Tag Archive for: Rural Housing

HAC News: September 18, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 19

TOP STORIES

Funding disagreements continue, government shutdown possible

Given the ongoing differences between factions on Capitol Hill, there may be no continuing resolution to keep the federal government open on October 1. Moody’s Analytics predicts a two-week shutdown and expects it to have little impact on the U.S. economy as a whole. A longer closure could harm recipients of housing assistance, however. A record 35-day shutdown from December 22, 2018 to January 25, 2019 led some owners of USDA-financed rental properties, unaware that the agency had enough Section 521 Rental Assistance funding to last through January, to threaten to evict tenants who could not pay full rent on their own. USDA RD’s shutdown contingency plan, dated September 2021, indicates that during a shutdown no new loans or grants would be committed and no new loan guarantees issued. Section 521 RA would continue “if funding is available.” If the agency used up all its RA funds, “additional servicing options” could be provided to rental properties. HUD’s contingency plan, from August 2023, says that programs operating with HUD funding that was obligated before a shutdown would continue. Monthly subsidy programs, however – including public housing operating subsidies, housing choice vouchers, and multifamily assistance contracts – would operate only while funding remained available. It is not clear what funding either department expects to have on hand after October 1.

Income fell and poverty rose from 2021 to 2022, Census Bureau reports

The expiration of temporary expansions to the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, as well as the end of pandemic-era stimulus payments, led to increases in poverty and drops in median income from 2021 to 2022, the Census Bureau reports. The Bureau’s annual reports on income, poverty, and health insurance highlight differences between the official poverty measure and the Supplemental Poverty Measure. The official poverty rate did not change significantly from 2021 to 2022, but the SPM, which accounts for government assistance and some other factors, increased by 4.6 percentage points to 12.4%. Even more dramatically, the SPM child poverty rate more than doubled, from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022. Geographically, SPM increases were greater for cities (from 9.8% in 2021 to 15.2% in 2022) and for places outside metro areas (7.1% to 12.2%) than for suburbs (6.8% to 10.8%).

Rural housing reform bill introduced in Senate

S. 2790, the Rural Housing Service Reform Act of 2023, was introduced on September 13 by Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Mike Rounds (R-N.D.) with several cosponsors. The bill would improve USDA’s rental preservation process in several ways, including decoupling Rental Assistance from USDA mortgages and permanently authorizing the MPR program. It would also establish the Native CDFI relending pilot as a permanent part of the Section 502 direct program, authorize the Rural Community Development Initiative, expand eligibility for Section 542 vouchers, adjust the mortgage requirement for Section 504 loans, and require USDA to release housing data.

Gooden nominated to head USDA Rural Development

President Biden has nominated Basil Gooden to become Under Secretary for Rural Development. Gooden, who has been USDA RD’s Director of State Operations since 2021, has also served in the Virginia state government’s agriculture and housing offices and as RD’s State Director for Virginia. The Senate will need to confirm his nomination.

September is National Preparedness Month

FEMA’s website for this year’s observance focuses on preparing older adults for disasters.

September is National Recovery Month

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released a toolkit for National Recovery Month. SAMHSA has also published updated Recovery Housing Guidelines outlining best practices for recovery housing. The guide is intended for elected officials and practitioners seeking to support long-term recovery.

September 15-October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month

Online resources include President Biden’s proclamation and a website prepared by several federal agencies.

RuralSTAT

Real median household income for the U.S. fell by 2.3% from $76,330 in 2021 to $74,580 in 2022. Outside metro areas, median income dropped by 3.5% from $57,960 to $55,960. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Income in the United States: 2022.

OPPORTUNITIES

HUD offers funds for seniors’ home modifications, barrier removal, lead and healthy homes, Choice Neighborhoods, and HIV housing

  • The Older Adults Home Modification Grant Program deadline is October 16. At least one third of the funds will go to communities with substantial rural populations. Eligible applicants are nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, and PHAs/IHAs with at least three years of experience in providing services to elderly adults. Funding is for low-cost, high impact home modifications, repairs, and renovations to enable low-income seniors – both homeowners and renters – to age in place. Contact Dr. Taneka Blue, HUD, 202-402-6846.
  • The Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing (PRO Housing) deadline is October 30. Using the CDBG statutory and regulatory framework, HUD will make PRO Housing grants to identify and remove barriers to affordable housing production and preservation. Local and state governments, metropolitan planning organizations, and multijurisdictional entities are eligible. Contact Jessie Handforth Kome, HUD, 202-708-3587.
  • The Lead and Healthy Homes Technical Studies Grant Program will fund studies to improve knowledge of housing-related health and safety hazards and to improve or develop new hazard assessment and control methods. Applications are due October 30 from nonprofits, for-profits, state and local governments, institutions of higher education, PHAs/IHAs, and Tribal governments and organizations. Contact Brenda M. Reyes, HUD, 202-402-6745.
  • Healthy Homes Production Grant Program applications are due November 7. Nonprofits, state, local, and Tribal governments, and consortia are eligible. The program aims to identify and remediate housing-related health and safety hazards in privately owned, low-income rental and/or owner-occupied housing. Contact Sacsheen Scott, HUD, 202-402-4370.
  • Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants carry out comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plans to revitalize distressed HUD housing and address challenges in the surrounding neighborhood. Local governments, PHAs, Tribal entities, and owners of HUD-assisted housing are eligible. Applications for new grants are due on December 11, and for supplemental grants on March 4, 2024. Contact HUD staff, ChoiceNeighborhoods@hud.gov.
  • Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS Competitive Grant: Housing Interventions to End the HIV Epidemic applications are due January 31, 2024. Nonprofits, states, and units of general local government are eligible for these grants to create and implement new projects that align with initiatives aimed at ending the HIV epidemic and elevate housing as an effective structural intervention. Contact HUD staff, HOPWA@hud.gov.

USDA corrects Section 504 disaster repair notice

A correction expands the geographic coverage of a pilot program intended to make it easier for Section 504 loans and grants to be used to repair homes damaged by disasters. The pilot will apply to all areas hit by presidentially declared disasters between July 18, 2022 and July 18, 2025. For more information, contact Anthony Williams, USDA, 202-720-9649.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

FEMA identifies Community Disaster Resilience Zones

The Community Disaster Resilience Zone designation applies to 483 census tracts in all 50 states and D.C., making them eligible for increased federal support for resilience and mitigation projects. FEMA will announce more Resilience Zone designations, including Tribal lands and territories, later this year.

NSPIRE compliance date extended for several HUD programs

HUD’s National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) final rule will take effect on October 1, 2024 rather than October 1, 2023 for the HOME, Housing Trust Fund, Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS, Emergency Solution Grants, and Continuum of Care programs. For more information, contact Caitlin Renner, HUD, 202-708-2684.

FEMA seeks comments on preparedness programs

FEMA requests public input by November 7 on ways to improve the management and administration of its preparedness grant programs. These 14 programs assist state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, as well as transportation authorities, nonprofits, and others. The agency is also conducting listening sessions. For more information, contact Pamela Williams, FEMA, 202-212-8007.

Homeland Security and Labor propose stronger protections for H2-A farmworkers

The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor have separate proposals to strengthen regulatory protections for temporary agricultural workers with H2-A visas and make other changes. Comments to DOL are due November 14. Comments to HHS are due November 20.

Comments requested on proposed federal homelessness research agenda

The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness asks for comments by September 22 on a draft research agenda. The draft does not include research questions related to geographic differences.

State Department to start over on amending public charge rules

The State Department has decided not to finalize an interim final public charge rule issued in 2019 under the previous administration. It will revert to its pre-2019 regulation and will begin a new rulemaking process. State’s notice says its new proposal will be consistent with the Department of Homeland Security’s 2022 final rule, which excludes housing aid from the determination whether a noncitizen is likely to become a public charge. Both departments are involved in public charge determinations. For more information, contact Andrea Lage, State, 202-485-7586.

USDA to amend Section 514/516 rules

Comments are due November 13 on a proposal to add a provision specifying that the period of performance for a Section 516 grant is five years. The five-year period is already stated in the applicable handbook, though not in the regulations. For more information, contact Christa Lindsey, USDA, 352-538-5747, mfh.programsupport@usda.gov.

EVENTS

Register for the National Rural Housing Conference

Register now to join stakeholders in the field of rural affordable housing, community development, and placemaking at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The 2023 conference theme is Build Rural – both a literal and figurative appeal to explore and provoke action to build and renew rural communities by addressing housing affordability and preservation, community infrastructure and essential facilities creation and revitalization, resident led placemaking, capacity building, and community inclusion and justice efforts.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

New HAC disaster guide published for Hurricane Idalia survivors

To assist those affected by Hurricane Idalia, HAC offers an online resource guide with information for individuals and families in the disaster area. Other disaster resources from HAC include Rural Resilience in the Face of Disaster and a Disaster Response for Rural Communities Guide.

Farmworker housing inspections collected

Investigate Midwest is obtaining housing inspection records for farmworker housing in multiple states and posting the information, including violations identified by inspectors. Their site also provides links to their reporting on housing and other issues for farmworkers.

HAC

HAC is hiring

  • The Rental Housing Development and Preservation – Housing Specialist will provide technical assistance support to nonprofit organizations involved in multifamily housing programs, with a specific focus on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs. This position is remote work eligible.
  • The Rental Housing Development and Preservation Housing Specialist – Senior Level Position is a senior-level role that combines expertise in multifamily housing programs, specifically focusing on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs, with the responsibility of providing technical assistance, with a particular focus on transfers of USDA 515 properties. This position is remote work eligible.
  • The Senior Accountant is responsible for applying technical and leadership skills to guide accounting practices and recording of transactions. This position is hybrid, based in Washington, DC.
  • The Financial Controller is responsible for day-to-day management of HAC’s finance and accounting processes. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Senior Human Resources and Payroll Administrator oversees all aspects of human resources and payroll practices and processes. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Executive Assistant supports the work of HAC’s Chief Executive Officer, senior leadership, and board of directors. The position is a blend of administrative work and project assignments. This position is based in Washington, DC.

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).

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

HAC News: August 31, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 18

TOP STORIES

Federal funding and other issues unresolved as Congress returns

It is still unclear whether the federal government will be funded through a continuing resolution or will shut down when fiscal year 2024 begins on October 1. The Senate returns from recess on September 5, with all of its appropriations bills having passed the Appropriations Committee, though none have been considered by the full Senate yet. The House reconvenes on September 12; its Appropriations Committee has passed most of its annual spending bills, including those covering both USDA and HUD, and the full House has passed only one of them. HAC has posted more details online on the appropriations bills for USDA and HUD. Other urgent issues awaiting action include a White House request for supplemental funding for FEMA disaster recovery, Ukraine, and more. A Farm Bill must also be passed to maintain authorization for various food and agriculture programs. HAC and others hope the Farm Bill will include rural rental housing preservation measures as well.

