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HAC News: February 20, 2020

News Formats. pdf

February 20, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 4

February is National African American History Month • Administration’s budget proposes cuts in many housing programs, but not rural rental preservation CRA comment period extended to April 8 VA offers per diem funds for veterans’ housing stabilization HUD joins in proposing rule changes for faith-based organization FCC launches fund to spread broadband in rural America, legislators concerned White House releases guide to help local communities tackle the rural opiod and drug crisis Comments requested on alternative measures of poverty HUD asks tribes for input on two-year funding notices CEOs and nonprofit leaders sought for Achieving Excellence program Appalachia Gets Special Funding. The Black Rural South Deserves It Too Colorado’s Housing Crisis has Gotten So Bad that Small Towns are Now Building People Homes The Rural Health Safety Net Under Pressure: Rural Housing Volunerability The Trump Administration’s Latest Attack on Fair Housing Where Light Pollution is Seeping into the Rural Night Sky • HAC Seeks is Hiring an Executive Assistant • SAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

February 20, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 4

February is National African American History Month.

Administration’s budget proposes cuts in many housing programs, but not rural rental preservation.

Like its past budgets, the Administration’s proposal for Fiscal Year 2021 proposes to eliminate many housing programs, including USDA’s Section 502 direct loans for homebuyers, Section 515 and 514/516 loans and grants for rental housing production, and HUD’s CDBG, HOME and SHOP, while supporting renewal of Section 521 Rental Assistance contracts and Section 542 vouchers. Unlike previous versions, the budget proposes to increase USDA’s MPR preservation program to $40 million from $28 million in FY20. It would also fund two repair programs, Section 504 grants for very low-income elderly homeowners and Section 533 Housing Preservation Grants. The House and Senate usually do not follow the budget closely when developing their appropriations legislation for the year.

CRA comment period extended to April 8.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have extended the deadline for input on their proposed changes to Community Reinvestment Act regulations. Comments will be due on April 8 rather than on March 9, as originally scheduled.

VA offers per diem funds for veterans’ housing stabilization.

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program will fund nonprofits, state and local governments and tribes to provide per diem payments to facilitate housing stabilization for veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Apply by April 22. For more information, contact Jeffery Quarles, VA, 813-979-3570.

HUD joins in proposing rule changes for faith-based organizations.

Like the proposed rules published by USDA and other agencies in January, HUD’s proposal would delete the requirement for faith-based social service providers to refer beneficiaries to an alternative provider if desired. Faith-based organizations would not be required to provide notices unless secular organizations have the same requirements. Comments to HUD are due April 13. (Comments on the USDA proposal are due February 18.) For more information, contact Richard Youngblood, HUD, 202-402-5958.

FCC launches fund to spread broadband in rural America, legislators concerned.

The Federal Communications Commission adopted rules on January 30 for its new Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. Up to $20.4 billion will be released in two phases. The first phase will begin later this year and target areas wholly without broadband, while the second phase will open to those partially served by broadband. The FCC’s report includes details and the final regulations. Members of the House have written to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai expressing concerns about the RDOF’s coordination with state-level broadband efforts.

White House releases guide to help local communities tackle the rural opioid and drug crisis.

The Rural Community Action Guide aims to educate the public by providing an overview of the challenges rural communities face when addressing prescription opioid misuse and the use of illicit substances. It also showcases localized efforts implemented to help mitigate the impact of substance use disorder. HAC provided the housing chapter for the guide.

Comments requested on alternative measures of poverty.

OMB invites the public to comment by April 14 on questions asked by the Interagency Technical Working Group on Evaluating Alternative Measures of Poverty to help inform its recommendations on producing additional measures of poverty. The Working Group has issued a consensus interim report but has not yet decided whether to recommend development of a new poverty measure. For more information, contact Kerrie Leslie, OMB, 202-395-1093.

HUD asks tribes for input on two-year funding notices.

For recent tribal funding competitions, HUD has experimented with offering two years of appropriations in a single Notice of Funding Availability. It requests comments from tribes by March 13 about this approach, sent to ONAP_ICDBG@hud.gov or by mail to the address provided in the request.

CEOs and nonprofit leaders sought for Achieving Excellence program.

The NeighborWorks Achieving Excellence program, in collaboration with Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, offers senior leaders of nonprofits a 16-month program that addresses an organizational challenge or opportunity defined by each participant. Applications are due April 15.

Recent publications and media of interest

HAC is hiring an Executive Assistant.

