Tag Archive for: Rural Housing

Winter 2012 – 13: Taking Stock of Housing in Your Community

The winter 2012 – 13 issue of Rural Voices, Taking Stock of Housing in Your Community, is now available for download from the Housing Assistance Council. This issue includes information about the data resources available for rural community devlopers and advocates to document housing needs in their communities and make their case to policy makers.

View from Washington

Erika Poethig, Acting Assistant Secretary
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Policy Development and Research


Developing a Statistical Portrait of your Community
by Arthur Cresce, The U.S. Census Bureau
Using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey

What is Rural?
by the Housing Assistance Council
A question that matters

Information on What Banks Are Doing in Your Community
by John Taylor, National Community Reinvesment Corporation
Getting the Most from Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) Data

Data Resources for Rural Communities
A Visual Guide to Selected Data and Information Sources

Q&A with John Cromartie
Rural Voices
sat down with John Cromartie, Senior Geographer at USDA’s Economic Research Service, to discuss demographic trends and data for rural areas

The National Housing Preservation Database
by Megan Bolton, National Low-Income Housing Coalition
A long awaited national database of federally-assisted housing can make the case for affordable housing preservation

Share your Story

Rural Voices is curious to hear your stories of how you have used data to further your work in your community. Do you have a story from your own community to share on this subject? Please share your story on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter and help demonstrate the importance of accurate data for rural communities across the country.

Bipartisan Policy Center Report Includes Major Recommendations for Rural Housing

Housing America's Future: New Directions for National Policy

February 25, 2013. The Housing Commission of the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) today released its much anticipated report entitled Housing America’s Future: A New Direction for a National Policy. In addition to major recommendations on mortgage finance reform, homeownership, rental housing, and demographic drivers, the BPC’s report devoted substantial attention to rural housing issues and priorities. Championed largely by Commission Co-Chair Kit Bond, former U.S. Senator and Governor from Missouri, the report presents four major recommendations on rural housing:

1. Support and strengthen USDA’s role in rural housing. The report specifically states that Congress should not pursue proposals to shift USDA programs to other government agencies where they will be absorbed by other federal programs, noting that USDA is well-positioned to leverage the existing resources and infrastructure of rural service providers that understand the unique conditions of local markets.

2. Extend the current definition of rural areas through the year 2020. Any area currently classified as rural for the purposes of USDA housing programs should remain so at least until after the receipt of data from the decennial census in 2020, provided the area’s population does not exceed 25,000.

3. Increase budget allocations to serve more households. The report states that additional funding for the Section 502 Direct Loan program would enable more rural households to become homeowners at relatively low cost to the federal government.

4. Dedicate resources for capacity-building and technology to strengthen USDA providers. The BPC recommends that local agencies receiving USDA funds should be incentivized to operate on compatible software to ease data and information sharing. These improvements could help USDA monitor and improve the performance of its rural housing programs.

Read the Rural Housing chapter of the report at:


Download the full BPC report at:


Founded in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is a non-profit organization that drives principled solutions through rigorous analysis, reasoned negotiation and respectful dialogue. With projects in multiple issue areas, BPC combines politically balanced policymaking with strong, proactive advocacy and outreach.

#RuralFacts – Rural Data from Taking Stock

Follow HAC for Data from Taking Stock


The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) published Taking Stock: Rural People, Poverty and Housing in the 21st Century in December, 2012. This 160 page report features analysis of over of 6,000 data points from the 2010 Census and other sources about rural communities. To highlight the findings from this research as well as issues facing rural communities, HAC will be sharing factoids, images and data from Taking Stock through social media.

This information will be posted on twitter, using the hashtag #ruralfacts (bookmark this link so you can always access this information). If you do not already, follow HAC @RuralHome.

You can also share your comments with HAC on Facebook, LinkedIn or on the Rural Affordable Housing Group.

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What Does the Push for Transit Oriented Development Mean For Rural Areas?

What Does the Push for Transit Oriented Development Mean For Rural Areas?
by Leslie Strauss, HAC

rflns_transit_postThe affordable housing world is paying attention to the connection between housing costs and transportation costs, and that’s a good thing. The federal government and many state and local governments are encouraging transit oriented development (TOD), and that’s a good thing too. But in rural places, public transit is scarce and TOD may be both difficult and unpopular – especially in remote, sparsely populated areas.

HUD defines TOD as “compact, mixed-use development near transit facilities that promotes sustainable communities by providing people of all ages and incomes with improved access to transportation and housing choices, [and] reduced transportation costs that reduce the negative impacts of automobile travel on the environment and the economy.”

