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HAC News: December 11, 2019

News Formats. pdf

November 11, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 24

Federal funding extended to December 20Community Development Block Grant offered for Indian Tribes and Alaska Native VillagesUSDA proposes changes for direct homeownership loans and grantsCRA reform proposal expected this weekProposed new director of homelessness council has criticized “housing first” and food programsHouse advances bill to help tribes combat homelessnessDisaster recovery bill passes HouseHouse committee approves farmworker and rental preservation billHUD requrests comments on regulatory barriersFCC to establish fund for 5G service in rural areasPop Quiz with David LipsetzBroadband USDA FundingFood Security Starts with Affordable Housing for farmworkersIncreasing Access to Affordable Housing for FarmworkersIncreasing access to Affordable Housing in Indian CountryPerspectives from Main Street: Bank Branch Access in Rural CommunitiesSAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 11, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 24

Federal funding extended to December 20.
The second short-term continuing resolution for fiscal year 2020 keeps the federal government open with FY19 funding levels through December 20. Congress may pass the 12 appropriations measures for FY20 by then. If members cannot agree, however, another CR is likely.

Community Development Block Grants offered for Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages.
Tribes, Alaska Native villages and tribal organizations are eligible to apply by February 3 for the Indian CDBG program. Funds from fiscal years 2019 and 2020 will be awarded in this grant cycle. For more information, contact ONAP-ICDBG@hud.gov.

USDA proposes changes for direct homeownership loans and grants.
Comments are due January 24 on a proposed rule intended to increase the flexibility of the Section 502 direct and Section 504 programs and improve borrower access. The proposal would remove various program restrictions and increase alignment with provisions in the Section 502 guaranteed loan program. Some of the more significant changes remove limitations in the Section 504 program, increasing the program loan and grant limits. For more information, contact Andrea Birmingham, RD, 202-720-1489.

CRA reform proposal expected this week.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are expected to release possible changes to their Community Reinvestment Act rules on December 12 and 13. The third federal bank regulator, the Federal Reserve Board, will make a separate proposal in the future. The regulators are likely to suggest ways to make banks’ CRA tests more quantifiable and to provide CRA credit for activities beyond the physical locations of their branches. Public comments on the FDIC/OCC proposed rule will probably be due in mid-February.

Proposed new director of homelessness council has criticized “housing first” and food programs.
News outlets including Politico are reporting that Robert Marbut will become executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness if confirmed by the council at a December 10 meeting. Obama appointee Matthew Doherty left the position in November. Marbut has not supported provision of housing as the first step in addressing homelessness and has recommended “24/7 programming” rather than feeding homeless people.

House advances bill to help tribes combat homelessness.
Legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives would make tribes and tribally designated housing authorities eligible to access homeless assistance grants through state or local Continuums of Care. The Tribal Access to Homeless Assistance Act (H.R. 4029) must next advance through the Senate.

Disaster recovery bill passes House.
H.R. 3702, the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act, was approved by the House on November 18. The bill’s provisions would help target Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery grants to survivors with the greatest needs, ensure greater data transparency and oversight, protect civil rights and fair housing, and encourage mitigation and resiliency. A companion measure, S. 2301, has been introduced in the Senate.

House committee approves farmworker and rental preservation bill.
On November 21 the House Judiciary Committee passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038), which includes provisions relating to farmworkers and rural rental housing preservation. The bill is scheduled for consideration by the full House of Representatives on December 11 or 12.

HUD requests comments on regulatory barriers.
As required by President Trump’s June Executive Order establishing a White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing, HUD seeks public comment by January 21 on federal, state, local and tribal laws, regulations, land use requirements and administrative practices that artificially raise the costs of affordable housing development and contribute to shortages in housing supply. For more information, contact Pamela Blumenthal, HUD, 202-402-7012.

FCC to establish fund for 5G service in rural areas.
The Federal Communications Commission will create a 5G Fund to make up to $9 billion available to carriers to deploy advanced 5G mobile wireless services in rural America, targeting hard-to-serve areas with sparse populations or rugged terrain. The FCC’s announcement did not say when the funds will be available.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • Pop Quiz with David Lipsetz, an interview with Affordable Housing Finance, features HAC’s CEO discussing his career in affordable housing and what he wishes people knew about rural people and places. “It’s inspiring to me that people are finally recognizing the truth that many of us having been telling for years,” said Lipsetz. “Addressing affordable housing solves many of the root causes of inequality and poverty.”
  • Broadband USDA Funding is a searchable database for federal funding related to broadband provision, posted by the Commerce Department but covering all federal agencies. The search can be tailored in several ways, including to identify rural-specific programs.
  • Food Security Starts with Affordable Housing for Farmworkers describes housing as “a critical tool for recruitment and retention of both domestic and immigrant [farm]workers.” This Urban Land Institute article describes several examples of successful farmworker housing developments.
  • Increasing Access to Affordable Housing in Indian Country, an article for Shelterforce by Patrice Kunesh at the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, highlights the unique challenges of homeownership on Native lands and offers some solutions.
  • Perspectives from Main Street: Bank Branch Access in Rural Communities reports that when bank branches close, rural consumers and small businesses are left with generally more costly and less convenient alternatives. Published by the Federal Reserve Board, the study includes information gathered at listening sessions across the country.
  • Rural Development Hubs: Strengthening Rural America’s Innovation Infrastructure, a new report released November 18 by the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, examines intermediaries’ role in building wealth, increasing capacity and creating opportunity in regions. The research describes what sets rural development hubs apart, obstacles that regional developers may face and strategies of effective prosperity-building.

SAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!

The conference will be held in Washington, DC on December 2-4, 2020 with pre-conference meetings on December 1. The HAC News will announce more details, including registration, as they become available.

HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia.
This three-day advanced coursetrains experienced participants to assist potential borrowers and work with RD staff, other nonprofits and regional intermediaries to deliver successful Section 502 loan packages. The training will be held in Glen Allen, VA on March 10-12, 2020.For more information, contactHAC staff, 404-892-4824.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?
HAC’s loan funds provide low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

HAC News: November 15, 2019

News Formats. pdf

November 15, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 23

One-month federal funding extension in processHousing discrimination and hate crimes rose in 2018HUD announces veteran homelessness decline continuesGrants offered for community infrastrcuture for homeless individuals and familiesSenate committee reviews bills on cabon monoxide alarms and manufactured housing2020 Census news: rural participation, minority and low-income undercountys, hiringComments requested on Opportunity Zones reporting formImproved transportation and housing recommended to address rural food insecurityRural placemakers gather in Minnesota for Rural Arts and Culture SummitLIHTC in Rural Lower Mississippi DeltaPoverty in Rural Michigan: Relentless Aging and Few Opportunities for Those of Working AgeRural America at a Glance: 2019 EditionRural Health in America: How Shifting Populations Leave People BehindHAC News to be published after Thanksgiving • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

November 15, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 23

November is Native American Heritage Month.

One-month federal funding extension in process.

The House and Senate are expected to pass a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through December 20 at FY19 funding levels. To keep the government open, President Trump will have to sign the legislation as well. The current CR ends on November 21.

Housing discrimination and hate crimes rose in 2018.

The National Fair Housing Alliance released its 2019 Fair Housing Trends Report, “Defending Against Unprecedented Attacks on Fair Housing. NFHA’s research found 2018 had the highest number of housing discrimination complaints since 1995 and hate crime offenses increased by 14.7% since 2017. At the same time, NFHA reports, HUD, the agency charged with enforcing the Fair Housing Act, is working actively to undermine it, most notably by eliminating local governments’ ability to implement 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulations and by proposing to make it almost impossible to prove claims when policies have a “disparate impact” on protected classes.

HUD announces veteran homelessness decline continues.

The total number of reported veterans experiencing homelessness fell by 2.1% from 2018 to 2019, says HUD Secretary Ben Carson. Estimates of homeless veterans for each state and Continuum of Care are available online. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness lists 78 communities and three states that have ended veteran homelessness. The director of one of them, Mississippi’s Balance of State Continuum of Care, wrote a blog post for the National Alliance to End Homelessness offering “Three Tips for Ending Veteran Homelessness in a Balance of State CoC.

Grants offered for community infrastructures for homeless individuals and families.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Grants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals program funds community-based public and private nonprofits to develop and/or expand local implementation of a community infrastructure that integrates substance use disorder treatment, housing services and other critical services for individuals (including youth) and families experiencing homelessness. Deadline is December 16. For more information, contact Michelle Daly, SAMHSA, 240-276-2789.

Senate committee reviews bills on carbon monoxide alarms and manufactured housing.

On November 7, the Senate Banking Committee held a hearing entitled “Examining Bipartisan Bills to Promote Affordable Housing Access and Safety.” The hearing covered several bipartisan bills, including the Carbon Monoxide Alarms Leading Every Resident to Safety Act, H.R. 1690, which passed the House in September, and the HUD Manufactured Housing Modernization Act, S. 1804. The House Subcommittee on Housing will hold a hearing November 20 themed “Safe and Decent? Examining the Current State of Residents’ Health and Safety in HUD Housing.”

2020 Census news: rural participation, minority and low-income undercounts, hiring.

Commentary in the Daily Yonder suggests How Rural Areas Can Avoid Being Undercounted in the Census: become census partners, use data to target outreach, provide internet access in community spaces and partner with schools or employers. Black and Hispanic respondents to a Pew Research Center survey, as well as those with incomes under $30,000, are the most likely to say they may not participate in the 2020 count. (The sample size was too small to provide results for Native Americans, Asians and other racial and ethnic groups.) The Census Bureau is accepting applications online as it recruits about half a million temporary workers to help with the census.

Comments requested on Opportunity Zones reporting form.

The IRS has drafted a new version of Form 8996, used by Qualified Opportunity Funds to report their investments in Opportunity Zones. No deadline is set for comments. The draft does not request information on investments’ impacts on residents’ incomes or other changes. That kind of information would be collected if S. 1344/H.R. 2593 become law, but the bills have not moved forward in Congress.

Improved transportation and housing recommended to address rural food insecurity.

In a recently released data dashboard, the Urban Institute highlights the interrelatedness of housing and food insecurity. UI maps counties by “peer groups” based on their level of food insecurity and the correlating risk factors. Rural counties with low food insecurity tend to have a good supply of affordable housing, while rural counties with high food insecurity tend to be experiencing economic challenges and are concentrated in high-needs regions of the Southeast. A corollary list of strategies communities can use to disrupt food insecurity includes efforts that target rural communities’ food capacity by improving transportation to increase food access and promoting affordable housing as a baseline for supporting food security. These strategies connect to HAC’s Rural Voices edition on hunger and housing in rural America, and its rural research note on childhood hunger in rural America.

