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HAC News: September 16, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 19

TOP STORIES

Fiscal year 2022 will start with a continuing resolution.

Congress has not passed any of the appropriations bills to fund the government for the new fiscal year, which begins on October 1, so a continuing resolution will be needed. Its length has not yet been determined. Information about the appropriations levels proposed for USDA and HUD is posted on HAC’s site.

House bill includes over $5 billion for rural housing.

Substantial funding for USDA and HUD housing programs would be provided in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill now being developed by House committees. The full reconciliation package, which covers social services not included in Congress’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, is expected to pass the House but its fate in the Senate is uncertain.

  • On September 14 the Financial Services Committee passed its portion of the package, which includes funds for new construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of USDA-financed rental properties; Section 521 Rental Assistance; Section 502 direct loans; Section 504 repair grants, and Section 523 self-help housing. Details are posted on HAC’s site.
  • HUD’s Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) would receive an additional $50 million over 10 years.
  • The Agriculture Committee’s section of the package includes $3.87 billion over 10 years for a Rural Partnership Program to support rural development.
  • The Low Income Housing Tax Credit would get an increased allocation each year from 2022 through 2028 under the Ways and Means Committee’s section. Tax credit basis boosts would be provided for some properties, including those in rural or Native American areas. The bill would make several other changes in the program as well.

Census Bureau calculations show aid reduced poverty in 2020.

The Census Bureau’s annual report on income and poverty shows that the official poverty rate rose from 10.4% in 2019 to 11.4% in 2020, the first increase after five consecutive annual declines. When the calculation includes stimulus payments, poverty fell from 11.8% in 2019 to 9.4% in 2020. Using that measurement, poverty in places outside metro areas fell from 11.6% in 2019 to 8.3%. U.S. median household income fell from $69,560 in 2019 to $67,521 in 2020, the first statistically significant decline in median household income since 2011. For places outside metro areas, changes in median income and the official poverty measurement were not statistically significant.

OCC proposes to withdraw CRA regulation.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has issued a notice requesting comment on a proposal to withdraw its controversial 2020 Community Reinvestment Act regulation. The 2020 rule would remain in effect while the banking regulatory agencies develop a new CRA regulation, with a transition period while some aspects of the 2020 rule are replaced. Comments are due October 29. For more information, contact Emily Boyes, OCC, 202-649-5490.

Registration for virtual National Rural Housing Conference coming soon.

HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference is scheduled to take place virtually on November 30-December 3, 2021. With an exciting and full schedule of workshops and new virtual gathering spaces, the conference offers attendees a premier opportunity to learn from experts and connect with the entire affordable housing industry. Be on the lookout for a registration announcement. We look forward to connecting with you this December!

Last chance to nominate individuals or organizations for rural housing awards – deadline extended to Sept. 24!

As part of the 2021 National Rural Housing Conference, HAC will recognize individuals and/or organizations that have, through their continued work and/or newly established initiatives, made a positive and lasting impact in rural America. HAC invites nominations by September 24 of those who have made outstanding and enduring contribution to affordable housing in rural America. This year, HAC will consider each nomination on its own merits, relative to the specified contributions. More details and a list of potential categories are posted on HAC’s site. For more information, contact Miguel Guevara, HAC.

September 15 – October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month.

September is National Preparedness Month.

USDA Rural Development published a guide to RD programs and services that can help with disaster preparedness and recovery, and offers a webpage with information for RD customers.

RuralSTAT

There are nearly 20 million workers in rural America. Source: HAC tabulations of Bureau of Labor Statistics LAUS data.

OPPORTUNITIES

“Scaling down” webinar set for September 28.

HAC presents the second in a series of webinars designed to share innovative solutions for affordable housing developers dealing with escalating prices and implementing additional regulations. “Scaling Down” to Address Rising Costs will share pilot programs to reduce square footage and overall costs while increasing energy efficiency, including partnerships with Auburn University Rural Studio to design small, energy-efficient affordable homes.

Webinars offer training to help residents enroll in Child Tax Credit program.

Free webinars to inform housing and service providers who are helping residents claim the enhanced Child Tax Credit will be offered by the National Housing and Rehabilitation Association on September 24; by HUD on September 24; and by the White House and Treasury Department on September 20.

Survey asks for lessons learned since 2008.

The NHP Foundation, in collaboration with Enterprise Community Partners, invites affordable housing stakeholders to respond to a survey intended to produce a comprehensive look at what has been learned as a result of housing challenges from the Great Recession through the pandemic. The survey should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

HAC seeks Community Facilities Housing Specialist.

The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This includes helping them identify, utilize, and apply for financial resources such as USDA Community Facilities grants and loans. This is a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Input requested on Equitable Housing Finance Plans for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is requiring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to develop Equitable Housing Finance Plans that will identify and address barriers to sustainable housing opportunities, including goals and action plans to advance equity in housing finance for the next three years. Public comments are due October 25 and FHFA will hold a public listening session​ on September 28.

HUD sets requirements for American Rescue Plan Act’s HOME funds.

Notice CPD-21-10 establishes requirements for the use of HOME-ARP funds, which must primarily benefit people experiencing homelessness, at risk of homelessness, or in other vulnerable populations. Several waivers and alternative requirements apply. The setaside for Community Housing Development Organizations is waived, but participating jurisdictions can use up to 5% of their grants to provide capacity-building operating assistance to CHDOs and other nonprofits. HUD also published several fact sheets related to this notice.

FY22 Difficult Development Areas and Qualified Census Tracts listed.

HUD’s annual lists of designations for use in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program have been posted online. For more information, contact Michael K. Hollar, HUD, 202-402-5878.

FEMA widens disaster aid access, including for homeowners without standard titles.

Several changes to FEMA policies are intended to reduce underserved populations’ access to disaster aid. The agency broadened the list of documents that can be used to verify occupancy and ownership. It will allow disaster survivors with heirship properties, travel trailers, and the like to self-certify ownership. Also, assistance will be available for disaster-caused damages even if they did not make a home uninhabitable, and survivors who incur disaster-related disabilities will be eligible for aid to adapt their damaged homes.

Hazard mitigation regulations revised.

FEMA has revised its Hazard Mitigation Assistance and mitigation planning regulations to reflect current statutory authority and agency practice. These regulations cover the Flood Mitigation Assistance grant program, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, financial assistance for property acquisition and relocation of open space, and mitigation planning. For more information, contact Katherine Fox, FEMA, 202-646-1046.

USDA requests comments on broadband rules changes.

USDA’s Rural Utilities Service adopted regulatory changes to implement provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill relating to broadband programs, effective immediately. Comments are due November 9. For more information, contact Laurel Leverrier, RUS, 202-720-9556.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

News consortium plans to expand coverage of rural America.

The Institute for Nonprofit News hopes to uncover the most pressing issues confronting rural communities, with a focus on solutions. Over 50 INN news outlets prioritize coverage of rural communities and will form the basis of this two-year collaboration. The Daily Yonder and Investigate Midwest will serve as hubs for the project. For more information, contact INN.

USDA Community Facilities programs may have reduced pandemic’s impact.

Counties where USDA’s CF programs invested in health care facilities between 2016 and 2020 had lower COVID-19 case and death rates than other counties, regardless of rurality or poverty level, according to USDA’s Community Facilities Program May Help Rural America Cope with COVID-19, published in the magazine of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association. The impact was strongest in remote counties.

Documentaries focusing on rural environmental justice to be shown across five states.

Working Films Rural Cinema, in collaboration with five nonprofit organizations across the country, is showing a total of 20 documentaries in rural communities in Georgia, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Utah.  These organizations intend to use the showings as a way to open a discussion about environmental topics.

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 News: September 2, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 18

TOP STORIES

Supreme Court invalidates eviction moratorium.

The Centers for Disease Control did not have sufficient authority to issue its August 3 eviction moratorium, the Supreme Court ruled on August 26. The court held that the administration cannot impose another moratorium on tenant evictions unless Congress specifically authorizes it. HAC expressed concern about the decision’s impact on rural residents, given that the pandemic and the unprecedented job loss it caused have exacerbated longstanding rural housing challenges. Some state and local eviction limitations remain in place. Resources for tenants, landlords, and homeowners are collected on HAC’s site.

Agencies take steps to assist renters.

Federal agencies have instituted new flexibilities and issued reminders to help tenants who have fallen behind on rent and utilities payments.

  • USDA will work with its multifamily property owners to mitigate evictions. USDA also announced permission for owners to access reserves for operating shortfalls while waiting to receive Emergency Rental Assistance, financial incentives to property management agents that tap ERA to clear arrearages, and increased support from USDA field staff.
  • The Treasury Department issued revised FAQs and an announcement about policy changes intended to help state and local governments and their partners to distribute Emergency Rental Assistance funds.
  • “Shallow Subsidy” rental assistance funds for veteran households are now available nationwide from VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families program.
  • HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Attorney General Merrick Garland encouraged states and localities to act, including imposing eviction moratoriums and connecting eviction proceedings to rent aid applications.

