Tag Archive for: Rural Housing

HAC News: July 3, 2024

TOP STORIES

House proposes 60% cut in HOME funding

The FY25 Transportation-HUD spending bill approved by a House appropriations subcommittee on June 26 would shrink the HOME program to $500 million from $1.25 billion in FY24. The bill, which will be considered by the full Appropriations Committee on July 10, would cut the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) program from $12 million in FY24 to $9 million next year. It would also block implementation of the Biden administration’s proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule and the recent energy efficiency determination made by HUD and USDA. Details are posted on HAC’s website. The Senate has not yet released its version of the bill.

Criminalization of homelessness is not cruel and unusual punishment, Supreme Court rules

People experiencing homelessness can be subjected to fines and jail time for sleeping in public, the Supreme Court ruled on June 28 in City of Grants Pass v. Johnson. In response to the decision, HAC issued a statement pointing out that the solution to homelessness is available, affordable housing and calling on local officials to reject the idea that homelessness is a crime.

Supreme Court strengthens courts’ role in agency rulemaking

The Supreme Court has overruled a longstanding doctrine under which courts deferred to executive agencies’ interpretations when they make regulations to carry out laws. The decision in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, issued on June 28, held that courts must “exercise their independent judgment in deciding whether an agency has acted within its statutory authority, and courts may not defer to an agency interpretation of the law simply because a statute is ambiguous.” On July 1, a separate decision in Corner Post v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System greatly extended the time span within which agency regulations can be challenged in court.

Tenants bill of rights launched

The National Tenants Bill of Rights offered by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the National Housing Law Project, and the Tenant Union Federation is intended to provide a practical policy agenda that affirms the federal government’s duty to provide all tenants with fundamental protections. It calls for tenants to have rights to a fair application, a fair lease, freedom from discrimination and harassment, a habitable home, and reasonable rent and costs, the right to organize, and the right to safeguards against evictions. The sponsoring organizations invite others to endorse it.

RuralSTAT

The states with the highest “housing wage” (the hourly income needed to afford a rental home at HUD’s fair market rent) in places outside metropolitan areas are Massachusetts, Hawaii, Alaska, Connecticut, Colorado, New Hampshire, California, Nevada, Vermont, and Washington. Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition, Out of Reach 2024: The High Cost of Housing.

OPPORTUNITIES

Owners of assisted multifamily properties eligible for solar and wind tax credits

Multifamily housing assisted by many (though not all) programs of HUD, USDA, and other agencies, as well as by the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, is eligible for the Department of Energy’s Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit, which promotes cost-saving solar or wind investments in low-income communities, on Indian land, as part of affordable housing developments, and benefiting low-income households. The credit is available as a payment even if the property owner does not have tax liability to offset. The initial application deadline has passed, but DOE is still considering applications on a rolling basis. HUD states that combined tax credits can potentially fund as much as 70% of the costs of a solar facility for assisted housing. HUD has posted the first two of a series of recordings to help rental property owners apply and DOE has posted webinar recordings and other resources.

USDA opens Native CDFI relending program

USDA’s Native Community Development Financial Institution Relending Demonstration Program will make loans to Native CDFIs that will relend the funds to low- and very low-income recipients to acquire, build, rehabilitate, improve, or relocate modest single-family homes on Tribal land in rural areas. The deadline is August 9.

HUD offers lead and healthy homes funding

The Lead and Healthy Homes Technical Studies Grant Program funds studies to improve knowledge of housing-related health and safety hazards and to improve or develop new assessment and control methods. A wide variety of types of entities are eligible. The application deadline is August 6.

The Healthy Homes and Weatherization Cooperation Demonstration is intended to determine whether coordination between HUD’s Healthy Homes Production program and the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program achieves cost-effectiveness and better outcomes. Current holders of active DOE WAP grants or subgrants or HUD HHP grants are eligible. The deadline is August 13.

The Lead Hazard Reduction Grant Program assists localities in undertaking comprehensive lead-based paint hazard reduction programs. Local governments and some state and Tribal governments are eligible. The deadline is August 19.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Revised regulations proposed for Capital Magnet Fund

The CDFI Fund’s Capital Magnet Fund makes grants to CDFIs and nonprofits to attract private financing for and increase investment in affordable housing and economic development. A new interim rule is intended to streamline and update terms, concepts, and provisions; to better align the CMF with other federal housing assistance programs; and to better reflect current business practices in the affordable housing industry. The rule is effective immediately. Comments are due August 26.

Administration announces new CDFI Fund program

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced a new three-year, $100 million CDFI Fund program but details are not yet available. A June 24 press release explains that the program will be funded by repayments of Emergency Capital Investment Program investments and will be “primarily focused on increasing the supply of affordable housing.”

USDA continues waiver for Section 504 repair pilot

USDA is extending a waiver of two regulatory requirements for the Section 504 Direct Single Family Housing Loans and Grants pilot program, which is taking place in 23 states. First, the agency continues to waive the requirement that the site not be large enough to subdivide under local zoning ordinances. Second, applicants under the pilot are not required to obtain an appraisal if the Section 504 loan is over $15,000, though appraisals will still be required in some circumstances. Both waivers are in effect through June 24, 2026. Other waivers that were tested when the pilot program began in 2019 have already been adopted in regulations, and the agency anticipates doing the same with these two.

HUD extends NSPIRE inspection rule compliance date again

October 1, 2025 is now the compliance date for the Housing Choice Voucher, Project Based Voucher, Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation, HOME, Housing Trust Fund, Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS, Emergency Solution Grants, and Continuum of Care programs to implement the National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) final rule. The date for these programs was previously October 1, 2024.

New rule aims to protect workers from extreme heat

A proposed regulation from the Department of Labor would require employers to protect those who work both indoors and outdoors, including farmworkers, from extreme heat. Employers would have to develop plans and provide drinking water, rest breaks, and shade. A comment deadline will be set when the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register.

FEMA proposes updates to programs that assist governments

FEMA proposes to amend the regulations for its Public Assistance and Community Disaster Loan programs both to improve program administration and to incorporate statutory changes. The Public Assistance program assists state, Tribal, territorial, and local governments after major disasters. Community Disaster Loans are available for local or Tribal governments that suffer substantial revenue losses because of major disasters. Comments are due September 3.

Public participation in rulemaking will be listening sessions’ topic

The Office of Management and Budget will hold virtual listening sessions on July 10 and 17 for public input on experiences engaging with federal agency rulemaking processes. To register for a session, email publicparticipation@omb.eop.gov. Written comments are due July 17.

EVENTS

Rural Clean Energy Federal Funding Fair announced

USDA Rural Development will hold two webinars on July 11 to provide information about Department of Energy clean energy programs and USDA RD’s Energy for America Program (REAP) and electric programs.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Rents remain out of reach, annual study says

The National Low Income Housing Coalition finds, as it has for many years, that there is no state, metropolitan area, or county in the U.S. where a fulltime worker earning minimum wage can afford a modest two-bedroom rental home at HUD’s fair market rent. In fact, according to Out of Reach 2024: The High Cost of Housing, this year there are only 204 counties nationwide, not including Puerto Rico, where a fulltime minimum-wage worker can afford a one-bedroom rent at fair market rent. People of color are disproportionately impacted. The report provides data for every state, county, and metropolitan area, as well as for the portion of each state outside metropolitan areas.

Podcasts focus on rural development

The Aspen Institute’s Community Strategies Group shared a blog listing 10 podcasts that focus on rural community and economic development. These podcasts amplify rural voices and bring in rural experts who talk about the successes, challenges, and opportunities in rural America. CSG asks people to contact them with suggestions for additions to the list.

HAC

HAC is hiring

HAC job listings, each with application instructions, are available on our website.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides 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, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. 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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

HAC News: June 20, 2024

TOP STORIES

House bill proposes rural housing cuts

On June 11 the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee approved a bill to fund USDA and related agencies in fiscal year 2025. It would set most USDA housing programs at levels lower than those enacted for FY24 or proposed in the administration’s FY25 budget. It would increase Section 502 direct loan funding slightly above the FY24 level, but would cut self-help housing and the Section 504 and 533 home repair programs. It would reduce funds for rental preservation programs and would zero out Section 516 farmworker housing grants, while continuing the 1,000-unit demonstration program that decouples Rental Assistance from USDA mortgages reaching the end of their terms. It would also block the recent determination made jointly by HUD and USDA that would require some federally supported new housing construction to meet updated energy efficiency standards. HAC’s summary of the bill is posted here.

The House’s Transportation-HUD bill will probably be released shortly before that subcommittee’s markup on June 27. The full committee will consider both the USDA and HUD bills on July 10. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet released bills or scheduled actions.

