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Policy News from Congress

Updated 7/16 – FY22 Funding Bill Moves Forward in House

Update, July 16, 2021 – The House Appropriations Committee has approved the Transportation-HUD funding bill. It is expected to be considered by the full House as part of a “minibus” package of several FY22 appropriations bills, which will also include the Agriculture bill.

 

On July 16, 2021 the House Appropriations Committee will consider a fiscal year 2022 funding bill for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. The bill was approved on July 12 by the T-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee.

The House bill would set funding levels for many HUD programs at or above the amounts requested in the President’s budget and would provide substantial increases above FY21 levels for almost all programs. Details are provided in the table below.

 

HUD Program

(dollars in millions)

FY20 Final Approp. FY21 Final Approp. FY22 Admin. Budget FY22 House Bill
CDBG $3,425 $3,475 $3,770 $4,688
HOME 1,350 1,350 1,850 1,850
Self-Help Homeownshp. (SHOP) 10 10 10 15
Veterans Home Rehab 4 4 4
Tenant-Based Rental Asstnce. 23,874 25,778 30,442 29,216
    VASH setaside 40 40 20
    Tribal VASH 1 5 5 5
Project-Based Rental Asstnce. 12,570 13,465 14,060 14,010
Public Hsg. Capital Fund 2,870 2,942 3,678 3,718
Public Hsg. Operating Fund 4,549 4,864 4,917 4,922
Choice Neighbrhd. Initiative 175 200 250 400
Native Amer. Hsg. 825 825 1,000 950
Homeless Assistance Grants 2,777 3,000 3,500 3,420
Hsg. Opps. for Persons w/ AIDS 410 430 450 600
202 Hsg. for Elderly 793 855 928 1,033
811 Hsg. for Disabled 202 227 272 352
Fair Housing 70.3 72.6 85 85
Healthy Homes & Lead Haz. Cntl. 290 360 400 460
Housing Counseling 53 57.5 85.9 100

 

HAC News: March 10, 2020

News Formats. pdf

March 10, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 5

USDA and HUD offer resources on coronavirus Household Water Well System Grants available HAC research brief tackles tax relief for sellers of affordable rental properties HUD guidance describes new provisions for small rural PHAs File information regarding a regional plan by June 30 to garner extra points for some USDA RD funding Housing legislation moves forward in the House CFPB provides FAQs for mortgage disclosure rule New RD Deputy Under Secretary named Census to replace American FactFinder Affordable Homes at Risk Many Living in Rural America Struggling with Housing as Cost of Living Outstrips Wages Toolkit for State and Local Government Officials Understanding Rural Attitudes Toward the Environment and Conservation in America • SAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

March 10, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 5

USDA and HUD offer resources on coronavirus.

Both departments provide basic resources and a link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most up to date information. HUD suggests housing providers can share CDC fact sheets to help stakeholders understand the virus and steps to protect themselves. It also offers an infectious disease toolkit for Continuums of Care, noting that people experiencing homelessness are especially vulnerable. The National Health Care for the Homeless Council has collected other resources and information on the subject. USDA provides additional information about food safety and pet safety. Articles published by the Daily Yonder and the Center for American Progress present differing perspectives about rural risk: “Rural Areas at Less Risk of Coronavirus Currently” because people have contact with fewer others, or Rural Americans are Vulnerable to the Coronavirus” because they have larger proportions of vulnerable populations, residents often cannot work at home, and access to health care is limited.

Household Water Well System Grants available.

USDA offers grants to nonprofits to establish revolving loan funds that will make loans for household water well systems in places with populations under 50,000, tribal lands and colonias. Apply by May 31. For more information, contact Derek Jones, USDA RD, 202-720-9640.

HAC research brief tackles tax relief for sellers of affordable rental properties.

As the rural rental housing crisis builds, often the best way to preserve a property’s affordability is to sell it to an entity that will keep operating it as an affordable rental. Among the many issues involved in arranging such a sale is the need to cover the seller’s tax bill. A new HAC research brief, Tax Considerations for Rural Housing Preservation, looks at this issue and possible solutions.

HUD guidance describes new provisions for small rural PHAs.

While HUD is developing regulations to implement provisions of a 2018 law related to small PHAs in rural places, it has published initial guidance explaining how it is defining small and rural, and how it is currently implementing provisions that take effect without regulations. Just over 1,500 PHAs fit the definition; see the list of Section 209 Small Rural PHAs. They can inspect voucher units less often than other PHAs and are exempt from environmental review requirements for development or rehab projects costing under $100,000. For more information, contact Harold Katsura, HUD, 202-402-3042.

