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HAC News: August 12, 2019

News Formats. pdf

August 12, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 16

Spending deal signed into law. •Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grants offered • HUD proposes to make disparate impact discrimination claims more difficult •Baxley departs USDA, Allen retires • Home Depot Foundation and HAC support rural veterans and local nonprofits • HAC examines the definition of colonias • Prior approval was needed to move ERS and NIFA, says USDA Inspector General • HUD to appoint monitor to oversee Puerto Rico disaster funds • RuralSTAT • Exchange Programs Bring Urban and Rural America Together • Mortgage Experiences of Rural Borrowers in the United States: Insights from the National Survey of Mortgage Originations • Where Blue-Collar America is Strongest • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

August 12, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 16

Spending deal signed into law.

On August 2 President Trump signed H.R. 3877, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, passed by the House on July 25 and the Senate on August 1. The measure raises the 2011 Budget Control Act’s spending caps for FY20 and 21, though the total for non-defense discretionary programs (which includes housing) is lower than the total approved by the House for FY20. The Senate will begin marking up its FY20 appropriations bills when it reconvenes after Labor Day.

Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grants offered.

Apply by November 4 for grants to revitalize severely distressed public and/or HUD-assisted housing properties. Eligible applicants are local governments or tribes and PHAs, nonprofits or for-profits that own HUD-assisted housing and apply jointly with local governments or tribes, whether they have received previous Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants or not. For more information, contact HUD staff.

HUD proposes to make disparate impact discrimination claims more difficult.

Politico obtained and published a proposal HUD has developed to change a 2013 regulation governing fair housing discrimination claims that are based on discriminatory impact without proof of discriminatory intent. The new provisions would require the charging party to prove several new aspects of a claim. The proposal is currently under review at OMB and is not officially available. When it is published in the Federal Register a 60-day comment period will begin.

Baxley departs USDA, Allen retires.

  • Joel Baxley, who was RHS Administrator and then Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, has left USDA. It is not clear whether USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue will name another Acting Assistant or an Under Secretary for RD. Perdue eliminated the Under Secretary position, but the 2018 Farm Bill required it be reinstated. In February, when USDA announced Baxley’s move to the Acting Assistant position, it said Perdue and the White House were working to identify an Under Secretary candidate.
  • Joyce Allen, RHS’s Deputy Administrator for Multi-Family Housing, retired at the end of June. Nancie-Ann Bodell is serving as Acting Deputy Administrator.

Home Depot Foundation and HAC support rural veterans and local nonprofits.

The Home Depot Foundation, working with HAC, has awarded a total of $300,000 to ten local nonprofits around the country to build or preserve housing for veterans in rural America. HAC CEO David Lipsetz said, “Together we build the capacity of local organizations to assist more veterans across rural America. The enduring service and sacrifice of our nation’s service women and men earns them the right to be called heroes and to have a safe and decent place to call home.”

HAC examines the definition of colonias.

In a two-part webinar series produced in partnership with Fannie Mae, HAC provided an overview of its research and analysis on defining colonias communities in New Mexico and Arizona. Both the New Mexico and Arizona webinars are now available on HAC’s YouTube channel.

Prior approval was needed to move ERS and NIFA, says USDA Inspector General.

USDA’s Inspector General conducted a review and concluded that USDA has the legal authority to relocate the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, but congressional approval was required for USDA to expend funds for the relocation. USDA’s Office of General Counsel disagrees, arguing that the law requiring approval is unconstitutional, and says the department will not request congressional consent. Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), who requested the IG investigation, issued a statement saying USDA must wait for approval.

HUD to appoint monitor to oversee Puerto Rico disaster funds.