Administration efforts to provide more affordable housing announced.

On September 1, the Biden administration announced a series of actions it intends to take to increase the supply of affordable homes for renters and owners. The provisions include raising the caps on Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit investments and requiring a larger portion of those LIHTC investments be targeted to rural places; increasing financing for CDFIs; emphasizing sale of foreclosed single-family homes to families and nonprofits; and increasing state housing finance agencies’ ability to finance affordable rental housing by restarting the Federal Financing Bank’s support of FHA’s Risk-Sharing Program. The administration also asked state and local governments to remove regulatory barriers.

Budget resolution and infrastructure bill move in House.

The House passed the $3.5 trillion budget resolution on August 24. Next, committees in both the House and the Senate will draft legislative language, including specific amounts for specific programs. The House also moved forward on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, scheduling a vote for September 27. Annual appropriations bills for FY22, which begins on October 1, 2021, have not advanced; Congress will need to adopt a continuing resolution to keep the government functioning beyond September.

Save the date! 2021 National Rural Housing Conference scheduled.

HAC is pleased to announce plans to convene its 2021 National Rural Housing Conference and Training! The conference provides an excellent opportunity to network and improve connections to federal agencies, national intermediary organizations, and other stakeholders. The HAC News will announce when registration opens.

Nominate individuals or organizations for rural housing awards.

As part of the 2021 National Rural Housing Conference, HAC will recognize individuals and/or organizations that have, through their continued work and or newly established initiatives, made a positive and lasting impact in rural America. HAC invites nominations by September 17 of those who have made outstanding and enduring contribution to affordable housing in rural America. This year, HAC will consider each nomination on its own merits, relative to the specified contributions. More details and a list of potential categories are posted on HAC’s site. For more information, contact Miguel Guevara, HAC.

RuralSTAT

Between August 1 and August 31, communities outside of metropolitan areas reported nearly 700,000 new cases of COVID-19 – a 291% increase over the previous 30-day period. Source: HAC tabulations of public health data from the New York Times. A Rural Research Note updating the COVID-19 situation in rural America is available on HAC’s site.

 

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD offers funds for Native American housing.

  • The Indian Housing Block Grant competitive program helps tribes and Tribally Designated Housing Entities maintain, develop, and operate affordable housing. The deadline is December 1. For more information, contact HUD staff.
  • The Indian Community Development Block Grant program will finance tribes to develop community facilities, carry out public works projects, and provide economic development assistance. Apply by October 25. For more information, contact HUD staff.
  • HUD will accept applications for ICDBG funds appropriated by the American Rescue Plan Act in accordance with HUD Notice PIH-2021-22. For more information, contact HUD staff.

Webinar planned on rural community engagement.

CIRD: Models and Practices for Meaningful Community Engagement, scheduled for September 15, will ask what meaningful community engagement work looks like for rural communities. The webinar, sponsored by the Citizens’ Institute for Rural Design, will give participants a chance to share engagement strategies and learn new ways to strengthen community engaged design work. It will also cover engagement in the context of COVID-19 and building greater inclusivity with community members whose identities differ from our own.

HAC seeks Community Facilities Housing Specialist.

The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This includes helping them identify, utilize, and apply for financial resources such as USDA Community Facilities grants and loans. This is a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

“Public charge” comments sought.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is revising the regulation that bars immigrants considered likely to become “public charges” because of their use of government assistance. Comments are due October 22. USCIS will hold virtual listening sessions on September 14 (for the general public) and October 5 (for state, local, and tribal governments and nonprofits). For more information, contact Andrew Parker, USCIS, 240-721-3000.

Reimbursement for non-congregate shelters extended.

FEMA will provide 100% reimbursement for some emergency measures taken through December 31, 2021 by state, local, and tribal governments and nonprofits to protect against immediate threats to life, public health, or property. During the coronavirus disaster, this category includes non-congregate sheltering of people experiencing homelessness.

Input requested on federal homelessness plan.

The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness seeks public comments as it creates a new Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. USICH invites feedback from anyone, particularly people who have experienced or are currently experiencing homelessness; people who serve the LGBT, BIPOC, or veteran communities; and people whose work involves the justice system.

HAC agrees with HUD fair housing rule.

HAC has submitted a comment letter supporting HUD’s proposed cancellation of a fair housing regulation issued by the Trump administration in September 2020. This rule governs fair housing violation claims based on policies or actions with “disparate impacts” on categories of people protected by the Fair Housing Act.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

HAC offers information for survivors of Hurricane Ida and TN floods.

Disaster guides for areas hit by Hurricane Ida and for places in middle Tennessee that flooded on August 21 are posted on HAC’s website.

CDBG-CV Rural Economic Development Quick Guide published.

A new guide from HUD is intended to help states and rural places use Community Development Block Grant CARES Act (CDBG-CV) funding to support the local economic development infrastructure needed for pandemic recovery. The guide covers the economic development needs of rural communities, best practices, and duplication of benefits.

Housing helps Navajo Nation deal with pandemic.

For Navajo, Crowded Homes Have Always Been a Lifeline. The Pandemic Threatens That, an interactive video published by the Washington Post, illustrates both pre-pandemic housing inadequacies on the Navajo Nation and the cultural importance of multi-generational living. About 300 tiny homes have been built near existing residences to allow family members to isolate as necessary.

As federal pandemic relief ends, rural food insecurity is expected to rise.

The Daily Yonder reports in Experts: Food Insecurity in Rural Areas Likely to Increase in Months to Come that as federal benefits such as unemployment assistance expire in September, food insecurity will probably increase. Previous studies have indicated that rural areas have higher rates of food insecurity than the rest of the country.

Rural news providers try to bridge the information divide.

Nieman Reports provides an overview of six rural-based news outlets, including the Daily Yonder, Southerly, the News Reporter, High Country News, Ohio Valley ReSource, and Mountain State Spotlight. These outlets aim to provide culturally competent news that is important to local audiences.

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 News: August 19, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 17

TOP STORIES

Senate passes budget resolution and infrastructure bill.

On August 11, the Senate narrowly approved S.Con.Res. 14, the budget resolution that will serve as a vehicle for the $3.5 trillion economic recovery package. The resolution includes billions of dollars for housing programs, although details are not yet available. The bipartisan infrastructure bill, H.R. 3684, passed the Senate on August 10. The House is scheduled to return on August 23 to take up one or both of these measures, as well as a voting rights bill.

New eviction moratorium challenged in court.

A legal challenge to the moratorium issued August 3 by the Centers for Disease Control was filed by the Alabama and Georgia Associations of Realtors®, the plaintiffs that took a previous challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court. On August 13, the federal district court declined to halt implementation of the moratorium. The plaintiffs have appealed that decision. In a separate case, on August 12 the Supreme Court struck down a part of New York state’s eviction moratorium that protected tenants from eviction if they certified they were experiencing economic hardship, but did not provide a way for landlords to challenge those self-certifications.

Population growth in rural America was small – and uneven – between 2010 and 2020.

Using Census 2010 and 2020 data, combined with methodology from HAC’s Rural and Small-Town definition of location, HAC estimates that the rural population increased by approximately 164,000 residents over the last decade, a 0.3% growth rate. Overall, HAC estimates that approximately 60,551,165 people live in rural communities using the latest Census data. A HAC Rural Research Note analyzes recently released 2020 Census data and includes an interactive map showing population change for every county.

Committee sends Torres Small nomination to the full Senate.

After a July 29 hearing, on August 10 the Senate Agriculture Committee voted to approve the nomination of Xochitl Torres Small to become USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development. A vote by the full Senate is now the final step needed for her confirmation.

Save the date! 2021 National Rural Housing Conference scheduled.

The Housing Assistance Council is pleased to announce plans to convene its 2021 National Rural Housing Conference and Training! The conference provides an excellent opportunity to network and improve connections to federal agencies, national intermediary organizations, and other stakeholders. The HAC News will announce when registration opens.

RuralSTAT

Rural and small-town places in the U.S. experienced only 0.3% population growth from 2010 to 2020, while suburbs and exurbs grew by 11.8%. Source: HAC tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 and 2020 Census of Population and Housing. A Rural Research Note on population growth over the past decade is available on HAC’s site.

OPPORTUNITIES

Emergency Rural Health Care Program offers grants.

Sub-state level governments, nonprofits, and tribes can apply to assist places with up to 20,000 population through the new Emergency Rural Health Care program. Track One will make recovery grants to support immediate financial relief needs. Track Two will provide impact grants to advance ideas and solutions to support the long-term sustainability of rural health care. The deadline for both is October 12. For more information, contact Jamie Davenport, USDA, 202-720-0002.

HAC seeks Community Facilities Housing Specialist.

The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This includes helping them identify, utilize, and apply for financial resources such as USDA Community Facilities grants and loans. This is a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

CORONAVIRUS

Online tool helps tenants use CDC eviction moratorium.

