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HAC News: October 21, 2019

News Formats. pdf

October 21, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 21

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

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 21, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 21

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

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

Apply by November 15 for grants to support housing aid to rural veterans.

HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans initiative supports local nonprofit housing development organizations that meet or help meet the affordable housing needs of veterans in rural areas. Grants typically range up to $30,000 per organization and must support bricks-and-mortar projects that assist low-income, elderly and/or disabled veterans with home repair and rehab needs, support homeless veterans, help veterans become homeowners and/or secure affordable rental housing. This initiative is funded through the generous support of the Home Depot Foundation. Applications are due November 15 by 5:00 pm Eastern time. For more information, contact HAC staff, ahrv@ruralhome.org.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USDA to begin accepting Section 538 rental guarantee applications continuously.

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

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

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

Executive Orders increase scrutiny of agency guidance.

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

Administration tells agencies to pay as they go.

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

Senate committee considers homeownership in Indian Country.

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

USDA names Deputy Administrator for rental housing office.

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

Threshold raised for single-family appraisal requirements.

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

HUD sets expedited process for PHAs in disaster counties.

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

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

This three-day advanced course trains experienced participants to assist potential borrowers and work with RD staff, other nonprofits and regional intermediaries to deliver successful Section 502 loan packages. The training will be held in Tampa, FL on November 12-14. For more information, contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

HAC training for housing counselors set for November in Tampa.

HUD’s final rule on new certification requirements for housing counselors requires that by August 1, 2020 counseling for or in connection with any HUD programs must be provided by HUD Certified Housing Counselors. Get ready! Elevate your knowledge in the six essential competency areas, including financial management, housing affordability, homeownership, avoiding foreclosure, tenancy and fair housing. Set yourself up for success in meeting HUDs counselor certification requirements by starting your prep with this three-day course scheduled for Tampa, FL on November 12-14. The registration fee is $500. For more information, contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan funds provide low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

HAC News: October 7, 2019

News Formats. pdf

October 7, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 20

President signs continuing resolution to keep government open • Rural rental preservation bill re-introduced along with others • HUD announces DDAs and QCTs for FY20 • USDA updates environmental policies and procedures • Newspaper ads for domestic farmworkers replaced by online job registry • Duty to Serve listening sessions scheduled • Factsheets on disaster housing recovery • Iowa Free Land Giveaways Can be Imperfect Fix for Rural Housing Shortage • Measuring and Understanding Home Repair Costs: A National Typology of Households • New Financing Options for Affordable and Attractive Factory-Built Homes • Silicon Valley in Iowa: Congressman’s Fight for Tech Jobs in Rural America • The Value of HMDA Coverage of Home Lending in Rural Areas and Indian Country • HAC training for housing counselors set for November in Tampa • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 7, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 20

President signs continuing resolution to keep government open.

On September 23 President Trump signed into law a continuing resolution, H.R. 4378, to fund the federal government through November 21. A disagreement over funding for the border wall – the issue that led to last year’s lengthy shutdown – is expected to arise again as Congress and the Administration try to resolve differences on full-year appropriations. Congress is in recess October 1-14.

Rural rental preservation bill re-introduced along with others.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has introduced S. 2567, the Rural Housing Preservation Act, which would expand availability of vouchers for USDA tenants in properties leaving the Section 515 or 514/516 portfolios, allow Section 521 Rental Assistance to continue for tenants in properties whose mortgages have matured, establish uniform standards for transfers involving Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and authorize the MPR program. The measure has been introduced in previous Congresses in both the House and Senate, although it has not yet been taken up by either house. Sen. Shaheen also introduced a bill encouraging manufactured home park owners who are interested in selling their property to sell to their residents, and another that would terminate FHA mortgage insurance payments when the loan balance reaches 78% of the home’s value.

HUD announces DDAs and QCTs for FY20.

Difficult Development Areas and Qualified Census Tracts, calculated every year, are used to target Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

USDA updates environmental policies and procedures.

