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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).

USDA RD Historic Activity through FY 2018

FMHA/RHS Programs that Construct, Purchase, or Repair Rural Housing Units

— Historic Activity through FY 2018

The Housing Assistance Council has tracked USDA Rural Housing activity for the agency’s Single Family Housing and Multifamily Housing for many years. The Historic Activity report provides data for the number of housing units funded by fiscal year for each of the programs since program inception. The data includes:

  • USDA Programs Which Construct, Purchase or Repair Rural Housing Units
  • Section 502 Direct Homeownership Loan Program Totals, FY 1950 – 2018
  • Section 502 Guaranteed Loan Program Totals, FY 1977 – 2018
  • Section 502 Self-Help Program Total, FY 1966 – 2018
  • Section 504 Very Low-Income Repair Program Totals, FY 1950 – 2018
  • Section 514/516 Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants, FY 1962 – 2018
  • Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Program Totals, FY 1963 – 2018
  • Section 533 Housing Preservation Grant Program Totals, FY 1986 – 2018
  • Section 538 Guaranteed Multi-Family Housing Loan Program Totals, FY 1996 – 2018
  • Section 521 Rental Assistance Program Totals, FY 1978 – 2018
  • Section 542 Multifamily Housing Voucher Totals, FY 2006 – 2018

These data are updated annually.

Rural Voices: Building Capacity for Rural America

Affordable rural housing and stronger rural communities are a longterm endeavor. There are no quick fixes. But there is one constant magic elixir, and it is worthy of ongoing investment: capacity building. That is how local organizations learn skills, tap information, and gain the wherewithal to do what they know needs to be done.

This issue of Rural Voices magazine describes in more detail what it means to build the capacity of rural housing organizations, why it is important, who does it, how it is done, and how it is financed. These stories show that capacity building succeeds. They also show that capacity building is an ongoing process – when an organization masters one set of tasks, it can move on to tackle something different or more complex. Affordable housing development, like life, requires continual learning.

VIEW FROM WASHINGTON

Rural America Will Thrive
Representative Bennie G. Thompson

The Delta’s future depends on a sustained investment in local economies and residents’ well-being.

FEATURES

The U.S. Must Invest in Capacity Building for Affordable Rural Housing
by David Lipsetz

HAC works to empower local entities in rural regions and tribes so they may flourish.

Thinking Nationally, Building Locally
with Suzanne Anarde, Marietta Rodriguez, Terri Ludwig, and Sue Henderson

Rural Voices interviewed four national intermediaries to learn more about how they assist with capacity building needs unique to rural organizations.

Intermediary Support Continues to be Invaluable
by Fannie Brown

Central Mississippi Housing and Development Corporation benefits from intermediary partnerships.

Building Help Improve Texas Colonias Housing
by Jose Alvarez

Building AYUDA’s capacity has empowered them to build the capacity of other local organizations.

A Communitywide Capacity Building Approach is Key

A West Virginia organization works with their community to find solutions to their housing issues.

Learn from Our Experience
by Randall Hrabe

Northwest Kansas Housing offers advice about building capacity.


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

USDA Announces Rural Development State Directors

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a full list of State Directors for USDA Rural Development and for the Farm Service Agency on November 3, 2017. The RD list below is from USDA’s press release.

Rural Development State Directors

Alabama: Chris Beeker

Chris Beeker grew up on a catfish and cattle farm in the smallest county of his state and through extensive experience of working on the family farm and other business ventures has firsthand knowledge of the positive and important impacts of USDA programs for all communities and especially rural America.

Alaska: Jerry Ward

Jerry Ward is an Athabascan Indian from the Caribou Tribe, born and raised in Alaska, and has a record of public service, including in the U.S. Navy Seabees in Vietnam, as Rural Affairs Coordinator with the Department of Corrections, as Legislative Liaison for the Alaska Energy Authority. He has also served as a member of the State House of Representative, with a seat on the Finance Committee, and in the State Senate as Vice Chairman of the Finance Committee addressing rural Alaska issues.

Arizona: J.C. Sherman III

J.C. Sherman comes to USDA with vast experience from the Departments of Energy and Commerce, in addition to private sector experience from Executive Protection, Director of Sales Operations for a division of Schneider Electric and Business Development Director with other fortune 50 companies.

Arkansas: David Branscum

David Branscum is serving his fourth term in the Arkansas House of Representatives and is a cattleman who has been active with several civic organizations serving to empower rural Arkansas.

California: Kim Dolbow Vann

Kim Vann has been working and serving in California’s Rural Communities for nearly 20 years and her career gives her an excellent understanding of California’s’ Rural Communities needs and the experience to solve problems.