The Executive Assistant supports the work of HAC’s CEO and Board of Directors. Based in Washington, DC, the position is a blend of administrative work and project assignments for an earlycareer professional. The candidate will manage the CEO’s calendar, organize meetings, plan events and make travel arrangements while working on special initiatives and assignments as the candidate grows into a career in policy, program administration or nonprofit management. Email a resume and brief cover letter to jobs@ruralhome.org with “Executive Assistant” in the subject line. Applications will be considered as received. HAC is an equal opportunity employer and lender.


SAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!

The conference will be held in Washington, DC on December 2-4, 2020 with pre-conference meetings on December 1. The HAC News will announce more details, including registration, as they become available.


Need capital for your affordable housing project? HAC’s loan funds provide 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, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.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).

HAC News: December 11, 2019

News Formats. pdf

November 11, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 24

Federal funding extended to December 20Community Development Block Grant offered for Indian Tribes and Alaska Native VillagesUSDA proposes changes for direct homeownership loans and grantsCRA reform proposal expected this weekProposed new director of homelessness council has criticized “housing first” and food programsHouse advances bill to help tribes combat homelessnessDisaster recovery bill passes HouseHouse committee approves farmworker and rental preservation billHUD requrests comments on regulatory barriersFCC to establish fund for 5G service in rural areasPop Quiz with David LipsetzBroadband USDA FundingFood Security Starts with Affordable Housing for farmworkersIncreasing Access to Affordable Housing for FarmworkersIncreasing access to Affordable Housing in Indian CountryPerspectives from Main Street: Bank Branch Access in Rural CommunitiesSAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 11, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 24

Federal funding extended to December 20.
The second short-term continuing resolution for fiscal year 2020 keeps the federal government open with FY19 funding levels through December 20. Congress may pass the 12 appropriations measures for FY20 by then. If members cannot agree, however, another CR is likely.

Community Development Block Grants offered for Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages.
Tribes, Alaska Native villages and tribal organizations are eligible to apply by February 3 for the Indian CDBG program. Funds from fiscal years 2019 and 2020 will be awarded in this grant cycle. For more information, contact ONAP-ICDBG@hud.gov.

USDA proposes changes for direct homeownership loans and grants.
Comments are due January 24 on a proposed rule intended to increase the flexibility of the Section 502 direct and Section 504 programs and improve borrower access. The proposal would remove various program restrictions and increase alignment with provisions in the Section 502 guaranteed loan program. Some of the more significant changes remove limitations in the Section 504 program, increasing the program loan and grant limits. For more information, contact Andrea Birmingham, RD, 202-720-1489.

CRA reform proposal expected this week.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are expected to release possible changes to their Community Reinvestment Act rules on December 12 and 13. The third federal bank regulator, the Federal Reserve Board, will make a separate proposal in the future. The regulators are likely to suggest ways to make banks’ CRA tests more quantifiable and to provide CRA credit for activities beyond the physical locations of their branches. Public comments on the FDIC/OCC proposed rule will probably be due in mid-February.

Proposed new director of homelessness council has criticized “housing first” and food programs.
News outlets including Politico are reporting that Robert Marbut will become executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness if confirmed by the council at a December 10 meeting. Obama appointee Matthew Doherty left the position in November. Marbut has not supported provision of housing as the first step in addressing homelessness and has recommended “24/7 programming” rather than feeding homeless people.

House advances bill to help tribes combat homelessness.
Legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives would make tribes and tribally designated housing authorities eligible to access homeless assistance grants through state or local Continuums of Care. The Tribal Access to Homeless Assistance Act (H.R. 4029) must next advance through the Senate.

Disaster recovery bill passes House.
H.R. 3702, the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act, was approved by the House on November 18. The bill’s provisions would help target Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery grants to survivors with the greatest needs, ensure greater data transparency and oversight, protect civil rights and fair housing, and encourage mitigation and resiliency. A companion measure, S. 2301, has been introduced in the Senate.

House committee approves farmworker and rental preservation bill.
On November 21 the House Judiciary Committee passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038), which includes provisions relating to farmworkers and rural rental housing preservation. The bill is scheduled for consideration by the full House of Representatives on December 11 or 12.

HUD requests comments on regulatory barriers.
As required by President Trump’s June Executive Order establishing a White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing, HUD seeks public comment by January 21 on federal, state, local and tribal laws, regulations, land use requirements and administrative practices that artificially raise the costs of affordable housing development and contribute to shortages in housing supply. For more information, contact Pamela Blumenthal, HUD, 202-402-7012.

