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HAC News: February 6, 2020

News Formats. pdf

Feburary 6, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 3

February is National African American History Month • Rental affordability crisis continues, research confirms • Surpreme Court allows public charge rule to block immigrants who use public assistance • AARP offers small grants for short-term projects including housing • USDA sets 2020 loan limits for Section 502 direct loan program • Bill would create New Market Tax Credit set-aside for Native lands • House members release infrastructure ideas • House to vote on Puerto Rico emergency funding • Hearings examine threats to children posed by Administration regulatory proposals • Boosting EITC Awareness • Iowa Seniors Face Dilemma of Aging Far from Home • Multidimensional Index of Deep Disadvantage • Strong Foundations: Financial Security Starts with Affordable, Stable Housing • HAC Seeks Executive Assistant and Senior Portfolio Manager • SAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!HAC offers Section 512 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

February 6, 2020
Vol. 49, No. 3

February is National African American History Month.

Rental affordability crisis continues, research confirms.

Almost 40% of rural renters nationwide were cost burdened in 2018, according to America’s Rental Housing 2020, a report by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Nationwide, the number of cost-burdened renters (those paying over 30% of income for rent and utilities) fell from 2014 to 2017 but rose again in 2018. Among geographic and income categories, the only decline in cost-burden rates from 2011 to 2018 was a 0.9% drop for nonmetro renters with incomes of $30,000-44,999. The report notes that, in addition to cost burden, rural rental housing issues include limited rental stock, substandard housing and (citing HAC’s research) the loss of Section 515 properties. Interactive data and graphics and the written report are available online.

Supreme Court allows public charge rule to block immigrants who use public assistance.

In August 2019 the Department of Homeland Security published a final rule establishing strict standards for determining that an immigrant is not likely to become a “public charge” and is therefore eligible to live in the U.S. (Some categories of immigrants, such as refugees, are exempt from the regulation.) Lawsuits were filed challenging the regulation, and a federal court issued an injunction preventing it from taking effect while the litigation was underway. DHS asked the Supreme Court to lift the injunction and on January 27, by a 5-4 vote, the court did. Litigation will continue in lower courts, but at the same time the rule will take effect on February 24 across the U.S. except in Illinois, where it is suspended because of a different court decision.

AARP offers small grants for short-term projects including housing.

The AARP Community Challenge provides small grants to nonprofits and government entities for “quick-action” projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages. Improvements in housing, transportation, civic engagement and other areas are eligible. Applications are due April 1. For more information, contact communitychallenge@aarp.org.

USDA sets 2020 loan limits for Section 502 direct loan program.

The maximum amounts for homebuyersSection 502 direct mortgage loans vary from county to county. Updated limits that took effect on January 31 are posted online and have been added to the online eligibility assessment tool.

Bill would create New Markets Tax Credit setaside for Native lands.

A new Senate bill aims to allocate at least 10% of the New Markets Tax Credit program to Native American, Alaskan or Hawaiian Community Development Financial Institutions and other entities. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced S. 3181, called the Inspiring Nationally Vibrant Economies Sustaining Tribes (INVEST) Act. The legislation also includes a pilot program for technical assistance to Native institutions applying for NMTC allocations.

House members release infrastructure ideas.

Members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee took different approaches in infrastructure proposals issued in late January. Reps. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) listed general principles related to surface transportation, including an assurance that rural areas must be treated fairly. Transportation Committee chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) joined with the chairs of two other committees to release a more detailed framework calling for a $760 billion investment over five years in broadband, water, energy, transportation and communications infrastructure. It includes unspecified expansions of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and the New Markets Tax Credit.

House to vote on Puerto Rico emergency funding.

The House is expected to vote February 7 on H.R. 5687, which would provide $4.67 billion for Puerto Rico following recent earthquakes there. If the House approves it, the bill will then need to clear the Senate. The White House has threatened a veto, however.

Hearings examine threats to children posed by Administration regulatory proposals.

