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HAC News: April 2, 2014

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 2, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 7

• April is National Fair Housing Month • House subcommittee hearing on FY15 RD budget set for Friday • Waters proposes GSE reform bill • USDA offers Household Water Well System grants • Deadline extended for RD environmental rules comments • NLIHC report confirms housing costs still out of reach • GAO addresses tribes’ housing challenges • New index shows wide opportunity gap for children of different races/ethnicities • Report stresses home- and community-based services for seniors • Rural housing and youth spotlighted in Rural Voices • HAC training “Housing for Seniors and Veterans in Rural America”

April 2, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 7

APRIL IS NATIONAL FAIR HOUSING MONTH. HUD offers information for download and a press release.

HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING ON FY15 RD BUDGET SET FOR FRIDAY. At 10:00 a.m. Eastern time on April 4, USDA Rural Development officials will testify on the Administration’s FY15 budget request before the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. The hearing will be webcast. Updates will be posted on HAC’s site.

WATERS PROPOSES GSE REFORM BILL. On March 27 Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, released a discussion draft of a bill that would replace Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a lender cooperative and would fund the National Housing Trust Fund. It would also replace the affordable housing goals, instead requiring the cooperative to “facilitate” service to all income levels, including borrowers in underserved urban and rural markets. There are also two proposals in the Senate (see HAC News, 3/19/14) and H.R. 2767, introduced by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), which passed the House Committee in July 2013 (see HAC News, 8/1/13).

USDA OFFERS HOUSEHOLD WATER WELL SYSTEM GRANTS. Nonprofits can use these funds to establish lending programs for homeowners, who can borrow up to $11,000 to construct or repair household water wells for existing homes. This year’s competition will give points to high-poverty places and to colonias or substantially underserved trust areas. Deadline is May 27. Contact Joyce M. Taylor, RUS, 202-720-9589.

DEADLINE EXTENDED FOR RD ENVIRONMENTAL RULES COMMENTS. Comments on environmental policies and procedures are now due May 7 instead of April 7. (See HAC News, 2/5/14.) Contact Mark S. Plank, RD, 202-720-1649.

NLIHC REPORT CONFIRMS HOUSING COSTS STILL OUT OF REACH. The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual Out of Reach report, prepared with HAC assistance for nonmetro data, shows a gap remains between rural rent and rural renters’ incomes. NLIHC estimates that the average hourly wage for nonmetro renters nationwide is $10.24, which falls $3 short of the Housing Wage necessary to afford a two-bedroom home at HUD’s Fair Market Rent. The nonmetro Housing Wage is out of reach for those earning the average renter wage in all but two states (Alaska and North Dakota), though the gap is very small in four other states (Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Wyoming). The report and data for states, counties, and metro areas are online, as is a HAC Rural Research Note.

GAO ADDRESSES TRIBES’ HOUSING CHALLENGES. Native American Housing: Additional Actions Needed to Better Support Tribal Efforts, GAO-14-255, is based on site visits, interviews, and sources including HAC. It states that challenges tribes face in their use of Indian Housing Block Grant funds are “largely related to remoteness and other geographical factors, land use regulations, lack of adequate infrastructure, differing federal agency requirements, potential reduction in training opportunities and program support, limited administrative capacity, conflict within tribes, and cultural factors.” GAO recommends changes such as federal agency coordination of environmental impact requirements.

NEW INDEX SHOWS WIDE OPPORTUNITY GAP FOR CHILDREN OF DIFFERENT RACES/ETHNICITIES. Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Childrencompiles indicators on health, education, family environment, and neighborhood poverty into a single index and presents results for each state. Nationally, Asian/Pacific Islander and White children have far higher index scores than Latino and Native American children, and African-American children have the lowest. At the state level, the lowest scores were among American Indian children in South Dakota. Scores vary across states for all groups, but the range of scores is widest for American Indian children and narrowest for Latino children.