Worst case housing needs reach record high

HUD released the executive summary of its 2023 Worst Case Housing Needs report, revealing that from 2019 to 2021 worst case housing needs increased across demographic groups, household types, and regions throughout the United States. The number of very low-income families without housing assistance who paid more than half their income for housing or lived in severely substandard housing in 2021 exceeded previous record levels resulting from the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Even so, HUD researchers write, the data “suggest that a rise in homelessness was averted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when low-income families faced growing housing instability risks and cost burdens, and the federal government deployed historic funding and resources to keep people stably housed.” The full report, which is not yet available, should have more details about differences among geographies.

RuralSTAT

In rural places, 5.13% of American Indian or Alaska Native adults live with incomplete plumbing facilities, compared to 1.29% in urban areas. Source: University of Minnesota Rural Health Center analysis of 2015-2019 American Community Survey data.

OPPORTUNITIES

Grants offered for affordable housing innovations

The TD Bank Group’s 2023 TD Ready Challenge is seeking innovative solutions to help address systemic barriers to affordable housing across the continuum from transitional to permanent homes, and to help increase access to affordable and stable housing for those that need it most. Applications are due September 13. The challenge offers ten $1 million grants for nonprofits that have designed innovative, scalable and/or replicable solutions addressing affordable housing issues. For more information, email tdreadycommitment@td.com.

Disasters and community development to become eligible uses of state and local coronavirus funds

The Treasury Department has posted an interim final rule and an overview to broaden possible uses for Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF). The program provided monies to over 30,000 state, territorial, local, and Tribal governments, originally to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Effective when the interim final rule is published in the Federal Register, eligible activities will broaden to encompass natural disaster response (including providing emergency housing and repairing permanent housing), infrastructure, and CDBG activities. Comments on the rule will be due 60 days after publication. For more information, contact Jessica Milano, Treasury, 844- 529-9527.

Bootcamps offer infrastructure help to small cities and towns

The National League of Cities and the Local Infrastructure Hub are accepting registrations on a first come, first served basis from local governments with 150,000 or fewer residents for fall 2023 bootcamps. The programs are intended to help governments prepare competitive applications for federal infrastructure funds. Topics include climate action, internet access, transportation, and more. For more information, email LocalInfrastructureHub@nlc.org.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

OMB finalizes Buy America guidance

The Office of Management and Budget has published a final rule and guidance on the Build America, Buy America (BABA) preference for federally funded infrastructure projects, addressing products covered, cost determinations, and waiver requests. OMB declined to clarify its earlier language about what housing-related construction is subject to these requirements. It repeated its previous statement that “projects consisting solely of the purchase, construction, or improvement of a private home for personal use … would not constitute an infrastructure project,” leaving details to USDA and HUD. USDA has stated that it will apply BABA to multifamily housing, site preparation for single-family housing, and community facilities. HUD has staggered implementation of the requirements, so some of its interpretations are not clear yet. More BABA information is posted on OMB’s website, USDA’s, and HUD’s.

Guidance issued on multifamily solar energy savings

HUD published updated guidance for its multifamily housing programs and public housing regarding the treatment of financial benefits received from off-site or on-site solar energy, and USDA issued similar guidance for its rental housing programs. The updates clarify how the financial savings from solar energy impact utility allowances and income calculations.

FY24 Fair Market Rents published

The new FMRs were calculated using the methodology changes HUD proposed in June. They will become effective on October 1, 2023 (not 2024, as stated in one place in HUD’s notice). Comments are due October 2.

FCC and HUD to help tenants access internet service, final rule set for discount program

The Federal Communications Commission and HUD are partnering to promote awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program and reduce the time it takes for some tenants to sign up. HUD’s press release indicates all recipients of HUD assistance are eligible to receive free or reduced cost internet through the ACP, and ACP benefits will not impact their rent. The program provides monthly discounts toward internet service. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. FCC’s final regulation for the program will be published on September 1.

EVENTS

Register for the National Rural Housing Conference

Register now to join stakeholders in the field of rural affordable housing, community development, and placemaking at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The 2023 conference theme is Build Rural – both a literal and figurative appeal to explore and provoke action to build and renew rural communities by addressing housing affordability and preservation, community infrastructure and essential facilities creation and revitalization, resident led placemaking, capacity building, and community inclusion and justice efforts.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Special reporting project considers Indian Country’s housing crisis

A series of articles in Tribal Business News, accessible without a subscription, examines several topics related to federal housing assistance for Indian Country. Experts featured in the articles include Dave Castillo, CEO of Native Community Capital and HAC board member, and Louie Sheridan, Jr., HAC’s Housing Specialist-Native American Communities.

Resilience guides aim to help prepare homes for hazards

HUD released a set of five guides intended to provide practical, actionable guidelines for designing and constructing residential buildings, neighborhoods, and accessory structures to improve resilience to natural hazards. Each volume focuses on a major category of hazard: wind, water, fire, earth (seismic, earthslides, sinkholes), and auxiliary (other hazards such as volcanoes, hail, and temperature extremes).

Resources added for Maui recovery

In addition to assistance it announced earlier this month for survivors of the Maui wildfire, HUD is providing Rapid Unsheltered Survivor Housing funds to Hawaii to aid those experiencing or at risk of homelessness. A joint reminder about available mortgage assistance was issued by Ginnie Mae, FHA, FHFA, USDA, and VA. HAC has compiled a response guide with links and contact information from many sources.

Housing quality problems remain more common for rural residents

A higher proportion of rural residents than urban dwellers have incomplete kitchen or incomplete plumbing facilities, the University of Minnesota Rural Health Center reports in Housing Quality by Disability, Race, Ethnicity, and Rural-Urban Location: Findings from the American Community Survey. Incomplete plumbing is a problem for a higher proportion of rural people with a disability than of rural residents without a disability or urban residents with or without a disability. Among racial and ethnic groups, rural American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest rates of incomplete kitchen facilities and incomplete plumbing.

The “new” face of the opioid epidemic is rural Black residents

A TIME article, The Face of Rural Addiction Is Not What You Think, discusses the rising overdose rates among Black rural residents. It highlights how rural areas influence drug use patterns, including limited socialization and recreation possibilities, a prevalence of physically intensive jobs that are often associated with workplace discrimination and high social isolation, and deteriorating infrastructure and low-quality housing.

HAC

HAC is hiring

  • The Rental Housing Development and Preservation Housing Specialist is a senior-level role that combines expertise in multifamily housing programs, specifically focusing on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs, with the responsibility of providing technical assistance, with a particular focus on transfers of USDA 515 properties. This position is remote work eligible.
  • The Senior Accountant is responsible for applying technical and leadership skills to guide accounting practices and recording of transactions. This position is hybrid, based in Washington, DC.
  • The Financial Controller is responsible for day-to-day management of HAC’s finance and accounting processes, applying technical and leadership skills to determine proper application of accounting policies, practices, activities, and recording of transactions in accordance with GAAP and applicable industry standards. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Senior Human Resources and Payroll Administrator oversees all aspects of human resources and payroll practices and processes. People are HAC’s most important asset and this individual will be an impactful contributor to ensure we have a happy and productive workplace where everyone is inspired to bring their best work, realize their professional growth aspirations, and participate in helping HAC accomplish its mission. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Executive Assistant supports the work of HAC’s Chief Executive Officer, senior leadership, and board of directors. The position is a blend of administrative work and project assignments. Duties and responsibilities include maintaining an effective and well-organized Executive Office, serving as the primary point of contact for the CEO, and managing the meetings, materials, and other needs of HAC’s board of directors. This position is based in Washington, DC.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

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

HAC News: August 17, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 17

TOP STORIES

Federal agencies offer assistance after Hawaii fires

President Biden’s major disaster declaration for Maui County makes federal aid available. FEMA’s site provides information about resources available from FEMA and other sources. HUD announced disaster relief and waivers available from many of its programs.

Information can help people keep Medicaid and CHIP health insurance

USDA’s multifamily housing office encourages stakeholders to help tenants keep Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Coverage Program health coverage as states are required to review eligibility of all enrollees, a process called “unwinding.” Many people who remain eligible have lost coverage for administrative reasons. USDA’s bulletin suggests actions to take and provides links for information. Links to resources are also included in the March 2 HAC News.

USDA proposes rule based on manufactured housing pilot

Comments are due October 16 on a proposed regulation that would expand use of the Section 502 direct and guaranteed programs for manufactured housing. Among other changes, the rule would remove current limits on what existing manufactured homes could be purchased with both direct and guaranteed loans. Both types of loans could also be used for new energy-efficient homes sited on leased land in communities operating on a nonprofit basis or on Tribal land. For more information on direct loans, contact Sonya Evans, USDA, 423-268-4333; on guaranteed loans, contact the Guaranteed Loan Division, 833-314-0168.

Rural Voices magazine shows how housing helps address the rural substance use disorder crisis

A new issue of Rural Voices, HAC’s magazine, highlights innovative approaches to providing housing for residents in recovery with a cross-sector analysis of successful collaborative approaches to addressing the issues associated with substance use disorders.

RuralSTAT

The Recovery Ecosystem Index analyzes the community-level factors that are in place to support individuals in recovery from substance use disorder. This map is based on a tool that allows creation of county-level maps to understand these factors and where additional resources are most needed to provide support to individuals in recovery. Source: The Fletcher Group, Inc., East Tennessee State University, and ETSU/NORC Rural Health Equity Research Center, Recovery Ecosystem Index.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Final Davis-Bacon regulation released

The Department of Labor has issued an extensive update of its Davis-Bacon regulation. The rule’s changes are intended to strengthen and streamline the process for setting and enforcing wage rates on federally funded construction projects. DOL also posted information about the revisions, including FAQs and a chart comparing the old and new rules. For more information, contact Amy DeBisschop, DOL, 202-693-0406.

Abatement could be required for lower levels of lead in buildings

EPA proposes to make stricter two standards related to dust-lead hazards in buildings constructed before 1978, and to adopt other changes as well. Comments are due October 2. For more information, contact the Toxic Substances Control Act Hotline, 202-554-1404, TSCA-Hotline@epa.gov.

HUD seeks input on application burden

The deadline has been extended to September 13 for commenting on the burden people face when applying for or maintaining eligibility for HUD’s housing programs. For more information, contact Todd Richardson, HUD, 202-402-5706.

Comments invited on allocation of Tribal home electrification and appliance rebates funds

The U.S. Department of Energy requests comments on the allocation formula for the Tribal Home Electrification and Appliance Rebates program, which will fund energy efficiency and electrification home upgrades. DOE’s notice also describes how consortia of Tribes may apply for funds. Comments are due September 15. For more information, contact Adam Hasz, DOE, 202-617-9081.