Rural placemakers gather in Minnesota for Rural Arts and Culture Summit.

PBS News hour recently brought national attention to a Rural Arts conference hosted by Art of the Rural on October 3-5. This gathering was a continuation of the growing nationwide conversation around the role of arts and culture in rural economic development, including the Rural Generation Summit in Jackson, MS last May and the recent CIRD Learning Cohort Summit in Thomas, WV. Community developers are continuing to recognize the role of creative placemaking as a way of combatting narratives of rural decline.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • LIHTC in Rural Lower Mississippi Delta, a recent white paper by Freddie Mac, highlights the importance of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program in providing affordable housing in the rural Lower Mississippi Delta.
  • Poverty in Rural Michigan: Relentless Aging and Few Opportunities for Those of Working Age is a Detroit Free Press description of economic struggles in rural Michigan. The region has high poverty rates, an aging population and limited opportunities.
  • Rural America at a Glance: 2019 Edition, published by USDA’s Economic Research Service, examines demographic and socioeconomic trends since the end of the Great Recession. Poverty rates in all types of nonmetro counties have fallen, but the gap between poverty rates in the most rural, isolated places and others has grown. Population has increased in metro counties and counties closest to metro areas, while others have lost residents. Employment has grown in all types of counties except for completely rural counties not adjacent to metro areas, with the fastest growth in metro counties.
  • Rural Health in America: How Shifting Populations Leave People Behind presents National Institute for Health Care Management infographics detailing the state of rural healthcare. They include looks at the impact of population shift toward urban environments, rural population, the number of rural providers and what initiatives exist to address the challenges.

Next HAC News to be published after Thanksgiving.

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be three weeks, instead of the usual two, between this HAC News and the next. In the meantime, check HAC on the web, Twitter and Facebook for updates about federal funding.

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: October 31, 2019

News Formats. pdf

October 31, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 22

Senate passes USDA and HUD funding bill for FY20Comments sought on changes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve plans, and new documents releasedCIRD hosts 2019 learning cohort summit in Thomas, WVSenate’s USDA funding bill includes money to address black land lossBill to legalize farmworkers and revise H-2A program would also raise rural housing fundingFamily Unification Program vouchers availableImproving CRA for Rural AmericaThe Older Population in Rural America: 2012-2016Adversity and Assets: Identifying Rural OpportunitiesEvaluation of HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD): Final ReportLenders: To Preserve Affordable Housing, Manage Climate RiskRural Minnesota’s Lack of Shelters Make Homeless an “Invisible” PopulationUrban and Rural Homeless ComparisonsApply by Nov. 15 for HAC grants to support housing to rural veteransREGISTER BY NOV. 1 FOR 502 OR HOUSING COUNSELOR TRAINING! • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 31, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 22

November is Native American Heritage Month.

Senate passes USDA and HUD funding bill for FY20.

The Senate’s first FY20 appropriations bill passed on October 31, a “minibus” package that includes funding for HUD and USDA, along with other agencies. Amendments adopted on the Senate floor included two rural housing provisions. One, sponsored by Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Mike Rounds (R-ND), would allow owners of USDA-financed rental properties to request Rental Assistance agreements with terms of 20 years rather than one year; the funding for longer contracts would still be subject to annual appropriations. The other, from Sens. Smith and Marco Rubio (R-FL), tells USDA to prioritize rental properties’ maintenance needs. Differences between the Senate and House bills will need to be resolved, so these agencies may still be included in a second continuing resolution that is expected to fund the government after the current CR ends on November 21.

Comments sought on changes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve plans, and new documents released.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, requests input by November 15 on modifications to the enterprises’ plans for achieving their Duty to Serve obligations for manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation and rural housing. FHFA also released a strategic plan that sets out a framework for preparing to end the entities’ conservatorships, a 2020 scorecard explaining how their activities will be assessed, and a report covering their 2018 affordable housing activities. The report concludes that in 2018 both exceeded the benchmarks for all their housing goals and complied with their Duty to Serve requirements.

CIRD hosts 2019 learning cohort summit in Thomas, WV.

Working with local host partners and regional community lenders, Woodlands Development Group welcomed 34 participants from 17 states to the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design Cohort Learning Summit. CIRD is a collaboration among HAC, the National Endowment for the Arts and buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. The two-and-a-half-day event included workshops on different design and creative placemaking concepts, site visits to ongoing economic development projects in the town of Thomas, WV, and peer exchange activities that provided participants an opportunity to advance their own rural design challenges.

Senate’s USDA funding bill includes money to address black land loss.

The Senate’s FY20 USDA appropriations bill includes $5 million to launch a program authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill that will make loans to intermediaries to help resolve ownership issues for farmers with “heirs property” – land that has multiple legal owners after ownership passed through several generations without wills or clear titles. African-American farmers in the South have been deemed ineligible for USDA loans when they could not prove title to their land, and in some cases have lost the land. The issue, along with other causes of black land loss, has been covered in recent articles by the Atlantic, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the New Food Economy, the Pew Trusts and others.