On February 5 and 6 the House Committee on Oversight and Reform held four hearings on “threats to America’s children” from changes the Administration has proposed in regulations governing affirmatively furthering fair housing, poverty calculations, SNAP eligibility and air quality standards. Recordings and written witness statements are available online.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • Boosting EITC Awareness is a blog post about the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit for low- and moderate-income wage earners. Published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the post includes links to tools such as an online EITC eligibility checker and a summary of research about the benefits of the EITC and other refundable tax credits.
  • Iowa Seniors Face Dilemma of Aging Far from Home describes the need for senior living and services in rural Iowa. Relying on sources that include HAC, the article also offers solutions from rural places across the country.
  • Multidimensional Index of Deep Disadvantage, a new index from the University of Michigan, uses data on income, health and social mobility to identify areas of deep disadvantage in the U.S. and hopes to increase the attention these places receive. Eighty of the 100 most disadvantaged communities are in rural areas. The index’s map is strikingly similar to HAC’s map of persistent poverty counties, which fall largely in predominantly rural areas and populations: Central Appalachia, the Lower Mississippi Delta, the southern Black Belt, the colonias region along the U.S. Mexico border, Native American lands and migrant and seasonal farmworkers.
  • Strong Foundations: Financial Security Starts with Affordable, Stable Housing, a research primer by The Aspen Institute, concludes that housing affordability and stability are universal concerns. It also highlights the rural realities, including constricted mortgage financing, inconsistent and costly infrastructure and lower quality housing.

HAC is hiring.

HAC is an equal opportunity employer and lender.

  • 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 jobs@ruralhome.org with “Executive Assistant” in the subject line. Applications will be considered as received.
  • The Senior Portfolio Manager provides leadership and oversight to a team that performs a range of lending activities – closing, disbursement, monitoring, servicing and asset management of single-family and multifamily housing development loans – in HAC’s Loan Fund Division, based in Washington, DC. Email a resume and brief cover letter to jobs@ruralhome.org with “Senior Portfolio Manager” in the subject line. Applications will be considered as received.

SAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!

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


HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia. This three-day advanced course trains experienced participants to assist potential borrowers and work with RD staff, other nonprofits and regional intermediaries to deliver successful Section 502 loan packages. The training will be held in Glen Allen, VA on March 10-12. For more information, contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

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

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

HAC News: August 2, 2018

HAC News Formats. pdf

August 2, 2018
Vol. 47, No. 16

Senate passes funding for USDA and HUD • Flood insurance program extended temporarily • Guide for California wildfires survivors published by HAC • HUD sets public housing rent limits • RUS invites comments on broadband pilot • Puerto Rico disaster recovery plan approved, hotel aid extended • Government Effectiveness Advanced Research Center proposed • Advocate identifies opportunity to comment on citizenship question proposed for census • HUD Inspector General criticizes department’s oversight in Cairo, Illinois area • Inclusionary Housing Calculator explores local scenarios • Senate bill would establish housing task force

HAC News Formats. pdf

August 2, 2018
Vol. 47, No. 16

Senate passes funding for USDA and HUD.
Both USDA and HUD were included in an FY19 appropriations measure passed on August 1 without changes to the housing program funding levels previously approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Senate adopted an amendment telling USDA to report on its strategy for rental housing preservation. FY19 spending bills for both departments have been approved by the House Appropriations Committee, but not yet by the full House, which is now in recess until September 4.

Flood insurance program extended temporarily.
The National Flood Insurance Program has been renewed through November 30, the most recent of several short-term authorizations since the program expired last year.

Guide for California wildfires survivors published by HAC.
The newly published supplement to HAC’s disaster guide provides resources for residents of fire-stricken areas. HAC’s Picking Up the Pieces disaster guide offers broader information for residents and communities on short- and long-term resources in any disaster situation. Current information about specific fires is posted by Cal Fire .

