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Policy News from the Administration

HAC CEO Statement on Biden-Harris Housing Supply Action Plan

by David Lipsetz

The Biden-Harris Administration released a Housing Supply Action Plan on May 16 that can bring the cost of housing back in line with families’ incomes. This is particularly important in small towns where incomes remain stubbornly low, while the cost of buying or renting a place to live is soaring. The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) applauds the Administration for designing and including several provisions specifically with rural markets in mind.

The Plan includes administrative and legislative proposals to improve existing housing finance mechanisms. It establishes new housing production programs. It calls for changes to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit that will attract private investment in affordable rental housing. It provides grants—such as the HOME Investment Partnerships Program—to states, cities and towns to do what locals know will be best for their local housing market.  It calls on Congress to establish a Housing Supply Fund and incentivize zoning reform to accelerate the building of more housing across the Nation.

Critically, the Administration proposes reforms that prioritize homeowners living in the homes that they own. This is a welcome change for rural Americans who need high-quality affordable homes in which to live far more than they need high-priced vacation homes. For rental housing, the Administration focuses investment on small-scale 2–4-unit buildings instead of high-rise apartment complexes. It calls for new rentals where few are being built and recognizes the urgency of preserving affordable rentals that already exist. And for the first time in decades, an Administration released a housing plan that calls for improved financing for manufactured housing, an important resource in rural places.

The shortage of affordable housing in rural America is a serious issue. Rental units are being lost at an alarming rate. Single-family homes are significantly older than elsewhere in the Nation. The Administration’s framework recognizes the unique need for affordable housing and proposes solutions built to work in small town and rural America.

Many of the Administration’s actions just announced reflect HAC’s policy priorities. But it remains critical that these actions be complemented by initiatives to address another essential factor in improving housing for rural Americans—building the capacity of local organizations to improve their own communities. Because rural places often have small and part-time local governments, they often find it particularly difficult to navigate the complexities of federal programs and modern housing finance, and to compete for government resources. Philanthropy has not stepped in to address this inequity built into our systems, instead concentrating its resources in already-prosperous high-cost regions. Targeted capacity building through federal investments in training and technical assistance is how most local organizations build skills, tap information, and gain the wherewithal to do what they know needs to be done.

Rural communities hold vast potential to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life for all Americans. Access to quality, affordable housing is key to jumpstarting that potential. Building and preserving homes creates jobs, improves education and health outcomes, and provides much-needed financial and physical stability to families in need. We look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress to ensure that these initiatives move us closer to the day when every American has access to a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home.

Policy News from Congress

HAC Supports a Variety of Rural and Tribal Housing Funding Priorities

HAC’s Fiscal Year 2023 Appropriations Priorities

As the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 appropriations process gets underway, HAC is supporting a variety of rural and tribal housing funding priorities. This year, we saw the most robust Administration’s Budget for rural housing in recent memory, and we are hopeful that this will contribute to some momentum in the appropriations process. Among others, HAC supports the following rural housing funding priorities. (This list is not exhaustive and for Rural Housing Service programs not specifically mentioned, HAC supports the funding levels in the Administration’s FY23 Budget.)