High housing costs and cost burden rates are focus of new State of the Nation’s Housing report

The State of the Nation’s Housing 2024 from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies examines the growth in housing costs, exacerbated by increases in home insurance rates and property taxes. The burdens are greatest for low-income households and people of color. Other topics covered include the inadequate housing safety net, the record number of people experiencing homelessness, the growing threat of climate change, and the need to reduce housing’s significant carbon footprint. The report provides data for the U.S. and for states and metro areas.

HAC invites comments on PRICE manufactured housing proposal

HAC’s goals for its Preservation and Reinvestment Initiative for Community Enhancement (PRICE) program are the preservation and revitalization of manufactured housing and manufactured housing communities in rural communities across the United States, with a focus on places of high poverty. HAC will take a three-pronged approach: 1) provide technical assistance to housing organizations that already own manufactured housing communities or are interested in becoming owners, 2) make grants and forgivable loans to nonprofit or public housing organizations for the acquisition of manufactured housing communities or to address the infrastructure needs at communities already owned by them, and 3) make grants to partner legal assistance and community-based organizations to assist residents of manufactured homes clear heirs’ and/or tangled land titles and convert their property to real estate status, targeting rural communities of color and/or persistent poverty rural communities. To provide feedback on HAC’s application, attend our public hearing on Wednesday, June 26, at noon Eastern time; email written comments to PRICE@ruralhome.org by 11:59 pm Eastern on Friday, June 28; or mail written comments to Housing Assistance Council, Attn: PRICE, 1828 L Street, NW, Suite 505, Washington, DC 20036 and ensure they are received by 11:59 pm Eastern on Friday, June 28.

RuralSTAT

In 2022, the rate of home mortgage denials for Black borrowers residing in the Deep South with earnings over $150,000 were similar to the rates for white borrowers earning between $31,000 and $50,000. Source: Hope Policy Institute, Black Households Still Face Higher Mortgage Denials than White Applicants, Research Finds.

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD opens Youth Homelessness Demo funding round

Nonprofits, state and local governments, Tribes, and Tribal housing entities can apply by August 29 for Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program grants to support planning and implementation of a coordinated community approach to preventing and ending homelessness for youth aged 24 and under. Up to eight of the 25 awardees will have substantial rural populations.

Section 533 Housing Preservation Grants offered

Preapplications for HPG funds are due to USDA July 29. Nonprofits, state and local public agencies, and Tribes are eligible and can use their grant awards for repairs and rehabilitation of owner-occupied or rental housing in rural areas if the owners or renters have low or very low incomes.

New vouchers available for veterans

Approximately 7,800 new HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers are available for distribution by public housing agencies. PHAs must register their interest by August 30.

Eviction Protection Grants will go to legal services providers

HUD will make Eviction Protection Grants to nonprofit or governmental entities such as legal aid organizations, bar associations, legal clinics, institutions of higher education, and local, state, or tribal agencies to provide free legal assistance to low-income tenants at risk of or subject to eviction. Applications are due August 20.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Listening sessions set on HOME proposed rule

HUD’s final virtual public listening sessions on the HOME program proposed regulation will be held June 25 and June 26. The sessions are intended to allow interested persons an opportunity to learn about the proposal and provide comments. Written comments are due July 29.

Comments requested on new Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac underserved markets plans

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have drafted new Underserved Markets Plans for 2025-2027, proposing goals for meeting their Duty to Serve obligations for rural housing, manufactured housing, and preservation. The Federal Housing Finance Board will hold listening sessions for stakeholder feedback on July 15, 16, and 17. Written comments are due August 12.

Tribal housing counselors rule finalized

HUD has adopted an alternative regulatory standard for the housing counselor certification that accounts for the unique status of Tribal land and housing programs in Indian Country and recognizes the importance of Tribal expertise. It takes effect on July 12.

Effective date delayed for new Section 184 Indian loan guarantee rule

HUD’s final regulation for the Section 184 Indian Loan Guarantee Program was set to take effect on June 18. That date has been changed to December 31, 2024, and compliance will be required by March 1, 2025. During the additional time, HUD will develop and implement a program handbook and Tribes, lenders, servicers, and others will be able to conform their policies, procedures, and systems with the final rule.

VA revises rule on brokerage fees

Beginning August 10, the Department of Veterans Affairs will allow homebuyers using VA guaranteed loans to pay fees for buyer brokers. Since market practices regarding buyer broker fees are evolving, this change will remain in effect until VA establishes a permanent policy. USDA addressed the situation differently in May by removing a limitation on commission fees for the Section 502 guarantee program.

EVENTS

Rural Rental Housing Preservation Academy to be held in August

Enterprise Community Partners and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis will host an in-person Rural Preservation Academy session August 6-7 in Minneapolis. The two-day convening will feature presentations about a variety of successful approaches for preserving affordable housing, along with updates on policy and research in the field. The speakers will include HAC staff. Register here.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Online tool helps with housing discrimination complaints

A new housing discrimination complaint generator, created by Disability Rights Texas, can be used by residents of any state. After the user fills in the blanks, the system provides a PDF file and information about how to send it to HUD. The tool does not submit the complaint to HUD directly.

Federal housing agencies have authority to address AI concerns, report says

Taking Further Agency Action on AI: How Agencies Can Deploy Existing Statutory Authority to Regulate Artificial Intelligence, published by the Center for American Progress and Governing for Impact, identifies steps that many federal agencies could take to address issues posed by artificial intelligence. On housing, the report argues existing laws such as the Fair Housing Act give HUD and other housing regulators authority to prohibit discrimination based on AI.

Rural employment rates vary by race/ethnicity

A Federal Reserve article, Rural Employment Disparities by Race, Ethnicity, and Region, highlights employment inequalities for people living outside metro areas who identify as American Indian, Alaska Native, or African American. “While the metro-nonmetro difference in employment rates for Asian American men is just 5.7 percentage points, the differences for Black or African American men and American Indian or Alaska Native men are 18.1 and 15.4 percentage points, respectively.” For most races, the gaps for women are substantially lower than they are for men. The article also examines variations by region.

CIRD community partners with students to create public art

Ten weeks after a Drexel University professor reached out to the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design staff at HAC in hopes of developing a curriculum focused on rural design, Van Buren, Maine has 10 to 12 new pieces of art to display throughout the town. This partnership is just one example of how CIRD and rural design can connect the younger generation to rural communities.

HAC

HAC is hiring

HAC job listings, each with application instructions, are available on our website.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides 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, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. 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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

HAC News: June 6, 2024

TOP STORIES

House subcommittee to consider USDA funding June 11

The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is expected to mark up a FY25 funding bill on June 11. HAC will post details of the draft House bill online when it is released. Subcommittee markup of the House’s HUD appropriations bill is set for June 27. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet scheduled markups.

House committee approves farm bill

The House Agriculture Committee passed its 2024 farm bill, H.R. 8467, on May 23. Full text of the Senate’s version has not yet been released and a Senate markup has not been scheduled.

Funding applications from Rural Partners Network communities to get priority points

Applications seeking USDA Rural Development funding for projects in current and future Rural Partners Network communities will receive extra points. USDA RD will incorporate the change into its existing priority points framework for funding notices published on or after June 1, 2024. Currently, RPN supports community networks in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico.

HAC’s magazine covers rural data

Demystifying Rural Data: Do You Know Your Market? is the subject of the latest issue of Rural Voices, HAC’s magazine. Data and information have proliferated due to AI and other resources, but quality data are still often more difficult to access in rural communities. Articles by practitioners, policymakers, and community-based organizations share tools, processes, and more for managing the rapidly changing information landscape.

June is National Homeownership Month

USDA and HUD are among the many agencies and organizations marking the month.

June is Pride Month

President Biden issued a proclamation on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Pride Month.

RuralSTAT

While homeownership rates have traditionally been higher in rural areas than elsewhere, homeownership varies across demographic groups and regions within rural America. More than three-quarters of rural white non-Hispanics are homeowners compared to 57% of rural non-white households. Source: HAC tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017-2022 American Community Survey.

OPPORTUNITIES

HAC extends deadline to apply for capacity building

The OneRural Capacity Building Program is specifically designed for nonprofit organizations and Tribally Designated Housing Entities seeking to advance their mission of affordable housing and community development. Participants will receive customized technical support, a wealth of training materials and informational guides, and reimbursable scholarships for HAC-sponsored training events. Apply by June 14. For answers to questions, email apply@ruralhome.org and put OneRural Technical Assistance in the subject line.

HUD launches new manufactured home community loan product

The Federal Housing Administration’s Manufactured Home Community loan product will provide an FHA-insured financing option for the purchase, refinance, and revitalization of manufactured home communities. Mission-focused entities such as resident-owned manufactured home communities, cooperatives, nonprofits, state and local governments, CDFIs, and Indian Tribes will be eligible to use the program to finance the acquisition of or to improve existing communities, including making updates to common area resources and helping to maintain rent affordability. HUD’s announcement says this permanent financing tool complements the PRICE program, which offers competitive grants that can be used for investments in affordable manufactured home communities.

