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Coming Together for Rural Veterans: HAC’s Serving Veterans in Rural America Symposium

Sponsored by The Home Depot Foundationby Eric Oberdorfer

Rural America has a strong history of protecting our country. In fact, veterans are more prevalent in rural America, comprising 11.4 percent of the rural population compared to 9.6 percent of the nation overall. However, providing needed services to veterans in rural America can often be more challenging due to the spread out nature of rural areas. Aiming to draw attention to the housing needs of rural veterans, The Home Depot Foundation and the Housing Assistance Council convened Serving Veterans in Rural America: A Symposium on April 9th, 2014. Moises Loza of HAC and Heather Pritchard of The Home Depot Foundation welcomed the attendees.

HAC was honored to have Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Representative Tammy Duckworth of Illinois as opening speakers. Each member of Congress noted the responsibility we share to ensure the well-being of our veterans, regardless of where they may live. It was encouraging to hear elected members of Congress discuss and acknowledge the challenges that exist in providing services to veterans in rural America.

Symposium Materials

From Service to Shelter

Power Point Presentations

Photos from the Symposium

#RuralVeterans Storify

Attendees also heard from Gina Capra, Director of the Office of Rural Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); Tony Hernandez, Administrator of the USDA Rural Housing Service; Keith Kelly, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Veterans’ Employment and Training Services at the Department of Labor (DoL); and Ann Oliva, Director of HUD’s Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs. Each agreed that to best serve our veterans, federal agencies must collaborate. HUD, VA, DoL, and USDA must look for ways to work together within their respective programs that will best meet the comprehensive needs of our veterans. This includes housing, employment, and physical and mental health services.

Rep. Tammy DuckworthRep. Tammy Duckworth prepares her remarksFortunately, the elected members of Congress were united on this front as well. Representative Duckworth discussed the importance of partnerships to ensure veterans in tribal lands received supports. Senator Isakson noted the potential benefits of providing vouchers to rural veterans so that they may access local health care providers if distances to VA medical facilities are too great. He also noted the unsettling rise of suicides within the veteran population and the need to ensure that mental health services are available and accessible.

Another theme that emerged from the Symposium was the obligation to acknowledge the differences that exist between rural America and urban or suburban parts of the country. Agencies agreed that there is a need to change the way outreach and resources are provided to rural areas, especially for homeless veterans. Better data on rural veterans is critical to achieve this goal, and the uniqueness of rural America must be taken into account during data collection and service provision. The panel noted how important it is to remember that issues common to all veterans, like transportation needs, health care needs, unemployment, and housing concerns, are exacerbated in rural areas. Furthermore, the lack of internet in some rural areas can significantly complicate VA or other federal application processes.

The issue of veteran homelessness was also brought up frequently throughout the symposium. Although programs like HUD-VASH, which combine HUD housing vouchers with case-management and clinical services provided by the VA, have been credited in lowering veteran homelessness by 24 percent since 2009, there is still more work to do. This is especially true in regard to female veterans with children, who are more likely to become homeless than their male counterparts. Shockingly, caring for their children can complicate efforts to seek treatment and housing services, as many supportive housing developments are unable to house families. Representative Duckworth stated that it breaks her heart to see these individuals, who gave so much to protect our country, having to choose between a home or her family.

Heather Pritchard and Sen. Johnny IsaksonHeather Pritchard of The Home Depot Foundation and Sen. Johnny IsaksonThanks to the tireless work of housing providers in rural America, these issues are being addressed. The Symposium ended with a panel, moderated by Mark Williams of The American Legion, that showcased programs and initiatives that house veterans in rural America. Retha Patton of Eastern Eight CDC, Rita Markley of the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS), and Kenn Sassorossi of Housing Vermont shared inspiring success stories about providing needed housing to veterans within their rural communities in Tennessee and Vermont. These stories included family housing options with support services for homeless veterans. Heather Pritchard also discussed The Home Depot Foundation’s efforts in providing needed funding and assistance to organizations that house rural veterans. These programs and initiatives all highlight the importance of partnership and collaboration to successfully house veterans in need.

As Senator Sanders noted, the costs of war are greater than we know, and we must continue to meet the needs of our veterans when they return home. Although there is work to be done, it is always encouraging to know that elected leaders, government employees, and local organizations remain committed to this goal. Wednesday’s Symposium was a wonderful reminder of this, and an important reminder to thank our veterans whenever possible.