REPORT STRESSES HOME- AND COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES FOR SENIORS. Aging in Every Place: Supportive Service Programs for High and Low Density Communities says such services are a cost-effective way to help older adults maintain their quality of life as they age in their homes. Published by the Center for Housing Policy at the National Housing Conference, the report notes that successful programs in rural places often offer transportation, use existing community centers, or bring services to the homes of those who are unable to travel.

RURAL HOUSING AND YOUTH SPOTLIGHTED IN RURAL VOICES. Looking to the Future: Housing and Youth in Rural America is the latest issue of HAC’s magazine. Sign up online for email notices when new issues are published, or request one free print subscription per organization from Dan Stern, HAC, 202-842-8600.

JOIN HAC APRIL 22-23 FOR “HOUSING SENIORS AND VETERANS IN RURAL AMERICA: PRESERVATION, DEVELOPMENT, AND SERVICES,” held in Phoenix, AZ. The agenda, targeted to rural housing providers, will feature discussions of federal and other housing programs for veterans and the aging, including home repair, rental housing, and services for the homeless. Successful best practices will be featured. Register online.

HAC News: March 5, 2014

HAC News Formats. pdf

March 5, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 5

• For USDA housing, budget proposes minimum rents and new limits on Rental Assistance • HUD budget proposes some cuts, some increases • FY14 HUD NOFAs’ general section issued, includes transportation emphasis • Section 811 Project Rental Assistance funds offered • Housing counseling funds available • RD implements Violence Against Women Act changes • Section 184 fee increased, regulations revised • EPA proposes expanded pesticide protection for farmworkers

March 5, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 5

FOR USDA HOUSING, BUDGET PROPOSES MINIMUM RENTS AND NEW LIMITS ON RENTAL ASSISTANCE. On March 4 the Obama Administration released its budget proposal for FY15. Many of the USDA rural housing programs would be funded at the same level as in FY14. Differences include decreases in Section 502 direct loans and Section 523 self-help housing; as it has in past budgets, the Administration states it would rely on the Section 502 and 538 guarantee programs to finance single- and multifamily housing. Significant changes are proposed for the Section 521 Rental Assistance program. RA recipients would be required to pay a minimum rent of $50 per month unless exempted because of hardship. RA contracts would not automatically be renewed, and USDA would determine whether projects needed renewed RA.

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USDA Rural Devel. Prog.
(dollars in millions)

FY13
Approp.a

FY14
Approp.

FY15
Admin. Budget

502 Single Fam. Direct
Self-Help setaside

$900
5

$900
5

$360
0

502 Single Family Guar.

24,000

24,000

24,000

504 VLI Repair Loans

28

26.3

26.3

504 VLI Repair Grants

29.5

28.7

25

515 Rental Hsg. Direct Loans

31.3

28.4

28.4

514 Farm Labor Hsg. Loans

20.8

23.9

23.9

516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grants

7.1

8.3

8.3

521 Rental Assistance
Preservation RA setaside
New Cnstr. 515 RA setaside
New Cnstr. 514/516 RA setaside

907.1
0
0
3

1,110
0
0
0

1,089
0
0
0

523 Self-Help TA

30

25

10

533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants

3.6

3.5

0

538 Rental Hsg. Guar.

150

150

150

Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR)

17.8

20

20

Rental Prsrv. Revlg. Lns.

0

0

0

542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers

10

12.6

8

Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init.

6.1

6

0

a Figures shown do not include 5% sequester or 2.5% across the board cut.

HUD BUDGET PROPOSES SOME CUTS, SOME INCREASES. HUD programs such as homeless assistance, public housing operating and capital funds, Section 202 housing for seniors, Section 811 housing for the disabled, tenant-based rental assistance, fair housing, housing counselling, and lead hazard control all have proposed increases. The Housing Trust Fund would receive $1.0 billion. Community Development Block Grants and HOME would be cut, and small rural programs are zeroed out. The Rural Innovation Fund and its predecessor, the Rural Housing and Economic Development program, are not mentioned at all. As was proposed for FY14, the SHOP program would receive an appropriation of $10 million, but only as a setaside within HOME (which would be cut).

HUD Program
(dollars in millions)

FY13
Approp.a

FY14
Approp.