Funds offered for reentry housing

The Justice Department’s Smart Reentry Housing Demonstration Program will fund state, local, and Tribal governments, PHAs, and Tribal housing entities to expand or increase access to housing for people who are currently or formerly involved in the criminal justice system. Applicants may propose evidence-based or innovative reentry housing models; stand up new or expand existing models of reentry housing by adding program elements or expanding eligibility; or propose other projects that remove barriers and increase access to housing options for individuals returning to communities from prison or jail. All approaches should seek to facilitate access to wraparound services. Apply by July 18.

Indian Housing Block Grant competitive funds offered

Tribes and Tribally designated housing entities are eligible for grants from the Indian Housing Block Grant–Competitive Grant Program to carry out a range of affordable housing activities. Applications are due August 29.

Service coordinator grants available

Nonprofits, Tribes, PHAs and Indian housing entities, and resident associations are eligible to apply for HUD’s Resident Opportunity and Self Sufficiency Service Coordinator program, which enables them to hire service coordinators to link residents of public and Indian housing residents to local training and supportive services. Applications are due September 30.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

July 29 deadline set for comments on HOME regulations

HUD’s proposed revisions to the HOME program regulations have been published in the Federal Register. Comments are due July 29.

Age limitation re-imposed for USDA’s disaster home repair grants pilot

USDA RD’s Section 504 Home Repair Loans and Grants in Presidentially Declared Disaster Areas pilot program waived some requirements of the regular Section 504 program, including the requirement for grant recipients to be age 62 or older. Now, because FY24 appropriations reduced Section 504 funding and also rescinded unobligated funds from past years, USDA cannot keep all the waivers in place and is reinstating the age limitation, effective on June 7. The remaining waivers for the pilot program will remain in place and are anticipated to continue until July 18, 2025.

Information requested on closing costs’ impact

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau seeks comments from consumers, industry participants, social services organizations, and others about the impacts of mortgage closing costs on homeowners and the mortgage market. CFPB asks for stories, data, and other information on topics including the extent of added costs and their impact on the ability to purchase a home, anticipate and afford monthly payments, or refinance an existing mortgage. Comments are due August 2.

Annual supplement on federal awards available

The Office of Management and Budget has issued its 2024 Compliance Supplement for guidance on uniform administrative requirements, cost principles, and audit requirements for federal awards. Comments are due August 5.

HUD corrects voucher rule

HUD published a notice correcting errors in the text of its May 7 final regulation implementing the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 for the Housing Choice Voucher and Project-Based Voucher programs.

EVENTS

HAC sets public hearing for June 26 on PRICE manufactured housing proposal

As an applicant for HUD’s new Preservation and Reinvestment Initiative for Community Enhancement program, HAC will hold a public hearing to obtain feedback on its proposal. HAC’s hearing will be a hybrid event, held at noon Eastern time on Wednesday, June 26, both online and at HAC’s office, 1828 L Street, NW, Suite 505, Washington, DC. Watch your email and HAC’s website for further information!

Manufactured housing solutions to be discussed

Manufactured Housing: Increasing Access and Preserving Affordability will be held in-person and online on June 25. The conversation, convened by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and the Pew Charitable Trusts Housing Policy Initiative, will highlight promising reforms, strategies, and innovations in the manufactured housing sector.

Webinar to look at HUD and USDA funding

The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding will hold a webinar June 12 to review final funding levels for FY24 and examine the outlook for HUD and USDA affordable housing funding in FY25. HAC’s Samantha Booth will cover the impact on rural housing.

Rural capacity building and collaboration webinar planned

The Power of Rural Collaboration and Coalition Building: Lessons Learned and Paths Forward, to be held June 17, will cover best practices and lessons learned on rural capacity development, collaboration, and coalition building. This event is the culmination of the multi-year Rural Opportunity and Development Sessions (ROADs), a partnership of the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, HAC, the International Economic Development Council, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Rural LISC, and the Federal Reserve Board with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Gaps persist in U.S. economic well-being

The Federal Reserve’s report on Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2023 reveals that nationwide financial well-being slightly decreased in 2023, with 72% of adults reporting being financially okay, one percentage point less than in 2022. Income gaps and racial gaps persist in homeownership rates. The median monthly rent payment, $1,100, increased by 10% from 2022. Approximately 27% of adults were renters, with Black, Hispanic, and disabled adults and adults living in low- and moderate-income communities more likely to be renters. People living outside metropolitan areas had lower levels of financial well-being than those living in metro areas, and fewer than 3 in 10 outside-metro-area residents rated their local economy as good or excellent. The Fed will hold a webinar about this report on June 20.

Native Americans are less economically secure

The Fed’s Economic Well-Being report, based on findings from its Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking, does not include data for American Indian and Alaska Natives because the sample size is limited. The Center for Indian Country Development at the Minneapolis Fed pooled nine years of SHED data to overcome the sample limitations. The resulting report, Shedding Light on Native American Households’ Financial Stress, reveals that from 2014 to 2022 American Indian and Alaska Native households were less likely than others to report living comfortably and less likely to cover an unexpected expense with cash.

HAC

HAC is hiring

HAC job listings, each with application instructions, are available on our website.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides 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, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. 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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

HAC News: May 23, 2024

TOP STORIES

House to begin work on farm bill

The House farm bill, titled the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024, has been introduced as H.R. 8467. Like the Senate’s version, the House bill directs USDA Rural Development to provide technical assistance to build local capacity in underserved and distressed areas. It does not, however, include any funding for such work. The House Agriculture Committee is expected to mark up the bill on May 23, with discussion likely to focus on contentious issues such as changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In the Senate, full bill text has not yet been released and a markup has not been scheduled.

Preliminary FY25 funding totals and markup schedule announced for House appropriations bills

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) released interim figures, known as 302(b) allocations, that set a total funding level for each FY25 appropriations bill. Defense spending would increase, while non-defense programs would be cut by 6%, with some departments receiving higher cuts and some lower. These preliminary caps may change. For specific programs, the House’s proposed funding levels will be set as each appropriations bill is drafted and reviewed. Cole’s markup schedule, which is also subject to change, calls for subcommittees to consider the USDA funding bill on June 11 and the Transportation-HUD bill on June 27, with the full committee reviewing both on July 10. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet announced 302(b)s or a schedule.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau funding upheld by Supreme Court

On May 16 the Supreme Court, by a 7-2 majority, upheld the constitutionality of the CFPB’s funding mechanism, overturning a federal appellate court ruling and confirming the agency’s legitimacy. The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act created the CFPB with a funding mechanism outside the appropriations process in order to insulate the agency from political pressures. The payday lenders who brought the suit argued this was unconstitutional, but the Supreme Court held it was not. After the ruling, CFPB Director Rohit Chopra stated that enforcement actions put on hold while the case was pending will now move forward, along with agency efforts to address junk fees, credit reports, and more.

Is your organization prepared for summer disasters?

There is no off season for disasters, but the June 1 beginning of hurricane season – predicted to be above normal this year – makes this a good time for many to think about disaster readiness. HAC’s Rural Resilience website offers tools for readiness, response, and recovery, including HAC’s detailed guide, Prepare Your Organization to Respond and Recover from Natural and Man-Made Disasters.

RuralSTAT

Between 2020 and 2023, home prices rose by at least 40% in nearly one-third of counties outside of metropolitan areas. The average home-value-to-income ratio increased from 2.5 in March 2017 to 3.9 in March 2023. Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies, The Geography of Pandemic-Era Home Price Trends and the Implications for Affordability.

OPPORTUNITIES

PRICE manufactured housing notice revised, deadline extended

HUD published a modified funding announcement on May 20 for the new Preservation and Reinvestment Initiative for Community Enhancement (PRICE) manufactured housing program. Applications are now due on July 10. For more information, email PRICE@hud.gov.

Indian CDBG funds available

HUD is accepting applications from Tribes and Tribal organizations for the competitive Community Development Block Grant Program for Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages. The deadline is July 15. For more information, email ONAP-ICDBG@hud.gov.

ReConnect broadband application deadline extended

Due to technology performance issues, USDA has extended the deadline to apply for the ReConnect Program. Applications are now due May 28 rather than May 21. For more information, use the online contact form at https://www.usda.gov/reconnect/contact-us.

USDA offers summer meals for kids

The Summer Nutrition Programs for Kids offered by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service can provide traditional congregate summer meals, meals “to go” for pick-up or home delivery, and SUN Bucks for groceries. Information for providers and participants is available online, along with a map to find state government contacts where FNS does not have information.

