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HAC News: June 27, 2019

News Formats. pdf

June 27, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 13

House passes USDA and HUD funding for FY20 • U.S. housing supply falls far short of needs, Harvard analysis finds • Supreme Court rules citizenship question on census needs a better rationale. • USDA expands pilot to help nonprofits preserve rural rentals, creates two-step transfer • Most USDA Research Service staff to quit, not move, union says • HUD offers grants for lead reduction and tribal healthy homes • White House council on regulatory barriers created • GAO suggests centralizing information on services to rural elders • Senate confirms two HUD appointees • RuralSTAT • Final rule adopts income banding for USDA single-family housing programs • The 2019 AARP Rural Livability WorkshopHow to Make College Accessible to Students from Rural CommunitiesThe June 24 Power Station podcastA Town with No Bank: How Itta Benna, Mississippi, Became a Banking Desert2020 Democrats Offer Up Affordable Housing Plans Amid Surging Prices • NEW! HAC and Fannie Mae to hold webinars on colonias in New Mexico and Arizona • NEW! HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, August 6-8 in Michigan • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

June 27, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 13

House passes USDA and HUD funding for FY20.

On June 25 the House passed H.R. 3055, a “minibus” that combines five appropriations bills for FY20, including both USDA and HUD. The measure would maintain or increase funding for housing programs in both departments. The Administration has threatened to veto the bill. Congress and the White House have not yet been able to agree to lift the spending caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act, which would require drastic funding cuts, and the Senate has not yet begun to consider appropriations bills.

U.S. housing supply falls far short of needs, Harvard analysis finds.

Harvard’s Joint Center on Housing Studies reports in The State of the Nation’s Housing 2019 that U.S. housing production has not kept pace with increases in household formation and a large proportion of new homes are for the higher end of the market. Cost-burden rates have declined for homeowners but 47.4% of renters still pay more than 30% of their incomes for housing. HAC is one of the sponsors of this yearly report.

Supreme Court rules citizenship question on census needs a better rationale.

The Supreme Court ruled on June 27 that including a citizenship question on the decennial census is permitted by the Constitution, but that the Commerce Department’s stated reason for adding the question is not supported by the facts. The case will return to a lower court and it is not clear whether a final determination can be made in time to include the question on the 2020 Census, even if different justification is provided.

USDA expands pilot to help nonprofits preserve rural rentals, creates two-step transfer.

USDA RD’s pilot program to assist nonprofits preserving Section 515 properties has been extended through April 30, 2021. An Unnumbered Letter dated June 14, 2019 announces the extension and expands the options for nonprofits to include a “two-step transfer process.” A nonprofit can now request permission to purchase a property before it has all funding in place for rehabilitation and, so long as it addresses health, safety and accessibility needs immediately, will have up to two years to do other rehab. The pilot will also expand to cover properties with mortgage maturations through 2035 (instead of 2030, the limit when the pilot began). Another UL dated June 14, 2019 offers guidance on using the Section 538 program to preserve Section 515 properties.

Most USDA Research Service staff to quit, not move, union says.

Politico (subscription required) reports that a preliminary survey by the American Federation of Government Employees found at least two-thirds of Economic Research Service staff who have been asked to relocate from Washington, DC to the Kansas City area will leave the agency instead of moving. Workers at ERS and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently voted overwhelmingly to join AFGE. Separately, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association has calculated that USDA’s cost-benefit analysis seriously underestimated the cost of moving ERS and NIFA, partly because it did not take into account the lost value of research from staffers who resign or retire rather than move.

HUD offers grants for lead reduction and tribal healthy homes.

State and local governments, some states and some tribes can apply by August 9 for HUD’s Lead Hazard Reduction Grant Program to identify and control lead-based paint hazards in privately owned housing. For more information, contact Yolanda Brown, HUD, 202-402-7596. August 9 is also the deadline for tribes and TDHEs to apply for the Healthy Homes Production Grant Program, which assists in identifying and remediating housing issues that contribute to health and safety concerns in urban tribal communities. For more information, contact Michelle Miller, HUD, 202-402-5769.

White House council on regulatory barriers created.