USDA Rural Development published a direct final rule on November 23, 2018 to update its environmental policies and procedures, but did not put it into effect because some adverse comments were submitted. A September 23, 2019 notice makes the rule effective as of that date, giving the RHS, RBS and RUS administrators some flexibility to obligate funds for infrastructure projects – including broadband, electric, water and sewer – before environmental review is completed, conditioned on the full and satisfactory completion of environmental review. For more information, contact Edna Primrose, USDA RD, 202-720-0986.

Newspaper ads for domestic farmworkers replaced by online job registry.

The Labor Department is eliminating the existing requirement for most employers who want to hire H-2A farmworkers to first advertise their job opportunities in print newspapers. Instead of requiring them to run ads online, as it first proposed, DOL will instead post these jobs on its electronic job registry, seasonaljobs.dol.gov, effective October 21, 2019. For more information, contact Thomas M. Dowd, DOL, 202-513-7350.

Duty to Serve listening sessions scheduled.

As Fannie Mae and Freddie Mae develop plans to carry out their 2021-23 duty to serve underserved markets such as rural America, the Federal Housing Finance Agency has scheduled listening sessions between Nov. 19 and Dec. 11 in St. Louis, Los Angeles, Washington, DC and online in order to get public input. Details and registration are online.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • Factsheets on disaster housing recovery from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition describe the housing impact of the largest disasters from 2017 and 2018 as well as major failures and deficiencies in disaster recovery efforts afterward.
  • In Iowa Free Land Giveaways Can be Imperfect Fix for Rural Housing Shortage describes the challenges involved as, in an effort to overcome an aging housing stock and encourage new housing construction, at least four rural Iowa communities are experimenting with land giveaways to spur development.
  • Measuring and Understanding Home Repair Costs: A National Typology of Households, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and PolicyMap, calculates housing quality problems taking into account the cost of the repairs needed. The authors estimate that extremely low-income households in single-family units typically have the costliest repair needs, totaling $50.8 billion in 2018.
  • New Financing Options for Affordable and Attractive Factory-Built Homes suggests modular and manufactured housing can help solve the affordable housing shortage in rural areas. As opposed to stick-built housing built on-site, manufactured and modular housing is factory-built and delivered to the site, saving time and money.
  • Silicon Valley in Iowa: Congressman’s Fight for Tech Jobs in Rural America describes an effort involving several large tech companies to bring jobs and job training to Jefferson County, Iowa. Spearheaded by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), the program would create software development education and training opportunities through local community colleges and also involve the commitment to local job creation from large tech firms.
  • The Value of HMDA Coverage of Home Lending in Rural Areas and Indian Country, a working paper from the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, notes that the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act applies to a wide range of financial institutions involved in home lending, but many small and nonmetropolitan lenders are exempt from reporting. The research analyzes data coverage and identifies some limitations but concludes HMDA data is a useful and important source of information about lending in Indian Country and rural areas.

HAC training for housing counselors set for November in Tampa.

HUD’s final rule on new certification requirements for housing counselors requires that by August 1, 2020 counseling for or in connection with any HUD programs, must be provided by HUD Certified Housing Counselors. Get ready! Elevate your knowledge in the six essential competency areas, including financial management, housing affordability, homeownership, avoiding foreclosure, tenancy and fair housing. Set yourself up for success in meeting HUD’s counselor certification requirements by starting your prep with this three-day course scheduled for Tampa, FL on November 12-14. The registration fee is $500. For more information, contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan funds provide low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

HAC News: September 23, 2019

News Formats. pdf

September 23, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 19

Senate committee approves FY20 funding for USDA and HUD, continuing resolution moves forward • HUD offers technical assistance for disaster-impacted cities under 40,000 • House passes rural rental preservation bill • HUD proposes regulations on income and assets for public housing and Section 8 • Community design awards announced • DJ LaVoy sworn in as Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development • Low-cost rental units show long-term decline in every state • White House homelessness recommendations include deregulation and policing • September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic American Heritage Month “Colonias Investment Areas – Texas” webinar set for September 26 • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

September 23, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 19

Senate committee approves FY20 funding for USDA and HUD, continuing resolution moves forward.

