HAC Weighs in on House Ag Appropriations Bill

HAC Executive Director Applauds Improvements over Administration’s Budget proposal, but calls for bringing back the Rural Community Development Initiative Program

The Housing Assistance Council’s (HAC) Executive Director Moises Loza recently wrote to Robert Aderholt and Sandford Bishop, the Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, weighing in on the Subcommittee’s fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill, which it marked up on June 17. Loza was one of many rural leaders bringing attention to the Administration’s budget proposal, which he said, “strikes particularly hard at rural and tribal communities.”

“The bill is a substantial improvement over the Administration’s budget request for rural development programs. And I appreciated members of the Subcommittee pledging to work toward an even better bill. A better bill starts with funding the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI),” Loza said. The competitive RCDI program allows experienced rural-focused organizations to bring capacity building to grassroots entities that take on affordable housing and economic development.

Loza’s letter noted that “without exception” HAC’s rural partners say that capacity building is “vital” to their work, and hard to access with limited philanthropic support in rural communities. Loza added that increased capacity of grassroots housing and community development organizations via RCDI makes federal investment go further.

Loza’s letter encouraged “sufficient” funding for the Section 521 Rental Assistance and Section 542 vouchers “while funding other rural housing and community development programs at no less than the fiscal year 2017 level.” Loza offered that the USDA Section 504 and Section 533 grants should remain stand-alone programs. The bill grouped both programs along with several others, into an infrastructure program. Loza noted that Section 504 and 533 grants “provide some of the poorest rural Americans with the opportunity to remain in their homes via the removal of health and safety hazards and other upgrades such as handicap accessibility.” Loza believes that grouping both programs with infrastructure needs will “divert” resources from the rural poor, who have “no other options.”

The text of Loza’s letter is here.