And looking forward to an even better 2020
A Message from HAC CEO David Lipsetz
2019 has been an incredible year for HAC, the communities that we serve, and rural America. That is in no small part due to the support and partnership of people like you. Thank you for joining us in this work.
The public spotlight on affordable housing and rural conditions continues to grow. Press coverage of an “affordability crisis” appears regularly in mainstream media. Congress is holding hearings and polls show that the general public considers it to be an important issue. And for the first time in memory, candidates for president are issuing detailed housing and rural development policy statements. HAC is translating the increased attention into action by partnering with national organizations and local practitioners to address the issues facing rural communities, while finding new ways to work together with local governments, community banks, community health providers, small business and more to better represent the broader needs of rural development.
Among the exciting events of 2019 was our launch of the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in which HAC helps rural communities engage in design thinking, creative placemaking, and leverage arts and culture to drive economic revitalization. We ran our first “CIRD Learning Cohort Summit” in the fall with 34 community leaders from 23 small towns based in 18 different states. We gathered in Thomas, West Virginia (pop. 660) to allow rural practitioners to focus on rural-specific issues with their rural peers in a rural setting. In the process, CIRD is expanding HAC’s capacity in community development and elevating our role in arts and creative placemaking.
2019 was a busy year for our Loan Fund. We opened wide for new business and made $9 million in new loans to support the development of decent, safe, affordable homes throughout rural America. We also built a pipeline of new activity that should bring over $16 million in additional capital investments over the next few years.
We also spent the year focusing our Training and Technical Assistance activities on its transformative work with small and emerging rural housing organizations to build capacity to serve their communities. One of my favorite examples has been our working with Magnolia CDC in Opelousas, LA to become a Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO). A CHDO designation will help Magnolia access funding opportunities like the Community Development Block Grant and serve more of their community.
As always, HAC’s Research and Information division is on the cutting edge when it comes to issues impacting rural America. We worked along the southern border to establish Colonias Investment Areas that help target opportunities for mortgage finance and community development. We analyzed the extent to which limited broadband access, food insecurity and natural disasters impacted rural prosperity. And in 2019, we influenced the debate on Community Reinvestment Act reform by analyzing how an expanded CRA could stem the tide of rural bank closures and expand access to mortgage credit in the nation’s most persistently poor places.
Looking ahead, 2020 will no doubt be another exciting year for HAC. We will see you at our biennial National Rural Housing Conference, send you the decennial update of our flagship publication Taking Stockand partner with you for vibrant, resilient and prosperous rural places. Thanks again for a great 2019. We wouldn’t be here without you.