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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: 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: May 3, 2019

News Formats. pdf

May 03, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 9

Members of Congress see housing as infrastructure, bill proposes added rural housing funding • IRS issues second proposed rule on Opportunity Zones • More special authorizations set for Section 502 direct mortgages • FY19 median incomes and income limits released • New exemptions for mortgage data reporting proposed • Administration to propose evicting undocumented immigrants from HUD-assisted housing • HUD adds, then postpones, restrictions on downpayment aid • Use this mobile app to contribute data on rural broadband • RuralSTAT • New site now available to access Census Bureau data • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to sunset HMDA data tool • Recent publications and media of interest • New Chief of Staff named at Rural Housing Service • HAC Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits in Nashville announced • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

May 03, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 9

Members of Congress see housing as infrastructure, bill proposes added rural housing funding.
As a HAC blog post notes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have included housing among infrastructure needs they hope to address. On April 30 the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing titled “Housing in America: Assessing the Infrastructure Needs of America’s Housing Stock.” A draft bill from committee chair Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the Housing is Infrastructure Act, would authorize $1 billion for USDA’s Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization Demonstration program and $100 million for Section 504 home repair loans and grants, as well as $1 billion for Native American housing block grants and significant sums for the Public Housing Capital Fund, the National Housing Trust Fund and CDBG. Even if the bill were to become law, the funds would have to be appropriated separately.

IRS issues second proposed rule on Opportunity Zones.
This proposal supplements one published in the Federal Register on October 29, 2018. It also revises and clarifies parts of the earlier document. The IRS is still considering the comments submitted on the 2018 publication. Comments on the new release are due July 1. A public hearing will be held in Lanham, MD on July 9. For more information, contact Erika C. Reigle, IRS, 202-317-7006. Separately, the Treasury Department requests comments on what information it should collect to determine the effectiveness of investment in Opportunity Zones. Comments are due May 31. For more information, contact Craig Johnson, Treasury, 202-622-2000.

More special authorizations set for Section 502 direct mortgages.
USDA has waived requirements in addition to those announced earlier. To help use all Section 502 direct loan funds before the end of the fiscal year on September 30, purchases of existing Section 502 properties can be processed as new loans and USDA will accept appraisals obtained by self-help grantees as well as from certified loan application packagers and intermediaries. For more information, contact an RD office.

FY19 median incomes and income limits released.
HUD has published the fiscal year 2019 estimated median family incomes and income limits that are used for numerous housing programs.

New exemptions for mortgage data reporting proposed.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is proposing to ease Home Mortgage Disclosure Act reporting requirements by increasing the threshold for mortgage reporting. Many smaller lenders and credit unions would not have to report their lending activities at all. HAC is currently analyzing the potential for reduced mortgage reporting and will make that information available soon. Comments will be due to the CFPB 30 days after the proposal is officially published in the Federal Register. Responses to a request for comments on data points will be due 60 days after publication.

Administration to propose evicting undocumented immigrants from HUD-assisted housing.
Persons without legal status in the U.S. are currently ineligible for HUD aid but families whose members have different immigration statuses can receive pro-rated assistance. Reportedly the department will propose a new regulation to evict those families, though its text has not been made public. A comment period will begin when the proposal is officially published in the Federal Register.

HUD adds, then postpones, restrictions on downpayment aid.
The Federal Housing Administration issued a notice on April 18 requiring government entities that provide downpayment assistance for those receiving FHA mortgages to document their governmental authority to provide the aid. The requirements were intended to be effective immediately, but were postponed until July 23 after the Cedar Band of Paiutes and its mortgage agency filed suit claiming the new requirements constituted discrimination because they effectively outlawed its downpayment assistance.

