considers inequities in rural broadband
The Brookings Institution Center for Technology Innovation in collaboration with IPSOS Public Affairs surveyed adults living in the rural South regarding their internet access and use. Why the Federal Government Needs to Step Up Efforts to Close the Rural Broadband Divide, the first report in a series of four, discusses how historically disadvantaged communities, particularly Black and Hispanic residents, face many systemic inequalities, including access to broadband. Brookings suggests that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding must provide broadband access to the least connected communities first.
Virginia program uses utilities to extend rural broadband access
Virginia Taps Electric Companies to Help Expand Rural Broadband Access describes the state’s efforts to expand broadband access by leveraging large investor-owned utilities’ work to upgrade electricity transmission in hard-to-reach rural areas. Virginia allows investor-owned utilities to lease fiber capacity to local internet providers, which can then focus their resources on the “last mile” connections with customers. The issue brief, published by the Pew Charitable Trusts, notes that Hawaii, Texas, and West Virginia have authorized similar efforts.
Pandemic innovations positively impact older adults
The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and the Hastings Center coauthored a report, Advancing Housing and Health Equity for Older Adults, about how the policies and practices around housing and other supports instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic could greatly benefit older adults over the long term.
Emergency Rental Assistance demographics analyzed
Equity in the Distribution of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, a report from the U.S. General Services Administration’s Office of Evaluation Sciences, compares the demographic profile of renters eligible for ERA with the demographic profile of renters who received ERA support. OES found the program served higher proportions of women, households with extremely low incomes, and Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Pacific Islander, or Hawaiian Native renters than were represented in the eligible population. Latinx and white renters with extremely low incomes were also overrepresented. Asians, as well as Latinx and white renters with higher incomes, were underrepresented.
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.
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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