Tag Archive for: persistent poverty

The Persistence of Poverty in Rural America

Persistently poor counties are classified as having poverty rates of 20 percent or more for three consecutive decades. Using this metric, the Housing Assistance Council estimates there were 377 persistently poor counties in 2020 using data from the Census Bureau’s recently released 2016-2020 American Community Survey, the 2006-2010 American Community Survey and the 2000 Decennial Census of Population and Housing.

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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.


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).

Rural Voices: Action for a Rapidly Changing Rural America

This issue of Rural Voices reports on some of the learning and brainstorming that occurred at the Housing Assistance Council’s 2016 Rural Housing Conference: Building Rural Communities. The magazine presents some of the conference highlights. Several articles are adapted from speeches given there. A set of maps taken from a conference presentation by Lance George, HAC’s Research Director, provides a dramatic view of some current “ruralities” – the ways rural America’s demographics and housing are changing. A series of five articles addresses action for a rapidly changing rural America on topics ranging from persistent poverty to creative placemaking. These pieces are based on white papers developed for the conference and in-depth participant discussions at the event. Their recommendations are timely and important as rural housing faces changes in policy and funding.


Inequality Harms Us All
by Congressman Keith Ellison

Investing in rural America will not only improve the lives of people who live there, but will also help create a thriving country where everyone can succeed.


Ruralities: The Changing Face of Rural AmericaRuralities: The Changing Face of Rural America

A set of maps demonstrate the ways rural America’s demographics and housing are changing.

Rural Community Development Can Address Inequality
by John Henneberger

A model demonstration Rural America Community Building program in each state would help overcome racial and economic inequality.

Action on Housing Programs and Infrastructure
by Hope F. Cupit and Julie Bornstein

Rural advocates can act on housing programs and infrastructure needs by improving messaging and advocacy efforts.

Action on Persistent Poverty and Rural Inequality
by R. Scott McReynolds and Ann Williams Cass

Rural advocates can act on persistent poverty and rural inequality by building the capacity of nonprofits and local government agencies in persistent poverty areas.

Action on the Opioid Epidemic and Rural Affordable Housing
by Alan Morgan

Rural advocates can act on the opioid epidemic and connected housing needs by making resources available, educating relevant parties, and working with partners to coordinate services.

Action on Creative Placemaking
by Bob Reeder and Lisa Neergaard

Rural advocates can use creative placemaking to help act on community needs.

Action to Nurture Rural Leaders
by Gisela Salgado and Janet Topolsky

Rural advocates can act on the need for future leadership by improving staff recruitment and retention, as well as educating and involving policymakers and community leaders.

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

Renewing the Discussion at the 2016 HAC Conference

During the luncheon, plenary discussion on Thursday, December 1, participants will engage in dialogue about emerging rural housing issues. HAC Rural Housing Conference attendees will join in facilitated discussions to share, learn, and strategize about five issues raised by stakeholders.

Income Inequality in Rural America

HAC Executive Director Moises Loza submitted the following Letter to the Editor to the Washington Post on June 27, 2016.

“The rural reaches of income inequality” (June 26) raises issues that are too often ignored. As the Housing Assistance Council works to improve housing conditions for low-income rural Americans, we are well aware of the consequences of income inequality. In places with significant income differences, the wealthy depend on service workers but those who wait tables, work in retail, clean homes, and maintain lawns cannot afford decent homes near their jobs.

There are other costs as well. For example, USDA’s Economic Research Service has identified the growth in income inequality as the major factor increasing rural child poverty from 2003 to 2014. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute report that counties with high levels of child poverty and income inequality are often less healthy than those with lower levels. (Their study defined income inequality as the difference between the 20th and 80th percentiles rather than between the top 1 and bottom 99.)

Even without income inequality, of course, poverty can be dangerous. The Post’s interactive online map shows that in Oglala Lakota County, SD (formerly named Shannon County), the top 1 percent makes only 5.3 times as much as the bottom 99 percent. Income inequality is hardly a problem there, but deep, persistent poverty is. Oglala Lakota County, which lies entirely within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, has had a poverty rate well over 50 percent for decades. As a result, 51 percent of homes in the county are physically deficient and 26 percent are overcrowded.