A small city might be able to provide transit in the form of an on-demand service, or perhaps even a system with regular routes and a standard timetable. But a town of 500? Not likely.The American Public Transportation Association reports that in small urban and rural places, 41 percent of residents have no access to transit and another 25 percent live in areas with below-average transit services. To provide transit oriented affordable housing development in those places, new transit systems could be created – if funding could be found. Alternatively, residents would have a choice: move to affordable housing created near transit, or live where they prefer to live but without housing assistance.

Fortunately the creators of TOD initiatives are finding ways to avoid disadvantaging rural residents. An applicant for Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency can score three points for a development that is near public transit, is in a designated transit improvement area, is within a specified distance from employment opportunities and has dial-a-ride services available, or is within a specified distance from employment opportunities and is close to public services like a post office, a medical or dental office, a supermarket, or others.

The Illinois Housing Development Authority takes a more restrictive approach in providing a different standard for rural areas. A tax credit applicant can score two points if its development is within six blocks of fixed-route public transportation in the city of Chicago, one mile in the Chicago metropolitan area, 1.5 miles in another metro area, and two miles in a nonmetro area. In some other states, setasides for rural areas allow tax credit allocators to avoid the TOD discrimination issue.

Outside the tax credit arena, advocates in California have developed a proposal to direct a specific pool of state funding toward investments in housing and transportation. California rural housing interests are developing language that could be added to take account of the transit differences in rural places.

The National Housing Trust – which graciously provided the Minnesota and Illinois examples above – is conducting research on the connections between tax credits and transit and will release a report later this year. Has anyone conducted research on the application of TOD requirements in rural places under other programs? Are there other examples of best practices – or worst practices?

What do you think? Has the TOD focus had a positive, negative, or no effect on rural affordable housing development? Please comment on the Rooflines website.

A Step Toward Addressing Native American Homelessness

A Step Toward Addressing Native American Homelessness

by Eric Oberdorfer and Leslie Strauss

shelterforce_na_blog_postHomes in Indian Country are three times more likely to be crowded than those in the United States as a whole, according to the 2010 Census. Many of the people sleeping on sofas or floors in these crowded dwellings are homeless – not living outdoors or in a car, but not living in permanent homes of their own, either. Strong kinship networks often enable people to find a place to stay and there are few shelters and service providers in places with small, spread-out populations.

Read More…

10 Things That Did Not Happen in Rural Housing in 2012

10 Things That Did Not Happen in Rural Housing in 2012

10thingRLblogYear-end reviews generally cover events, but in 2012 the things that did not happen may have been more notable. That certainly seems to be the case regarding affordable housing for the lowest income residents of rural America. A couple of the non-events listed below are positive, but unfortunately most are not. Read More…

Basic Challenges Outlast Housing Crisis in Rural America

Basic Challenges Outlast Housing Crisis in Rural America

By Lance George
December 20, 2012

The United States is emerging from one of the most extensive and painful economic crises in memory. It is well established that housing markets were at the heart of this crisis, and millions of American households lost, or continue to lose, their homes to foreclosure. While the recent housing crisis is not to be overlooked, far too many rural residents have struggled with housing problems and inadequacies for years, if not decades, before the national crisis hit. Read the full blog post…

National Rural Housing Conference 2012


Materials from the 2012 HAC Conference
Promises to Keep in Challenging Times

Thank You to everyone who attended the 2012 National Rural Housing Conference. Look forward to seeing you all again in 2014!

Join the National
Rural Housing Conference group
on LinkedIn and network with your fellow attendees before you even attend!


HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference is an expression of our continuing commitment to provide local organizations with the resources needed to build affordable housing in rural America. The Conference will bring together more than 700 community-based housing advocates for a celebration of our collective efforts to develop and sustain affordable housing in rural communities. Based on the theme, “Promises to keep in Challenging Times” the Conference will focus on the promise America made through the Housing Act of 1949 and how those promises still apply even in the face of America’s new fiscal reality. Scheduled events will include numerous workshops, networking sessions, peer-learning opportunities, our awards program and entertainment.

The theme brings to mind the vision and promises America has made through the Housing Act of 1949 and all subsequent housing legislation and policy. While these promises, that include the opportunity for quality affordable housing, still remain the country continues to face a difficult fiscal situation with many questions or concerns about what can be done to protect affordable housing as an industry in the future, particularly in rural areas. Keeping the vision and promises is important, not just to increase the quality of life for low-income Americans, but also to build stronger and more sustainable communities as a whole.


The Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001


December 6-7, 2012

Pre-Conference Activities December 5

Stay Informed:

Sign up for the HAC News [vresponse][/vresponse]

Donate to the Conference:

Help HAC keep registration fees low for our participants.
Please donate to HAC’s conference.

Join the Conversation:

Join the National Rural Housing Conference Group on LinkedIn and tweet your thoughts, expectations and ideas for the Conference using hashtags #nrhc12 and #rural2012.