USDA Multifamily Preservation:
  • $1 billion for USDA’s Multifamily Housing Preservation & Revitalization Demonstration (MPR) program
    • The cost to preserve the current USDA rental portfolio over the next 30 years is estimated to be over $30 billion. MPR is USDA’s most effective, and many times only feasible preservation funding tool. Applications have, however, been closed for four years as the Agency works through its waiting list, which is projected to take another four years.
  • $200 million for USDA Section 515, including new construction
    • This funding would allow for new construction to resume and is expected to be accompanied by a commensurate increase in Section 521 rental assistance to cover new units.
  • $350 million above the level needed for renewals to extend USDA Section 521 rental assistance to currently unassisted households
    • This funding would allow for the extension of rental assistance to cover all currently unassisted units. An estimated 67,000 households in USDA rental housing do not receive rental assistance from USDA, HUD or state sources (not including those that were covered by the American Rescue Plan). With an average annual income of only $13,500, these households are uniformly low income and often very or extremely low income. The vast majority also pay more than 30% of their income for rent. Providing this assistance will not only help families in need, but also shore up the finances of many developments, encouraging preservation.
  • $2 million for USDA Multifamily Housing Transfer & Prepayment Technical Assistance Grants
    • HAC is seeking to ensure that these funds support both transformational preservation research and the provision of technical assistance to improve transaction-level preservation deal flow.
  • $3 million for USDA’s Multifamily Housing Preservation Revolving Loan Fund Demonstration Program (PRLF)
    • PRLF was funded through appropriations for several years between 2005 and 2011 and provided loan capital to private non-profit organizations and state and local housing finance agencies to provide revolving loans for preservation.
Capacity Building:
  • $12 million for the Rural Community Development Initiative at USDA
    • The Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) is the sole capacity building resource provided through USDA’s Rural Development, and facilitates community development efforts in rural areas. Grants are competitively awarded to nonprofit housing and community development organizations, low-income rural communities and federally recognized tribes in order to support housing, community facilities, and economic development projects in rural areas.
  • $10 million for the Rural Capacity Building Program at HUD
    • The Rural Capacity Building Program (RCB) is a powerful and flexible program funded by HUD to build capacity of nonprofits and tribes to undertake affordable housing and community development activities in rural areas. Participating organizations are offered a suite of services for a comprehensive, customized approach of technical assistance, training, information products and resources, and low-cost rural housing development loans.
Rural & Tribal Homeownership:
  • $20 million for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program at HUD
    • Created in 1996, the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) is a small but unique program that helps low-income families achieve homeownership through sweat equity. Competitively awarded SHOP funds from HUD go to a network of local nonprofits, distributed via intermediaries. SHOP funds can be used to acquire land, purchase foreclosed or abandoned properties, and improve the infrastructure of homes for lower-income homeowners. Often these are some of the most difficult items for local nonprofits to finance. Families invest a minimum of 100 hours of sweat equity into the construction of their homes, but many families invest much more — often in excess of 500 hours.
  • $50 million for the Section 502 Single Family Housing Direct Loan Relending Program for Native Americans
    • In 2018, the USDA and two Native community development financial institutions (Native CDFIs) in South Dakota implemented a successful $2 million demonstration which sought to improve the deployment rate of the 502 direct program in Native communities in South Dakota. The pilot made Native CDFIs eligible borrowers under the 502 direct loan program and enabled them to relend to qualified families for the construction, acquisition, and rehabilitation of affordable housing on trust land. Through this demonstration, the two Native CDFIs in partnership with USDA made nearly double the number of loans on these two reservations than USDA deployed on its own on the same two reservations during the previous ten years. The President’s FY 2023 Budget request includes funding for the continuation and expansion of the Native American 502 home loan relending program as part of the existing USDA 502 single family housing direct loan program.

HAC News: June 25, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

June 25, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 13

• House subcommittee keeps most USDA spending at FY15 levels • Senate committee advances HUD bill with large cut in HOME • Supreme Court approves use of disparate impact for fair housing claims • Indian Country needs capital, witnesses tell Senate panel • Funds for housing and health research offered • Reminder: USDA has email lists for single-family housing loan programs • RD alters multifamily reserve account countersignature requirements • HUD Rental Assistance Demonstration changed • Federal homelessness plan revised • Homeownership down, renters’ cost burden rates increasing, Harvard reports • Partnership opportunities expand for housing and health providers

HAC News Formats. pdf

June 25, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 13

HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE KEEPS MOST USDA SPENDING AT FY15 LEVELS. Approved by the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on June 18, the FY16 agriculture appropriations bill holds funding for Section 523 self-help at $27.5 million and increases Rental Assistance funds slightly to $1.167 billion, the amount the Administration said will be needed to keep up with inflation. It does not include minimum rent for tenants and does not provide vouchers for tenants in maturing mortgage properties. Details are on HAC’s website. The full House Appropriations Committee postponed a June 25 markup, and the Senate has not yet released an agriculture funding bill. [tdborder][/tdborder]

USDA Rural Dev. Prog.
(dollars in millions)

FY13
Approp.a

FY14
Approp.

FY15
Approp.