FY15
Admin. Budget

Cmty. Devel. Fund
CDBG
Sustainable Commun. Init.
Rural Innovation Fund

3,308
2,948
0
0

3,100
3,030
0
0

2,870
2,800
0
0

HOME
SHOP setaside

1,000
b

1,000
b

950
10

Self-Help Homeownshp. (SHOP)

13.5

10

c

Tenant-Based Rental Asstnce.
VASH setaside

18,939.4
75

19,177.2
75

20,100
75

Project-Based Rental Asstnce.

9,339.7

9,516.6

9,346

Public Hsg. Capital Fund

1,886

1,875

1,925

Public Hsg. Operating Fund

4,262

4,400

4,600

Choice Neighbrhd. Initiative

120

90

120

Housing Trust Fund

d

d

1,000

Native Amer. Hsg. Block Grant

650

650

650

Homeless Assistance Grants

2,033

2,105

2,406.4

Rural Hsg. Stability Prog.

e

e

e

Hsg. Opps. for Persons w/ AIDS

334

330

332

202 Hsg. for Elderly

377

385.3

440

811 Hsg. for Disabled

165

126

160

Fair Housing

70.8

66

71

Healthy Homes & Lead Haz. Cntl.

120

110

120

Housing Counseling

45

45

60

a Figures shown do not include 5% sequester.
b Funded under separate Self-Help & Assisted Homeownership Opportunity Program.
c Funded as a setaside in HOME.
d National Housing Trust Fund is “mandatory” funding, not discretionary, so does not need to be funded through appropriations legislation, although the Administration did include it in the budget request.
e Funded under Homeless Assistance Grants.

FY14 HUD NOFAS’ GENERAL SECTION ISSUED, INCLUDES TRANSPORTATION EMPHASIS. As in past years, this document provides information that applies to all FY14 program NOFAs and does not itself offer funds. One of HUD’s crosscutting priorities is to reduce transportation costs by locating housing close to amenities such as grocery stores, medical facilities, and schools. A nonmetro site can receive a rating point if it is within one mile of amenities or within half a mile of public transportation to amenities. Contact HUD’s grants management office, 202-708-0667.

SECTION 811 PROJECT RENTAL ASSISTANCE FUNDS OFFERED. State, regional, and local housing agencies can apply for FY13 and FY14 monies to provide project-based rental assistance for Section 811 supportive housing for extremely low-income persons with disabilities. Deadline is May 5, 2014. Contact Lessie Powell Evans, HUD, PRAapplications@hud.gov.

HOUSING COUNSELING FUNDS AVAILABLE. Apply by April 7 for FY14 and FY15 funding. Contact HUD, housing.counseling@hud.gov.

RD IMPLEMENTS VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT CHANGES. The March 2013 reauthorization of VAWA made USDA’s multifamily programs (Sections 515, 514/516, 533, and 538) subject to the law. Administrative Notice 4747 begins to implement it, notifying RD staff that victims are protected from eviction, offenders may be removed from leases, victims may be relocated to other units using RD’s LOPE process, and more. Contact Barbara Chism, USDA RD, 202-690-1436.

SECTION 184 FEE INCREASED, REGULATIONS REVISED. HUD issued a final rule implementing a provision in the FY13 appropriations law that allows it to increase the guarantee fee under the Section 184 Indian Housing Loan Guarantee program to as much as 3%. A separate notice increases the fee, effective April 4, to 1.5% from the current 1%. Contact Rodger Boyd, HUD, 202-401-7914.

EPA PROPOSES EXPANDED PESTICIDE PROTECTION FOR FARMWORKERS. A proposed rule is posted on EPA’s site. Comments will be due 90 days after publication in the Federal Register. Contact Kathy Davis, EPA, 703-308-7002.