Colorado: Sallie Clark

Sallie Clark is a former El Paso County, Colorado commissioner, city councilmember, well known small-business entrepreneur, and past President of the National Association of Counties (NACo). She has spent much of her career representing rural America.

Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island: George Krivda

George Krivda has worked at the state Department of Agriculture for nearly ten years serving as a Project Manager, Public Information Officer, Legislative Program Manager and Chief of Staff.

Delaware and Maryland: Denise Lovelady

Denise Lovelady brings over 20 years of executive and management experience in both the public and private sectors to USDA, specifically in the areas of government, legislative affairs, public relations, economic development, agriculture, natural resources, real estate, and community outreach.

Florida: Sydney Gruters

Sydney Gruters has worked for U.S. Representative Vern Buchanan for more than 10 years in an official capacity and has served as the congressman’s liaison regarding all USDA issues that affect rural development.

Georgia: Joyce White

Joyce White served as Chief of Staff in the Georgia Department of Agriculture, was an executive assistant for the CEO of Georgia-Pacific, served the same role in Governor Sonny Perdue’s office, and has focused on helping rural Georgia.

Hawaii: Gigi Jones

Gigi Jones founded a grassroots organization known as Cool Our Keiki and has worked in construction, small business, engineering and business development for over 20 years. She knows first-hand the challenges of living in remote and rural areas as she has lived, worked and volunteered in rural areas inside and outside of the U.S. for many years.

Idaho: Layne Bangerter

Layne Bangerter comes to RD directly from his role at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He previously held varied roles in the Fish and Wildlife Service and served as State Director for Senator Mike Crapo.

Illinois: Douglas Wilson

Douglas Wilson is a 3rd generation farmer, lifelong resident of rural Illinois, and past Illinois State Director for RD. He has served in leadership roles in a variety of agricultural, community, and not-for-profit organizations.

Indiana: Michael Reed Dora

As a first generation agricultural producer of livestock and grains since 1975, Michael Dora brings to the Trump Administration a deep knowledge of farming and business skills along with wide-ranging experiences of dedicated service and leadership to his state and community.

Iowa: Annette Sweeney

Annette Sweeney brings local and international experience to Rural Development, having served as a teacher, family farmer, church volunteer, and most recently as a member of the Iowa House of Representatives.

Kansas: Lynne Hinrichsen

Lynne Hinrichsen joined the Kansas Department of Agriculture in 2013 as the Agribusiness Development Director. Prior to serving in the public sector, she worked in sales, marketing, advertising and human resource consulting.

Kentucky: Hilda Legg

Hilda Legg brings more than 30 years of experience in federal government agency management, as a consultant for rural infrastructure, in economic development in rural Appalachia, in education, project management, and as a business owner. She has served under three U.S. presidents to further opportunities for rural communities and residents in job creation and economic growth.

Louisiana: Dr. Carrie Castille

Dr. Carrie Castille served as the Associate Commissioner for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, held a faculty position with the Louisiana State University AgCenter, and created the successful Louisiana Master Farmer Program.

Maine: Tim Hobbs

Tim Hobbs brings over fifteen years of experience working with and for potato growers, processors, and dealers in Maine on issues that affect their competitiveness and profitability.

Michigan: Jason Allen

Jason Allen is a small businessman, veteran, and former State Senator, who currently works on rural development for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Minnesota: Brad Finstad

Brad Finstad served three terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives and is currently the CEO of the Center for Rural Policy and Development, which is Minnesota’s only statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan rural policy research center.

Mississippi: John Rounsaville

John Rounsaville served as State Director for USDA Rural Development in the Administration of President George W. Bush and brings to the Trump Administration two decades of experience in economic and community development, infrastructure planning, and public policy.

Missouri: Jeff Case

Jeff Case is Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager at Rabo AgriFinance, LLC and has spent his career working in the agriculture industry in the areas of Production, Finance and Education.

Montana: Charles Robison

Charles first joined USDA as a Forest Service firefighter in 1998, working on an engine crew, as a Hotshot and as a helitack rappeller. He looks forward to pursuing his passion for the struggles of rural Montana and the working families who call it home.

Nebraska: Karl Elmshaeuser

Karl Elmshaeuser has served as the Executive Director for the West Central Nebraska Development District for the past 11 years, served two terms on the Nebraska Rural Development Commission, currently serves on the Nebraska Regional Officials Council and the National Association of Development Organizations, served six years in the US Marine Corps, and is a University of Nebraska graduate.