  • On September 19 the Senate Appropriations Committee passed FY20 funding bills for several departments, including USDA and HUD. After the full Senate approves the bills, differences between the Senate measures and those previously passed by the House will need to be resolved by conference committees. Because there is not enough time to complete the appropriations for all federal agencies before the new fiscal year begins on October 1, a continuing resolution is expected to fund the government through November 21 and avoid a shutdown. The House approved a CR, H.R. 4378, on September 19 and the Senate should vote on it the week of September 23. It includes a provision allowing maintenance of HUD Section 202 rental assistance, even if the necessary funds exceed the FY19 amount.
  • The Senate’s FY20 USDA bill would keep most rural housing programs at FY19 levels with increases to Section 521 Rental Assistance and Section 542 rural housing vouchers. The version approved by the House in June, on the other hand, increased several programs above FY19 levels, including Sections 514 and 515 as well as self-help housing and the MPR rental preservation program. Details are on HAC’s website. The Senate bill also includes $25 million for relocating ERS and NIFA to Kansas City, while the House bill would block the move.
  • The Senate’s HUD bill increases the department’s overall funding above its FY19 level, but rejects a number of increases included in the House’s bill. The Appropriations Committee voted 15-16 against inclusion of an amendment that would have reauthorized NAHASDA; the bill does fund the Native American housing programs for FY20.

HUD offers technical assistance for disaster-impacted cities under 40,000.

HUD’s Distressed Cities Technical Assistance program is designed to assist local governments of communities with populations under 40,000 that experienced a presidentially declared disaster in or after 2015. The program focuses on financial management, economic development (including affordable housing) and disaster recovery planning. Instructions for requesting TA are posted online.

House passes rural rental preservation bill.

On September 10 the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3620, the Strategy and Investment in Rural Housing Preservation Act. The Senate seems unlikely to consider the bill, which would strengthen USDA’s rental preservation efforts.

HUD proposes regulations on income and assets for public housing and Section 8.

Comments are due November 18 on a proposed rule to implement provisions of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 that relate to income calculations and reviews for public housing and Section 8, with corresponding changes to the regs for HOME, the Housing Trust Fund, and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program. Information contacts vary by program and are listed in the notice.

Community design awards announced.

Twenty-three communities from across the country were selected to join the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, a collaboration among HAC, the National Endowment for the Arts and buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. The partner towns, tribes, nonprofits and other organizations were selected in a national competition to receive assistance in addressing design and creative placemaking goals. Three communities – Millinocket, Maine; Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico; and Athens, Ohio – will host multi-day design workshops that bring experts and locals together.

DJ LaVoy sworn in as Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development.

Donald “DJ” LaVoy, most recently the head of HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center, was sworn in September 17 as Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development at USDA. The Under Secretary position, eliminated by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and reinstated by the 2018 Farm Bill, remains vacant.

Low-cost rental units show long-term decline in every state.

Documenting the Long-Run Decline in Low-Cost Rental Units in the U.S. by State, a working paper from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, looks at the reduction in low-cost rentals from 1990 to 2017. These homes were a declining share of the housing stock in every state, and all but a few states also had declines in the absolute number of low-cost units. The steepest drop occurred from 2012 to 2017. The paper reports a strong correlation at the state level between the extent of losses of low-cost rentals and rising housing cost burdens for low-income households.

White House homelessness recommendations include deregulation and policing.

