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HAC News: March 25, 2019

News Formats. pdf

March 25, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 6

Administration again proposes to eliminate many housing programs • Budget would slash ERS funding, report on proposed move not yet complete • Deadline extended for smaller PHAs to apply for Moving to Work demo • Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program will select eight rural communities • U.S. faces shortage of 7 million rental homes for extremely low-income renters • Rural student homelessness growing at almost four times the national rate • Closing digital divide could add $140 billion to U.S. economy, study says • Capitol Hill rural housing hearing rescheduled for April 2 • Local solutions go national at People & Places 2019 • HAC webinar to review Section 502 updates • HAC symposium on rural veterans’ housing and services scheduled for April in Arkansas • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

March 25, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 6

Administration again proposes to eliminate many housing programs.
The Trump Administration’s budget for fiscal year 2020, released on March 11 and 18, looks much like last year’s proposal. It would eliminate all USDA rural housing programs except Section 502 guarantees, Section 538 guarantees, Section 521 Rental Assistance, and Section 542 vouchers. It would rescind $40 million of Rental Assistance funding that is scheduled to be carried over from FY19 and institute a $50 minimum rent (with hardship exceptions) for tenants in USDA-financed properties. The budget includes no funding for HUD’s CDBG, HOME and SHOP programs and the public housing capital fund and would reduce the funding for most other HUD programs. It would eliminate the National Housing Trust Fund. Experts calculate that 140,000 HUD vouchers would be lost. Rent increases and work requirements would be imposed on tenants receiving HUD aid.

Congress is not expected to use this budget as its starting point for determining FY20 funding. The House and Senate will try to develop their own budgets to guide their appropriations bills. Legislators will also consider raising the Budget Control Act’s funding caps in order to avoid significant cuts in federal programs. Details on the Administration’s budget are on HAC’s website and a recording of HAC’s March 20 webinar on the budget proposal, which includes an explanation of the upcoming process in Congress, will be available online.

Budget would slash ERS funding, report on proposed move not yet complete.
On March 12, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced USDA has narrowed the list of 136 applicants to 67 possible new locations for the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. On the same day, USDA’s inspector general told the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee her office is working on a report considering whether the department has the legal and budgetary authority to move the agencies. The subcommittee will hold another hearing March 27 focused solely on the proposed move.

The Administration’s budget proposes to cut ERS’s funding from $86.8 million in FY19 to $60.5 million in FY20. Of that reduced amount, $15.5 million would be spent to realign and move the agency. Staff levels would be cut in half, from 329 in FY19 to 160 in FY20. The Administration proposes that ERS will discontinue “all research and statistics related to the rural economy,” as well as research on several other topics. The budget also requests $9.5 million to relocate NIFA and would cut a number of NIFA’s research programs, but that agency’s staffing level would remain steady.

Deadline extended for smaller PHAs to apply for Moving to Work demo.
The deadline is now May 13 for high-performing PHAs that administer 1,000 or fewer housing choice vouchers and public housing units to apply for HUD’s Moving to Work demonstration. Larger PHAs can apply by June 12 for a separate cohort.

Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program will select eight rural communities.
YHDP applications are due May 15. The program will support up to 25 communities, at least eight of which will be rural, to develop and implement a coordinated community approach to preventing and ending homelessness for people age 24 and under. HUD’s website offers tools to help determine the rurality of targeted places. For more information, contact Caroline Crouse, HUD, 202-402-4595.

U.S. faces shortage of 7 million rental homes for extremely low-income renters.
The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes 2019 reports a shortage of 7 million affordable and available rental homes for America’s extremely low-income renter households, those with incomes at or below the poverty level or 30% of their area median income. The study, from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, says there are fewer than four affordable and available homes for every 10 of the lowest-income households nationwide. State level data are posted as well.

Rural student homelessness growing at almost four times the national rate.
From 2014 to 2017, student homelessness increased by 3% nationwide and 11% in rural school districts. The states with the highest growth of student homelessness include Montana, Nebraska, and Minnesota. Overall, 2.1 percent of students in rural districts were homeless compared to 2.9 percent of students in non-rural districts. The Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness issued a report and several briefs on related subjects.

Closing digital divide could add $140 billion to U.S. economy, study says.
A U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, commissioned by Amazon, estimates that increased use of digital tools could add $47 billion per year to the U.S. gross domestic product. While nearly 20% of rural small businesses already generate over 80% of their revenue with online sales, the report argues that increased adoption of digital tools could add more than 360,000 jobs, increase annual revenues of rural small business by almost $85 million per year and create the greatest impact for smaller business, especially in the rural south. More information and state level data are available online.