Nevada: Philip Cowee

Philip Cowee has spent nearly 20 years developing properties and running businesses in Lyon County, lives in Dayton with his wife and five children, and is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno.

New Hampshire: Anthony Lindaros

Army Reserve Veteran Anthony Lindaros brings over 18 years of business development experience and executive management in the pharmaceutical industry.

North Carolina: Bob Chandler

Bob dedicated his career to agriculture from starting his first internship with USDA in 1974, serving for 35 years, and retiring in 2009. Since 2009, Bob has been Consulting for a Faith based Nonprofit and holding USDA Mediations for the North Carolina Agricultural Mediation Program and Farm Agricultural Resources and Mediation in Virginia.

North Dakota: Clare Carlson

Clare Carlson has served nearly eight years as the State Director of USDA Rural Development and was previously a member of the North Dakota House of Representatives.

Ohio: Dave Hall

Dave Hall’s experience in agriculture began in the late 1960’s when he started working on his grandparents’ farm and has since served as a Commissioner for the Ohio Exposition Commission for the Ohio State Fair and Chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Oklahoma: Lee Denney

Lee Denney practiced mixed animal practice for 35 years and has served as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and on the Cushing City Commission.

Oregon: John Huffman

John Huffman has spent the past 10 years as an Oregon State Representative and prior to his legislative work, he owned and managed a successful radio station for 22 years in North Central Oregon.

Pennsylvania: Curt Coccodrilli

Curt Coccodrilli has been integrally involved in numerous efforts to address the needs of rural Pennsylvania, promoting rural economic development and leading campaigns to ensure state and federal regulations recognize the need for such development.

South Carolina: Debbie S. Turbeville

Debbie Turbeville is being promoted to the position of State Director after spending her entire career serving in almost every role at the state level of the agency, having risen in the ranks from the GS-2 level when she started in 1982.

South Dakota: Julie Gross

Julie Gross is currently the Economic Development Director for the Lake Area Improvement Corporation in Madison. She understands and appreciates the needs of rural communities and is looking forward to helping them become stronger and more vibrant with the programs USDA offers.

Tennessee: Jim Tracy

Jim Tracy ran a small business in a rural middle Tennessee community for 24 years before being elected to the State Senate in 2004 as an advocate for agriculture issues in the state.

Texas: Edd Hargett

Edd Hargett began working for Electric Cooperatives in 1974 and has served as general manager of both distribution and G&T systems.

Utah: Randy Parker

Randy Parker comes to the USDA having served as chief executive officer of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation for most of the past 14 years.

Virginia: Elizabeth Walker Green

Elizabeth has been working in Federal and State politics for over thirty years.

Washington: Kirk Pearson

Kirk Pearson has served in the Washington State Legislature for 17 years, serving on the Senate Agriculture, Water, Trade, and Economic Development Committee and as Chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee. He has promoted legislation to help rural communities grow and thrive in the state of Washington.

West Virginia: Kris Warner

Kris Warner has more than 25 years of leadership in West Virginia business development and is also a charter member of the state-wide program Leadership Monongalia, which is designed to educate and sustain community leaders.

Wisconsin: Frank Frassetto

Frank Frassetto has 30 years of public sector experience, previously served as state director at USDA RD from 2001 to 2009, was the Administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection at the WI Dept. of Agriculture, and resides in the rural town of Black Wolf and has been its Chairman since 1997.

Wyoming: Chad Rupe

Chad Rupe has served previously with USDA, as an officer in the U.S. Army, and as a community banker in Wyoming for 11 years.

HAC News: January 21, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

January 21, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 2

• State of the Union message addresses broad themes, touches on housing • President’s FY16 budget expected February 2 • Rural housing program eligibility changes effective February 2 • Congressional committee leadership takes shape • Fair housing comments reopened on one issue for small entities • EPA suggests altering lead paint training rule • HUD proposes changes for project-based Section 8 and for Section 202 • New USDA notice issued on domestic violence • USDA RD reminds staff of prepayment requirements • RD gives lead paint guidance • Map shows FHA premium cuts by county • LIHTC tenants described in HUD publication •

January 21, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 2

STATE OF THE UNION MESSAGE ADDRESSES BROAD THEMES, TOUCHES ON HOUSING. President Obama’s January 20 speech began with the story of a Minnesota family who recently were able to buy their first home. A later mention of “lower mortgage premiums” apparently referred to the President’s recent action to lower HUD FHA mortgage costs (see HAC News, 1/7/15).