President Trump issued an executive order establishing a White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing. The order blames the current housing affordability crisis on a supply shortage caused by barriers such as restrictive zoning, rent controls, environmental regulations and labor requirements. Chaired by HUD, the council includes representatives from USDA and other departments and is charged with producing a report by June 25, 2020. HUD has worked for decades to reduce regulatory barriers imposed by federal, state, local and tribal governments, and since 2001 has maintained a Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse.

GAO suggests centralizing information on services to rural elders.

HHS Could Help Rural Service Providers by Centralizing Information on Promising Practices addresses services such as in-home care, meal delivery and transportation to medical appointments, which are funded by the Department of Health and Human Services to assist older adults to stay in their homes. Rural residents receive some services less frequently than their urban counterparts. GAO recommends that HHS centralize access to and promote awareness of promising practices or other resources to better serve rural seniors.

Senate confirms two HUD appointees.

On June 20, the Senate confirmed Seth Appleton as Assistant Secretary of Policy Development and Research and Hunter Kurtz as Assistant Secretary of Public and Indian Housing.

RuralSTAT.

Approximately 78.1% of American households have broadband subscriptions in their homes. In rural homes, the broadband subscription rate is 69.5%. (HAC tabulations of 2017 American Community Survey)

RuralSTAT

Final rule adopts income banding for USDA single-family housing programs.

Since 2016 USDA has tested broadening eligibility for the Section 502 direct loan program and the Section 504 loan and grant programs by establishing one income limit for families with one to four people and another for families with five to eight people, rather than eight different income limits. A new rule puts the change into effect nationwide as of July 22. RD will publish new income limits online. The definition of net family assets is also revised and, effective August 5, area loan limits will be calculated as a percentage of HUD’s Section 203(b) limits. For more information, contact Shannon Chase, RD, 515-305-0399.

Recent publications and media of interest

NEW! HAC and Fannie Mae to hold webinars on colonias in New Mexico and Arizona.

HAC, in partnership with Fannie Mae, will hold webinars in July and August presenting data and research on Colonias Investment Areas, a geographic concept developed to target mortgage finance and resource investment in colonia communities along the southwest U.S. border. A webinar on July 17 will focus on New Mexico, and one on August 7 will focus on Arizona. For more information, contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

NEW! HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, August 6-8 in Michigan.

This three-day advanced course trains experienced participants to assist potential borrowers and work with RD staff, other nonprofits and regional intermediaries to deliver successful Section 502 loan packages. The training will be held in East Lansing, MI on August 6-8. For more information, contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan funds provide 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, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

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

HAC News: June 14, 2019

News Formats. pdf

June 14, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 12

Resources offered for local rural design activities • June is National Homeownership Month • House moves appropriations forward • House committee passes bills to block recent HUD proposals • Disaster funding bill becomes law • Flood insurance program extended • HUD offers grants for technical health and housing studies • USDA moving ERS and NIFA to Kansas City • Revised income limits for HUD programs posted • RuralSTAT • Iowa inmates learn to construct affordable housing • RAPIDO disaster recovery home celebrated in Texas • Comments sought on Fair Market Rent calculation changes • A Piece of Mississippi: Retrospective on Rural Generation for CIRDReservation ProfilesSpeak Your Piece: Rural Strength and Possibility •Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

June 14, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 12

Resources offered for local rural design activities.

The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design is accepting applications through July 22 for stipends and technical assistance to enable rural and tribal communities to host rural design workshops or participate in a Learning Cohort. A webinar offering application guidance from HAC, the National Endowment for the Arts and buildingcommunityWORKSHOP is available online. “Open office hour” events will also be hosted by [bc] on Facebook live on June 18 and July 10. For more information, contact CIRD@bcworkshop.org.

June is National Homeownership Month.

USDA’s press release highlights the department’s homeownership programs.

House moves appropriations forward.

