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HAC News: February 6, 2020

News Formats. pdf

Feburary 6, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 3

February is National African American History Month • Rental affordability crisis continues, research confirms • Surpreme Court allows public charge rule to block immigrants who use public assistance • AARP offers small grants for short-term projects including housing • USDA sets 2020 loan limits for Section 502 direct loan program • Bill would create New Market Tax Credit set-aside for Native lands • House members release infrastructure ideas • House to vote on Puerto Rico emergency funding • Hearings examine threats to children posed by Administration regulatory proposals • Boosting EITC Awareness • Iowa Seniors Face Dilemma of Aging Far from Home • Multidimensional Index of Deep Disadvantage • Strong Foundations: Financial Security Starts with Affordable, Stable Housing • HAC Seeks Executive Assistant and Senior Portfolio Manager • SAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!HAC offers Section 512 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

February 6, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 3

February is National African American History Month.

Rental affordability crisis continues, research confirms.

Almost 40% of rural renters nationwide were cost burdened in 2018, according to America’s Rental Housing 2020, a report by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Nationwide, the number of cost-burdened renters (those paying over 30% of income for rent and utilities) fell from 2014 to 2017 but rose again in 2018. Among geographic and income categories, the only decline in cost-burden rates from 2011 to 2018 was a 0.9% drop for nonmetro renters with incomes of $30,000-44,999. The report notes that, in addition to cost burden, rural rental housing issues include limited rental stock, substandard housing and (citing HAC’s research) the loss of Section 515 properties. Interactive data and graphics and the written report are available online.

Supreme Court allows public charge rule to block immigrants who use public assistance.

In August 2019 the Department of Homeland Security published a final rule establishing strict standards for determining that an immigrant is not likely to become a “public charge” and is therefore eligible to live in the U.S. (Some categories of immigrants, such as refugees, are exempt from the regulation.) Lawsuits were filed challenging the regulation, and a federal court issued an injunction preventing it from taking effect while the litigation was underway. DHS asked the Supreme Court to lift the injunction and on January 27, by a 5-4 vote, the court did. Litigation will continue in lower courts, but at the same time the rule will take effect on February 24 across the U.S. except in Illinois, where it is suspended because of a different court decision.

AARP offers small grants for short-term projects including housing.

The AARP Community Challenge provides small grants to nonprofits and government entities for “quick-action” projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages. Improvements in housing, transportation, civic engagement and other areas are eligible. Applications are due April 1. For more information, contact communitychallenge@aarp.org.

USDA sets 2020 loan limits for Section 502 direct loan program.

The maximum amounts for homebuyersSection 502 direct mortgage loans vary from county to county. Updated limits that took effect on January 31 are posted online and have been added to the online eligibility assessment tool.

Bill would create New Markets Tax Credit setaside for Native lands.

A new Senate bill aims to allocate at least 10% of the New Markets Tax Credit program to Native American, Alaskan or Hawaiian Community Development Financial Institutions and other entities. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced S. 3181, called the Inspiring Nationally Vibrant Economies Sustaining Tribes (INVEST) Act. The legislation also includes a pilot program for technical assistance to Native institutions applying for NMTC allocations.

House members release infrastructure ideas.

Members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee took different approaches in infrastructure proposals issued in late January. Reps. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) listed general principles related to surface transportation, including an assurance that rural areas must be treated fairly. Transportation Committee chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) joined with the chairs of two other committees to release a more detailed framework calling for a $760 billion investment over five years in broadband, water, energy, transportation and communications infrastructure. It includes unspecified expansions of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and the New Markets Tax Credit.

House to vote on Puerto Rico emergency funding.

The House is expected to vote February 7 on H.R. 5687, which would provide $4.67 billion for Puerto Rico following recent earthquakes there. If the House approves it, the bill will then need to clear the Senate. The White House has threatened a veto, however.

Hearings examine threats to children posed by Administration regulatory proposals.