File information regarding a regional plan by June 30 to garner extra points for some USDA RD funding.

Applicants for community facilities, water and waste, or business programs may receive priority points if their projects support strategic economic and community investment plans. Applicants must submit a form by June 30 to be eligible. For more information, contact an RD state office.

Housing legislation moves forward in the House.

On March 2 the House of Representatives passed the Yes In My Backyard Act (H.R. 4351), which would require governments receiving CDBG funding to report on land use policies that support affordable housing production, and the Improving FHA Support for Small Dollar Mortgages Act (H.R. 5931), which would require the FHA to review its policies, practices and products to identify barriers to supporting mortgages under $70,000. Two other measures were approved by the House Financial Services Committee on February 28 but have not yet been considered by the full House. The Housing is Infrastructure Act (H.R. 5187) would authorize substantial funding increases for numerous housing programs, including USDA’s MPR and Section 504 programs. The Housing Fairness Act (H.R. 149) would fund nationwide housing discrimination testing as well as research and education and would increase appropriations for the Fair Housing Initiatives Program.

CFPB provides FAQs for mortgage disclosure rule.

The consumer agency’s questions and answers pertain to compliance with the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule (TRID) for home mortgage closing cost estimates. Specific topics include corrected closing disclosures and the three business-day waiting period, model forms, construction loans, loan estimates and lender credits.

New RD Deputy Under Secretary named.

Donald “DJ” LaVoy, who has served as Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development at USDA since September, is retiring. Bette Brand will move into the deputy position. She has most recently been the Administrator of the Rural Business-Cooperative Service. The Under Secretary position, eliminated by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and reinstated by the 2018 Farm Bill, remains vacant.

Census to replace American FactFinder.

The U.S. Census Bureau will take its American FactFinder tool offline on March 31. The AFF tool will be replaced with the new data.census.gov utility. While the transition takes place, data and information on rural communities across the country will always be available at HAC’s Rural Data Portal. For more information on HAC’s data portal, contact dataportal@ruralhome.org.

Recent publications and media of interest

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 2020 Conference Footer

HAC News: February 20, 2020

News Formats. pdf

February 20, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 4

February is National African American History Month • Administration’s budget proposes cuts in many housing programs, but not rural rental preservation CRA comment period extended to April 8 VA offers per diem funds for veterans’ housing stabilization HUD joins in proposing rule changes for faith-based organization FCC launches fund to spread broadband in rural America, legislators concerned White House releases guide to help local communities tackle the rural opiod and drug crisis Comments requested on alternative measures of poverty HUD asks tribes for input on two-year funding notices CEOs and nonprofit leaders sought for Achieving Excellence program Appalachia Gets Special Funding. The Black Rural South Deserves It Too Colorado’s Housing Crisis has Gotten So Bad that Small Towns are Now Building People Homes The Rural Health Safety Net Under Pressure: Rural Housing Volunerability The Trump Administration’s Latest Attack on Fair Housing Where Light Pollution is Seeping into the Rural Night Sky • HAC Seeks is Hiring an Executive Assistant • SAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

February 20, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 4

February is National African American History Month.

Administration’s budget proposes cuts in many housing programs, but not rural rental preservation.

Like its past budgets, the Administration’s proposal for Fiscal Year 2021 proposes to eliminate many housing programs, including USDA’s Section 502 direct loans for homebuyers, Section 515 and 514/516 loans and grants for rental housing production, and HUD’s CDBG, HOME and SHOP, while supporting renewal of Section 521 Rental Assistance contracts and Section 542 vouchers. Unlike previous versions, the budget proposes to increase USDA’s MPR preservation program to $40 million from $28 million in FY20. It would also fund two repair programs, Section 504 grants for very low-income elderly homeowners and Section 533 Housing Preservation Grants. The House and Senate usually do not follow the budget closely when developing their appropriations legislation for the year.

CRA comment period extended to April 8.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have extended the deadline for input on their proposed changes to Community Reinvestment Act regulations. Comments will be due on April 8 rather than on March 9, as originally scheduled.

VA offers per diem funds for veterans’ housing stabilization.

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program will fund nonprofits, state and local governments and tribes to provide per diem payments to facilitate housing stabilization for veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Apply by April 22. For more information, contact Jeffery Quarles, VA, 813-979-3570.

HUD joins in proposing rule changes for faith-based organizations.

Like the proposed rules published by USDA and other agencies in January, HUD’s proposal would delete the requirement for faith-based social service providers to refer beneficiaries to an alternative provider if desired. Faith-based organizations would not be required to provide notices unless secular organizations have the same requirements. Comments to HUD are due April 13. (Comments on the USDA proposal are due February 18.) For more information, contact Richard Youngblood, HUD, 202-402-5958.