Bill to legalize farmworkers and revise H-2A program would also raise rural housing funding.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, introduced on October 30 by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA), would create a process for farmworkers and their families to obtain legal status in the U.S., tweak the H-2A visa program for temporary farmworkers, increase the number of green cards available for farmworkers and establish a mandatory E-Verify system for farm employers to check their workers’ legal status. Its housing provisions include the text of the Strategy and Investment in Rural Housing Preservation Act, H.R. 3620, which passed the House on September 10, with some additions including the 20-year Rental Assistance contract provision that is also in the Senate’s FY20 USDA appropriations bill. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would also allow Rental Assistance to cover up to half the operating costs of Section 514/516 housing that is occupied by H-2A workers if the units were previously unoccupied or underutilized by other workers. Finally, it would authorize up to $200 million for Section 514 loans and $30 million for Section 516 grants, as well as $2.7 billion for Section 521 Rental Assistance, each year through fiscal year 2029.

Family Unification Program vouchers available.

HUD will award new FUP vouchers to PHAs that partner with public child welfare agencies and Continuums of Care to administer assistance on behalf of families for whom the lack of adequate housing is a primary factor in a potential loss of custody or on behalf of young people between 18 and 24 at risk of homelessness upon discharge from foster care. Applications are due December 17. For more information, contact HUD staff.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • Improving CRA for Rural America, written by HAC researcher Keith Wiley for Shelterforce, argues that Community Reinvestment Act regulations should be recrafted to incentivize investments in underserved and economically distressed communities, many of which are rural.
  • The Older Population in Rural America: 2012–2016, a recent Census Bureau report, discusses “new and important ways” that aging populations could impact rural America including housing and public transportation options. Research shows that while seniors want to remain in their own homes, those in rural areas frequently face challenges related to having few housing options and the limited availability of nearby social services.
  • Adversity and Assets: Identifying Rural Opportunities, part of a series by the Center for American Progress, examines economic trends and indicators in counties across the rural-urban continuum.
  • Evaluation of HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD): Final Report concludes that initial implementation of HUD’s RAD program for conversion of public housing to project-based Section 8 housing accomplished its principal goals of leveraging capital, preserving affordable housing and mitigating relocation effects on tenants.
  • Lenders: To Preserve Affordable Housing, Manage Climate Risk, a National Resources Defense Council blog post, argues that disaster recovery funding favors financially better-off homeowners and needs to change to equally prioritize recovery funding for renters and homeowners.

Apply by Nov. 15 for HAC grants to support housing aid to rural veterans.

HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans initiative supports local nonprofit housing development organizations that meet or help meet the affordable housing needs of veterans in rural areas. Grants typically range up to $30,000 per organization and must support bricks-and-mortar projects that assist low-income, elderly and/or disabled veterans with home repair and rehab needs, support homeless veterans, help veterans become homeowners and/or secure affordable rental housing. This initiative is funded through the generous support of the Home Depot Foundation. Applications are due November 15 by 5:00 pm Eastern time. For more information, contact HAC staff, ahrv@ruralhome.org.

*REGISTER BY NOV. 1 FOR 502 PACKAGING OR HOUSING COUNSELOR TRAINING!*

Only a few spaces remain. Both courses will be held in Tampa, FL on November 12-14.The Section 502 packaging advanced coursetrains experienced participants to assist potential borrowers and work with RD staff, other nonprofits and regional intermediaries to deliver successful Section 502 loan packages. The housing counseling course sets you up for success in meeting HUD’s new certification requirements for housing counselors. For more information, contactHAC staff, 404-892-4824.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan funds provide low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

HAC News: September 23, 2019

News Formats. pdf

September 23, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 19

Senate committee approves FY20 funding for USDA and HUD, continuing resolution moves forward • HUD offers technical assistance for disaster-impacted cities under 40,000 • House passes rural rental preservation bill • HUD proposes regulations on income and assets for public housing and Section 8 • Community design awards announced • DJ LaVoy sworn in as Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development • Low-cost rental units show long-term decline in every state • White House homelessness recommendations include deregulation and policing • September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic American Heritage Month “Colonias Investment Areas – Texas” webinar set for September 26 • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

September 23, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 19

Senate committee approves FY20 funding for USDA and HUD, continuing resolution moves forward.

  • On September 19 the Senate Appropriations Committee passed FY20 funding bills for several departments, including USDA and HUD. After the full Senate approves the bills, differences between the Senate measures and those previously passed by the House will need to be resolved by conference committees. Because there is not enough time to complete the appropriations for all federal agencies before the new fiscal year begins on October 1, a continuing resolution is expected to fund the government through November 21 and avoid a shutdown. The House approved a CR, H.R. 4378, on September 19 and the Senate should vote on it the week of September 23. It includes a provision allowing maintenance of HUD Section 202 rental assistance, even if the necessary funds exceed the FY19 amount.
  • The Senate’s FY20 USDA bill would keep most rural housing programs at FY19 levels with increases to Section 521 Rental Assistance and Section 542 rural housing vouchers. The version approved by the House in June, on the other hand, increased several programs above FY19 levels, including Sections 514 and 515 as well as self-help housing and the MPR rental preservation program. Details are on HAC’s website. The Senate bill also includes $25 million for relocating ERS and NIFA to Kansas City, while the House bill would block the move.
  • The Senate’s HUD bill increases the department’s overall funding above its FY19 level, but rejects a number of increases included in the House’s bill. The Appropriations Committee voted 15-16 against inclusion of an amendment that would have reauthorized NAHASDA; the bill does fund the Native American housing programs for FY20.

HUD offers technical assistance for disaster-impacted cities under 40,000.

HUD’s Distressed Cities Technical Assistance program is designed to assist local governments of communities with populations under 40,000 that experienced a presidentially declared disaster in or after 2015. The program focuses on financial management, economic development (including affordable housing) and disaster recovery planning. Instructions for requesting TA are posted online.