Rural Innovator nominations open

Through a new Rural Innovators Initiative, the White House will recognize innovators who are making a positive impact in their rural communities. Nominated individuals can be of any age and engaged in the public or private sector. The nomination form will close on June 14.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

HOME program proposed rule released

HUD has posted a pre-publication version of proposed “modernized” regulations for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program. HUD says the rule includes provisions to expand access to community housing development organization (CHDO) set-aside funds by neighborhood-based nonprofits; clarify homeownership requirements; better align HOME rental housing with other federal programs; simplify requirements for small rental housing projects; make HOME tenant-based rental assistance work better for vulnerable populations; strengthen tenant rights and protections; establish a new method for determining maximum per-unit subsidy limits; and provide incentives to incorporate green building technologies. Comments will be due 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

HUD considers extending Buy America waiver for Tribes

HUD’s waiver of the Build America, Buy America Act domestic content preference for Tribes, Tribally Designated Housing Entities, and other Tribal entities was scheduled to expire on May 22, but the department proposes to extend it to September 30. Comments on the extension are due June 17. For more information, email BuildAmericaBuyAmerica@hud.gov.

Comments sought on Federal Home Loan Bank System mission

The Federal Housing Finance Agency requests input on updating the Federal Home Loan Bank System’s mission statement to reflect the System’s role in housing finance, developing metrics and thresholds to evaluate mission achievement, and identifying incentives for FHLBank members. Comments are due July 15 through FHFA’s website (select “FHLBank Mission” from the menu) or by mail.

EVENTS

Webinar to address rural housing and health

Understanding Housing as a Social Driver of Health for Rural Residents will be presented on May 29 by the Rural Health Research Gateway at the University of North Dakota. Presenters will cover findings on rural/urban differences in housing cost burden and quality, as well as challenges and opportunities to improve housing as a social driver of health through policy and programming.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Home prices increased more in rural areas during the pandemic

A new working paper from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, The Geography of Pandemic-Era Home Price Trends and the Implications for Affordability, highlights that while home prices rose across the country from 2020 to 2023, home price growth was disproportionately higher – averaging 36% – in counties outside metro areas, counties in smaller markets, and the lower-density suburbs of large metro areas with over 1 million people, compared to 21% growth in the higher-density urban counties of large metro areas.

Fact sheets connect housing to other sectors

The National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign has posted 16 multi-sector fact sheets compiling evidence that demonstrates the links between safe, affordable housing and health, education, racial equity, and a host of other concerns.

Podcast series covers rural housing and homelessness

The Rural Impact podcast, which describes itself as “a podcast that connects the dots between policy and rural everything,” is airing a series of episodes on rural housing and homelessness. Four of these episodes have been released so far. HAC’s director of public policy, Jonathan Harwitz, was a guest on the first. The podcast is also available on YouTube.

Timeline examines how U.S. housing policy fostered inequities

A History of Housing Policy Through a Racial Equity Lens is an interactive timeline developed by Enterprise Community Partners. It describes how centuries of racist and exploitive housing and land policies fostered many of the socio-economic inequities currently borne by Black, Indigenous, and other people of color.

USDA blog features HAC’s Shonterria Charleston

HAC’s director of training and technical assistance, a member of the Rural Community Economic Development subcommittee of USDA’s Equity Commission, is profiled in a recent USDA blog post titled Shonterria Charleston: Serving Rural Communities Through Safe Housing.

CORRECTION

The May 9 HAC News provided an incorrect link to a USDA home repair program in its first story, titled “USDA warns of shortfalls in single-family programs.” HAC will post a corrected version of the story soon.

HAC is hiring

HAC job listings, each with application instructions, are available on our website.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides 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, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. 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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

HAC News: May 9, 2024

TOP STORIES

USDA warns of shortfalls in single-family programs

USDA has announced its single-family housing programs will serve fewer people this year because the FY24 consolidated appropriations act reduced funding for most of USDA’s rural housing programs. The Section 502 direct mortgage loan program dropped from $1.25 billion in FY23 to $880 million this year, so USDA says application processing may encounter significant delays. Processing timeframes will differ among states. The Section 504 home repair grant program for elderly homeowners with very low incomes fell from $32 million last year to $25 million this year, and the funding bill also rescinded $28 million carried over from prior years. As a result, USDA will be able to make fewer of these grants. It has also reduced the maximum amount for Section 504 disaster home repair grants from $42,920 to $15,000.

Farm Bill proposals released

The chairs of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees have announced their proposals for the 2024 Farm Bill, though not enough details are available to compare the two. The legislators have not yet made public the full text of either bill.

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) provided both a brief outline and a detailed summary of her Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act. HAC supports the bill’s inclusion of a proposed $50 million per year for the Rural Partnership Program, a new capacity building effort. HAC also hopes that the Rural Housing Service Reform Act introduced by Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), which is being considered separately by the Banking Committee, will eventually be added to the Farm Bill as a floor amendment.

Rep. GT Thompson (R-PA) released an overview of his draft 2024 Farm Bill, which will be marked up by the House Agriculture Committee on May 23. The summary of the bill’s Rural Development title mentions broadband connectivity, precision agriculture, health care, childcare, workforce challenges, private capital investments, and the permitting process for USDA RD projects; it is not clear which of these provisions, if any, would apply to housing.

HAC publishes research brief on farmworker housing

Creating a Better Understanding of Farmworker Communities and Their Housing Conditions reviews available data on the social and economic characteristics of farm laborers in the U.S. and on their housing conditions. While their demographics have shifted and the H-2A visa program has grown, farmworkers’ incomes remain low and their housing conditions inadequate. HAC recommends more research on farmworker housing and more resources devoted to improving conditions.

May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

President Biden’s proclamation is posted here.

RuralSTAT

Although farmworkers are much more likely to rent their homes than other U.S. residents, they own homes at higher rates than ever before. Around one-third of farmworkers own a home or manufactured home in the U.S., compared to nearly two-thirds of all households in the U.S. Source: HAC tabulations of U.S. Department of Labor NAWS data set 2017-2018.

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD will modify PRICE manufactured housing program funding notice, extend deadline

The deadline for Preservation and Reinvestment Initiative for Community Enhancement applications will be changed to June 24 rather than June 5, according to a HUD “intent to modify” announcement. HUD plans to make other changes to the funding notice, it says, but specifics will not be available until the modification is published. For more information, email PRICE@HUD.gov.

HAC offers two new training and assistance opportunities

Applications for both programs will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so early submission is recommended. For answers to questions, email apply@ruralhome.org and put the name of the program in the subject line.

  • The One Rural Capacity Building Program is specifically designed for nonprofit organizations and Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs) eager to advance their mission. Participants will receive customized technical support, a wealth of training materials and informational guides, and reimbursable scholarships for HAC-sponsored training events. Apply by May 29.
  • The Empowering Organizations for Successful Homeowner Rehabilitation Learning Cohort is aimed at nonprofits undertaking homeowner rehabilitation efforts. It will guide you through every step of the rehabilitation process, from strategic marketing to project completion. Apply by May 15.

Farmworker housing funding notice corrected

USDA has published a corrected paragraph about commitment letters for third-party funding in its notice offering Section 514 and 516 funds for off-farm farmworker housing. The deadline for preapplications remains July 3.

USDA clarifies Strategic Economic and Community Development set-aside

In February, USDA announced it would set aside FY24 funds in the community facilities, water and waste, and Rural Business Development Grants programs for the Strategic Economic and Community Development priority, which emphasizes projects that support multi-jurisdictional and multi-sectoral strategic community investment plans. A recent correction notice says that Community Facilities Grant Program funds will not be reserved for SECD this year. The correction does not impact CF loans or guarantees. It also clarifies that community and economic development plans created in association with approved USDA Rural Partners Network networks will be accepted as plans under SECD.

Program will support rural artists in the Upper Great Plains

Ignite Rural is an eight-month residency program hosted by the Department of Public Transformation, a rural arts nonprofit. It is aimed at supporting rural artists who engage in social and civic work for their communities. This “at-home” cohort is open to artists who live in rural communities with populations of 20,000 or less within Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the 23 Native Nations that share that geography. Applications are due June 5.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

HUD extends deadline for Buy America comments

Information on the cost and availability of materials covered by the Build America, Buy America Act is now due to HUD by June 17 rather than April 15. HUD requests details on domestic materials sourcing, market readiness, other product supply considerations, and whether specific housing products or their components are manufactured in the U.S.

HUD also recently posted materials from its most recent webinar on implementing BABA.

Rule covers fair lending and equitable housing finance for Fannie, Freddie, and Home Loan Banks

A final rule on fair lending, fair housing, and Equitable Housing Finance Plans will apply to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s oversight of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks. FHFA explains that the rule codifies existing FHFA practices in regulation and adds new requirements related to fair lending, fair housing, unfair or deceptive acts or practices, and Equitable Housing Finance Plans. Most parts of the rule will be effective 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register. FHFA will hold a public listening session June 5 to hear interim feedback on Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s implementation of their current Equitable Housing Finance Plans and preparation of their 2025-2027 plans.