A new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers, The State of Homelessness in America, focuses on homelessness in major metro areas on the East and West coasts. It identifies the major causes of homelessness as high housing costs due to overregulation of housing markets, “tolerable conditions” including warm weather and policing policies, right-to-shelter policies offering “substitutes to permanent housing” and individual factors such as severe mental illness and low incomes. It criticizes past federal policies and expresses doubt whether homelessness has actually decreased since 2007 (as HUD has reported). Solutions offered include removal of regulatory barriers, expanded drug treatment, “an increased emphasis on serious mental illness,” support for police in promoting safe cities, and stronger encouragement for self-sufficiency.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • Income and Poverty in the United States: 2018 is an annual data report from the Census Bureau. The national median household income remained essentially the same in 2018 as in 2017, while the poverty rate fell by 0.5 percentage points to 11.8%. The drop in poverty was statistically significant for urban residents, but there was no statistically significant change for nonmetro or suburban residents.
  • New Partnership Addresses Affordable Housing in Rural Areas details how the South Dakota economy is benefitting from a $10 million partnership between Avery Health and the Rural Electric Economic Development Fund. These funds will go toward building quality workforce housing to help attract and retain skilled staff in all business sectors.
  • Rural References Bounce in and out of Democratic Debate, a Daily Yonder article, looks at the various ways contenders in the September 12 presidential debate touched on issues affecting rural America.
  • Small, Rural Markets Left Behind as Large Metros Struggle to Match Housing to Job Gains explains some results of rural housing markets’ and rural economies’ inability to rebound at the same rates as large metropolitan areas since the Great Recession (2007-2009). Before the recession housing and economic growth in rural areas were generally similar to those in large metropolitan areas, but now they are lagging in job creation and home value gains.
  • Something Special is Happening in Rural America, by writer Sarah Smarsh, argues that recent shift in public sentiment and increasing affordability challenges for large urban areas are indicators of a coming “brain gain” for rural areas. Smarsh, author of Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, recently launched a new podcast, The Homecomers, focused on providing “a more accurate story of those ill-understood spaces [rural communities.]”

September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic American Heritage Month.

Colonias Investment AreasTexas” webinar set for September 26.
HAC, in partnership with Fannie Mae, will hold a webinar presenting data and research on Colonias Investment Areas, a geographic concept developed to target strategies and opportunities for mortgage finance and resource investment in colonia communities along the southwest U.S. border. The September 26 session will focus on colonias in Texas. Recent webinars on colonias in New Mexico and Arizona are available on HAC’s YouTube channel. 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: September 9, 2019

News Formats. pdf

September 9, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 18

Administration releases housing finance reform proposal • Congress to resume work on FY20 appropriations • House will consider rural rental preservation bill • USDA offers Community Facilities grants for disaster relief • Eligibility calculations for Section 504 repair loans and grants revised • Comments requested on economic development in distressed areas • Census Bureau hiring for help with 2020 Census • Fair market rents released • USDA extends manufactured housing pilots • Vermont incentivizes local and rural job creation “Colonias Investment Areas – Texas” webinar set for September 26 • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

September 9, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 18

Administration releases housing finance reform proposal.

The Trump Administration’s proposed housing finance reform plan was released on September 5. In addition to the Treasury Department plan to release Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from government conservatorship and limit the federal role in the housing market, a separate document presents a HUD plan for FHA and Ginnie Mae. The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs has scheduled a September 10 hearing on “Housing Finance Reform: Next Steps.” HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria will be witnesses and the hearing will be webcast live.

Congress to resume work on FY20 appropriations.

The week of September 9, after the House and Senate return from their August recess, the Senate Appropriations Committee will begin to consider funding bills for FY20, which starts on October 1, 2019. Earlier this year the House developed its 12 appropriations bills and passed 10 of them, though its numbers will need to be adjusted because the summer budget deal provided a lower amount for non-defense and a higher amount for defense than the House bills assumed. The House is expected to vote the week of September 16 on a continuing resolution carrying FY19 funding levels until late November or early December. Bloomberg reports the Administration has requested a number of “anomalies” – changes in FY19 provisions to be included in a CR. No rural housing anomalies are listed, but the request does include authority for HUD to renew contracts for rental assistance to Section 202 properties for the elderly, as well as additional funding for the 2020 Census.