On February 5 and 6 the House Committee on Oversight and Reform held four hearings on “threats to America’s children” from changes the Administration has proposed in regulations governing affirmatively furthering fair housing, poverty calculations, SNAP eligibility and air quality standards. Recordings and written witness statements are available online.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • Boosting EITC Awareness is a blog post about the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit for low- and moderate-income wage earners. Published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the post includes links to tools such as an online EITC eligibility checker and a summary of research about the benefits of the EITC and other refundable tax credits.
  • Iowa Seniors Face Dilemma of Aging Far from Home describes the need for senior living and services in rural Iowa. Relying on sources that include HAC, the article also offers solutions from rural places across the country.
  • Multidimensional Index of Deep Disadvantage, a new index from the University of Michigan, uses data on income, health and social mobility to identify areas of deep disadvantage in the U.S. and hopes to increase the attention these places receive. Eighty of the 100 most disadvantaged communities are in rural areas. The index’s map is strikingly similar to HAC’s map of persistent poverty counties, which fall largely in predominantly rural areas and populations: Central Appalachia, the Lower Mississippi Delta, the southern Black Belt, the colonias region along the U.S. Mexico border, Native American lands and migrant and seasonal farmworkers.
  • Strong Foundations: Financial Security Starts with Affordable, Stable Housing, a research primer by The Aspen Institute, concludes that housing affordability and stability are universal concerns. It also highlights the rural realities, including constricted mortgage financing, inconsistent and costly infrastructure and lower quality housing.

HAC is hiring.

HAC is an equal opportunity employer and lender.

  • 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.
  • The Senior Portfolio Manager provides leadership and oversight to a team that performs a range of lending activities – closing, disbursement, monitoring, servicing and asset management of single-family and multifamily housing development loans – in HAC’s Loan Fund Division, based in Washington, DC. Email a resume and brief cover letter to jobs@ruralhome.org with “Senior Portfolio Manager” in the subject line. Applications will be considered as received.

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 course trains 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. 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).

HAC News: January 27, 2020

News Formats. pdf

January 27, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 2

Administration’s FY21 budget to be released February 10 • Rural broadband funds available • USDA proposes rule changes related to faith-based organizations • Disaster funding for Puerto Rico moves forward • USDA offers advice on compliance with disability requirements • Updated guidance on lead-based paint offered by USDA and HUD • USDA annual tenant data released • 2020 Census launches • 2,500 Affordable Apartments in Rural Maine at Risk as Federal Program Ends • Alternative Drinking Water Systems: Use by Very Small Communities, Related Cost Savings, and Technical Assistance provided by EPA and USDA • Family Homelessness: Measuring Progress • How a Dozen Organizations are fighting Persistent Poverty Together • Research Shows Rental Assistance Reduces Hardship and Provides Platform to Expand Opportunity for Low-Income Families • Storytelling Toolkit: Lessons Learned from NHT’s “Where Will We Live?” • Two-thirds of Rural Counties Gain Jobs from November 2018 to 2019 • HAC Seeks Senior Portfolio Manager • SAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!HAC offers Section 512 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

January 27, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 2

Administration’s FY21 budget to be released February 10.

The Trump Administration is expected to release its budget request for fiscal year 2021 on February 10, beginning the process of funding the federal government for the year that begins on October 1, 2020. Overall spending levels for the year are already in place, set by legislation adopted in July 2019.

Rural broadband funds available.

The application window opens January 31 for the Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect Program), which offers loans, grants and combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas. State and local governments, tribes, nonprofits, for-profits and coops can apply by March 16. RUS also requests comments on the program by March 16. For more information, visit https://reconnect.usda.gov or contact Chad Parker, RUS, 202-720-9554.

USDA proposes rule changes related to faith-based organizations.