A2J Tech, which describes itself as a social enterprise that builds technology to improve access to justice, offers a free tool for renters to make sure they are eligible for protection under the CDC moratorium and then prepare the declaration they must give to their landlord.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

HUD and FHFA to work together on fair housing and fair lending.

On August 12, HUD and the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced a new memorandum of understanding regarding fair housing and fair lending enforcement. The agencies say the MOU promotes information sharing, coordination on investigations, compliance reviews, and the ongoing monitoring of the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks.

Housing goals proposed for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has proposed goals for Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s purchases of mortgages for low-income and minority owners and renters in 2022-2024. Comments will be due 60 days after the goals are published in the Federal Register. For more information, contact Ted Wartell, FHFA, 202-649-3157.

Fannie Mae will consider rental payments by homebuyers.

Lenders that work with Fannie Mae will be permitted to take positive rental payment histories into account when underwriting first-time mortgage applications. Fannie Mae predicts that allowing homebuyers to demonstrate their credit history this way will enable more people of color to qualify for mortgages.

2021 compliance supplement for audits released.

The 2021 Compliance Supplement to OMB’s Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements applies to audits of fiscal years beginning after June 30, 2020 for nonprofits, state and local governments and tribes receiving federal funds. Comments are due August 30. For more information, contact the relevant federal agency.

OMB recommends steps for federal agencies to advance racial equity.

Study to Identify Methods to Assess Equity: Report to the President, published by the Office of Management and Budget, responds to a provision in President Biden’s Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, which requested recommendations on ways to expand equity assessment in federal agencies. OMB found that equity assessment is still evolving, though a broad range of frameworks and tools have been developed. It suggested expanding opportunities for meaningful stakeholder engagement and instituting long-term change management. Agencies will need to include equity initiatives in their strategic, administrative, budget, and evaluation plans, the report says, and to make key investments in hiring and ongoing workforce training.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Case studies describe hotel/motel conversions to housing.

During the pandemic, numerous states and localities have acquired hotels and motels and rapidly converted them into permanent housing. A set of case studies by the Alliance to End Homelessness describes several such efforts, including statewide programs in Oregon and Vermont that conducted conversions in rural areas as well as cities.

CFPB reports on mortgage servicers’ pandemic responses, will continue monitoring them.

Based on a data review, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported the pandemic responses of 16 large mortgage servicers varied widely. CFPB told servicers to compare the report’s findings to their own internal metrics to identify opportunities for, and demonstrate concrete efforts toward, improvement.

Rural places may lose political power due to population changes.

A Pew Charitable Trusts analysis based on estimates of rural population decline predicts these communities will have less political clout once electoral redistricting occurs. The growing suburban/urban portions of states are likely to gain power.

86% of persistent poverty counties are outside metro areas.

USDA’s Economic Research Service reports 310 counties – 10% of all U.S. counties – had high and persistent levels of poverty in 2019. Of those, 267 counties were outside metropolitan areas and were concentrated in historically poor areas of the Mississippi Delta, Appalachia, the Black Belt, and the southern border regions, as well as on Native American lands.

Hispanics overrepresented in worker deaths from heat.

A National Public Radio report, Heat Is Killing Workers in the U.S. – and There are No Federal Rules to Protect Them, describes an increase in worker deaths due to environmental heat exposure. Hispanics, who are 17% of the U.S. workforce, account for a third of heat fatalities since 2010 because they are overrepresented in vulnerable jobs such as farm work and construction. Improved regulations may not be enough to protect workers, however; California is one of the few states with heat rules, but annual worker heat deaths there have remained steady over the past decade.

Guide addresses tenant issues in tax credit properties.

An Advocate’s Guide to Tenants’ Rights in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program, published by the National Housing Law Project, covers evictions, rent calculations, and eligibility.

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 News: August 5, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 16

TOP STORIES

Eviction moratorium for renters expires, new limited moratorium issued.

The federal moratorium on eviction of tenants facing pandemic-related economic issues, which had been in place since the Centers for Disease Control imposed it in September 2020, expired on July 31. On August 3, CDC issued a new moratorium that applies through October 3 in “U.S. counties experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission” of the coronavirus, currently a large portion of the country. While this version is in effect, individual counties’ eligibility will change based on data tracked by the CDC, which categorizes the transmission rate in each county as high, substantial, moderate, or low. Resources for renters needing assistance to pay rent or utilities are compiled in many places online, including on HAC’s website.

Eviction moratoriums for defaulting homeowners extended to September 30.

Homeowners who have defaulted on federally backed mortgages are protected against evictions by moratoriums extended through September 30 by USDA for Section 502 direct borrowers and Section 502 guaranteed borrowers, VA, the Federal Housing Administration, and the Federal Housing Finance Administration (which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). These agencies did not, however, extend their moratoriums on foreclosure: those expired on July 31. The extended eviction moratoriums are intended to give foreclosed homeowners enough time to find financial assistance or to move. Information about mortgage forbearance (delayed payments) and other options for homeowners is available from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and each agency offers aid to its homeowners.

Save the date! 2021 National Rural Housing Conference scheduled.

The Housing Assistance Council is pleased to announce plans to convene its 2021 National Rural Housing Conference and Training! The conference provides an excellent opportunity to network and improve connections to federal agencies, national intermediary organizations, and other vested stakeholders. The HAC News will announce when registration opens.

Senate committee approves USDA funding bill, House passes USDA and HUD bills.

On August 4 the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a fiscal year 2022 funding bill for USDA. Details are posted on HAC’s site. Like the House bill, the Senate version would provide modest increases for some rural housing programs. It would take a different approach to rental housing preservation, increasing the Section 515 program from $40 million in FY21 to $92 million in FY22, while setting the Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization program at the $32 million figure requested in the administration’s budget. The House would keep Section 515 at $40 million and increase MPR to $60 million. The next step in the process will be full Senate consideration of the committee’s bill. The House passed H.R. 4502, a “minibus” package of seven appropriations bills, including USDA’s and HUD’s, on July 27.

Infrastructure deal moves forward without housing.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill under consideration in the Senate, H.R. 3684, does not provide any housing funding. It does include $2 billion for USDA’s rural broadband programs.

Confirmation hearing held for Torres Small.

The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing July 29 on the nominations of Xochitl Torres Small to be Under Secretary for Rural Development at USDA and Robert Bonnie to be Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. The committee has not yet voted whether to send either nomination to the full Senate for consideration.

RuralSTAT

Between July 1 and July 31, communities outside of metropolitan areas reported 178,000 new cases of COVID-19 – a 171% increase over the previous 30-day period. Source: HAC tabulations of public health data from the New York Times. A Rural Research Brief updating the COVID-19 situation in rural America is available on HAC’s site.  

OPPORTUNITIES

USDA farm labor housing loans and grants available.

From September 1 to November 1, USDA will accept pre-applications for Section 514 loans and Section 516 grants for off-farm farmworker housing. The funding notice published on February 2 provides details. For more information, contact Abby Boggs, USDA, 615-490-1371.

HUD offers Healthy Homes Production grants.

Nonprofits and state, local, and tribal governments can apply by October 19 for the Healthy Homes Production Grant Program, which addresses housing-related hazards in a coordinated fashion, rather than a single hazard at a time. For more information, contact Yolanda Brown, HUD, 202-903-9576.

VA two-year rental assistance funds can be used nationwide.

The Supportive Services for Veteran Families program offers several kinds of aid, including rental assistance for low-income veterans who might otherwise be homeless. In a few high-cost counties (listed here, with additions listed here), grantees have been permitted to provide rental assistance for up to two years before recertification. Describing the lack of affordable housing as “a national crisis,” VA is now extending this two-year provision to all counties and county equivalents throughout the U.S. and territories, effective immediately. For more information, contact John Kuhn, VA, 202-632-8596.

Economic development funding offered.

The Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration has opened several competitions, including one for Indigenous communities and one for coal communities, intended to assist economic recovery in previously underserved places impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Application deadlines vary, with the earliest on October 19.

Green building webinar scheduled by HAC.

“Build Smart” Webinar Series Part 1: Green Building Case Studies, scheduled for August 12, will showcase several projects that are successfully implementing Green Building practices in their affordable housing developments and share their best practices for green building on a budget and constructing net zero energy homes for low-income buyers.

Investing in rural infrastructure webinar announced.

Investing in Infrastructure: Rural Strategies for Building and Maintaining Healthy Local Economies, scheduled for August 16, will explore why new federal funding presents a momentous opportunity to invest in rural physical infrastructure and how communities can effectively take advantage of this funding to build thriving rural places. This is the latest in the Rural Opportunity and Development (ROAD) Sessions, virtual exchanges co-designed and hosted by the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, HAC, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Rural LISC, and the Federal Reserve Board.

Broadband improvement campaign needs consumer input.

Let’s Broadband Together, a project of Consumer Reports and a coalition of other groups, invites people with internet access to contribute information for a campaign aimed at improving access quality and cost. The process, which CR estimates takes seven minutes, includes an online test of the consumer’s internet speed, sharing an internet bill, and answering a few questions.