HAC News: February 19, 2014

HAC News Formats. pdf

February 19, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 4

• Debt ceiling increased without other changes • FY15 Administration budget to be issued in two parts • President repeats environmental justice commitment • Updated income limits posted for USDA Section 502 direct and guarantee programs • HUD announces FY14 AAFs for Section 8 • USDA RD offers email information on Section 502 guarantee program • Frequently asked questions about HOME program updated • Resources available for community integration of people with disabilities • Wealth-building tax incentives go mostly to highest earners • Report explains use of surplus property program • HUD offers fair housing videos in American Sign Language • Upcoming HAC Events Cover Energy, 502, Seniors, and Veterans

February 19, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 4

DEBT CEILING INCREASED WITHOUT OTHER CHANGES. No spending reductions or other trade-offs were included in the measure, signed into law by President Obama on February 15.

FY15 ADMINISTRATION BUDGET TO BE ISSUED IN TWO PARTS. Initial reports stated that detailed figures would not be available until March 11. According to Bloomberg, however, an OMB spokesman said that on March 4 the Administration will release proposals, agency-level information, and the comprehensive appendix that provides figures for every program. Historical tables and supplemental analyses will be released on March 11.

PRESIDENT REPEATS ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE COMMITMENT. A proclamation by President Obama recognizes February 11 as the twentieth anniversary of President Bill Clinton’s Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice, renewing the federal pledge to address disproportionate environmental impacts on low-income and minority populations.

UPDATED INCOME LIMITS POSTED FOR USDA SECTION 502 DIRECT AND GUARANTEE PROGRAMS. Visit https://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov or contact a USDA RD office.

HUD ANNOUNCES FY14 AAFS FOR SECTION 8. Annual adjustment factors are used to calculate rent changes when Section 8 contracts are renewed. Contact information varies by program.

USDA RD OFFERS EMAIL INFORMATION ON SECTION 502 GUARANTEE PROGRAM. To receive Countdown: 7 CFR 3555, an email newsletter preparing for the September 1 effective date of the new interim final regulations (see HAC News, 12/18/13), and other email announcements, subscribe at https://www.rdlist.sc.egov.usda.gov.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT HOME PROGRAM UPDATED. HUD’s HOME FAQs cover program requirements, CHDOs, homeownership, rental housing, and more.

RESOURCES AVAILABLE FOR COMMUNITY INTEGRATION OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES. The Community Integration Center at the Technical Assistance Collaborative provides an online library and also offers technical assistance to government agencies and others. Contact Kevin Martone, CICTAC, 617-266-5657, ext. 122, or send email through the organization’s website.

WEALTH-BUILDING TAX INCENTIVES GO MOSTLY TO HIGHEST EARNERS. “Upside Down: Tax Incentives to Save & Build Wealth,” a policy brief from CFED, reports that in FY13 the bottom 40% of earners received less than 3% of tax incentives related to investment, homeownership, retirement, and college. The paper includes recommendations for improving the incentives that reach lower-income families.

REPORT EXPLAINS USE OF SURPLUS PROPERTY PROGRAM. This Land is Your Land: How Surplus Federal Property Can Prevent and End Homelessness, published by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, describes the impact of the McKinney-Vento Title V program, which allows vacant federal property to be used, free, by eligible groups to provide housing or services to homeless persons.

UPCOMING HAC EVENTS COVER ENERGY, 502, SENIORS, AND VETERANS

March 25-26: “Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Systems for Affordable Housing Development” in Memphis, TN, will cover energy efficient development practices and renewable energy technologies in rural affordable housing. The course will include site visits.
March 25-27: “Section 502 Packaging Training for Nonprofit Developers,” held in Memphis, TN, will be an advanced course teaching participants to assist potential borrowers and to work with RD staff, as well as other nonprofit organizations, to deliver successful Section 502 loan applications.
April 9: “Serving Veterans in Rural America: A Symposium,” held on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, will draw attention to our rural veterans and showcase programs and initiatives that help with housing, health, and employment needs. Senior federal officials from HUD, USDA and VA are confirmed speakers.
April 22-23:Housing Seniors and Veterans in Rural America: Preservation, Development, and Services,” held in Phoenix, AZ, is targeted to rural housing providers. The agenda will feature discussions of federal and other housing programs for veterans and the aging, including home repair, rental housing, and services for the homeless. Successful best practices will be featured. Online registration.