Vol. 52, No. 19
Funding disagreements continue, government shutdown possible
Given the ongoing differences between factions on Capitol Hill, there may be no continuing resolution to keep the federal government open on October 1. Moody’s Analytics predicts a two-week shutdown and expects it to have little impact on the U.S. economy as a whole. A longer closure could harm recipients of housing assistance, however. A record 35-day shutdown from December 22, 2018 to January 25, 2019 led some owners of USDA-financed rental properties, unaware that the agency had enough Section 521 Rental Assistance funding to last through January, to threaten to evict tenants who could not pay full rent on their own. USDA RD’s shutdown contingency plan, dated September 2021, indicates that during a shutdown no new loans or grants would be committed and no new loan guarantees issued. Section 521 RA would continue “if funding is available.” If the agency used up all its RA funds, “additional servicing options” could be provided to rental properties. HUD’s contingency plan, from August 2023, says that programs operating with HUD funding that was obligated before a shutdown would continue. Monthly subsidy programs, however – including public housing operating subsidies, housing choice vouchers, and multifamily assistance contracts – would operate only while funding remained available. It is not clear what funding either department expects to have on hand after October 1.
Income fell and poverty rose from 2021 to 2022, Census Bureau reports
The expiration of temporary expansions to the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, as well as the end of pandemic-era stimulus payments, led to increases in poverty and drops in median income from 2021 to 2022, the Census Bureau reports. The Bureau’s annual reports on income, poverty, and health insurance highlight differences between the official poverty measure and the Supplemental Poverty Measure. The official poverty rate did not change significantly from 2021 to 2022, but the SPM, which accounts for government assistance and some other factors, increased by 4.6 percentage points to 12.4%. Even more dramatically, the SPM child poverty rate more than doubled, from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022. Geographically, SPM increases were greater for cities (from 9.8% in 2021 to 15.2% in 2022) and for places outside metro areas (7.1% to 12.2%) than for suburbs (6.8% to 10.8%).
Rural housing reform bill introduced in Senate
S. 2790, the Rural Housing Service Reform Act of 2023, was introduced on September 13 by Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Mike Rounds (R-N.D.) with several cosponsors. The bill would improve USDA’s rental preservation process in several ways, including decoupling Rental Assistance from USDA mortgages and permanently authorizing the MPR program. It would also establish the Native CDFI relending pilot as a permanent part of the Section 502 direct program, authorize the Rural Community Development Initiative, expand eligibility for Section 542 vouchers, adjust the mortgage requirement for Section 504 loans, and require USDA to release housing data.
Gooden nominated to head USDA Rural Development
President Biden has nominated Basil Gooden to become Under Secretary for Rural Development. Gooden, who has been USDA RD’s Director of State Operations since 2021, has also served in the Virginia state government’s agriculture and housing offices and as RD’s State Director for Virginia. The Senate will need to confirm his nomination.
September is National Preparedness Month
September is National Recovery Month
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released a toolkit for National Recovery Month. SAMHSA has also published updated Recovery Housing Guidelines outlining best practices for recovery housing. The guide is intended for elected officials and practitioners seeking to support long-term recovery.
September 15-October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month
Real median household income for the U.S. fell by 2.3% from $76,330 in 2021 to $74,580 in 2022. Outside metro areas, median income dropped by 3.5% from $57,960 to $55,960. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Income in the United States: 2022.
HUD offers funds for seniors’ home modifications, barrier removal, lead and healthy homes, Choice Neighborhoods, and HIV housing
- The Older Adults Home Modification Grant Program deadline is October 16. At least one third of the funds will go to communities with substantial rural populations. Eligible applicants are nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, and PHAs/IHAs with at least three years of experience in providing services to elderly adults. Funding is for low-cost, high impact home modifications, repairs, and renovations to enable low-income seniors – both homeowners and renters – to age in place. Contact Dr. Taneka Blue, HUD, 202-402-6846.
- The Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing (PRO Housing) deadline is October 30. Using the CDBG statutory and regulatory framework, HUD will make PRO Housing grants to identify and remove barriers to affordable housing production and preservation. Local and state governments, metropolitan planning organizations, and multijurisdictional entities are eligible. Contact Jessie Handforth Kome, HUD, 202-708-3587.
- The Lead and Healthy Homes Technical Studies Grant Program will fund studies to improve knowledge of housing-related health and safety hazards and to improve or develop new hazard assessment and control methods. Applications are due October 30 from nonprofits, for-profits, state and local governments, institutions of higher education, PHAs/IHAs, and Tribal governments and organizations. Contact Brenda M. Reyes, HUD, 202-402-6745.
- Healthy Homes Production Grant Program applications are due November 7. Nonprofits, state, local, and Tribal governments, and consortia are eligible. The program aims to identify and remediate housing-related health and safety hazards in privately owned, low-income rental and/or owner-occupied housing. Contact Sacsheen Scott, HUD, 202-402-4370.
- Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants carry out comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plans to revitalize distressed HUD housing and address challenges in the surrounding neighborhood. Local governments, PHAs, Tribal entities, and owners of HUD-assisted housing are eligible. Applications for new grants are due on December 11, and for supplemental grants on March 4, 2024. Contact HUD staff, ChoiceNeighborhoods@hud.gov.
- Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS Competitive Grant: Housing Interventions to End the HIV Epidemic applications are due January 31, 2024. Nonprofits, states, and units of general local government are eligible for these grants to create and implement new projects that align with initiatives aimed at ending the HIV epidemic and elevate housing as an effective structural intervention. Contact HUD staff, HOPWA@hud.gov.
USDA corrects Section 504 disaster repair notice
A correction expands the geographic coverage of a pilot program intended to make it easier for Section 504 loans and grants to be used to repair homes damaged by disasters. The pilot will apply to all areas hit by presidentially declared disasters between July 18, 2022 and July 18, 2025. For more information, contact Anthony Williams, USDA, 202-720-9649.
REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES
FEMA identifies Community Disaster Resilience Zones
The Community Disaster Resilience Zone designation applies to 483 census tracts in all 50 states and D.C., making them eligible for increased federal support for resilience and mitigation projects. FEMA will announce more Resilience Zone designations, including Tribal lands and territories, later this year.
NSPIRE compliance date extended for several HUD programs
HUD’s National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) final rule will take effect on October 1, 2024 rather than October 1, 2023 for the HOME, Housing Trust Fund, Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS, Emergency Solution Grants, and Continuum of Care programs. For more information, contact Caitlin Renner, HUD, 202-708-2684.
FEMA seeks comments on preparedness programs
FEMA requests public input by November 7 on ways to improve the management and administration of its preparedness grant programs. These 14 programs assist state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, as well as transportation authorities, nonprofits, and others. The agency is also conducting listening sessions. For more information, contact Pamela Williams, FEMA, 202-212-8007.
Homeland Security and Labor propose stronger protections for H2-A farmworkers
The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor have separate proposals to strengthen regulatory protections for temporary agricultural workers with H2-A visas and make other changes. Comments to DOL are due November 14. Comments to HHS are due November 20.
Comments requested on proposed federal homelessness research agenda
State Department to start over on amending public charge rules
The State Department has decided not to finalize an interim final public charge rule issued in 2019 under the previous administration. It will revert to its pre-2019 regulation and will begin a new rulemaking process. State’s notice says its new proposal will be consistent with the Department of Homeland Security’s 2022 final rule, which excludes housing aid from the determination whether a noncitizen is likely to become a public charge. Both departments are involved in public charge determinations. For more information, contact Andrea Lage, State, 202-485-7586.
USDA to amend Section 514/516 rules
Comments are due November 13 on a proposal to add a provision specifying that the period of performance for a Section 516 grant is five years. The five-year period is already stated in the applicable handbook, though not in the regulations. For more information, contact Christa Lindsey, USDA, 352-538-5747, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Register for the National Rural Housing Conference
Register now to join stakeholders in the field of rural affordable housing, community development, and placemaking at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The 2023 conference theme is Build Rural – both a literal and figurative appeal to explore and provoke action to build and renew rural communities by addressing housing affordability and preservation, community infrastructure and essential facilities creation and revitalization, resident led placemaking, capacity building, and community inclusion and justice efforts.
PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA
New HAC disaster guide published for Hurricane Idalia survivors
To assist those affected by Hurricane Idalia, HAC offers an online resource guide with information for individuals and families in the disaster area. Other disaster resources from HAC include Rural Resilience in the Face of Disaster and a Disaster Response for Rural Communities Guide.
Farmworker housing inspections collected
Investigate Midwest is obtaining housing inspection records for farmworker housing in multiple states and posting the information, including violations identified by inspectors. Their site also provides links to their reporting on housing and other issues for farmworkers.
HAC is hiring
- The Rental Housing Development and Preservation – Housing Specialist will provide technical assistance support to nonprofit organizations involved in multifamily housing programs, with a specific focus on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs. This position is remote work eligible.
- The Rental Housing Development and Preservation Housing Specialist – Senior Level Position is a senior-level role that combines expertise in multifamily housing programs, specifically focusing on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs, with the responsibility of providing technical assistance, with a particular focus on transfers of USDA 515 properties. This position is remote work eligible.
- The Senior Accountant is responsible for applying technical and leadership skills to guide accounting practices and recording of transactions. This position is hybrid, based in Washington, DC.
- The Financial Controller is responsible for day-to-day management of HAC’s finance and accounting processes. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
- The Senior Human Resources and Payroll Administrator oversees all aspects of human resources and payroll practices and processes. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
- The Executive Assistant supports the work of HAC’s Chief Executive Officer, senior leadership, and board of directors. The position is a blend of administrative work and project assignments. This position is based in Washington, DC.
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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