HAC job openings: Portfolio Management Associate and Community Facilities Housing Specialist.

For details, visit HAC’s website.

  • The Portfolio Management Associate is an entry-level position and will assist in managing HAC’s portfolio of loans made to entities engaged in affordable housing activities in rural communities throughout the United States. This individual will assist in a range of lending activities – including closing, disbursement, monitoring, and servicing single- and multifamily housing development loans – in the Loan Fund Division.
  • The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This includes helping them identify, utilize and apply for financial resources such as USDA Community Facilities grants and loans. This is a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

CORONAVIRUS

COVID-19 infection rates have resurged in rural America.

COVID-19’s impact on rural America continues to evolve. After declining case rates and signs of optimism, infection rates have begun to increase again in rural communities with certain areas and regions experiencing distressing levels of new COVID-19 cases. HAC’s latest Rural Research Brief, COVID-19 in Rural America, July 31, 2021, examines the health, employment, and housing impacts over the entire course of the pandemic.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Heirs’ Property Relending Program nears launch.

USDA expects to open a two-month signup window in late August for Community Development Financial Institutions to apply for funds they will relend to agricultural producers and landowners facing heirs’ land ownership and succession issues. Heirs who inherited family land without a will or legal documentation of ownership may use the loans to resolve title issues by financing the purchase or consolidation of property interests and financing costs associated with a succession plan. Comments on the program’s final rule are due October 8. For more information, contact Md Mutaleb, Farm Service Agency, 202-720-3168.

HUD to release FY22 Fair Market Rents.

Fair Market Rents that take effect on October 1 will be available on August 6. Comments are due September 30.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Rural U.S. economies will benefit from expanded Child Tax Credit, study concludes.

The effect of the one-year Child Tax Credit expansion will be proportionally greatest in places outside metropolitan areas, according to Measuring the Child Tax Credit’s Economic and Community Impact, a new report from the Niskanen Center. Researchers calculated the total dollar amounts the CTC expansion will generate and their impacts on household spending, state and local sales tax revenue, and jobs. Estimates are reported by state and congressional district.

Annual fair housing report shows increased harassment in 2020.

The National Fair Housing Alliance’s 2021 Fair Housing Trends Report provides an analysis of housing discrimination complaints filed last year at the local, state, and national levels. While the overall number of housing discrimination claims remained consistent in 2020, more than 1,000 harassment claims were reported, compared to 761 in 2019. Asian American and Pacific Islander communities reported a rise in harassment, and claims of sexual harassment also rose among tenants who were unable to pay their rent due to job loss or unemployment.

Lost rent means small landlords defer maintenance.

An Urban Institute analysis of May 2021 data found that 28% of “mom-and-pop” landlords deferred maintenance during the pandemic. Finances were the reason most commonly cited, and 41% of landlords who lost rental income deferred maintenance compared with 18% of those who did not lose rental income.

COVID-19 impact on farmers, farmworkers, and productivity estimated.

Researchers from Purdue University estimated the number of cases and deaths among farmers and farmworkers from March 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 and concluded the pandemic reduced U.S. agricultural output by about $309 million over that period. Purdue’s Food and Agriculture Vulnerability Index Dashboard provides cumulative estimates, updated daily, for workers across every state and several commodities.

Data on Native American labor market available.

The Center for Indian Country Development at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank has created a Native American Labor Market Dashboard to provide data on labor force participation, employment, and unemployment. The site allows users to compare American Indians and Alaska Natives to the entire U.S. population, and to compare residents of metropolitan areas with those outside metro areas.

Primer aims to help build healthy rural places.

The Build Healthy Places Network has published A Primer for Multi-Sector Health Partnerships in Rural Areas and Small Cities to provide guidance on cross-sector collaboration between the community development, finance, public health, and healthcare sectors.

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 News: July 22, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 15

TOP STORIES

FY22 housing funding to be considered in House before end of July.

The House of Representatives has rolled several appropriations bills, including the USDA and HUD bills, into a “minibus” for consideration during the week of July 26. The measures, as approved by the House Appropriations Committee, would increase some USDA rural housing programs and most HUD programs above their FY21 funding levels. The committee’s draft report on the USDA bill urges attention to farmworkers’ needs, while the draft report on HUD funding encourages support for Central Appalachian communities impacted by the downturn in the coal industry and gives HUD some specific instructions on its FY22 funding competition for Native American housing grants.

OCC will propose rescinding 2020 Community Reinvestment Act rule.

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu announced on July 20 that his office will propose reversing the CRA regulation it issued in June 2020, which has not yet gone into effect. He pledged to work with the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which did not join the OCC’s 2020 rule, to develop a new proposal based on a Fed notice published in October 2020. HAC’s comments on the Fed’s notice and on an earlier draft of the OCC’s 2020 rule are posted online.

Bills outline House Democrats’ housing infrastructure priorities.

Three bills introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), chair of the House Financial Services Committee, would provide new support for housing programs, including rural housing. Although the administration included housing funds in its American Jobs Plan infrastructure proposal, housing is not covered in the Senate’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and it is not yet clear what housing provisions will be in the Senate Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, which will also address healthcare, climate change, and more. The three Waters bills are intended to mark the Chairwoman’s housing priorities for the reconciliation package, with negotiations not expected to begin in earnest until this fall after the bipartisan package is completed.

Waters’s Housing is Infrastructure Act would invest over $600 billion in housing infrastructure, including vouchers, public housing capital needs, the National Housing Trust Fund, HOME, and other HUD programs. Many of the HUD provisions include a 10% setaside for areas of persistent poverty. Additionally, the bill would provide $5 billion to fully address the capital needs backlog of the Section 515 and 514 rural housing programs, $500 million for Section 504 homeowner repair grants (not restricted to elderly owners, as the grant program usually is), $2 billion for Native American and Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grants, and setasides of $2 billion and $250 million in CDBG funds to address the housing and community infrastructure needs of colonias and resident-owned manufactured housing communities, respectively. A $10 billion program for neighborhood revitalization would include $250 million for SHOP and a $500 million setaside for communities outside metropolitan areas.

The Ending Homelessness Act would transform the Housing Choice Voucher program into a federal entitlement and the Downpayment Toward Equity Act would provide $100 billion to help first-generation homebuyers.

Housing costs remain out of reach throughout the country.

There is no state, county, or metropolitan area in the U.S. where a full-time minimum-wage worker can afford a modest two-bedroom rental home, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Out of Reach: The High Cost of Housing 2021 report. Data is available by county, zip code, state, and metro area on NLIHC’s site.

OMB will not raise population threshold for metro areas.

On January 19, 2021, OMB published a proposal to change its definition of metropolitan statistical areas so that an area would need a population of at least 100,000 rather than 50,000 to be considered metropolitan. After receiving more than 800 comments, the vast majority of them – including HAC’s – opposing the change, OMB has decided to keep the metro area threshold at 50,000 and to conduct further research on the subject. Delineations of areas based on the 2020 standards and 2020 Census data will be published in 2023. For more information, contact Bob Sivinski, OMB, 202-395-1205.

House committee advances rural broadband bill.

On July 14 the House Agriculture Committee approved H.R. 4374, the Broadband Internet Connections for Rural America Act, which would revise USDA’s broadband programs and increase available funding.

OPPORTUNITIES

Self-Sufficiency Service Coordinator funds available.

Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency Service Coordinator funding enables nonprofits, PHAs, TDHEs, tribes, and resident associations to assess HUD-assisted residents’ needs and link them to training and services. Applications are due September 17. For more information, contact HUD staff, ROSS-PIH@hud.gov.

Pandemic-related fair housing enforcement opportunity opens.

The Fair Housing Initiatives Program – Private Enforcement Initiative American Rescue Plan will fund experienced fair housing enforcement organizations to conduct new projects relating to discrimination arising in connection with the pandemic or to sustain core fair housing enforcement and education activities. Apply by August 18. For more information, contact Kimberly Harley, HUD, 202-402-4753.

HAC seeks Community Facilities Housing Specialist.

The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This includes helping them identify, utilize, and apply for financial resources such as USDA Community Facilities grants and loans. This is a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

RuralSTAT – UPDATE AND RETRACTION.

HAC has received several questions and comments regarding the RuralSTAT on ‘USDA Exited Properties’ published in the July 22 edition of the HAC News. While we believe the analysis is substantively accurate, there have been some concerns and discrepancies identified with the underlying data used for that RuralSTAT analysis. Therefore, HAC is retracting this item and we will work to provide an updated analysis as soon as possible.  We greatly thank the robust body of experts and practitioners who alerted HAC to these issues. HAC strives to provide the most accurate data and information, and we thank you for assisting us in this effort. If you have questions or need any assistance, please contact Lance George at lance@ruralhome.org.

CORONAVIRUS

Rent aid to tenants increased in June, researchers suggest ways to improve distribution.