FCC launches fund to spread broadband in rural America, legislators concerned.

The Federal Communications Commission adopted rules on January 30 for its new Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. Up to $20.4 billion will be released in two phases. The first phase will begin later this year and target areas wholly without broadband, while the second phase will open to those partially served by broadband. The FCC’s report includes details and the final regulations. Members of the House have written to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai expressing concerns about the RDOF’s coordination with state-level broadband efforts.

White House releases guide to help local communities tackle the rural opioid and drug crisis.

The Rural Community Action Guide aims to educate the public by providing an overview of the challenges rural communities face when addressing prescription opioid misuse and the use of illicit substances. It also showcases localized efforts implemented to help mitigate the impact of substance use disorder. HAC provided the housing chapter for the guide.

Comments requested on alternative measures of poverty.

OMB invites the public to comment by April 14 on questions asked by the Interagency Technical Working Group on Evaluating Alternative Measures of Poverty to help inform its recommendations on producing additional measures of poverty. The Working Group has issued a consensus interim report but has not yet decided whether to recommend development of a new poverty measure. For more information, contact Kerrie Leslie, OMB, 202-395-1093.

HUD asks tribes for input on two-year funding notices.

For recent tribal funding competitions, HUD has experimented with offering two years of appropriations in a single Notice of Funding Availability. It requests comments from tribes by March 13 about this approach, sent to ONAP_ICDBG@hud.gov or by mail to the address provided in the request.

CEOs and nonprofit leaders sought for Achieving Excellence program.

The NeighborWorks Achieving Excellence program, in collaboration with Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, offers senior leaders of nonprofits a 16-month program that addresses an organizational challenge or opportunity defined by each participant. Applications are due April 15.

Recent publications and media of interest

HAC is hiring an Executive Assistant.

The Executive Assistant supports the work of HAC’s CEO and Board of Directors. Based in Washington, DC, the position is a blend of administrative work and project assignments for an earlycareer professional. The candidate will manage the CEO’s calendar, organize meetings, plan events and make travel arrangements while working on special initiatives and assignments as the candidate grows into a career in policy, program administration or nonprofit management. Email a resume and brief cover letter to jobs@ruralhome.org with “Executive Assistant” in the subject line. Applications will be considered as received. HAC is an equal opportunity employer and lender.


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.


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: January 27, 2020

News Formats. pdf

January 27, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 2

Administration’s FY21 budget to be released February 10 • Rural broadband funds available • USDA proposes rule changes related to faith-based organizations • Disaster funding for Puerto Rico moves forward • USDA offers advice on compliance with disability requirements • Updated guidance on lead-based paint offered by USDA and HUD • USDA annual tenant data released • 2020 Census launches • 2,500 Affordable Apartments in Rural Maine at Risk as Federal Program Ends • Alternative Drinking Water Systems: Use by Very Small Communities, Related Cost Savings, and Technical Assistance provided by EPA and USDA • Family Homelessness: Measuring Progress • How a Dozen Organizations are fighting Persistent Poverty Together • Research Shows Rental Assistance Reduces Hardship and Provides Platform to Expand Opportunity for Low-Income Families • Storytelling Toolkit: Lessons Learned from NHT’s “Where Will We Live?” • Two-thirds of Rural Counties Gain Jobs from November 2018 to 2019 • HAC Seeks Senior Portfolio Manager • SAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!HAC offers Section 512 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

January 27, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 2

Administration’s FY21 budget to be released February 10.

The Trump Administration is expected to release its budget request for fiscal year 2021 on February 10, beginning the process of funding the federal government for the year that begins on October 1, 2020. Overall spending levels for the year are already in place, set by legislation adopted in July 2019.

Rural broadband funds available.

The application window opens January 31 for the Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect Program), which offers loans, grants and combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas. State and local governments, tribes, nonprofits, for-profits and coops can apply by March 16. RUS also requests comments on the program by March 16. For more information, visit https://reconnect.usda.gov or contact Chad Parker, RUS, 202-720-9554.

USDA proposes rule changes related to faith-based organizations.

Changes to rules on faith-based entities as federal program providers have been suggested by USDA and several other federal departments and agencies. USDA’s proposal includes eliminating a requirement for a faith-based service provider to refer beneficiaries to an alternative provider if they do not want to receive services from the faith-based provider. It would also ensure that faith-based organizations are not required to provide any assurances or notices unless similar requirements are imposed on non-faith-based organizations. Comments are due February 18. For more information, contact Emily Tasman, USDA Office of General Counsel, 202720-3351.

