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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).

New Leadership for Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design Brings Broad Reach

by David Lipsetz

Children in front of a mural - Photo: [bc]

The National Endowment for the Arts has selected the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) as its partner for the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD), one of the Arts Endowment’s leadership initiatives. As HAC’s CEO, I couldn’t be more excited.

CIRD‘s goal is to enhance the quality of life and economic viability of rural America through planning, design, and creative placemaking. It offers communities access to the resources they need to convert their own good ideas into reality. The program awards competitive funding to small towns and rural and tribal communities to host multi-day community design workshops. With support from a wide range of design, planning, and creative placemaking professionals, the workshops bring together residents and local leaders from non-profits, community organizations, and government to develop actionable solutions to the community’s pressing design challenges. Following the workshop, the community receives additional support through webinars, web-based resources, and customized follow-up support.

HAC CEO David Lipsetz tours housing projects on the Pine Ridge reservation

If you are familiar with CIRD, but haven’t worked with HAC before, you might be wondering why a housing organization was chosen. Let me tell you a bit about us and hopefully it becomes clear. HAC’s mission is to build homes and communities across rural America. We’ve been doing so for nearly 50 years and have worked with over 10,000 rural communities.

HAC is attuned to rural life. We appreciate that every small town is unique. We understand that projects succeed or fail on the strength of local leadership and engagement. We see our job as building the capacity of local organizations to thrive well after we are gone. We know housing, but in rural places you never have the luxury of working with only one of the tools of community development. You must be able to wear many hats, and over the years we’ve amassed quite a collection.

I’m eager to watch CIRD’s core mission carried out through HAC. I’m equally eager to watch the interaction—both locally and nationally—of rural housing and community development practitioners working alongside designers and planners. CIRD will maintain its competitive funding for small and tribal communities to host multi-day design workshops. We will leverage our 50-state reach and capacity building network to bring peer learning and design-rooted capacity building to an additional 20 communities, and couple it with support for navigating funding opportunities. In late May 2019, CIRD will release a Request for Applications, inviting communities to apply for the program. Join CIRD’s mailing list to stay abreast.

If you are reading this post, you probably already know of rural and tribal communities that are trendsetters in design and creative placemaking. They often want to continue turning their community-rooted design ideas into reality. They want steady funding streams, coupled with the know-how to access such. They want to exchange ideas and break bread with their rural peers, gaining hands-on exposure to best practices. And they want to engage with the country’s best designers, including architects, planners, and other experts with a rural bent. They need a repository for what works and connection to a national conversation, boosting their collective capacity. HAC has been creating such connections for decades, and the National Endowment for the Arts has given HAC the resources to build even more via CIRD.

buildingcommunityWORKSHOP (bc), a nonprofit community design organization, will join HAC as a key partner in carrying out CIRD. bc is known for engaging low-income communities with award winning design and planning. bc has earned the respect of local partners in Texas, the Rio Grande Valley, and beyond. Their expertise is a perfect complement to HAC’s reach and reputation for building local capacity.

CIRD - Studio in the Park

The National Endowment for the Arts and HAC have committed to furthering CIRD’s reach because CIRD works. HAC hopes to spend a decade leading CIRD in close consultation with a CIRD Steering Committee comprised of rural design leaders. Behind the National Endowment for the Arts decision to select HAC is HAC’s success with a National Endowment for the Arts-funded creative placemaking award, HAC’s groundbreaking report on Placemaking in Native American Communities, and a growing consensus among policymakers, pundits, and most recently the National Governors Association that arts, placemaking, and design are drivers of rural economic development.

NEA’s support is also allowing HAC to host bc and several design fellows and other visitors at the intersection of rural and design to collaborate. Deliberate co-locating of top designers and planners with HAC’s expertise in rural policy and programs will deepen everyone’s understanding. The idea grew out of a bc-led session at HAC’s recent National Rural Housing conferences. HAC has an ear to the ground in rural America; merging such with bc’s design bona fides and a mutual respect for rural practitioners will bring about design rooted upshot for hundreds of small towns.