Use this mobile app to contribute data on rural broadband.
The National Association of Counties has partnered with LISC and RCAP to develop a mobile app designed to identify areas with low or no broadband connectivity. No personal information is collected through the app, but with the tap of a button you can test your broadband speed anywhere and the reading will be added to NACo’s data set. At the end of this year, the data will be analyzed and conclusions released on what broadband connectivity really looks like in rural places. This effort is intended to help ensure adequate funding for broadband infrastructure is provided across the country, and to add some rural data to the debate over electronic Census submissions. HAC encourages our rural friends and partners to download the app and test the connectivity in your communities.

RuralSTAT.
In 2017, half of all manufactured home loans were to rural and small town borrowers. For more information on mortgage lending for your community, visit HAC’s Rural Data Portal.

New site now available to access Census Bureau data.
When data.census.gov is officially launched in July, it will become the primary way to access Census Bureau data. American FactFinder will be retired in June. The Census Bureau has posted a webinar to help with the transition between sites.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to sunset HMDA data tool.
The CFPB plans to shut down its HMDA Explorer tool, which provides public access to data collected under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. While the Bureau will continue to offer loan-level data for 2007 to 2017, access for 2018 and beyond will be offered through a query tool from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition expresses concerns, based on conversations with CFPB staff, about ensuring the current level of public availability of all HMDA data.

Recent publications and media of interest

New Chief of Staff named at Rural Housing Service.
Justin Domer, recently appointed at RHS, previously ran a family business specializing in residential and water infrastructure services and has worked for former Florida Governor Rick Scott. Curtis Anderson, who had served as RHS Chief of Staff, has moved to the same position at RUS.

** New ** HAC Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits in Nashville announced.
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 June 19-20. 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 14, 2018

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 14, 2018
Vol. 47, No. 25

2018 HAC Rural Housing Conference educates, inspires, and advances the rural housing community. • Federal Reserve Board of Governors chairman Jerome Powell addresses HAC conference • HAC awards recognize national, local and federal leadership for rural housing • USDA and HUD spending now expiring December 21 • Congress passes Farm Bill • Increased staff specialization planned for USDA Rural Development • Mark Calabria named to lead Federal Housing Finance Agency • Kathy Kraninger becomes head of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau • Perdue announces RD initiative for broadband and e-connectivity • Executive Order encourages development in Opportunity Zones • HAC’s Rural Voices magazine covers capacity building • Census Bureau releases new data for counties, towns, Native lands and more • Study examines trust lands and manufactured homes in Indian Country

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 14, 2018
Vol. 47, No. 25

2018 HAC Rural Housing Conference educates, inspires, and advances the rural housing community.
Over 600 registrants from 48 states heard from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell (see item below), Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Rusty Smith from Rural Studio , HAC CEO David Lipsetz, former HAC Executive Director Moises Loza and former Deputy Director Joe Belden, as well as USDA and HUD staff and dozens of other experts. Materials from conference sessions are available through the conference app . Check out photos, comments and daily wrap-up videos on HAC’s social media: Twitter , Facebook , and YouTube . Watch HAC’s website and the HAC News for announcements as additional items, including videos of plenary sessions, become available.

Federal Reserve Board of Governors chairman Jerome Powell addresses HAC conference.
Speaking at the HAC Rural Housing Conference on December 6, Chairman Powell discussed the strength of the economy while acknowledging that not everyone has enjoyed the benefits of the strong economy equally. He stressed the importance of the Community Reinvestment Act and praised HAC’s research on the subject as beneficial to the Fed’s plans around potential CRA reform. His remarks garnered press coverage from the New York Times and Reuters.

HAC awards recognize national, local and federal leadership for rural housing.
At the 2018 HAC Rural Housing Conference, the Cochran/Collings Award for Distinguished Service in Housing for the Rural Poor went to Starry Krueger, President of the Rural Development Leadership Network. Four local leaders received the Skip Jason Community Service Award: Salvador Estrada (Tierra del Sol, NM), Cassie Hicks (University of Southern Mississippi Institute for Disability Studies, MS), Dennis Lalor (South County Housing, CA) (posthumous) and Joe Myer (NCALL Research, DE). Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) received the Henry B. González Award for an elected official.