House passes rural rental preservation bill.

On September 10 the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3620, the Strategy and Investment in Rural Housing Preservation Act. The Senate seems unlikely to consider the bill, which would strengthen USDA’s rental preservation efforts.

HUD proposes regulations on income and assets for public housing and Section 8.

Comments are due November 18 on a proposed rule to implement provisions of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 that relate to income calculations and reviews for public housing and Section 8, with corresponding changes to the regs for HOME, the Housing Trust Fund, and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program. Information contacts vary by program and are listed in the notice.

Community design awards announced.

Twenty-three communities from across the country were selected to join the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, a collaboration among HAC, the National Endowment for the Arts and buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. The partner towns, tribes, nonprofits and other organizations were selected in a national competition to receive assistance in addressing design and creative placemaking goals. Three communities – Millinocket, Maine; Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico; and Athens, Ohio – will host multi-day design workshops that bring experts and locals together.

DJ LaVoy sworn in as Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development.

Donald “DJ” LaVoy, most recently the head of HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center, was sworn in September 17 as Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development at USDA. The Under Secretary position, eliminated by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and reinstated by the 2018 Farm Bill, remains vacant.

Low-cost rental units show long-term decline in every state.

Documenting the Long-Run Decline in Low-Cost Rental Units in the U.S. by State, a working paper from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, looks at the reduction in low-cost rentals from 1990 to 2017. These homes were a declining share of the housing stock in every state, and all but a few states also had declines in the absolute number of low-cost units. The steepest drop occurred from 2012 to 2017. The paper reports a strong correlation at the state level between the extent of losses of low-cost rentals and rising housing cost burdens for low-income households.

White House homelessness recommendations include deregulation and policing.

A new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers, The State of Homelessness in America, focuses on homelessness in major metro areas on the East and West coasts. It identifies the major causes of homelessness as high housing costs due to overregulation of housing markets, “tolerable conditions” including warm weather and policing policies, right-to-shelter policies offering “substitutes to permanent housing” and individual factors such as severe mental illness and low incomes. It criticizes past federal policies and expresses doubt whether homelessness has actually decreased since 2007 (as HUD has reported). Solutions offered include removal of regulatory barriers, expanded drug treatment, “an increased emphasis on serious mental illness,” support for police in promoting safe cities, and stronger encouragement for self-sufficiency.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • Income and Poverty in the United States: 2018 is an annual data report from the Census Bureau. The national median household income remained essentially the same in 2018 as in 2017, while the poverty rate fell by 0.5 percentage points to 11.8%. The drop in poverty was statistically significant for urban residents, but there was no statistically significant change for nonmetro or suburban residents.
  • New Partnership Addresses Affordable Housing in Rural Areas details how the South Dakota economy is benefitting from a $10 million partnership between Avery Health and the Rural Electric Economic Development Fund. These funds will go toward building quality workforce housing to help attract and retain skilled staff in all business sectors.
  • Rural References Bounce in and out of Democratic Debate, a Daily Yonder article, looks at the various ways contenders in the September 12 presidential debate touched on issues affecting rural America.
  • Small, Rural Markets Left Behind as Large Metros Struggle to Match Housing to Job Gains explains some results of rural housing markets’ and rural economies’ inability to rebound at the same rates as large metropolitan areas since the Great Recession (2007-2009). Before the recession housing and economic growth in rural areas were generally similar to those in large metropolitan areas, but now they are lagging in job creation and home value gains.
  • Something Special is Happening in Rural America, by writer Sarah Smarsh, argues that recent shift in public sentiment and increasing affordability challenges for large urban areas are indicators of a coming “brain gain” for rural areas. Smarsh, author of Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, recently launched a new podcast, The Homecomers, focused on providing “a more accurate story of those ill-understood spaces [rural communities.]”

September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic American Heritage Month.

Colonias Investment AreasTexas” webinar set for September 26.
HAC, in partnership with Fannie Mae, will hold a webinar presenting data and research on Colonias Investment Areas, a geographic concept developed to target strategies and opportunities for mortgage finance and resource investment in colonia communities along the southwest U.S. border. The September 26 session will focus on colonias in Texas. Recent webinars on colonias in New Mexico and Arizona are available on HAC’s YouTube channel. For more information, contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan funds provide low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

Materials Posted – Part 1 – Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH): An Overview

Materials Posted

PowerPoint Presentation | Webinar Recording

Permanent supportive housing has been identified in both the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness and the Ending Veteran Homelessness Initiative as a critical resource for ending homelessness. Within VA, HUD-VASH is the primary service that provides permanent supportive housing. Through collaboration with HUD, HUD-VASH provides Housing Choice Vouchers designated to participating Public Housing Authorities (PHA) to assist with rent payment. VA provides clinical case management and services to assist Veterans obtain and sustain permanent housing while also assisting Veterans with access to treatment and other supportive services that promote their quality of life and full reintegration back into their communities.

HUD-VASH operates on the Housing First principles and is intended to target and care for the chronic and most vulnerable homeless Veterans. Housing First is an evidence-based approach based on the premise that housing is a basic human right and does not have prerequisites such as sobriety or clean time. It prioritizes housing, then assists individuals with access to health care and other supports that promote stable housing and improved quality of life.