As the July 31 end of the federal eviction moratorium approaches, the Treasury Department reports that over $1.5 billion in federal assistance was delivered to 290,000 households in June, about 85% more households than in May. Census Bureau data shows that in late June and early July 3.6 million households believed they were “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to be evicted in the next two months. Resources discussing ways to improve distribution of these funds and prevent evictions include:

GAO reports on effectiveness of pandemic protections for homeowners.

A new Government Accountability Office report, COVID-19 Housing Protections: Mortgage Forbearance and Other Federal Efforts Have Reduced Default and Foreclosure Risks, details the impact of pandemic housing protections on federally backed mortgages. The report, accompanying podcast, and summary blog post highlight that foreclosures declined significantly during the pandemic because of federal moratoriums.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

USDA extends comment period on advancing racial justice and equity.

Responses are now due August 14 to USDA’s request for comments to help identify barriers that people of color and underserved communities and individuals may face in accessing, enrolling in, and participating in any of USDA’s programs and services, and engaging with USDA staff. USDA has also scheduled online listening sessions on July 28 and 29. For more information, contact Liz Archuleta, USDA, 202-720-7095. HAC has submitted comments addressing actions needed to build capacity, improve access to capital, increase flexibility, and engage with stakeholders.

HAC supports fair housing regulation.

HAC recently submitted comments strongly supporting HUD’s proposal to restore part of a previous affirmatively furthering fair housing regulation.

Timeline set for Section 538 final inspections.

Effective immediately, USDA Rural Development requires lenders using the Section 538 rental housing guarantee program to notify RD staff at least 30 days before the final inspection date. Contact information and details are included in RD’s notice.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Farmworker wage gap persisted in 2020.

Although farmworkers were deemed essential to sustain food supply chains during the pandemic, their average hourly wage in 2020 was only $14.62, the Economic Policy Institute reports. That is just under 60% of what comparable non-agricultural workers made, a wage gap that was virtually unchanged since the previous year. The average nationwide wage for farmworkers with H-2A visas was $13.68 per hour. In Florida and Georgia, where a quarter of all H-2A jobs were located in 2020, they were paid $11.71 per hour.

Lack of clear title to heirs property leads to disaster aid denials.

A Washington Post story, ‘The Real Damage’: Why FEMA is Denying Disaster Aid to Black Families That Have Lived for Generations in the Deep South, reports that FEMA has rejected up to one-quarter of applicants for disaster aid in rural counties in the deep South because survivors cannot prove they own their land. Their ownership passes informally from one generation to another without deeds or wills.

Wealth gap and other structural inequities addressed in State of Black America report.

The 2021 edition of the National Urban League’s State of Black America report looks at “three pandemics”: economic collapse, health inequities, and structural racism. Increasing homeownership to build wealth is one of many strategies proposed in the report, titled “The New Normal: Diverse, Equitable & Inclusive.”

Hispanic homeownership rate rose in 2020.

Latinos are the only demographic in the U.S. to increase their rate of homeownership for each of the past six years, according to the 2020 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report, just released by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals and the Hispanic Wealth Project. Latino homeownership rates vary widely from state to state and are lower in places with higher home prices. Almost 70% of Latino homebuyers have an annual household income below $100,000. Financing designed to serve first-time homebuyers and low wealth borrowers is important for this population, the report notes.

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 News: July 8, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 14

TOP STORIES

Federal agencies extend many housing protections to July 31.

The Centers for Disease Control eviction moratorium for renters was extended through July 31. USDA, VA, FHA, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have extended their foreclosure moratoriums for homeowners through July 31. Homeowners with loans made, insured, or guaranteed by those agencies can also request forbearance (a delay in making mortgage payments) at least through July 31 and in some cases after that. The administration has stated that it does not expect to issue further extensions.

State, local, and tribal agencies have funds available to cover rent and other housing needs from two rounds of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, as well as other federal relief. The Treasury Department updated its ERA guidance on June 24.

Information is available from many sources, including these:

Supreme Court leaves eviction moratorium in effect.

On June 29 the Supreme Court issued an opinion keeping the CDC moratorium operational while a federal appeals court considers a challenge to its constitutionality.

House committee approves USDA FY22 appropriations bill.

On June 30 the House Appropriations Committee approved its USDA funding bill, making no changes to the rural housing figures supported by a subcommittee on June 25. The bill proposes to increase funding levels above FY21 levels, and in some cases above the amounts proposed in the administration’s budget, for Section 502 direct and guaranteed mortgage loans, Rental Assistance, self-help housing, the Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization program, and others. Details are posted on HAC’s website, along with language from the committee’s draft report urging USDA to pay particular attention to the needs of farmworkers.

RuralSTAT

In counties outside metropolitan areas, the unemployment rate continued a declining trend to 4.7%. Source: HAC Tabulations of May 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics LAUS data.

OPPORTUNITIES

Arts organizations from rural areas and Indian Country encouraged to apply for NEA grants.

The National Endowment for the Arts is actively seeking first-time applicants that work in rural America and Indian Country to apply for American Rescue Plan grants to cover salaries, stipends, and general operating costs. Nonprofit arts and culture organizations, local governments, federally recognized tribal communities or tribes, and local arts agencies are eligible, regardless of whether they have received NEA funding in the past. The NEA offers a webinar on July 8 for rural and Indian Country applicants. The deadline for most applicants is August 12. The deadline for arts agencies that will make subgrants is July 22.

Online training will cover energy efficient, affordable housing.

Strategies for Achieving Energy Efficient, Affordable Housing, a HAC webinar scheduled for July 14, will provide insight into energy efficient construction practices, including how to maximize energy efficiency while keeping costs in check. Learn the role of Home Energy Raters in the design and construction process and see the specifications for homes that are achieving varying levels of energy efficiency. Finally, you will see what it takes to achieve a net-zero home – one that produces as much energy as it uses on an annual basis.

Webinar to highlight rural climate-smart solutions.

On July 16, Pathfinders: Climate-Smart Solutions from Rural America and Native Nations will address innovations, including ways rural organizations build and retrofit more energy-efficient homes and offer new community energy options intentionally designed to build more financial stability for low-wealth people. This is the latest in the Rural Opportunity and Development (ROAD) Sessions, virtual exchanges co-designed and hosted by the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, HAC, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Rural LISC, and the Federal Reserve Board.

HAC seeks Community Facilities Housing Specialist.

The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This includes helping them identify, utilize, and apply for financial resources such as USDA Community Facilities grants and loans. This is a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Comments requested on fair lending policy statement.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency seeks input on a policy statement that is intended to guide the entities it regulates – Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks – on their compliance with fair lending laws and regulations. Comments are due September 7. For more information, contact Annalyce Shufelt, FHFA, 202-649-3416.

Administration pledges to address housing for people returning from prisons and jails.

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge recently clarified that people who are at risk of homelessness after leaving incarceration are eligible for temporary Emergency Housing Vouchers. She noted that recent incarceration and homelessness are often connected and that, because of the racial disparities in the criminal justice system, addressing reentry housing needs helps advance equity. HUD also plans to review regulations, develop new tools, and publish best practices on reentry housing. These actions are part of an administration strategy to address gun crime and ensure public safety.

USDA and others to coordinate broadband funds.

USDA, the Federal Communications Commission, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration have signed an interagency agreement to share information and coordinate the distribution of broadband deployment funds.

HAC recommends federal actions for rural equity.

HAC recently submitted comments in response to an Office of Management and Budget request for input on whether federal agency policies and actions equitably serve all eligible individuals and communities, including rural residents. Noting that rural and persistently poor places have historically been and continue to be underserved by federal programs, HAC recommended a focus on capacity building, access to capital, and proactive and deliberate tailoring of federal programs to produce lasting rural equity.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Guide covers affordable housing providers’ role in addressing natural disasters.

Affordable Housing and Natural Disasters: A Practitioner’s Guidebook, published by the California Coalition for Rural Housing, is intended as a primer on the current state of disaster issues for affordable housing practitioners and a means of familiarizing disaster planners with innovations from the affordable housing sector. It covers the four major phases of the disaster cycle – mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery – and includes case studies from rural California.

Researchers skeptical about remote work’s economic impact on heartland.

Secondary tech centers and metropolitan areas away from the coasts, rather than distressed smaller places, seem to be benefitting from recent corporate relocations out of major cities, Brookings Institution researchers suggest in an article titled Remote Work Won’t Save the Heartland. Their analysis of data on individual moves shows also that only a fraction of people who moved out of the largest metro areas in 2020 moved to Heartland or Mountain West states.

Hot housing market changes rural community.

The Daily Yonder reports on the positive and negative impacts of the booming demand for market-rate housing in Short-Term Rentals and High-End Buyers Wipe Out Affordable Housing in Joshua Tree, Say Residents.

Need-tested benefits cut child poverty in half, research concludes.

To examine the likely situation after temporary pandemic-related supports end, the Congressional Research Service used data from 2017, a year of economic growth, to estimate the impact of assistance such as housing and food aid that are provided to recipients based on their incomes. Need-Tested Benefits: Impact of Assistance on Poverty Experienced by Low-Income Families and Individuals reports that this aid improves family economic wellbeing by reducing both the prevalence and degree of poverty, particularly for families with children.