House will consider rural rental preservation bill.

The House of Representatives is scheduled to take up H.R. 3620, the Strategy and Investment in Rural Housing Preservation Act of 2019, on September 10, 11 or 12. The bill, which passed the House Financial Services Committee unanimously in July, would authorize the MPR and preservation technical assistance programs, authorize vouchers for tenants after a mortgage matures or is foreclosed (in addition to after prepayment), allow decoupling of Rental Assistance as a last resort, require USDA to develop a preservation plan and establish a stakeholders’ committee to advise USDA.

USDA offers Community Facilities grants for disaster relief.

Community Facilities grants will be awarded on a rolling basis to public bodies, nonprofits and tribes in rural areas impacted by FEMA-recognized natural disasters. For more information, contact a USDA Rural Development state office.

Eligibility calculations for Section 504 repair loans and grants revised.

USDA revisions to Handbook HB-1-3550, announced in Procedure Notice 527, change the methodology for determining eligibility for loan, grant and combination assistance. They also provide clarification to other program eligibility criteria including credit analysis, medical deductions, property considerations and construction contract considerations. The Section 504 program offers loans to low-income rural homeowners and grants to those who are age 62 or older. For more information, contact a local USDA Rural Development office.

Comments requested on economic development in distressed areas.

In connection with its work on the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, the Commerce Department seeks recommendations on spurring economic development in Opportunity Zones and other distressed areas. Comments are due October 18. For more information, contact Mara Quintero Campbell, 202-482-5479.

Census Bureau hiring for help with 2020 Census.

The U.S. Census Bureau needs to hire hundreds of thousands of workers to complete the upcoming census. Temporary jobs include census takers, recruiting assistants, office staff and supervisory staff, with locations throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Fair Market Rents released.

HUD has posted Fair Market Rents for FY20, effective October 1, 2019. Prices are available at the county and zip code levels for efficiency, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom and four-bedroom units.

USDA extends manufactured housing pilots.

Two pilot programs are extended through the end of August 2020. One allows the Section 502 direct and guarantee programs to finance existing manufactured homes that are not already financed by USDA. The second reduces the required land lease term for energy-efficient homes in nonprofit communities. For more information related to Section 502 direct, contact Jeremy Anderson, USDA, 202-690-3971; related to Section 502 guaranteed, contact Kevin Smith, USDA, 517-883-6147.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • South Carolina Housing Needs Assessment estimates that high housing costs in the state cost a total of $8.4 billion in public assistance, private charity or personal deprivation. The report mentions that the housing crisis looks different in rural areas, where incomes are lower.
  • #MapMonday is a weekly social media series from the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities at the University of Montana. For a new map each week related to people living with disabilities in rural America, follow RTC:Rural on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Vermont incentivizes local and rural job creation.

The Remote Worker Grant Program, which offers remote workers as much as $10,000 in payments and incentives to relocate to Vermont, has seen greater than expected participation and engagement. Since January 2019 a total of 170 people have relocated to the state as part of this program (this number includes family members that moved with the workers). The Vermont Department of Economic Development is hoping to expand on this success by offering another incentive program aimed at creating local jobs, with higher payouts for jobs created in rural communities.

Colonias Investment AreasTexas” webinar set for September 26.
HAC, in partnership with Fannie Mae, will hold a webinar presenting data and research on Colonias Investment Areas, a geographic concept developed to target strategies and opportunities for mortgage finance and resource investment in colonia communities along the southwest U.S. border. The September 26 session will focus on colonias in Texas. Recent webinars on colonias in New Mexico and Arizona are available on HAC’s YouTube channel. 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).

USDA to Help Nonprofits Preserve Rental Housing

October 26, 2016 – USDA has announced a new effort to increase nonprofit participation in preservation of Section 515 rural rental housing. Changes will take effect on March 1, 2017. USDA’s Rural Housing Service hopes its staff and interested nonprofits will use the intervening time to identify preservation deals. Nonprofits can reach out to USDA Rural Development state offices for additional information and assistance.