USDA and HUD spending now expiring December 21.
The deadline for negotiations on FY19 appropriations was extended to December 21 because congressional activity was slowed by the death of former President George H.W. Bush on November 30. Various end results, including a government shutdown, are still possible.

Congress passes Farm Bill.
House and Senate conferees reached an agreement on a new five-year Farm Bill, dropping provisions that would have imposed stricter work requirements on food stamp recipients. The Senate passed it on December 11 and the House on December 12. President Trump is expected to sign it into law. The bill requires USDA to have an Under Secretary for Rural Development and requires the appointee be confirmed by the Senate. The Under Secretary position had been eliminated in a 2017 reorganization, replaced by an Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development. Anne Hazlett has served in that role since June 2017. The bill also maintains local eligibility for USDA rural housing programs after the 2020 Census, so long as a place’s population does not exceed 35,000 and it remains “rural in character.” The bill authorizes a new Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) grant program, a concept HAC supported, to create rural job accelerators and related programming. HAC and others suggested additional improvements to the bill’s Rural Development title, but in general the 2018 RD title is much like the 2014 version.

Increased staff specialization planned for USDA Rural Development.
At the 2018 HAC Rural Housing Conference, RD officials explained some staffing changes, which are also described in letters from Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to members of the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees. An October 10 letter says that applications for the Section 538 rental guarantee program and Section 515 rental loan program will no longer be processed or underwritten in each state office. Twenty-five staff, who will remain in their current state office locations, will work exclusively on either 538 or 515. According to a November 30 letter, instead of handling the Section 502 guaranteed program in each of the 47 state offices, the agency will create a single unit, so the program will be delivered by 275 employees rather than 300. In addition, appraisers, architects, engineers, and others will be “realigned” into the RD Business Center. The November letter says that affected staff will remain in their current locations and implies that unneeded staff will be reassigned rather than laid off. The November letter enumerates other changes being made in the RUS, RBS, and Community Facilities staffs, and additional changes are described in the HAC News, 11/30/18.

Mark Calabria named to lead Federal Housing Finance Agency.
President Trump will nominate Calabria, currently chief economist for Vice President Mike Pence, to serve a five-year term as director of FHFA, which regulates Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Bank system. The term of Melvin Watt, the current director, ends in January. FHFA director nominees must be confirmed by the Senate.

Kathy Kraninger becomes head of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Kraninger, most recently an associate director at the Office of Management and Budget, was confirmed by the Senate on December 6 and sworn in on December 10. She takes over from Mick Mulvaney, head of OMB, who has been CFPB’s acting director.

Perdue announces RD initiative for broadband and e-connectivity.
On December 13 Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a new ReConnect Program to provide broadband infrastructure in rural areas with populations under 20,000. State and local governments, tribes, nonprofits, for-profits, limited liability companies, and coops are eligible for funding. Applications for grants are due April 29, for loan and grant combinations May 29, and for low-interest loans June 28. For more information, contact Chad Parker, RUS, 202-720-9555.

Executive Order encourages development in Opportunity Zones.
On December 12, President Trump signed an order creating a White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, to be comprised of 13 federal agencies and chaired by HUD Secretary Ben Carson. The council is charged with targeting existing federal programs to “urban and economically distressed areas,” including Opportunity Zones, and to engage with all levels of government on revitalizing low-income communities. A list and map of all Opportunity Zones are available on the CDFI Fund’s website. A supportive statement issued by Anne Hazlett, USDA Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, says “USDA Rural Development programs will award priority points on applications from private sector intermediaries for projects built in opportunity zone census tracts as well as in other select programs for projects that directly benefit communities located in Opportunity Zones.”

HAC’s Rural Voices magazine covers capacity building.
The conference issue of Rural Voicesdescribes what it means to build the capacity of rural housing organizations, why it is important, who does it, how it is done and how it is financed.