PRESIDENT’S FY16 BUDGET EXPECTED FEBRUARY 2. For the first time in several years, the Administration’s budget request will be released on time. The Budget Control Act’s spending caps will apply to final appropriations for FY16. Check ruralhome.org on February 2 for details.

CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE LEADERSHIP TAKES SHAPE. Chairs and ranking minority members of the housing-relevant committees in the new 114th Congress are mostly in place. In the Senate, Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have been named chairman and ranking minority member on the Banking Committee. For the Appropriations Committee those spots are held by Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). New Senate Appropriations subcommittee chairmen and ranking members are Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) on Agriculture and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) on Transportation-HUD. In the House, Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) continue as the chairman and ranking member of the Financial Services Committee. For that panel’s Housing and Insurance Subcommittee, Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) are the new leaders. Harold Rogers (R-KY) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) continue as chairman and ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) will continue as chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) will be the new chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation-HUD. Ranking minority members are Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) continuing on the Agriculture Subcommittee and Rep. David Price (D-NC) as the new ranking on T-HUD.

FAIR HOUSING COMMENTS REOPENED ON ONE ISSUE FOR SMALL ENTITIES. In response to comments received on its July 2013 proposed rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, HUD is considering giving states, insular areas, small PHAs, and small entitlement jurisdictions more time than others to prepare their first Assessments of Fair Housing. Comments on this specific topic are due February 17. Contact Camille Acevedo, HUD, 202-708-1793.

EPA SUGGESTS ALTERING LEAD PAINT TRAINING RULE. Intended to reduce burdens on industry and the EPA, a proposed rule would eliminate the requirement that refresher training for renovators have a hands-on component, remove jurisdiction-specific certification and accreditation requirements, and clarify requirements for training providers. Comments are due February 13. Contact Marc Edmonds, EPA, 202-566-0758.

HUD PROPOSES CHANGES FOR PROJECT-BASED SECTION 8 AND FOR SECTION 202. Comments are due March 16. One proposed rule would amend HUD’s regulations for Management and Occupancy Reviews (MORs) at project-based Section 8 properties, and reduce payments HUD makes to owners for vacant project-based Section 8 or Section 202 units. Another would reduce the frequency of MORs. Contact Lauryn Alleva, HUD, 202-708-3730.

NEW USDA NOTICE ISSUED ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Administrative Notice 4778 (Jan. 5, 2015) clarifies and updates AN 4747 (Feb. 10, 2014) (see HAC News, 8/20/14), applying the Violence Against Women Act to USDA’s multifamily programs. Contact Barbara Chism, RD, 202-690-1436.

USDA RD REMINDS STAFF OF PREPAYMENT REQUIREMENTS. An Unnumbered Letter dated Dec. 17, 2014 tells field staff that owners of multifamily properties cannot avoid the prepayment process by intentionally defaulting on loan payments. Contact an RD state office.

RD GIVES LEAD PAINT GUIDANCE. Administrative Notice 4780 (Nov. 12, 2014) provides guidance on RD compliance with HUD’s rule on preventing lead-based paint poisoning. Contact an RD state office.

MAP SHOWS FHA PREMIUM CUTS BY COUNTY. HUD reported that recently announced premium cuts (see HAC News, 1/7/15) will save FHA borrowers an average of $900 annually. To break down that average, realty information company Realtytrac mapped data showing the savings for median priced homes in many metro counties, ranging from $118 to over $7,900. HousingWire lists the counties with the lowest and highest savings.

LIHTC TENANTS DESCRIBED IN HUD PUBLICATION. HUD compiled data from state housing agencies on Low Income Housing Tax Credit tenants’ race and ethnicity, disability status, family composition and age, household income, monthly rental payments and use of rental assistance. Understanding Whom the LIHTC Program Serves presents the information nationally and for each state.

HAC News: January 7, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

January 7, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 1

• New Congress convenes • Obama announces lower FHA mortgage insurance rate • Rural housing program eligibility changes effective February 2 • HUD proposes regulatory changes for vouchers, public housing, and other programs • Changes to BIA’s Housing Improvement Program proposed • Final credit risk retention rule defines QRM as QM • Family Self-Sufficiency Programs merged • Housing tax credit properties can achieve deep affordability without vouchers, report says • Paper explores connections between rural community and rural poverty • HAC webinar on seniors set for January 13

January 7, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 1

NEW CONGRESS CONVENES. In the new 114th Congress starting this week, some of the committee leadership posts are clear. Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) continues as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) will lead the Senate appropriations panel. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) continues as head of the House Financial Services Committee, and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) will be the new chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. On the Democratic side, Reps. Nita Lowey of NY and Maxine Waters of CA will continue as the ranking minority members on House Appropriations and Financial Services. In the Senate, Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) will be the top Democrat on Appropriations. Other Democratic spots and most subcommittee leaders have not yet been announced. As reported in the HAC News, 12/10/14, Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) will continue as chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) will be the new chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation-HUD.