HUD announced on August 2 it plans to appoint a Federal Financial Monitor to oversee the disbursement of disaster recovery funds to Puerto Rico, citing the territorial government’s “alleged corruption, fiscal irregularities and mismanagement.” Disaster funds for states impacted by recent storms will be released before funds for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

RuralSTAT. Between 2015 and 2017, approximately 37% of all small dollar home loans (less than $75,000) were originated in rural areas. For more data and information on mortgage lending in your community, visit HAC’s Rural Data Portal. Source: HAC tabulations of 2015-2017 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Data.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • Exchange Programs Bring Urban and Rural America Together is an article about the importance of bridging the rural-urban gap through interactions between individuals. The story describes how the Rural-Urban Exchange program in Kentucky has helped people see they have more in common than they think they do.
  • Mortgage Experiences of Rural Borrowers in the United States: Insights from the National Survey of Mortgage Originations, an article in HUD’s Cityscape magazine, reports that in 2014 mortgage borrowers in counties with urban populations under 2,500 paid slightly higher interest rates than others, were less satisfied that their mortgage was the best for their needs, and were less confident or less knowledgeable about some details of mortgages.
  • Where Blue-Collar America is Strongest dispels the myth that all rural America is suffering economic distress. As the author notes, some of the biggest increases in incomes over the last decade or so have been in rural areas. The Plains states in particular have enjoyed high income and employment numbers. This growth, much of which is attributable to energy sector expansion, is often overlooked in favor of the narrative that rural areas are all on the decline.

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: June 22, 2018

HAC News Formats. pdf

June 22, 2018
Vol. 47, No. 13

Rescission bill fails in Senate • Rents remain unaffordable at minimum wage • Harvard report addresses housing affordability • Administration proposes moving some rural housing programs to HUD • Sec. 533 Housing Preservation Grants available • Water and wastewater grants available for relending • HUD offers Jobs Plus funds • Grants available to reduce lead paint hazards • Comments invited on fair housing and disparate impact • Strategies for addressing rural homelessness offered in new report • Senate Committee and full House pass different Farm Bills •Changes proposed for construction to permanent mortgages guaranteed by USDA • Final set of Opportunity Zones announced • HUD designates EnVision Centers in 17 communities • Deadline extended for commenting on USDA regulations • Kraninger nominated to be CFPB director

HAC News Formats. pdf

June 22, 2018
Vol. 47, No. 13

Rescission bill fails in Senate.
On June 20 the Senate voted 50-48 against the Administration’s request to rescind previously appropriated funds, including $40 million from USDA’s Section 521 Rental Assistance program and additional amounts from other housing-related programs. The Senate could reconsider the bill, but is unlikely to. The House passed its version of the bill on June 7.

Rents remain unaffordable at minimum wage.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2018 Out of Reach report shows that, as has been the case for years, there is no county in the U.S. where a full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage or prevailing state minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom rental at HUD’s Fair Market Rent while working a standard 40-hour week. A full-time minimum-wage worker can afford a one-bedroom apartment in only 22 of the more than 3,000 U.S. counties. Data for each state and county is available through an interactive map.

Harvard report addresses housing affordability.
Another annual research report, the State of the Nation’s Housing, was released this week by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. It recommends collaboration among the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to tackle the conditions creating the housing affordability gap, and notes that “a more robust federal response is essential to any meaningful progress.” The report states that increases in federal assistance for renters have lagged far behind the growth in renters with very low incomes. It notes that income inequality and the inability of income growth to keep pace with the economy’s growth over the past 30 years have contributed to current affordability challenges.

Administration proposes moving some rural housing programs to HUD.
On June 21 the Trump Administration released recommendations for reorganizing federal government agencies and programs, including moving USDA’s loan guarantee and rental assistance programs to HUD. It would also privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It is not clear whether Congress will consider enacting the proposals.

Sec. 533 Housing Preservation Grants available.
A request for applications for grants to repair owner-occupied or rental housing will be published on June 25. Nonprofit, local government agencies, and tribes are eligible. Applications are due in early August. For more information, contact Bonnie Edwards-Jackson, RD, 202-690-0759.

Water and wastewater grants available for relending.
The Rural Utilities Service is offering grants to nonprofits under two programs. Household Water Well System grants can be used to create lending programs for homeowners to construct or repair household water wells. Revolving Fund Program grants establish funds that make loans to entities eligible for RUS water and wastewater programs. Applications for both programs are due July 20. For more information, contact Derek Jones, RUS, 202-720-9640.

HUD offers Jobs Plus funds.
Public housing authorities (not tribes or tribally designated housing entities) that did not receive Jobs Plus grants in 2014-2017 can apply by August 14. For more information, contact HUD staff.

