HAC News: February 20, 2020

News Formats. pdf

February 20, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 4

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

HAC News Formats. pdf

February 20, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 4

February is National African American History Month.

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

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

CRA comment period extended to April 8.

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

VA offers per diem funds for veterans’ housing stabilization.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comments requested on alternative measures of poverty.

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

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

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

CEOs and nonprofit leaders sought for Achieving Excellence program.

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

Recent publications and media of interest

HAC is hiring an Executive Assistant.

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


The conference will be held in Washington, DC on December 2-4, 2020 with pre-conference meetings on December 1. The HAC News will announce more details, including registration, as they become available.

Need capital for your affordable housing project? HAC’s loan funds provide low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at, 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).

Materials Posted: Part II of the Financing Farm Labor Housing Webinar Series

Materials Posted

Power Point Presentation | Recording

Join the Housing Assistance Council on February 7, 2018 for the second of three webinars focused on financing farm labor housing. Part 1 | Part 3


The Section 514/516 Farm Labor Housing (FLH) program provides loans and grants for the development of on-farm and off-farm housing. The program is operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Housing and Community Facilities Programs office (RD).

Section 514 loans and Section 516 grants are provided to buy, build, improve, or repair housing for farm laborers. Funds can be used to purchase a site or a leasehold interest in a site; to construct or repair housing, day care facilities, or community rooms; to pay fees to purchase durable household furnishings; and to pay construction loan interest.


This webinar, the second in the three-part series, will provide information to help project sponsors complete the Final Application process required to close on the loan and/or grant with USDA Rural Housing Services. Information will be presented on finalizing development and operating budgets, securing site control, compliance with environmental review requirements, assembling the development team of architects, engineers and contractors to finalize plans and specifications, and completing the bidding process to award contracts. The process for obtaining USDA approval of construction plans, the Property Management Plan and other RD requirements will be reviewed. Information will also be provided on layering other leveraged funds in coordination with 514/516 funding, and the requirements for completing the loan closing process with USDA Rural Housing Services.

Register Now


Tierra del Sol Housing Corporation and Community Resources and Housing Development Corporation through a grant agreement with USDA Rural Housing Services

About Tierra del Sol Housing (TDS)
TDS was founded in 1973 by a group of community leaders, farm workers, rural families, and churches to help rural New Mexicans achieve “the goal of a decent home and suitable living environment”. The dream for better housing began with Alto de Las Flores, the first of many large-scale homeownership programs and grew over time to encompass the full range of housing opportunities through self-help programs, renovation of existing housing, rural and farm labor rental housing, supportive housing for the elderly and disabled, and temporary housing assistance programs to prevent homelessness. TDS has since become a leading producer of affordable housing, and has worked to empower other collaborating nonprofit providers to increase their capacity to develop, own and manage housing for low income persons. Tierra del Sol has an impressive development record, producing more than 5,000 rental and homeownership units.

TDS has owned and managed rental housing serving low income families and special populations for more than 45 years, and currently owns 1,059 rental housing units that includes 299 units for farm workers.

Today, Tierra del Sol is advancing the needs of farmworkers and rural families by sharing its technical expertise to help other organizations address their community’s housing needs through Farm Labor Housing Technical Assistance, Self-Help Homeownership Opportunities and Workforce Investment Opportunity programs offered throughout the region and nationally.

About Community Resources and Housing Development Corporation (CRHDC)
CRHDC was Incorporated in 1971 to address the intolerable living conditions and lack of adequate housing for migrant farm workers in the rural areas of Colorado. The organization was created to research and develop housing opportunities for low-income rural families through the construction of safe, sanitary, and affordable housing. The mission has expanded over the years to address community needs, both urban and rural, on a state-wide scale. This includes activities geared toward increasing the financial viability and sustainability of families and the communities in which they live and work. Through the use of innovative strategies, CRHDC has closed the gap between the price of private market housing and the ability of low income families to pay.