Finally, HAC will put CIRD’s track record and potential to work with philanthropy and other non-government actors. Ensuring quality rural design on a scale commensurate with the need for such requires investment from business and foundations. In boosting CIRD’s funding level to reach up to 20 additional communities, the National Endowment for the Arts signaled a commitment to rural design as a driver of rural prosperity—even in a competitive funding environment. Private and public support, including Community Reinvestment Act-motivated capital toward creative and design-focused endeavors is already producing results. We are looking for several more foundations and financial institutions to join our journey.

Way back in 1971, HAC’s founders called for “foster(ing) planning” and “citizen participation in housing and community benefit” on a national scale. They were prescient in outlining the importance of locally-driven planning and citizen participation. I’m glad that the National Endowment for the Arts is trusting HAC, via CIRD and with bcWORKSHOP, to take on work that our founders knew as important, then and now.

HAC News: April 13, 2017

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 13, 2017
Vol. 46, No. 8

April is National Fair Housing Month • Congress on recess, faces spending decisions • Housing will be in infrastructure proposal, Carson tells NLIHC group • Grants available for Lead and Healthy Homes Technical Studies • OMB issues second memo about cutting regulations • Funding cuts estimated for states, counties, and cities • Guidance issued for Section 523 self-help grants extensions, final evaluations, and applications • HUD offers technical assistance to CoCs seeking to end veteran homelessness • RD addresses documentation on credit availability for Community Facilities programs • Rural impact report illustrates nonprofits’ successes • Online USDA rural housing data described, updated • Housing Trust Fund state plans described and allocations revised • Report recommends ways to reduce racial/ethnic divide in homeownership • Web tool shows how green infrastructure protects against climate threats • Rural placemaking grantees announced

HAC News Formats. pdf

April 13, 2017
Vol. 46, No. 8

April is National Fair Housing Month. The National Fair Housing Alliance has posted a list of events around the country. People who believe they have experienced housing discrimination may file a complaint with HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, 800-669-9777.

Congress on recess, faces spending decisions. When members of Congress return to work on April 24, they will have only a few days to agree on spending levels for the remainder of FY17 before the current Continuing Resolution expires on April 28. (See HAC News, 3/30/17.)

Housing will be in infrastructure proposal, Carson tells NLIHC group. The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that in an address to its 2017 Housing Policy Forum, HUD Secretary Ben Carson said there is “a significant inclusion of housing” in the Administration’s forthcoming infrastructure bill. NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel noted that a one-time spending boost could not replace annual appropriations.

Grants available for Lead and Healthy Homes Technical Studies. Applications are due May 16 for these HUD programs, which fund technical studies to improve detection and control of key housing-related health and safety hazards, including lead-based paint hazards; to develop new methods to detect and control these hazards; and to improve knowledge of these hazards. For more information, contact Peter Ashley, HUD.

OMB issues second memo about cutting regulations. In memos dated April 5 and February 2, the Office of Management and Budget explains how federal agencies are expected to implement Executive Order 13771, which requires repealing two regulations for each new one and capping regulatory costs. (See HAC News, 2/2/17.)

Funding cuts estimated for states, counties, and cities. An interactive online tool calculates how the Trump Administration’s proposed FY18 budget cuts to major HUD programs (see HAC News, 3/16/17) would affect each state and county, as well as major cities. It compares the cuts to FY16 funding levels.

Guidance issued for Section 523 self-help grants extensions, final evaluations, and applications. Administrative Notice 4828 (March 27, 2017) provides guidance on RD processing of applications for self-help technical assistance grants. AN 4827 (March 29, 2017) offers information for RD evaluations of performance under Section 523 self-help grants and consideration of extensions or other revisions. For more information, contact a USDA RD state office.

HUD offers technical assistance to CoCs seeking to end veteran homelessness. Continuums of Care new to HUD’s Vets@Home effort can submit TA requests through the HUD Exchange to access technical assistance and additional resources.