HUD proposes Buy America waiver for Pacific islands

HUD proposes an 18-month waiver of the Build America, Buy America requirement for construction materials that would apply to the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa. Materials must be shipped to these islands, which are thousands of miles from the U.S. mainland. Comments are due September 1. Send questions to BuildAmericaBuyAmerica@hud.gov or contact Faith Rogers, HUD, 202-402-7082.

Appraisal bias to be addressed by new partnership

HUD and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers announced a collaboration that will launch in October to increase efforts to combat racial appraisal bias in home property valuation. The partnership will include online training for counselors, roundtable discussions on bias and discrimination, educational material distribution, and appraisal-related training.

Regulations hope to promote trust in federal statistics

The Office of Management and Budget has proposed regulations that are intended to promote public trust in the federal agencies that produce federal statistics. The provisions cover topics such as statistical agencies’ relationships with, and autonomy from, their parent agencies; oversight by OMB; communication with the public and obtaining feedback; accuracy; objectivity; and confidentiality. Comments are due October 2. For more information, contact Kerrie Leslie, OMB, 202-395-5898.

USDA RD multifamily housing income limits posted

The July 20 HAC News provided the link to RD’s 2023 single-family income limits but left out the multifamily limits. For more information, contact Tammy Daniels, USDA.

Comments urge HUD and USDA to adopt new energy efficiency standards

HAC submitted a comment letter to HUD and USDA on August 7, signed by over 80 organizations from around the country and supporting adoption of updated energy efficiency standards for some newly constructed housing.  The letter asks the agencies to protect residents against any increased upfront costs, to provide technical assistance for those who implement the new standards, and expand strong energy efficiency requirements to additional programs.

HAC comments support decoupling USDA rental housing and Rental Assistance

Responding to a directive from Congress, USDA held stakeholder meetings and collected comments on decoupling USDA Section 521 Rental Assistance from Section 515 rental housing loans to facilitate the rehabilitation and preservation of the multifamily portfolio. HAC recently submitted comments in support of decoupling, emphasizing the need for long-term affordability, support for the entire suite of preservation programs, establishing a plan for prepayments, and more.

EVENTS

National Rural Housing Conference registration is open

Register now to join stakeholders in the field of rural affordable housing, community development, and placemaking at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The 2023 conference theme is Build Rural – both a literal and figurative appeal to explore and provoke action to build and renew rural communities by addressing housing affordability and preservation, community infrastructure and essential facilities creation and revitalization, resident led placemaking, capacity building, and community inclusion and justice efforts.

Webinar will cover rural creative placemaking

A webinar on August 30, hosted by USDA RD and the University of Kentucky, will help rural leaders learn about creative placemaking approaches to help improve the lives of people in their areas. Creative placemaking integrates arts, culture, and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities. Attendees will learn how rural leaders started their projects and how completed projects are impacting their communities.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

New persistent poverty approach could be detrimental for rural areas

Switching from counties to census tracts as the basis for defining persistent poverty may hurt rural communities and their chances when competing for federal dollars, HAC researcher Keith Wiley and former HAC deputy director Joe Belden explain in a Daily Yonder article. A recent report from the Economic Innovation Group suggests this change, which would shift the categorization from largely rural to primarily urban places. In Analysis: A New Approach to Defining Persistent Poverty, Wiley and Belden agree that these urban communities need investment and focused policies, but caution that such a change should lead to expanding investment rather than shifting where it occurs.

Rural poverty described in new book

In an article titled What the Best Places in America Have in Common: And What they Reveal about Alleviating Poverty Across the Country, the authors of a new book explain that, as urban researchers, they were surprised to discover that many of the most disadvantaged places in the U.S. are rural counties and that most have majority BIPOC populations. The book, The Injustice of Place: Uncovering the Legacy of Poverty in America, describes these areas. Many of their counties of greatest advantage are also rural, in the historically agricultural Upper Midwest states. When their Multidimensional Index of Deep Disadvantage was released in 2020, the HAC News noted the index’s map was strikingly similar to HAC’s map of persistent poverty counties.

Housing influences rural health

The University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center’s Housing as a Social Determinant of Rural Health Project evaluates the well-understood concept of housing as a social determinant of health from a rural perspective. The most recent of three publications, Differences in Residential Stability by Rural/Urban Location and Socio-Demographic Characteristics, reports that rural residents are more likely to live in their homes for more than 20 years and highlights the need for support for home repairs for rural residents. The earlier papers are Housing Quality by Disability, Race, Ethnicity, and Rural-Urban Location: Findings from the American Community Survey and Crowded Housing and Housing Cost Burden by Disability, Race, Ethnicity, and Rural-Urban Location.

Briefs discuss upgrades for manufactured homes

Topic Briefs: Upgrading Manufactured Homes, a set of three briefs published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, provides information on how states and utilities can help improve manufactured homes. The series includes an overview of manufactured housing and its residents, lessons learned from model state and utility retrofit and replacement programs, and key federal funding opportunities for upgrading manufactured homes.

HAC

Support HAC through the Combined Federal Campaign

We are excited to share that HAC is participating in the 2023 Combined Federal Campaign, the workplace giving campaign for federal employees.  Support raised through this year’s CFC will help ensure that families across rural America have a safe, healthy, affordable place to call home. If you are a current or retired federal government employee, we hope you will consider supporting HAC as part of your participation in the CFC (CFC#27823)!

HAC is hiring for several positions

  • The Senior Accountant is responsible for applying technical and leadership skills to guide accounting practices and recording of transactions. The successful candidate will have experience in a complex organization and demonstrate a balanced communication style and strong critical thinking skills. This position is hybrid, based in Washington, DC.
  • The Senior Housing Specialist – Multifamily is a senior-level role that combines expertise in multifamily housing programs, specifically focusing on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs, with the responsibility of providing technical assistance, with a particular focus on transfers of USDA 515 properties. This position plays a leadership role in offering specialized knowledge on USDA 515 transfers and affordable housing preservation, supporting the success of affordable housing initiatives, and ensuring program compliance. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Financial Controller is responsible for day-to-day management of HAC’s finance and accounting processes, applying technical and leadership skills to determine proper application of accounting policies, practices, activities, and recording of transactions in accordance with GAAP and applicable industry standards. The successful candidate will have experience in a complex organization and will demonstrate a strong customer service orientation, balanced communication style, and robust critical and strategic thinking skills. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Senior Human Resources and Payroll Administrator oversees all aspects of human resources and payroll practices and processes. People are HAC’s most important asset and this individual will be an impactful contributor to ensure we have a happy and productive workplace where everyone is inspired to bring their best work, realize their professional growth aspirations, and participate in helping HAC accomplish its mission. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Executive Assistant supports the work of HAC’s Chief Executive Officer, senior leadership, and board of directors. The position is a blend of administrative work and project assignments. Duties and responsibilities include maintaining an effective and well-organized Executive Office, serving as the primary point of contact for the CEO, and managing the meetings, materials, and other needs of HAC’s board of directors. This position is based in Washington, DC.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

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

HAC News: August 3, 2023

HAC News: August 3, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 16

TOP STORIES

Congress recesses without agreement on spending

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have approved versions of most of the 12 appropriations bills needed to fund the government for fiscal year 2024. But their drafts differ, the full House has passed only one bill, the Senate has not passed any of them, and Congress has recessed for the month of August. It is not clear whether it will be possible for legislators to agree on even a continuing resolution to keep the government open after September 30. The Senate plans to reconvene on September 5, the House on September 12. The new fiscal year begins on October 1.

Senate proposes to increase HUD’s funding

On July 20 the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved S. 2437, a bill to fund HUD for fiscal year 2024. Like the House bill, H.R. 4820, the Senate’s version maintains aid for tenants. It holds many other programs at their FY23 funding levels, rejecting the House’s proposed cuts to HOME, Section 202 elderly housing, Section 811 housing for people with disabilities, and the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP). It includes no funding, however, for the new Preservation and Reinvestment Initiative for Community Enhancement (PRICE) program for manufactured housing. More details are available on HAC’s site for both the HUD and USDA bills.

USDA close to finalizing eligible areas changes

After a review process that began in March, USDA RD has posted a map showing proposed changes in area eligibility for its housing programs (click on a housing program name and then click on “Proposed Eligibility Areas”). The revised boundaries will be effective October 1. For a complete review of comments received or to ask questions regarding rural area boundaries, contact a USDA RD State Office. The agency’s announcement explains that for areas whose designation will change from rural to non-rural (places that were previously eligible and are becoming ineligible), a one-time notice will be published 30 days prior to implementation date confirming the updated boundaries.

Senate approves Tribal Trust Land Homeownership Act

S. 70, the Tribal Trust Land Homeownership Act of 2023, was unanimously approved by the Senate on July 18. The bill sets specific timelines for the Bureau of Indian Affairs processing of mortgages on Tribal trust land, requiring a decision within 30 days after BIA receives all documentation. The House has not voted on the bill, H.R. 3597, but it was included in a July 12 hearing held by the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs.

RuralSTAT

Revised determinations classify 1,186 (38%) of the 3,144 counties in the United States in the country’s 387 Metropolitan Statistical Areas and 1,958 (62%) outside metro areas. Source: OMB, Revised Delineations of Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Micropolitan Statistical Areas, and Combined Statistical Areas, and Guidance on Uses of the Delineations of These Areas.

OPPORTUNITIES

New program aims to build HUD tenants’ capacity for preservation

The Tenant Education and Outreach program will make grants to nonprofits, for-profits, or HUD-approved housing counseling agencies with experience providing support and technical assistance to low-income tenants or community-based tenant organizations. These intermediaries will make and oversee administration of sub-awards to help local tenant organizations serving project-based Section 8 properties to work with property management, improve management, and advocate for the preservation of affordability. Apply by October 23. For more information, contact HUD staff, TEO@hud.gov.

Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing preview available

HUD has posted a preview of the funding notice for its new Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing (PRO Housing) program. The final version will be posted on grants.gov in September, with an application deadline of October 30. This competition will use the CDBG statutory and regulatory framework to award $85 million that was included in HUD’s FY23 appropriation for the identification and removal of barriers to affordable housing production and preservation. Local and state governments, metropolitan planning organizations, and multijurisdictional entities are eligible. Public participation is required. HUD will offer several webinars in August. For more information, contact Jessie Handforth Kome, HUD, 202-708-3587 ext. 5539 (phone) or 202-708-0033 (fax), or send questions to CDBG-PROHousing@hud.gov.

Preview for homeownership initiative posted

HUD published a preview of the funding notice for its FY23 Homeownership Initiative. It intends to publish the final notice in FY24 with a 30-day application period. This initiative will make grants to HUD-approved intermediaries, multistate organizations, and state HFAs to provide culturally sensitive, linguistically appropriate housing counseling that results in home purchase, mortgage origination, and preservation of ownership among underserved communities. For more information or to submit questions, email housing.counseling@hud.gov using the email subject line: FY 2023 Homeownership Initiative NOFO, or call Melissa Noe, HUD, 312-913-8648.