CRHDC has a history of developing 514/516 projects that leveraged significant other financing and services through partnerships with collaborating agencies. CRHDC has built more than 2,000 units of self-help housing and owns rental housing serving seniors and low-income persons.

As a technical assistance provider, CRHDC specializes in a wide range of services covering all aspects from board development to project development to construction and property management. Through its subsidiary, Colorado Housing Enterprises, CRHDC also serves as a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).

Both CRHDC and TDS have provided technical assistance for the development of farm labor housing since 2002 through agreements with USDA Rural Housing Services.


About the Housing Assistance Council
The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is a national nonprofit that assists local organizations to build affordable homes in rural America. Since 1971 HAC has provided assistance in the development of both single- and multi-family homes and promotes homeownership for working low-income rural families through a self-help, “sweat equity” construction method by emphasizing local solutions, empowerment of people in poverty, reduced dependence, and self-help strategies. HAC offers services to public, nonprofit, and private organizations throughout the rural United States and maintains a special focus on high-need groups and regions, particularly: Indian country, the Mississippi Delta, farmworkers, the Southwest border colonias, and Appalachia.

HAC quoted in Wisconsin Public Radio story on rural homelessness

HAC executive Director Moises Loza was interviewed by Wisconsin Public Radio for a story about rural homelessness. Ashland Cares, a nonprofit in Ashland, WI, is purchasing a vacant school building to convert it to a shelter to help serve the homeless population of rural northern Wisconsin.

Moises discussed the difficulties rural communities face when attempting to count local homeless populations because of the lack of shelters, and the challenge of providing services for scattered populations.

Read the complete story and listen to the radio segment.

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.

Economic Expansion Eludes Rural America

Economic Expansion Eludes Rural America

rrn-poverty-estimates-2016 CoverWhile the nation is finally beginning to fully recover from the Great Recession that officially ended in 2009, rural America continues to lag behind economically. Released today, the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual report, Income and Poverty in the United States: 2015, reveals that both metropolitan areas and the nation as a whole experienced statistically significant decreases in poverty, and increases in median household income, reflecting overall economic improvement. Rural areas, on the other hand, stand out from an otherwise positive report with lower levels of economic gain.

Rural Poverty Remains Unchanged: Incomes Also Stagnant in Rural Areas

Download HAC's Research NoteThe number of rural Americans living in poverty has remained relatively unchanged, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Overall, the official poverty rate for the United States was 14.8 percent in 2014 – the same as in 2013. Released today, the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual report, Income and Poverty in the United States: 2014, estimates that 46.7 million people had incomes below the poverty line in 2014, making this the fourth year without a statistically significant change in the number of people in poverty at the national level.

Stories of Poverty in Rural Appalachia

In the second installment of his series on “America’s Poorest Towns” for, 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.

Second round of Promise Zone Competition announced

The Obama Administration invites a new round of eligible applicants to apply for a Promise Zone designation. HUD will designate six urban communities and USDA at least one rural and one tribal community as Promise Zones. This initiative targets high-poverty communities for job creation, economic development, and additional special assistance in an effort to drastically improve conditions for communities suffering persistent poverty. Applications are due November 21, 2014 by 5:00 PM EST.

Audience Focused Webcasts

To assist communities with the application process, HUD and USDA are hosting three Promise Zone Initiative Webcasts:

Tribal Webcast
September 29, 2014, Monday
1:00-2:00p.m. EST (please adjust for your local time)

Rural Webcast
September 29, 2014, Monday
3:00-4:00 p.m. EST (please adjust for your local time)

Urban Webcast
October 1, 2014, Wednesday
3:00-4:00 p.m. EST (please adjust for your local time)

More information

Housing Counseling Services Offer More than Just Counseling

While housing counselors are instrumental in helping people avoid foreclosure, they also provide invaluable resources to help families improve their lives

When someone is facing foreclosure, there is usually a credit card collector calling constantly, a family member struggling with an illness, or a heavy stress over where the next meal might be coming from. The problem that the client comes to us about is often caused by another bigger issue that they may be dealing with. This is why a housing counselor does so much more than just housing counseling.

