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Rural Voices: Hope After Disaster: Rural Resilience and Recovery

Wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and other disasters leave serious damage in their wake and can cause housing crises. No community is immune, but rural areas can experience greater challenges due to a lack of existing disaster recovery infrastructure and fewer local organizations with capacity. Low-income renters, the elderly or those with disabilities and many owners of manufactured homes are disproportionately affected because they lack the financial resources to recover.

This issue of Rural Voices magazine provides perspectives on disaster recovery contributed by entities ranging from local housing organizations to national lenders. They offer resources for affected families, lessons learned and policy solutions. Several of the articles agree that successful disaster recovery requires dedicated financial resources for the affected families and a coordinated effort between the local and federal governments, housing organizations and service providers.

VIEW FROM WASHINGTON

Iowa Flooding Shows Links between Disaster Recovery and Rural Housing
Representative Cindy Axne

Increased capacity and investment can help make disaster recovery successful.

FEATURES

Rural Disasters: Preparedness, Response, Recovery
by Ilene J. Jacobs and Christina Davila

An equitable recovery is possible.

The RAPIDO Model: Disaster Preparation to Improve Disaster Recovery
by Nick Mitchell-Bennett and Omar Hakeem

Texas nonprofit partnership develops innovative disaster recovery model.

Providing Resources and Stability for Disaster Recovery
by Connie Wright

Wells Fargo accelerates recovery for customers with Mobile Response Unit.

Risk Models can Improve Rural Disaster Preparation
by Howard A. Kunst

Wildfire and flooding impacts can be minimized using risk models.

Paradise Lost: Impacts Extend Beyond the Disaster Area
by Karl Ory

A northern California wildfire offers lessons learned.

Driving Change in Disaster Recovery
by Timothy Carpenter

GSE improves program to serve disaster-affected families.


INFOGRAPHIC

Impacts of Disaster Felt Far and Wide

Impacts of Natural Disasters Felt Far and Wide (PDF) (JPG)


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.

HAC News: October 7, 2019

News Formats. pdf

October 7, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 20

President signs continuing resolution to keep government open • Rural rental preservation bill re-introduced along with others • HUD announces DDAs and QCTs for FY20 • USDA updates environmental policies and procedures • Newspaper ads for domestic farmworkers replaced by online job registry • Duty to Serve listening sessions scheduled • Factsheets on disaster housing recovery • Iowa Free Land Giveaways Can be Imperfect Fix for Rural Housing Shortage • Measuring and Understanding Home Repair Costs: A National Typology of Households • New Financing Options for Affordable and Attractive Factory-Built Homes • Silicon Valley in Iowa: Congressman’s Fight for Tech Jobs in Rural America • The Value of HMDA Coverage of Home Lending in Rural Areas and Indian Country • HAC training for housing counselors set for November in Tampa • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 7, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 20

President signs continuing resolution to keep government open.

On September 23 President Trump signed into law a continuing resolution, H.R. 4378, to fund the federal government through November 21. A disagreement over funding for the border wall – the issue that led to last year’s lengthy shutdown – is expected to arise again as Congress and the Administration try to resolve differences on full-year appropriations. Congress is in recess October 1-14.

Rural rental preservation bill re-introduced along with others.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has introduced S. 2567, the Rural Housing Preservation Act, which would expand availability of vouchers for USDA tenants in properties leaving the Section 515 or 514/516 portfolios, allow Section 521 Rental Assistance to continue for tenants in properties whose mortgages have matured, establish uniform standards for transfers involving Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and authorize the MPR program. The measure has been introduced in previous Congresses in both the House and Senate, although it has not yet been taken up by either house. Sen. Shaheen also introduced a bill encouraging manufactured home park owners who are interested in selling their property to sell to their residents, and another that would terminate FHA mortgage insurance payments when the loan balance reaches 78% of the home’s value.

HUD announces DDAs and QCTs for FY20.

Difficult Development Areas and Qualified Census Tracts, calculated every year, are used to target Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

USDA updates environmental policies and procedures.

USDA Rural Development published a direct final rule on November 23, 2018 to update its environmental policies and procedures, but did not put it into effect because some adverse comments were submitted. A September 23, 2019 notice makes the rule effective as of that date, giving the RHS, RBS and RUS administrators some flexibility to obligate funds for infrastructure projects – including broadband, electric, water and sewer – before environmental review is completed, conditioned on the full and satisfactory completion of environmental review. For more information, contact Edna Primrose, USDA RD, 202-720-0986.

Newspaper ads for domestic farmworkers replaced by online job registry.

