Tag Archive for: Rural Housing Service

HAC President & CEO, David Lipsetz, testifies in front of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development

HAC’s CEO Testifies to Senate Banking Subcommittee on Rural Housing Reforms

HAC was honored to be invited to testify on May 2, 2023 before the Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs to discuss commonsense, bipartisan reforms to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service (RHS) programs. HAC’s President & CEO, David Lipsetz, was one of five witnesses on the hearing panel.

The hearing was held to discuss the bipartisan Rural Housing Service Reform Act of 2023, which has been introduced by Subcommittee Chairwoman Tina Smith (D-MN) and Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD). The RHS Reform Act includes a slate of provisions to improve the multifamily, single-family, and capacity building programs at RHS. Senators Smith and Rounds engaged deeply with stakeholders on the creation of the bill, including offering a call for policy recommendations in the summer of 2022. HAC’s response to that comment opportunity can be seen here. We were thrilled to see many of our recommendations included in the bill, and applaud Senators Smith and Rounds on their thoughtful engagement with stakeholders and their commitment to improving the RHS programs.

Highlights from the RHS Reform Act include:

  • Multifamily

    • Authorizing the Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization (MPR) program and Multifamily Preservation Technical Assistance Program
    • Allowing for the decoupling of a Section 515 mortgage and Section 521 Rental Assistance
    • Allowing Section 542 rural vouchers to be adjusted based on changes in tenant income
    • Streamlining the process for Section 515 nonprofit transfers and increasing the Section 515 nonprofit set aside
  • Single Family

    • Establishing the Native CDFI Section 502 relending program
    • Increasing the threshold for the mortgage requirement on a Section 504 home rehab loan from $7,500 to $15,000
    • Extending the loan term for a Section 502 loan up to 40 years
  • Capacity Building

    • Authorizing the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) and waiving the matching funds requirement for groups working in areas of persistent poverty
    • Requiring RHS to publish more data on their housing programs
    • Authorizing funding for much needed technology upgrades at RHS

USDA to Use FY12 Section 515 Funds for Prepayment Incentives, No New Construction

HAC has learned that the following message was sent by USDA’s Office of Congressional Relations to members of Congress on August 20.

. . . RHS will forego the release of the NOFA for Sec. 515 new construction projects. This decision not to fund new construction was due to the need to conform with the law as interpreted by the Supreme Court (Salazar v. Ramah), which stated that if agencies had outstanding contracts and sufficient appropriations, they must fund any of those contracts. OGC determined that the decision was relevant to the contracts, known as Rental Assistance Incentive contracts, entered into by the Rural Housing Service to avert prepayment of Section 515 rental housing through offers of prepayment incentives to the project owners.

We understand our stakeholders’ disappointment in RD’s decision not to fund 515 new construction. RD had intended to issue a NOFA; the notice was in clearance at the time of the Salazar decision. The delay led to insufficient time for Federal Register notice of a NOFA, application process and ultimate obligation prior to the end of the fiscal year. The Supreme Court’s decision has forced RD to change its priorities and use 515 appropriations to fund prepayment incentives (equity loans and RA). However, the limited funding left in the 515 program will be used to rehabilitate existing 515 housing, or facilitate the sale of RD inventory properties to owners adept at finding additional resources to revitalize the properties. There is an urgent need for RD to revitalize its existing portfolio of aging rental housing. Since the cost to rehabilitate our existing housing is less than the cost of new construction, the limited funding left in the 515 program will go further and in the time required, prior to fiscal year end.

Volume 1 Number 4

Rural Voices: Self-Help Housing

In the Summer 1996 issue of Rural Voices, Maureen Kennedy, Administrator of the Rural Housing Service, spotlights RHS’s efforts to increase homeownership through their housing programs, and examines the partnerships organizations have farmed to improve homeownership rates.