Survey finds homeownership disparities largely unchanged over the past year.

NeighborWorks America’s 2021 Housing and Financial Capability Survey, conducted in April, found more Americans said they need guidance on building credit and reducing debt than one year earlier, and more were interested in financial planning classes. Among those who were financially challenged by the coronavirus pandemic, 73% said it would take six months or more to recover, and 46% said it would take a year or more. Socioeconomic disparities in homeownership rates were unchanged over the year, as were obstacles to homeownership.

32% of federally assisted housing at high risk from natural hazards.

In a new report, the Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation and the National Low Income Housing Coalition examine the risk of harm to project-based federally assisted properties from climate-related events. A larger proportion of these households than of those without housing aid are at high risk of the negative impacts of these hazards and are less likely to have the supplies and resources to evacuate or prepare. The danger is greatest for households of color in assisted housing.

Low-income disaster survivors get less help from FEMA.

Why FEMA Aid is Unavailable to Many Who Need it the Most, a story from National Public Radio, covers FEMA’s failure to equitably serve marginalized racial groups and low-income people after disasters. An internal FEMA analysis of aid requests between 2014 and 2018 found that the poorest renters were 23% less likely than higher-income renters to get housing help. The poorest homeowners received about half as much as higher-income homeowners to rebuild their homes, a disparity greater than the difference in repair costs.

Lack of affordable housing leaves Latinx residents vulnerable to wildfires.

The shortage of affordable housing forces a disproportionate number of Latinx residents in the western U.S. to live in places seriously threatened by wildfire, according to a data analysis summarized by Politico in Wildfires Threaten All of the West – And One Group More Than Others. Latinx people are about 18% of the U.S. population but 37% of those who live in the areas identified as facing the most extreme wildfire risks.

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 News: June 24, 2021

June 24, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 13

TOP STORIES

President can replace FHFA director at will, Supreme Court rules.

In a decision issued on June 23, the Supreme Court invalidated a provision of the Federal Housing Finance Authority’s governing statute that allowed the president to remove FHFA’s director only for cause. Director Mark Calabria immediately resigned and President Biden named Sandra L. Thompson the agency’s acting director.

Federal eviction and foreclosure moratoriums extended to July 31.

On June 24, Centers for Disease Control Director Rochelle Walensky announced an extension until July 31 of the federal moratorium on evictions of tenants whose finances have been impacted by the pandemic. CDC’s extension order states that, “absent an unexpected change in the trajectory of the pandemic, CDC does not plan to extend the Order further.” The Federal Housing Finance Agency also extended to July 31 its moratorium on foreclosures and evictions of homeowners whose mortgages are owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Additional federal actions and guidance to assist tenants and homeowners are described in a White House fact sheet.

Congress begins work on FY22 spending bills.

The House Appropriations Committee released its FY22 bill for USDA on June 24 and its Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to mark up the bill on June 25. The bill proposes higher funding levels than the administration’s budget for rental housing preservation and for home repairs. See HAC’s website for more details. The House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee markup is set for July 12. The full House committee will review the USDA bill on June 30 and the HUD bill on July 16. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet released its schedule.

HUD proposes to reinstate fair housing disparate impact rule.

A proposed rule would cancel the regulatory changes proposed by the Trump administration in September 2020. The 2020 changes have not gone into effect because of a preliminary injunction issued in a lawsuit challenging them. Comments are due August 24 on HUD’s proposal to reinstate its 2013 rule, which has remained in effect while the lawsuit proceeds. For more information, contact Kathleen M. Pennington, HUD, 202-402-3330.

Torres Small nominated for RD Under Secretary.

President Biden has nominated Xochitl Torres Small, formerly a member of Congress from New Mexico, to serve as USDA’s Under Secretary for Rural Development. HAC CEO David Lipsetz commented, “She’s a leader dedicated to the communities @usdaRD serves, and she’d do great work at its helm.” The previous administration had eliminated this position. After stakeholders, including HAC, objected, Congress reinstated it in the 2018 Farm Bill, but only the Deputy Under Secretary position was filled.

Pandemic amplified housing inequities, reports Harvard’s Joint Center.

The State of the Nation’s Housing 2021 reports that, even as the U.S. economy recovers from the effects of the pandemic, millions who lost income are behind on housing payments and on the brink of eviction or foreclosure. Households with low incomes and people of color comprise a disproportionately large share of those at risk. The authors conclude that further government support, in addition to the steps taken so far, will be necessary to ensure that all households benefit from the expanding economy. HAC is a sponsor of the State of the Nation’s Housing report, which is published by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

RuralSTAT

Issuance of permits for new housing construction fell in core counties of large metro areas in 2020, but increased 12% in their suburban counties, 10% in smaller metros, and 9% outside metro areas. Source: State of the Nation’s Housing 2021.

OPPORTUNITIES

USDA’s new RISE program will fund job accelerators.

The Rural Innovation Stronger Economy program offers grants to support job accelerator partnerships that improve the ability of distressed rural and energy communities to create high wage jobs, accelerate the formation of new businesses, and identify and maximize local assets. Nonprofits, for-profits, local governments, tribes, and others are eligible and can apply by August 2. For more information, contact an RD state office. Comments are due August 16 on the Rural Business-Cooperative Service’s final rule for the program, which took effect on June 15. For more information on the rule, contact Sami Zarour, USDA, 202-720-1400.

Healthy Homes and Weatherization Cooperation Demonstration grants offered.

HUD will make grants for demonstrations that coordinate HUD’s Lead Hazard Reduction Healthy Homes program with the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program to determine whether this coordinated delivery of services achieves cost-effectiveness and better outcomes. Deadline is August 17. For more information, contact Brenda M. Reyes, HUD, 202-402-6745.

IRS tool helps non-filers claim child tax credits and economic impact payments.

People who were not required to file 2020 income tax returns can use an online IRS sign-up tool to claim the Child Tax Credit provided by the American Rescue Plan. Part of this credit will be paid in monthly installments from July through December 2021 rather than, as is usually the case, requiring parents to wait until they file their tax returns to claim it. The tool also allows non-filers to request Economic Impact Payments (also known as stimulus checks) from any of the three rounds of coronavirus relief.

HAC seeks Community Facilities Housing Specialist.

The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This includes helping them identify, utilize, and apply for financial resources such as USDA Community Facilities grants and loans. This is a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

CORONAVIRUS

“Neighborhoods with highest eviction filing rates have lowest levels of COVID-19 vaccination.”

Princeton University’s Eviction Lab reports that, in nine cities for which data was available, the zip codes with higher eviction filing rates were more likely to have lower vaccination rates. The highest eviction rates tend to be in neighborhoods with high Black and Latinx populations.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

USDA seeks input on advancing racial justice and equity for underserved communities.

The department requests comments to help identify barriers that people of color and underserved communities and individuals may face in accessing, enrolling in, and participating in any of USDA’s programs and services, and engaging with USDA staff. Responses are due July 15. For more information, contact Liz Archuleta, USDA, 202-720-7095.

Disparities in home appraisals under review.

On June 1 the Biden administration announced new efforts to reduce the racial wealth gap, including an interagency initiative to address inequity in home appraisals. According to Politico, the working group, led by HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, will begin work in July and produce a report within 180 days. CFPB also recently held a virtual discussion on the subject.

Fact sheet updated for USDA tenants displaced by natural disasters.

Current USDA RD multifamily tenants displaced by natural disasters have priority eligibility for other properties financed by USDA or HUD. USDA has updated its fact sheet for tenants, available in English and Spanish.

Courts put debt relief for disadvantaged farmers on hold.

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on June 23 temporarily blocking the administration’s program to pay off farm loans for disadvantaged farmers and ranchers while the court considers a suit brought by white farmers challenging the plan. Another federal judge had issued an order pausing the program on June 10, and additional lawsuits have been filed.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Podcast reimagines rural policy.

A new three-part series from the Brookings Institution and the Rural Matters podcast urges a change in the federal approach to rural policy. The first episode focuses on rethinking rural policy, episode two looks at designing policy to best serve diverse rural populations, and the third episode highlights the importance of capacity building as a vehicle for improving rural communities. Rural Matters is available on all major podcast platforms.

FAQs and tips on Emergency Housing Vouchers available.

A National Housing Law Project summary answers questions and offers advocacy suggestions for HUD’s new Emergency Housing Vouchers, which have some important differences from Housing Choice Vouchers.

Annual Kids Count report shows disparate outcomes.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2021 KIDS COUNT Data Book presents figures and trends on child well-being through 2019 and looks at the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on children’s access to food, health care, housing, and education. The analysis finds that, despite gains for children of all races and income levels before the pandemic, nearly all index measures show children experience disparate outcomes based on race/ethnicity and income. AECF recommends making the expansion of the federal Child Tax Credit permanent, strengthening state and local policies affecting children and families, and prioritizing racial and ethnic equity in policymaking.