The primary goal of HUD-VASH is to move Veterans and their families out of homelessness into permanent supportive housing while promoting maximum Veteran recovery and independence in the community. A key component of the program is VA’s case management services. These services are designed to assist Veterans in obtaining and sustaining permanent housing and engage in needed treatment and other supportive services that improve the Veteran’s quality of life and end their homelessness. Because Veterans experience homelessness for a variety of reasons, case management is individually tailored to meet the needs of each HUD-VASH Veteran.

This webinar, the first in a two part series that will provide information to community providers on housing services available to Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The webinar will provide an overview of the HUD-VASH program including who is eligible for services and how to make a referral for a Veteran to be assessed for admission. There will also be information on how HUD-VASH vouchers are allocated and the difference between tenant-based and project-based HUD-VASH vouchers.

Rural Research Note Homelessness - Cover

Homeless Rate Increases Nationally: Rural Data Remains Unclear

Cover of Homeless Rate Increases Nationally: Rural Data Remains UnclearHUD’s 2017 point-in-time numbers show the homeless count increased by 0.7% nationally since 2016, which is the first increase since 2010. The overall number has actually decreased when excluding several large cities that have experienced extreme spikes in homeless populations. Homeless counts in rural communities continue to be hard to capture. The following research note highlights the impact of these highly populated areas on the overall homeless count and points out the difficulty in counting the rural homeless population.

Read the Research Note

rrn-homelessness-2017-chart

HAC News: April 20, 2016

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 20, 2016
Vol. 45, No. 7

• House committee passes FY17 USDA spending bill • Senate subcommittee addresses FY17 HUD spending • RUS offers rural broadband loans, guarantees, and grants • Indian CDBG application period opens • Jobs Plus funds available • 2016 New Markets Tax Credits combined with 2015 funding round • Homelessness data examined at national and state levels • Typical low-income household’s expenses exceeded income in 2014 • HAC offers Section 502 packaging training June 28-30

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 20, 2016
Vol. 45, No. 7

House committee passes FY17 USDA spending bill. On April 19, the House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that provides steady or increased funding levels for USDA’s rural housing programs. It increases Section 523 self-help technical assistance funding to $30 million and raises Section 502 direct to $1 billion. Section 521 Rental Assistance and Section 542 vouchers would receive amounts that, according to the Administration’s budget, will allow for renewal of all current aid, new RA for new farmworker housing properties, and new vouchers for tenants in properties leaving the Section 515 program for any reason, including mortgage maturity. It also includes Administration language that would extend voucher eligibility and allow USDA to set priorities for voucher distribution.

USDA Rural Dev. Prog.
(dollars in millions)

FY15
Approp.

FY16
Approp.

FY17 Budget Proposal

FY17 House Cmte. Bill

502 Single Fam. Direct
Self-Help setaside

$900
5

$900
5

$900
0

$1,000
5

502 Single Family Guar.

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

504 VLI Repair Loans

26.3

26.3

26.3

26.3

504 VLI Repair Grants

28.7

28.7

28.7

28.7

515 Rental Hsg. Direct Lns.

28.4

28.4

33.1

35

514 Farm Labor Hsg. Lns.

23.6

23.9

23.9

23.9

516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grts.

8.3

8.3

8.3

8.3

521 Rental Assistance

1,089

1,390

1,405

1,405

523 Self-Help TA

27.5

27.5

18.5

30

533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants

3.5

3.5

0

5

538 Rental Hsg. Guar.

150

150

230

200

Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR)

17

22

19.4

22

542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers

7

15

18

18

Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init.

4

4

4

4

The Committee’s report tells USDA to provide it with a list of criteria used to define ‘‘rural in character’’ in determining what places are considered rural and therefore eligible for housing program funding.

Senate subcommittee addresses FY17 HUD spending. The Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee approved a bill on April 19. The measure’s text will not be released until the full committee considers it on April 21, but the committee did announce the bill provides $950 million for HOME and $300 billion for CDBG. The subcommittee’s top Democrat, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), released a statement supporting the bill. HAC will post updates at ruralhome.org when available.

RUS offers rural broadband loans, guarantees, and grants. Nonprofits, for-profits, and governments or tribes can apply for Community Connect grants by June 17. Those entities as well as coops can apply for Farm Bill Broadband Loans and Loan Guarantees by July 7. For either program, contact Shawn Arner, RUS, 202-720-0800.

Indian CDBG application period opens.CDBG for Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages applications from tribes and tribal organizations are due June 14. Contact a HUD ONAP Regional Office.

Jobs Plus funds available. PHAs with at least 200 non-elderly-only households are eligible, and the deadline is June 13. Contact HUD staff.

2016 New Markets Tax Credits combined with 2015 funding round. The CDFI Fund will not hold a new allocation round this year. It will allocate $3.5 billion for 2015 and $3.5 billion for 2016 under its 2015 NMTC funding notice. The deadline was December 16, 2015.

Homelessness data examined at national and state levels.The State of Homelessness in America 2016, by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, examines recent trends and also those from before the Great Recession to the present. For example, although doubled-up households fell 9% from 2013 to 2014, the number of poor people living doubled up was 52% higher in 2014 than in 2007.

Typical low-income household’s expenses exceeded income in 2014. A Pew Charitable Trusts Issue Brief on “Household Expenditures and Income” shows that by 2014 the median expenditures of working-age households had returned to pre-recession levels, but income did not. In 2004, the typical household in the lowest one-third of income levels had $1,500 of income left over after expenses, but in 2014 their expenses exceeded income by $2,300. Housing costs for those with incomes in the lowest third grew by 50% from 1996 to 2014. (Figures were adjusted for inflation).