OBAMA ANNOUNCES LOWER FHA MORTGAGE INSURANCE RATE. The rate will drop by 0.5 percentage point from 1.35% to 0.85%. The President’s statement says the change will save an average of $900 annually for new borrowers and also reiterates support for housing finance reform.

RURAL HOUSING PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY CHANGES EFFECTIVE FEBRUARY 2. USDA RD will implement a 2014 Farm Bill’s provision making places ineligible that were formerly considered rural, but have populations over 35,000 as of the 2010 Census. See RD’s “future eligible areas” maps. Applications from these places will be processed if completed before February 2. Contact an RD office or Mike Feinberg, HAC, 202-842-8600.

HUD PROPOSES REGULATORY CHANGES FOR VOUCHERS, PUBLIC HOUSING, AND OTHER PROGRAMS. Updates would put recent statutory changes into effect and would align program requirements for Housing Choice Vouchers (tenant- and project-based) and public housing. Section 202, Section 811, and other multifamily housing programs are also affected, as well as HOME, the Continuum of Care program, and HOPWA. Comments are due March 9, 2015. Contacts for each program are listed in the notice.

CHANGES TO BIA’S HOUSING IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM PROPOSED. HIP provides grants to tribal members for repair, renovation, or replacement of existing housing. Comments are due March 6 on changes that are intended to align the program with other federal requirements, allow leveraging of housing funds, and expedite processing of waiting lists. BIA will host consultation sessions with tribes in February; for details, visit https://www.bia.gov/WhoWeAre/AS-IA/ORM/HIP/index.htm. Contact Mr. Les Jensen, BIA, 907-586-7397.

FINAL CREDIT RISK RETENTION RULE DEFINES QRM AS QM. “Qualified residential mortgages” are exempt from the Dodd-Frank Act’s requirement for lenders to retain part of the credit risk of assets that collateralize asset-backed securities. Federal regulators have adopted a definition proposed in 2013 (see HAC News, 9/25/13): a QRM is the same as a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “qualified mortgage” and need not have a 20% downpayment. Also exempt are mortgages made by state HFAs, CDFIs, CHDOs (for HOME-funded projects), small-volume nonprofits, and others. Contact Ronald P. Sugarman, FHFA, 202-649-3208.

FAMILY SELF-SUFFICIENCY PROGRAMS MERGED. Implementing a provision in its FY14 appropriations act, HUD has unified the programs, formerly separate for participants with Housing Choice Vouchers and those in public housing. Contact Anice Chenault, HUD, 202-402-2341.

HOUSING TAX CREDIT PROPERTIES CAN ACHIEVE DEEP AFFORDABILITY WITHOUT VOUCHERS, REPORT SAYS. A new National Low Income Housing Coalition publication, Aligning Federal Low Income Housing Programs with Housing Need, says Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties rarely serve extremely low-income households (at or below 30% of area median income) without vouchers, but presents five case studies of innovative strategies that do not use vouchers.

PAPER EXPLORES CONNECTIONS BETWEEN RURAL COMMUNITY AND RURAL POVERTY. “Understanding Connections between Rural Communities and Family Well-Being: A Study of Hampton, Iowa,” published by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, examines the role of “place” in shaping the futures of rural residents, particularly low-income residents.

HAC WEBINAR ON SENIORS SET FOR JANUARY 13. Register now forRural Seniors and Their Homes: Planning for a Rapidly Aging Rural America” to learn more about the demographic, economic, and housing trends of seniors and near-seniors in rural America as well as their housing options.

HAC News: December 22, 2014

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 22, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 25

• FY15 spending bill signed into law • Tax extenders bill includes LIHTC and NMTC • FHFA activates obligation to National Housing Trust Fund • FHFA interim rule prohibits pass-through of NHTF and CMF costs • Preliminary assessment tool released for USDA multifamily transfers • Regulations issued to replace several OMB circulars • RUS offers rural broadband grants • USDA prohibits age discrimination • Regulations change rural definition for single-family housing programs • Half of Native American mortgage applicants were denied in 2013 • New report suggests housing policy consider changes over time • Rural nonprofits have broad impact, report says • HAC summarizes data on homelessness • Conference photos and other materials now online

December 22, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 25

FY15 SPENDING BILL SIGNED INTO LAW. The “cromnibus” final spending bill for FY15 funds the Department of Homeland Security through February 27 and the rest of the government, including USDA and HUD, have full-year appropriations through September 30. For housing programs’ spending levels, see HAC News, 12/10/14.