CAPITOL HILL

NAHASDA reauthorization passes Senate

The Senate approved a measure to reauthorize and revise the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act on July 27, attached as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. NAHASDA, which governs HUD’s housing programs for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities, has not been authorized since 2013. The House passed a different version of the NDAA on July 14, without the NAHASDA amendment. A conference committee will need to resolve the differences between the bills when Congress reconvenes in September.

Senate measure would streamline disaster assistance

The Senate unanimously passed the Disaster Assistance Simplification Act, S. 1528, on July 28. The bill would establish a unified intake system, managed by FEMA, for all federal disaster aid programs.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Agencies remind landlords to share information with applicants

USDA, HUD, the CFPB, FHFA, and the Federal Trade Commission are distributing information to landlords, operators, and stakeholders on their responsibilities to alert rental applicants about information that is collected in tenant screening reports. USDA says owners of USDA-financed rental properties should post a memorandum in common areas easily visible to all residents and visitors, outlining the legal requirements for property owners and/or landlords.

USDA plans to host a listening session in fall 2023 for rural tenants to discuss ways to advance renter protections.

HUD also announced it intends to issue a proposed rule to affirm a provision of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that is already in effect. It will require housing providers to give written notification at least 30 days before evicting tenants in public housing and properties with project-based rental assistance for nonpayment of rent.

USDA launches Tribal pilots for Section 502 guarantee program

Two pilot programs are intended to increase affordable homeownership opportunities for people on Tribal lands – the Tribal Property Valuation Pilot Program, which provides a flexible appraisal option, and the Tribal Rehabilitation Pilot Program, which permits rehabilitation loans for homeowners. Both are effective from July 26, 2023 to July 28, 2025. For more information, contact Laurie Mohr, USDA, 314-679-6917.

Section 184 program area expanded

HUD Dear Lender Letter 2023-06 expands the Section 184 Native American home loan guarantee program into 23 counties in Tennessee and 14 counties in Texas and provides the 2023 maximum loan limits for the newly added counties.

New federal guidance allows Medicaid to cover housing expenses

States have increased flexibility to support housing, and other health-related social needs that impact a person’s health, using Medicaid funding. A Shelterforce article, How States Can Use Medicaid to Address Housing Costs, explains ways states have deployed these funds to cover housing costs and related expenses.

Proposal would address appraisal reconsiderations

The Federal Reserve Board, CFPB, FDIC, National Credit Union Administration, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency request comments on proposed interagency guidance to address reconsiderations of appraisals. Their notice explains that there is uncertainty about how financial institutions’ requests for re-assessments intersect with appraisal independence requirements and compliance with federal consumer protection laws, including those related to nondiscrimination. Comments are due September 19. For more information, contact Siddarth Rao, OCC, 732-635-2070.

Metro area determinations revised

A July 21 Office of Management and Budget bulletin titled Revised Delineations of Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Micropolitan Statistical Areas, and Combined Statistical Areas, and Guidance on Uses of the Delineations of These Areas provides lists for these types of Core-Based Statistical Areas, applying standards OMB published in 2021. The revisions do not have any immediate impact on housing programs.

USDA posts equity plans

The department has developed equity plans for each of its mission areas, including Rural Development. RD’s plan lists accomplishments including creation of the Rural Partners Network and new actions such as participation in the Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (PAVE) interagency task force.

HUD issues supplemental RAD notice

Rental Assistance Demonstration Supplemental Notice 4B (Notice H-2023-08/PIH 2023-19, Rev 4B) provides additional flexibilities for PHAs and multifamily housing owners participating in RAD. It also promotes water- and energy-efficiency investments and includes new requirements that address climate resilience and adopt stronger energy efficiency standards. Additionally, the notice provides $12 million to support preservation transactions of eligible housing for the elderly. HUD will offer an overview of the notice in an August 9 webinar.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

HUD releases national estimates of homelessness for 2021

The 2021 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR): Part 2 presents the most recent national estimates of homelessness for the year, supplementing Part 1, which reported data gathered on a single night at the national, state, and Continuum of Care levels. Because of the pandemic, data for 2021 were reliable only for sheltered people. The report points out that rural areas have fewer shelter options, so people experiencing homelessness there may be more likely to be unsheltered or doubled-up and therefore would not be included in these figures. The data show that 78% of households experiencing sheltered homelessness were in urban areas, 15% in suburbs, and 7% in rural areas in 2021. The rural share in 2019 was 9%.

GAO recommends better use of SHOP data

A new report from the Government Accountability Office, Affordable Housing: HUD Could Improve Use of Data for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program, concludes that, while HUD collects some data from SHOP grantees, it has not used that data to inform key program decisions, such as setting the cap on the amount of SHOP funds grantees can spend on each housing unit or evaluating the geographic diversity of units produced. GAO recommends that HUD use project-level and market data to make better-informed program decisions for SHOP. HUD’s response, which is appended to GAO’s report, indicates it will increase its analyses.

Heat has notable impact on colonias and farmworkers

Two recent reports consider the effect of the summer’s extreme heat on vulnerable populations. A July 29 New York Times article titled In Border Towns, a “Dangerous Combination” of Heat and Water Cutoffs describes the difficulties of keeping cool in the Texas colonias, where running water is not reliable. Farmworkers and Heat Stress in the United States, a report released August 2 by the Environmental Defense Fund and La Isla Network, notes that farmworkers are at exceptionally high risk for heat-related illness due to the strenuous nature of their work, which primarily takes place outdoors, and the risk is growing as heat increases because of climate change. The study cites poor housing conditions as a complicating factor.

HAC

HAC is hiring for several positions

  • The Senior Housing Specialist – Multifamily is a senior-level role that combines expertise in multifamily housing programs, specifically focusing on USDA 515 and HUD rural housing programs, with the responsibility of providing technical assistance, with a particular focus on transfers of USDA 515 properties. This position plays a leadership role in offering specialized knowledge on USDA 515 transfers and affordable housing preservation, supporting the success of affordable housing initiatives, and ensuring program compliance. This position is eligible for telecommuting.
  • The Financial Controller is responsible for day-to-day management of HAC’s finance and accounting processes, applying technical and leadership skills to determine proper application of accounting policies, practices, activities, and recording of transactions in accordance with GAAP and applicable industry standards. The successful candidate will have experience in a complex organization and will demonstrate a strong customer service orientation, balanced communication style, and robust critical and strategic thinking skills. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Senior Human Resources and Payroll Administrator oversees all aspects of human resources and payroll practices and processes. People are HAC’s most important asset and this individual will be an impactful contributor to ensure we have a happy and productive workplace where everyone is inspired to bring their best work, realize their professional growth aspirations, and participate in helping HAC accomplish its mission. This position is eligible for a hybrid schedule.
  • The Executive Assistant supports the work of HAC’s Chief Executive Officer, senior leadership, and board of directors. The position is a blend of administrative work and project assignments. Duties and responsibilities include maintaining an effective and well-organized Executive Office, serving as the primary point of contact for the CEO, and managing the meetings, materials, and other needs of HAC’s board of directors. This position is based in Washington, DC.

National Rural Housing Conference registration is open

Register by August 11 for early bird rates at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference! Stakeholders in the field of rural affordable housing, community development, and placemaking will come together October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The 2023 conference theme is Build Rural – both a literal and figurative appeal to explore and provoke action to build and renew rural communities by addressing housing affordability and preservation, community infrastructure and essential facilities creation and revitalization, resident led placemaking, capacity building, and community inclusion and justice efforts.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

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

HAC News: July 20, 2023

HAC News: July 20, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 15

TOP STORIES

House committee approves HUD funding measure

On July 18 the House Appropriations Committee passed an FY24 spending bill for the Departments of Transportation and HUD that would maintain funding for tenant vouchers, public housing, and Native American housing programs but would cut programs including HOME, Section 202 elderly housing, Section 811 housing for people with disabilities, and SHOP. HOME would be the most drastically impacted, with its funding cut from $1.5 billion in FY23 to $500 million in FY24. The bill also proposes to block HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulations. More details are available on HAC’s website. The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark up its FY24 Transportation-HUD appropriations bill on July 20, but has not yet made the bill’s contents public. HAC’s site will be updated when more information becomes available.

Torres Small confirmed as USDA Deputy Secretary

Xochitl Torres Small was confirmed by the Senate on July 11 and sworn in on July 17 as Deputy Secretary at USDA, after serving as Under Secretary for Rural Development since October 2021. Roger Glendenning is now Acting Under Secretary.

National Rural Housing Conference registration opens!

Register by August 11 for early bird rates at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference! Stakeholders in the field of rural affordable housing, community development, and placemaking will come together October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The 2023 conference theme is Build Rural. Thriving rural communities don’t happen by accident.  It takes collaborative effort, leadership, investment and planning to build equitable and just communities. Build Rural is both a literal and figurative appeal to explore and provoke action to build and renew rural communities by addressing housing affordability and preservation, community infrastructure and essential facilities creation and revitalization, resident led placemaking, capacity building, and community inclusion and justice efforts.

RuralSTAT

In the parts of North and South Carolina outside metro areas, home prices and median household income both grew between 2016 and 2021, but home prices increased by 13 percentage points more than incomes. Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

OPPORTUNITIES

EPA offers Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund grants

All three funding notices under the new $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund have now been released. Details and resources are posted on EPA’s website. For more information, email ggrf@epa.gov.

  • The $14 billion National Clean Investment Fund will make grants to two or three national nonprofit lenders or coalitions, which will partner with the private sector to finance clean technology projects in homes, businesses, and communities. An informational webinar is scheduled for July 26. Applications are due October 12.
  • The $6 billion Clean Communities Investment Accelerator will make grants to between two and seven hub nonprofit organizations, enabling them to provide funding and technical assistance to public, quasi-public, and nonprofit community lenders. An informational webinar is scheduled for July 27. Applications are due October 12.
  • The $7 billion Solar for All program, announced in June, will award up to 60 grants to states, territories, Tribal governments, municipalities, and nonprofits to expand the number of low-income and disadvantaged communities primed for residential solar investment. Notices of intent to apply are due July 31 for states, DC, and Puerto Rico; August 14 for territories, municipalities, and nonprofits; and August 28 for Tribal governments and intertribal consortia. Applications are due September 26.

Community Facilities disaster grants available

USDA has $50 million for Community Facilities grants to repair essential community facilities damaged by presidentially declared disasters in calendar year 2022. Applications will be accepted until funds are expended. Contact a USDA RD state office to discuss a potential project. For more information, contact Surabhi Dabir, USDA, 202-768-5875.