Disaster funding for Puerto Rico moves forward.

After missing a September 4 deadline, HUD has now published the conditions Puerto Rico must meet in order to access $8.25 billion in disaster mitigation (not recovery) funds appropriated in 2018. HUD announced it has prepared a grant agreement for another $8.2 billion in hurricane disaster recovery funds, though, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the agreement’s terms are not publicly available and Puerto Rico has not yet signed it. HUD also recently named a Federal Financial Monitor who will oversee administration and disbursement of hurricane recovery funds for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additional funding to help Puerto Rico recover from recent earthquakes has been proposed by some members of the House Appropriations Committee, who drafted a bill to provide $3.35 billion in FY20 emergency supplemental funding for the island, including $2 billion in CDBG disaster recovery monies.

USDA offers advice on compliance with disability requirements.

A January 10 Unnumbered Letter summarizes steps USDA staff and operators of USDA-financed rental housing should take to comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires accessibility for people with disabilities.

Updated guidance on lead-based paint offered by USDA and HUD.

Along with a table showing which HUD regulations on lead-based paint hazards apply to specific programs run by USDA RD agencies, Administrative Notice 4873 (December 5, 2019) lists exemptions, compliance funding sources, implementation responsibilities and details relevant to individual programs. HUD recently posted trainings and other resources online related to its lead safe housing rule.

USDA annual tenant data released.

USDA’s annual update of data on the tenants in Section 515 and 514/516 properties is now available online. Tenant characteristics as of September 2019 were similar to those in September 2018. Section 515 residents are still largely elderly or disabled (65.2%). The average income of all Section 515 residents is $13,551, an increase from $13,112 in 2018. During that one-year period, 214 Section 515 properties and 10 Section 514 properties – about 4,500 units, just over 1% of the total – left USDA’s portfolio. Past reports back to 2010 are posted on HAC’s website.

2020 Census launches.

On January 21 in Toksook Bay, Alaska the 2020 Census began counting U.S. residents to determine the number of seats each state will hold in the House of Representatives and how billions of dollars in federal funds will be allocated. Most U.S. households will receive information in March about responding. The Census is still recruiting temporary workers for positions across the country.

Recent publications and media of interest

HAC seeks Senior Portfolio Manager.

The Senior Portfolio Manager provides leadership and oversight to a team that performs a range of lending activities – closing, disbursement, monitoring, servicing and asset management of single-family and multifamily housing development loans – in HAC’s Loan Fund Division, based in Washington, DC. Email a resume and brief cover letter to jobs@ruralhome.org with “Senior Portfolio Manager” in the subject line. Applications will be considered as received.


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 course trains 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. 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).

HAC News: January 10, 2020

News Formats. pdf

January 10, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 1

Deadline set for Community Reinvestment Act commentsMajor changes proposed for Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rulesHomeless Veterans Grant and Per Diem funds offeredYou know what your rural community needs…help us understand too!Changes proposed for relocations caused by federally funded projectsHomeland Security to share citizenship information with Census BureauPuerto Rico still waiting for disaster relief fundsVA offers telehealth services at rural WalmartsHAC seeks Senior Portfolio ManagerNational Self-Help Housing Conference will be Feb. 4-6Housing affordability policy symposium set for Feb. 132019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to CongressCensus 2020: It Takes Effort to Reach People in Rural, Remote AreasCowboy Entreprenuership: The Business Model to Invigorate Rural America in the Next DecadeDebt in America: An Interactive MapAn Interactive Exploration of the Geography of ProsperityNew Index Reveals the “Hidden Innovation” of Rural AmericaPeople in Jail in 2019 SAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!HAC offers Section 512 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

January 10, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 1

Deadline set for Community Reinvestment Act comments.

A long-awaited proposal to revise the Community Reinvestment Act regulations of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency would make changes intended to quantify the CRA scoring system that rates banks’ service to their communities and to broaden their responsibilities to include locations where they receive deposits, rather than only where their branches are located. Comments are due March 9. For more information, contact OCC’s compliance office, 202-649-5470. A separate request for information, issued by OCC only, asks for data that was not already available when the agencies were developing the proposed rule, with a March 10 deadline.

Major changes proposed for Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rules.

Calling the Obama Administration’s 2015 AFFH rule “overly burdensome” and “ineffective,” HUD has proposed a substantial revision. Evaluation of AFFH efforts would be based on whether fair housing claims are made within a jurisdiction and whether the area has an adequate supply of affordable housing and an adequate supply of affordable housing accessible to people with disabilities. Comments will be due 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

Homeless Veterans Grant and Per Diem funds offered.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has funding available for nonprofits, state and local governments and tribes to provide transitional housing and/or service centers for veterans who are homeless or at risk for becoming homeless. Apply by March 2. For more information, email GPDgrants@va.gov or contact Jeffery Quarles, VA, 813-979-3570.