FCC to establish fund for 5G service in rural areas.
The Federal Communications Commission will create a 5G Fund to make up to $9 billion available to carriers to deploy advanced 5G mobile wireless services in rural America, targeting hard-to-serve areas with sparse populations or rugged terrain. The FCC’s announcement did not say when the funds will be available.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • Pop Quiz with David Lipsetz, an interview with Affordable Housing Finance, features HAC’s CEO discussing his career in affordable housing and what he wishes people knew about rural people and places. “It’s inspiring to me that people are finally recognizing the truth that many of us having been telling for years,” said Lipsetz. “Addressing affordable housing solves many of the root causes of inequality and poverty.”
  • Broadband USDA Funding is a searchable database for federal funding related to broadband provision, posted by the Commerce Department but covering all federal agencies. The search can be tailored in several ways, including to identify rural-specific programs.
  • Food Security Starts with Affordable Housing for Farmworkers describes housing as “a critical tool for recruitment and retention of both domestic and immigrant [farm]workers.” This Urban Land Institute article describes several examples of successful farmworker housing developments.
  • Increasing Access to Affordable Housing in Indian Country, an article for Shelterforce by Patrice Kunesh at the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, highlights the unique challenges of homeownership on Native lands and offers some solutions.
  • Perspectives from Main Street: Bank Branch Access in Rural Communities reports that when bank branches close, rural consumers and small businesses are left with generally more costly and less convenient alternatives. Published by the Federal Reserve Board, the study includes information gathered at listening sessions across the country.
  • Rural Development Hubs: Strengthening Rural America’s Innovation Infrastructure, a new report released November 18 by the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, examines intermediaries’ role in building wealth, increasing capacity and creating opportunity in regions. The research describes what sets rural development hubs apart, obstacles that regional developers may face and strategies of effective prosperity-building.

SAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!

The conference will be held in Washington, DC on December 2-4, 2020 with pre-conference meetings on December 1. The HAC News will announce more details, including registration, as they become available.

HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia.
This three-day advanced coursetrains experienced participants to assist potential borrowers and work with RD staff, other nonprofits and regional intermediaries to deliver successful Section 502 loan packages. The training will be held in Glen Allen, VA on March 10-12, 2020.For more information, contactHAC staff, 404-892-4824.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?
HAC’s loan funds provide 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, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.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).

Rural Voices: What Broadband Means for Rural America

What Broadband Means for Rural America

The internet has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives, influencing how we learn, work, and communicate. This edition of Rural Voices explores how local rural housing organizations and local governments can help bring broadband to rural America – increasing the potential for innovation, educational opportunity, and economic growth.

VIEW FROM WASHINGTON

Access to High-Speed Broadband Opens New Doors for Rural Communities
Senator Angus King

The federal government has the power and resources to expand rural broadband.

FEATURES

A Change in Mindset Opens a World of New Possibilities
by Dr. Roberto Gallardo

The Digital Age requires a new way to think about how we build communities.

Broadband Makes Rural Communities Stronger
by Dr. Kathleen Annette

Rural communities in Minnesota understand the value of broadband and strive to widen access.

Rural Maryland County Finds Multiple Ways to Expand Broadband
by Cheryl DeBerry

Garrett County becomes a model for connecting its residents to the internet.

Native Americans Create a Connected Future
by Katie Watson

Tribal members help themselves by building infrastructure and serving their communities with tribally run internet access.

Rural Broadband Expansion Creates Opportunities for All

Rural Voices sat down with Brendan Carr, Commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, to learn more about the importance of broadband in rural areas, and how the FCC is working to provide access for more Americans no matter where they live.

What is Washington, DC, Doing About the Rural Digital Divide?
by Allie Bohm

Actions underway at the FCC and in Congress could improve or impede rural broadband access.

Public-Private Partnership Will Build Out Affordable Broadband in Rural America
by Sarah Tyree

The Universal Service Fund supports the deployment of broadband in rural areas where access costs are high.

INFOGRAPHIC

The Digital Divide in Rural America

The Digital Divide in Rural America The Digital Divide in Rural America


Rural Voices would like to hear what you have to say about one, or all, of these issues. Please comment on these stories by sending a tweet to #RuralVoices, discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.

Disconnect in Rural America - Rural Research Brief

Disconnect in Rural America

Disconnect in Rural America - Rural Research NoteDespite mass adoption, greater functionality, and more access points, the internet remains out of reach for many Americans, especially those in rural communities. One of the primary reasons for this disconnect is geography, where long distances between homes raise the cost of installing the infrastructure for broadband in rural areas, leaving rural homes with less access to fast, reliable internet.