Revision to USDA guarantee program accounts for fee changes

Housing industry practices regarding real estate agent commission fees are changing, so USDA has made a corresponding change in the Section 502 single-family guaranteed loan program. The program has a 6% cap on seller concessions, which are funds from a seller or other interested party to incentivize a buyer to purchase a home. Real estate commission fees paid by the seller on behalf of the homebuyer will now be excluded from the 6% cap. USDA’s announcement says this update ensures that regardless of any possible changes to real estate commission requirements, rural homebuyers will continue to be able to affordably access guaranteed home loan financing from USDA.

HUD adopts changes to voucher programs

Amendments to HUD regulations implement changes to the Housing Choice Voucher and Project-Based Voucher programs made by the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016. HUD has also made other changes that are intended to reduce burden on public housing agencies.

H-2A farmworker visa program regulations revised

The Department of Labor has issued new regulatory provisions, adding to the 2022 overhaul of its rules for the H-2A temporary farmworker visa program. DOL says this rule adopts important provisions that will further strengthen protections for agricultural workers and enhance the department’s enforcement capabilities, thereby permitting more effective enforcement against fraud and program violations.

Two agencies allow homebuyers to request new appraisals

HUD’s Federal Housing Administration and the Federal Housing Finance Agency worked together to develop new “reconsideration of value” policies for borrowers with mortgages insured by FHA or purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. A homebuyer will be able to request a re-assessment of the appraised value of their property if they believe that the appraisal was inaccurate or biased.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Thrive Rural Resource Center launched

HAC is honored to be part of the Thrive Rural Resource Center, a collaborative initiative hosted by the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group. Tailored for policymakers, philanthropists, and media professionals, the center provides information and strategies for equitable rural development.

USDA tenants’ rights explained

USDA has two new publications for residents of its multifamily housing properties. One explains Tenant Rights and Responsibilities. The other covers MFH Grievance Procedures Frequently Asked Questions.

U.S. wealth inequality hits record high

For the first time, the Urban Institute reports a seven-figure racial wealth gap: the average wealth held by white families is more than $1 million higher than that of Hispanic and Black families. Nine Charts about Wealth Inequality in America demonstrate disparities not just by race but also by gender. Accounting for educational attainment, women earn less than men with the same race. White women earn more on average than women of color and white men earn more on average than men of color.

Essays explore solutions for community development and climate resilience

What’s Possible: Investing Now for Prosperous, Sustainable Neighborhoods is a collection of essays exploring the intersection of community development and climate resilience. A number of the essays touch on housing issues. A collaboration of Enterprise Community Partners, LISC, and the New York Fed, What’s Possible is intended to offer practical solutions for clean energy, resilience, and equity. The entire book can be downloaded free. Print copies are also available.

National radio story features Rural Studio

What One Group’s Experiments Designing Affordable Housing in Rural America Show, a National Public Radio story on May 5, highlighted the work of Auburn University’s Rural Studio supporting affordable housing in Alabama. The story focuses on a resident of Hale County, AL and his house, which has a roof and foundation much larger than the current structure, allowing for future expansion.

HAC

HAC is hiring

HAC job listings, each with application instructions, are available on our website.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides 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, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. 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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

Policy News field

HAC Applauds New Farm Bill Framework

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) celebrates the inclusion of key priorities for rural community development in the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act, released by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow earlier this week. Strong rural communities are a vital part of building a stronger, better future for the whole country. This bill recognizes that reality. Including robust new resources for rural community development in the Farm Bill would be a historic victory for small towns and rural places nationwide.

The framework released by Chairwoman Stabenow creates, for the first time, baseline funding for Rural Development, with $50 million per year for the Rural Partnership Program, a new capacity building program that HAC has long been supportive of. This sustained investment in rural communities would help them build the capacity to access complex federal funding streams and overcome their greatest challenges, from housing to childcare to broadband.

HAC also continues to be glad to see the bipartisan interest in Senator Tina Smith’s and Senator Mike Rounds’ Rural Housing Service Reform Act. This bill makes tested, commonsense reforms to USDA housing programs so that they can better serve rural America. Modernizing the Rural Housing Service is an important step in solving the growing crisis in rural multifamily preservation. While not under the jurisdiction of the Agriculture Committee, we hope that this bill can move through the Banking Committee and join with the Farm Bill as a floor amendment.

“Rural Development is an often-overlooked title within the Farm Bill,” notes HAC Director of Public Policy Jonathan Harwitz. “Chairwoman Stabenow’s new framework changes that narrative for Rural Development. Improving those programs and providing baseline funding would give rural communities nationwide the tools they need to build a better, stronger future. We look forward to hopefully seeing the Farm Bill move forward this year and thank Chairwoman Stabenow for her leadership.”

HAC News: April 25, 2024

TOP STORIES

Agencies update energy efficiency standards

Some federally supported new housing construction, including single-family homes supported by USDA’s Section 502 direct, Section 502 guaranteed, or Section 523 self-help programs, will be required to meet updated energy efficiency standards under a determination announced by HUD and USDA on April 25. In recognition of challenges they may face in implementing the changes, rural persistent poverty rural areas have a 24-month compliance period rather than the shorter timeframes for other places; USDA will publish a map identifying where the longer compliance period applies. HAC and a coalition of other organizations welcomed the changes. After the agencies proposed them last year, a comment letter circulated by HAC and signed by more than 80 other organizations supported the updated standards because they will reduce homebuyers’ utility bills. The letter also suggested ways to cover the upfront costs of building to higher standards.

RuralSTAT

A little over 60% of homes nationwide are single-family detached dwellings, but in rural America they comprise over 72% of homes. Structures with two or more units make up a smaller part of the rural housing stock at 12.2% collectively – less than half the national level of multi-unit structures at 26.3%. Source: HAC tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017-2021 American Housing Survey.

OPPORTUNITIES

USDA offers farmworker housing funds

Section 514/516 loans and grants are available to develop off-farm housing for farmworkers. Nonprofit organizations, Tribes, state or local governments, and limited partnerships with nonprofit general partners are eligible. Preapplications are due July 3. USDA also recently announced a June 18 deadline for subsequent loans and grants to improve, repair, or modify properties that already have Section 514 or 516 funding. For more information on either announcement, contact Jonathan Bell, USDA, MFHprocessing1@usda.gov, 202-205-9217.

Disaster repair grants available for homeowners

USDA offers Section 504 Rural Disaster Home Repair Grants for low-income owners of homes damaged by 2022 presidentially declared disasters. The program requirements, including those for homeowners’ age and income level, are not the same as those of the regular Section 504 program. Applications will be accepted as long as funds remain available. For more information, contact a local USDA RD office.

Creative placemaking grant competition opens

Our Town or Nuestra Ciudad, the creative placemaking grants program of the National Endowment for the Arts, offers grants from $25,000 to $150,000 with a 1:1 match requirement. The program supports activities that integrate arts, culture, and design into local efforts to advance local economic, physical, or social outcomes. These projects require a partnership between a nonprofit organization and a local government entity, with one of them or a third partner being a cultural organization. The first part of the application is due August 1. For more information, contact NEA staff, OT@arts.gov.

Water systems grants will finance revolving funds

USDA’s Rural Decentralized Water Systems Grant Program makes grants to nonprofits to establish and maintain revolving funds that provide loans and sub-grants to low- and moderate-income individuals for individually owned water well systems and/or individually owned wastewater systems. Eligible areas include rural areas and towns with populations of 50,000 or less, Tribal lands in rural areas, and colonias. Apply by June 28. For more information, contact Lola Maratita, USDA, Dolores.Maratita@usda.gov, 615-714-8883.

Racial equity committee at Treasury seeks members

The deadline for nominations to the Treasury Advisory Committee on Racial Equity has been extended to May 20. The U.S. Treasury Department administers the Community Development Financial Institutions programs and a number of Inflation Reduction Act and pandemic recovery programs. For more information, contact Rhianna Rogers, Treasury, equity@treasury.gov, 202-622-3644.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

OCC extends comment period on bank merger

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has extended the time to submit public comments on the proposed application by Capital One to acquire Discover Bank. Comments may now be submitted through May 31.

HUD revises rule on floodplains and wetlands

A new final rule amends HUD’s regulations governing floodplain management and the protection of wetlands to implement the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, and revises HUD’s Minimum Property Standards. HUD will publish guidance on compliance and will schedule two webinars on the final rule. To receive future announcements, subscribe to HUD’s Office of Housing email list.

Multifamily insurance deductibles rise for wind and storm coverage

The Federal Housing Administration is changing its requirements for wind and named storm insurance coverage at multifamily properties with FHA mortgage insurance. FHA is increasing the maximum allowable deductibles, so insurance policies will cost property owners less. HUD explains the changes in guidance documents here and here.