Capitol Hill rural housing hearing rescheduled for April 2.
HAC CEO David Lipsetz will be one of the witnesses at a hearing titled “The Affordable Housing Crisis in Rural America: Assessing the Federal Response,” convened by the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance. The hearing, postponed from February, will be broadcast live online, April 2 at 2 p.m. eastern.

Local solutions go national at People & Places 2019.
HAC is a co-host of People & Places 2019 on April 15-17 in Arlington, VA. Eighteen national nonprofits have joined forces to present this national community development event. We’re raising up local solutions that advance prosperity in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. HAC has organized a workshop on April 15, 4:15-5:45 pm, titled “Rural Arts & Design: A Proven Strategy Toward Equity, Affordable Homes and Stronger Local Economies.” Learn what’s working to promote equitable development, strengthen the flow of capital, remediate blight, make places healthier and much more. Together, our networks will go to Congress to raise our voices on behalf low-income people and disinvested places. Register by April 9.

HAC webinar to review Section 502 updates.
“USDA Section 502 Loan Program Updates: USDA Handbook 1-3550 Updates from 2017-2019” is scheduled for March 27 at 2 pm eastern time. It will cover changes to the Section 502 direct loan program implemented during FY17 and 18, most of which relate to the determination and documentation of applicant assets, income and credit history. For more information, contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

HAC symposium on rural veterans’ housing and services scheduled for April in Arkansas.
HAC’s 5th Annual National Symposium on Veterans Housing Issues will be held April 18-19 at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, sponsored by the Home Depot Foundation. This year’s theme centers on addressing the critical needs around housing, homelessness and aging solutions for rural veterans, within the context of the Delta Regional Authority’s eight-state service area. There is no fee to attend, but space is limited and advance registration is required. For more information, contact Cheryl Cobbler, HAC.

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: March 16, 2017

HAC News Formats. pdf

March 16, 2017
Vol. 46, No. 6

Administration’s FY18 budget outline released • Trump orders plan for reorganizing executive branch agencies • Indian CDBG funds available • Pilot to increase nonprofit preservation of Section 515 properties took effect March 1 • HUD withdraws comment requests for LGBTQ youth and gender nonconforming people • Congressional committee reviews National Flood Insurance Program • Report makes case for increased federal investments in affordable housing • Research finds large shifts in income for many, and associated financial strain • Upcoming Webinars on the Federal Budget

HAC News Formats. pdf

March 16, 2017
Vol. 46, No. 6

Administration’s FY18 budget outline released. The Trump Administration’s preliminary budget proposal, named America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again, summarizes parts of a longer proposal to be issued in May. Final funding decisions will need to be passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. The outline does not specifically mention USDA’s Rural Housing Service or rural housing programs. It does, however, propose to reduce USDA’s overall funding by 21% and HUD’s by 13.2%. It would eliminate CDBG, HOME, SHOP, Weatherization Assistance, LIHEAP, CSBG, and most of the CDFI Fund’s monies. Rural water and wastewater loans and grants would be zeroed out, along with Rural Business-Cooperative Service discretionary activities, and USDA Service Centers would see staffing reductions. HUD’s lead hazard control funding would be increased from $110 million to $130 million. VA programs for homeless and at-risk veterans and their families would be supported, as would opioid treatment and prevention. Among the 19 independent agencies slated for elimination are the Corporation for National and Community Service (which runs AmeriCorps), the Legal Services Corporation, the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (NeighborWorks® America), and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, as well as several regional entities: the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Delta Regional Authority, the Denali Commission, and the Northern Border Regional Commission. Rural areas would also be impacted by termination of federal support for Amtrak’s long distance train services and by the repercussions of numerous Administration policies.Visit HAC’s website for more information and a statement on the budget.

Trump orders plan for reorganizing executive branch agencies. An Executive Order dated March 13 requires agency heads to submit reorganization plans to OMB by mid-September 2017. OMB must publish a Federal Register notice inviting public comment. By mid-March 2018, OMB will compile a proposed plan including, “as appropriate, recommendations to eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs, and to merge functions.”

Indian CDBG funds available. Tribal governments and other tribal organizations can apply by May 18. For more information, contact Frederick J. Griefer, HUD, 202-402-5186.