HUD sets public housing rent limits.
The Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 requires PHAs to terminate tenancies or charge higher rents for over-income public housing households. HUD is adopting a calculation that would set income limits at 120% of area median income in most places and would be adjusted to account for high or low housing costs or a low state nonmetro median family income. Separately, HUD will propose a rule on how to set rents for over-income households. For more information, contact Todd Thomas , HUD, 202-402-4542.

RUS invites comments on broadband pilot.
USDA’s Rural Utilities Service requests comments by September 10 on its implementation of certain provisions of an e-Connectivity Pilot program established in its FY18 appropriation. Loans and grants will be available for construction, improvement, and acquisition of facilities and equipment for broadband service. For more information, contact Michele Brooks , USDA, 202-690-1078.

Puerto Rico disaster recovery plan approved, hotel aid extended.
HUD announced on July 30 it has approved a $1.5 billion plan for use of CDBG-Disaster Recovery funds to help Puerto Rico residents recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Most of the funding will be used for the island’s severely damaged housing. HUD has also published a Housing Damage Assessment and Recovery Strategies Report for Puerto Rico. Separately, a federal judge ordered FEMA to extend its Temporary Shelter Assistance program until August 31 . A lawsuit is ongoing regarding a longer term extension of the program, which covers hotel costs on the U.S. mainland for Puerto Rican evacuees.

Government Effectiveness Advanced Research Center proposed.
OMB requests ideas by September 14 on establishing the GEAR Center , described as a “non-governmental, public-private partnership” to conduct research “that improves mission delivery, citizen services, and stewardship of public resources.” OMB’s notice identifies two “early focus areas”: reskilling and upskilling federal employees and using federally owned data to help grow the economy.

Advocate identifies opportunity to comment on citizenship question proposed for census.
The Census Bureau requested comments by August 7 on the 2020 decennial Census. Writing for The Nation, the Leadership Conference Education Fund suggests using this opportunity to convey opinions about the proposed addition of a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census.

HUD Inspector General criticizes department’s oversight in Cairo, Illinois area.
An Inspector General report released on July 24 says HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing knew since at least 2010 that the Alexander County Housing Authority had serious governance issues and public housing residents there lived in “deplorable” conditions, but did not take over ACHA until 2016. Alexander County, Illinois’s southernmost county, is in the Mississippi River Delta and identified by the Delta Regional Authority as distressed. The report recommends actions to improve PIH’s oversight of troubled PHAs. HUD agreed with the recommendations.

Inclusionary Housing Calculator explores local scenarios.
The online calculator , created by Grounded Solutions Network with support from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the National Housing Conference, allows users to select economic conditions and test potential incentives’ impact on the development of mixed income housing.

Senate bill would establish housing task force.
The Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act, S. 3231, was introduced on July 18 by Senators Todd Young (R-IN), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Angus King (I-ME). It would establish a task force to evaluate the impact of a lack of affordable housing on other areas of life and the costs incurred by other programs resulting from a lack of affordable housing, as well as to make recommendations to Congress.

HAC offers Section 502 packaging training in September.
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 registration fee is $750. The training will be held September 24-26 in Liverpool, NY. For more information, contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

Deadline extended to nominate local and national leaders for HAC awards.
HAC is still accepting nominations for its 2018 Cochran/Collings National Service and Skip Jason Community Service Leadership Awards. The awards will be presented at the 2018 HAC Rural Housing Conference in December. Past awardees are listed on HAC’s site. Complete the online nomination form. For more information, contact Lilla Sutton, HAC, 202-842-8600.

Save the date for the 2018 HAC Rural Housing Conference!
The conference will be held December 4-7 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC. The HAC News will announce when conference registration opens and when the hotel room block is available for reservations.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?
HAC’s loan funds provide low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, farmworker, senior, and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, and construction/rehabilitation. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.
Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

HAC News: December 4, 2017

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 4, 2017
Vol. 46, No. 24

Tax bills will move to conference committee • Another continuing resolution expected for federal funding • USDA RD hires Chief Innovation Officer • Rural lending increases, denial rates and high-cost loans remain higher for minorities • Changes in mortgage interest deduction would have little rural impact • Violence Against Women Act information offered for managers and residents of assisted rentals • Two-thirds of Puerto Ricans requesting disaster aid live in neighborhoods with poverty over 40% • Population fell in small, remote nonmetro counties, 2010-2015, and grew in larger ones • Report suggests LIHTC contributes to public health

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 4, 2017
Vol. 46, No. 24

Tax bills will move to conference committee. The Senate passed its tax bill early in the morning on December 2. Now the Senate and House must name members of a conference committee, which will try to determine how to resolve the differences between their bills and develop a measure that both houses can pass.

