Since 1971, the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) has viewed changes to rural development policies, governance structures, and funding levels through an unchanging lens: What is the impact on the most vulnerable rural people?
Such criteria undergird HAC’s review of the proposed reorganization of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), including slated elimination of the Under Secretary for Rural Development position.
With a deepening opioid crisis and a frayed rural social fabric in the national spotlight, it is imperative that the Administration send a clear message of support to vulnerable rural people and communities. A vibrant USDA Rural Development infrastructure can best convey such a message.
USDA Rural Development programs are the linchpin of effective partnerships that are a bridge to private investment in rural America. It is impossible to decouple the proposed elimination of the Under Secretary for Rural Development with the Administration’s recent budget proposal that eliminates rural water and sewer and business programs while also de-funding priorities across federal agencies that allow HAC partners to create affordable homes and deliver services to the rural poor.
As the USDA noted in its press release today, persistent poverty is all too common in rural America. A USDA Rural Development with a profile within the Administration commensurate with the magnitude of its task would send a compelling and much needed message to the communities where HAC works.