Serious housing problems exist in other persistent poverty counties, as well. These areas, which tend to have low proportions of the extreme income inequality highlighted in the Post’s article, are concentrated in certain parts of the country: Native American lands, Appalachia, the Lower Mississippi Delta and the Southern Black Belt, and the colonias along the U.S.-Mexico border. Income and housing issues are common among farmworkers, as well, although those are not as visible on a map. Notably, minorities are the majority in five of these six regions and populations (Appalachia being the exception).

Thanks are due to the Post for its reporting and to the Economic Policy Institute for including rural places in its income inequality research. As income inequality, job opportunities, and race drive the politics of the day, we cannot continue to overlook their presence anywhere in the country.

Moises Loza
Executive Director
Housing Assistance Council

Stories of Poverty in Rural Appalachia

In the second installment of his series on “America’s Poorest Towns” for www.thinkprogress.org, Scott Rodd writes a series of essays profiling people trying to cope with persistent poverty in Beattyville, KY.


Rodd interviews several residents of Beattyville in an effort to identify the root cause of the town’s continued poverty and economic struggles. These stories help to illustrate the depth and breadth of challenges a persistently poor rural community faces.

Read the first story in the series, which profiles Campti, LA.

Revisiting Poverty in Rural America

Where are we 50 years after the war on poverty began?

In the 2014 special edition of Rural Voices magazine, HAC revisits the issue of rural poverty with frank questions, informed viewpoints, and honest assessments. Experts and contributors from across the nation help provide a better understanding of this complex issue and its intersection with housing in rural communities.


Where are we 50 years after the war on poverty began?

In the 2014 special edition of Rural Voices magazine, HAC revisits the issue of rural poverty with frank questions, informed viewpoints, and honest assessments. Experts and contributors from across the nation help provide a better understanding of this complex issue and its intersection with housing in rural communities.


Rural Poverty, Before & After the War
by James P. Ziliak, Center for Poverty Research and Department of Economics, University of Kentucky

The 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty has generated scores of articles, books, and radio and television reports. Lost in much of this coverage is the acute hardship facing rural America at the dawn of the 1960s, and the role this played in shaping the nation’s response to poverty.

A Frank Discussion on Persistent Poverty in Rural America

Forgotten or hidden from mainstream America, several rural areas and populations are isolated geographically, lack resources and economic opportunities, and have suffered through decades of disinvestment and double-digit poverty rates. Persistent poverty is most evident within several rural regions and populations, including the Lower Mississippi Delta, the rural Southeast, Central Appalachia, Native American lands, the colonias along the U.S. Mexico border, and migrant and seasonal farmworkers.

Among the most economically depressed areas in the country, addressing social, economic, and housing problems has proved challenging. To help better understand this issue, Rural Voices spoke with five housing experts, each with decades of experice providing housing and working with low-income familes in persistent poverty areas. Their firsthand knowledge presents an unparalleled view into the harsh reality of families and communities grappling with long-term poverty. These experts offer their insights, passion, and commitment to help solve what is often considered an intractable problem.

  • Bill Bynum is the CEO of Hope Enterprise Corporation/Hope Credit Union (HOPE). Bill has worked with HOPE for over 20 years providing banking opportunities to low-income individuals and families in the Mid South.
  • Tom Carew is the Executive Vice President of Membership and Advocacy at the Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises (FAHE). Tom has more than 34 years of experience providing affordable housing in Central Appalachia.
  • Ann Cass is the Executive Director of Proyecto Azetca and has over three decades of experience working in the Texas border colonias.
  • Emma “Pinky” Clifford is the Executive Director for the Oglala Sioux Tribe Partnership for Housing (OSTPH). As a tribal member of the Oglala Sioux, Pinky has worked to improve access to safe, affordable housing with OSTPH for the past two decades.
  • Selvin McGahee is the Executive Director of Florida Non-Profit Housing, Inc. and has spent his career working to provide affordable housing in the rural Southeast and farmworker housing.