Commerce Department maps broadband needs.

A new interactive digital map from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration shows data at the county, census tract, and census block level for key indicators of broadband need: broadband access, speed, and availability of equipment, as well as poverty. Data can also be viewed for tribal lands.

“As the climate emergency grows, farmworkers lack protection from deadly heat.”

Civil Eats reports on studies by the Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future that describe the inadequate legal protections for farmworkers’ health and the public health threats they face, including danger from extreme heat.

“Rural Kansas is falling far short of supplying needed housing. The shortfall is stifling hopes of growth.”

The Topeka Capital-Journal covers how the limited supply of housing is fueling skyrocketing prices. The barriers to building new homes can be described by the “five Ls”: labor, land, lending, laws, and lumber. Currently, the costs to build houses in rural areas require prices higher than local residents can afford.

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 News: June 10, 2021

June 10, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 12

TOP STORIES

HAC honors the legacy of Gordon Cavanaugh.

Gordon Cavanaugh, who served as HAC’s first Executive Director from 1971 until President Carter appointed him to lead the Farmers Home Administration in 1977, passed away on May 26 at the age of 93. Throughout his long career in affordable housing, Gordon was an inspiring leader and a fierce advocate. His commitment to serving the poorest of the poor still lies at the heart of HAC’s work.

USDA housing budget proposes increases in Section 502 mortgages and rental preservation, HUD budget would raise many programs’ funding.

The Biden administration’s first full budget request would increase the Section 502 direct loan program from $1 billion to $1.5 billion and Section 502 guarantees from $24 billion to $30 billion. Fiscal year 2022 funding for most other rural housing programs would remain at the same levels as in FY21. The budget proposes to eliminate some protections for Section 521 Rental Assistance. It also indicates that the American Jobs Plan – the administration’s infrastructure proposal – would provide an additional $2 billion in rural housing spending, without providing details. Under the administration’s FY22 HUD request, HOME and CDBG would see large funding increases, as would Native American and Native Hawaiian housing programs, tenant vouchers, and programs that serve people experiencing homelessness, elders, people with disabilities, people with AIDS, and more. The SHOP program would remain at its FY21 level of $10 million. In addition to the budget proposal, the infrastructure plan would provide significant funding for many HUD programs. Each house of Congress will now craft its own proposal and differences will be worked out in the months to come.

2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule partially reinstated, disparate impact changes expected soon.

HUD has issued an interim regulation, effective on July 31, 2021, that repeals its August 2020 AFFH regulation and reinstates definitions and certifications from the AFFH rule it adopted in 2015. This interim final rule does not require jurisdictions receiving HUD funding to undertake any specific type of fair housing planning to support their certifications, but HUD offers assistance to jurisdictions that choose to do so. HUD will issue a separate proposal on implementation of AFFH obligations, stating that it “will seek to build on and improve the processes set forth in the 2015 AFFH rule to further help funding recipients comply with their statutory obligation while reducing the regulatory burden on them.” Comments on this interim rule are due July 12. For more information, contact Sasha Samberg-Champion, HUD, 202-402-3413. HUD is also expected to announce revisions soon to its September 2020 rule on fair housing disparate impact.

As attacks on eviction moratorium continue in court, it remains in effect but will expire June 30.

A federal appellate court agreed with a lower court judge that the eviction moratorium imposed by the Centers for Disease Control should remain effective while the appellate court considers its validity. Landlord representatives appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could issue a decision as early as June 11. The moratorium is set to expire on June 30, even if there is no final court decision by that date.

June is National Homeownership Month.

Building on President Biden’s proclamation, USDA and HUD are observing the occasion. Follow HAC on social media for relevant policy recommendations, homeownership stories, and more.

June is Pride Month.

President Biden proclaimed June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month. HAC recognizes and celebrates the diversity that makes every community unique.

RuralSTAT

There are more than 2,000 rural and small-town census tracts where racial and ethnic minorities make up the majority of the population. Source: Housing Assistance Council tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014-2018 American Community Survey.

OPPORTUNITIES

Section 533 Housing Preservation Grant applications open.

USDA Rural Development will make HPG grants to public agencies and nonprofits to assist low- and very low-income rural homeowners in repairing and rehabilitating their homes, and to cooperative housing complexes and rental property owners to repair and rehabilitate units in rural areas available to low- and very low-income persons. Pre-applications are due July 19. For more information, contact Bonnie Edwards-Jackson, RD, 202-690-0759.

USDA expands water/wastewater programs.

The Rural Decentralized Water Systems Grant program funds nonprofit or tribal lenders to make affordable loans to homeowners who need new household water systems in places with populations up to 50,000 including tribal lands and colonias. The program now includes building or repairing septic systems, and lenders can provide grants to homeowners with incomes under 60% of area median. Deadline is July 19. For more information, contact Taylor Marable, RD, 615-772-8726, or an RD state office. The Water and Wastewater Projects Revolving Funds Program enables nonprofits to make loans for water and wastewater treatment projects’ pre-development costs or for short-term and small capital improvement projects. Places, including tribal lands and colonias, with populations up to 10,000 are eligible. The maximum loan amount for FY21 is $200,000 rather than the previous $100,000. Deadline is July 16. For more information, contact Lois East, RD, 660-492-4268, or an RD state office.

HUD offers Lead Hazard Reduction funds.

Grants are available to help local governments and some states and tribes undertaking comprehensive programs to identify and control lead-based paint hazards in privately owned rental or owner-occupied housing where children under age six are at risk. Deadline is July 12. For more information, contact Yolanda Brown, HUD, 202-903-9576.

HOPWA Special Projects of National Significance grants available.

Nonprofits, states, and local governments are eligible for grants to produce new projects that align with initiatives aimed at ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic and elevate housing as an effective structural intervention in ending the epidemic. Apply by July 6. For more information, contact HUD staff.

Hometown Grants aim to revitalize community spaces.

Grants of up to $50,000 are available from T-Mobile, in partnership with Smart Growth America and Main Street America, to build, rebuild, or refresh community spaces that help foster local connections in cities and towns with populations under 50,000. Local governments or nonprofits are eligible. Deadlines are June 30, September 30, and December 31.

Conference Coordinator and Community Facilities Housing Specialist positions open at HAC.

For details, visit HAC’s website.

 

CORONAVIRUS

Forbearance for multifamily property owners extended.

Owners of multifamily rental properties with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac can now request mortgage forbearance through September 30. Owners must inform tenants about their rights and cannot evict tenants for nonpayment of rent during the forbearance period.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Changes proposed for USDA single-family guaranteed loan program regulations.

The revisions to the Section 502 guaranteed program would update the requirements for federally supervised lenders, minimum net worth and experience for non-supervised lenders, approved lender participation requirements, treatment of applicants with delinquent child support payments, and builder credit requirements. Comments are due August 9. For more information, contact Ana Placencia, USDA, 254-721-0770.

GAO study recommends ways to increase 10-20-30 impact in persistent poverty counties.

Areas with High Poverty: Changing How the 10-20-30 Funding Formula Is Applied Could Increase Impact in Persistent-Poverty Counties examines the requirement for some programs of USDA Rural Development, the Economic Development Administration, and the CDFI Fund to allocate at least 10% of their funds to counties with poverty rates of at least 20% over the last 30 years. The report recommends using the formula selectively, since some programs achieve this allocation without a requirement and others cannot achieve it because of program design. It also supports creation of a single list of persistent poverty counties.

Interim appraisal requirements adopted for USDA’s Community Facilities loan programs.

Because of the coronavirus emergency, USDA RD has established interim requirements, effective until December 31, for appraisals of real estate being used as collateral for direct or guaranteed Community Facilities loans.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Building materials’ costs and shortages increase.

A National Association of Home Builders survey in May found costs for building materials have increased an average of 26.1% over the last 12 months. NAHB also reports an all-time high in the number of builders experiencing material shortages.

“Doubly disadvantaged: rural communities left out in federal income limits formula.”

Flaws in the use of area median incomes to determine aid eligibility are described in a Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity op-ed, written by Joshua Stewart from Fahe and H. Luke Shaefer from the University of Michigan. Where rural poverty is concentrated, AMIs are low, so fewer households qualify for aid. The problem is particularly common in Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, the colonias, and tribal lands.

“Redefine rural.”

The Katy (Texas) Times notes the dramatic implications of OMB’s proposal to change the minimum population threshold for identifying metropolitan areas from 50,000 to 100,000. This definition is used to determine how certain federal program funds are distributed. For more information on this issue, see HAC’s website.

“Evictions at a Kentucky trailer park highlight Ohio Valley’s lack of affordable housing.”

The Ohio Valley Resource reports on manufactured home community evictions in Morehead, KY and draws attention to the larger affordable housing crisis happening in rural areas, including limited housing stock and looming mass evictions if the federal eviction moratorium is not extended beyond its June 30 expiration date. In addition to barriers to transportation, “a lack of tenant protections, rising rents, and high poverty rates” leave few options for low-income renters.

