The Rural Housing Service (RHS) is an agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It operates a broad range of programs that were formerly administered by the Farmers Home Administration to support affordable housing and community development in rural areas. The RHS National Office is located in Washington, D.C., and is responsible for setting policy, developing regulations, and performing oversight. RHS employs a central computerized collection and servicing system called DLOS. RHS loans are both direct (made and serviced by USDA staff) and guaranteed for mortgages extended by others. In the field RHS operations are carried out through the USDA’s Rural Development offices. Rural Development State Offices administer programs in a state or multistate area. The organization of Rural Development offices within a state varies, but typically Area or District Offices supervise Local Offices (also termed county or community development offices) and do the processing and servicing of organizational loans and grants. Local Offices process single family housing applications, assist District Offices with organizational applications and servicing, and provide counseling to applicant families and backup servicing as needed.
RURAL HOUSING PRESERVATION GRANTS (SECTION 533)
The Housing Preservation Grant (HPG) program provides grants to sponsoring organizations for the repair or rehabilitation of low- and very low-income housing. The grants are competitive and are made available in areas where there is a concentration of need.
Those assisted must own very low- or low-income housing, either as homeowners, landlords, or members of a cooperative. Very low income is defined as below 50 percent of the area median income (AMI); low income is between 50 and 80 percent of AMI. Eligible sponsors include state agencies, units of local government, Native American tribes, and nonprofit organizations.
HPG funds received by the sponsors are combined with other programs or funds and used as loans, grants, or subsidies for recipient households based on a plan contained in the sponsor’s application. Funds must be used within a two-year period.
The property must meet locally accepted development standards or the voluntary model national standards recognized by RHS. The Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Historical Properties apply to historic properties receiving an RHS Housing Preservation Grant.
RHS regulations prohibit mixing owner-occupied preservation with that for rental or cooperative housing, although an organization may submit separate preapplications at the same time. The program may be used on rental properties when landlords agree to maintain the units for low-income use for a minimum of five years.
HPG requests are approved by the State Director.
For additional information on Section 533 and RHS, contact the RHS National Office, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Room 5037S, Washington, DC 20250; 202-720-4323. Contact your Rural Development State Office to find out the location of the Local Office closest to you. (See the “State Offices” Information Sheet for the address and telephone number of your State Office or visit https://www.rurdev.usda.gov/recd_map.html.) To obtain copies of RHS regulations, contact your Rural Development State offices or write to Rural Development, FC-313, 1520 Market Street, St. Louis, MO 63103. The regulations are also available on-line at https://rurdev.usda.gov/regs.
This Information Sheet was prepared by the Housing Assistance Council (HAC). The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding from the Ford Foundation and funding under Cooperative Agreement H-5925 CA with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and finding of that work are dedicated to the public. HAC is solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication and such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the government.