The Labor Department is eliminating the existing requirement for most employers who want to hire H-2A farmworkers to first advertise their job opportunities in print newspapers. Instead of requiring them to run ads online, as it first proposed, DOL will instead post these jobs on its electronic job registry, seasonaljobs.dol.gov, effective October 21, 2019. For more information, contact Thomas M. Dowd, DOL, 202-513-7350.

Duty to Serve listening sessions scheduled.

As Fannie Mae and Freddie Mae develop plans to carry out their 2021-23 duty to serve underserved markets such as rural America, the Federal Housing Finance Agency has scheduled listening sessions between Nov. 19 and Dec. 11 in St. Louis, Los Angeles, Washington, DC and online in order to get public input. Details and registration are online.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • Factsheets on disaster housing recovery from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition describe the housing impact of the largest disasters from 2017 and 2018 as well as major failures and deficiencies in disaster recovery efforts afterward.
  • In Iowa Free Land Giveaways Can be Imperfect Fix for Rural Housing Shortage describes the challenges involved as, in an effort to overcome an aging housing stock and encourage new housing construction, at least four rural Iowa communities are experimenting with land giveaways to spur development.
  • Measuring and Understanding Home Repair Costs: A National Typology of Households, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and PolicyMap, calculates housing quality problems taking into account the cost of the repairs needed. The authors estimate that extremely low-income households in single-family units typically have the costliest repair needs, totaling $50.8 billion in 2018.
  • New Financing Options for Affordable and Attractive Factory-Built Homes suggests modular and manufactured housing can help solve the affordable housing shortage in rural areas. As opposed to stick-built housing built on-site, manufactured and modular housing is factory-built and delivered to the site, saving time and money.
  • Silicon Valley in Iowa: Congressman’s Fight for Tech Jobs in Rural America describes an effort involving several large tech companies to bring jobs and job training to Jefferson County, Iowa. Spearheaded by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), the program would create software development education and training opportunities through local community colleges and also involve the commitment to local job creation from large tech firms.
  • The Value of HMDA Coverage of Home Lending in Rural Areas and Indian Country, a working paper from the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, notes that the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act applies to a wide range of financial institutions involved in home lending, but many small and nonmetropolitan lenders are exempt from reporting. The research analyzes data coverage and identifies some limitations but concludes HMDA data is a useful and important source of information about lending in Indian Country and rural areas.

HAC training for housing counselors set for November in Tampa.

HUD’s final rule on new certification requirements for housing counselors requires that by August 1, 2020 counseling for or in connection with any HUD programs, must be provided by HUD Certified Housing Counselors. Get ready! Elevate your knowledge in the six essential competency areas, including financial management, housing affordability, homeownership, avoiding foreclosure, tenancy and fair housing. Set yourself up for success in meeting HUD’s counselor certification requirements by starting your prep with this three-day course scheduled for Tampa, FL on November 12-14. The registration fee is $500. For more information, contact HAC 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).

Picking Up the Pieces: HAC’s Natural Disaster Guide

Picking Up the Pieces - CoverWhen a disaster strikes a rural area, one of the most serious problems may be a lack of information about resources and assistance available for recovery efforts. HAC’s guide, Picking Up the Pieces: Restoring Rural Housing and Communities After a Disaster, is intended to help survivors and local organizations identify resources to rebuild their homes and communities. This report emphasizes housing assistance.

Rural Voices: Working Toward Access for All

50 Years of the Fair Housing Act

Safe and affordable homes, free of discrimination, should be equally accessible to all. This edition of Rural Voices explores the state of fair housing half a century after the adoption of the Fair Housing Act and includes contributions from a federal agency, national nonprofits, and practitioners in the field.

VIEW FROM WASHINGTON

HUD’s Fair Housing Office: Combating Discrimination
Anna María Farías

In a nation founded on the principles of justice and equality, it is unacceptable for anyone to be denied the housing of their choice.

FEATURES

Working Towards Fair Housing in 2018’s Rural America
by Leslie R. Strauss

Rural fair housing advocates rely on outreach, education, cultural sensitivity, and partnerships to address issues that may not have been evident 50 years ago.

HUD Suspends Implementation of Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule
by Renee Williams

In early 2018 HUD suspended implementation of a regulation put into place in 2015.

Vermont Tackles Fair Housing Along with Housing Affordability
by Ted Wimpey

Vermont’s Fair Housing Project encourages residents and local governments to improve zoning and permitting in order to further fair housing and the development of affordable housing.

Disasters Don’t Discriminate, Recovery Shouldn’t Either
by Maddie Sloan

Disaster recovery must be designed to be fair for all, even if pre-disaster housing situations were not.

Nuisance and Crime-Free Ordinances: The Next Fair Housing Frontier
by Renee Williams and Marie Flannery

Fair housing laws may conflict with local laws and policies that penalize tenants for calling law enforcement or having a history of arrest or conviction.