EVENTS

USDA to hold tenants’ rights roundtable online

USDA Rural Development will host a community roundtable on Thursday, May 2 to review the rights and protections for tenants of USDA-financed properties. Participants will be able to provide feedback and discuss additional ways USDA can support their needs. Register here.

Webinar series will advise on equitable energy efficiency programs

On May 21, Navigating Organizational Funding for Home Energy Upgrade Programs in Justice 40 Communities will cover the nuts and bolts of applying for Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grants, prizes, and technical assistance. This is the first workshop in a series organized by EPA and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, designed to support community-based organizations, small businesses, and local governments in creating equitable efficiency and electrification home upgrade programs.

Listening sessions will cover HUD’s environmental justice plan

HUD will hold three listening sessions online as it develops a 2024-2028 Environmental Justice Strategic Plan. During these events, HUD officials will offer information about the development of the Strategic Plan and external stakeholders can provide feedback on priorities HUD should consider and concerns related to environmental justice in communities with HUD-assisted housing. Register here for public sessions on May 1 or May 2. Register here for an April 30 session specifically for Tribes, Tribally Designated Housing Entities, and Tribal Housing Authorities.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Federal Reserve asks for responses to 2024 Community Perspectives Survey

The Federal Reserve System invites organizations that serve low- to moderate-income communities to take its Community Perspectives Survey. The survey collects insights on the economic conditions of low- to moderate-income communities and the health of the organizations serving them. It is open through April 30.

Toolkit advises working on data with people with lived experience of homelessness

People with Lived Experience and Expertise of Homelessness and Data Decision-Making is a HUD toolkit highlighting the importance of ensuring people with lived experiences are partners for decision making efforts by Continuums of Care and community partners. It includes resources on partnership practices, compensation, and training.

Artificial intelligence’s use in housing industry examined

Housing Industry Innovation: 5 Ways AI Can Help Boost Supply and Affordability, a brief from the Bipartisan Policy Center, summarizes ways AI is changing five areas related to housing: predevelopment, construction, creditworthiness, home appraisals, and property tax assessments. It includes a link to an AI 101 brief as well as links to more detailed information about the topics covered.

Study addresses barriers to federal funding for rural places

The West Virginia Community Development Hub’s Barriers to Federal Investment in Rural Communities report uses West Virginia as a case study to examine key factors that prevent rural, coal-impacted communities from effectively competing for federal funding across multiple agencies. The authors then identify simple strategies that federal agencies can implement to address these barriers.

Montana housing discussed in podcast

A Pew Trusts podcast episode, Housing in America: A Foundation in Montana, covers housing affordability issues. Montana state lawmakers describe legislation to address the concerns and Indigenous advocates discuss Tribal housing solutions.

HAC

HAC is hiring

HAC job listings, each with application instructions, are available on our website.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides 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, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. 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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

HAC News: April 11, 2024

TOP STORIES

Supreme Court to hear homelessness case

On April 22 the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Grants Pass v. Johnson, a case that considers whether it is cruel and unusual punishment to fine or arrest people for “camping” on public property. A National Homelessness Law Center website, https://johnsonvgrantspass.com/, explains and tracks the case. Several national advocacy organizations created a toolkit for participation in a National Week of Action, starting on April 22, to support long-term housing solutions rather than the criminalization of homelessness. Numerous state and local governments have supported the city of Grants Pass, Oregon, which has also posted information on its perspective. The Court’s decision will probably be announced in June.

HUD has new online system for Build America waiver requests

HUD established a new online system for grantees to request project-specific waivers from Buy America Build America requirements. A launch announcement offers instructions and links to resources and training.

HAC participates in heirs’ property conversations at national convenings

As a part of its multifaceted and collaborative initiative on heirs’ property, HAC engaged audiences and stakeholders at three recent national convenings. HAC’s research was featured at the Boston College of Law’s Initiative on Land, Housing, and Property Rights‘ second annual Heirs’ Property and the Racial Wealth Gap conference, Fannie Mae’s National Convening on Heirs’ Property: Past and Future, and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition’s 2024 Just Economy conference. To learn more about heirs’ property and its prevalence in your community, access HAC’s new report, A Methodological Approach to Estimate Residential Heirs’ Property in the United States, and a new Federal Housing Finance Agency blog post, Sustaining Family Wealth through Heirs’ Property Resolutions. FHFA highlights national research including HAC’s research in collaboration with Fannie Mae and efforts from the Federal Home Loan Banks to address heirs’ property issues.

RuralSTAT

HAC estimates the prevalence of heirs’ properties in persistent poverty counties is conservatively 1.2% of residential parcels – twice the estimated national rate at 0.6%. Source: Housing Assistance Council, A Methodological Approach to Estimate Residential Heirs’ Property in the United States

OPPORTUNITIES

Distribution of greenhouse gas reduction money begins

EPA has announced the intermediaries and consortia that will receive $20 billion from two of the three programs under the new Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. These awardees will distribute the funds to other organizations around the country to create a national financing network for clean energy and climate solutions across sectors. EPA’s site provides details, including links to the awardees’ websites. Grantees for the third GGRF program, Solar for All, will be announced later this spring.

Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants available

HUD’s Choice Neighborhood Planning Grants support development of local plans to revitalize communities of all sizes with severely distressed public or HUD-assisted housing. There is a separate competition for implementation grants. Apply by June 10. For more information, email ChoiceNeighborhoods@hud.gov.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Guidance for federal awards revised

The Office of Management and Budget has modified the OMB Guidance for Grants and Agreements, now renamed the OMB Guidance for Federal Financial Assistance. OMB says it is updating and improving the guidance to incorporate recent policy priorities and statutory requirements, reduce burden, add clarifications, use plain language, and more. OMB Memorandum M-24-11 to federal agencies explains the changes and describes other steps agencies should take. The guidance is effective for all federal awards issued on or after October 1, 2024, though agencies may choose to use it sooner. For more information, contact OMB at mbx.omb.grants@omb.eop.gov.

Nominations sought for HUD’s tribal advisory committee

Nominations for membership on HUD’s Tribal Intergovernmental Advisory Committee are due June 7. For more information, contact Heidi J. Frechette, HUD, 202-402-7598.

Rent increases capped for Low-Income Housing Tax Credit developments as income limits set for HUD-assisted properties

HUD announced 2024 income limits for tenants in HUD-assisted properties and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit properties. Developments with LIHTC or housing bond financing are now subject to the 10% cap on rent increases HUD proposed in January. HUD explains its analysis of the cap’s impact here.

HUD sets rent adjustment factors

HUD’s FY24 Annual Adjustment Factors are effective April 1 for adjustment of some Section 8 properties/units’ contract rents. Contacts for more information vary by program.

HUD proposes to change treatment of tenants with criminal records

Comments are due June 10 on a proposal to amend the regulations for the public housing and Section 8 assisted housing programs, as well as the Section 221(d)(3) below market interest rate program, Section 202 elderly housing, Section 811 housing for persons with disabilities, and the Section 236 interest reduction payment program. In both admissions and evictions, PHAs and owners would be required to consider criminal records only when relevant to endangering health and safety and would also have to consider mitigating factors and circumstances.

Fair housing testers with felony convictions now permitted

HUD has changed its regulations to allow Fair Housing Initiatives Program grantees and Fair Housing Assistance Program agencies to use fair housing testers with prior felony convictions or convictions of crimes involving fraud or perjury. For more information, contact Aztec Jacobs, HUD, 202-402-7861.

EVENTS

HAC offers USDA packaging training in Chicago

The three-day USDA Section 502 Direct Certified Loan Application Packaging Training, designed for those experienced in using Section 502, will provide participants with a strong understanding of Section 502 direct underwriting and packaging standards, which will ensure that submitted loan dockets are complete and accessible for processing. The course will be held in Chicago on May 21-23 (rescheduled from April 23-25). Registration is $750. For more information, contact HAC staff, registration@ruralhome.org, 202-516-6271.

White House rural partners call to address housing costs

The White House holds regular calls to brief rural partners, with the next scheduled for Tuesday, April 16 at 3:00 pm Eastern. Administration officials will provide an overview of President Biden’s plan to lower housing costs, as well as an overview of funding available to provide career training services for workers in the Appalachian, Lower Mississippi Delta, and Northern Border regions. The call is off-the-record and closed to press. Register for the call here and sign up for White House rural news here.

Senate subcommittee sets housing preservation hearing

A hearing titled Challenges in Preserving the U.S. Housing Stock has been scheduled for April 16 by the Senate Banking Committee’s Housing Subcommittee. It will be webcast live and a recording will be available online afterwards.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Study points to upward mobility factors for rural teens

An article titled Why do Kids Outperform their Parents in This Rural California Town? A Sociologist Looks for Answers describes an ongoing study of Dixon, California, where social mobility is high and successful outcomes are common for young people. The Opportunity Index identified Dixon as the only place in the country that is rural and multiracial and has high historical and predicted rates of upward mobility. Researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara want to identify what makes this community so successful, hoping the information can then be used by others. Factors identified so far include strong mentors, supportive and involved family members, school and extracurricular activities that keep students busy, and the availability of jobs students can do when they are in school.