The changes include:

  1. Return on Investment (ROI):
    • Eligible nonprofits will earn a return based on the investment of their own resources following the ROI methodology.
    • Grant funds used for hard costs of construction will be included in the ROI methodology.
    • Loans made by nonprofits (aka Developer Loans) to a nonprofit purchasing entity will be included in the ROI methodology subject to certain conditions being met.
  2. Security Value: USDA will include the value of state or local loans provided at favorable rates in the determination of Security Value (loan to value ratio).
  3. Hard Cost Contingency: Hard cost contingency will be an eligible Section 515 loan purpose, allowing it to be included in the ROI methodology subject to certain conditions being met.

HAC News: October 1, 2014

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 1, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 20

• Changes in rural housing eligibility definition delayed by CR • USDA RD offers multifamily preservation and revitalization assistance • Preservation Revolving Loan Fund monies available for intermediaries • Funding offered to CDFIs and Native American CDFIs • Promise Zone initiative opens second round • Changes proposed to affordable housing goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac • CDFI Fund seeks comments on its capacity building initiative • HUD asks for input on Native American data • National Housing Trust Fund lawsuit dismissed • Mortgage data show drop in refinancing from 2012 to 2013 • A majority of manufactured housing borrowers have expensive loans • Webinar to cover protecting seniors and other RD tenants from displacement • REGISTER FOR CONFERENCE BEFORE OCTOBER 31!

October 1, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 20

CHANGES IN RURAL HOUSING ELIGIBILITY DEFINITION DELAYED BY CR. USDA RD says the continuing resolution that extends FY14 funding levels through December 11 also extends the provision in FY14 appropriations law that prohibited declaring any communities ineligible for the rural housing programs if they were eligible on September 30, 2013. In effect, the CR means previously eligible places cannot become ineligible yet, even if their populations now exceed 35,000.

USDA RD OFFERS MULTIFAMILY PRESERVATION AND REVITALIZATION ASSISTANCE. Pre-applications are due November 24 for the MPR program, which helps preserve properties with Section 514 or 515 loans. MPR properties cannot displace tenants because of increased rents. No additional Rental Assistance units are available. Contact Sherry Engel, RD, 715-345-7677.

PRESERVATION REVOLVING LOAN FUND MONIES AVAILABLE FOR INTERMEDIARIES. PRLF recipients establish revolving loan funds for preservation of Section 515 and 514/516 housing. RD has eliminated the $1 million cap on subsequent loans for current intermediaries. Deadline is December 22. Contact Sherry Engel, RD, 715-345-7677.

FUNDING OFFERED TO CDFIS AND NATIVE AMERICAN CDFIS. Lending funds and technical assistance funds are available for Community Development Financial Institutions, potential CDFIs, and Native American CDFIs. Deadline is November 24. Contact CDFI Fund staff, 202-653-0421.

PROMISE ZONE INITIATIVE OPENS SECOND ROUND. HUD and USDA will designate at least 8 Promise Zones across urban, rural, and tribal communities to receive technical assistance to apply for existing federal programs; the designation itself does not include funding. Apply by November 21. Contact Brooke Bohnet, HUD, 202–402–6693.

CHANGES PROPOSED TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING GOALS FOR FANNIE MAE AND FREDDIE MAC. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates the GSEs, published a proposed rule and a correction suggesting updates and changes, including establishment of a new housing subgoal for small multifamily properties affordable to low-income families. Comments are due October 28. FHFA. Contact Dr. Nayantara Hensel, FHFA, 202-649-3122

CDFI FUND SEEKS COMMENTS ON ITS CAPACITY BUILDING INITIATIVE. Suggestions for improving the initiative’s effectiveness are due October 24. Contact CDFI Fund staff, 202-653-0421.