Pilot to increase nonprofit preservation of Section 515 properties took effect March 1. The pilot, announced in September 2016 (see HAC News, 11/3/16), will run for two years, allowing some incentives to recognize return on investment capital that have not been previously available to nonprofits. For more information, contact a USDA RD State Office.

HUD withdraws comment requests for LGBTQ youth and gender nonconforming people. Saying it will review the need for them, HUD has withdrawn two information collection notices. One is related to analyzing the effectiveness of the LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative. The other accompanies a new regulation allowing people access to single-sex shelters in accordance with their gender identity (see HAC News, 9/22/16). For more information, contact Norm Suchar, HUD, 202-708-4300.

Congressional committee reviews National Flood Insurance Program. The House Financial Services Committee’s Housing and Insurance Subcommittee held hearings March 9 and March 14 on updating and reauthorizing the NFIP, which expires September 30.

Report makes case for increased federal investments in affordable housing. A Place to Call Home, published by the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding, highlights how federal investments in affordable housing and community development have a positive impact on low-income households and the U.S. economy. Some of the success stories in the report are from rural places.

Research finds large shifts in income for many, and associated financial strain. The Pew Charitable Trusts found 34% of U.S. families surveyed had income increases or decreases of at least 25% from 2014 to 2015. While incomes were volatile in all population segments, volatility was higher for some: 38% of families with incomes below $25,000 experienced a gain and 15% a loss, while 20% of Hispanic households, 18% of black households, and 20% of those with a high school diploma or less experienced an income loss. Families with volatile incomes, both gains and losses, reported lower financial well-being and less savings than those with stable income.

Upcoming Webinars on the Federal Budget

March 20, sponsored by the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding: Register here to learn more about the budget proposal and how to help address its proposed funding cuts.

March 30, the National Housing Conference’s annual budget forum: Register here for the National Housing Conference’s annual budget forum, a nonpartisan, interactive session.

HAC News: March 2, 2017

HAC News Formats. pdf

February 2, 2017
Vol. 46, No. 5

Trump FY18 budget outline expected March 16 • Senate approves Ben Carson as HUD Secretary • Task forces forming to consider reducing regulations • CDFI funds offered, including for CDFIs serving Native American communities • Comments sought on standards for federal data on race and ethnicity • Research shows severity of affordable housing shortage for lowest-income renters • New data on U.S. farmworkers published • HUD offers Manufactured Home Dispute Resolution Program • Duty to Serve overview video posted • Webinar, March 6: “How President Trump’s First Budget Could Impact Affordable Housing”

HAC News Formats. pdf

March 2, 2017
Vol. 46, No. 5

Trump FY18 budget outline expected March 16. The Administration wants to keep the 2011 Budget Control Act spending caps, but change the requirement that cuts in defense and non-defense funding must be proportional. It will request a $54 billion (10%) increase in defense spending. To stay under the cap, the same amount would have to be cut from non-defense funding; that calculation does not take account of tax cuts, deficit reduction, and mandatory spending on programs like Social Security. A more detailed budget proposal will be released in May.

Senate approves Ben Carson as HUD Secretary. The Senate confirmed Carson on March 2 by a 58-41 vote. The Senate Agriculture Committee has not yet scheduled a hearing on Sonny Perdue’s nomination to be USDA Secretary.

Task forces forming to consider reducing regulations. In a February 24 Executive Order, President Trump expanded on his January 30 Executive Order requiring elimination of two existing regulations for each new one (see HAC News, 2/2/17). The head of each agency is required to designate a Regulatory Reform Officer and create a Regulatory Reform Task Force to evaluate existing regulations and recommend repeal, replacement, or change. Each task force must seek input from stakeholders. Each task force must report to its agency head within 90 days.

CDFI funds offered, including for CDFIs serving Native American communities. The CDFI Program makes Financial Assistance awards (in the form of loans, grants, equity investments, deposits, or credit union shares) to Certified CDFIs and Technical Assistance grants to Certified, Certifiable, and Emerging CDFIs to build their organizational capacity. The Native American CDFI Program offers the same to CDFIs serving Native communities. For each program, the application process has two steps with deadlines of March 24 and April 28. For more information, contact the CDFI Fund Help Desk, 202-653-0421.