Census Bureau releases new data for counties, towns, Native lands and more.
The newest American Community Survey data has been released on the Census Bureau’s American Fact Finder website. This five-year data provides estimates of demographic characteristics, income, housing, education and other subjects for states, counties, and smaller areas such as zip codes, census tracts, and American Indian Areas/Alaska Native Areas/Hawaiian Home Lands. For the first time, broadband-related data is included.

Study examines trust lands and manufactured homes in Indian Country.
The Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has released new research, reported in a blog post titled “Race, Location, and Manufactured-Home Loans on American Indian Reservations.” They examine the statistically higher rate of loan applications at the intersection of manufactured housing, American Indian identity, and reservation trust land. Much of this research was shared at the 2018 HAC Rural Housing Conference session “Homeownership in Indian Country – Creating the Opportunity for Choice.”

Happy holidays from HAC!
The board and staff of the Housing Assistance Council wish peace, prosperity and affordable housing to all! HAC’s offices will be closed from December 24 to January 1.

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: May 25, 2018

HAC News Formats. pdf

May 25, 2018
Vol. 47, No. 11

HUD changes course on 2015 fair housing regulation• Senate committee approves 2019 USDA funding bill • House begins work on 2019 HUD funding • Dodd-Frank provisions rolled back for banks, manufactured homes • GAO makes recommendations to USDA and Congress on preserving rural rentals • Revised bills propose changes to preserve rural rental housing • Advocate’s guide to rural housing preservation published • Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants offered • USDA seeks partnerships in the Section 502 direct loan program • More Opportunity Zones announced • Farm Bill fails in House • Tribal VASH notices updated • Inclusionary zoning map shows local and state programs • African Americans and Hispanics still far from equal with whites, National Urban League reports

HAC News Formats. pdf

May 25, 2018
Vol. 47, No. 11

HUD changes course on 2015 fair housing regulation.
In January, HUD suspended implementation of a 2015 regulation that required local jurisdictions to prepare Assessments of Fair Housing (AFHs) to help meet their obligations to affirmatively further fair housing. On May 8, civil rights groups sued HUD for suspending the rule. HUD has now canceled January’s suspension, and instead has withdrawn the Assessment Tool that local governments were using to develop their AFHs. Like the January notice, this one means local governments will keep using the older Analysis of Impediments rather than the AFH. HUD says it is planning a series of national listening sessions regarding the Assessment Tool. Comments on the Assessment Tool are due July 23. For more information, contact Krista Mills, HUD, 202-402-6577. HUD also announced recently that it plans to request public comment on whether its 2013 regulation on the use of disparate impact to identify housing discrimination is consistent with the 2015 Supreme Court ruling on the subject.

Senate committee approves 2019 USDA funding bill.
On May 24 the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its FY19 funding bill for USDA. Most of its rural housing funding amounts are the same as the FY18 levels, with slight increases for MPR and vouchers. The Senate bill provides slightly lower levels than the House bill – which passed the House Appropriations Committee on May 16 – for Section 514 and 516 farm labor housing, Section 533, MPR, and vouchers.

USDA Rural Dev. Prog.
(dollars in millions)

FY17 Approp.

FY18 Approp.

FY19 Admin. Budget

FY19 House Bill

FY19 Senate Bill (S. 2976)

502 Single Fam. Direct
Self-Help setasidea

$1,000
5

$1,100
5

0
0

$1,000
5

$1,100
5

502 Single Family Guar.

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

504 VLI Repair Loans

26.3

28

0

28

28

504 VLI Repair Grants

28.7

30

0

30

30

515 Rental Hsg. Direct Lns.

35

40

0

40

40

514 Farm Labor Hsg. Lns.

23.9

23

0

27.5

23.9

516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grts.

8.3

8.4

0

10

8.3

521 Rental Assistance

1,405

1,345

1,331.4

1,331.4

1,331.4

523 Self-Help TA

30

30

0

30

30

533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants

5

10

0

15

10

538 Rental Hsg. Guar.

230

230

250

230

230

Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR)

22

22

0

25

24

542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers

19.4

25

20

28

26

Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init.