Changes to rules on faith-based entities as federal program providers have been suggested by USDA and several other federal departments and agencies. USDA’s proposal includes eliminating a requirement for a faith-based service provider to refer beneficiaries to an alternative provider if they do not want to receive services from the faith-based provider. It would also ensure that faith-based organizations are not required to provide any assurances or notices unless similar requirements are imposed on non-faith-based organizations. Comments are due February 18. For more information, contact Emily Tasman, USDA Office of General Counsel, 202720-3351.

Disaster funding for Puerto Rico moves forward.

After missing a September 4 deadline, HUD has now published the conditions Puerto Rico must meet in order to access $8.25 billion in disaster mitigation (not recovery) funds appropriated in 2018. HUD announced it has prepared a grant agreement for another $8.2 billion in hurricane disaster recovery funds, though, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the agreement’s terms are not publicly available and Puerto Rico has not yet signed it. HUD also recently named a Federal Financial Monitor who will oversee administration and disbursement of hurricane recovery funds for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additional funding to help Puerto Rico recover from recent earthquakes has been proposed by some members of the House Appropriations Committee, who drafted a bill to provide $3.35 billion in FY20 emergency supplemental funding for the island, including $2 billion in CDBG disaster recovery monies.

USDA offers advice on compliance with disability requirements.

A January 10 Unnumbered Letter summarizes steps USDA staff and operators of USDA-financed rental housing should take to comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires accessibility for people with disabilities.

Updated guidance on lead-based paint offered by USDA and HUD.

Along with a table showing which HUD regulations on lead-based paint hazards apply to specific programs run by USDA RD agencies, Administrative Notice 4873 (December 5, 2019) lists exemptions, compliance funding sources, implementation responsibilities and details relevant to individual programs. HUD recently posted trainings and other resources online related to its lead safe housing rule.

USDA annual tenant data released.

USDA’s annual update of data on the tenants in Section 515 and 514/516 properties is now available online. Tenant characteristics as of September 2019 were similar to those in September 2018. Section 515 residents are still largely elderly or disabled (65.2%). The average income of all Section 515 residents is $13,551, an increase from $13,112 in 2018. During that one-year period, 214 Section 515 properties and 10 Section 514 properties – about 4,500 units, just over 1% of the total – left USDA’s portfolio. Past reports back to 2010 are posted on HAC’s website.

2020 Census launches.

On January 21 in Toksook Bay, Alaska the 2020 Census began counting U.S. residents to determine the number of seats each state will hold in the House of Representatives and how billions of dollars in federal funds will be allocated. Most U.S. households will receive information in March about responding. The Census is still recruiting temporary workers for positions across the country.

Recent publications and media of interest

HAC seeks Senior Portfolio Manager.

The Senior Portfolio Manager provides leadership and oversight to a team that performs a range of lending activities – closing, disbursement, monitoring, servicing and asset management of single-family and multifamily housing development loans – in HAC’s Loan Fund Division, based in Washington, DC. Email a resume and brief cover letter to jobs@ruralhome.org with “Senior Portfolio Manager” in the subject line. Applications will be considered as received.


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 course trains 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. 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).

HAC News: January 10, 2020

News Formats. pdf

January 10, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 1

Deadline set for Community Reinvestment Act commentsMajor changes proposed for Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rulesHomeless Veterans Grant and Per Diem funds offeredYou know what your rural community needs…help us understand too!Changes proposed for relocations caused by federally funded projectsHomeland Security to share citizenship information with Census BureauPuerto Rico still waiting for disaster relief fundsVA offers telehealth services at rural WalmartsHAC seeks Senior Portfolio ManagerNational Self-Help Housing Conference will be Feb. 4-6Housing affordability policy symposium set for Feb. 132019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to CongressCensus 2020: It Takes Effort to Reach People in Rural, Remote AreasCowboy Entreprenuership: The Business Model to Invigorate Rural America in the Next DecadeDebt in America: An Interactive MapAn Interactive Exploration of the Geography of ProsperityNew Index Reveals the “Hidden Innovation” of Rural AmericaPeople in Jail in 2019 SAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!HAC offers Section 512 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

January 10, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 1

Deadline set for Community Reinvestment Act comments.