You know what your rural community needs…help us understand too!

To better understand the landscape of organizations doing development work in rural America, the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group and the Housing Assistance Council are conducting a survey. The information you share will shine light on what it takes for you (practitioners) to do what you do. It will also help better tailor the work of our organizations to address current situations, concerns and opportunities.

Changes proposed for relocations caused by federally funded projects.

The Federal Highway Administration is the lead federal agency for implementation of the Uniform Relocation Act, which applies to anyone who moves or whose real estate is acquired as a result of a project receiving federal funds, including HUD and USDA housing projects. FHWA is proposing to amend its regulations. Among other changes, the proposal would implement a 2012 statute that increases relocation benefits and reduces length of occupancy requirements; HUD put those provisions into effect through a 2014 notice. Comments are due March 17. For more information, contact Arnold Feldman, FHWA, 202-366-2028.

Homeland Security to share citizenship information with Census Bureau.

The Department of Homeland Security will share records, including information that identifies individuals, with the Census Bureau. In the past it has provided Census with anonymized data only. The change is based on an Executive Order issued by President Trump in July, which states that such information may not be used “to bring immigration enforcement actions against particular individuals.”

Puerto Rico still waiting for disaster relief funds.

Puerto Rico has been approved for disaster relief after earthquakes in early January, but has not yet received substantial funds that were approved by Congress following Hurricane Maria in 2017. The statutory deadline for HUD to release the aid was September 4, 2019. Separately, on December 10, 2019, FEMA and Puerto Rico’s recovery office approved nearly $59 million in funds for recovery projects on the island including emergency protective measures and building and road repairs.

VA offers telehealth services at rural Walmarts.

VA’s distribution of health services and information through electronic media, called Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations (ATLAS), has been offered at American Legion and VFW posts. Now the VA has started a public-private partnership with Walmart stores to better reach the 5.6 million veterans living in rural areas. Pilot ATLAS programs are located in Walmarts in Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

HAC seeks Senior Portfolio Manager.

The Senior Portfolio Manager provides leadership and oversight to a team that performs a range of lending activities – closing, disbursement, monitoring, servicing and asset management of single-family and multifamily housing development loans – in HAC’s Loan Fund Division, based in Washington, DC. Email a resume and brief cover letter to jobs@ruralhome.org with “Senior Portfolio Manager” in the subject line. Applications will be considered as received.

National Self-Help Housing Conference will be Feb. 4-6.

Organizations receiving self-help funds from USDA can learn and network with other grantees and USDA RD staff at this event in Albuquerque. For more information, contact Little Dixie Community Action Agency, 580-326-5165.

Housing affordability policy symposium set for Feb. 13.

Habitat for Humanity’s Cost of Home campaign, in which HAC is an affiliate, is hosting “Local Voices Informing Federal Action: A Symposium on Home Affordability” in Washington, DC on February 13. Attendees will hear from state and local practitioners and federal policy experts focusing on four policy areas: increasing the supply and preservation of affordable homes, equitably increasing access to credit, optimizing land use for affordable homes and ensuring access to and the development of communities of opportunity. For more information, email costofhome@habitat.org.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • The 2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress from HUD says homelessness nationwide increased by 3% from 2018 to 2019, due mostly to increases in West Coast states, including a 16% rise in California. Largely rural continuums of care accounted for 18% of all homeless people in the U.S. and 41% of those in largely rural CoCs were unsheltered.
  • Census 2020: It Takes Effort to Reach People in Rural, Remote Areas describes the importance of the upcoming 2020 decennial census. The article focuses on Montana – a mostly rural state – and the $2 billion in federal funding the state receives, based primarily on census data. While 2020 is the first time most people can fill out the census form online, census takers will visit many remote rural areas in person where residents do not have internet access.
  • Cowboy Entrepreneurship: The Business Model to Invigorate Rural America in the Next Decade, an article for Forbes, argues that rural America is in prime position to take advantage of the sharing economy. According to the piece, by tapping into idle assets like unused farm equipment, rural people and communities can increase their income and unlock the potential of their existing industries.
  • Debt in America: An Interactive Map from the Urban Institute allows users to view data on various kinds of debt at the state and county level, with details for white communities and communities of color.
  • An Interactive Exploration of the Geography of Prosperity offers an online tool to evaluate a county’s vitality based on median household income, poverty rate, unemployment rates, prime-age employment rate, life expectancy and housing vacancy rate.
  • New Index Reveals the “Hidden Innovation” of Rural America describes research on business innovation, conducted by the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development at Penn State. Counties with higher innovation scores also have greater employment and income growth. A map shows counties with these high scores scattered widely across the U.S.
  • People in Jail in 2019, a study by the Vera Institute of Justice, reports that populations in local jails have been increasing over the last four years. Notably, while incarceration rates are on the decline in urban areas, they are increasing in rural jurisdictions.