Don’t forget to Follow HAC for more on the Conference and all things rural housing.


HAC News: November 7, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

November 7, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 22

• November is National Native American Heritage Month • November 10-18 is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week • Rural housing on Senate Majority Leader’s list • Disaster recovery information available from USDA and HAC • VA offers funds to help families’ housing stability • LIHTC can serve extremely low-income tenants, research finds • Some income exclusions apply to USDA RD multifamily occupants • USDA RD offers guidance on using Section 538 loans for Section 515 properties • Treatment of farmworkers and others by large food companies varies, research finds • CBO reports on income tax’s effect on owning and renting • Child poverty increased in rural areas and nationwide from 2010 to 2011 • National Rural Housing Conference early bird registration deadline is November 9!

November 7, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 22

NOVEMBER IS NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH. President Obama’s proclamation also names November 23 (the day after Thanksgiving) Native American Heritage Day.

NOVEMBER 10-18 IS NATIONAL HUNGER AND HOMELESSNESS AWARENESS WEEK. Information about this annual event, sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, is posted online.

RURAL HOUSING ON SENATE MAJORITY LEADER’S LIST. The National Journal published a list of unfinished legislative items compiled by the staff of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and noted there are too many to complete during Congress’s lame duck session, which will begin soon. “Rural housing” appears on the list without further explanation, probably referring to the effort to preserve eligibility for housing programs in places with growing populations. See HAC News, 9/26/12.

DISASTER RECOVERY INFORMATION AVAILABLE FROM USDA AND HAC. HAC has updated Picking up the Pieces, its guide to resources for rural housing in disaster areas, and published a Hurricane Sandy supplement. USDA is sending letters to Section 502 direct and guaranteed borrowers in and around the Hurricane Sandy disaster areas summarizing available loan servicing assistance, including possible payment moratoria for direct borrowers. Owners and renters in USDA assisted properties should contact USDA RD offices. Vacant houses and apartments with USDA financing may be available for hurricane survivors through FEMA, 800-621-FEMA. Additional federal disaster information is posted at https://www.disasterassistance.gov.

VA OFFERS FUNDS TO HELP FAMILIES’ HOUSING STABILITY. The Supportive Services for Veteran Families program makes grants to nonprofits, consumer coops, and Tribally Designated Housing Entities to provide or coordinate supportive services to very low-income veteran families to remain in or transition into permanent housing. Deadline is February 1, 2013. Contact John Kuhn, VA, 877-737-0111, SSVF@va.gov.

SOME INCOME EXCLUSIONS APPLY TO USDA RD MULTIFAMILY OCCUPANTS. An Unnumbered Letter (October 9, 2012) provides a copy of a July 24 HUD Federal Register notice (see HAC News, 7/25/12) listing exclusions to income for numerous programs, and announces that RD Handbook changes will be published soon. Contact Laura Horn, RD, 202-720-5443.

USDA RD OFFERS GUIDANCE ON USING SECTION 538 LOANS FOR SECTION 515 PROPERTIES. Section 538 guaranteed loans can finance revitalization of existing properties with Section 515 direct loans. An Unnumbered Letter (October 9, 2012) instructs USDA staff on reconciling procedural differences between the programs. Contact Tammy Daniels, RD, 202-720-0021.

TREATMENT OF FARMWORKERS AND OTHERS BY LARGE FOOD COMPANIES VARIES, RESEARCH FINDS. Worker Equity in Food and Agriculture, published by the Tellus Institute and Sustainalytics, examines wages and working conditions (not housing) at the 100 largest U.S. companies in food and agriculture. “Worker equity” is evaluated at the farm, factory, retail, and restaurant stages.

CBO REPORTS ON INCOME TAX’S EFFECT ON OWNING AND RENTING. A Congressional Budget Office working paper, “Taxation of Owner-Occupied and Rental Housing,” concludes that federal income tax advantages tend to make owning more advantageous than renting for higher-income households, but lower-income households can find renting cheaper than owning. The paper also examines how four different possible changes to the tax code (including repealing the mortgage interest deduction) would affect these calculations. Contact Larry Ozanne, CBO, larry.ozanne@cbo.gov.

CHILD POVERTY INCREASED IN RURAL AREAS AND NATIONWIDE FROM 2010 TO 2011. The Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire reports that American Community Survey data show 45% of U.S. children live below 200% of the poverty level, and 10.1% live below 50% of poverty. “Over Sixteen Million Children in Poverty in 2011” includes data for urban/rural/suburban geographies, regions, and states.

