Posts

Coming Together for a Common Cause

by Eric Oberdorfer

It’s hard to believe that two years have passed since the last HAC Rural Housing Conference. As rural housers, we have faced our share of challenges recently. Congress is deadlocked, funding for needed federal housing programs remains historically low, and the stock of safe, high-quality, affordable housing in rural America continues to decline, leaving too many low-income families and individuals without sufficient housing options.

These past years have seen the support and resources necessary for our network threatened, and we have had to fight to maintain our work. These challenges make coming together for our common cause even more important in 2014. The rural housing network has a proud history of empowering individuals and families, improving lives, and making lasting impacts across rural America. However, for a number of years, we have been in a defensive posture. It is time for us to shift away from this and go on the offensive. To do this we mustretool our collective talents, rebuild the innovative spirit that got us where we are, and renew our passion for the mission that guides us.

Retool, Rebuild, Renew is the theme of our conference this year. Although this theme could describe the construction or rehab of housing, the theme is not about bricks and mortar. It’s about a housing movement – these actions are more critical to our work than ever before.

Rural communities desperately need affordable housing to combat serious challenges that have developed over the past few years. The United States’ economy fell into one of the most severe economic recessions in a half century. Our country’s rapidly aging population will have significant impacts on our current housing stock. Poverty rates in rural America have grown. Further compounding these issues is the continued downsizing of federal programs that support the development of housing in rural communities, programs that are needed now more than ever. Luckily, rural housers are a resourceful group and have met these issues head-on by learning new skills, forging new partnerships, and considering new approaches. It is time we come together to share our successes and determine strategies to ensure our continued ability to provide our communities with safe, affordable housing.

Fostering the development of new skills and partnerships is a key part of the National Rural Housing Conference. More than just a collection of workshops and plenaries, the Conference is about coming together to share our collective experiences, build our expertise, and gain a better understanding of what works, what doesn’t, and why. It is a space that encourages networking and the sharing of ideas between people who know firsthand the challenges the housing movement faces. It provides an opportunity to gain new tools that can help us succeed in the current environment of housing and community development.

Although the landscape for affordable housing has changed dramatically since the first National Rural Housing Conference 45 years ago, one thing remains as true as ever – individuals, families, and communities need to have high-quality affordable housing in order to thrive. To respond to the needs of rural communities we must first come together. The National Rural Housing Conference gives us the chance to gain new tools, learn from each other, and, most importantly, renew our commitment to affordable housing.

The HAC Rural Housing Conference will be held December 3-5, 2014 in Washington, DC. Registration is currently open.

Registration is now open for the HAC Rural Housing Conference

slider 1600x400 rnd3

ABOUT THE CONFERENCE

Register-Now-Button

The biennial HAC Rural Housing Conference brings together stakeholders in the field of rural affordable housing from local nonprofits, federal agencies, Congress, state and local governments, and other industry leaders for two-and-a-half days of training, discussion, and networking.

The Conference features nearly 40 workshops where participants will learn best practices for housing development, organizational management, resource development, and innovative approaches to housing and community development. The Conference also includes a pre-Conference day, packed with gatherings for coalitions, association, and working groups.

For rural nonprofits, the Conference provides an excellent opportunity to network and improve connections to federal agencies and national nonprofit organizations. For many of the attendees, this conference represents their sole opportunity during the year to connect with these important policy makers and experts.

Retool, Rebuild, Renew

This year’s conference theme is Retool, Rebuild, Renew. Although these verbs could describe the construction or rehab of housing, the theme is not about bricks and mortar. It’s about our movement. The rural housing network has a proud history of accomplishment and has empowered, improved, and made lasting impacts across rural America. However, for a number of years, we have been in a defensive posture-the support and resources necessary for our network have been threatened. It is past time to shift from a reactive to a proactive posture. It is time go on the offensive and retool our collective talents, rebuild the innovative spirit that got us where we are, and renew our passion for the mission that guides us. HAC’s Rural Housing Conference will help get us back on track to expand the accomplishments of the past.

For more information on the HAC Rural Housing Conference, visit HAC’s registration portal.