HUD ASKS FOR INPUT ON NATIVE AMERICAN DATA. Comment by October 27 about options to the use of Census data in the funding formula for the Indian Housing Block Grant program. Contact Rodger Boyd, HUD, 202-401-7914.

NATIONAL HOUSING TRUST FUND LAWSUIT DISMISSED. On September 29 a court dismissed a suit filed by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition and others against the Federal Housing Finance Agency seeking financing for the National Housing Trust Fund (see HAC News, 7/17/13). The dismissal was based on procedural grounds, not on the merits of the case. The plaintiffs continue to urge FHFA action and are considering an appeal.

MORTGAGE DATA SHOW DROP IN REFINANCING FROM 2012 TO 2013. Newly released Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data show 2013 mortgage lending activity declined from 2012 levels. Home purchase loans actually increased, but refinancing loans dropped substantially. In rural areas and small towns, refi lending declined by 23%. The rates of denials and high cost loans continue to be higher for rural and small town borrowers. Particularly for economically depressed, high needs rural regions, such as Central Appalachia, the rural Southeast and the Lower Mississippi Delta, high cost loans represent a large percentage of all originations. HAC will post a more detailed analysis soon.

A MAJORITY OF MANUFACTURED HOUSING BORROWERS HAVE EXPENSIVE LOANS. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that manufactured home owners typically pay higher interest rates for their loans than borrowers whose homes were built onsite. Manufactured-housing Consumer Finance in the United States also states that manufactured home residents are more likely to be older, live in a rural area, or have lower net worth than residents of other types of homes.

WEBINAR TO COVER PROTECTING SENIORS AND OTHER RD TENANTS FROM DISPLACEMENT. The National Housing Law Project will offer a free webinar on October 21 at 2:00 pm Eastern time/11:00 am Pacific on “Prepayments, Maturing Mortgages, and Foreclosures: Protecting Seniors and Others from Rural Development Rental Housing Displacement.”

REGISTER FOR CONFERENCE BEFORE OCTOBER 31! Register online for the National Rural Housing Conference 2014: Re-tool, Rebuild, Renew, in Washington, DC, December 3-5 with pre-conference activities December 2. Until October 31, the rate is $350 for nonprofits and government, $400 for for-profits. Contact HAC staff, registration@ruralhome.org.

HAC News: January 10, 2013

HAC News Formats. pdf

January 10, 2013
Vol. 42, No. 1

• Tax deal delays sequestration • USDA offers MPR preservation funds • ROSS Service Coordinators applications invited • Funds available for CDFIs • CFPB changes “qualified residential mortgage” definition • USDA RD proposes civil money penalties • Comments sought on Section 202 preservation rental aid • Farmworker housing RA being monitored • New guide explains how to combine HOME and LIHTC • HUD describes new fair housing assessment and planning process • Report describes successes of Section 502 direct and Section 523 self-help • HAC blog posts cover data, review 2012

January 10, 2013
Vol. 42, No. 1

TAX DEAL DELAYS SEQUESTRATION. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, the deal reached by the Administration and Congress to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” delays until March 1 the 8.2% across-the-board spending cuts that would have been effective January 1 (see HAC News, 9/26/12), while lowering the caps for FY13 discretionary spending. It also extends for one year a 9% credit floor for Low Income Housing Tax Credit deals and extends the New Markets Tax Credit for 2012 and 2013. In February and March Congress will be faced with decisions about sequestration, the U.S. debt ceiling, and the continuing resolution for FY13 funding that expires on March 27.

USDA OFFERS MPR PRESERVATION FUNDS. Pre-applications for the Multi-Family Housing Preservation and Revitalization Demonstration Program for Sections 515 and 514/516 are due February 28. Unfunded applications from previous years will receive priority. No new Rental Assistance is available. The notice and pre-application form are available in the Federal Register and on RD’s website. Contact an RD state office, Sherry Engel, RD, 715-345-7677, or Tiffany Tietz, RD, 616-942-4111, ext. 126.