Comments sought on standards for federal data on race and ethnicity. OMB requests comments by May 1 on a report drafted by a federal interagency working group suggesting revisions to OMB’s Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. The standards are used in the decennial census, other surveys, forms such as mortgage applications, and more. This notice lists specific questions, including whether to add a “Middle Eastern or North African” classification and what sub-categories to use for American Indian or Alaska Native, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, and other major classifications. For more information, contact Jennifer Park, OMB.

Research shows severity of affordable housing shortage for lowest-income renters. The GAP: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, released March 2 by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, reports there are only 35 affordable and available units for every 100 extremely low-income renter households nationwide, and 71% of ELI renters are severely cost-burdened, spending more than half their income on rent and utilities. ELI renters are those with incomes below 30% of area median or below the poverty level, whichever is higher. The report includes recommendations for better targeting of federal housing expenditures, including reform of the mortgage interest deduction and Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

New data on U.S. farmworkers published. Findings from the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) 2013-2014: A Demographic and Employment Profile of United States Farmworkers, recently released by the Department of Labor, covers housing as well as other topics. Thirteen percent of all farmworkers surveyed lived free in employer-provided housing. Among all those who paid for housing, 74% paid less than $600 per month, but the report does not compare rent to income. Those without work authorization were less likely than authorized workers to live in single-family homes, and more likely to live in mobile homes (23% and 15% respectively) or apartments (23% and 11%). Migrant workers lived in crowded dwellings more often than settled workers (40% compared to 29%), and unauthorized workers were twice as likely as authorized workers to be overcrowded (41% and 21%). Nationwide, only 3.3% of homes are overcrowded.

HUD offers Manufactured Home Dispute Resolution Program. The program resolves disputes between manufacturers, retailers, and installers when the parties cannot agree on a solution to a construction and/or safety defect within the first year of the first installation of a manufactured home. HUD’s DRP functions in 24 states; the other 26 have state programs. For more information visit https://www.huddrp.net, email info@huddrp.net, or call 571-882-2928.

Duty to Serve overview video posted. The three-minute video covers the basics of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve program. Data and other tools from the Federal Housing Finance Agency are also available online.

Webinar, March 6: “How President Trump’s First Budget Could Impact Affordable Housing” The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding will hold a webinar on Monday, March 6 at 3-4:00 Eastern time, about the significant threats facing affordable housing and community development programs, including USDA rural housing, and how you can help protect them. At the webinar, CHCDF will also launch a new report and new information tools, including factsheets, sample op-eds, and statewide data on the economic impact of HUD and USDA rural housing investments

HAC News: January 8, 2014

HAC News Formats. pdf

January 8, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 1

• “War on poverty” declared 50 years ago • Congress facing budget deadline • 2015 budget likely to be late • Senate committee approves NAHASDA reauthorization • Watt sworn in at FHFA • USDA proposes nondiscrimination changes • Final rule provides exemptions from appraisals for high-cost mortgages • CFPB issues final rule on mortgage disclosures • CFPB seeks help improving closings • Conducting Homeless Counts on Native American Lands: A Toolkit – Webinar


January 8, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 1

“WAR ON POVERTY” DECLARED 50 YEARS AGO. In his first State of the Union address on January 8, 1964, just seven weeks after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, President Lyndon Johnson announced: “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America. I urge this Congress and all Americans to join with me in that effort. It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won. . . . Poverty is a national problem, requiring improved national organization and support. But this attack, to be effective, must also be organized at the State and the local level. . . . For the war against poverty will not be won here in Washington. It must be won in the field, in every private home, in every public office, from the courthouse to the White House.” HAC is honored to work with the rural housers who continue to strive towards this goal.

CONGRESS FACING BUDGET DEADLINE. Congress is back in session this week after the holidays. House and Senate appropriators are working to reach agreement on and pass a final 2014 omnibus spending bill before January 15, when the current stopgap continuing resolution expires. Another short-term CR could be needed to avoid a second government shutdown while negotiations continue. Details of the omnibus package are not expected to be revealed until shortly before consideration by the full House and Senate. The overall budget cap for FY14 is $1.012 trillion. Both houses have decided, but have not made public, how that total will be divided among federal agencies. Also yet to be decided is an extension of the federal government’s borrowing authority, which expires February 7. That may be the next showdown.

2015 BUDGET LIKELY TO BE LATE. The Administration’s request for FY15 spending may not be released until a month or so after its due date in early February. The compromise budget agreement completed in December (H.J. Res. 59) set a 2015 overall budget of $1.014 trillion.