While we have always provided assistance with housing issues through our Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors, Elder Law of Michigan has been a HUD-approved housing counseling agency since 2011. We decided to expand our programs to become a housing counseling agency so that we could do a better job of helping clients deal with the issues that may be preventing them from owning or renting a home or apartment.

The goal of the housing counseling program is to help clients achieve their goals. In regards to helping with homeownership, these goals could be to downsize to a smaller, more accessible home; own a home for the first time; or become a home owner again after going through challenges that resulted in a foreclosure of a previous home.

A housing counselor works with the client to figure out the alternatives and then allows the client to make an educated decision on how to proceed. This process is customized to each client but includes budget discussions, information on what resources are available, credit repair counseling, education on fair housing rights, and assistance with finding other housing if that is necessary. Housing counselors provide these services in an understanding, non-judgmental way.

We recognize that there are additional challenges faced by our rural clients: limited access to services and fewer housing alternatives.

These services are invaluable to someone struggling with the constant phone calls from the creditor, the overwhelming amount of incorrect information on the internet, and the fear of what to do if the family loses their home.

As a nonprofit that serves clients in suburban cities and rural counties, we recognize that there are additional challenges faced by our rural clients: limited access to services and fewer housing alternatives.

Many rural residents are perfectly fine with the fact that there aren’t many businesses nearby. In fact, that may be one of the reasons why they choose to live in the rural area. With the tight economy, nonprofits have to strategically locate where they can serve the most clients in a cost-effective manner. A large, mostly rural county in our service area has only one housing counseling agency actually located in the county. For residents on the other side of the county, that means almost an hour of travel each way to get assistance with their housing problems.

Another barrier is access to high-speed internet. Out of efficiency, many of the programs that help with foreclosure issues use a website or an online portal. While this works for those who are computer savvy and have a reliable computer with a good internet connection, several of our clients could only access these services with our help.

Making our services available by telephone means that we can try to provide as much assistance as possible without having the client drive a long distance to meet with us. There are still some issues using this method because there is not a nearby place to make copies or fax documents.

For those clients who commute into the larger cities for work, these issues can be addressed with the services available there. However, for our older, retired clients, that is not always so easy. We also discovered that some clients were not able to contact us because our office hours were the same hours that they worked. We had to make evening appointments available.
There are fewer housing options for some rural clients. In an ideal situation, our housing counselors would be able to work with the client and resolve the mortgage issue, allowing the client and their family to remain in the home. However, that is not always the case. In some cases, we have to work with the client to find alternate, affordable housing. Purchasing another home to live in is not an option at that moment due to credit issues. For many clients in this situation, we help them find an apartment that they can afford. For rural clients, rentals are not very plentiful, so relocating to another community is a reality that they must face on top of dealing with the foreclosure.

Because it is hard enough dealing with the housing issue, rural clients should definitely seek out a housing counseling agency to help. Recently, we had a client from a rural county who lost his job and was faced with foreclosure. Our housing counselor worked with him to go over his budget and determined that if he could get caught up, he would be able to afford to make future payments. They worked together by phone and through the mail to get all of his paperwork together. The client came to our office and worked with the counselor to complete an application for assistance through the Hardest Hit Fund program. After waiting several weeks, the client received notice that he was going to receive assistance and could save his home. Now, several months later, he just emailed us to say how thankful he is for the help.

Unfortunately, this is not always the outcome for our clients. Another client, a widow from a very small town in another rural county, contacted one of our other programs because she needed help buying food. After speaking with her, our benefits counselor realized that the client was also facing foreclosure. She gladly agreed to be helped by our housing counseling program. She was the victim of a fraudulent refinance scheme that took her money but never worked with her mortgage lender. Because she was not going to be able to afford the home any longer, our housing counselor worked with the client to find another place to live. After five months, the client was able to move into a subsidized housing complex in a nearby city and even recovered some of her money thanks to the legal help she received from the legal hotline.