4

4

0

4

6

  1. Figures shown represent budget authority, not program levels.

House begins work on 2019 HUD funding.
On May 23 the House Appropriations Committee passed its FY19 funding bill for HUD. The bill would provide more funding than the Administration’s budget, but some reductions from FY18 levels. It introduces a new mobility demonstration that would allow families with children to move to areas with greater opportunity. The Senate will begin considering HUD appropriations the first week of June.

HUD Program
(dollars in millions)

FY17 Approp.

FY18 Final Approp.

FY19 Admin. Budget

FY19 House Bill

CDBG

$3,000

$3,300

0

$3,300

HOME

950

1,362

0

1,200

Self-Help Homeownshp. (SHOP)

10

10

0

10

Veterans Home Rehab

4

4

0

0

Tenant-Based Rental Assstnce.
VASH setaside
Tribal VASH

20,292
40
7

22,015
40
5

20,550*
0
4

22,476
40
5

Project-Based Rental Asstnce.

10,816

11,515

10,952

11,347

Public Hsg. Capital Fund

1,942

2,750

0

2,750

Public Hsg. Operating Fund

4,400

4,550

3,279*

4,550

Choice Neighbrhd. Initiative

137.5

150

0

150

Native Amer. Hsg. Block Grt.

654

655

600

655

Homeless Assistance Grants

2,383

2,513

2,383

2,546

Hsg. Opps. for Persons w/ AIDS

356

375

330

393

202 Hsg. for Elderly

502.4

678

563

678

811 Hsg. for Disabled

146.2

230

132

154

Fair Housing

65.3

65

62.3

65.3

Healthy Homes & Lead Haz. Cntl.

145

230

145

230

Housing Counseling

55

55

45

55

* Includes amounts added by an Administration addendum to its budget request.

Dodd-Frank provisions rolled back for banks, manufactured homes.
On May 24 President Trump signed into law S. 2155, which passed the House on May 22 and the Senate in March. The measure does not affect the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but it removes some oversight for smaller banks, exempts 85% of lenders from some HMDA reporting, allows manufactured home retailers to make financing recommendations, and expands the ability of smaller lenders to make “Qualified Mortgages.” It also provides permanent authorization for HUD’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program.

GAO makes recommendations to USDA and Congress on preserving rural rentals.
The Government Accountability Office reviewed RHS’s efforts to address the possible loss of affordable rural rental housing due to maturing mortgages and made six recommendations. Rural Housing Service: Better Data Controls, Planning, and Additional Options Could Help Preserve Affordable Rental Units suggests that Congress consider authorizing Section 521 Rental Assistance and vouchers for tenants in properties whose mortgages have matured. Its recommendations for RHS include improving data accuracy, updating online preservation information regularly, and setting, monitoring, and reporting on preservation goals.

Revised bills propose changes to preserve rural rental housing.
Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have introduced new versions of the Rural Housing Preservation Act, introduced in 2016 in the previous Congress but not acted upon then. This year’s H.R. 5352 and S. 2574 would authorize vouchers for tenants in maturing mortgage properties, decouple Rental Assistance from Section 515 and 514 mortgages so it could be available for tenants in maturing mortgage properties, require uniform standards for transfers of Section 515 properties with LIHTCs, and permanently authorize USDA’s Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization Program. Committee action has not been scheduled for either bill.

Advocates’ guide to rural housing preservation published.
The National Housing Law Project has released An Advocate’s Guide to Rural Housing Preservation: Prepayments, Mortgage Maturities, and Foreclosures. Intended for advocates and legal services attorneys, the guide provides information, strategies, references, and sample pleadings and case materials. For more information, contact Jessica Cassella , NHLP.

Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants offered.
Local and tribal governments, PHAs and IHAs, and owners of HUD-assisted housing may apply by September 17 for grants to implement Transformation Plans that address distressed housing, improved household outcomes, and reinvestment in neighborhoods. For more information, contact HUD staff.