PHAs eligible for radon funding

Under the Radon Testing and Mitigation Demonstration for Public Housing, HUD will fund public housing agencies to conduct testing and, if applicable, mitigation of radon in the units they manage and to support the development of a plan for future testing and mitigation as needed. The deadline is August 21. For more information, contact Rhona P. Julien, HUD, 202-402-6842.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Some Section 504 repair program rules waived for disaster areas

A pilot program in 24 states and territories, effective from July 18, 2023 through July 18, 2025, waives four regulatory requirements for Section 504 loans and grants in presidentially declared disaster areas. The waivers (1) remove the requirement for grant recipients to be at least 62 years old, (2) allow the program to cover costs incurred before an application, (3) allow the program to cover the cost of moving or delivering a manufactured home, and (4) allow assistance to applicants who are not currently living at the property. For more information, contact Anthony Williams, USDA, anthonyl.williams@usda.gov, 202-720-9649.

USDA taking applications for Discrimination Financial Assistance Program

On July 7, USDA opened the application process for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who experienced discrimination in USDA farm lending programs prior to January 2021. The program’s website offers applications in English and Spanish, information on how to get help to apply, and other resources and details about the program. Applications can be filed online, by mail, or in person at the program’s local offices. USDA will consider all applications submitted by October 31; this is not a first come, first served process. Eight organizations including the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Intertribal Agriculture Council, and Rural Coalition will assist applicants. For more information, call 1-800-721-0970 or email info@22007apply.gov.

Energy efficiency comment deadline extended

The deadline is now August 7 to submit comments on HUD’s and USDA’s adoption of updated energy efficiency standards for some of the housing they finance.

Online platforms agree to improve information about junk fees for renters

The White House and HUD announced on July 19 that three of the largest online rental platforms – AffordableHousing.com, Zillow, and Apartments.com – will provide new tools to help inform renters about fees that increase the actual cost of a rental unit, such as application fees, move-in fees, and “convenience fees” for paying rent online. HUD also released a brief on Transparency in Rental Fees summarizing research on these fees and strategies to encourage transparency and fairness in the rental market. Several states have taken actions to limit or require disclosure of these fees. An article about efforts to create websites to help find affordable housing is available here.

2023 income limits for single-family rural housing published

USDA RD has released FY23 income limits for the Section 502 direct loan program and Section 504 direct loan and grant programs. Relevant websites, systems, and worksheets have been updated.

Corrections made for Section 538 lender submission process

A notice corrects errors in some provisions of USDA’s April update to the lender submission process for Section 538 guarantees. For more information, contact Jonathan Bell, USDA, MFHprocessing1@usda.gov, 254-742-9764.

EVENTS

Webinar on rural disaster preparedness set for August 1

Rural Disaster Preparedness: Partnering for Resilience and Resources, a new Rural Opportunity and Development (ROAD) Session on August 1, is hosted by Aspen Institute’s Community Strategies Group in collaboration with HAC, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Rural LISC, the International Economic Development Council, and the Federal Reserve Board. The webinar will be offered both virtually and in-person in Washington, DC.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Online disaster guide supports survivors of floods in Vermont

To assist our rural partners and communities affected by the recent flash flooding in Vermont, HAC offers an online resource guide with information for individuals and families in the disaster area. Other disaster resources from HAC include Rural Resilience in the Face of Disaster and a Disaster Response for Rural Communities Guide.

Mortgages under $150,000 should be more available, researchers say

Small Mortgages Are Too Hard to Get, an issue brief by the Pew Charitable Trusts, reports that from 2018 to 2021, only 26% of properties that sold for less than $150,000 were financed using a mortgage, compared with 71% of higher-cost homes. Inability to obtain small mortgages may make homeownership impossible or lead buyers to use alternative financing arrangements, which tend to be riskier and costlier than mortgages. The brief examines reasons for the shortage of small mortgages and suggests solutions.

Research presents persistent poverty by census tracts rather than counties

Efforts to address persistent poverty – poverty rates above 20% for at least 30 years – have focused on county-level designations, and 81% of persistent poverty counties are outside metro areas. Advancing Economic Development in Persistent-Poverty Communities, an Economic Innovation Group analysis, suggests analyzing long-term poverty at the census tract level in order to capture more urban places. This would bring the total persistent poverty area population to 35 million, compared to about 20 million using the county definition. The report proposes typologies that would show key differences and similarities, as well as a development assessment that would identify strengths and weaknesses in local economies and could inform development strategies.

HAC

Leonel Parra becomes HAC’s Chief Financial Officer

HAC is excited to welcome Leonel Parra as our new CFO. With extensive expertise in the nonprofit, financial and professional services, technology, and manufacturing sectors, Leonel brings a wealth of knowledge that will help HAC sustain our unprecedented growth and deepen our impact. More details about Leonel’s background are available on HAC’s website.

HAC provides input on Duty to Serve

On July 17-19 the FHFA hosted its annual series of listening sessions on Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve, focusing on the three components of the Duty to Serve Plans: rural housing, manufactured housing, and affordable housing preservation. Jonathan Harwitz, HAC’s Director of Public Policy, provided oral comments, accompanied by longer written comments, on behalf of HAC. HAC’s comments, which will be posted here, focused on maintaining USDA Section 515 preservation as a core goal of the rural Duty to Serve Plans; permitting targeted equity investments in CDFIs; using, and further refining, the new Colonias Census Tract definition; and meeting rural LIHTC equity investment goals. FHFA is still accepting written comments (at the link, select Duty to Serve Listening Sessions).

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

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

HAC News, July 6, 2023

HAC News: July 6, 2023

Vol. 52, No. 14

TOP STORIES

Fannie Mae proposes steep reduction in rural LIHTC investments this year

Explaining that it is has stopped participating in multi-investor LIHTC investment funds because of a legal concern, Fannie Mae has asked the Federal Housing Finance Agency for approval to reduce its FY23 Duty to Serve target for LIHTC equity investments in rural areas to 20-40 transactions rather than 70. FHFA seeks comments on the request by July 21. For more information, contact FHFA staff, DutyToServeStakeholders@fhfa.gov. A group of senators has asked the Treasury Department to resolve the underlying legal issue.

Interagency Community Investment Committee releases 2023 action plan

The ICIC – comprised of USDA, HUD, the Departments of Commerce, Transportation, and Treasury, and SBA – says in its just-released plan that this year it is focused on improving federal community investment programs that support community financial institutions; providing technical assistance and capacity-building for community development organizations, small businesses, and consumers; and attracting additional private sector investment or leverage. The plan responds to comments submitted in December by stakeholders including HAC, and includes a section on connecting rural communities to capital. It was released at the same time as a White House memo titled Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Advancing Equitable Community and Economic Development in American Cities and Urban Communities which, the White House says, “is complementary to the Administration’s efforts to equitably lift up rural and Tribal communities across the nation.”

HAC seeks applicants for workshops on accessible and universal design

HAC’s Accessible and Universal Design workshop series will guide 30 housing professionals on integrating accessible and universal design principles into housing design and construction activities to address the accessibility, mobility, and design needs of every client. Participants will be eligible to receive reimbursement for travel and training expenses (up to $1,500 per training) to attend the two required in-person training events. Apply by July 14. For more information, email apply@ruralhome.org.

July is Disability Pride Month

Disability Pride Month commemorates the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act into law on July 26, 1990. Shelterforce’s newest Under the Lens series, Not Just Ramps – Disability and Housing Justice, discusses the connection between disability and affordable housing. The [Un]Affordability of Accessibility: The Challenge of Retrofitting American Homes, an article in that series, reports that older adults and those with disabilities are an ever-increasing portion of our population. While there are laws in place, like the American with Disabilities Act, there is a lack of oversight and enforcement, resulting in few affordable and accessible housing options. To respond to the need, several nonprofits are working to reduce costs and retrofit homes so people can live comfortably in their homes.

RuralSTAT

In 2021, just over 80% of the U.S. population lived in urban places, with a disability rate of 12.6%. Among the slightly less than 20% of U.S. residents in rural places, 14.7% had a disability. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey.

OPPORTUNITIES

Continuum of Care funding available with new rural options

Applications are due September 28 for Continuum of Care funds to address homelessness and renewal or replacement of Youth Homeless Demonstration Program Grants. Based on a recent amendment to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, projects in rural areas can use funds for short-term emergency lodging, housing repairs, and staff training, professional development, skill development, and staff retention. Other revised provisions include newly eligible costs related to the Violence Against Women Act. For more information, email CoCNOFO@hud.gov.

HUD offers $75 million for Tribal community development

The Indian Community Development Block Grant program helps support development of housing, community facilities, and economic development in Tribal communities. Apply by September 5. For more information, contact HUD, ONAP-ICDBG@hud.gov.

EPA opens Solar for All competition

Solar for All will award up to 60 grants to help expand the number of low-income and disadvantaged communities primed for residential solar investment. This is one of the three Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund competitions; application periods for the others have not yet been announced. Interested applicants must submit notices of intent to apply, due July 31 for states, DC, and Puerto Rico; August 14 for territories, municipalities, and nonprofits; and August 28 for Tribal governments and intertribal consortia. An informational webinar is scheduled for July 12 and will be recorded and posted online. For more information, email GGRF@epa.gov.

Nominees sought for USDA Tribal Advisory Committee

USDA is establishing this committee to advise on matters related to Tribal and Indian affairs. Nominations for membership on the committee are due August 14. For more information, contact Josiah Griffin, USDA, 202-205-2249.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

USDA to hold virtual feedback sessions on decoupling as a rental preservation tool

USDA’s Rural Housing Service will host two online listening sessions to obtain stakeholder information on potential decoupling of Section 521 Rental Assistance from Section 515 rental housing loans so that some tenants can continue to receive RA after their properties’ mortgages end. Register to attend or speak on July 19 or July 25. USDA is also accepting written comments until July 31. For more information, contact Stephanie Vergin, USDA, 651-602-7820, decoupling@usda.gov.

CDFI Fund requests input on Capital Magnet Fund

The CDFI Fund asks for comments on ways to improve recipients’ understanding of its Capital Magnet Fund program requirements, ensure the program addresses activities and current business practices in the affordable housing industry, reduce the burden of administering CMF awards, better align the program with other significant federal funding sources, and determine how the program can better promote and incorporate policy priorities such as economic development in conjunction with affordable housing and affordable homeownership. Comments are due September 5. For more information, email cmf@cdfi.treas.gov and include “CMF RFI” in the email subject line.

List of distressed or underserved geographies outside metro areas released

The federal bank regulatory agencies have published their annual list of distressed or underserved middle-income geographies outside metropolitan areas. Bank financing for community development in these census tracts is eligible for Community Reinvestment Act consideration.

HUD publishes final notices implementing new inspection standards

HUD’s final rule for the National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) is accompanied by three subordinate notices. Information about inspection standards was released in June. Now an explanation of the scoring methodology and a notice covering administrative procedures have been published also. For more information, email NSPIREregulations@hud.gov.

Multifamily housing programs explain policy on electronic signatures

USDA’s multifamily staff encourages use of electronic and digital signatures and will accept them so long as they comply with applicable laws, regulations, and policies, according to recently issued guidance. Unacceptable types of electronic signatures are also listed. USDA regulations, which supersede this guidance, require some notices to tenants be provided in specific ways. For more information, contact the appropriate staff listed here.