A long-awaited proposal to revise the Community Reinvestment Act regulations of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency would make changes intended to quantify the CRA scoring system that rates banks’ service to their communities and to broaden their responsibilities to include locations where they receive deposits, rather than only where their branches are located. Comments are due March 9. For more information, contact OCC’s compliance office, 202-649-5470. A separate request for information, issued by OCC only, asks for data that was not already available when the agencies were developing the proposed rule, with a March 10 deadline.

Major changes proposed for Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rules.

Calling the Obama Administration’s 2015 AFFH rule “overly burdensome” and “ineffective,” HUD has proposed a substantial revision. Evaluation of AFFH efforts would be based on whether fair housing claims are made within a jurisdiction and whether the area has an adequate supply of affordable housing and an adequate supply of affordable housing accessible to people with disabilities. Comments will be due 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

Homeless Veterans Grant and Per Diem funds offered.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has funding available for nonprofits, state and local governments and tribes to provide transitional housing and/or service centers for veterans who are homeless or at risk for becoming homeless. Apply by March 2. For more information, email GPDgrants@va.gov or contact Jeffery Quarles, VA, 813-979-3570.

You know what your rural community needs…help us understand too!

To better understand the landscape of organizations doing development work in rural America, the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group and the Housing Assistance Council are conducting a survey. The information you share will shine light on what it takes for you (practitioners) to do what you do. It will also help better tailor the work of our organizations to address current situations, concerns and opportunities.

Changes proposed for relocations caused by federally funded projects.

The Federal Highway Administration is the lead federal agency for implementation of the Uniform Relocation Act, which applies to anyone who moves or whose real estate is acquired as a result of a project receiving federal funds, including HUD and USDA housing projects. FHWA is proposing to amend its regulations. Among other changes, the proposal would implement a 2012 statute that increases relocation benefits and reduces length of occupancy requirements; HUD put those provisions into effect through a 2014 notice. Comments are due March 17. For more information, contact Arnold Feldman, FHWA, 202-366-2028.

Homeland Security to share citizenship information with Census Bureau.

The Department of Homeland Security will share records, including information that identifies individuals, with the Census Bureau. In the past it has provided Census with anonymized data only. The change is based on an Executive Order issued by President Trump in July, which states that such information may not be used “to bring immigration enforcement actions against particular individuals.”

Puerto Rico still waiting for disaster relief funds.

Puerto Rico has been approved for disaster relief after earthquakes in early January, but has not yet received substantial funds that were approved by Congress following Hurricane Maria in 2017. The statutory deadline for HUD to release the aid was September 4, 2019. Separately, on December 10, 2019, FEMA and Puerto Rico’s recovery office approved nearly $59 million in funds for recovery projects on the island including emergency protective measures and building and road repairs.

VA offers telehealth services at rural Walmarts.

VA’s distribution of health services and information through electronic media, called Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations (ATLAS), has been offered at American Legion and VFW posts. Now the VA has started a public-private partnership with Walmart stores to better reach the 5.6 million veterans living in rural areas. Pilot ATLAS programs are located in Walmarts in Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

HAC seeks Senior Portfolio Manager.

The Senior Portfolio Manager provides leadership and oversight to a team that performs a range of lending activities – closing, disbursement, monitoring, servicing and asset management of single-family and multifamily housing development loans – in HAC’s Loan Fund Division, based in Washington, DC. Email a resume and brief cover letter to jobs@ruralhome.org with “Senior Portfolio Manager” in the subject line. Applications will be considered as received.

National Self-Help Housing Conference will be Feb. 4-6.

Organizations receiving self-help funds from USDA can learn and network with other grantees and USDA RD staff at this event in Albuquerque. For more information, contact Little Dixie Community Action Agency, 580-326-5165.

Housing affordability policy symposium set for Feb. 13.