New online platform collects housing policy resources

A collection of information from a wide range of sources, the National Housing Conference’s new Housing Resource Center is intended to meet the information and data needs of policymakers, journalists, lenders, home builders, civil rights groups, affordable housing advocates, real estate professionals, and more.

Guide offers help for designing home energy rebate programs

As states and territories prepare plans for Home Energy Rebate Programs with Inflation Reduction Act funding, the National Consumer Law Center and the National Housing Law Project have created IRA Home Energy Rebates State Program Design Recommendations to serve as a resource for advocates. It is intended to help promote state plans that prioritize low-income homeowners and tenants and work intentionally with existing state and federal programs to reduce consumers’ costs and increase consumer protections.

HAC

HAC is hiring

HAC job listings, each with application instructions, are available on our website.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides 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, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. 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).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

HAC News: March 28, 2024

TOP STORIES

April is National Fair Housing Month

This year is the 56th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act. HUD will celebrate the theme Fair Housing: The ‘Act’ in Action. For more information about fair housing rights or to file a complaint, visit HUD’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity website or call 1-800-669-9777. For information or complaints related to USDA rural housing, visit USDA RD’s Civil Rights site.

Flexibility increased for rural multifamily owners to use surplus cash

A new regulation will allow owners of properties with financing from USDA’s Section 515 and 514/516 rental programs to apply cash to approved soft debt. The agency says this change provides a new source of capital for property improvements. For more information, contact Michael Resnik, USDA, 202-430-3114.

USDA formalizes 30-day written eviction notices

Owners of Section 515 and 514/516 rental properties must give tenants written notification at least 30 days before terminating a lease or taking eviction actions. The notice must include instructions on how a tenant can cure the nonpayment to avoid eviction and how to recertify household income. These notices will be required after April 24, 2024, and they must be included in leases by September 25, 2025. For more information, contact Michael Resnik, USDA, 202-720-1615.

Native American loan guarantee program gets revised rules

HUD is updating its regulations for the Section 184 program, which have not been substantially revised since 1996. The department says the changes will minimize potential risk and increase participation by financial institutions. The new rules are effective June 18. For more information, contact Krisa Johnson, HUD, 202-402-4978.

RuralSTAT

There are more than 2,500 banks headquartered in rural areas, and rural banks comprise more than half of all FDIC insured institutions in the United States. Between 1995 and 2022 the number of rural headquartered banks declined by 57%. Source: HAC tabulations of FDIC data.

OPPORTUNITIES

Farmworker housing repair funds available

USDA’s subsequent Section 514 and 516 off-farm labor housing loans and grants may be used to improve, repair, or make modifications to existing off-farm labor housing properties. The deadline is June 18. USDA will hold a webinar for potential applicants on April 3. For more information, contact Jonathan Bell, USDA, 254-727-5647.

Pay for Success Program can support permanent supportive housing

The Justice Department’s FY24 Second Chance Act Pay for Success Program offers funds to states, cities, townships, counties, special districts, federally recognized Tribal governments, and community-based public and Native American housing authorities to address transition and re-entry services including permanent supportive housing for people with mental health, substance use, or co-occurring disorders who are or were involved in the criminal justice system. Applications are due April 25. For more information, contact DOJ at 800-851-3420 or grants@ncjrs.gov.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Dates delayed for part of new CRA rule

The deadline for banks to make changes to their assessment areas and their public files, as required by the 2023 Community Reinvestment Act final rule, is now January 1, 2026 rather than April 1, 2024. The federal bank regulators have also made technical amendments to the CRA rule and related agency regulations that reference it. Comments on the extended effective date are due May 13.

HUD posts resources on source of income discrimination

A new HUD webpage explains what source of income discrimination is and provides an interactive map to help families, PHAs, and landlords to identify jurisdictions that are covered by source of income protections for tenants with vouchers. There are also tips and resources for tenants and PHAs on what to do if such discrimination occurs, as well as strategies for how to reduce it. To support efforts to improve landlord participation, HUD has posted an HCV Landlord Strategies Guidebook on its landlord resources page.

USDA suggests changes for multifamily housing credit reports

To avoid the complexities of its current process, USDA proposes to change the way it obtains credit reports for determining eligibility and feasibility for its Section 515 and 514/516 direct rental housing programs. Rather than collecting fees and ordering credit reports itself, the agency would require applicants to provide credit reports. Comments are due May 28. For more information, contact Abby Boggs, USDA, 615-490-1371.

Rural home repair program instructions revised

Changes to the Section 504 homeowner repair loan and grant programs have been incorporated into USDA’s handbook.

USDA seeks input on Section 502 guarantee policy changes, offers new tool

A new online Policy Desk is intended to make it easier for lenders and stakeholders to provide feedback on proposed policy changes for the Section 502 loan guarantee program. Current proposals would revise servicing guidelines and simplify the mortgage recovery advance process.

Priorities changing for USDA multifamily guarantees

A regulatory change removes the priorities currently listed in the rules for the Section 538 multifamily loan guarantee program and inserts a general statement allowing the agency to set and change priorities for the program without going through the rulemaking process. For more information, contact Tammy Daniels, USDA, 202-720-0021.

Comments requested on participation in government decisionmaking

The Office of Management and Budget is developing a government-wide framework, common guidelines, and leading practices for public participation and community engagement in government decisionmaking. It requests input on the experiences of individuals and organizations, including those from underserved communities, with informing federal government decisionmaking and participating in engagement activities with government agencies; examples of leading practices in this space; and other recommendations for this effort. Comments are due May 17. For more information, email publicparticipation@omb.eop.gov with “PPCE RFI” in the subject line, or call Cherie Klein, OMB, at 202-881-6220.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Research considers why Native American borrowers pay more for home loans

The Center for Indian Country Development at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve examined the reasons why, on average, Native American borrowers pay more for home loans than White borrowers. CICD found that for Native American borrowers, living either on or off reservations, the disparity can largely be explained by heavy reliance on personal property loans used to purchase manufactured homes, and not by underwriting or demographic characteristics such as credit scores or incomes. The reliance on such loans likely stems from the lack of low-cost mortgage options available to Native homebuyers, CICD suggested, as well as factors such as diminished access to generational wealth. Data indicated it is not due to the higher prevalence of manufactured homes on reservations, nor to the ownership structure of trust land.

Information posted to help decarbonize affordable housing

The Affordable Housing Decarbonization Hub, offering housing providers access to resources and information for equitable decarbonization, was recently launched by Enterprise Community Partners, the Housing Partnership Network, and the Rocky Mountain Institute. The hub also allows users to submit questions to experts and to share suggestions for additional resources.

Connections between housing and climate change studied

Residential buildings are responsible for 20% of total primary energy consumption in the U.S., reports the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley. Its report, Housing + Climate Policy: Building Equitable Pathways to Sustainability and Affordability, looks at the existing research on climate and housing in the U.S. in two key areas: how housing decarbonization and production strategies can reduce pollution to mitigate climate change, and how climate change impacts renters, homeowners, and the broader housing industry. This is the first paper in a planned Housing + Climate research initiative, intended to provide policy makers and advocates with evidence to advance effective policy solutions to both the climate and housing crises.

HUD reports on human trafficking survivors’ housing needs

Housing Needs of Survivors of Human Trafficking Study, a new report from HUD, notes that programs and services exist but are not scaled to meet survivors’ needs. In rural areas and Native lands, it says, housing and service resources for survivors are particularly scarce. The study recommends increased resources, low-barrier entry processes, trauma-informed approaches, culturally specific service delivery, and more.

Homeowners’ insurance costs rising

Nationwide, insurance costs for single-family homeowners with conventional mortgages have increased along with home values, though the effective rate (cost per dollar of value) has risen more slowly, Freddie Mac reports in a new analysis. U.S. Economic, Housing and Mortgage Market Outlook – March 2024 includes data showing that rates vary widely between states, based on hazards and state regulations.

HAC

Design workshops underway

The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD), in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, HAC, and To Be Done Studio, kicked off its 2023-2024 CIRD Design Workshops with back-to-back events. The first CIRD workshop took place November 29-December 1 in Thompson Falls, MT where the U.S. Forest Service and local organizations are looking to revamp an outdoor recreation area. The workshop included hard conversations, problem solving, and development of strategies that best suited the community. Since the Thompson Falls workshop, CIRD has completed workshops in Boswell, IN, Sunnyside, WA, and most recently Grenada, MS. Look out for other CIRD workshop updates here and sign up for the CIRD newsletter here.