Homeownership value limits set for HOME and Housing Trust Fund

HUD has established new limits, effective July 1, for the initial purchase prices or after-rehabilitation values of homeownership units assisted through the HOME program and Housing Trust Fund.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Inequities in child well-being persist, Kids Count reports

The 2023 version of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual KIDS COUNT data analysis shows that disparities continue among states and racial/ethnic populations. This year the report focuses on the national shortage of available and affordable childcare.

HAC

National Endowment for the Arts funds 25 rural communities through Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design

NEA, in partnership with HAC and To Be Done Studio, has announced the 25 towns and Tribal communities taking part in this year’s Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design™. Working with communities with populations of 50,000 or less, this national initiative has two primary components: local design workshops and a design learning cohort. This year CIRD will support eight workshops across the country, twice the number of workshops funded in previous years. The members of the peer learning cohort come from 17 communities as geographically diverse as Dalhart, Texas, and Ellsworth, Maine. Sign up for the CIRD newsletter to keep up to date on the cohort and other news.

HAC’s network supports rural housing improvements in letter to Congress

More than 100 organizations working in rural areas across the country signed a letter supporting bipartisan, cross-committee collaboration to consider improvements to USDA’s rural housing programs as part of the larger Farm Bill. Historically, the housing programs have not been included in the Farm Bill, but in recent months there has been increased momentum to include some bipartisan modernizations. HAC thanks all the organizations who signed the letter.

National Rural Housing Conference set for October

Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27 in Washington, DC and online.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

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

HAC News: June 23, 2023

TOP STORIES

USDA funding bills approved by House and Senate committees

On June 14, the full House Appropriations Committee passed a FY24 funding bill for USDA. The committee did not change any of the dollar amounts for rural housing or community facilities programs that were adopted by the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, but its report does show details that were not previously available. For example, Section 514/516 farmworker housing loans and grants, Section 504 repair grants, and Section 533 Housing Preservation Grants would all be reduced. Funding for the community facilities grants competition would fall from $25.3 million in FY23 to just under $3.6 million in FY24. Like the subcommittee, the full committee states that $1.607 billion will fully fund Section 521 Rental Assistance, without explaining why the amount is lower than the administration’s budget request. More information is posted on HAC’s website.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the USDA bill on June 22. It would cut Section 502 direct loans from $1.25 billion this year to $850 million and would raise the program’s minimum interest rate to 2% instead of the current 1%. It would provide $1.6 billion for Rental Assistance and would decouple RA from Section 515 mortgages. HAC is reviewing the bill and will post more information online on June 23.

The House’s overall FY24 spending limits for non-defense discretionary programs, adopted by the House Appropriations Committee on June 15, are lower than the amounts provided in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the debt limit compromise. Roll Call calculates that these limits (called 302(b) allocations), would decrease total funding for USDA by 30% below FY23 levels and for Transportation/HUD by 25%. The House versions of the FY24 appropriations bills may propose larger or smaller cuts in specific programs.

The House and the Senate committees have not yet released proposals for FY24 HUD funding and have not announced when they will begin to consider HUD bills.

Housing markets cool but costs remain high, says State of the Nation’s Housing report

The sharp interest rate hikes over the past year continue to impact housing markets and affordability for both homeowners and renters across the U.S., according to the State of the Nation’s Housing 2023 report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. First-time homebuying dropped sharply as housing costs remain well above pre-pandemic levels. Black and Hispanic homeownership rates were 28.6 and 25.8 percentage points below white homeownership rates in 2022. The number of cost-burdened renters hit a record high of 21.6 million households – about half of all renters – with 11.6 million of them spending over half of their income on housing. People continued to move into lower-cost, lower-density areas in 2022. The aging housing stock and climate change require attention as well, the authors write.

Apply for conference poster sessions by July 1

The deadline is July 1 for researchers and policymakers at all levels to apply to share their research and innovative ideas through a series of poster sessions at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference, October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The research must be related to rural America and can be on housing or another field such as public health, community development, race and ethnicity, or creative placemaking. Posters will be reviewed and judged by a distinguished panel of rural experts. For more information, contact Manda LaPorte and Natasha Moodie, HAC.

Correction to June 8 HAC News

The last issue of the HAC News stated incorrectly that the debt ceiling compromise rescinded $2 million appropriated for preservation technical assistance for FY21. The Fiscal Responsibility Act did not rescind rental preservation TA funds. HAC apologizes for any confusion.

RuralSTAT

Homes in rural Appalachian counties are less likely to be single-unit buildings than homes in the rest of the rural U.S. (70.4% compared to 75.2%), and more likely to be mobile homes (19.5% compared to 11.4%). Vacancy rates are about the same (22.2% and 22.6%). Source: Appalachian Regional Commission tabulations of 2017-2021 American Community Survey. (Rural counties are defined as those outside of and not adjacent to a metro area.)

OPPORTUNITIES

Main Street Grants available for small cities

HUD’s HOPE VI Main Street Program provides grants to communities with populations under 50,000 to assist in the renovation of historic, traditional central business districts or “Main Street” areas by replacing unused, obsolete, commercial space in buildings with affordable housing units. The only eligible applicants are local governments whose jurisdiction includes the Main Street area. Nonprofit or for-profit entities and others can be subcontractors. The deadline is October 12. For more information, contact Susan Wilson, HUD, 202-402-4500.

CAPITOL HILL

House committee votes to cancel aid for disadvantaged farmers

At its June 14 markup of its FY24 USDA funding bill, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment eliminating an Inflation Reduction Act program created to make payments to anyone who could show they experienced past discrimination in USDA farm lending programs. The program also includes funds to address land access (including heirs’ property) and funds outreach, education, and other aid. That IRA program replaced one created in the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act to aid socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers because lawsuits had determined that USDA loan programs had discriminated against them. White farmers and ranchers sued, charging that the ARPA program itself was discriminatory.

Native American housing covered in Senate hearing

Witnesses and Senators discussed Indian Country’s housing needs and opportunities at a June 13 hearing on the State of Native American Housing convened by the Senate Banking Committee’s Housing Subcommittee.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

HUD releases new inspection standards

The inspection standards notice for the National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) is the first of three subordinate publications that accompany the final NSPIRE rule published in May. NSPIRE provides for consistent property condition evaluations across multiple HUD programs. Notices on scoring and administrative matters are expected later this summer. HUD is developing training that will be posted on the NSPIRE website. For more information, email NSPIRE@hud.gov.

USDA systematizes appraisal assignment guidance for multifamily programs

Applicants to the Section 515 rental housing, Section 514/516 farmworker housing, and MPR preservation programs now do not need to request specific appraisal assignment guidance for each individual transaction. Instead, an owner can download (scroll down to “Quick Links”) the applicable appraisal assignment guidance, based on their specific situation, and provide the guidance to their appraiser prior to obtaining an appraisal. For more information, contact Jonathan Bell, USDA, jonathan.bell@usda.gov.

Comment deadline set for appraisal technology rule

Comments are due August 21 on a proposed rule by five federal regulatory agencies to  establish standards for computer models that may incorporate discrimination in property appraisals.

Fair Market Rent calculation changes under consideration

Comments are due July 24 on a HUD proposal to redefine “recent movers” and to use private rent data in calculating FY24 FMRs. For more information, contact Adam Bibler, HUD, 202-402-6057.

USDA RD creates Tribal relations webpage

RD’s Tribal Relations Page offers information about funding opportunities, events, and publications. For more information, email aian@usda.gov.

HUD will establish working group on LGBTQI+ issues

A June 15 presidential Executive Order instructs several federal agencies to take specific actions to advance equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex people. HUD is tasked with creating a new Working Group on LGBTQI+ Homelessness and Housing Equity, which “shall lead an initiative that aims to prevent and address homelessness and housing instability among LGBTQI+ individuals, including youth, and households.”

Resources posted on homelessness and climate change disasters

Noting that people experiencing homelessness can face greater risks from natural disasters and have less ability to prepare for and recover from them, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness has posted Homelessness and Climate Change: A Roundup of Resources for Communities Before, During, and After Disasters.

EVENTS

Rural energy funding webinar set for June 27

Rural Clean Energy Funding Opportunities Across Federal Agencies will be offered on June 27 by USDA, EPA, the Department of Energy, and other federal agencies. The webinar will introduce over a dozen clean energy funding opportunities for rural stakeholders.

Equitable Greenhouse Gas Reduction webinar series began June 22

In a set of webinars offered on Thursdays from June 22 through August 3, the Center for Impact Finance at the Carsey School of Public Policy and the Natural Resources Defense Council will make the case for how the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund can deliver equitable greenhouse gas reduction in low-income and disadvantaged communities through traditional lending lines of business in key market sectors. Recordings will be available online.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Housing costs still out of reach nationwide

Out of Reach 2023: The High Cost of Housing, the new edition of the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s yearly report, documents the gap between renters’ wages and the cost of rental housing for every state, metropolitan area, and county, as well as the portion of each state that is outside metropolitan areas. There is no state, metro area, or county where a full-time minimum-wage worker can afford a modest two-bedroom rental home within 30% of their income. The gap between wages and housing costs is largest for people of color, particularly women of color.

Chartbook shows changes and challenges in Appalachia

The Appalachian Region: A Data Overview from the 2017-2021 American Community Survey, published by the Appalachian Regional Commission, provides data and maps on a variety of topics including population, age, race/ethnicity, housing, education, internet access, employment, and more. Figures are listed for each of the region’s 13 states, for subregions, for county types, and for the Appalachian and non-Appalachian parts of each state (West Virginia is the only state entirely within the region).

Modular construction and local financing make homes affordable and expandable

Housing Innovation in Rural America, the last in a Nonprofit Quarterly set of articles titled Eradicating Rural Poverty: The Power of Cooperation Series, highlights the housing affordability challenges faced in rural America. Modular housing with community-based financing is an innovative approach to addressing these issues, as demonstrated with MiCASiTA. This model was pioneered by come dream. come build (cdcb) in the Rio Grande Valley, Tex. and is now being expanded to Pine Bluff, Ark. The modules are constructed off-site but locally, allowing for low-cost home construction that is affordable to lower-income families, who can add sections as they can afford them.

Connecticut begins baby bonds program

A National Community Reinvestment Coalition post discusses the potential implications of Connecticut’s new baby bond program in addressing wealth inequities. Starting on July 1, every baby born into a Medicaid eligible household in the state – disproportionately Black and Latino – will receive a $3,200 deposit into a trust. Those who are still Connecticut residents can redeem the funds between ages 18 and 30 for specific uses including purchasing a home.

