Rural Homelessness

Download a pdf version of Rural Voices

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.


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.


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

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,

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 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

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 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.

HAC News: April 3, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 3, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 7

• April is National Fair Housing Month • House and Senate approve nonbinding budget resolutions • NAHASDA reauthorization passes House • USDA offers farmworker housing loans and grants • Housing counseling grants available • HUD requests comment on VAWA rule changes • Broadband demonstration in HUD housing considered • USDA approval for restructuring senior loans explained • Ways to speed agency processing of Section 502 guaranteed loans suggested • HUD sets requirements for rental assistance transfers • Update for Section 3 regulations proposed • Rural housing tenant data for 2014 now available • Homelessness has decreased, change varies widely among states, report says • CFPB updates homebuying toolkit • HAC sets Energy Star webinar for April 8

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 3, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 7

APRIL IS NATIONAL FAIR HOUSING MONTH. HUD issued a press release describing a new media campaign.

HOUSE AND SENATE APPROVE NONBINDING BUDGET RESOLUTIONS. The House passed H.Con.Res.27 on March 25 and the Senate approved S.Con.Res. 11 on March 27. Both houses would retain sequester spending caps for FY16 and make deeper cuts beginning in FY17. Differences between the two mean there may not be agreement on a joint resolution, which would not have the force of law but would guide development of appropriations bills for FY16.

NAHASDA REAUTHORIZATION PASSES HOUSE. The House passed H.R. 360, the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Reauthorization Act, on March 23. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a hearing March 18 on its bill, S. 710.

USDA OFFERS FARMWORKER HOUSING LOANS AND GRANTS. Pre-applications for construction or purchase and sub-stantial rehab of off-farm housing are due June 23. Rental Assistance and operating assistance are available. Projects serving high poverty census tracts will receive additional points. Contact an RD state office for an application package.

HOUSING COUNSELING GRANTS AVAILABLE. HUD-approved housing counseling agencies can apply by May 7. Contact HUD staff.

HUD REQUESTS COMMENT ON VAWA RULE CHANGES. A proposed rule implementing the 2013 Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act would increase protections for survivors of domestic and dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault who live in rental housing assisted by HUD. Comments are due June 1. HAC’s website provides a brief summary of the proposal. Separate contacts for HUD programs are listed in the proposed rule. HUD’s proposal covers USDA-funded rental units that have HUD Section 8 assistance, but not other USDA rentals. USDA has implemented the 2013 VAWA through Administrative Notices 4747 (February 10, 2014) and 4778 (January 5, 2015).

BROADBAND DEMONSTRATION IN HUD HOUSING CONSIDERED. HUD requests comments by May 1 on a proposed demonstration aimed at narrowing the digital divide for students in HUD-assisted housing. It wants to partner with local governments, business, and nonprofits “to accelerate broadband adoption and use in HUD-assisted homes.” HUD intends to conduct the initial demonstration in about 20 HUD-assisted communities across the country, both urban and rural, and hopes to expand it nationwide eventually. Contact Camille E. Acevedo, HUD, 202-402-5132.

USDA APPROVAL FOR RESTRUCTURING SENIOR LOANS EXPLAINED. An Unnumbered Letter dated February 27, 2015 is intended to clarify the process for obtaining official RD prior approval and permission to restructure a third-party loan to which a Section 515 loan is subordinate. Contact an RD state office.

WAYS TO SPEED AGENCY PROCESSING OF SECTION 502 GUARANTEED LOANS SUGGESTED. An Unnumbered Letter dated March 13, 2015 lists “tips and best practices for increasing operational efficiencies and to eliminate unnecessary unproductive processes.” Contact the Rural Housing Service’s National Office, 202-720-1452.

HUD SETS REQUIREMENTS FOR RENTAL ASSISTANCE TRANSFERS. A notice describes the conditions for HUD approval of requests to transfer project-based rental assistance, debt held or insured by HUD, and use restrictions from one or more multifamily housing project to another or others. Contact Nancie-Ann Bodell, HUD, 202-708-2495.

UPDATE FOR SECTION 3 REGULATIONS PROPOSED. HUD suggests strengthening its oversight of Section 3, which requires giving jobs and other economic opportunities generated by HUD assistance to low- and very low-income persons to the extent possible.Comments are due May 26. Contact Staci Gilliam, HUD, 202-402-3468.

RURAL HOUSING TENANT DATA FOR 2014 NOW AVAILABLE. USDA RD’s annual issuance provides figures at the national and state levels for the agency’s multifamily portfolio as a whole and separately for Section 515, Section 514/516, and Rental Assistance. There were 1,645 fewer units in 2014 than in 2013. The average income for Section 515 tenants is now $12,022 and for Rental Assistance recipients $10,258. Elderly and disabled households remain a majority in Section 515 units, at 61.65%, and the proportion of households with disabilities increased.

HOMELESSNESS HAS DECREASED, CHANGE VARIES WIDELY AMONG STATES, REPORT SAYS. The State of Homelessness in America 2015, by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, reports data for states and for subpopulations.

CFPB UPDATES HOMEBUYING TOOLKIT. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has revised its information booklet, “Your Home Loan Toolkit: A Step-by-Step Guide.” Contact Julie Vore, CFPB, 202-435-7700.

HAC SETS ENERGY STAR WEBINAR FOR APRIL 8. Register online for HAC’s upcoming webinar, “A Practitioner’s Guide to Energy Star 3.0,” to be held on April 8 at 2 pm Eastern time. Contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

The Unique Challenges Facing Vermont's Homeless Population

Difficulty accessing affordable transportation, child care and housing are all magnified in a rural place like Vermont. The Unique Challenges Facing Vermont’s Rural Homeless Population is the subject of a Vermont Public Radio feature.

Vermont deploys a range of services provided by organizations throughout the state, but is also committed to a Housing First model for addressing homelessness. Paul Dragon, Director of Vermont’s Office of Economic Opportunity, said, “It’s hard to work on many of the other issues, particularly finding employment or getting someone’s diabetes or hypertension under check, or getting them to counseling for substance or mental health, if they don’t have a home … So that is a big component of Housing First. Let’s get people stabilized, get them in a home, and then we can work on these other issues.”

USICH Webinar: Role of PHAs in Ending Homelessness

To have an event posted on our calendar*, please e-mail Janice Clark. Or send event description or brochure to:

Housing Assistance Council
Attn: Janice Clark
1025 Vermont Avenue, NW
Suite 606
Washington, DC 20005

Or fax to (202) 347-3441
Attn: Janice Clark

*Calendar Posting Guidelines:

HAC’s calendar posts announcements about periodic conferences, training sessions, audioconferences, and the like. Topics must be relevant to professionals in the rural housing and community development arena. HAC reserves the right to accept or decline any request to post an item. We do not include sessions provided by entities (for-profit or nonprofit) that offer numerous regularly scheduled training events; links to such entities are provided below.

HUD Calendar
Novogradac and Compan

Back to Events

USICH Webinar: Role of PHAs in Ending Homelessness

Date: August 11, 2011
Time: 2:00 PM (Eastern)

Register Online

Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) play a critical role in preventing and ending homelessness. In an era of shrinking resources, it is more important than ever to develop new collaborative partnerships that use mainstream resources to help people experiencing homelessness.

In this webinar hosted by USICH, PHA Executive Directors from around the country will share insights and lessons learned on how their agencies are effectively serving individuals and families that have experienced or are at risk of homelessness, and why targeting these vulnerable households has been important for their agencies. PHA staff, Continuum of Care leaders, and other stakeholders interested in forging relationships with their local PHAs are encouraged to attend.

To register for this webinar, click here.