Posts

HAC in the News

Congressional Hearing Focuses on the Potential of Manufactured Housing

HAC’s Director of Research, Lance George, was one of several witnesses to provide testimony at a hearing of the House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee on  Manufactured Housing: Supporting America’s Largest Unsubsidized Affordable Housing Stock. North Carolina news station WRAL covered the hearing and provided local perspective on the potential for manufactured housing to increase housing affordability in the region.

Policy News from the Administration

HAC CEO Statement on Biden-Harris Housing Supply Action Plan

by David Lipsetz

The Biden-Harris Administration released a Housing Supply Action Plan on May 16 that can bring the cost of housing back in line with families’ incomes. This is particularly important in small towns where incomes remain stubbornly low, while the cost of buying or renting a place to live is soaring. The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) applauds the Administration for designing and including several provisions specifically with rural markets in mind.

The Plan includes administrative and legislative proposals to improve existing housing finance mechanisms. It establishes new housing production programs. It calls for changes to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit that will attract private investment in affordable rental housing. It provides grants—such as the HOME Investment Partnerships Program—to states, cities and towns to do what locals know will be best for their local housing market.  It calls on Congress to establish a Housing Supply Fund and incentivize zoning reform to accelerate the building of more housing across the Nation.

Critically, the Administration proposes reforms that prioritize homeowners living in the homes that they own. This is a welcome change for rural Americans who need high-quality affordable homes in which to live far more than they need high-priced vacation homes. For rental housing, the Administration focuses investment on small-scale 2–4-unit buildings instead of high-rise apartment complexes. It calls for new rentals where few are being built and recognizes the urgency of preserving affordable rentals that already exist. And for the first time in decades, an Administration released a housing plan that calls for improved financing for manufactured housing, an important resource in rural places.

The shortage of affordable housing in rural America is a serious issue. Rental units are being lost at an alarming rate. Single-family homes are significantly older than elsewhere in the Nation. The Administration’s framework recognizes the unique need for affordable housing and proposes solutions built to work in small town and rural America.

Many of the Administration’s actions just announced reflect HAC’s policy priorities. But it remains critical that these actions be complemented by initiatives to address another essential factor in improving housing for rural Americans—building the capacity of local organizations to improve their own communities. Because rural places often have small and part-time local governments, they often find it particularly difficult to navigate the complexities of federal programs and modern housing finance, and to compete for government resources. Philanthropy has not stepped in to address this inequity built into our systems, instead concentrating its resources in already-prosperous high-cost regions. Targeted capacity building through federal investments in training and technical assistance is how most local organizations build skills, tap information, and gain the wherewithal to do what they know needs to be done.

Rural communities hold vast potential to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life for all Americans. Access to quality, affordable housing is key to jumpstarting that potential. Building and preserving homes creates jobs, improves education and health outcomes, and provides much-needed financial and physical stability to families in need. We look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress to ensure that these initiatives move us closer to the day when every American has access to a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home.

HUD Releases Worst Case Housing Report

HUD released the its Worst Case Housing Needs 2017 Report to Congress. The report provides national data and analysis of the critical problems facing very low-income renting families. Households with worst case needs are defined as very low-income renters who do not receive government housing assistance and who paid more than one-half of their income for rent, lived in severely inadequate conditions, or both.

Affordable Housing Gap Continues to Grow

entry-27-hs 51 coverThe Low-Income Housing Coalition’s latest issue of its Housing Spotlight examines the gap between the supply and demand for affordable rental units at the national and state level. The report, Affordable Housing is Nowhere to be Found for Millions, provides a detailed look at the housing needs of low-income renter households across the country. According to the report, there are only 31 affordable and available rental units for every 100 extremely low-income renter households. The report highlights a variety of factors that have contributed to this growing issue and notes that without government intervention at the federal, state, and local level, the gap will only continue growing.

Fair Market Rent Out of Reach for Many, Especially for Minimum Wage Earners

rrb_oor2013_thb

On March 11, 2013, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released Out of Reach 2013, which highlights the difficulty low wage earners throughout all 50 states face in affording market rate housing. The report finds that a person working full time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 cannot afford a two bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rent (FMR), in any state throughout the United States. Excluding several counties in Washington and Oregon (which have higher state minimum wages), there is no county in the U.S. where a one-bedroom unit at the FMR is affordable to a minimum wage earner.

Rural Implications

Though housing costs are usually lower in rural areas than urban locales, renters in many rural areas are still not earning enough to afford quality housing. Out of Reach calculated an average wage for renters in nonmetropolitan America of $10.01, which falls $3 short of the hourly Housing Wage necessary to afford FMR housing. In all but one state, the nonmetropolitan two-bedroom housing wage is out of reach for those earning the average renter wage.

Download the Research Brief

Volume 1 Number 3

Rural Voices: Robie’s House

In the title article, “Robie’s House,” the Spring 1996 issue of Rural Voices describes one approach to building homes affordably. In addition this issue celebrates the accomplishments of rural programs in both Texas and Vermont. We also highlight the efforts of our rural housing workshop partnet; the Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP), to empower communities and improve infrasftructure. Finally, we have some words to say about the new rules goveming the Community Reinvestment Act and some of the changes affecting the Rural Housing Service’s Section 502 Homeownership program.