HAC

National Rural Housing Conference set for October

Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27 in Washington, DC and online.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

2HAC’s loan fund provides low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

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

Old Historic Carnation, LP: A HAC Success Story

HAC’s patience and flexibility help convert a vacant Carnation milk plant into homes for seniors in Tupelo, MS

Rendering of carnation plant developmentThe Carnation Milk plant in Tupelo, Mississippi, has sat vacant since 1972. In about a year, that will change when 33 low-income senior households move into new affordable homes in this old factory. This May, Old Historic Carnation, LP broke ground on Carnation Village, a $16.8 million adaptive reuse project to convert the abandoned factory into 33 units of affordable senior housing. These units are sorely needed in Tupelo, a high-poverty community which needs over 1,500 additional senior affordable housing units. With a $325,000 loan from The Housing Assistance Council (HAC)—and two sixth-month extensions to that loan—the developer successfully navigated a predevelopment process mired in construction cost increases and unexpected funding gaps. Here’s how:

Photo of vacant Carnation plantThe original project scope called for 50 units: 25 from an adaptive re-use of the plant itself and another 25 in a second building to be constructed next door. When our loan closed in July 2021, the project budget totaled about $12.7 million, to be funded by Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits, and a $1.6 million equity investment. Our financing covered the predevelopment costs of the work required to get to construction financing closing including environmental testing, historic preservation approvals, tax credit application and reservation fees, a market study, and an appraisal.

In the fall of 2021, increases in construction costs left Old Historic Carnation with a $3.8 million funding gap. By the time they applied for and received more tax credits from the Mississippi Housing Corporation (MHC), added a $1 million mortgage, received approval from the National Park Service, and updated the construction bids, costs had increased by a further $4.5 million. In the space of less than a year, the construction cost for the project nearly doubled.

Because HAC can be a patient lender, we extended our loan by six months to give the developer time to solve the problem. Old Historic Carnation applied for and received another tax credit increase from the state, reduced costs with value engineering measures, and increased the deferred developer fee by almost $2 million.

Construction costs increased again in the summer of 2022, causing the equity investor to back out of the project. The developer went back to the drawing board once again and reduced the project’s scope to 33 units, all affordable to households making less than 80% of the area median income (AMI). Plus, 26 would also be affordable to households under 60% AMI. With an additional loan extension from HAC, Old Historic Carnation secured approval of the new scope by MHC, obtained the necessary building permits, and have now begun demolition.

HAC Loan Office Alison Duncan (center) breaks ground for Carnation Village.

HAC Loan Office Alison Duncan (center) breaks ground for Carnation Village. Photo by Adam Robison, the Daily Journal.

On March 21st, Old Historic Carnation, LP closed on construction financing and repaid our predevelopment loan in full. And on May 31st, the project broke ground. Old Historic Carnation’s persistence and creativity made this project a success. But it was HAC’s flexibility that supported them as they went through the process of raising additional funds three times to make the project work. The Carnation Village project showcases how the ingenuity of a local housing developer, solid working relationships with private, state and federal funders, and flexible and patient HAC financing all add up to bring difficult and important projects to fruition. Fifty-one years ago, Carnation Milk closed its factory in Tupelo, Mississippi. Soon, thirty-three low-income, senior households will be able to call it home.

HAC is proud to be a critical part of this project and we look forward to watching it develop.

HAC News: June 8, 2023

TOP STORIES

Debt ceiling compromise limits spending, rescinds some HUD and USDA housing funds

The Fiscal Responsibility Act – the recently enacted compromise that suspends the debt ceiling until January 1, 2025 – makes fewer cuts than the Limit, Save, Grow Act passed by the House in April, but it almost certainly will limit federal spending on housing aid for the next two fiscal years. In addition to the well-publicized work requirements for SNAP and TANF recipients, reallocation of IRS funding, and revised environmental reviews, the measure includes a variety of other provisions, several of which impact rural housing.

It rescinds USDA rural housing funds in two accounts: any unspent funds from the $39 million for Section 502 direct loans and 504 loans that was provided in the American Rescue Plan Act.  and $2 million appropriated for preservation technical assistance for FY21. That $2 million was included in a currently open notice of funding availability from USDA offering $6.9 million from several appropriations years. Correction: The deleted language was included erroneously in the HAC News as distributed on June 8. The Fiscal Responsibility Act did not rescind rental preservation technical assistance funds. HAC apologizes for any confusion.

Further information is available on HAC’s website about HUD funding rescissions, caps on future spending, and provisions intended to give Congress incentives to enact regular appropriations bills for FY24 and FY25.

Rural veterans and local nonprofits receive critical housing support in partnership with The Home Depot Foundation

Veterans and their families in 14 rural communities will have better lives, thanks to The Home Depot Foundation and HAC. The Foundation is awarding grants totaling $366,907 to 14 local nonprofit housing agencies around the country to preserve housing for veterans in rural America. The grants are part of The Home Depot Foundation’s mission to provide affordable and accessible housing solutions to U.S. veterans and invest $500 million in veteran causes by 2025. As part of its Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans Initiative, HAC works with The Home Depot Foundation to administer grants that bolster and support the work of rural nonprofit housing agencies to deliver critical housing support to veterans.

HAC extends poster session deadline

Researchers and policymakers at all levels can apply by July 1 to share their research and innovative ideas through a series of poster sessions at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference, October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The research must be related to rural America and can be on housing or another field such as public health, community development, race and ethnicity, or creative placemaking. Posters will be reviewed and judged by a distinguished panel of rural experts. For more information, contact Manda LaPorte and Natasha Moodie, HAC.

June is National Homeownership Month, National Healthy Homes Month, and Pride Month

RuralSTAT

According to the 2021 American Community Survey, there are 33.3 million homeowners in rural America. The rural homeownership rate is 72.5% compared to 64.6% for all households nationally. Source: HAC Tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey. For more information on rural homeownership visit Rural Research Brief: Homeownership in Rural America.

OPPORTUNITIES

EPA to help Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund applicants find partners

Potential applicants, coalition members, and partners wanting to find others interested in the three GGRF funds can fill out brief forms by June 19. EPA will compile a list and share it among those who provide their information. Consultants and other for-profit vendors will not be included. The agency expects to publish notices of funding opportunities this summer. For more information, email ggrf@epa.gov.

PHAs can request funding for Housing Mobility or Jobs Plus

PHAs that administer Housing Choice Vouchers can apply for Housing Mobility-Related Services funds to increase access to opportunity neighborhoods for families with children. The deadline is August 30. For more information, contact Alison Bell, housingmobility@hud.gov.

Jobs Plus program funds help PHAs assist public housing residents to find and continue jobs. The deadline is August 21. For more information, contact the program office, jobsplus@hud.gov.

Fannie Mae offers first look at REO properties to community organizations

Community First by Fannie Mae™ manages the sale of REO properties to public entities, nonprofits, public funds users, and community-minded investors across the country. Approved partners receive access to Fannie Mae REO properties before the homes are traditionally listed for sale. The properties are made available with price concessions to facilitate affordable and sustainable housing. All interested organizations are required to register for approval to participate in the program. For more information or a demonstration of the platform, contact Fannie Mae’s Community First Sales Team, support_communityfirst@fanniemae.com.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

Axne and Hsu join USDA

Cindy Axne, formerly a member of the House of Representatives from Iowa, has been appointed Senior Advisor for Rural Engagement, Delivery and Prosperity at USDA. Yvonne Hsu has been appointed Chief of Staff for the Rural Housing Service. She previously worked at the National Asian-Pacific American Women’s Forum, the National Council of State Housing Agencies, and HUD, and on Capitol Hill.

Temporary Buy America waivers for Tribes proposed by USDA, finalized by HUD

USDA is proposing a one-year department-wide waiver for Tribes of the Buy America domestic content procurement preference in order to conduct more Tribal consultation. An earlier Tribal consultation waiver for USDA RD has now expired. Comments on the new request are due June 16. For more information or to submit comments, email ffac@usda.gov with the subject “Tribal Consultation Waiver in the Public Interest for Indian Tribes.”

HUD’s request for a similar one-year waiver for Tribes has been approved. For more information, contact Faith Rogers, HUD, 202-402-7082.

USDA sets schedule for feedback on decoupling as a rental preservation tool

USDA RD seeks stakeholder input as it compiles a required report to Congress on how it could implement decoupling of Section 521 Rental Assistance from Section 515 mortgages so that some tenants can continue to receive RA after their properties’ mortgages end. Send comments to decoupling@usda.gov by July 31; attend an in-person session on June 15 at a National Council of State Housing Agencies conference or on June 27 at a Council for Affordable and Rural Housing conference; or join a virtual session on July 19 or July 25.

Comments sought on tenant protections

The Federal Housing Finance Agency requests input on tenant protections at multifamily properties with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. FHFA asks for information that highlights tenants’ experiences and stakeholders’ perspectives, as well as ideas for improved data collection. Comments are due July 31. Several tenant-supporting organizations have also set up a joint website to help tenants to comment.

Agencies propose rule on appraisal technology

A rule proposed by the Federal Reserve Board, CFPB, FDIC, FHFA, National Credit Union Administration, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency would establish standards for computer models used in property appraisals. These “automated valuation models” help appraise real estate that will be used as collateral for mortgage loans. A CFPB blog post explains that automated valuations rely on mathematical formulas and large amounts of data to estimate a property’s value but can embed bias and discrimination, depending on the information they are given and how they are programmed. Comments on the proposal will be due 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. For more information, contact Julie Giesbrecht, FHFA, 202-557-9866.

Freddie Mac launches mortgage product for Native American homebuyers

HeritageOne mortgages will provide conventional financing without income limitations for enrolled members of federally recognized Tribes. They will be available beginning in October for single-family homes on the lands of Tribes that are on HUD’s Section 184 Participating Tribes List or have memoranda of understanding with Freddie Mac. Lenders interested in originating these mortgages should contact their Freddie Mac account executive or the Customer Support Contact Center (800-FREDDIE). HeritageOne was developed under Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve plan.

FHFA plans online listening sessions on Duty to Serve

The Federal Housing Finance Agency will hold virtual Duty to Serve Markets Public Listening Sessions on July 17 (rural housing), July 18 (manufactured housing), and July 19 (affordable housing preservation). Register to attend or to speak. FHFA will provide more information soon about how to submit written comments. For more information, email DutytoServeStakeholders@fhfa.gov.

FHA considers new approach to help struggling homeowners

The Federal Housing Administration requests comments on a new Payment Supplement Partial Claim to help struggling homeowners with FHA loans to reduce their mortgage payments temporarily. Mortgage servicers would use the FHA Partial Claim, which is an interest-free loan secured by a subordinate mortgage, both to bring a borrower’s mortgage current and to provide temporary reductions to their monthly mortgage payments for up to five years. The homeowner would repay FHA when they sell their home or refinance. Comments are due June 30.