HAC News: October 24, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 24, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 21

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


October 24, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans – Grantees

Veterans of the United States military services put their lives in danger to protect their country and its residents. However, when they return home they are not always able to find housing and access to services in their communities. The Housing Assistance Council (HAC), in partnership with The Home Depot Foundation, has created the Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans (AHRV) grant program to provide rural organizations with the financial resources to support their ability to meet or help meet the affordable housing needs of veterans in rural areas.

Highlights of 2017 Grant Activities included small grants for rural nonprofit organizations. HAC made the awards in summer 2017. AHRV grants support bricks-and-mortar projects that help veterans with home repair and rehab needs, support homeless veterans, or help veterans become homeowners, tap into available housing programs and secure affordable rental housing. Grantees are listed below.

2017 Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans – About the Grantees

  • Greenhouse Ministries, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee will use $30,000 to support rehabilitation of six veterans’ homes in rural Rutherford, Tennessee. For additional information about Greenhouse Ministries visit https://www.greenhousemin.org/.
  • NeighborWorks Umpqua, in Roseburg, Oregon will use $30,000 to perform critical repairs on three veteran-owned homes in Roseburg. For additional information about NeighborWorks Umpqua, visit https://www.nwumpqua.org.
  • North East Community Action Corporaton (NECAC), in Bowling Green, Missouri, will utilize $30,000 to support repair and rehabilitation of 8 to 10 veteran homes throughout its 12-county service area. For additonal information about NECAC, visit https://www.necac.org/.
  • Northwest Regional Housing Authority, Harrison, Arkansas, will utilize $30,000 to perform homeowner repairs on 5 to 10 veteran homes throughout its three-county service area. For additional information about Northwest Regional Housing Authority, visit https://www.nwregionalhousing.org/.
  • O.C.E.A.N., Inc. in Toms River, New Jersey, will utilize $30,000 to support the developent of 10 single-family housing units for veterns in Tuckertown, New Jersey. For additional information about O.C.E.A.N., Inc., visit https://www.oceaninc.org/.
  • Open Hands Outreach in Coolidge, Arizona, will utilize $14,225 to support the rehabilitation and expansion of a multi-tenant single-room occupancy (SRO) facility. For additional information about Open Hands Outreach, visit https://www.ohopcharity.org.
  • The Vets Place, in Northfield, Vermont, will utilize $30,000 to complete whole facility window replacement and weatherization on a 26-unit SRO transitional facility for veterans. For additional information on The Vets Place, visit https://www.vermontveteransplace.org/.
  • Western Maine Community Action (WMCA) in East Wilton, Maine, will use $30,000 to support home reconstruction for one rural veteran in Franklin County. More information about WMCA can be found at https://wmca.org.
  • White Mountain Apache Housing Authority, in Whiteriver, Arizona, will use $30,000 to repair three veteran homes on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. For more information about White Mountain Apache Housing Authority visit https://www.wmahousingauthority.org/.

Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans – Information and Resources

Building knowledge around affordable housing for rural veterans is critical to meeting the needs of that population. Assistance providers have very little in the way of models or information on program development or effective use of resources. To facilitate networking between rural organizations and to assist in the development of effective programs, HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans Initiative provides the following information resources:

Veterans Data Central

An extensive data utility that provides detailed information on the situation of veterans down to the level of every U.S. county. Included are demographic and economic indicators, housing characteristics, VA housing and mortgage finance information, and veteran homelessness. The site provides approximately 420 veteran-specific data indicators and over 650,000 data points dedicated solely to information on veterans.

Supporting Veterans in Your State

A set of fact sheets — one for each state, the District of Columbia, and the US — provides details on the veterans’ population including proportion, prevalence by county, median income, poverty levels, unemployment rate, disability, median home value, housing problems, homelessness, and other factors.

HAC Publications

HAC Lists

Sign up to be a stakeholder in the veterans’ program to get periodic announcements about grants, events, and resources for rural veterans’ housing programs. Contact Shonterria Charleston at shonterria@ruralhome.org or call 202.842.8600 x 131.

Sign up for HAC News for current updates on other housing issues as well as government programs

Additional Resources

FEDERAL PROGRAMS AND RESOURCES
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
The VA provides benefits, services, information and support to veterans of the U.S. Military services, including the veterans Home Loan Program.

HUD Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH)
HUD-VASH combines the Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance program with case management and clinical services from the VA.

USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Program

NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

The Home Depot Foundation: https://www.homedepotfoundation.org/

Volunteers of America: https://www.voa.org/Get-Help/National-Network-of-Services/Veterans

National Alliance to End Homelessness: https://www.endhomelessness.org/pages/veterans

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans: https://www.nchv.org/

Is there a resource that we have not listed here that you would like to see? Email HAC to share your ideas.

HAC News: September 26, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

September 26, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 19

• September 15-October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month • Continuing resolution to fund government for six months • USDA delays changes to rural definition for housing programs • Sequester remains in place • Farm Labor Housing applications now due October 31 • “Dynamic servicing strategies” notice for USDA multifamily properties reissued • New Capital Needs Assessment guidance issued for USDA multifamily properties • RESPA and TILA input requested • HUD seeks nominations for NAHASDA committee • USDA discontinues Rural Energy Plus for 502 direct • GAO report emphasizes similarities between USDA, FHA, and VA guarantee programs • Slightly fewer USDA tenants are cost burdened • Rural veterans’ housing covered in new Rural Voices


September 26,2012
Vol. 41, No. 19

SEPTEMBER 15-OCTOBER 15 IS NATIONAL HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH, proclaimed by President Obama.

CONTINUING RESOLUTION TO FUND GOVERNMENT FOR SIX MONTHS. Both the House and Senate passed H.J. Res. 117, keeping housing programs and almost all others at FY12 funding levels through March 27, 2013. President Obama is expected to sign it.

USDA DELAYS CHANGES TO RURAL DEFINITION FOR HOUSING PROGRAMS. Administrative Notice 4679 (September 25, 2012) announces that current area eligibility will remain unchanged until March 27, 2013, when the continuing resolution ends. After that date, USDA will use 2010 Census data to determine what places fit the definition of rural, unless Congress extends grandfathering of housing program eligibility for growing rural communities. Before Congress adjourned two new bills were introduced: S. 3541 would grandfather currently eligible places for ten years, H.R. 6416 for one year. New HAC research found that in 2011 as many as one-third of Section 502 direct loans and 40% of Section 502 guaranteed loans were made in these areas.

SEQUESTER REMAINS IN PLACE. Before adjourning Congress did not change the “sequestration” – cuts in federal funds – required in January, although a variety of bills have been introduced. The Administration’s sequestration report to Congress indicates how each agency will implement the requirement to cut 8.2% of nondefense discretionary funding, including housing programs. USDA and HUD will cut each housing program account by 8.2%. (Some program accounts encompass one program while others include several.)

FARM LABOR HOUSING APPLICATIONS NOW DUE OCTOBER 31. A notice in the Federal Register, 9/23/12, also makes other changes to the NOFA. (See HAC News, 7/25/12.) Contact an RD state office.

“DYNAMIC SERVICING STRATEGIES” NOTICE FOR USDA MULTIFAMILY PROPERTIES REISSUED. An Unnumbered Letter dated August 31, 2012 repeats instructions to RD field staff regarding prompt action on troubled multifamily properties. Contact Stephanie White, USDA, 202-720-1615.

NEW CAPITAL NEEDS ASSESSMENT GUIDANCE ISSUED FOR USDA MULTIFAMILY PROPERTIES. See Unnumbered Letter dated August 7, 2012. Contact Carlton Jarratt, USDA, 804-287-1524.

RESPA AND TILA INPUT REQUESTED. Comment by October 9 on changes the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposes in Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and Truth in Lending Act regulations on mortgage loan servicing and disclosures. See CFPB’s web site or regulations.gov. Contact Jane Gao, CFPB, 202-435-7700.

USDA PROVIDES RESPA GUIDANCE FOR SECTION 502 DIRECT. Administrative Notice 4676 (August 27, 2012) instructs RD staff on implementation of RESPA disclosure and accuracy requirements, and on good faith estimates and the HUD-1 “Settlement Statement.” Contact Migdaliz Bernier, USDA, 202-690-3833.

HUD SEEKS NOMINATIONS FOR NAHASDA COMMITTEE. The negotiated rulemaking committee will review the Indian Housing Block Grant funding formula. Nominations are due November 19. See Federal Register, 9/18/12 or regulations.gov. Contact Rodger Boyd, HUD, 202-401-7914.