As broadband becomes less a luxury and more a daily necessity, this technology gap can leave segments of the rural population technologically behind, causing slow economic growth, and limited access to advancements in areas, such as telemedicine.

More Than One-Quarter of Rural Homes Do Not Have Internet Subscriptions

Overall, 27 percent of all rural households lack any type of broadband subscription, compared to 17.1 percent of metropolitan households. This amounts to more than 4.7 million rural households without a broadband internet subscription – cellular data plan, cable/DSL/fiber optic, or satellite.

In addition, 129,963 rural households with an internet subscription are still using dial-up. This is 1 percent of all rural households with internet subscriptions, while only .04 percent of subscribers in metro areas have dial-up subscriptions.

The digital gap applies to most types of internet access, as measured by subscription data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Broadband subscription rates, at least in part, reflect access to the internet based on existing infrastructure and affordability. For example, rural households are less likely to have a cellular data plan than metropolitan area households, 57 percent to 70 percent. The one exception to this gap is satellite-based service. Nine percent of rural Disparities in Rural Broadband Subscriptions Across Income Levelshouseholds, compared to 6 percent of metropolitan area households use satellite internet services. Greater isolation and more sparse populations in rural areas likely explain the more common use of satellite technology, where cable or fiber optic services are not available.

The broadband gap between rural and metropolitan area households exists at all income levels. For households with incomes less than $20,000 a year, rural broadband subscriptions are 10 percentage points lower than in metropolitan areas. For households with incomes from $20,000 to $75,000 the gap persists albeit slightly smaller at 7 percentage points. Even at higher income levels – $75,000 and above – rural households have lower broadband subscription rates, 91 percent to 95 percent.

The same disparity in connectivity exists at all age ranges as well. Rural residents under 18 years old are less likely to have a broadband subscription compared to their metropolitan counterparts, 84 percent to 89 percent. The trend follows for residents between 18 and 64 years old, 81 percent to 88 percent, and for those 65 years and older, 62 percent to 73 percent.

So, while income and age may exacerbate the disparity in broadband subscriptions, subscription rates in rural areas continue to trail metropolitan areas across the board.

Rural Homes Lack Device Diversity

Rural households also have fewer computing devices than their metropolitan area counterparts. About 83 percent of rural households have at least one computing devices (smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc.), while 90 percent of metropolitan area households do. Furthermore, less than 67 percent of rural households have at least two devices, compared to almost 75 percent of metropolitan households.

Rural households with access to some type of computing device are more often limited, with access to either a smartphone or a desktop computer, rather than having the capability and benefits of both forms of technology. While seemingly a small issue, fewer devices directly impacts rural households’ ability to take advantage of ever increasing technologies. This means that a rural home buyer with only a smartphone may not be able to obtain detailed information on mortgage products, and a veteran without a smartphone cannot get on the road directions to a VA healthcare facility for an appointment.

What the Disconnect Means

While it may not be surprising that rural households have less broadband access and fewer devices, it can be consequential. Less dense areas where there are large physical gaps in infrastructure is where the internet can be the best utilized. Households without broadband subscriptions are unable to access services effectively, such as online banking and shopping, telemedicine, and more reliable communication.

Investing in broadband infrastructure in rural areas can help diminish the disparities in access between rural and metropolitan households. While initial infrastructure investments may not be deemed profitable by traditional providers currently, small and local municipalities may need to consider creative methods of bringing broadband to their rural communities.

“Rural” in this Note refers to population and territory outside of a Metropolitan Area, as designated by the Office of Management and Budget.

HAC News: April 3, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 3, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 7

• April is National Fair Housing Month • House and Senate approve nonbinding budget resolutions • NAHASDA reauthorization passes House • USDA offers farmworker housing loans and grants • Housing counseling grants available • HUD requests comment on VAWA rule changes • Broadband demonstration in HUD housing considered • USDA approval for restructuring senior loans explained • Ways to speed agency processing of Section 502 guaranteed loans suggested • HUD sets requirements for rental assistance transfers • Update for Section 3 regulations proposed • Rural housing tenant data for 2014 now available • Homelessness has decreased, change varies widely among states, report says • CFPB updates homebuying toolkit • HAC sets Energy Star webinar for April 8

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 3, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 7

APRIL IS NATIONAL FAIR HOUSING MONTH. HUD issued a press release describing a new media campaign.

HOUSE AND SENATE APPROVE NONBINDING BUDGET RESOLUTIONS. The House passed H.Con.Res.27 on March 25 and the Senate approved S.Con.Res. 11 on March 27. Both houses would retain sequester spending caps for FY16 and make deeper cuts beginning in FY17. Differences between the two mean there may not be agreement on a joint resolution, which would not have the force of law but would guide development of appropriations bills for FY16.