Conference app

Discussion Topics and Papers

HAC News: November 7, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

November 7, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 22

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


November 7, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HAC News: October 24, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 24, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 21

• October 21-27 is National Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week • HAC invites applications for rural veterans assistance • Section 8 OCAFs announced • Federal homelessness plan amended • Toolkit offered for Independent Foreclosure Review outreach • LIHTC can serve extremely low-income tenants, research finds • Census reports on sheltered population • HUD launches app for FMRs and Income Limits • LIHEAP assistance to older manufactured homes higher per square foot • GAO raises concerns about air exchange standards in HUD Code • National Rural Housing Conference early bird registration deadline is November 9!


October 24, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 21

OCTOBER 21-27 IS NATIONAL CHILDHOOD LEAD POISONING PREVENTION WEEK. Details and resources are available from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leadinfo@cdc.gov.

HAC INVITES APPLICATIONS FOR RURAL VETERANS ASSISTANCE. A new HAC initiative will provide grants of up to $30,000 to support bricks-and-mortar projects that help rural low-income, elderly, and disabled veterans and active military personnel with housing needs. Send a letter of intent by 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on October 31. Application guidelines are posted on HAC’s website. Contact Janice Clark, HAC.

SECTION 8 OCAFS ANNOUNCED. HUD’s new Operating Cost Adjustment Factors apply to project-based assistance contracts with an anniversary date on or after February 11, 2013. See Federal Register, 10/16/12. Contact Stan Houle, HUD, 202-402-2572.

FEDERAL HOMELESSNESS PLAN AMENDED. In September the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness amended Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, its plan to end homelessness among families, children, and youth by 2020. The amendment offers strategies and supports to improve educational outcomes for children and youth and steps to assist unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness. Contact USICH, 202-708-4663.

TOOLKIT OFFERED FOR INDEPENDENT FORECLOSURE REVIEW OUTREACH. The Federal Reserve Board has made materials available to help local nonprofits reach residents whose homes were foreclosed in 2009-2010 by any of 14 mortgage servicers and who are eligible for an independent review. Call 888-952-9105.

LIHTC CAN SERVE EXTREMELY LOW-INCOME TENANTS, RESEARCH FINDS. The Furman Center and Moelis Institute at New York University examined data from urban, suburban, and rural Low-Income Housing Tax Credit properties in 16 states and found that 40% of the units are occupied by extremely low-income tenants (with incomes below 30% of area median). Because almost 70% of those ELI tenants receive some form of rental assistance, researchers concluded that “rental assistance is currently an indispensable part of the equation to serve those households.” The results are reported in “What Can We Learn about the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program by Looking at the Tenants?”

CENSUS REPORTS ON SHELTERED POPULATION. The Emergency and Transitional Shelter Population: 2010 summarizes data on age, sex, and race/ethnicity for the 209,000 people counted in such shelters nationwide by the 2010 Census (not the entire homeless population). Data are aggregated by state and a map shows the number of people in shelters in every county. Over 60% of counties have no sheltered population.

HUD LAUNCHES APP FOR FMRS AND INCOME LIMITS. The map-based app for Android and iPhone allows users to search Fair Market Rents and Income Limits.

LIHEAP ASSISTANCE TO OLDER MANUFACTURED HOMES HIGHER PER SQUARE FOOT. A Government Accountability Office study found that the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provided about 33¢ per square foot of assistance to pre-1976 manufactured homes compared to about 20¢ per square foot for site-built homes. About 3% of total LIHEAP funds went to older manufactured homes. The study used data for 2005, the most recent available. Worker and Family Assistance: Home Energy Assistance for Low-Income Occupants of Manufactured Homes (GAO-12-848R) is available online or from GAO, 866-801-7077. Contact Frank Rusco, GAO, 202-512-3841.

GAO RAISES CONCERNS ABOUT AIR EXCHANGE STANDARDS IN HUD CODE. Standards for placement of air intake and exhaust vents are outdated and ventilation systems are not tested, GAO reports, in manufactured homes built after 1976 under HUD’s Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. Manufactured Housing Standards: Testing and Performance Evaluation Could Better Ensure Safe Indoor Air Quality (GAO-13-52) is available online or from GAO, 866-801-7077. Contact Mathew J. Scirè, GAO, 202-512-8678.

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