HAC is hiring

HAC job listings, each with application instructions, are available on our website.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides 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, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. 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’s office has moved

HAC’s new street address, effective on January 1, 2024, is 1828 L Street, N.W., Suite 505, Washington, DC 20036. Our phone number remains 202-842-8600.

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!

 

HAC News, March 14, 2024

HAC News: March 14, 2024

TOP STORIES

Administration’s FY25 housing budget proposes new programs for HUD

The Biden Administration released its request for the upcoming fiscal year on March 11. Tables and analyses are available on HAC’s website for USDA and HUD. The recording and slides from HAC’s annual budget webinar, held March 13, are also posted.

For most of USDA’s rural housing programs, the FY25 budget would hold funding at FY23 (not FY24) levels. The administration also repeats some proposals from last year’s budget request. Congress included in the FY24 final bill a limited pilot to decouple up to 1,000 units of Section 521 Rental Assistance from Section 515 and 514 mortgages so that, when a USDA rental housing mortgage ends, the tenants can continue to receive RA. The FY25 budget requests broader decoupling authority without caps. For homebuyers, the budget proposes to eliminate subsidy “recapture” for the Section 502 direct program, an expensive change that was requested but not adopted in FY24.

Many of the HUD programs that help produce housing, including HOME, CDBG, SHOP, and Native American housing, would receive funding cuts under the budget request. It proposes to produce new units, as well as assisting renters and people experiencing homelessness, through several large new programs. They would receive mandatory funding, which would not be subject to the caps on discretionary spending imposed by the 2023 debt limit agreement, and therefore are unlikely to be adopted. They would include the first-ever voucher guarantees, offered to all extremely low-income veterans and all youth aging out of foster care. The budget does continue current support for tenants, with a total of almost $32.8 billion to renew all Housing Choice Vouchers and provide 20,000 new incremental vouchers.

FY24 housing spending set

USDA and HUD are among the federal agencies that now have final appropriations for fiscal year 2024, which began on October 1, 2023. Summaries are available on HAC’s website. Negotiations continue in Congress for the remaining agencies, whose funding is scheduled to run out on March 22.

Most of USDA’s rural housing programs received spending cuts. The Section 502 direct mortgage loan program, for example, was reduced from $1.25 billion in FY23 to $880 million in FY24. The final measure also rescinds $28 million in unused Section 504 grant funds and $35 million in unused Section 542 voucher monies from past years. Many HUD programs were reduced also, with HOME falling from $1.5 billion to $1.25 billion and SHOP from $13.5 million to $12 million. Native American housing saw an increase, however, from $1.02 billion last year to $1.344 billion in FY24.

Secretary Fudge to depart HUD

Secretary Marcia L. Fudge has announced she will leave HUD on March 22 for family reasons. Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman will serve as Acting Secretary.

HAC announces new rental preservation center

The Center for Rural Multifamily Housing Preservation, a cross-disciplinary initiative to preserve rural rental housing, will focus on USDA-financed Section 515 properties, providing technical assistance and expertise to preserve the long-term affordability of this critical housing stock. It will draw on HAC’s unique combination of resources – lending, research, policy, and direct technical assistance – to both preserve individual properties and redefine the preservation process. For more information, contact Kristin Blum, HAC, kristin@ruralhome.org.

March is Women’s History Month

President Biden’s proclamation is posted here and information about federal events and exhibits is here.

RuralSTAT

85% of U.S. counties and Puerto Rico’s municipios have at least one USDA Section 515 property. As of February 2024, USDA’s portfolio included 12,398 Section 515 properties providing 388,572 rental homes for rural households and families. Source: HAC tabulations of USDA data.

OPPORTUNITIES

Indian Housing Block Grant application deadline extended

HUD has extended the original March 19 deadline for the competitive Indian Housing Block Grant to April 19. It also made technical changes in the announcement. For more information, email IHBGCompetitiveProgram@hud.gov.

HUD changes deadline for Service Coordinator funding

Applications for the Service Coordinators in Multifamily Housing program are now due April 9 rather than March 11. For more information, email ServiceCoordinatorNOFO@hud.gov.

Domestic violence survivors support programs include housing

The Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women has several open funding competitions that include housing and/or related services for domestic violence survivors as eligible activities. Deadlines range from March to early May. These include Transitional Housing Assistance Grants (deadline April 11) as well as a program focused on rural residents (deadline April 16), one supporting people with disabilities and deaf people (deadline April 2), two programs for tribes, here and here (deadline for both is April 25), and others.

Funds offered for Building Communities of Recovery program

Provision of recovery housing is an allowable activity under BCOR. Through this program, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (part of the Department of Health and Human Services) supports the development, enhancement, expansion, and delivery of recovery support services for persons with substance use disorders (SUD) and co-occurring substance use and mental disorders (COD). Eligible applicants are independent nonprofits wholly or principally governed by people in recovery from SUD and/or COD who reflect the community being served. Applications are due April 29. Information contacts vary by topic and are listed at the end of the funding notice.

CAPITOL HILL

Senate committee hearing covers rural housing reform bill

The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing March 12 on bipartisan housing bills. Many Senators at the session focused their comments on support for the RHS Reform Act (S. 2790), in hopes of a committee markup for the bill in the near future. HAC supports the RHS Reform Act, which includes a slate of commonsense modernizations to the rural housing programs at USDA, and HAC CEO David Lipsetz testified on the bill in a subcommittee hearing last year. Several other bills that HAC supports were also mentioned during the hearing, including the new Tribal Rural Housing Access Act (S. 3906) introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

FY24 area loan limits in effect for USDA RD single-family programs

The area loan limits for fiscal year 2024 are now available and are reflected in online resources for the Section 502 direct loan program and the Section 504 loan and grant programs. For more information, contact an RD service center.

USDA will not make some HOTMA changes to income calculations

Recent HUD regulations implement changes in calculations of tenant income and assets required by the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act. A waiver notice from USDA Rural Housing Service Administrator Joaquin Altoro announces that USDA will not use one part of HUD’s rule for its tenants, though it will use others. For more information, contact USDA’s multifamily servicing staff.

Buy America FAQs published for some HUD programs

Programs run by HUD’s Community Planning and Development office, including HOME, SHOP, and many others, are covered by a new set of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Build America, Buy America Act. The answers are based on the more detailed implementation guidance recently issued in Notice CPD-2023-12.

Survey seeks Buy America experiences

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials is collecting information to respond to HUD’s recent request for information about the impact of the Build America, Buy America Act. Please take NAHRO’s brief survey by April 5 to help NAHRO advocate for a workable implementation of the law. NAHRO requests one response per agency. This survey will help affordable housing providers complete the work that their communities need. For more information, contact Andrew Van Horn, NAHRO, avanhorn@nahro.org.

EVENTS

CIRD webinars to address design and rural disaster planning

Two webinars on Design and Disaster Planning for Rural Communities, hosted by the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, seek to demystify the process of planning for disasters. Disaster resiliency and response practitioners who center design, arts, and culture in their work will share their approaches and some successful projects, along with concrete best practices and key considerations for rural communities. Part 1 will be held on March 27 and Part 2 on April 17.

Conference will cover heirs’ property and the racial wealth gap

Boston College Law’s Heirs’ Property and the Racial Wealth Gap Conference will take place on March 21-22 and is free to attend either virtually or in person.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Report documents shortage of affordable rentals

The U.S. has a shortage of 7.3 million rental homes affordable and available to renters with extremely low incomes, as documented in The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Nationwide, only 34 affordable and available rental homes exist for every 100 extremely low-income renter households. The report provides data for each state and for major metro areas.

Disease-related death rates growing for working age rural Americans

Twenty-five years ago, “natural-cause mortality” rates were similar in metropolitan areas and places outside metropolitan areas. By 2019, however, the age-adjusted natural-cause mortality rate for the prime working-age population (aged 25-54) was 43% higher outside metropolitan areas, USDA’s Economic Research Service reports. A new ERS study, The Nature of the Rural-Urban Mortality Gap, finds that both an increase in the rural prime working-age rates and a decrease in the corresponding urban rates contribute to this growing gap. Natural-cause death rates did not increase for other age groups. The largest increases were for women in two racial/ethnic groups – non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Natives and non-Hispanic whites – though rates for men in these groups increased also. The more rural an area was, the greater its death rate increase was. ERS researchers did not address possible reasons for their findings, but Covid was not a factor in the data they used, which did not cover periods after 2019.

HAC

HAC is hiring

HAC job listings, each with application instructions, are available on our website.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides 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, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. 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’s office has moved

HAC’s new street address, effective on January 1, 2024, is 1828 L Street, N.W., Suite 505, Washington, DC 20036. Our phone number remains 202-842-8600.

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

Please credit the HAC News and provide a link to HAC’s website. Thank you!