TAX EXTENDERS BILL INCLUDES LIHTC AND NMTC. H.R. 5771, passed by the House and Senate, provides a minimum 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credit rate and authorizes the New Markets Tax Credit for calendar year 2014. Since 2014 LIHTC allocations have already been distributed, the bill has little impact on that program.

FHFA ACTIVATES OBLIGATION TO NATIONAL HOUSING TRUST FUND. On December 11, Federal Housing Finance Agency director Mel Watt instructed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to begin setting aside funds for the National Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund. The NHTF will fund housing, mostly rental and mostly for extremely low-income households. The CMF provides funds to CDFIs and nonprofits to finance affordable housing and related economic development and community service facilities. HUD, which will operate the NHTF program, published proposed regulations in October 2010; Secretary Julián Castro announced final rules will be issued soon. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates the first NHTF funds will be allocated to states in early 2016.

FHFA INTERIM RULE PROHIBITS PASS-THROUGH OF NHTF AND CMF COSTS. A Federal Housing Finance Agency interim final rule provides that the cost of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s NHTF and CMF allocations may not be transferred to mortgage originators. Comments are due January 15. Contact Alfred M. Pollard, FHFA, 202-649-3050.

PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT TOOL RELEASED FOR USDA MULTIFAMILY TRANSFERS. Applicants are asked to use this tool before requesting ownership transfers and MPR-related transfers, to gauge if the proposed transactions will conform to USDA RD’s underwriting standards. Accompanying policy clarifications are being drafted for RD’s hand-book HB-3-3560. A separate tool will be provided for stay-in owner transactions. RD will conduct a webinar in January; HAC will report details when they are available. Request the tool from, or send comments to, Beverly Casey or an RD state office.

REGULATIONS ISSUED TO REPLACE SEVERAL OMB CIRCULARS. All federal award-making agencies, including USDA RHS, HUD, and VA, jointly issued an interim final rule that will apply to future federal awards. The rule implements the Office of Management and Budget’s Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, superceding several circulars including A-110, A-122, and A-133. Comments are due February 17. Contact Victoria Collin or Gil Tran, OMB, 202-395-3993. More resources are at https://cfo.gov/COFAR./.

RUS OFFERS RURAL BROADBAND GRANTS. Nonprofits, for-profits, coops, limited liability companies, tribes, states, and local governments can apply by February 17 for Community Connect grants to provide broadband service to currently unserved areas. Contact Shawn Arner, RUS, 202-720-0800.

USDA PROHIBITS AGE DISCRIMINATION. Recipients of USDA funds may not discriminate based on age, except when age distinctions are necessary to achieve a program’s purpose. Comments are due January 9. Contact Anna G. Stroman, 202-205-5953.

REGULATIONS CHANGE RURAL DEFINITION FOR SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSING PROGRAMS. The amendments implement revisions adopted in the 2014 Farm Bill (see HAC News, 2/5/14). Contact Shantelle Gordon, RHS, 202-205-9567.

HALF OF NATIVE AMERICAN MORTGAGE APPLICANTS WERE DENIED IN 2013. An Indian Country Today article reports that Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data show 51% of Indians and Native Alaskans applying for mortgages received them, while the rate for Native Hawaiians was 57%.

NEW REPORT SUGGESTS HOUSING POLICY CONSIDER CHANGES OVER TIME. Housing More People More Effectively through a Dynamic Housing Policy, published by the Bipartisan Policy Center, recommends moving from a static, transaction-focused housing policy to one that focuses on a broader time horizon and considers how things change over time at the property, household, and neighborhood levels.

RURAL NONPROFITS HAVE BROAD IMPACT, REPORT SAYS. The National Rural Housing Coalition’s Impact Report: The Economic and Human Impact of Nonprofit Organizations on Rural America estimates that in 2013 alone, nonprofit organizations generated $380 million in economic activity and created over 40,000 jobs in rural communities.

HAC SUMMARIZES DATA ON HOMELESSNESS. “Homelessness Declines but is Still Difficult to Assess in Rural Areas” is based on data released by HUD (see HAC News, 11/12/14).

CONFERENCE PHOTOS AND OTHER MATERIALS NOW ONLINE. Visit https://Ruralhome.org/calendar/nrhconf/1061-materials-from-the-2014-hac-conference for links to workshop materials via the conference app, photos, and videos.