SENATE COMMITTEE APPROVES NAHASDA REAUTHORIZATION. On December 18, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approved S. 1352, the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2013. A companion bill has not yet been introduced in the House.

WATT SWORN IN AT FHFA. Former Representative Mel Watt (D-NC) was sworn in on January 6 as head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Bank system. FHFA may now move forward on some stalled initiatives. Particularly important for rural areas would be adoption of regulations implementing a provision of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 that imposes on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a “duty to serve” three specific underserved markets – rural areas, affordable housing preservation, and manufactured housing. Watt could also require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to begin contributing funds to the National Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund.

USDA PROPOSES NONDISCRIMINATION CHANGES. Comments are due January 27 on a proposed regulation on nondiscrimination in USDA programs and activities. Changes would require collection of data voluntarily provided by participants (already collected by RD), mandate use of alternative dispute resolution services, and add protection against discrimination based on political beliefs and gender identity. Contact Anna Stroman, USDA, 202-205-5953.

FINAL RULE PROVIDES EXEMPTIONS FROM APPRAISALS FOR HIGH-COST MORTGAGES. A regulation issued by the agencies that oversee mortgage lenders exempts streamlined refinances and transactions of $25,000 or less from a provision requiring appraisals for higher-risk mortgages. Loans on manufactured homes will be exempt until July 18, 2015 and then will vary depending on circumstances. Contact Robert L. Parson, OCC, 202-649-6423.

CFPB ISSUES FINAL RULE ON MORTGAGE DISCLOSURES. The Consumer Financial Protection Board has established new disclosure requirements and forms for most consumer mortgage transactions, effective August 1, 2015. The rule also provides guidance on compliance and includes copies of forms in English and Spanish. Contact CFPB’s Office of Regulations, 202-435-7700.

CFPB SEEKS HELP IMPROVING CLOSINGS. Comments, including answers to specific questions, can be submitted by February 7 on key consumer “pain points” associated with mortgage closings and ways to address them through market innovations and technology. Contact Monica Jackson, CFPB, 202-435-7275. [tdborder][/tdborder]

CONDUCTING HOMELESS COUNTS ON NATIVE AMERICAN LANDS: A TOOLKIT
Webinar, February 19, 2014, 2:00 pm (EST)
Presented by HAC, this webinar highlights strategies for Native American communities to conduct homeless counts on their lands. Topics include outreach, engagement, survey planning and implementation, and funding.

HAC News: December 18, 2013

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 18, 2013
Vol. 42, No. 24

• Congress completes budget deal, with appropriations up next • New Rural Housing Service Administrator named • Senate confirms Watt for FHFA • USDA receives RA funds • Sec. 502 guarantee regulations proposed • Guidance updated on refinancing with Section 502 guaranteed loans • Deadline extended to submit homebuyer education packages to USDA • HUD releases FY14 income limits • Manufactured home standards revised • Harvard reports record levels of renter affordability problems • Report finds little improvement in farmworker conditions • Census tool maps data at local level • Rental Assistance funding explained in new HAC publication


December 18, 2013
Vol. 42, No. 24

CONGRESS COMPLETES BUDGET DEAL, WITH APPROPRIATIONS UP NEXT. On December 12 by a 332-94 vote the House approved H.J. Res. 59, a bipartisan agreement setting an overall budget framework, and the Senate passed it 64-36 on December 18. The agreement averts deep cuts under sequestration and sets top-line budget levels for fiscal 2014 and 2015. Spending levels for individual programs have yet to be established. Before the current continuing resolution expires January 15, appropriators must use the new template to craft their final 2014 bills. The Agriculture and Transportation-HUD bills could be included in an omnibus wrap-up law. Other more contentious appropriations measures, such as the Labor-HHS bill, will likely end up in a year-long continuing resolution for 2014.

NEW RURAL HOUSING SERVICE ADMINISTRATOR NAMED. Tony Hernandez started work December 16 as the new head of USDA’s Rural Housing Service. Most recently Director of the Division of Local Government for the State of Colorado, Hernandez also worked for Fannie Mae as Director of the Colorado Community Business Center, was a HUD Regional Administrator during the Clinton years, and served in the Colorado legislature. He is a graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University, the University of Denver School of Social Work, and Colorado State University.

SENATE CONFIRMS WATT FOR FHFA. Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) was confirmed on December 10 to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Bank system.