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.


ICYMI: The Dec. 20 HAC News covered federal funding for FY20; NOFAs for fair housing, aid to human trafficking victims, and African American cultural heritage; final Opportunity Zones regulations; the latest on the ERS/NIFA move; and more.

HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia. This three-day advanced course trains 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. 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).

HAC News: December 20, 2019

News Formats. pdf

November 20, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 25

Agreement reached on FY20 government fundingRegulators release Community Reinvestment Act proposalFair housing funds available from HUDFunding offered for housing aid to victims of human traffickingAfrican American Cultural Heritage grants availableHAC seeks Senior Portfolio ManagerFinal Opportunity Zones regulations postedHouse passes farmworker and rental preservation billGAO review of ERS/NIFA relocation requestedEmployees’ morale holds steady at USDA RD, plummets at ERS and NIFAUSDA RD launches new websiteApplications invited for Rural Youth Summit scheduled in April 2020 Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Affordable Rentals in Indian Country Why Millennials are Moving Away from Large Urban CentersHappy Holidays! SAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!HAC offers Section 512 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 20, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 25

Agreement reached on FY20 government funding.

Two lengthy spending bills to fund the entire federal government for the rest of fiscal year 2020 were passed by the House on December 17 and the Senate on December 19. President Trump is expected to sign them into law before the most recent continuing resolution expires on December 20. H.R. 1865, which includes both USDA and HUD, keeps most USDA rural housing programs at FY19 levels. It increases funding for preserving rural rental housing and includes other pro-preservation provisions as well. It also contains a provision inserted on the Senate floor that allows USDA to renew Section 521 Rental Assistance agreements for 20 years, when requested by property owners, and subject to annual appropriations. Many HUD programs, including HOME and CDBG, receive funding increases in the final measure. It also directs more than $1 billion in Low Income Housing Tax Credits to fire-damaged parts of California and pressures HUD to release disaster funding for Puerto Rico. H.R. 1158, the second of the two final bills, includes the full funding needed to undertake the 2020 Census. It also renews the National Flood Insurance Program.

Regulators release Community Reinvestment Act proposal.

A long-awaited proposal to revise Community Reinvestment Act regulations has been announced by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The changes are intended to quantify the CRA scoring system that rates banks’ service to their communities, and to broaden their responsibilities to include locations where they receive deposits, rather than only where their branches are located. Public comments will be due in mid-February, 60 days after the proposal is officially published in the Federal Register.

Fair housing funds available from HUD.

HUD is offering funds from three components of the Fair Housing Initiative Program. The application deadline for all three programs is February 6.

  • The Education and Outreach Initiative will fund fair housing organizations, nonprofits, state or local governments and Fair Housing Assistance Program agencies to conduct education and outreach informing people of their fair housing rights and responsibilities.
  • The Private Enforcement Initiative will fund experienced Qualified Fair Housing Enforcement Organizations and Fair Housing Enforcement Organizations to take complaints, conduct investigations, offer education and other activities.
  • The Fair Housing Organization Initiative will fund nonprofits or fair housing groups to build the capacity of other organizations to undertake fair housing enforcement activities.

Funding offered for housing aid to victims of human trafficking.

Nonprofits, tribes, units of local government, and states and territories are eligible for grants to provide transitional or short-term housing assistance and support services to victims of human trafficking. The deadline is February 3. For more information, contact the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, 800-851-3420, grants@ncjrs.gov. (This funding announcement, released by the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime, replaces one that was announced by HUD earlier in 2019, then postponed.)

African American Cultural Heritage grants available.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation will make grants to public agencies and nonprofits for planning, capital projects and capacity building that will advance ongoing preservation activities for historic places representing African American heritage. Letters of intent are due January 15. For more information, contact the Trust, grants@savingplaces.org.

HAC seeks Senior Portfolio Manager.

The Senior Portfolio Manager provides leadership and oversight to a team that performs a range of lending activities – closing, disbursement, monitoring, servicing and asset management of single-family and multifamily housing development loans – in HAC’s Loan Fund Division, based in Washington, DC. Email a resume and brief cover letter to jobs@ruralhome.org with “Senior Portfolio Manager” in the subject line. Applications will be considered as received.