HAC News: December 10, 2014

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 10, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 24

• Congress nears final action on 2015 spending • House passes NAHASDA reauthorization • New appropriations panel chairs announced • Mensah sworn in at USDA • USDA issues limited English proficiency guidance • VA adopts final HISA program regulation • HUD extends deadline for 202/811 comments • Email list for USDA direct single-family housing loan programs launched • HAC honors rural housing leaders • HAC Rural Housing Conference materials available • Rural Voices covers poverty in rural America • New HAC report examines senior housing

December 10, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 24

CONGRESS NEARS FINAL ACTION ON 2015 SPENDING. A wrap-up spending bill for FY 2015 was unveiled by House appropriators on December 9. The bill (H.R. 83) has been labeled a “cromnibus” because it provides a continuing resolution (CR) for the Department of Homeland Security through February 27 and an omnibus for the rest of the government, including USDA and HUD, through September 30. Republicans opposed to the President’s recent actions on immigration will look further at that issue in DHS appropriations when the new Congress convenes in January. The House is expected to pass the bill this week but the current government-wide CR expires December 11, so another two- or three-day CR may be needed for final Senate consideration. Check HAC’s web site for updates.

USDA. Rejecting most of the Administration’s FY 2015 budget proposals, H.R. 83 retains funding for Section 502 direct loans and the Rural Community Development Initiative and increases Section 523 self-help. It does not adopt the Administration’s request for minimum rents but does prohibit renewal of RA contracts that use up their funding before their full 12-month terms, and directs USDA to report on RA implementation by June 1, 2015. The bill also continues the pilot packaging program for Section 502 direct loans. The table below has details. [tdborder][/tdborder]

USDA Rural Dev. Prog.
(dollars in millions)

FY13
Approp.a

FY14
Approp.

FY15
Admn. Bdgt.

FY15 Hse. Bill H.R. 4800

FY15 Sen. Bill S. 2389

FY15 Final
H.R. 83

502 Single Fam. Direct
Self-Help setaside

$900
5

$900
5

$360
0

$1,042
5

$900
5

$900
5

502 Single Family Guar.

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

504 VLI Repair Loans

28

26.3

26.3

26.4

26.3

26.3

504 VLI Repair Grants

29.5

28.7

25

27

28.7

28.7

515 Rental Hsg. Direct Lns.

31.3

28.4

28.4

28.3

28.4

28.4

514 Farm Labor Hsg. Lns.

20.8

23.9

23.9

23.6

23.8

23.6

516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grts.

7.1

8.3

8.3

8.3

8.3

8.3

521 Rental Assistanceb

907.1

1,110

1,089

1,089

1,094

1,089

523 Self-Help TA

30

25

10

30

25

27.5

533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants

3.6

3.5

0

0

3.5

3.5

538 Rental Hsg. Guar.

150

150

150

150

150

150

Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR)

17.8

20

20

20

20

17

542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers

10

12.6

8

8

8

7

Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init.

6.1

6

0

5

6

4

a. Figures shown do not include 5% sequester or 2.5% across the board cut.
b. The final FY13 appropriation for RA included a $3 million 514/516 setaside; the final appropriations for FY14 and FY15 have no setasides.

HUD. The bill reduces funding for some HUD programs and provides level funding for others. Only Section 202 receives an increase. CDBG, HOME, rental assistance, and public housing have mostly small reductions below FY14 appropriated levels. SHOP, VASH vouchers for homeless veterans, Native American housing, AIDS housing, and lead hazard control all received the same levels as in 2014. The table below has details.

HUD Program
(dollars in millions)

FY13
Approp.a

FY14
Approp.

FY15
Admn. Bdgt.

FY15 Hse. Bill
H.R. 4745

FY15 Sen. Bill
S. 2438

FY15 Final
H.R. 83

Cmty. Devel. Fund
CDBG

3,308
2,948

3,100
3,030

2,870
2,800

3,060
3,000

3,090
3,020

3.066
3,000

HOME
SHOP setaside

1,000
b

1,000
b

950
10

700
10

950
b

900
b

Self-Help Homeownshp. (SHOP)

13.5

10

b

b

10

10

Tenant-Based Rental Asstnce.
VASH setaside

18,939.4
75

19,177.2
75

20,100
75

19,356
75

19,562
75

19,304
75

Project-Based Rental Asstnce.