USDA RECEIVES RA FUNDS. USDA now has funds it expects will be sufficient to continue to fund and renew any expiring RA agreements through January. The agency will waive late fees for borrowers who may have been charged for late December mortgage payments. See HAC News, 12/4/13.

SEC. 502 GUARANTEE REGULATIONS PROPOSED. Comments are due January 8 on an interim final rule intended to make the program easier to use. The rule is scheduled to take effect September 1, 2014. Contact Debra Terrell, RD, 202-720-1452.

GUIDANCE UPDATED ON REFINANCING WITH SECTION 502 GUARANTEED LOANS. USDA RD Administrative Notice 4738 provides updated instructions, including new eligibility requirements, for refinancing Section 502 direct or guaranteed loans with guaranteed loans. Contact an RD office.

DEADLINE EXTENDED TO SUBMIT HOMEBUYER EDUCATION PACKAGES TO USDA. Online counseling programs may now be sent to RD by December 31 to be considered for use by first-time homebuyers receiving Section 502 direct loans. (See HAC News, 9/25/13.) Contact Shantelle Gordon, RD, 202-205-9567.

HUD RELEASES FY14 INCOME LIMITS. The figures for each county and metropolitan area are used to determine eligibility for a number of programs.

MANUFACTURED HOME STANDARDS REVISED. HUD’s final rule amends a variety of provisions of the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. It does not include provisions on energy efficiency or maximum formaldehyde emissions standards for flooring. Contact Henry S. Czauski, HUD, 202-708-6409.

HARVARD REPORTS RECORD LEVELS OF RENTER AFFORDABILITY PROBLEMS. America’s Rental Housing: Evolving Markets and Needs, released by the Joint Center for Housing Studies, states that erosion in renter incomes has pushed the number of cost-burdened households to record levels, and aid has not kept pace. Among the striking findings: from 2001 to 2011 nonmetro areas permanently lost 8.1% of their rental units, compared to losses of 5.7% in central cities and 4.7% in suburbs.

REPORT FINDS LITTLE IMPROVEMENT IN FARMWORKER CONDITIONS. The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act of 1983 was intended to improve working and living conditions for farmworkers in the U.S. According to Unfinished Harvest: The Agricultural Worker Protection Act at 30, published by Farmworker Justice, “Overwhelmingly, farmworker advocates agree that AWPA has not resulted in a demonstrable improvement in farmworker conditions. . . . [Along with other problems,] farmworkers still typically live in over-crowded and substandard housing, rarely visited by government inspectors.” The report recommends improvements in the law and in enforcement.

CENSUS TOOL MAPS DATA AT LOCAL LEVEL. The new Census Explorer uses updated statistics from the 2008-2012 American Community Survey. It allows users to map out social, economic, and housing characteristics for a state, county, or census tract and to see how they have changed since the 1990 and 2000 censuses.

RENTAL ASSISTANCE FUNDING EXPLAINED IN NEW HAC PUBLICATION. “As Overall Program Funding for USDA Rural Development Shrinks, the Need for Rental Assistance has Grown” briefly covers the recent history of RA funding increases and makes projections for FY14.

HAC News: December 4, 2013

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 4, 2013
Vol. 42, No. 23

• Budget conference committee may develop two-year plan • USDA expects to have RA funds soon • RA shortfall later in FY14 will be bigger than last year’s • Continuum of Care funds offered • HUD opens new student design and planning competition • Difficult Development Areas announced for 2014 • VA proposes regulations for Home Improvements and Structural Alterations program • HUD finds continued decline in homelessness • Regulators adopt revised CRA questions and answers • Online mapping tool shows race and ethnicity in U.S. places • Rural seniors’ housing covered in Rural Voices magazine


December 4, 2013
Vol. 42, No. 23

BUDGET CONFERENCE COMMITTEE MAY DEVELOP TWO-YEAR PLAN. While the federal government operates under a continuing resolution through January 15, a House-Senate budget conference committee is to report out an overall budget template by December 13. Then the appropriations committees will produce agency bills, an omnibus spending bill, or a CR for the remainder of FY14. Also looming is another round of sequester cuts. Congressional Quarterly and Politico report that the conference committee is focusing on a limited plan to finish 2014 and cover all of 2015. It would include some relief from the sequester, a two-year discretionary spending template for appropriators, and possible fee-based revenue increases.

