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Policy News from Congress

HAC’s Stakeholder Comments on Rural Housing Service Programs

HAC submitted comments to Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Mike Rounds (R-SD), the Chair and Ranking Member of the Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Subcommittee of the Senate Banking Committee, in response to their call for recommendations on how to improve the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Housing Service (RHS) programs. RHS programs are a critical source of housing for our nation’s small towns and rural places. HAC hopes that Senators Smith and Rounds will use these stakeholder comments to help improve the efficiency and impact of RHS programs, especially as more multifamily properties leave the USDA portfolio.

Topline Takeaways  

  • Multifamily

    HAC strongly recommends that the Senators authorize important multifamily preservation programs and simplify the process for transferring properties to non-profit owners in order to help more properties remain in RHS programs and maintain their affordability. HAC also recommends that the Senators investigate the rental assistance programs available in rural areas and extend these to more rural renters.  

  • Single family

    HAC recommends that the Senators improve the Section 504 program which provides grants for single family home repair. Simplifying and making this program’s funds more accessible would help more families stay in their homes and preserve single family homeownership. 

  • Capacity building

    Many communities have the willingness and desire to help improve their housing opportunities but lack the technical skill or capacity to accomplish their goals. HAC recommends authorizing capacity building programs that would help communities develop the tools they need to thrive. 

  • RHS staffing and operations

    HAC recommends improving the workflow within RHS and updating the technology the RHS staff uses to increase efficiency and help RHS better serve rural communities.  

Read HAC’s Comments

HAC Comments on RHS Reforms
HAC in the News

Congressional Hearing Focuses on the Potential of Manufactured Housing

HAC’s Director of Research, Lance George, was one of several witnesses to provide testimony at a hearing of the House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee on  Manufactured Housing: Supporting America’s Largest Unsubsidized Affordable Housing Stock. North Carolina news station WRAL covered the hearing and provided local perspective on the potential for manufactured housing to increase housing affordability in the region.

Policy News from Congress

HAC’s Research Director to Speak at Congressional Manufactured Housing Hearing

The House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee is holding a hearing May 26 on Manufactured Housing: Supporting America’s Largest Unsubsidized Affordable Housing Stock, with HAC’s Director of Research and Information, Lance George, among the witnesses. His testimony explains the importance of manufactured homes as affordable housing in rural America and the challenges facing manufactured housing residents, owners, and communities. It suggests that new research is needed to inform evidence-based solutions and that Congress could help address pressing challenges by providing grants for land acquisition by resident owned cooperatives, other mission-focused nonprofits, and public sector housing agencies, as well as financing for individual homeowners.

 

Lance George Statement to House THUD Committee - May 26, 2022

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.

USDA Secretary Answers Questions on Proposed Rural Development Changes, White House Accepts Comments (updated May 18)

Update, May 18, 2017: A notice in the May 18 Federal Register invites interested parties to submit comments at www.regulations.gov on the proposed reorganization. The deadline is June 14.

Several members of Congress quizzed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue about a proposed reorganization plan that would eliminate the position of Under Secretary for Rural Development (RD). The Secretary appeared before the House Agriculture Committee on May 17 to discuss the state of the rural economy, and the hearing covered the wide spectrum of subjects under USDA’s jurisdiction.

Committee members who expressed concerns about the possible demotion of RD issues noted that they viewed the reorganization proposal in light of the request in the Administration’s preliminary budget to eliminate some water/wastewater and business programs. Perdue assured them repeatedly that RD’s program administrators would have more access to him than if the Under Secretary position remained in place. He said they would report to an Assistant Secretary who would be approved by the Senate (as the Under Secretary is), and they would also have direct “walk-in”; access to the Secretary himself. He asserted that he believes rural development is extremely important and therefore wants to be more directly involved in it.

In one of his answers, Perdue tried to summarize RD’s areas of responsibility, citing business, economic development, and utilities. He did not mention housing.

Some Committee members pointed out that USDA did not request public comment on the proposal until after it had submitted the plan to Congress for a 30-day review period. Perdue said he was not familiar with the notice requirements and could not explain why the actions were taken in this order.