FY16 Budget Proposal

FY16 House Subcmte. Bill

502 Single Fam. Direct
Self-Help setaside

$900
5

$900
5

$900
5

$900
0

$900
5

502 Single Family Guar.

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

24,000

504 VLI Repair Loans

28

26.3

26.3

26.3

26.3

504 VLI Repair Grants

29.5

28.7

28.7

26

28.7

515 Rental Hsg. Direct Lns.

31.3

28.4

28.4

42.3

28.4

514 Farm Labor Hsg. Lns.

20.8

23.9

23.6

23.9

23.9

516 Farm Labor Hsg. Grts.

7.1

8.3

8.3

8.3

8.3

521 Rental Assistance

907.1

1,110

1,089

1,172

1,167

523 Self-Help TA

30

25

27.5

10

27.5

533 Hsg. Prsrv. Grants

3.6

3.5

3.5

0

3.5

538 Rental Hsg. Guar.

150

150

150

200

150

Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR)

17.8

20

17

19

17

542 Rural Hsg. Vouchers

10

12.6

7

15

7

Rural Cmnty. Dev’t Init.

6.1

6

4

4

4

a. Figures shown do not include 5% sequester or 2.5% across the board cut.

SENATE COMMITTEE ADVANCES HUD BILL WITH LARGE CUT IN HOME. On June 25 the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a HUD funding bill for FY16 (not yet available online). The measure cuts the HOME program by 93%, from $900 million in FY15 to $66 million. An amendment to restore HOME funding was offered by Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE) but was defeated. The bill does not make changes to the National Housing Trust Fund.

HUD Program
(dollars in millions)

FY13
Approp.a

FY14
Approp.

FY15
Approp.

FY16
Budget
Proposal

FY16
House Bill
(H.R. 2577)

FY16 Sen. Approps. Cmte. Bill

Cmty. Devel. Fund
CDBG

3,308
2,948

3,100
3,030

3,066
3,000

2,880
2,800

3,060
3,000

2,900
2,900

HOME
SHOP setaside

1,000
b

1,000
b

900
b

1,060
10

767
b

66
b

Self-Help Homeownshp. (SHOP)

13.5

10

10

b

10

10

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance
VASH setaside

18,939.4
75

19,177.2
75

19,304
75

21,123
c

19,919

19,934
75

Project-Based Rental Asstnce.

9,339.7

9,516.6

9,330

10,360

10,254

10,426

Public Hsg. Capital Fund

1,886

1,875

1,875

1,970

1,681

1,743

Public Hsg. Operating Fund

4,262

4,400

4,440

4,600

4,440

4,500

Choice Neighbrhd. Initiative

120

90

80

250

20

65

Native Amer. Hsg. Block Grant

650

650

650

660

650

650

Homeless Assistance Grantsd

2,033

2,105

2,135

2,480

2,185

2,235

Hsg. Opps. for Persons w/ AIDS

334

330

330

332

332

330

202 Hsg. for Elderly

377

385.3

436

455

416.5

420

811 Hsg. for Disabled

165

126

135

177

152

137

Fair Housing

70.8

66

65.3

71

65.3

69.5

Healthy Homes & Lead Haz. Cntl.

120

110

110

120

75

110

Housing Counseling

45

45

47

60

47

47

Local Housing Policy Grants

300

a. Figures shown do not include 5% sequester. b. In FY13, FY14, and FY15 SHOP was funded under the Self-Help & Assisted Homeownership Opportunity Program account. Recent Obama budgets have proposed making the program a setaside in HOME. Congress has rejected that proposal. c. VASH vouchers for homeless veterans would be part of a new $177.5 million account of incremental rental vouchers for families, veterans, and tribal families experiencing homelessness and for victims of domestic violence. d. Includes the Rural Housing Stability Program, which is not yet operational.

SUPREME COURT APPROVES USE OF DISPARATE IMPACT FOR FAIR HOUSING CLAIMS. On June 25 the court ruled in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. that a Fair Housing Act claim may be based on a disproportionately adverse impact on minorities even where there is no discriminatory intent.