USDA EXPECTS TO HAVE RA FUNDS SOON. Some confusion occurred in November when USDA RD informed field staff that it had used up its Rental Assistance funding under the CR. In FY13, USDA used 22% of the $837 million annual RA appropriation between October 1 and January 15, so OMB released the same amount this year. In FY14, however, because FY13 September contracts were renewed after October 1 and some long-term contracts also needed to be renewed, USDA expects to need 52% of $837 million by January 15. OMB has the authority to release the full 52% during the term of the CR and is expected to approve USDA’s request to do so. When the funding becomes available, contracts that expired but were on hold awaiting funds will be renewed and paid retroactively.

RA SHORTFALL LATER IN FY14 WILL BE BIGGER THAN LAST YEAR’S. USDA faces increased demand for Section 521 Rental Assistance funds this year for three reasons, possibly four. First, contracts for about 15,000 units were held over from September and renewed using FY14 funds. Second, about 26,000 long-term RA contracts will expire this year and must be renewed for one-year terms. Contracts covering a total of 39,382 units, created over two decades ago for terms of 20 years or longer, had enough funding to last far beyond their original terms. HAC calculates that $105 million will be needed to renew the additional 26,000 units in 2014 and eventually a total of $160.4 million will be needed for all 39,382. Third, if RA funding for the rest of the fiscal year continues at the same level as FY13, it will again fall short by another approximately 15,000 units. A final possible threat will come if sequestration is not changed for 2014; USDA would have to cut some of its spending, and there are not yet any indications where those cuts might take place. More background is provided in a new Rural Research Note from HAC, “As Overall Program Funding for USDA/Rural Development Shrinks, the Need for Rental Assistance is Growing.” Additional papers and updates will be posted at https://ruralhome.org as available.

CONTINUUM OF CARE FUNDS OFFERED. Applications must be submitted through e-snaps by February 3. Con-tact a HUD field office or submit a question through the OneCPD website.

HUD OPENS NEW STUDENT DESIGN AND PLANNING COMPETITION. Teams of graduate students will develop plans for a site owned by a PHA, including architectural designs, neighborhood planning, and financial plans. Teams may begin registering now. Contact Claire Desjardins, HUD, 202-402-5945.

DIFFICULT DEVELOPMENT AREAS ANNOUNCED FOR 2014. Lists of DDAs and Qualified Census Tracts (the April 20, 2012 QCT designations remain in effect) are posted at https://www.huduser.org/datasets/qct.html. Contact Michael K. Hollar, HUD, 202-402-5878.

VA PROPOSES REGULATIONS FOR HOME IMPROVEMENTS AND STRUCTURAL ALTERATIONS PROGRAM. HISA funds necessary home improvements and alterations for disabled veterans. Comments are due January 21. Contact Shayla Mitchell, VA, 202-461-0366.

HUD FINDS CONTINUED DECLINE IN HOMELESSNESS. Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness, Part 1 of HUD’s 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, reports a reduction of 3.8% since 2012 and 6.1% since 2010. Data are aggregated by state and by Continuum of Care.

REGULATORS ADOPT REVISED CRA QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS. The federal agencies that regulate lenders subject to the Community Reinvestment Act made some changes in the interpretive questions and answers that were proposed in March (see HAC News, 3/21/13).

ONLINE MAPPING TOOL SHOWS RACE AND ETHNICITY IN U.S. PLACES. Using 2010 Census data, the Racial Dot Map, provided by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, provides color-coded dots for each person in each census block, showing population density and integration/segregation.

RURAL SENIORS’ HOUSING COVERED IN RURAL VOICES MAGAZINE. The fall issue of HAC’s quarterly magazine is titled “Filling the Gaps: Creating Housing Options for Seniors in Rural Communities.” One print subscription per organization is free from Dan Stern, HAC 202-842-8600.

HAC News: April 3, 2013

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 3, 2013
Vol. 42, No. 7

• April is Fair Housing Month • Budget release set for April 10 • HUD offers funds for Choice Neighborhoods and fair housing programs • Rules proposed for Rural Housing Stability Assistance Program • USDA limits post-foreclosure collections • Guidance issued on grandfathered rural definition • Metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas revised • Daily Yonder series considers 50,000 population threshold for defining rural • Tonsager leaving USDA • All HUD offices to close for seven days • Section 538 industry forums scheduled • Sequestration could cut 140,000 Section 8 vouchers • Indian Housing Development Handbook updated • HAC responds to Reuters criticism of Section 502 guarantee program •


April 3, 2013
Vol. 42, No. 7

APRIL IS FAIR HOUSING MONTH. HUD has launched a national media campaign to educate people about the Fair Housing Act. To file a complaint visit HUD’s website or call 1-800-669-9777, or use HUD’s fair housing discrimination app for iPhone and iPad.