Grants available to reduce lead paint hazards.
State, local, and tribal governments are eligible for Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction grants to identify and remediate lead paint in owner-occupied or rental housing. Applications are due August 2.

Comments invited on fair housing and disparate impact.
HUD is reviewing its regulation implementing the disparate impact standard – which applies the Fair Housing Act to practices with discriminatory effect even if the discrimination was not intended – to determine whether changes are appropriate based on the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling upholding the use of disparate impact analysis, the Administration’s efforts to reduce regulatory burden, or for other reasons. Comments are due August 20. For more information, contact Krista Mills, HUD, 202-402-6577.

Strategies for addressing rural homelessness offered in new report.
In Strengthening Systems for Ending Rural Homelessness: Promising Practices and Considerations, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness describes tactics such as obtaining technical assistance, partnering with service providers, developing creative outreach, identifying crisis housing options, and more.

Senate Committee and full House pass different Farm Bills.
The House Farm Bill, H.R. 2, was defeated in May but passed on June 21. The Senate Agriculture Committee approved its version, S. 3042, on June 18. The Senate bill does not contain controversial House provisions such as expanded work requirements, so after the full Senate votes (possibly before the end of June) a compromise will need to be developed.

Changes proposed for construction to permanent mortgages guaranteed by USDA.
USDA’s Rural Housing Service has proposed amendments intended to increase lenders’ willingness to use Section 502 guaranteed loans that cover both the construction and permanent mortgage phases. Along with other changes, lenders would be allowed to charge a higher interest rate for the construction phase and to escrow principal as well as other payments during construction. Comments are due August 20. For more information, contact Kate Jenson, USDA, 503-810-6855.

Final set of Opportunity Zones announced.
Opportunity Zones have now been designated in all states and territories. The IRS welcomes comments as it develops guidance on Opportunity Funds and eligible investments for taxpayers with capital gains.

HUD designates EnVision Centers in 17 communities.
The Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma is one of the locations selected for Secretary Ben Carson’s initiative, which intends to leverage public-private partnerships to connect HUD-assisted households with services and help them achieve self-sufficiency.

Deadline extended for commenting on USDA regulations.
In July 2017 USDA requested comments on improving its regulations, with a deadline of July 17, 2018. The deadline is now extended by a year to July 18, 2019. For more information, contact Michael Poe, USDA, 202-720-5303.

Kraninger nominated to be CFPB director.
President Trump has nominated Kathy Kraninger to become director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She currently works at OMB for Mick Mulvaney, who is OMB director and acting CFPB director.

HAC OFFERS GRANTS TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECTS SERVING RURAL VETERANS These grants, supported by The Home Depot Foundation, will go to nonprofits, tribally designated housing entities, and housing authorities serving veterans at or below 80% of area median income in rural areas. Projects may be new construction or rehab, temporary or permanent housing, in progress or beginning within 12 months. Applications are due July 9. For more information, contact Shonterria Charleston or Anselmo Telles.

HAC SEEKS WORKSHOP PROPOSALS.
HAC is trying something new for the 2018 Rural Housing Conference. We are looking to our constituents and partners for proposals for workshop sessions that engage participants and facilitate an active exchange of approaches and ideas to improve housing conditions for the rural poor. Check the online call for proposals and submit online by July 11. For more information, contact Mike Feinberg, 202-842-8600, or Kelly Cooney, 678- 649-3831.

SAVE THE DATE FOR THE 2018 HAC RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!
The conference will be held December 4-7 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC. The HAC News will announce when conference registration opens and when the hotel room block is available for reservations.

NOMINATE LOCAL AND NATIONAL LEADERS FOR HAC AWARDS..
HAC is now accepting nominations for its 2018 Cochran/Collings National Service and Skip Jason Community Service Leadership Awards. Nominations are due Friday July 13. The awards will be presented at the 2018 HAC Rural Housing Conference in December. Past awardees are listed on HAC’s site. Complete the online nomination form. For more information, contact Lilla Sutton, HAC, 202-842-8600.

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).