Fighting Hate with Fair Housing Laws

The recent increase in hate crimes includes housing-related hate activity, which can have criminal or civil remedies.

Fighting Hate in North Dakota
by Michelle Rydz

A statewide coalition supports victims of hate crimes, including crimes that are related to housing.

INFOGRAPHIC

rv-may-2018-infographicFair Housing in Rural America – By the Numbers


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 #RuralVoicesMag, discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.

Tornadoes Leave 19 Dead Across Southern US

A series of tornadoes tore through parts of the Deep South from January 21-22, 2017. At least 19 deaths are being blamed on 41 reported tornadoes in five southern states from Louisiana to South Carolina.

Per NBC News, the Governor declared a state of emergency for more than 15 counties in south central Georgia after storms left 12 dead and 23 injured. CNN reported that the Governor of Mississippi also declared a state of emergency following a Tornado that left four dead in Hattiesberg.

As of January 23, FEMA had not yet issued a disaster declaration for these storms, but the official FEMA Twitter account announced that it had “deployed liaison officers to AL, MS, GA, and FL to support response activities” with additional teams on alert.

For post crisis assistance in rebuilding housing and communities affected by the tornadoes, see the Housing Assistance Council’s report Picking Up the Pieces: Restoring Rural Housing and Communities After a Disaster.

State Disaster Recovery Resources

Rural Voices: Innovation in Building Technology for Affordable Rural Housing

Building decent, affordable housing for the lowest-income rural Americans requires creativity – in financing, design, planning, and even in administering organizations. This issue of Rural Voices is meant to provide helpful examples for the field, and we encourage readers to share other innovations as well.

FEATURES

Small Size, Big Results: Tiny Houses in Hale County, Alabama
by Pam Dorr

Tiny homes, from 400 to 850 square feet, can provide decent, affordable homes for rural Americans with very low incomes, while blending beautifully into existing communities.

Cargo Containers Become Simple, Decent, Affordable and Energy-Efficient Homes…It’s Happening in Kentucky
by Mary Shearer

Abandoned cargo containers are converted to highly energy-efficient, simple homes for extremely low-income Kentuckians.

Kicking and Screaming All the Way to Greater Energy Efficiency
by Patrick Shiflea

After hesitating to adopt new construction techniques and add costs, Alaska CDC staff have concluded increased energy efficiency is worth it for homeowners.

Factory-Built Housing as an Affordable Housing Solution
by Stacey Epperson

Modern manufactured and modular housing options can serve as an affordable alternative to site-built structures.

From Tornado to Sustainable Community in Saint Peter, Minnesota
by Rick Goodemann

After a major disaster, intensive planning and community-wide innovation produced new affordable housing as well as improved electricity and broadband service.

The Basics of Process Improvement for Affordable Housing Organizations
by Josh Crites

New ideas that improve project management can pave the way to an efficient and organized affordable housing process.

View from Washington

Doubling Down in a Time of Uncertainty
by Ellen Lurie Hoffman and Michael Bodaken

As advocates for affordable housing face the uncertainties of a new Administration, it is clear that our work and our partnerships have never been more essential.


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

HAC News: November 7, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

November 7, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 22

• November is National Native American Heritage Month • November 10-18 is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week • Rural housing on Senate Majority Leader’s list • Disaster recovery information available from USDA and HAC • VA offers funds to help families’ housing stability • LIHTC can serve extremely low-income tenants, research finds • Some income exclusions apply to USDA RD multifamily occupants • USDA RD offers guidance on using Section 538 loans for Section 515 properties • Treatment of farmworkers and others by large food companies varies, research finds • CBO reports on income tax’s effect on owning and renting • Child poverty increased in rural areas and nationwide from 2010 to 2011 • National Rural Housing Conference early bird registration deadline is November 9!


November 7, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 22

NOVEMBER IS NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH. President Obama’s proclamation also names November 23 (the day after Thanksgiving) Native American Heritage Day.

NOVEMBER 10-18 IS NATIONAL HUNGER AND HOMELESSNESS AWARENESS WEEK. Information about this annual event, sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, is posted online.

RURAL HOUSING ON SENATE MAJORITY LEADER’S LIST. The National Journal published a list of unfinished legislative items compiled by the staff of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and noted there are too many to complete during Congress’s lame duck session, which will begin soon. “Rural housing” appears on the list without further explanation, probably referring to the effort to preserve eligibility for housing programs in places with growing populations. See HAC News, 9/26/12.