BUDGET RELEASE SET FOR APRIL 10. The Obama Administration’s budget for FY14 will be released April 10. HAC will post information and analyses at ruralhome.org as early as possible that day.

HUD OFFERS FUNDS FOR CHOICE NEIGHBORHOODS AND FAIR HOUSING PROGRAMS. PHAs, tribal entities, local governments, nonprofits, and for-profits applying with a public entity are eligible to apply for Choice Neighborhoods Planning grants by May 28; contact HUD staff, choiceneighborhoods@hud.gov. Eligibility for Fair Housing Initiatives Program funds varies by component; apply by June 11. Fair housing enforcement organizations and nonprofits can apply by April 22 for Fair Housing Organization Initiative Continuing Development funds. The contact for all the fair housing programs is Myron P. Newry, HUD, 202-402-7095.

RULES PROPOSED FOR RURAL HOUSING STABILITY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM. RHSP, a new HUD program, was authorized by the 2009 HEARTH Act to help address rural homelessness. The grants are intended for counties, who may designate nonprofits or local governments as applicants. The proposed rule would create a new definition of “rural.” It would also revise HUD’s definition of “chronically homeless.” Comments are due May 28. Contact Ann Marie Oliva, HUD, 202-708-4300.

USDA LIMITS POST-FORECLOSURE COLLECTIONS. After critical coverage by the Wall Street Journal and CBS News, RD has decided to stop collecting its losses from Section 502 direct and guaranteed borrowers who lose their homes to foreclosure. The agency will not drop collection efforts that have already begun, however, and will also pursue borrowers whom it believes have the resources to repay government losses. More details are provided in a press release from HAC and the National Housing Law Project and in a second Wall Street Journal article.

GUIDANCE ISSUED ON GRANDFATHERED RURAL DEFINITION. USDA RD issued Administrative Notice 4711 on March 28, explaining that community facilities, business, and utilities programs must apply 2010 Census data to area eligibility determinations as of March 27, but the final FY13 appropriations bill delays the change for housing programs until September 30 (see HAC News, 3/21/13). The housing programs will base area eligibility on pre-2010 Census determinations, including grandfathering, for applications that are complete by September 30, 2013 or filed in response to NOFAs published by September 30, 2013, provided that funds are obligated by December 31, 2013 or the agency administrator grants a waiver. For more information, contact an RD office.

METROPOLITAN AND MICROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREAS REVISED. An Office of Management and Budget bulletin lists new area delineations. HAC’s initial analysis will be posted online soon.

DAILY YONDER SERIES CONSIDERS 50,000 POPULATION THRESHOLD FOR DEFINING RURAL. The online rural news site has published three commentaries examining USDA RD’s recent recommendation (see HAC News, 3/6/13) to increase the size of places eligible for its non-housing programs, and welcomes additional submissions.

TONSAGER LEAVING USDA. Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager has resigned. An official statement does not indicate his future plans.

ALL HUD OFFICES TO CLOSE FOR SEVEN DAYS. HUD has posted frequently asked questions on its sequestration information page, explaining that virtually all HUD staff will be furloughed and offices closed on seven days between May and August. The exact dates will be posted online when available.

SECTION 538 INDUSTRY FORUMS SCHEDULED. USDA will hold phone or web meetings about the guaranteed rental program in July and November. To receive announcements by email, contact Monica Cole, RD, 202-720-1251.

SEQUESTRATION COULD CUT 140,000 SECTION 8 VOUCHERS. A new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities paper, “Sequestration Could Deny Rental Assistance to 140,000 Families: Cuts Come at a Time of Rising Need for Housing Assistance and Will Exacerbate Homelessness,” notes that thousands of others could face rent increases. A CBPP blog post summarizing the report is also online.

INDIAN HOUSING DEVELOPMENT HANDBOOK UPDATED. The 2013 version of the National American Indian Housing Coalition’s guide covers planning, funding sources, homeownership strategies, and a summary of relevant Indian law.

HAC RESPONDS TO REUTERS CRITICISM OF SECTION 502 GUARANTEE PROGRAM. HAC’s analysis of Reuters’ article (see HAC News, 3/21/13) is available on HAC’s site and on Shelterforce magazine’s Rooflines blog.