Final Opportunity Zones regulations posted.

A final rule governing the Opportunity Zones program was issued December 19 by the Treasury Department and IRS. It will take effect 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

House passes farmworker and rental preservation bill.

On December 11 the full House approved the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038), which includes provisions relating to farmworkers and rural rental housing preservation. It is not clear whether the Senate will take any action on the measure.

GAO review of ERS/NIFA relocation requested.

Five Democratic members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee have asked the Government Accountability Office to review the Administration’s decision to move the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to Kansas City. As the letter to GAO notes, hundreds of employees declined to move, and USDA’s latest figures show 64% of ERS positions and 75% of NIFA positions are empty. The House appropriations bill for FY20 would have blocked the relocation but, since the shift has now been completed, this week’s final funding bill does not.

Employees’ morale holds steady at USDA RD, plummets at ERS and NIFA.

The annual “Best Places to Work Agency Ratings,” based on surveys of federal workers, show Rural Development is number 364 among 420 sub-agencies, scoring 52.7 out of 100, essentially the same as its 52.8 score in 2018. After the Administration relocated their offices, the Economic Research Service’s score fell 30 points from 2018 to 2019, putting it at number 415, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture dropped 24 points to number 419. RD’s highest score since 2013 – the earliest year shown with this year’s data – was 67.7 in 2017, when ERS scored 74.6 and NIFA 53.4.

USDA RD launches new website.

The new version of rd.usda.gov reorganizes the former “Regulations and Guidelines” section into a “Resources” category. Resources are divided between “Regulations” and “Directives,” with the latter category including Administrative Notices, Unnumbered Letters, Handbooks and more. Some URLs have changed and some remain the same.

Applications invited for Rural Youth Summit scheduled in April 2020.

The Rural Assembly will select 50 people aged 16-24 from rural communities and Native Nations to attend the Rural Youth Summit, to be held April 2-5 in McAllen, TX. The summit’s goals are “to further explore the unique challenges facing rural youth, identify creative solutions, and provide a context for how these issues fit into national rural policy.” Local organizations and schools can serve as sponsoring organizations. Applications are due January 31. For more information, contact Mary Sketch, 919-402-7241.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Affordable Rentals in Indian Country discusses “how the complex relationship between economic incentives and policy objectives creates a unique challenge for LIHTC development in tribal areas.”

Happy holidays!

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’s board and staff wish peace, happiness and affordable housing to all!

HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia.

This three-day advanced course trains 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. 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).

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: October 21, 2019

News Formats. pdf

October 21, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 21

Senate may begin considering FY20 spending bills the week of October 21 • Apply by November 15 for grants to support housing aid to rural veterans • HUD offers funds for new Section 811 housing and rental aid for persons with disabilities • USDA obligated all Section 502 direct funds for FY19, but not Section 504 • USDA to begin accepting Section 538 rental guarantee applications continuously • Lawsuit charges Texas’s Hurricane Harvey recovery discriminates against low-income renters of color • Executive Orders increase scrutiny of agency guidance • Administration tells agencies to pay as they go • Senate committee considers homeownership in Indian Country • USDA names Deputy Administrator for rental housing office • Threshold raised for single-family appraisal requirements • HUD sets expediated process for PHAs in disaster countries • NEW! HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, Nov. 12-14 in Tampa • HAC training for housing counselors set for November in Tampa • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 21, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 21

Senate may begin considering FY20 spending bills the week of October 21.

The first FY20 appropriations bill to be debated on the Senate floor may be a package that includes funding for HUD and USDA, along with other agencies. Even after the Senate passes its measures, differences between its bills and the House’s will need to be resolved, as will differences with White House priorities.

Apply by November 15 for 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.

HUD offers funds for new Section 811 housing and rental aid for persons with disabilities.

For the first time since 2010, capital advances and rental assistance contracts are available for nonprofits to develop permanent supportive rental housing for very low-income adults with disabilities. For the first time since 2013, project-based rental subsidies are also offered to state agencies, to be used for existing, rehabilitated or new permanent supportive housing units that do not have capital advances from HUD’s Section 811 or 202 programs. Applications for both funding pools are due February 10, 2020. For more information, contact HUD staff at FY18811NOFA@hud.gov.

USDA obligated all Section 502 direct funds for FY19, but not Section 504.

Despite the federal government shutdown early in the fiscal year, USDA obligated all available funds for Section 502 direct loans this year, using just over $1 billion for a total of 6,194 mortgage loans to new low-income homebuyers. About 37% of the loans and 42% of the dollars went to very low-income applicants. HAC appreciates RHS Administrator Bruce Lammers’s approval of overtime for field staff and other special authorizations, which made this possible.

