HAC’s CEO testifies to Senate Banking Subcommittee on rural housing reforms, two bills are introduced
- On May 2 HAC’s President & CEO, David Lipsetz, spoke before the Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on bipartisan reforms to USDA’s rural housing programs.
- The hearing covered the Rural Housing Service Reform Act of 2023, S. 1389, introduced by Subcommittee Chair Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.). The bill includes a slate of provisions, many of which were recommended by HAC, to improve the multifamily, single-family, and capacity building programs at USDA.
- The Strategy and Investment in Rural Housing Preservation Act was re-introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.), who have introduced it in past Congresses as well, and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine). Its provisions would enhance USDA’s ability to preserve Section 515 rental properties.
May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Researchers estimate that, while the 2020 census overcounted both Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPIs) at the national level, it undercounted Asian Americans in 68% of counties and undercounted NHPIs in 55% of counties, with the estimated undercounts tending to cluster in more rural areas in the Midwest, South, and Mountain West. Source: The Quality of the Decennial Census for Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities: An Expanded Approach by Advancing Justice | AAJC and Demographic Analytics Advisors.
New Green and Resilient Retrofit Program launches
HUD-assisted rental properties are eligible for funding through three “cohorts” under the new Green and Resilient Retrofit Program, designed to meet the needs of applicants with varying levels of green retrofit expertise. HUD has also provided implementation guidance in Housing Notice H 2023-05. Elements awards target properties that are already advanced in a rehabilitation transaction and need gap financing to fund specific utility-efficient or resilient elements. Leading Edge awards target properties that are in the early stages of recapitalization planning and will achieve a high-level third-party green certification. Comprehensive awards target properties with high needs where HUD-procured contractors will support owners by commissioning third-party reports and assessments to develop a scope of work. HUD has posted information online and will hold a webinar on May 23. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
HUD offers lead hazard funding
- The Lead Hazard Reduction Capacity Building Grant Program will fund states, Tribes, and units of local government to develop the infrastructure necessary to undertake comprehensive programs to identify and control lead-based paint hazards in privately owned rental or owner-occupied housing. Apply by June 27. For more information, contact Victoria Jackson, HUD, 202-402-3167.
- The Lead Risk Assessment Demonstration offers competitive grants to PHAs administering Housing Choice Voucher Programs to evaluate for lead-based paint hazards in HCV units constructed before 1978 and occupied or to be occupied by children under six. Applications are due June 20. For more information, contact Bruce Haber, HUD, 202-402-7699.
Veterans housing rehab pilot funds announced
The Veterans Housing Rehabilitation and Modification Pilot Program will provide competitive grants of up to $1 million each to nonprofits with nationwide or statewide programs that primarily serve veterans and/or low-income individuals. The funds may be used to modify or rehabilitate eligible veterans’ primary residences or to provide grantees’ affiliates with technical, administrative, and training support in connection with those services. Applications are due August 31. HUD’s Rural Gateway will hold a webinar on May 16 offering a program overview. For more information, contact Jovette G. Bryant, HUD, 877-787-2526.
Grant Application Bootcamp registration opens
Local governments with 150,000 or fewer residents can register by May 31 for bootcamps intended to help them submit competitive applications for federal infrastructure opportunities. The National League of Cities will offer five separate bootcamps covering new programs addressing broadband, railroad crossings, drinking water, neighborhood access and equity, and bridges. There is no cost to participate. For more information, contact LocalInfrastructureHub@nlc.org.
Funds available for asphalt art
Cities of all sizes in Canada, Mexico, and the United States are invited to apply for $25,000 grants and technical assistance from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative, which funds visual art on roadways, pedestrian spaces, and public infrastructure in cities. The deadline is June 12. For more information, contact email@example.com.
NeighborWorks network invites applications
NeighborWorks America is seeking up to five nonprofit community-based organizations that focus on community revitalization, homeownership, and the production of affordable housing to join the NeighborWorks network. The initial application is open through June 9 and is in two parts. NWA strongly encourages applicants to submit part 1 no later than May 15 to ensure there is enough time to complete and submit part 2 by June 9. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tribal representatives support HUD programs
An April 28 oversight hearing of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, titled Tribal Perspectives on Housing and Transportation, included testimony from several witnesses about the dire need for housing in Indian Country. They emphasized the importance of increasing funding for HUD’s Indian housing programs to meet that need.
Torres Small confirmation hearing held
The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing May 10 to consider the nomination of Xochitl Torres Small, who has been serving as USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development, to be Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. The committee has not yet voted on recommending her nomination to the full Senate, which will make the final decision.
REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES
HUD issues final rule on new NSPIRE inspection program
HUD’s National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) are intended to strengthen HUD’s physical condition standards and improve HUD oversight. The program’s final rule also incorporates provisions to reduce administrative burden on small rural PHAs. The rule is effective on July 1 for public housing and on October 1 for the Multifamily Housing (including Section 202 and 811), Housing Choice Voucher, Project Based Voucher, Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation, HOME, Housing Trust Fund, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, Emergency Solutions Grant, and Continuum of Care programs. HUD will issue “Subordinate Notices” covering NSPIRE standards, scoring, and administration, as well as notices for some specific programs and to implement the small rural assessment requirements. For more information, contact Tara J. Radosevich, HUD, 202-708-1112.
Deadline extended for floodplain comments
Revisions final for Section 306C water and waste program for colonias and Tribes
FHFA cancels upfront fees based on debt-to-income ratio
In January the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced changes to its upfront fee structure for single-family guaranteed loans purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, including the addition of a new upfront fee for borrowers with a debt-to-income ratio above 40%, effective May 1. In March, FHFA delayed implementation of those fees until August 1. Now it has announced that it is rescinding the DTI ratio fees and will “shortly” issue a request for more information from stakeholders.
HAC offers USDA 502 packaging training in Albuquerque
The three-day USDA Section 502 Direct Certified Loan Application Packaging Training, designed for those experienced in using Section 502, will provide participants with a strong understanding of Section 502 direct underwriting and packaging standards, which will ensure that submitted loan dockets are complete and accessible for processing. The course will be held in Albuquerque, NM on June 13-15. Registration is $750. For more information, contact HAC staff, email@example.com, 202-516-6271.
Rural Assembly Everywhere set for June 28
The Center for Rural Strategies will host its annual virtual convening, Rural Assembly Everywhere, on June 28. The event features stories, keynotes, and performances that are designed to celebrate and protect the dignity of rural people and neighbors. Register online here.
PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA
Interim agreement reached in Alabama environmental justice case
On May 4 the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services announced an “interim resolution agreement” in their environmental justice investigation into the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Lowndes County Health Department. They determined that the state and county agencies engaged in a consistent pattern of inaction and/or neglect concerning the health risks associated with raw sewage affecting the county’s primarily Black, low-income residents; failed to take meaningful actions to remedy sewage issues; and threatened residents with criminal penalties and even potential property loss for sanitation conditions they could not alleviate. The state now must undertake remediation efforts. Media coverage about the settlement, including from Alabama TV station WSFA, the Associated Press, and the Washington Post, provides additional details.
Housing and environmental justice must be addressed together, issue paper says
Housing Policy is Environmental Policy: The Complementary Aims of Fair Housing and Environmental Justice, an issue brief from the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign, examines the links between race, income, exposure to pollution and toxic waste, climate change, and the locations and conditions of housing. It considers federal efforts to address the issues and makes recommendations to improve both housing and environmental justice.
Guide offers ways to connect homelessness and mental health treatment
For Mental Health Awareness Month in May, SAMHSA is highlighting its Expanding Access to and Use of Behavioral Health Services for People at Risk for or Experiencing Homelessness guide, which highlights strategies for housers and behavioral health providers to conduct outreach to individuals experiencing homelessness. Case studies include both rural and urban places.
HAC is hiring an Asset Manager Associate and three interns
- The Asset Manager Associate will assist in a range of lending activities, including loan department reports, loan payments, underwriting, credit analysis and various aspects of monitoring, and servicing single- and multifamily housing development loans. This is an entry-level position and is eligible for telecommuting.
- The Portfolio Management Intern, Loan Asset Management Intern, and Resource Development Intern are part of HAC’s lending team. The interns will have the opportunity to participate in the Fannie Mae Future Housing Leaders program throughout the summer. The positions will be approximately 37.5 hours per week, with stipends of $15-18 per hour commensurate with experience/responsibilities, and will run from the end of May through August 2023. These positions are eligible for telecommuting.
HAC invites poster session proposals for national conference
Researchers and policymakers at all levels can apply by June 2 to share their research and innovative ideas through a series of poster sessions at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference, October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The research must be related to rural America and can be on housing or another field such as public health, community development, race and ethnicity, or creative placemaking. Posters will be reviewed and judged by a distinguished panel of rural experts. For more information, contact Manda LaPorte and Natasha Moodie, HAC.
National Rural Housing Conference set for October
Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27 in Washington, DC and online.
Need capital for your affordable housing project?
HAC’s loan fund provides low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-842-8600.
Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).
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