HUD announces third round of unsheltered and rural homelessness funding

HUD has awarded $45 million for 3,379 Stability Vouchers to 135 PHAs and partnering Continuum of Care communities across the country to address homelessness among people in unsheltered settings and in rural communities. The effort to address homelessness in these places began in June 2022 with a notice of funding opportunity, and earlier funding rounds were announced in February and April 2023.

EVENTS

HAC continues webinar series on construction

Overcoming Cost Barriers: Innovative Approaches to Construction with Smart Building Techniques, Volunteers, and Sweat Equity is a series of five webinars. Two will be held later this month:

Three sessions have already been held, and the materials and recordings are posted online:

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Local nonprofit partners develop energy efficient affordable housing on the Pine Ridge reservation

The Western Organization of Resource Councils reports how Red Cloud Renewable and InOurHands are working together to build naturally insulated cellular concrete tiny homes that can be heated with a small solar panel. In the next phase, Lakota businesses will build the homes and the Lakota Federal Credit Union will underwrite the mortgages.

Housing supply limits growth for small Illinois towns, article says

Rural Illinois Towns Defend their Quiet Communities, originally published in the Chicago Tribune, reports that the lack of growth in rural Illinois towns may indicate limited housing supply rather than economic decline – businesses and school enrollment may be stable. The town of Dieterich used tax increment financing to prepare 130 new lots where developers have built new homes, and also created a local community development corporation. Both efforts have contributed to substantial population growth and a stronger local economy.

New resources available for smaller distressed communities

HUD recently updated its Distressed Cities and Persistent Poverty Technical Assistance Program library with new resources including upcoming funding opportunities, webinars, and toolkits. For more information, contact distressedcities@hud.gov.

HAC

National Rural Housing Conference set for October

Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27 in Washington, DC and online.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan fund provides low interest rate loans to support single- and multifamily affordable housing projects for low-income rural residents throughout the U.S. and territories. Capital is available for all types of affordable and mixed-income housing projects, including preservation, new development, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development, construction/rehabilitation and permanent financing. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

Please note: HAC is not able to offer loans to individuals or families. Borrowers must be nonprofit or for-profit organizations or government entities (including tribes).

Want to reprint a HAC News item?

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

HAC News: May 25, 2023

TOP STORIES

Researchers predict consequences of debt limit stand-off

While congressional leaders and President Biden work to agree on provisions for raising the U.S. debt limit before the country’s borrowing reaches it in early June, economists and others are attempting to predict possible consequences of various scenarios.

  • If the House-passed Limit, Save, Grow Act becomes law, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates, it would require a 33% cut in “the two-fifths of the discretionary budget outside of defense and veterans’ medical care.” As a result, over 2 million people would lose rental assistance and 119,000 people experiencing homelessness would not receive aid. Because the spending reductions would increase over time, the cut would grow to 59% in 2033. CBPP provides an interactive graphic showing how protecting some programs changes the level of cuts to others.
  • If there is no agreement before the debt limit is reached, a short-term default of less than a week would lead to a “mild” recession in the second half of 2023, according to Moody’s Analytics. Real GDP would decline by 0.7 percentage point, employment would fall by 1.5 million jobs, and the unemployment rate would rise from 3.4% to a peak of almost 5%. There would be little long-term fallout on the economy, although global investors would demand higher interest on Treasury debt to compensate for the risk of future debt limit breaches, creating a significant cost to taxpayers in the long run.
  • If the debt limit breach lasts for a month or longer, Moody’s predicts a “cataclysmic” blow to the economy. The federal government would have to slash its spending, leading to an economic downturn comparable to that in 2007-2008. More than 7.8 million jobs would be lost, and unemployment would rise to 8%. The effects would still be felt a decade in the future. In both the short and long term, healthcare providers would likely become more hesitant to see Medicare and Medicaid patients. Confidence in other government supports would weaken spending and confidence, especially in areas with more lower-income or elderly households.

House subcommittee approves FY24 USDA spending bill

The House has begun working on appropriations bills for fiscal year 2024, which begins on October 1, 2023. The Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee passed a bill on May 18 that would fund many rural housing programs at levels lower than those requested in the administration’s budget, and in some cases lower than the amounts appropriated for FY23 or FY22. HAC has posted details on its website. The bill will move next to the full House Appropriations Committee, which has postponed a markup originally set for May 24.

RuralSTAT

According to the 2020 Census, there are approximately 697,000 rural Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Source: Housing Assistance Council Tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 Census of Population and Housing. For more information on race and ethnicity in rural America visit HAC’s website.

OPPORTUNITIES

USDA offers Native CDFIs funds to relend

Certified Native CDFIs can apply to USDA for loans from the Native Community Development Financial Institution Relending Demonstration Program. Awardees will relend money to low- and very low-income households to acquire, build, rehabilitate, improve, or relocate dwellings on Tribal land in rural areas. The deadline is July 17. For more information, contact Brian Hudson, USDA, 608-697-7725.

Powering Affordable Clean Energy Program to finance renewable energy

The Rural Utilities Service is launching the Powering Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) Program, appropriated $1 billion in the Inflation Reduction Act to serve places with populations of 20,000 or less, or service areas of current RUS Borrowers or former RUS and Rural Electrification Act borrowers. The program will provide loans for projects that generate and/or store electricity from renewable energy resource systems. Nonprofits, for-profits, state and local governments, Tribes, institutions of higher education, community-based organizations, distribution electric cooperatives, and generation and transmission electric cooperatives are eligible and may submit letters of interest between June 30 and September 29. Loans are potentially partially forgivable, with the forgivable portion varying depending on the geography served. For more information, contact Christopher A. McLean, USDA, 202-690-4492.

REGULATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES

USDA proposes to waive Buy America requirements for some community facilities and water and environmental projects

USDA has requested a one-year exemption from Build America, Buy America procurement requirements for infrastructure projects funded by USDA’s water and environmental or community facilities programs that were planned prior to May 14, 2022. The waiver would apply to projects that were awarded funds before that date, submitted an application to USDA, or held “substantial public engagement” such as having public meetings or publishing a notice related to project selection. Comments on the waiver request are due June 2. For more information or to submit comments, email ffac@usda.gov with the subject “RD Waivers: Public Interest Waiver for Projects Planned Prior to BABAA Implementation.”

FEMA seeks comments on risk assessment data

FEMA requests public input as it implements new statutory requirements that include designating “community disaster resilience zones” for targeting disaster mitigation efforts. Its questions address methodology and data, the designation process, and the types of assistance to be provided to resilience zones. Comments are due July 25. For more information, contact Pamela Williams, FEMA, 202-212-8007.

HUD releases income limits

Income limits that determine eligibility for programs including public housing, Section 8 project-based, Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Section 202, and Section 811 have been posted online and took effect May 15. Income limits for Community Planning and Development programs including CDBG and HOME are available here and will be effective June 15.

Tribal input invited on environmental review

A Tribal/Interagency Environmental Streamlining Toolkit developed by the HUD-led Tribal Housing and Related Infrastructure Interagency Task Force is available for Tribal consultation. The toolkit is intended to provide Tribes with information and tools to create one environmental review when multiple agencies are involved in a Tribal housing project. The website can also serve as a hub providing environmental requirements for Tribal housing and related infrastructure from eight different federal agencies, and it offers guidance and best practices for coordination, including coordinating endangered species and historic preservation reviews. The task force requests feedback by June 9.

ReConnect regulatory changes confirmed

USDA has adopted the changes it proposed in January for the Rural eConnectivity Program, effective May 1. For more information, contact Laurel Leverrier, USDA, 202-720-3416.

HUD and USDA move towards revising energy standards

Taking the first step in adopting revisions to their energy standards, HUD and USDA announced a preliminary determination that the changes do not negatively affect the availability or affordability of new construction of single- and multifamily housing covered by the relevant law. They relied on studies showing the incremental costs of the additional efficiency measures pay for themselves with energy cost savings on a life-cycle basis. Comments are due July 17. For more information, contact Michael Freedberg, HUD, 202-402-4366 or Meghan Walsh, USDA, 202-573-3692.

Feedback sought on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s single-family pricing

After canceling fees it had previously announced, the Federal Housing Finance Agency is requesting input on the goals and policy priorities it should pursue in overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s single-family pricing framework, as well as the process for setting their single-family upfront guarantee fees. Comments are due August 14.

HAC comments on Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund framework

Responding to an implementation framework released by the Environmental Protection Agency for the new $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, HAC asked EPA to address the unique needs of rural and persistent poverty communities; ensure that nonprofit CDFIs and their nonprofit housing development partners are explicitly eligible for GGRF resources; increase clarity and reduce administrative burden on recipients; and exempt housing from Build America, Buy America requirements. EPA expects to announce funding availability as early as June.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA

Digital technology can help elders age in place but has limitations

Centering the Home in Conversation about Digital Technology to Support Older Adults Aging in Place, published by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, explores how digital technology can enable older adults to age in place by supporting activities of daily living as well as monitoring health and communicating information to healthcare providers. Barriers like housing problems and the digital divide, however, may limit effectiveness for rural elderly households.

Study examines U.S. trends for people experiencing homelessness

The State of Homelessness: 2023 Edition, published by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, uses HUD and Census Bureau data to provide information about homelessness in the U.S. on a given night in 2022 and to illustrate emerging trends by race/ethnicity, age, sheltered or unsheltered status, and other characteristics. Data is presented at the national, state, and Continuum of Care levels through an interactive dashboard.

Energy efficiency programs can become more equitable, research finds

Some customers and communities are underserved by energy efficiency efforts, according to Toward More Equitable Energy Efficiency Programs for Underserved Households, a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Utilities and other program administrators can use a variety of approaches to better serve low- and moderate-income consumers, renters, Black, Latino/a, rural, tribal, and non-English speakers, the study explains, with examples from both rural and urban areas. ACEEE also provides a variety of other energy equity resources, including Advancing Equity through Energy Efficiency Resource Standards, a report recommending state policies that could target energy savings for underserved households; an Energy Equity for Renters Toolkit; and a factsheet that summarizes the toolkit.

Rental incentive program makes workforce housing possible

Vermont Digger reports that the town of Woodstock will provide financial incentives to landlords in nearby towns to build or renovate units to house renters working at least 25 hours per week in Woodstock. Funding ranges from $2,500 for a qualified tenant with a one-year lease to $10,000 for four or more tenants with two-year leases.

HAC

National Rural Housing Conference set for October

Mark your calendars and save the date! HAC’s National Rural Housing Conference will be held October 24-27 in Washington, DC and online.

HAC invites poster session proposals for national conference

Researchers and policymakers at all levels can apply by June 2 to share their research and innovative ideas through a series of poster sessions at the 2023 National Rural Housing Conference, October 24-27 in Washington, DC. The research must be related to rural America and can be on housing or another field such as public health, community development, race and ethnicity, or creative placemaking. Posters will be reviewed and judged by a distinguished panel of rural experts. For more information, contact Manda LaPorte and Natasha Moodie, HAC.

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).

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