NAHASDA REAUTHORIZATION PASSES HOUSE. The House passed H.R. 360, the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Reauthorization Act, on March 23. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a hearing March 18 on its bill, S. 710.

USDA OFFERS FARMWORKER HOUSING LOANS AND GRANTS. Pre-applications for construction or purchase and sub-stantial rehab of off-farm housing are due June 23. Rental Assistance and operating assistance are available. Projects serving high poverty census tracts will receive additional points. Contact an RD state office for an application package.

HOUSING COUNSELING GRANTS AVAILABLE. HUD-approved housing counseling agencies can apply by May 7. Contact HUD staff.

HUD REQUESTS COMMENT ON VAWA RULE CHANGES. A proposed rule implementing the 2013 Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act would increase protections for survivors of domestic and dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault who live in rental housing assisted by HUD. Comments are due June 1. HAC’s website provides a brief summary of the proposal. Separate contacts for HUD programs are listed in the proposed rule. HUD’s proposal covers USDA-funded rental units that have HUD Section 8 assistance, but not other USDA rentals. USDA has implemented the 2013 VAWA through Administrative Notices 4747 (February 10, 2014) and 4778 (January 5, 2015).

BROADBAND DEMONSTRATION IN HUD HOUSING CONSIDERED. HUD requests comments by May 1 on a proposed demonstration aimed at narrowing the digital divide for students in HUD-assisted housing. It wants to partner with local governments, business, and nonprofits “to accelerate broadband adoption and use in HUD-assisted homes.” HUD intends to conduct the initial demonstration in about 20 HUD-assisted communities across the country, both urban and rural, and hopes to expand it nationwide eventually. Contact Camille E. Acevedo, HUD, 202-402-5132.

USDA APPROVAL FOR RESTRUCTURING SENIOR LOANS EXPLAINED. An Unnumbered Letter dated February 27, 2015 is intended to clarify the process for obtaining official RD prior approval and permission to restructure a third-party loan to which a Section 515 loan is subordinate. Contact an RD state office.

WAYS TO SPEED AGENCY PROCESSING OF SECTION 502 GUARANTEED LOANS SUGGESTED. An Unnumbered Letter dated March 13, 2015 lists “tips and best practices for increasing operational efficiencies and to eliminate unnecessary unproductive processes.” Contact the Rural Housing Service’s National Office, 202-720-1452.

HUD SETS REQUIREMENTS FOR RENTAL ASSISTANCE TRANSFERS. A notice describes the conditions for HUD approval of requests to transfer project-based rental assistance, debt held or insured by HUD, and use restrictions from one or more multifamily housing project to another or others. Contact Nancie-Ann Bodell, HUD, 202-708-2495.

UPDATE FOR SECTION 3 REGULATIONS PROPOSED. HUD suggests strengthening its oversight of Section 3, which requires giving jobs and other economic opportunities generated by HUD assistance to low- and very low-income persons to the extent possible.Comments are due May 26. Contact Staci Gilliam, HUD, 202-402-3468.

RURAL HOUSING TENANT DATA FOR 2014 NOW AVAILABLE. USDA RD’s annual issuance provides figures at the national and state levels for the agency’s multifamily portfolio as a whole and separately for Section 515, Section 514/516, and Rental Assistance. There were 1,645 fewer units in 2014 than in 2013. The average income for Section 515 tenants is now $12,022 and for Rental Assistance recipients $10,258. Elderly and disabled households remain a majority in Section 515 units, at 61.65%, and the proportion of households with disabilities increased.

HOMELESSNESS HAS DECREASED, CHANGE VARIES WIDELY AMONG STATES, REPORT SAYS. The State of Homelessness in America 2015, by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, reports data for states and for subpopulations.

CFPB UPDATES HOMEBUYING TOOLKIT. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has revised its information booklet, “Your Home Loan Toolkit: A Step-by-Step Guide.” Contact Julie Vore, CFPB, 202-435-7700.

HAC SETS ENERGY STAR WEBINAR FOR APRIL 8. Register online for HAC’s upcoming webinar, “A Practitioner’s Guide to Energy Star 3.0,” to be held on April 8 at 2 pm Eastern time. Contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

Over half of rural Americans Lack Benchmark Broadband Access

The 2015 Broadband Progress Report from the Federal Communications Commission indicates that over half of rural Americans lack access to benchmark broadband connections. For rural tribal lands, approximately 85 percent lack proper broadband.