There was, however, a significant shortfall in the agency’s use of Section 504 loans and grants for repairs to homes owned by very low-income people. USDA obligated 2,735 Section 504 loans, representing $17.4 million of the $28 million available, and 3,908 grants, using $24.8 million of the $30 million appropriated. The remaining grant funds can be used in FY20, but the loan monies cannot.

Use of resources for rental housing preservation exceeded last year’s performance, with 85 loans from Section 515 and 205 loans and three grants from the MPR program.

More information is provided in HAC’s obligation report, and HAC will also publish a more detailed FY19 performance report.

USDA to begin accepting Section 538 rental guarantee applications continuously.

As proposed in December, USDA will no longer publish annual NOFAs for the Section 538 rental housing guarantee program. It will publish an announcement when funds are available and will then accept applications at any time. For more information, contact Monica Cole, RD, 202-720-1251.

Lawsuit charges Texas’s Hurricane Harvey recovery discriminates against low-income renters of color.

Low-income Hispanic and African-American renters have sued HUD and the state of Texas alleging discrimination in the distribution of CDBG Disaster Recovery funds after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The suit claims that the state’s decision to target aid to homeowners, landlords and developers while excluding renters is discriminatory because low-income renters are more likely to be African-American or Hispanic.

Executive Orders increase scrutiny of agency guidance.

On October 9 President Trump signed two Executive Orders, one requiring federal executive agencies such as USDA and HUD to increase transparency around their use of guidance documents and the other limiting agency reliance on past enforcement activities to establish standards of compliance with laws or regulations. The Office of Management and Budget is given authority to implement the provisions on guidance documents, including to require OMB review of “significant” guidance documents. The Executive Order does not refer to OMB review authorities announced in an April 11, 2019 memo from OMB’s Acting Director Russell Vought, though the two seem to overlap.

Administration tells agencies to pay as they go.

An Executive Order issued on October 10 intends to “reinvigorate administrative PAYGO,” requiring federal departments and agencies to reduce spending in one area when they propose a spending increase in another area unless a law requires the increase. OMB is given authority to waive the requirements and to issue instructions for implementing the order.

Senate committee considers homeownership in Indian Country.

On October 16, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a hearing entitled “Lending Opportunities: Opening the Door to Homeownership in Indian Country.” Witnesses included HUD Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing Hunter Kurtz, Governor Max Zuni of the Pueblo of Isleta, Council Member Nate Mount of the Ft. Belknap Indian Community, BIA Director Darryl LaCounte and Patrice Kunesh from the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Discussions focused on the need for capital in Indian Country, the role Native CDFIs can play in bringing lending capacity to tribal areas and potential modernizations to the HUD Section 184 program. For more on challenges and opportunities for mortgage finance in Indian Country, review HAC’s recent report here.

USDA names Deputy Administrator for rental housing office.

Nancie-Ann Bodell, who became Acting Deputy Administrator for Multi-Family Housing several months ago, has been selected to fill the position on a permanent basis. She oversees USDA’s programs for the production and preservation of rental housing as well as the existing portfolio of affordable rental housing and farm labor housing.

Threshold raised for single-family appraisal requirements.

The agencies that regulate banks and thrifts are raising the threshold level at which appraisals are not required for single-family (one to four units) real estate transactions from $250,000 to $400,000. Some rural properties are exempt from the appraisal requirement altogether. When appraisals are not required, lenders must obtain evaluations, consistent with safe and sound banking practices. For more information, contact G. Kevin Lawton, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, 202-649-7152.

HUD sets expedited process for PHAs in disaster counties.

HUD has established an expedited process to review requests for relief from HUD regulatory and/or administrative requirements for public housing agencies in counties that are included in major disaster declarations in calendar year 2019. For more information, contact HUD staff, PIH_Disaster_Relief@hud.gov.

*NEW!* HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, Nov. 12-14 in Tampa.

This three-day advanced course trains 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 Tampa, FL on November 12-14. For more information, contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

HAC training for housing counselors set for November in Tampa.

HUD’s final rule on new certification requirements for housing counselors requires that by August 1, 2020 counseling for or in connection with any HUD programs must be provided by HUD Certified Housing Counselors. Get ready! Elevate your knowledge in the six essential competency areas, including financial management, housing affordability, homeownership, avoiding foreclosure, tenancy and fair housing. Set yourself up for success in meeting HUDs counselor certification requirements by starting your prep with this three-day course scheduled for Tampa, FL on November 12-14. The registration fee is $500. 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).