USDA DISCONTINUES RURAL ENERGY PLUS FOR 502 DIRECT. The program, which makes it easier for homebuyers to qualify for loans for energy-efficient homes, remains in effect for Section 502 guarantee borrowers. See Unnumbered Letter dated September 10, 2012. Contact Christopher Ketner, USDA, 202-690-1530. HAC has learned from RD that a replacement program will be implemented in 2013.

GAO REPORT EMPHASIZES SIMILARITIES BETWEEN USDA, FHA, AND VA GUARANTEE PROGRAMS. Housing Assistance: Opportunities Exist to Increase Collaboration and Consider Consolidation (GAO-12-554) reiterates previous findings (for example, see HAC News, 3/7/12) and adds new data. In 2009, FHA guaranteed more single-family and multifamily loans, even for low-income residents of remote rural areas, than USDA. Detailed data on income levels and other characteristics are not included in the report. GAO suggests improving an Administration task force evaluating coordination or consolidation of single-family programs and recommends the agencies identify specific programs for consolidation. Contact Mathew Sciré, GAO, 202-512-8678.

SLIGHTLY FEWER USDA TENANTS ARE COST BURDENED. USDA’s annual occupancy survey shows 2,135 fewer units and 1,254 fewer occupied units (households) in Section 515 and 514/516 properties in 2012 than 2011, as well as 1,243 more households receiving Section 521 RA, 931 fewer with rental aid from other sources, and 1,562 fewer experiencing cost burdens. Contact Janet Stouder, USDA, 202-720-9728.

RURAL VETERANS’ HOUSING COVERED IN NEW RURAL VOICES. Stories of successful local efforts are highlighted in HAC’s quarterly magazine. Contact Dan Stern, HAC, 202-842-8600.

Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans

Rural Veterans and Local Nonprofits Receive Housing Support

Funded by The Home Depot Foundation

Washington, D.C., September 21, 2018 – Veterans and their families in eleven rural communities will have better lives, thanks to The Home Depot Foundation and the Housing Assistance Council. The Foundation is awarding grants totaling $306,500 to eleven local nonprofit housing associations around the country to build or preserve housing for veterans in rural America.

The funds are part of The Home Depot Foundation’s Veteran Housing Grants Program, which wascreated to support the development and repair of housing for veterans. Too many American veterans and their families face major housing challenges, aggravated by issues like unemployment, age and service-related disabilities. The Home Depot Foundation is dedicated to giving back to those who have already given so much for our country.

Read More…



homedepotfoundationlogoMade possible with the Generous Support of The Home Depot Foundation

Veterans Data Central

A Resource for Informing Strategies to Help Veterans

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC), in partnership with The Home Depot Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation has created the Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans (AHRV) initiative to provide rural organizations with the technical assistance, training, information, and financial resources they need to improve their ability to serve veterans.

Veterans of the United States military services put their lives in danger to protect their country and its citizens. However, when they return home they are not always able to find housing and access to services in their communities.

Sponsored by:With Generous Support from JP Morgan Chase & Co.

In Partnership with The Home Depot Foundation, JP Morgan Chase Co, and The Wells Fargo Housing Foundation

Past Trainings

December 5, 2017: Affordable Housing Solutions for Rural Veterans: A Symposium – Recording

October 20, 2017: Veterans Aging Summit – Website

August 10, 2016: Overview on VA REO Property Preservation and Maintenance and Access Opportunities for Nonprofits – Materials: Presentation | Recording | Handbook

July 13, 2016: VA Specially Adapted Housing Grant Program – Materials: Presentation | Recording | Application

June 8, 2016: VA Housing Resources for Heroes: An In-depth Overview of the VA Home Loan Guaranty Benefit – Materials

May 18, 2016: Serving Our Aging Veterans: A Symposium – Materials

May 20, 2015: Serving Veterans in Rural America: A Symposium – Materials

May 6, 2015: Access to Health and Homeless Services for Rural Veterans – Materials

August 20, 2014: Building a Community for Veterans: Patriot Place, Tennessee – Materials

July 23, 2014: Canal Street Housing: Housing for Homeless Veterans – Materials

June 25, 2014: From Service to Shelter, Housing for Veterans in Rural America – Materials

April 22-23, 2014: Housing Seniors and Veterans in Rural America: Preservation, Development, & Services

April 9, 2014: Serving Veterans in Rural America – A Symposium – Summary and Materials

August 28-29, 2013: Housing Seniors and Veterans in Rural America: Preservation, Development and Services – Materials

Link to more Information and Resources

Link to Information about Initiative Grantees

Reports

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