Decline in Senior Poverty: A Success Story…
by the Housing Assistance Council

One of the biggest successes in reducing poverty has been among older Americans.

…With a Cautionary Outlook
by Kim Datwyler, Executive Director, Neighborhood Nonprofit Housing Corporation (NNHC)

Staying Housed on a Fixed Income: The Importance of Available Affordable Housing for Seniors

From a Spare Bedroom to a Home of Her Own
by Stacey Howard, Dream$avers IDA Program Director, NeighborWorks Umpqua

A Single Mother’s Struggle Out of Poverty to Provide a Better Life for Her Son

Innovative Approaches to Reducing Poverty Locally

The problem of poverty is often viewed from a national or regional perspective. But success in moving people out of poverty can emanate from community-specific innovation and solutions.

  • Job Skills through Housing Development – Motivation, Education, Training, Inc. (Texas)
  • Combating Poverty in Puerto Rico with Job Training & Economic Development – Pathstone (Puerto Rico)
  • IDAs Help Low-Income Families Save for Increased Opportunities in Rural Oregon – NeighborWorks Umpqua (Oregon)


“The People Left Behind” Are Today the People Still Behind
by Joe Belden and Lance George

Additional Content

rv-se-infographic-piraPoverty in Rural America

Approximately 45 million Americans, or 15 percent of the population, had incomes below the official poverty rate in 2012. In rural America, the poverty rate is above 17 percent with more than 10 million people living in poverty.

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

Basic Challenges Outlast Housing Crisis in Rural America

Basic Challenges Outlast Housing Crisis in Rural America

By Lance George
December 20, 2012

The United States is emerging from one of the most extensive and painful economic crises in memory. It is well established that housing markets were at the heart of this crisis, and millions of American households lost, or continue to lose, their homes to foreclosure. While the recent housing crisis is not to be overlooked, far too many rural residents have struggled with housing problems and inadequacies for years, if not decades, before the national crisis hit. Read the full blog post…


Poverty in the United States – 2012 Map



Poverty in the United States Map

Download a PDF of the “Poverty in the United States” map (HAC recommends using Adobe Reader X or higher for optimal printing)


Taking Stock: Rural People, Poverty and Housing in the 21st Century

The increasing prevalence of poverty in the United States is an inexcusable shame on this great nation. More Americans are living in poverty today than at any other time since the Census Bureau began measuring its occurrence. The issue of poverty has many complexities, but it is much more than an abstract condition for the over 40 million Americans who face daily struggles with food security, access to health care, and lack of basic shelter.

Forty years ago the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) was created to address poverty and housing inadequacies in rural America. In 1984, HAC published Taking Stock, one of the first comprehensive assessments of rural poverty and housing conditions in the United States. A key component of that seminal report was HAC’s national poverty map detailing poverty rates for every U.S. county in 1980. As a companion to 2012 edition of Taking Stock: Rual People, Poverty, and Housing in the 21st Century, HAC presents our newly updated poverty map, entitled “Poverty in the United States.” The map shows county-level poverty data from 2010 Census counts.

Download HAC’s Rural
Research Note: Poverty
in Rural America.

While some gains have been made in reducing poverty over the past several decades, poverty rates are still shockingly high for certain populations in rural America, namely minorities and children. HAC’s research also illustrates the continued persistence of high poverty within several predominantly rural regions and populations such as Central Appalachia, the Lower Mississippi Delta, the southern Black Belt, the Colonias region along the U.S.-Mexico border, Native American lands, and migrant and seasonal farmworkers. Often forgotten or hidden from mainstream America, these areas and
populations had poverty rates of 20 percent or higher in 1990, 2000, and 2010.

HAC’s poverty map presents the stark reality that too many Americans have been left behind or shut out of our nation’s economic promise and prosperity.

In the coming months, HAC will present additional research products highlighting social, economic, and housing characteristics of rural Americans.

Mapping Poverty in
Rural America Webinar

Download Powerpoint |

Download a PDF of the “Poverty in the United States” map