RD addresses documentation on credit availability for Community Facilities programs. An Unnumbered Letter dated March 9, 2017 explains how to show that other financing is not available or feasible when a CF loan, grant, or guarantee is sought. For more information, contact a USDA RD state office.

Rural impact report illustrates nonprofits’ successes. The National Rural Housing Coalition surveyed local nonprofits about their activity in seven categories in FY16, including homeownership, rental housing, and clean water and sewer. Among the 104 responding organizations, 84 assisted 3,139 families in rural communities with rehabilitating, constructing, or purchasing their homes. There were 24,104 families on the waiting lists of 26 organizations. The report and presentations of some of its case studies are available online.

Online USDA rural housing data described, updated. “New Public Data Available on USDA Rural Housing Service’s Single-Family and Multifamily Programs,” an article in HUD’s Cityscape journal, discusses what data is available, its challenges and limitations, and its possible uses. Separately, USDA RD has updated its maturing mortgage data for Section 515 and 514/516 properties.

Housing Trust Fund state plans described and allocations revised. In Housing the Lowest Income People: An Analysis of National Housing Trust Fund Draft Allocation Plans, the National Low Income Housing Coalition reviews draft plans from each state indicating how they may use HTF funds when received. For more information, contact Ed Gramlich, NLIHC. HUD has also corrected errors in its initial allocation of FY16 funds among states and territories.

Report recommends ways to reduce racial/ethnic divide in homeownership. A Downpayment on the Divide: Steps to Ease Racial Inequality in Homeownership, published by CFED, reports that white families (71.9%) are much more likely to own a home than Black (41.3%) and Latino (47%) families. While 34% of white wealth is generated through homeownership, about 56% of Black and Latino wealth is. (There was not enough data to include other races in the study.) Helping to close these gaps would significantly help reduce wealth disparities, CFED says. Its suggestions include reforming the mortgage interest deduction, supporting the CFPB, enforcing the Fair Housing Act, and others.

Web tool shows how green infrastructure protects against climate threats. Naturally Resilient Communities is an interactive tool featuring 30 case studies of places that rely on nature-based solutions such as wetlands and floodplains to protect themselves against flooding. It was developed by the Nature Conservancy in partnership with the American Planning Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, National Association of Counties, and Association of State Floodplain Managers. To search the collection, users select scale, cost, region, and whether a community is urban, suburban, or rural.

Rural placemaking grantees announced. HAC and buildingcommunityWORKSHOP have selected two organizations for a Rural Placemaking Program. The smART Kinston City Project Foundation will partner artists with local stakeholders to address racial tensions and economic inequity in Kinston, NC. The Woodlands Development Group will work with an arts nonprofit to develop public art and wayfinding installations in Thomas, WV.

Rural Placemaking Funding Available

HAC, in collaboration with bcWORKSHOP, is excited to announce a call for participants for Rural Placemaking, a new creative placemaking initiative that will take place in two rural communities (with populations less than 50,000) in the United States. Creative placemaking is a way of working between community developers, housing organizations, artists and local stakeholders to strengthen communities.

Apply Online

Two partnerships between a housing or community development organization and an artist/art organization will be selected to implement a temporary initiative from May to August 2017. Applications are due Friday, March 10, 2017.

Webinar: Creative Placemaking 101 + Funding Opportunity

Materials Posted

Power Point Presentation | Webinar Recording

Join the Housing Assistance Council and bcWORKSHOP for a two-part webinar series on rural Creative Placemaking. Creative placemaking is a method of working between community developers, housing organizations and local stakeholders to strengthen communities. Rural Placemaking brings together people to share food, stories, art, experiences, and histories and enables neighbors to talk, learn, and organize in rural communities in the continental United States.

This webinar, the first in the two-part series “Creative Placemaking 101 + Funding Opportunity” will focus on:

  • defining and describing creative placemaking;
  • explaining the importance of placemaking for rural community development;
  • outlining bcWORSHOP’s rural creative placemaking process via the Activating Vacancy (AV) process;
  • announcing the AV request for rural proposals; and
  • proposal Q&A for interested parties.

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.