NATIONAL RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS NOVEMBER 9! The 2012 conference, “Promises to Keep in Challenging Times,” will be December 6-7, with pre-conference activities on December 5, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Register now to take advantage of the special early bird discount! Start networking in advance – join the conference LinkedIn group. Questions? Contact Dan Stern, HAC, dan@ruralhome.org or 202-842-8600.

HAC News: October 24, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 24, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 21

• October 21-27 is National Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week • HAC invites applications for rural veterans assistance • Section 8 OCAFs announced • Federal homelessness plan amended • Toolkit offered for Independent Foreclosure Review outreach • LIHTC can serve extremely low-income tenants, research finds • Census reports on sheltered population • HUD launches app for FMRs and Income Limits • LIHEAP assistance to older manufactured homes higher per square foot • GAO raises concerns about air exchange standards in HUD Code • National Rural Housing Conference early bird registration deadline is November 9!

October 24, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 21

OCTOBER 21-27 IS NATIONAL CHILDHOOD LEAD POISONING PREVENTION WEEK. Details and resources are available from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leadinfo@cdc.gov.

HAC INVITES APPLICATIONS FOR RURAL VETERANS ASSISTANCE. A new HAC initiative will provide grants of up to $30,000 to support bricks-and-mortar projects that help rural low-income, elderly, and disabled veterans and active military personnel with housing needs. Send a letter of intent by 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on October 31. Application guidelines are posted on HAC’s website. Contact Janice Clark, HAC.

SECTION 8 OCAFS ANNOUNCED. HUD’s new Operating Cost Adjustment Factors apply to project-based assistance contracts with an anniversary date on or after February 11, 2013. See Federal Register, 10/16/12. Contact Stan Houle, HUD, 202-402-2572.

FEDERAL HOMELESSNESS PLAN AMENDED. In September the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness amended Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, its plan to end homelessness among families, children, and youth by 2020. The amendment offers strategies and supports to improve educational outcomes for children and youth and steps to assist unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness. Contact USICH, 202-708-4663.

TOOLKIT OFFERED FOR INDEPENDENT FORECLOSURE REVIEW OUTREACH. The Federal Reserve Board has made materials available to help local nonprofits reach residents whose homes were foreclosed in 2009-2010 by any of 14 mortgage servicers and who are eligible for an independent review. Call 888-952-9105.

LIHTC CAN SERVE EXTREMELY LOW-INCOME TENANTS, RESEARCH FINDS. The Furman Center and Moelis Institute at New York University examined data from urban, suburban, and rural Low-Income Housing Tax Credit properties in 16 states and found that 40% of the units are occupied by extremely low-income tenants (with incomes below 30% of area median). Because almost 70% of those ELI tenants receive some form of rental assistance, researchers concluded that “rental assistance is currently an indispensable part of the equation to serve those households.” The results are reported in “What Can We Learn about the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program by Looking at the Tenants?”

CENSUS REPORTS ON SHELTERED POPULATION. The Emergency and Transitional Shelter Population: 2010 summarizes data on age, sex, and race/ethnicity for the 209,000 people counted in such shelters nationwide by the 2010 Census (not the entire homeless population). Data are aggregated by state and a map shows the number of people in shelters in every county. Over 60% of counties have no sheltered population.

HUD LAUNCHES APP FOR FMRS AND INCOME LIMITS. The map-based app for Android and iPhone allows users to search Fair Market Rents and Income Limits.

LIHEAP ASSISTANCE TO OLDER MANUFACTURED HOMES HIGHER PER SQUARE FOOT. A Government Accountability Office study found that the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provided about 33¢ per square foot of assistance to pre-1976 manufactured homes compared to about 20¢ per square foot for site-built homes. About 3% of total LIHEAP funds went to older manufactured homes. The study used data for 2005, the most recent available. Worker and Family Assistance: Home Energy Assistance for Low-Income Occupants of Manufactured Homes (GAO-12-848R) is available online or from GAO, 866-801-7077. Contact Frank Rusco, GAO, 202-512-3841.

GAO RAISES CONCERNS ABOUT AIR EXCHANGE STANDARDS IN HUD CODE. Standards for placement of air intake and exhaust vents are outdated and ventilation systems are not tested, GAO reports, in manufactured homes built after 1976 under HUD’s Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. Manufactured Housing Standards: Testing and Performance Evaluation Could Better Ensure Safe Indoor Air Quality (GAO-13-52) is available online or from GAO, 866-801-7077. Contact Mathew J. Scirè, GAO, 202-512-8678.

NATIONAL RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS NOVEMBER 9! The 2012 conference, “Promises to Keep in Challenging Times,” will be December 6-7, with pre-conference activities on December 5, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Register now to take advantage of the special early bird discount! Start networking in advance – join the conference LinkedIn group. Questions? Contact Dan Stern, HAC, dan@ruralhome.org or 202-842-8600.