The House Appropriations Committee approved the proposed FY20 spending bills for USDA and HUD on June 4. Those two measures have been combined with the bills for Commerce-Justice-Science, Interior-Environment and Military Construction-VA to create a second “minibus” that is scheduled for a vote in the full House the week of June 17. The House began debate June 12 on the first minibus, comprised of appropriations bills for Labor-HHS-Education, Defense, State-Foreign Operations and Energy. The Financial Services bill, not included in either minibus, passed the House Appropriations Committee on June 11 and includes $300 million for CDFI Fund programs, compared to $250 million in FY19. The Senate has not yet begun to consider its appropriations bills.

House committee passes bills to block recent HUD proposals.

H.R. 3018, passed by the House Financial Services Committee on June 12, would block HUD’s proposal to allow homeless shelters to treat transgender and gender non-conforming people according to the sex they were assigned at birth. Similar language is included in the House’s HUD appropriations bill for FY20. Also approved by the committee was H.R. 2763, prohibiting implementation of HUD’s proposed rule to end housing benefits for families with mixed immigration status. Finally, H.R. 3154 clarifies that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients cannot be denied federally backed mortgage loans based on their DACA status; after the bill passed, a letter from a HUD official to Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) became public confirming that FHA considers DACA recipients ineligible for its mortgage guarantees, a policy previously denied by HUD Secretary Ben Carson.

Disaster funding bill becomes law.

On June 6, President Trump signed the disaster relief bill into law, providing $17.2 billion for recovery from 2018 and 2019 natural disasters.

Flood insurance program extended.

The new disaster relief law extends authorization for the National Flood Insurance Program through September 30, 2019, the end of the current fiscal year. The program would be authorized through the end of fiscal 2024 by H.R. 3167, which received unanimous approval from the House Financial Services Committee on June 12. That bill and H.R. 3111, also passed unanimously by the committee, make other changes to the program as well.

HUD offers grants for technical health and housing studies.

Nonprofits, for-profits, PHAs, state or local governments, tribes and educational institutions can apply by July 11 for HUD Lead and Healthy Homes Technical Studies Grants to improve detection and control of housing-related health and safety hazards. For more information, contact J. Kofi Berko, HUD.

USDA says ERS and NIFA will move to Kansas City.

The Kansas City region has been selected as the new location for the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced on June 13. With its press release, USDA provided the first publicly available cost-benefit analysis for the controversial move. The House’s FY20 appropriations bill for USDA includes language prohibiting use of FY20 funds for the relocation, but a timeline in the cost-benefit document shows the Department intends to begin the relocation by August 1 and complete it by September 30, before FY20 begins on October 1. NIFA workers voted on June 11 to join the American Federation of Government Employees, as ERS employees did in May.

Revised income limits for HUD programs posted.

The 2019 income limits for CDBG, HOME, HTF, HOPWA and NSP will be effective June 29. The limits for ESG are effective as of April 24.

RuralSTAT. The citizenship question on the 2020 Census has been hotly debated as of late. Data on citizenship already exists in the American Community Survey. From the ACS, the Census Bureau estimates that 2.8% of the rural and small town population are not U.S. citizens. To view the data for your community and its reliability, visit HAC’s Rural Data Portal.

Iowa inmates learn to construct affordable housing.

A new Iowa program, based on one in South Dakota, aims to help alleviate the state’s rural affordable housing shortage by recruiting the state’s prison population to build modular affordable housing. The program also hopes to provide inmates with training and apprenticeships that can help them find jobs upon reentry.

RAPIDO disaster recovery home celebrated in Texas.

An open house event allowed visitors to see a finished home where a family lived throughout construction, beginning with a small “core” house erected in three days and intended to replace a FEMA trailer after a natural disaster. The family occupied the core while the rest of the home was built onto it. Texas Housers, one of the partners in developing and testing the concept, declared this RAPIDO home ready to move to large scale use in future disaster rebuilding. Other partners were buildingcommunityWorkshop, Enterprise Community Partners, the Texas Organizing Project and Covenant Community Capital. A past issue of HAC’s Rural Voices magazine (p. 27) describes how the concept can be used for affordable housing in non-disaster situations as well.

Comments sought on Fair Market Rent calculation changes.

HUD is proposing changes in how it calculates trend factors that are used in determining Fair Market Rents. The changes are intended to make the determinations more local. Comments are due July 5. For more information, contact HUD’s Program Parameters and Research Division, 202-402-2409.