HAC offers Section 502 packaging training June 28-30. “Section 502 Packaging Certification Training for Nonprofit Housing Developers,” to be held in Burlington, VT, is an advanced course for those experienced in using Section 502 direct and/or other affordable housing mortgage products. Following the course, participants are encouraged to take the online certification exam. Register online. Contact Shonterria Charleston, HAC, 404-892-4824.

Rural Homelessness

Download a pdf version of Rural Voices
rvmarch2016-cover

This edition of Rural Voices makes clear the complexity of rural homelessness. Defining, much less quantifying, rural homelessness is a formidable task. While the challenges are sobering, HAC is inspired by those addressing rural homelessness across sectors ranging from education to domestic violence to veterans’ services. National experts and local providers come together to share their perspectives on this issue.

View from Washington

On the Brink of Change
by Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer

Innovative housing solutions are possible if everyone can work together.

FEATURES

An Overview of Rural Homelessness
by Nan Roman and Steve Berg

Homelessness has some different causes, features, and resources in rural places than in cities, and recognizing the distinctions can help in crafting solutions.

From Storage Shed to Stable Home
by Ashley Gooch

What does rural homelessness look like? A Tennessee man shares his story of hardship and perseverance.

Farmworker Homelessness in Imperial County, California
by Ilene J. Jacobs and Patrick Saldaña

Factors related to the seasonal nature of their work, their low wages, and discrimination may lead to homelessness among farmworkers.

Moving into Housing…First
by Patricia Mullahy Fugere

The Housing First approach provides housing without preconditions or requirements relating to behavior or treatment. With a stable home base, residents then address the challenges that caused, or kept them in, homelessness.

Expanding Healthcare Services for Supportive Housing Residents in Rural Areas
by Eva Wingren and Brian Byrd

The Affordable Care Act can help fund services that assist people in remaining stably housed.

What the Schools Know: Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness
by Patricia A. Popp

A national system of state and local homeless education coordinators works to ensure the growing numbers of homeless students have access to the resources they need.

RESOURCES

The Complicated (& largely unknown) Picture of Rural Homelessness (Infographic) The Complicated Picture of Rural Homelessness


Rural Voices would like to hear what you have to say about one, or all, of these issues. Please feel free to comment on this story by sending a tweet to #RuralVoicesMag discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.

HAC News: November 30, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

November 30, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 24

• HAC NEWS GOING FULLY DIGITAL • Congress working on FY16 funding measures • Tax extender negotiations include LIHTC and EITC • HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods NOFA introduces Planning and Action Grants • HUD offers equal access rule for transgender persons • New HAC resources offer data on veterans nationwide • Housing communications information available • RDLN auction online through December 13 • USDA updates Rural America at a Glance • DDAs and QCTs set for 2016

HAC News Formats. pdf

November 30, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 24

HAC NEWS GOING FULLY DIGITAL. Beginning in 2016, the print version of the HAC News will no longer be available. The News will still be published every two weeks, will still provide the same concise updates on issues important to rural housers, and will still be free. Back issues will continue to be available online at https://ruralhome.org.

Congress working on FY16 funding measures. Before the current continuing resolution expires on December 11 (see HAC News, 9/30/15), Congress is likely to pass an omnibus appropriation bill that includes most or all of the 12 federal spending bills for FY16. Passage may be stalled by attempts to add policy riders relating to refugees, health care, and other topics. If more negotiation time is needed, another CR may be used to extend spending to December 18 rather than shutting down the government. At press time, no details are available on the omnibus’s provisions related to USDA rural housing. In a Transportation-HUD bill brought to the Senate floor November 18, additional funds made available by the budget agreement (see HAC News, 10/28/15) were used to raise HOME funding to $900 million and CDBG to $3 billion, rather than the earlier $66 million and $2.9 billion (see HAC News, 6/25/15), though other HUD programs did not receive increases. The Senate did not vote on that bill because of disagreements on policy riders, but the higher numbers are likely to appear in a final bill.

Tax extender negotiations include LIHTC and EITC. This month Congress is expected to renew some tax-related programs that expired last December, including the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, New Markets Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and others. This retroactive renewal is needed to make these provisions effective for 2015.

HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods NOFA introduces Planning and Action Grants. The deadline is February 16, 2016 for PHAs, local governments, tribal entities, and nonprofits to request FY15 and FY16 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants or Planning and Action Grants. The program is intended to help communities with severely distressed public or HUD-assisted housing in developing successful neighborhood transformation plans and building the support necessary for plans to be successfully implemented. Contact HUD staff, ChoiceNeighborhoods@hud.gov.

HUD offers equal access rule for transgender persons. A proposed regulation would require entities receiving funds from many HUD programs (but not public or Indian housing) and owners and managers of facilities and services to assist transgender persons in accordance with their gender identities. Providers could ask about sexual orientation or gender identity, but could not discriminate on those bases. Comments are due January 19, 2016. Contact Norm Suchar, HUD, 202-708-4300.

New HAC resources offer data on veterans nationwide. Information about veterans’ economic and housing characteristics for every state and county is available at www.veteransdata.info. The site, developed by the Housing Assistance Council with support from JPMorgan Chase & Co., provides approximately 420 veteran-specific data indicators and over 650,000 data points. Also available on the site are fact sheets for each state, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. providing details on the veterans’ population including proportion, prevalence by county, median income, poverty levels, unemployment rate, disability, median home value, housing problems, homelessness, and other factors.