9,339.7

9,516.6

9,346

9,346

9,346

9,330

Public Hsg. Capital Fund

1,886

1,875

1,925

1,775

1,900

1,875

Public Hsg. Operating Fund

4,262

4,400

4,600

4,400

4,475

4,440

Choice Neighbrhd. Initiative

120

90

120

0

90

80

Native Amer. Hsg. Block Grant

650

650

650

650

650

650

Homeless Assistance Grantsc

2,033

2,105

2,406.4

2,105

2,145

2,135

Hsg. Opps. for Persons w/ AIDS

334

330

332

303

330

330

202 Hsg. for Elderly

377

385.3

440

420

420

436

811 Hsg. for Disabled

165

126

160

135

135

135

Fair Housing

70.8

66

71

56

66

65.3

Healthy Homes & Lead Haz. Cntl.

120

110

120

70

110

110

Housing Counseling

45

45

60

45

49

47

a. Figures shown do not include 5% sequester.
b. In FY13 and FY14 SHOP was funded under the Self-Help & Assisted Homeownership Opportunity Program account. For FY15 the Administration’s budget proposed making the program a setaside in HOME. The final FY15 bill specifically rejects that proposal.
c. Includes the Rural Housing Stability Program, which is not yet operational.

HOUSE PASSES NAHASDA REAUTHORIZATION. H.R. 4329 would authorize housing programs for Native Americans and Native Hawaiians through FY18, but would limit funding each year to not more than the current $650 million level. The Senate bill (see HAC News, 8/6/14) does not cap funding.

NEW APPROPRIATIONS PANEL CHAIRS ANNOUNCED. For the new Congress convening in January, Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) continues in another term as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) continues as chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) will be the new chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation-HUD.

MENSAH SWORN IN AT USDA. On December 5, Lisa Mensah was sworn in by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack as the new Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development.

USDA ISSUES LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY GUIDANCE. The guidance is intended to help recipients of USDA funding ensure they do not discriminate against LEP persons. Contact Anna G. Stroman, USDA, 202-205-5953.

VA ADOPTS FINAL HISA PROGRAM REGULATION. The Home Improvements and Structural Alterations program serves disabled veterans. (See HAC News, 12/4/13.) Contact Shayla Mitchell, VA, 202-461-0366.

HUD EXTENDS DEADLINE FOR 202/811 COMMENTS. A notice in the December 11 Federal Register will move the deadline for comments on suggested regulatory changes (see HAC News, 10/17/14) to January 15. A HUD webinar about the proposal is posted online. Contact Alicia Anderson, HUD, 202-708-3000.

EMAIL LIST FOR USDA DIRECT SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSING LOAN PROGRAMS LAUNCHED. USDA will use the list to distribute information about Section 502 direct, 504, and 523. Sign up for this or for lists covering the Section 502 guarantee program at https://www.rdlist.sc.egov.usda.gov/listserv/mainservlet.

HAC HONORS RURAL HOUSING LEADERS. At the HAC Rural Housing Conference, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) received the Henry B. González Award for elected officials. The Clay Cochran/Art Collings Award for national service went to former Sen. Kit Bond. Recipients of the Skip Jason Award for community achievement were Brad Bishop, Self-Help Homes, UT; Martha Mendez, Coachella Valley Housing Coalition, CA; Retha Patton, Eastern Eight Community Development Corporation, TN; and Andres Saavedra, Rural LISC, DC.

HAC RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE MATERIALS AVAILABLE. The conference app will remain active for at least six months, offering materials from each workshop, lists of attendees and speakers, and more. Videos of the plenary sessions, as well as photos taken throughout the event, will be posted soon. Check HAC’s website for updates.

RURAL VOICES COVERS POVERTY IN RURAL AMERICA. A special edition of HAC’s quarterly magazine asks what has changed since the War on Poverty was declared 50 years ago, what has not, and what can be done. Sign up online for email notices when new issues are published.

NEW HAC REPORT EXAMINES SENIOR HOUSING. Housing an Aging Rural America: Rural Seniors and Their Homes looks at the demographic characteristics of rural elders and considers ways to provide quality, affordable housing for them.

Lisa Mensah Sworn in as USDA Under Secretary

UPDATE: Lisa Mensah was sworn in on December 5, 2014.

On November 20, 2014 the Senate confirmed Lisa Mensah as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development. Mensah has served as Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s Initiative on Financial Security.

Conference program now available

The HAC Rural Housing Conference is only 12 days away! Get a preview of what to expect at the conference by downloading the newly released Conference Program. Review the conference activities ahead of time and make sure to download the HAC Trainings App so you can access a more expansive and dynamic program.