“In rural South Carolina, a groundbreaking broadband project takes root.”

Roll Call describes how the town of Allendale, SC has used existing broadcasting towers to make high-speed internet available to residents. The state broadband coordinator says other communities can use the same system by mounting equipment on water towers or other tall structures.

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 News: May 27, 20221 Featured Image

HAC News: May 27, 2021

May 27, 2021

Vol. 50, No. 11

TOP STORIES

Full Biden budget to be released May 28.

When the Biden administration’s first complete budget request is released on May 28, HAC will post a summary on our website.

Eviction moratorium still effective, court still reviewing it.

A federal judge has extended the stay on her May 5 order invalidating the eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control, leaving the moratorium in place while the Justice Department appeals the ruling in Alabama Association of Realtors v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A federal appellate court is now considering the case. The moratorium is set to expire on June 30, even if there is no final court decision by that date.

OCC reconsiders its Community Reinvestment Act rule.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has announced it is reconsidering its June 20, 2020 CRA regulation and does not plan to finalize proposed evaluation measure benchmarks. It expects banks to comply with portions of the rule that have October 1, 2021 deadlines but will not require them to move towards implementing portions with 2023 and 2024 deadlines. For more information, contact Vonda Eanes, OCC, 202-649-5470.

USDA accepting refinance applications from homeowners with payment moratoriums.

Homeowners who have had payment moratoriums on their USDA direct Section 502 or Section 504 loans because of the coronavirus pandemic can now apply to refinance their loans at more favorable terms. USDA is sending letters to eligible borrowers. For application forms and more information, visit USDA’s servicing website or contact a USDA Rural Development service center.

HAC celebrates 50 years of helping build rural communities.

The Housing Assistance Council, incorporated on May 21, 1971, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. A week-long series of posts on HAC’s social media feeds, tagged #HAC50, featured some highlights from the past 50 years for HAC and for rural affordable housing. Check out the posts and share your memories on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

New HAC website launched.

HAC invites readers to the redesigned ruralhome.org, which debuted on May 25.

RuralSTAT

Only 35% of hazard-prone communities in the U.S. have the latest hazard-resistant building codes as of April 1, 2021. Source: FEMA, Building Codes Save: A Nationwide Study of Loss Prevention.

OPPORTUNITIES

Creative placemaking funds available from NEA, USDA.
  • The National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town program supports projects that integrate arts, culture, and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities by advancing local economic, physical, and/or social outcomes. Applicant partnerships must include local government entities, cultural organizations, and others. The deadline is August 5. For more information, contact NEA, OT@arts.gov.
  • USDA’s Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge offers funds for nonprofits, public bodies, tribes, small businesses, and institutions of higher education to provide technical assistance and training to rural communities for placemaking planning and implementation. The deadline is July 26. For more information, contact Angela Callie, RD, 202-568-9738.
Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program funds offered.

HUD will select 50 awardees, including eight rural communities, to develop and execute coordinated community approaches to preventing and ending youth homelessness. Entities designated as Collaborative Applicants by Continuums of Care are eligible and must apply by July 27. For more information, contact HUD, YouthDemo@hud.gov.

HUD will fund technical research on lead and healthy homes.

Nonprofits, for-profits, state and local governments, tribes, and others are eligible for Lead and Healthy Homes Technical Studies grants, studies to improve HUD’s and the public’s knowledge of housing-related health and safety hazards and to improve or develop new hazard assessment and control methods, with a focus on lead and other key residential health and safety hazards. The deadline is June 21. For more information, contact J. Kofi Berko Jr., HUD, 202-402-7696.

Conference Coordinator and Community Facilities Housing Specialist positions open at HAC.

For details, visit HAC’s website.

  • The Conference Coordinator supports every part of preparing and delivering HAC’s 2021 National Rural Housing Conference. Excellent communication skills and attention to detail are vital, along with proven experience in conference and/or event planning to include logistic coordination. This is a full-time, temporary position and is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Community Facilities Housing Specialist identifies and engages community stakeholders and provides direct technical assistance to rural organizations that are developing facilities such as parks, community centers, public libraries and childcare centers. This includes helping them identify, utilize, and apply for financial resources such as USDA Community Facilities grants and loans. This a two-year position and is eligible for telecommuting.

CORONAVIRUS

“One year into COVID-19, pandemic’s negative effects persist in Indian Country.”

The Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis  provides an overview of how tribal governments, businesses, and communities have weathered the pandemic so far. Tribal governments have experienced increased operational costs and revenue losses, resulting in spending cuts for services like parks and recreation, economic development grants, and cultural programming.

“GOP Governors’ Cutoff of COVID Benefits Hits Hard in Rural America.”

A Pew Trust Stateline article describes the potential negative impacts of governors discontinuing the federal extended unemployment funding their states initially accepted. Extended benefits can be particularly important in rural areas where jobs are limited, and for rural minorities are disproportionately impacted.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

HUD allocates Emergency Housing Vouchers.

EHVs, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, do not operate the same way as other Section 8 vouchers. PHAs must work jointly with Continuums of Care to issue them to people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, or recently homeless and risking becoming homeless again. HUD resources, including a detailed notice governing the program’s operation as well as FAQs, are posted online.

Proposed Duty to Serve plans posted for review and comment.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s proposed Underserved Markets Plans for 2022-2024 are available online. The plans explain how the secondary market hopes to meet needs for rural housing, affordable housing preservation, and manufactured housing. Comments are invited by July 17.

USDA begins Process to pay loans of disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

A Farm Service Agency notice explains the process created by the American Rescue Plan Act for FSA to pay off socially disadvantaged farmers’ and ranchers’ direct loans under the Farm Loan Programs and Farm Storage Facility Loan Program. Within four months a separate notice will be issued for guaranteed loans. Eligible recipients do not need to take any action until they receive a payment offer directly from FSA, although they can contact their local FSA service center to update their demographic information if needed. For more information, contact Bruce Mair, FSA, 202-720-1645.

NEA announces 2021 Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design Awards.

Four workshops across the country will bring together local leaders and residents with design professionals to work on local design challenges. The members of the Design Learning Cohort come from 15 communities as diverse as Skagway, Alaska and Manchester, Georgia. CIRD is a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts that has partnered with the Housing Assistance Council for the past two years to provide design and planning assistance to rural communities.

USDA shifts staff operating Housing Preservation Grants program.

USDA Rural Development State Offices are switching staff responsibility for training and day-to-day operation of the Section 533 HPG program from multifamily staff to single-family staff. The announcement also updates guidance on the program. For more information, contact a State Office.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Essay collection considers racial justice in housing finance.

Essays from diverse viewpoints, collected by the Poverty and Race Research Action Council in Racial Justice in Housing Finance: A Series on New Directions, explore ways to harness housing finance towards the ends of residential integration, equitable investment, and housing security.

Rent debt estimates available for most counties.

The National Equity Atlas and the Right to the City Alliance offer a rent debt dashboard with regularly updated data on the number and characteristics of renters who are behind on rent for the U.S., 41 states, and 15 metro areas. It also estimates the number of households with debt and the amount owed for every county in the 41 states.

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).

Help Rural America Thrive on Giving Tuesday

Good things are happening in rural America. Be a part of it.

Too often, the prevailing narrative about rural America is that it is failing compared to its urban and suburban counterparts. While rural America is certainly facing its share of struggles, there are so many bright spots and amazing things taking place in small towns and communities across the country. We know because we see it every day.

In October, HAC kicked off the Citizens Institute on Rural DesignTM (CIRD) with the CIRD Learning Cohort Summit in the towns of Thomas, Davis, and Elkins in rural West Virginia. The Citizen’s Institute on Rural Design™ is a National Endowment for the Arts leadership initiative in partnership with the Housing Assistance Council, along with buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. Participants representing 23 rural communities from across the country convened to learn the fundamentals of rural design and how it can help solve some of their community’s most challenging problems.

Giving Tuesday 2019

Over the next year, these 23 communities will receive access to the resources they need to convert their own good ideas into reality. Here a few examples of the challenges these communities will be tackling:

  • One of the pressing issues still facing the residents of Iola, Kansas is the lack of quality, affordable housing. Thrive Allen County and the City of Iola will use the design challenge to develop an affordable housing master plan for a neighborhood on the north side of town.
  • The town of Entiat, Washington is exploring how it can reinvent itself as a destination for recreation, agritourism, small business development, and residential development.
  • The Mt. Zion Baptist Church Preservation Society in Athens, Ohio plans to rehabilitate the Mt. Zion Baptist Church into a multi-use space devoted to the contributions of African Americans in Southeast Ohio – honoring its founding in 1905 by a community of free-born and formerly enslaved people of color.

2020 holds many possibilities for HAC and the communities we partner with, like Iola, Entiat, and Athens. This #GivingTuesday, your donation to HAC will have more impact as every dollar raised will meet HAC’s match for the CIRD program. And every donation made to HAC on Facebook on #GivingTuesday will be matched by Facebook. You can be a part of changing the story in rural America.

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