Housing communications information available. A recent brief from the National Housing Conference offers “seven effective strategies for countering community opposition” to affordable housing development. NHC has also published a Veteran’s Housing Communications Toolkit offering ways of communicating about veterans’ housing needs and solutions with three audiences: community members, policy makers, and veterans themselves.

RDLN auction online through December 13. Proceeds from the Rural Development Leadership Network’s annual fundraising auction support the organization’s work for social justice, community development, and leadership development in low-income rural communities in the U.S. Items include jewelry, books, vacations, and more.

USDA updates Rural America at a Glance. The 2015 version of this data summary reports that the pace of rural employment growth increased in 2014, although rural employment remains below pre-recession levels. Rural areas continue to experience population loss, higher poverty rates, and lower educational attainment than urban areas.

DDAs and QCTs set for 2016. The newly designated Difficult Development Areas and Qualified Census Tracts for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program are effective July 1, 2016, rather than January 1 as in the past. For the first time the metro area DDA designations use Small Area Fair Market Rents, rather than metro-area FMRs. Contact Michael K. Hollar, HUD, 202-402-5878.

HAC News: November 11, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

November 11, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 23

HAC NEWS GOING FULLY DIGITAL • November is National Native American Heritage Month • Congress and USDA agree to fund Rental Assistance shortages • Two rural housing supporters resigning from Congress • USDA issues new standards for underwriting MPR preservation deals • BIA amends Housing Improvement Program rule • Public housing smoking ban proposed • Interim rule requires new tracking for CDBG grantees • Clean Power Plan can help fund energy efficiency in affordable housing • Unnumbered Letter on TRID now available • HUD reports on homelessness • A few spaces still available for HAC’s November 19-20 trainings

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 11, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 23

HAC NEWS GOING FULLY DIGITAL. Beginning in 2016, the print version of the HAC News will no longer be available. The News will still be published every two weeks, will still provide the same concise updates on issues important to rural housers, and will still be free. Back issues will continue to be available online at https://ruralhome.org.

November is National Native American Heritage Month. Read President Obama’s proclamation here.

Congress and USDA agree to fund Rental Assistance shortages. On November 5 the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees – Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) and Sam Farr (D-CA), and Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) – met with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The parties agreed to provide Section 521 Rental Assistance funds for properties that were short funded in FY15, either because they used up RA funds before their one-year contracts expired or because their contracts expired near the end of the fiscal year and USDA had run out of contract renewal monies (see HAC News, 10/28/15). At least some property owners have been told they are about to receive back payments. Congress will need to increase the $1.167 billion for RA provided in the FY16 funding bills that passed both Appropriations Committees in July 2015 (see HAC News, 6/25/15).

Two rural housing supporters resigning from Congress. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) has served as chair and ranking member of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) co-founded the Congressional Rural Housing Caucus.

USDA issues new standards for underwriting MPR preservation deals. An Unnumbered Letter dated October 26, 2015 replaces a UL dated September 30, 2013 that emphasized reducing costs to the government. The new policy stresses long-term property viability, meeting tenants’ needs for affordable housing, and completing transactions in a timely and efficient manner. Contact multifamily housing staff in an RD State Office.

BIA amends Housing Improvement Program rule. A final rule issued by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs is intended to align HIP with other federal requirements, allow leveraging of funds, and give tribes more flexibility. Contact Les Jensen, BIA, 907-586-7397.

Public housing smoking ban proposed. HUD suggests requiring PHAs to ban smoking in all indoor areas, including living units, and in outdoor areas within 25 feet of buildings. HUD’s press release says more than 228,000 public housing units are already smoke-free, and this proposal would cover another 940,000 homes. Comments will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Contact Leroy Ferguson, HUD, 202-402-2411.

Interim rule requires new tracking for CDBG grantees. Community Development Block Grant grantees will have to track their obligations and expenditures of CDBG funds by specific fiscal years. HUD also makes some technical corrections in CDBG regulations. The new rule takes effect December 14 and comments are due January 11, 2016. Contact Stanley Gimont, HUD, 202-708-3587.

Clean Power Plan can help fund energy efficiency in affordable housing. A proposed federal plan published by EPA offers opportunities to fund energy efficiency in affordable housing as part of state implementation plans. Several organizations joined to offer a primer for affordable housing advocates, as well as other resources and more information at https://energyefficiencyforall.org/. Comments on the proposed federal plan are due January 21.

Unnumbered Letter on TRID now available. The UL (dated October 6, 2015) offers guidance on compliance with new mortgage disclosure requirements for direct Section 502 and 504 loans (see HAC News, 10/14/15).

HUD reports on homelessness. The 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) Part 2 says homelessness declined by 6.3% since 2007, then increased by 4.6% from 2013 to 2014 although homeless people without shelter fell by 10% during that year. 70% of those who used shelter in 2014 were in major cities. Between 2007 and 2014, the number of people in families with children using shelters increased by 48.1% in suburban and rural areas from 2007 to 2014 and decreased by 5% in cities. Part 1 was released in October 2014 (see HAC News, 11/12/14).

A few spaces still available for HAC’s November 19-20 trainings. The cost is $75 each for these courses in North Charleston, SC. Register online for either Sharpening Your Skills: Financial Management for Rural Nonprofits or Utilizing the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program: Creating and Preserving Affordable Housing. These are concurrent sessions; register for only one. Contact Shonterria Charleston, HAC, 404-892-4824.