Another continuing resolution expected for federal funding. The CR currently keeping the federal government operating will expire on December 8, and the House is considering a second CR to last through December 22. At that point, a third CR may be needed to carry spending into January, and a full-year CR may also be a possibility. FY18 appropriations bills have not been completed, and there is no agreement on lifting the spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act. Both the House and the Senate are scheduled to adjourn for the year on December 15. Additional disaster funding is likely to be considered separately, not incorporated into a CR.

USDA RD hires Chief Innovation Officer. Gina Sheets began work November 27 as head of the new Rural Development Innovation Center. (See HAC News, 9/21/17.) Her background is in economic development and she served as Indiana Director of Agriculture. RD’s press release explains that the Innovation Center is “a team within Rural Development working to streamline, modernize and strengthen the delivery of Rural Development tools effectively and efficiently. The Innovation Center will focus on improving customer service to rural communities and increasing rural prosperity through strategic partnerships, capacity-building, data analytics and evaluation, and regulatory reform. The Innovation Center will also inform policy decisions and develop creative solutions to rural economic development.”

Rural lending increases, denial rates and high-cost loans remain higher for minorities. A new HAC research note reports that rural mortgage lending continued to increase in 2016, with 55% of rural lending involving first lien home purchases, a dramatic change from 2012 and 2013 when two-thirds of rural originations involved refinance. USDA’s Section 502 guarantee program accounted for 9-12% of rural purchase loans in the last three years. Mortgage denial rates for rural African-American and Native American applicants were 37% and 34%, higher than the rates for the same populations in suburbs and cities.

Changes in mortgage interest deduction would have little rural impact. HAC research determined that the mortgage interest deduction is less often used by rural residents than by metropolitan area dwellers. In addition, in 2016 rural residents received only 2.7% of all mortgage loans of $500,000 or more. (The House tax bill would eliminate the mortgage interest deduction for mortgages over $500,000; see HAC News, 11/6/17.) In rural places, some of these larger mortgages were clustered in high amenity areas.

Violence Against Women Act information offered for managers and residents of assisted rentals. HUD regulations, Q&As, and other resources for multifamily properties are collected online. Guidance related to USDA rental properties is in AN 4814.

Two-thirds of Puerto Ricans requesting disaster aid live in neighborhoods with poverty over 40%. A National Low Income Housing Coalition analysis of FEMA data shows that 70% of Puerto Ricans registering for FEMA assistance after Hurricanes Irma and Maria are homeowners and 30% are renters, with a large majority of both living in very high-poverty areas; 21% of owner registrants and 46% of renter registrants have incomes under $10,000. Puerto Rico’s median household income in 2016 was $20,078.

Population fell in small, remote nonmetro counties, 2010-2015, and grew in larger ones. The Daily Yonder found almost no nonmetro population growth in the first half of this decade, with numbers falling in almost two-thirds of nonmetro counties, but increasing slightly in counties containing cities of 10,000 or more. Total nonmetro growth in 2010-2015 was 0.3%, while the U.S. population grew 3.1%. Foreign-born residents comprised much of the nonmetro growth and are now about 4% of nonmetro residents, compared to 18.2% in the largest U.S. cities.

Report suggests LIHTC contributes to public health. The Bipartisan Policy Center argues that since affordable housing contributes to positive health outcomes, especially when supportive services are offered, it is “reasonable to believe that the LIHTC contributes positively to the nation’s public health.”

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).