INDIAN COUNTRY NEEDS CAPITAL, WITNESSES TELL SENATE PANEL. “Accessing Capital in Indian Country,” an oversight hearing by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, focused on business financing, but touched on housing as well. Witnesses spoke favorably of HUD’s Section 184 program, CRA, and the Native American CDFI program. One recommended allocating Low Income Housing Tax Credits directly to tribes.

FUNDS FOR HOUSING AND HEALTH RESEARCH OFFERED. Nonprofits, for-profits, tribes, PHAs, state and local govern-ments, and others can submit preapplications by July 16 for Healthy Homes Technical Studies grants. Contact Dr. Peter Ashley, HUD, 202-402-7595.

REMINDER: USDA HAS EMAIL LISTS FOR SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSING LOAN PROGRAMS. Sign up for a list that distributes information about Section 502 direct, 504, and 523, or for others covering the Section 502 guarantee program, at https://www.rdlist.sc.egov.usda.gov/listserv/mainservlet.

RD ALTERS MULTIFAMILY RESERVE ACCOUNT COUNTERSIGNATURE REQUIREMENTS. A final rule provides that when a property has both a Section 515 or 514 loan and also a Section 538 loan, USDA’s countersignature will not be required to draw funds from the reserve account. (See HAC News, 8/20/14.) The rule also requires guarantee fees to be paid from operating accounts, not reserve accounts. Contact Tammy S. Daniels, RD, 202-720-0021.

HUD RENTAL ASSISTANCE DEMONSTRATION CHANGED. A notice in the June 26 Federal Register will expand and amend RAD, which allows some public housing to convert to long-term, project-based Section 8 rental assistance. Comments will be due in 30 days. Contact rad@hud.gov.

FEDERAL HOMELESSNESS PLAN REVISED. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness updated its “Opening Doors” strategy and added an operational definition of ending homelessness: “An end to homelessness does not mean that no one will ever experience a housing crisis again. . . . [It] means that every community will have a systematic response in place that ensures homelessness is prevented whenever possible or is otherwise a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience.” USICH also says chronic homelessness can be ended in 2017 (rather than the original 2015 goal) if Congress funds new permanent supportive housing.

HOMEOWNERSHIP DOWN, RENTERS’ COST BURDEN RATES INCREASING, HARVARD REPORTS. In its annual State of the Nation’s Housing study, the Joint Center on Housing Studies says that in 2013, almost half of all renters had housing cost burdens, including more than a quarter who were paying more than 50% of income for housing). The report notes that cuts in federal funds and increases in subsidy costs add to the problem, and that expiring affordability requirements will be a serious issue over the next decade.

PARTNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES EXPAND FOR HOUSING AND HEALTH PROVIDERS. Affordable Housing’s Place in Medicaid Reform: Opportunities Created by the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Reform examines how changes in health care law create the potential for affordable housing providers to collaborate with health care providers and others. The report, published by the National Housing Conference, includes examples of programs already underway.

HAC News: June 10, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

June 10, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 12

• House passes THUD spending bill • Lead hazard funding offered • RD seeks 502 packaging intermediary applications, delays rule’s effective date • New comments invited on Emergency Solutions Grants • HUD considers small area FMRs • Meetings set on Section 538 guarantees • People with disabilities receiving SSI cannot afford housing • Materials available on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule • CFPB consumer advisory warns about reverse mortgage advertising • Americans believe housing crisis ongoing, many still aspire to homeownership • HAC to present Practitioner’s Guide to Meeting Energy Star 3.0 Part B • HAC offers Section 502 Packaging Training for Nonprofit Housing Developers

HAC News Formats. pdf

June 10, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 12

HOUSE PASSES THUD SPENDING BILL. On June 9, the House passed the FY16 Transportation-HUD spending bill(H.R. 2577) with only one change in HUD funding levels (see HAC News, 4/29/15): $2.5 million was added for Section 202 elderly housing, offset by reduced funding for HUD’s Policy Development and Research office. The bill directs National Housing Trust Fund funding to the HOME program. Amendments adopted by the House prohibit funding the private enforcement initiative under HUD’s Fair Housing Initiative Program, and enforcing HUD’s affirmatively furthering fair housing rule (see HAC News, 7/17/13) and disparate impact rule (see HAC News, 2/20/13). Last week, the House passed an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science spending bill barring the Department of Justice from enforcing the disparate impact rule. A Supreme Court decision on a disparate impact case is expected later this month. The Senate has not begun action on its THUD bill.

