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Catalyst of Change – The 2018 HAC Annual Report

catalyst of change

HAC is pleased to present the 2018 Annual Report, which looks back at our accomplishments and those of our partner organizations over the last year.

For 49 years, the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) has worked to build communities across rural America. As we approach a half-century of improving housing conditions for people in rural areas, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on our work.

As we thought about the many ways HAC has created change, empowered local organizations, fostered collaborations between sectors, built a community of learning and advocated for those whose voices are often silenced, one word kept rising to our minds. Catalyst.

A catalyst is an agent of change. It helps to enable collaboration among existing elements that may struggle to combine. HAC has been serving as a catalyst for improving rural communities throughout our history.

2018 was no different. We continued to help local organizations in rural areas increase their capacity and assist in financing their projects. We expanded our collaborations with national organizations, foundations and private funders, and began new initiatives around rural prosperity and Duty to Serve. Our research shed light on a looming crisis for affordable rental housing and continued to inform advocates and policymakers about the realities of rural poverty and housing conditions. We ended the year on a high note with our biennial conference. The rural housing community shared ideas, discovered new approaches, and returned back to their communities rejuvenated and recommitted to the effort.

As we expand our reach, we acknowledge that the work we do would not be possible without the generous support of our public and private supporters. Their commitment to rural people and communities helps create a fertile environment for HAC’s actions.

The work is not done. The challenges for rural communities are, in some ways, becoming more severe. But we know the solution. HAC will continue to serve as a catalyst for rural organizations, offering them the tools they need to generate local solutions. While the job is never finished, we are always inspired by the energy, passion, and ingenuity of rural people and places.

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HAC: Building Rural Communities: Annual Report 2017

HAC's 2017 Annual ReportHAC is pleased to present the 2017 Annual Report, which looks back at our accomplishments and those of our partner organizations over the last year.

Rural America got a lot of attention in 2017. The results of the 2016 presidential election encouraged journalists, policymakers, and others to consider the differences between rural and urban parts of the U.S. The Housing Assistance Council has known these facts for decades, of course, and has worked with partners around the country towards improving life for the lowest income rural Americans.

Economic recovery from the Great Recession is lagging in rural areas, with a lower rate of job creation than in metropolitan places. Most of the new rural jobs are in the service sector, with far lower salaries than past mining and manufacturing positions. Forty percent of renters in places with populations under 10,000 pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing. While rural residents are more likely to be homeowners than city dwellers are, the homeownership rate for rural African Americans and Hispanics is 20 percentage points lower than that of white non-Hispanic rural households. Persistent poverty counties – those where poverty rates have exceeded 20 percent since 1990 – are predominately rural.

At the same time, HAC knows rural America’s advantages. The barnraising spirit is still strong: residents care deeply about their communities and they really do pitch in to help their neighbors. Rural places’ products and their natural resources benefit the entire country. Costs of doing business are often lower in small towns than in big cities.

HAC spent 2017, as it has spent more than 45 years, helping rural communities use these positive traits and resources to improve their residents’ lives. This has always been the hallmark of HAC’s work: HAC helps local organizations so that they can, in turn, help their communities – not only immediately, but for years to come. HAC builds rural resources, capacity, and knowledge by providing financing, training and technical assistance, and research and information. In 2017 HAC continued its special efforts to help provide housing for rural veterans and launched a new initiative on creative placemaking.

Whether the new attention to rural areas yields useful results or not, HAC and our partners on the ground will continue our efforts. Rural Americans will deserve decent, safe, affordable housing, as they always have.

Read this publication online at Issuu.com.

Annual Report 2015

HAC's 2015 Annual Report CoverThe Housing Assistance Council is pleased to present Building Rural Communities, HAC’s 2015 Annual Report.

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In 2015 the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) mixed innovation, tried and true techniques, and special attention to special needs to further its mission of improving housing conditions for low-income rural Americans.

Ongoing issues surrounding the preservation of existing decent, affordable rental housing in rural America were one important focus of HAC’s work this year, as a large proportion of U.S. Department of Agriculture rental housing mortgages near the end of their terms. Veterans’ housing needs were another. HAC also continued its strong support of self-help homeownership for families who could not afford to purchase their own homes without the value added by their “sweat equity.” HAC’s loan funds make below-market financing available for those developing or rehabilitating affordable rural housing for both owners and renters.

This year HAC continued to increase its use of technology, delivering webinars and publications online and launching a new Veterans Data Central site to complement its popular Rural Data Portal. Person-to-person interactions remained important as well, with individualized conversations and live training sessions, including peer-to-peer events, providing technical assistance to local rural organizations and governments nationwide.

The importance of HAC’s role as an intermediary remains clear. As always, in 2015 local organizations throughout rural America made good use of HAC’s loans, grants, trainings, technical assistance, and information resources. HAC is proud to continue empowering these groups to provide decent, affordable homes for the lowest income residents of their own communities.

Annual Report 2014

ar2014-coverThe mantra ‘retool, rebuild, renew’ resonated throughout the year as HAC continued its work improving housing conditions for the rural poor. Even as the economy begins to improve, many rural communities and Americans continue to struggle with the aftermath of the national housing crisis and recession. Similarly, some rural housing providers have scaled back their efforts in response to critical funding cuts and uncertain markets. Adversity and change have never discouraged HAC or the partners we have developed such strong relationships with across the nation. HAC continues pressing forward to retool our collective talents, rebuild the innovative spirit that got us where we are, and renew our passion for the mission that guides us.

For the entirety of its existence, HAC has worked to recognize housing inadequacies and help facilitate remedies through affordable lending products, technical assistance, and accessible information. As traditional problems linger, new and more complicated constraints of housing distress have emerged. The past decade has taught us the importance of housing to our nation’s economy, communities, and families. As the nation’s fiscal outlook grows more complicated and public sector investment decreases, HAC becomes increasingly integral to the success of building capacity and providing affordable, quality homes in rural America.

All of our efforts serve one goal: to improve housing conditions for the poorest of the poor in the most rural of places. HAC remains dedicated to this mission and to the partners that work tirelessly in pursuit of the day when every family in rural America will have a safe, affordable place to call home.