Habitat for Humanity’s Cost of Home campaign, in which HAC is an affiliate, is hosting “Local Voices Informing Federal Action: A Symposium on Home Affordability” in Washington, DC on February 13. Attendees will hear from state and local practitioners and federal policy experts focusing on four policy areas: increasing the supply and preservation of affordable homes, equitably increasing access to credit, optimizing land use for affordable homes and ensuring access to and the development of communities of opportunity. For more information, email costofhome@habitat.org.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • The 2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress from HUD says homelessness nationwide increased by 3% from 2018 to 2019, due mostly to increases in West Coast states, including a 16% rise in California. Largely rural continuums of care accounted for 18% of all homeless people in the U.S. and 41% of those in largely rural CoCs were unsheltered.
  • Census 2020: It Takes Effort to Reach People in Rural, Remote Areas describes the importance of the upcoming 2020 decennial census. The article focuses on Montana – a mostly rural state – and the $2 billion in federal funding the state receives, based primarily on census data. While 2020 is the first time most people can fill out the census form online, census takers will visit many remote rural areas in person where residents do not have internet access.
  • Cowboy Entrepreneurship: The Business Model to Invigorate Rural America in the Next Decade, an article for Forbes, argues that rural America is in prime position to take advantage of the sharing economy. According to the piece, by tapping into idle assets like unused farm equipment, rural people and communities can increase their income and unlock the potential of their existing industries.
  • Debt in America: An Interactive Map from the Urban Institute allows users to view data on various kinds of debt at the state and county level, with details for white communities and communities of color.
  • An Interactive Exploration of the Geography of Prosperity offers an online tool to evaluate a county’s vitality based on median household income, poverty rate, unemployment rates, prime-age employment rate, life expectancy and housing vacancy rate.
  • New Index Reveals the “Hidden Innovation” of Rural America describes research on business innovation, conducted by the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development at Penn State. Counties with higher innovation scores also have greater employment and income growth. A map shows counties with these high scores scattered widely across the U.S.
  • People in Jail in 2019, a study by the Vera Institute of Justice, reports that populations in local jails have been increasing over the last four years. Notably, while incarceration rates are on the decline in urban areas, they are increasing in rural jurisdictions.

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.


ICYMI: The Dec. 20 HAC News covered federal funding for FY20; NOFAs for fair housing, aid to human trafficking victims, and African American cultural heritage; final Opportunity Zones regulations; the latest on the ERS/NIFA move; and more.

HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia. This three-day advanced course trains 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. 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).

HAC News: September 9, 2019

News Formats. pdf

September 9, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 18

Administration releases housing finance reform proposal • Congress to resume work on FY20 appropriations • House will consider rural rental preservation bill • USDA offers Community Facilities grants for disaster relief • Eligibility calculations for Section 504 repair loans and grants revised • Comments requested on economic development in distressed areas • Census Bureau hiring for help with 2020 Census • Fair market rents released • USDA extends manufactured housing pilots • Vermont incentivizes local and rural job creation “Colonias Investment Areas – Texas” webinar set for September 26 • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

September 9, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 18

Administration releases housing finance reform proposal.

The Trump Administration’s proposed housing finance reform plan was released on September 5. In addition to the Treasury Department plan to release Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from government conservatorship and limit the federal role in the housing market, a separate document presents a HUD plan for FHA and Ginnie Mae. The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs has scheduled a September 10 hearing on “Housing Finance Reform: Next Steps.” HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria will be witnesses and the hearing will be webcast live.

Congress to resume work on FY20 appropriations.

The week of September 9, after the House and Senate return from their August recess, the Senate Appropriations Committee will begin to consider funding bills for FY20, which starts on October 1, 2019. Earlier this year the House developed its 12 appropriations bills and passed 10 of them, though its numbers will need to be adjusted because the summer budget deal provided a lower amount for non-defense and a higher amount for defense than the House bills assumed. The House is expected to vote the week of September 16 on a continuing resolution carrying FY19 funding levels until late November or early December. Bloomberg reports the Administration has requested a number of “anomalies” – changes in FY19 provisions to be included in a CR. No rural housing anomalies are listed, but the request does include authority for HUD to renew contracts for rental assistance to Section 202 properties for the elderly, as well as additional funding for the 2020 Census.