After five months, the client was able to move into a subsidized housing complex in a nearby city and even recovered some of her money thanks to the legal help she received from the legal hotline.

Even for clients who are not able to stay in their home, the dream of homeownership is still possible. Housing counseling programs will work with the client who wants to own a home again in the future. Participating in a structured program to help with saving money and possibly rebuild credit is a good way to return to homeownership faster.

Housing counseling programs also can provide information on fair housing laws and discrimination. Whether you are looking to buy a home, take out a mortgage, or rent an apartment, you should know your rights.

Our housing counseling program, along with our other programs, does so much more than just answer questions and give referrals. Like many other housing counseling agencies, we seek to address the problems that led to the housing issue. It is this assistance that our clients find the most helpful. To find a housing counseling agency in your area, visit or call 800-569-4287.

Keith L. Morris, J.D., M.P.A. is the President of Elder Law of Michigan, a private nonprofit that assists clients with legal counseling, pension counseling, benefits counseling, and housing counseling. Its new Housing Rights Center of Michigan assists clients of all ages and incomes in counties surrounding Lansing, Michigan.

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…


Aging Veterans in the United States Cover

Aging Veterans in the United States

A snapshot of older veterans and their social, economic, and housing characteristics.

To better understand and inform strategies and policies for America’s aging veterans, the Housing Assistance Council has published Aging Veterans in the United States an analysis of data describing the older veteran population.

The United States is on the cusp of an extensive and far-reaching demographic transformation as the senior population is expected to nearly double by 2050. This is similarly the case for the veteran segment of the population who make up about 9 percent of the U.S. population. A large and growing proportion of this veteran population is composed of those age 55 and over, “older” Americans. As this group grows older, it is important to consider their unique characteristics and issues, which include health problems and physical limitations associated with aging. A rapidly aging population will significantly impact nearly all aspects of the nation’s social, economic, and housing systems.

Housing in Central Appalachia Cover

Housing in Central Appalachia


This Rural Research Report details the housing, economic and social characteristics of Central Appalachia.

The Appalachians’ plentiful natural resources, including coal, natural gas, and timber, played a key role in the growth of the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries and continue to be vital to the nation’s economic well-being. The region’s distinctive culture and rich heritage have also left their mark on the American experience both culturally and economically. Despite its cultural distinction, the Appalachian region is more commonly known for its economic challenges. High poverty rates, poor housing, and limited economic opportunities have persisted for generations.

Updated September 2013

Taking Stock 2010


More from Taking Stock at #RuralFacts and Poverty in the United States (Map)

Purchase the Report

Press Conference


Nearly 30 years ago the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) published Taking Stock, one of the first comprehensive assessments of rural poverty and housing conditions in the United States. Since the 1980s, HAC has prepared an updated Taking Stock every ten years following the release of decennial Census data. Now HAC presents the newest edition of Taking Stock, using data from the 2010 Census and American Community Survey (ACS) to describe the social, economic, and housing characteristics of rural Americans.

Executive Summary

Download Taking Stock (PDF):

Introductory Documents


Rural People and Places: The Demographics of Rural and Small Town America

The Rural Economy

Housing In Rural America



Border Colonias

Zavala County, Texas

Central Appalachia

Hancock County, Tennessee


Kern County, California

Lower Mississippi Delta

West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana

Native American Lands

Shannon County, South Dakota



Appendix A. About the Data

Appendix B. Tables

Download Complete Publication (30MB)

More on Taking Stock information on Twitter #RuralFacts

To purchase a physical copy of Taking Stock for $26, click on the Amazon link.

Press Conference: On December 6, 2012, HAC hosted a press conferenceto announce the publication ofTaking Stock, HAC’s detailed report on Rural People, Poverty, and Housing in the 21st Century. Access an archived recording of the webcast here.

All Files are in PDF format and require Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Questions? Contact Dan Stern at HAC,, 202-842-8600.

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