Jennifer Emerling / There Is More Work To Be Done

Area Eligibility for USDA Housing Programs Could Change on October 1, 2012

Fri., Sept. 28, 2012 – USDA issued a new version of Administrative Notice (AN) 4679, dated September 27 rather than September 25, that eliminates a confusing sentence in the summary on page 5. In the first version released, the paragraph read as follows. The italicized sentence has now been deleted.

Usage of 2010 Census and ACS data when determining population and income eligibility ensures that program funds are utilized in accordance with program statutes. Complete applications on hand as of March 27, 2013, maybe processed using 2000 Census data provided that written determination of eligibility and evidence of all documents necessary to be deemed complete exist, and that the application can be obligated no later than September 30, 2013. This does not apply to applications on hand where the applicant is eligible as the result of legislative provisions that expire upon receipt of the next decennial census.

Wed., Sept. 26, 2012 – USDA has announced that current area eligibility will remain unchanged until March 27, 2013. In other words, until that date 2010 Census data will not be used to determine what places fit the definition of rural that determines eligibility for USDA Rural Development programs.

Wed., Aug. 15 – On Aug. 10 the National Rural Housing Coalition reported that 24 members of the House had signed Rep. Fortenberry’s letter to House leadership asking for a one-year grandfathering provision in the continuing resolution: Reps. Dan Boren (D-OK), Charles W. Boustany, Jr. (R-LA), Francisco Canseco (R-TX), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Lois Capps (D-CA), William Cassidy (R-LA), Kathy Castor (D-FL), David Cicilline (D-RI), Jim Costa (D-CA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Frank Guinta (R-NH), Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), William Keating (D-MA), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), Don Manzullo (R-IL), Jim Matheson (D-UT), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Michael Michaud (D-ME), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Tim Ryan (D-OH), and Bennie Thompson (D-MS).

Two updates – Tues., Aug. 14, 2012 – HAC sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on August 13 asking him to postpone applying the 2010 Census data to the definition of rural for USDA’s housing programs.

The issue is still pending in Congress as well. The previously expected vehicles – the USDA appropriations bill or the Farm Bill – will not be enacted before the new fiscal year begins, so Rep. Fortenberry is now seeking cosigners for a letter to House leadership asking them to include a one-year rural housing grandfathering provision in the continuing resolution or any omnibus appropriations bills. Additional information is available from the National Rural Housing Coalition.

Wed., July 11– There are now 14 cosponsors to Rep. Fortenberry’s amendment, and his office continues to add more. The current cosponsors are Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Lois Capps (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Don Manzullo (R-IL), Ron Paul (R-TX), Steve Pearce (R-NM), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), and Don Young (R-AK)

Wed., June 27 – HAC supports an effort now underway to add a grandfathering provision to the House’s USDA appropriations bill for FY13. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) is currently seeking cosponsors for an amendment that would extend eligibility through the end of FY13 for places that were eligible before the 2010 Census and have current populations under 35,000 but would become ineligible because of population growth between the 2000 and 2010 Censuses.

The House is not expected to vote on the agriculture appropriations bill until the week of July 9 at the earliest.

The National Rural Housing Coalition obtained a draft spreadsheet from USDA listing 923 communities that may become ineligible for USDA rural housing funds on October 1 if Congress does not pass legislation to extend their eligibility. USDA’s “impact key” explaining the shorthand used in the spreadsheet is also available.

Background information on this issue is available here.

Senate Farm Bill Amendment

Thurs., June 21 – The Farm Bill, including the Nelson Amendment, passed the Senate.

Wed. afternoon, June 20 – Amendment 2242 (details below) passed the Senate by a voice vote. No one spoke in opposition.

Senate votes on Farm Bill amendments will be completed today or tomorrow. The House has not yet begun its consideration of the Farm Bill, however, so final enactment of the bill and this provision are not imminent.

As noted below, the USDA appropriations bill for FY13 remains a possible vehicle for a one-year grandfathering provision because language is included in the bill that passed the Senate Appropriations Committee. It is not, however, included in the appropriations bill that passed the House Committee on June 19.

Wed. morning, June 20 – The Senate did not vote on amendment 2242 yesterday, but will take up the Farm Bill again today.

Tues., June 19, 2012 – The Senate is expected to vote soon on language to address the issue of eligibility for USDA’s rural housing programs for places that were eligible before the 2010 Census but gained population and could become ineligible based on their 2010 population size. The Housing Assistance Council supports this change, as does the National Rural Housing Coalition.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) has offered an amendment (#2242) to the Farm Bill (S. 3240) that would keep these places eligible so long as their population in 2010 was below 35,000. (The population cap is 25,000 in the current grandfathering provision, which applies to places that were eligible before the 1990 and 2000 Censuses.) The Senate is scheduled to begin voting on Farm Bill amendments this afternoon (June 19) and continue in future days. It is not clear exactly when this amendment will be considered.

Nelson’s amendment would maintain the status quo until the 2020 Census; it is not a one-year grandfathering provision, like the one included in the FY13 USDA appropriations bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

This amendment does not impact the general population limits for eligibility in non-grandfathered places. That is a separate issue and is not currently under active consideration on the Hill.

Background Information

HAC post on Shelterforce’s Rooflines blog

National Rural Housing Coalition summary

USDA draft spreadsheet listing 923 communities that may become ineligible, and “impact key” explaining the shorthand used in the spreadsheet

HAC paper estimating the impact on eligibility if grandfathering is not adopted (estimating 500 eligible places could become ineligible on October 1, 2012)

Posted: June 19, 2012
Last updated: August 14, 2012

If you have difficulty with any of the links on this page, contact Leslie Strauss at HAC.