USDA seeks partnerships in the Section 502 direct loan program.
USDA RD wants to increase participation with intermediaries, qualified nonprofit packagers, and self-help grantees across the U.S. to raise their packaging of Section 502 loans from the current 18% to 25% in FY19. In May RD will begin publishing a quarterly newsletter for loan packagers and self-help grantees. For more information, contact Tammy Repine, USDA, 360-999-0251.

More Opportunity Zones announced.
As of May 18, the Treasury Department had designated Opportunity Zones in 46 states, as well as in DC and five U.S. territories. Designations for Florida, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Utah are pending.

Farm Bill fails in House.
On May 18 the House voted on H.R. 2, the 2018 Farm Bill, but it did not pass. The Senate is expected to release its draft Farm Bill in June.

Tribal VASH notices updated.
A new HUD notice consolidates previous Federal Register notices from October 21, 2015 and December 6, 2016 on the Tribal HUD-VASH program and adds procedures for issuing renewal funding. For more information, contact Heidi J. Frechette, HUD, 202-402-7914.

Inclusionary zoning map shows local and state programs.
The Grounded Solutions Network has developed an interactive map that shows the characteristics of inclusionary housing programs as well as state laws regarding adoption of such local programs. It also offers an interactive Inclusionary Housing Calculator, designed to explore the relationship between local incentives and the development of mixed income housing.

African Americans and Hispanics still far from equal with whites, National Urban League reports.
The annual State of Black America report shows the 2018 “Equality Index” is 72.5% for African Americans and 79.3% for Hispanics. Full equality with whites would be 100%.

NOMINATE LOCAL AND NATIONAL LEADERS FOR HAC AWARDS..
HAC is now accepting nominations for its 2018 Cochran/Collings National Service and Skip Jason Community Service Leadership Awards. Nominations are due Friday July 13. The awards will be presented at the 2018 HAC Rural Housing Conference in December. Past awardees are listed on HAC’s site. Complete the online nomination form. For more information, contact Lilla Sutton, HAC, 202-842-8600.

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: April 12, 2018

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 12, 2018
Vol. 47, No. 8

Executive Order addresses work requirements • Draft Farm Bill includes SNAP work requirements • CRA recommendations released by Treasury Department • Opportunity Zones designated in 18 states and territories • HUD invites Choice Neighborhood Planning Grants applications • Stakeholders suggest Rural Development provisions for Farm Bill • RD clarifies asset management fee for nonprofits • Section 538 industry calls planned • HUD income limits set • CFPB requests comments on its guidance and its consumer financial education • Appraisal threshold increased • Comments requested to improve FHFA regulations • Wage gap for rural women quantified • Disaster survivors’ stories sought

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 12, 2018
Vol. 47, No. 8

Executive Order addresses work requirements.
On April 10 President Trump issued an “Executive Order Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility.” It establishes “Principles of Economic Mobility” that include strengthening or imposing work requirements for those receiving means-tested federal aid; increasing state and local flexibility in administering aid; combining or eliminating “duplicative or ineffective” programs; and involving the private sector in poverty solutions. Cabinet departments that run assistance programs, including USDA and HUD, must submit reports within 90 days recommending changes consistent with these principles. They must also list which programs restrict benefits to lawful U.S. residents and which do not.

Draft Farm Bill includes SNAP work requirements.
The House Agriculture Committee released the text of H.R. 2, the 2018 Farm Bill, on April 12. It proposes new requirements for SNAP participants to work or enroll in work training. The only housing provision updates the definition of rural areas eligible for the RHS housing programs so that it refers to the 2020 Census as well as 2010. The bill reauthorizes several RUS and RBS programs. It also reauthorizes the Delta Regional Authority and the Northern Great Plains Regional Authority, but cuts the authorized funding for the DRA from the current $30 million per year to $12 million and for the NGPRA from $30 million to $2 million. (The DRA’s FY18 appropriation is $25 million. The NGPRA has never received an appropriation.)