House will consider rural rental preservation bill.

The House of Representatives is scheduled to take up H.R. 3620, the Strategy and Investment in Rural Housing Preservation Act of 2019, on September 10, 11 or 12. The bill, which passed the House Financial Services Committee unanimously in July, would authorize the MPR and preservation technical assistance programs, authorize vouchers for tenants after a mortgage matures or is foreclosed (in addition to after prepayment), allow decoupling of Rental Assistance as a last resort, require USDA to develop a preservation plan and establish a stakeholders’ committee to advise USDA.

USDA offers Community Facilities grants for disaster relief.

Community Facilities grants will be awarded on a rolling basis to public bodies, nonprofits and tribes in rural areas impacted by FEMA-recognized natural disasters. For more information, contact a USDA Rural Development state office.

Eligibility calculations for Section 504 repair loans and grants revised.

USDA revisions to Handbook HB-1-3550, announced in Procedure Notice 527, change the methodology for determining eligibility for loan, grant and combination assistance. They also provide clarification to other program eligibility criteria including credit analysis, medical deductions, property considerations and construction contract considerations. The Section 504 program offers loans to low-income rural homeowners and grants to those who are age 62 or older. For more information, contact a local USDA Rural Development office.

Comments requested on economic development in distressed areas.

In connection with its work on the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, the Commerce Department seeks recommendations on spurring economic development in Opportunity Zones and other distressed areas. Comments are due October 18. For more information, contact Mara Quintero Campbell, 202-482-5479.

Census Bureau hiring for help with 2020 Census.

The U.S. Census Bureau needs to hire hundreds of thousands of workers to complete the upcoming census. Temporary jobs include census takers, recruiting assistants, office staff and supervisory staff, with locations throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Fair Market Rents released.

HUD has posted Fair Market Rents for FY20, effective October 1, 2019. Prices are available at the county and zip code levels for efficiency, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom and four-bedroom units.

USDA extends manufactured housing pilots.

Two pilot programs are extended through the end of August 2020. One allows the Section 502 direct and guarantee programs to finance existing manufactured homes that are not already financed by USDA. The second reduces the required land lease term for energy-efficient homes in nonprofit communities. For more information related to Section 502 direct, contact Jeremy Anderson, USDA, 202-690-3971; related to Section 502 guaranteed, contact Kevin Smith, USDA, 517-883-6147.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • South Carolina Housing Needs Assessment estimates that high housing costs in the state cost a total of $8.4 billion in public assistance, private charity or personal deprivation. The report mentions that the housing crisis looks different in rural areas, where incomes are lower.
  • #MapMonday is a weekly social media series from the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities at the University of Montana. For a new map each week related to people living with disabilities in rural America, follow RTC:Rural on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Vermont incentivizes local and rural job creation.

The Remote Worker Grant Program, which offers remote workers as much as $10,000 in payments and incentives to relocate to Vermont, has seen greater than expected participation and engagement. Since January 2019 a total of 170 people have relocated to the state as part of this program (this number includes family members that moved with the workers). The Vermont Department of Economic Development is hoping to expand on this success by offering another incentive program aimed at creating local jobs, with higher payouts for jobs created in rural communities.

Colonias Investment AreasTexas” webinar set for September 26.
HAC, in partnership with Fannie Mae, will hold a webinar presenting data and research on Colonias Investment Areas, a geographic concept developed to target strategies and opportunities for mortgage finance and resource investment in colonia communities along the southwest U.S. border. The September 26 session will focus on colonias in Texas. Recent webinars on colonias in New Mexico and Arizona are available on HAC’s YouTube channel. 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).