LEAD HAZARD FUNDING OFFERED. Governments of states, counties, cities, townships, and tribes can apply by June 23 for HUD’s FY15 Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration Grant Program and the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Grant Program. Contact Eric Hornbuckle, HUD, 202-402-7599.

RD SEEKS 502 PACKAGING INTERMEDIARY APPLICATIONS, DELAYS RULE’S EFFECTIVE DATE. July 9 is the deadline for experienced nonprofits and state HFAs to apply to be intermediaries for the Section 502 direct packaging process. Pilot program intermediaries must reapply. (The April application invitation reported in the HAC News, 4/15/15, was for the pilot program.) A separate notice defers effectiveness of the final packaging rule to October 1, 2015 rather than July 28. Contact Brooke Baumann, RD, 202-690-4250.

NEW COMMENTS INVITED ON EMERGENCY SOLUTIONS GRANTS. HUD requests comments by August 3 on the ESG interim rule published December 5, 2011 (see HAC News, 12/14/11). Contact Norm Suchar, HUD, 202-708-4300.

HUD CONSIDERS SMALL AREA FMRS. HUD requests comments by July 2 on the use of small area FMRs for the Housing Choice Voucher program in some metro areas. Small areas FMRs vary by ZIP code and support a greater range of payment standards than can be achieved under existing regulations. Contact Marie L. Lihn, HUD, 202-402-5866.

MEETINGS SET ON SECTION 538 GUARANTEES. USDA will discuss the rental guarantee program with stakeholders. To register for email notices when calls or web meetings are scheduled, contact Monica Cole, 202-720-1251.

PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES RECEIVING SSI CANNOT AFFORD HOUSING. Priced Out in 2014, released by the Technical Assistance Collaborative and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force, reports that the national average rent for a one-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent is greater than the entire Supplemental Security Income payment of a person with a disability. Data are provided for states, metro areas, and the total nonmetro part of each state.

MATERIALS AVAILABLE ON AFFIRMATIVELY FURTHERING FAIR HOUSING RULE. Anticipating a final AFFH regulation soon, the National Fair Housing Alliance has compiled links to information about the proposed rule. NFHA and The Opportunity Agenda also offer suggestions for talking about AFFH and fair housing with a range of audiences.

CFPB CONSUMER ADVISORY WARNS ABOUT REVERSE MORTGAGE ADVERTISING. Ads targeting senior homeowners can be misleading, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says. The agency’s website provides facts and a guide.

AMERICANS BELIEVE HOUSING CRISIS ONGOING, MANY STILL ASPIRE TO HOMEOWNERSHIP. The 2015 How Housing Matters survey for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation also found 80% believe housing affordability is a problem, a majority (55%) believe the federal government is more involved in housing-related issues today than in the past two decades, and most (53%) say that addressing housing affordability is not its responsibility (39% say it is.)

HAC TO PRESENT PRACTITIONER’S GUIDE TO MEETING ENERGY STAR 3.0 PART B. The HVAC Raters Checklist and Water Management System Builder Checklist will be covered in this free webinar on June 24 at 2:00 eastern time. Follow the discussion online at #ruralgreen.

HAC OFFERS SECTION 502 PACKAGING TRAINING FOR NONPROFIT HOUSING DEVELOPERS. This advanced course will be held July 7-9 in Denver. Learn how to assist potential borrowers and work in partnership with RD staff, as well as other nonprofit organizations and regional intermediaries to deliver successful Section 502 direct loan packages. Following the course, participants are encouraged to take the online certification exam. The registration fee is $400. Follow the discussion online at #rural502.

CONTACT Shonterria Charleston, HAC, 404-892-4824.

Rural Voices: Policy & Rural Housing

Rural Voices: Policy & Rural Housing


The Summer 2000 issue of Rural Voices examines some aspects of government policies on the federal, state, and local levels, and their impact on housing conditions for low-income rural residents.

Read more