CRA recommendations released by Treasury Department.
Treasury published a report on April 3 identifying regulatory and administrative improvements for the Community Reinvestment Act. The suggestions would broaden bank assessment areas to account for technological access in places without physical branches, expand the range of eligible CRA activities, clarify rating criteria and subjective terms such as “excellent,” require timely examinations, and strengthen incentives for banks to avoid low performance ratings.

Opportunity Zones designated in 18 states and territories.
The first round of Opportunity Zones were announced by the Treasury Department and the IRS for the states and territories that nominated areas by March 21. Other states requested 30-day extensions and must make their submissions by April 20. The IRS invites comments as it develops guidance for the program on topics including the certification of Qualified Opportunity Funds and eligible investments in Qualified Opportunity Zones. It does not provide a deadline.

HUD invites Choice Neighborhood Planning Grants applications.
Nonprofits, PHAs, local governments, and tribal entities are eligible for planning grants or planning and action grants focusing on transforming a neighborhood by redeveloping at least one severely distressed public or HUD-assisted housing project. Applications are due June 12.

Stakeholders suggest Rural Development provisions for Farm Bill.
HAC and other interested organizations sent a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees listing recommendations for provisions related to USDA Rural Development that could be included in this year’s Farm Bill. Among the suggestions are incentives for investing in the rural communities with the greatest need, including those with populations under 10,000; authorization for the multifamily housing preservation technical assistance program; and support for infrastructure, including broadband.

RD clarifies asset management fee for nonprofits.
An Unnumbered Letter dated March 30, 2018 explains that nonprofit and cooperative owners of Section 515 and 514/516 properties are eligible for a $7,500 asset management fee per property, rather than per owner. For more information, contact a USDA RD state office.

Section 538 industry calls planned.
During 2018 and 2019, USDA will hold a series of teleconference and/or web conference meetings regarding the Section 538 guaranteed rental housing program. To register to receive information when calls are scheduled, contact Monica Cole, USDA, 202-720-1251.

HUD income limits set.
FY18 median area incomes and income limits for metro areas and nonmetro counties are available online.

CFPB requests comments on its guidance and its consumer financial education.
Comments to help CFPB assess the overall effectiveness and accessibility of its guidance materials and activities (including implementation support) to members of the general public, including regulated entities, are due July 2. For more information, contact Kristin Switzer, CFPB, 202-435-7700. Comments on CFPB’s consumer financial education programs are due July 9. For more information, contact Davida Farrar, CFPB, 202-435-9523.

Appraisal threshold increased.
Effective on April 9, the federal agencies that regulate banks and savings and loans require appraisals for lenders’ real estate transactions above $500,000. The previous threshold was $250,000. Loans secured by residential properties with one to four units are exempt from the appraisal requirement; for those, lenders must instead obtain evaluations that are consistent with safe and sound banking practices. Contacts for further information vary by regulatory agency.

Comments requested to improve FHFA regulations.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency invites comments by June 4 on how its regulations can be made more effective and less burdensome, except for rules of agency organization, procedure, or practice, or regulations adopted or substantially amended since April 2016. For more information, contact Ellen S. Bailey, FHFA, 202-649-3056.

Wage gap for rural women quantified.
The Center for American Progress reports that rural women who work full time, year round, make 76 cents for every dollar that rural men make. Rural African-American and Hispanic women make 56 cents for every dollar made by rural white, non-Hispanic men, while Rural Native American women make 69 cents and rural Asian American and Pacific Islander women make 75 cents.

Disaster survivors’ stories sought.
The Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition developed an online tool to capture disaster survivors’ individual stories. These accounts of unmet need will be used to illustrate the unique housing challenges low-income survivors face after a disaster and to build support for solutions. The coalition asks organizations serving disaster survivors from the hurricanes and wildfires of 2017 to fill out the online questionnaire for any client/individual with a compelling need for direct rental assistance.

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).