ROSS SERVICE COORDINATORS APPLICATIONS INVITED.Nonprofits, PHAs, tribes/TDHEs, and resident associations can apply by February 19 for Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency Service Coordinator funding. Details are posted on HUD’s website and at grants.gov. Contact Dina Lehmann-Kim, HUD, 202-402-2430.

FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR CDFIS. Community Development Financial Institutions and Native CDFIs can apply by February 28 for financial or technical assistance monies from the CDFI Fund, subject to appropriations. Contact agency staff, 202-653-0421.

CFPB CHANGES “QUALIFIED RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE” DEFINITION. A regulation proposed in May 2011, intended to ensure that consumers receive mortgages they can repay, would have strongly discouraged non-governmental mortgages with downpayments under 20%. The final rule, announced on January 10, drops the downpayment standard and uses instead a 43% debt-to-income ratio, along with numerous other requirements. Some balloon payment mortgages would be allowed if made by small creditors in rural and underserved areas. CFPB requests comment on some amendments, including one to define as QRMs all mortgages made and held in portfolio by small creditors. The comment deadline will be set when the rule is published in the Federal Register.

USDA RD PROPOSES CIVIL MONEY PENALTIES. Comments are due February 4 on a proposed rule intended to create more effective civil monetary penalties, along with due process protections, for violations of housing program statutes, regulations, and loan documents. Contact Stephanie White, RD, 202-720-1615.

COMMENTS SOUGHT ON SECTION 202 PRESERVATION RENTAL AID. Comments are due March 11 on proposed 20-year Senior Preservation Rental Assistance Contracts that would prevent displacement when Section 202 properties are refinanced or recapitalized. Contact Margaret Salazar, HUD, 202-708-2495.

FARMWORKER HOUSING RA BEING MONITORED. An Unnumbered Letter issued December 13, 2012 explains that USDA is monitoring transfer of Section 521 Rental Assistance from Section 514/516 Farm Labor Housing properties to ensure RA is transferred to other FLH properties when possible, in compliance with the continuing resolution that funds the program through March 27. Contact Janet Stouder, RD, 202-720-9728.

NEW GUIDE EXPLAINS HOW TO COMBINE HOME AND LIHTC. HOME and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Guidebook, published by HUD, addresses compliance with the requirements of both programs.

HUD DESCRIBES NEW FAIR HOUSING ASSESSMENT AND PLANNING PROCESS. In its Statement of Regulatory Priorities for FY13, HUD says it plans to issue a proposed rule in April changing how it administers its obligation to affirmatively further fair housing. It will replace the existing analysis of impediments requirement with a fair housing assessment and planning process, hoping to create a more direct link between fair housing and Consolidated Plans or PHA Plans. Contact Patrick Pontius, HUD, 202-402-3273.

REPORT DESCRIBES SUCCESSES OF SECTION 502 DIRECT AND SECTION 523 SELF-HELP. A new National Rural Housing Coalition publication shows how these programs have expanded homeownership opportunities to some of the nation’s poorest rural families at little expense to the federal government. The report is free online or $10 from NRHC. Contact Sarah Mickelson, NRHC, 202-393-5225.

HAC BLOG POSTS COVER DATA, REVIEW 2012. In December HAC contributed two posts to Shelterforce magazine’s Rooflines blog. “Basic Challenges Outlast Housing Crisis in Rural America” presents some key findings from HAC’s Taking Stock report. “10 Things That Did Not Happen in Rural Housing in 2012” lists several things that should have happened but did not, and also observes that housing advocates did not give up.

Reports

Rental Housing for a 21stCentury Rural America

Rental Housing for a 21st Century Rural America: A Platform for Production

In their new report, Rental Housing for a 21st Century Rural America: A Platform for Production, The Urban Institute examines the issue of maturing mortgages in USDA’s Section 515 rental housing portfolio. This report is a companion piece to HAC’s Platform for Preservation report, the report analyzes the demand for new affordable rental housing in rural places and suggests ways to increase funding and capacity to deliver new units.