DISASTER RECOVERY INFORMATION AVAILABLE FROM USDA AND HAC. HAC has updated Picking up the Pieces, its guide to resources for rural housing in disaster areas, and published a Hurricane Sandy supplement. USDA is sending letters to Section 502 direct and guaranteed borrowers in and around the Hurricane Sandy disaster areas summarizing available loan servicing assistance, including possible payment moratoria for direct borrowers. Owners and renters in USDA assisted properties should contact USDA RD offices. Vacant houses and apartments with USDA financing may be available for hurricane survivors through FEMA, 800-621-FEMA. Additional federal disaster information is posted at https://www.disasterassistance.gov.

VA OFFERS FUNDS TO HELP FAMILIES’ HOUSING STABILITY. The Supportive Services for Veteran Families program makes grants to nonprofits, consumer coops, and Tribally Designated Housing Entities to provide or coordinate supportive services to very low-income veteran families to remain in or transition into permanent housing. Deadline is February 1, 2013. Contact John Kuhn, VA, 877-737-0111, SSVF@va.gov.

SOME INCOME EXCLUSIONS APPLY TO USDA RD MULTIFAMILY OCCUPANTS. An Unnumbered Letter (October 9, 2012) provides a copy of a July 24 HUD Federal Register notice (see HAC News, 7/25/12) listing exclusions to income for numerous programs, and announces that RD Handbook changes will be published soon. Contact Laura Horn, RD, 202-720-5443.

USDA RD OFFERS GUIDANCE ON USING SECTION 538 LOANS FOR SECTION 515 PROPERTIES. Section 538 guaranteed loans can finance revitalization of existing properties with Section 515 direct loans. An Unnumbered Letter (October 9, 2012) instructs USDA staff on reconciling procedural differences between the programs. Contact Tammy Daniels, RD, 202-720-0021.

TREATMENT OF FARMWORKERS AND OTHERS BY LARGE FOOD COMPANIES VARIES, RESEARCH FINDS. Worker Equity in Food and Agriculture, published by the Tellus Institute and Sustainalytics, examines wages and working conditions (not housing) at the 100 largest U.S. companies in food and agriculture. “Worker equity” is evaluated at the farm, factory, retail, and restaurant stages.

CBO REPORTS ON INCOME TAX’S EFFECT ON OWNING AND RENTING. A Congressional Budget Office working paper, “Taxation of Owner-Occupied and Rental Housing,” concludes that federal income tax advantages tend to make owning more advantageous than renting for higher-income households, but lower-income households can find renting cheaper than owning. The paper also examines how four different possible changes to the tax code (including repealing the mortgage interest deduction) would affect these calculations. Contact Larry Ozanne, CBO, larry.ozanne@cbo.gov.

CHILD POVERTY INCREASED IN RURAL AREAS AND NATIONWIDE FROM 2010 TO 2011. The Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire reports that American Community Survey data show 45% of U.S. children live below 200% of the poverty level, and 10.1% live below 50% of poverty. “Over Sixteen Million Children in Poverty in 2011” includes data for urban/rural/suburban geographies, regions, and states.

NATIONAL RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS NOVEMBER 9! The 2012 conference, “Promises to Keep in Challenging Times,” will be December 6-7, with pre-conference activities on December 5, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Register now to take advantage of the special early bird discount! Start networking in advance – join the conference LinkedIn group. Questions? Contact Dan Stern, HAC, dan@ruralhome.org or 202-842-8600.

Rural Voices: Lessons from Disaster

Rural Voices: Lessons from Disasters

The Fall 2000 issue of Rural Voices addresses some of what can be learned from recent major disasters.

Natural disasters remind us how little control we have over our world -homes and lives can be wiped out in seconds. One year ago, Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd devastated large sections of the eastern U.S., with heavy rains and flooding damaging communities far inland. This summer, news stories have focused on fires in the west. Less dramatic disasters happen all the time -a tornado strikes a single town or a river floods in one county.

The Fall 2000 issue of Rural Voices addresses some of what can be learned from recent major disasters. Preparatory steps to guard against damage are summarized by staff of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Project Impact, which helps to make communities disaster resistant. An experienced architect from Texas presents specific design and construction tips for wind resistance. A Kentucky state official describes her agency’s role in recovering from serious flooding. A Minnesota rural infrastructure expert suggests elements of a manual to guide emergency procedures. And a North Carolina advocate examines the challenges and successes of that state’s ongoing efforts to recover from last year’s hurricanes.

A great deal of additional information is available for rural communities to prepare for and recover from these kinds of disas-ters and others. Most of the articles in this issue suggest sources of further advice, and most of it is available free.

A key theme running through all these articles is the importance of advance planning and preparation. Rural communities can exert some control after all, either to reduce damage or to hasten recovery after a disaster.