Recent publications and media of interest

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan funds provide 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, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. Contact HAC’s loan fund staff at hacloanfund@ruralhome.org, 202-842-8600.

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

HAC News: May 31, 2019

News Formats. pdf

May 31, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 11

Rural Housing Service administrator named • Section 533 Housing Preservation Grants available • House subcommittees approve USDA and HUD spending bills for FY20 • Disaster bill passes Senate but not House • Section 504 repair pilot announced • USDA will propose rule on housing for mixed-status families • HUD drafting change to rule on gender identity protection • RuralSTAT • Recent publications and media of interest • HAC Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits in Nashville set for June 19-20 • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

May 31, 2019
Vol. 48, No.11

Rural Housing Service administrator named.

Bruce Lammers has been appointed RHS administrator and began work on May 28. His career has been in banking with an emphasis on government-guaranteed lending.

Section 533 Housing Preservation Grants available.

State and local governments, nonprofits, federally recognized Indian Tribes, and consortia of eligible entities are eligible for these grants, which can be used to repair and rehab homes for low- and very low-income owners or rental units available to low- and very low-income tenants. Apply by July 8 to an RD state office or at grants.gov. For more information, contact Bonnie Edwards-Jackson, RD, 202-690-0759.

House subcommittees approve USDA and HUD spending bills for FY20.

FY20 funding bills for both USDA and HUD passed separate House appropriations subcommittees in May 23 and next will be considered by the full Appropriations Committee. No spending measures have been introduced in the Senate so far. Both House bills provide level funding or increases for housing programs, rejecting the Administration’s budget requests. USDA Rural Development would see increases in the Section 523 self-help program and rental housing preservation resources including Section 515, MPR and Section 542 vouchers, although technical assistance funding for preservation is not included. USDA’s funding bill would also prevent USDA’s planned move of ERS and NIFA out of the Washington, DC area.

Disaster bill passes Senate but not House.

The Senate passed the repeatedly delayed disaster relief bill, H.R. 2157, on May 23, after President Trump agreed to sign it into law. The House was not able to pass the bill, however, and Congress is now on recess until June 3.

Section 504 repair pilot announced.

In an attempt to increase use of the Section 504 repair loan program by low- and very low-income homeowners, USDA is waiving some regulatory requirements in 20 states and Puerto Rico for fiscal years 2019 and 2020. The pilot also raises the dollar limits in those places from $20,000 for loans and $7,500 for grants to $40,000 for loans and $10,000 for grants. For more information, contact an RD state office.

USDA will propose rule on housing for mixed-status families.

USDA is drafting a regulation on housing aid for families with mixed immigration statuses. The agency’s summary says it will “harmonize” its requirements with HUD’s. HUD recently proposed to evict people who are ineligible for HUD housing assistance because of their immigration status, rather than continuing to allow them to live in units with eligible family members and receive pro-rated aid. USDA hopes to publish its rule for public comment in August.

HUD drafting change to rule on gender identity protection.

HUD is preparing a change in regulations that would allow HUD-funded homeless shelters to treat transgender people as belonging to the sex they were assigned at birth rather than the sex with which they identify, eliminating a 2016 rule that requires recognition of individuals’ gender identities. HUD estimates that the revised rule will be published for public comment in September. The House’s HUD appropriations bill includes language that would block this change.

RuralSTAT. In 2010, 79.3% of U.S. households completed Census forms, resulting in a national non-response rate of 20.7%. Census response rates were not evenly distributed across the country and varied greatly by location. See the Census 2020 estimated response rate for your community using the Census Bureau’s ROAM tool. Over the next year HAC will provide updates and resources to help improve Census response in your community.

Recent publications and media of interest

HAC Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits in Nashville set for June 19-20.

This three-day advanced course trains experienced participants to assist potential borrowers and work with RD staff, other nonprofits, and regional intermediaries to deliver successful Section 502 loan packages. The training will be held June 19-20. For more information, contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC’s loan funds provide 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, farmworker, senior and veteran housing. HAC loan funds can be used for pre-development, site acquisition, site development and construction/rehabilitation. 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).