Rural Voices

Rural Voices: Housing in the Rural Midwest

The Summer 1999 issue of Rural Voices celebrates two events, the passing of the Housing Act of 1949 and the opening of HAC’s fourth regional office is Kansas City, MO. In some ways these events are very different, but both are part of improving housing for rural Americans.

The first event occurred in 1949. That summer, exactly 50 years ago, the Housing Act of 1949 became law and created the first of the rural housing programs we still use today. From relatively small beginnings – a Section 502 direct loan program for homeownership and a Section 504 loan and grant program for home repairs, both available only to farmers – the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural housing programs have grown to a lengthy list of tools for financing better housing, and have improved the homes of many tens of thousands of rural residents. In honor of the programs’ anniversary, Rural Voices explores the passage of the 1949 Act, examines some changes over the last 50 years, and describes the historical beginnings of the popular self-help housing program.

The second event happened in late May this year. The Housing Assistance Council formally dedicated its fourth regional office. Located in Kansas City, Mo., and focused on serving the Midwest, this field office joins others in Atlanta, Ga.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Mill Valley, Calif. Housing programs in the Midwest are not a new topic for Rural Voices, but this issue does emphasize that part of the country. One article provides an overview of rural housing conditions in the Midwest, and another describes the successes achieved by one community action agency in Kansas.

More good news is provided in our View From Washington department, which describes funding increases likely to be adopted for rural housing in fiscal year 2000.