Apartments in rural America

Tax Considerations for Rural Housing Preservation

Tax Relief Rural Research Brief coverA crisis is building for many federally supported rental properties, which are an important source of affordable housing for low-income rural residents. Particularly, USDA Section 515 mortgages are nearing the ends of their terms, and property owners may wish to convert their properties to other uses (for example, market-rate housing) or sell them to others who will convert them. If owners sell to entities that will continue to use them as affordable rentals, rural tenants benefit and the existing federal investment in these properties is protected. Yet many owners are reluctant to sell their properties for preservation because they will experience adverse tax consequences at sale. This paper explores those tax consequences, indicates where they may have the greatest impact, and suggests ways they might be mitigated in order to encourage preservation.

Tax consequences arise as a result of depreciation over the lifetime of a rental property. Federal tax law allows a rental property owner to reduce their annual tax liability by claiming depreciation in the property’s value every year. When the property is sold, however, tax law requires that a portion of the taxes deferred by depreciation must be recaptured. If a property’s market value has appreciated over time, a higher sales price can cover the depreciation recapture and also provide the seller with a profit. If the value has not appreciated, however – as is the case in many rural areas – or when a purchaser needs to buy at less than market value in order to preserve affordability, the tax liability can use up most or all of the sales receipts.

The paper presents several technical, market and legislative strategies that could help mitigate the identified tax-related barriers and enhance preservation efforts.

Updated data on USDA tenants released

February 26, 2019 – USDA has released its annual “fair housing occupancy report,” which provides data on the characteristics of tenants in its multifamily portfolio. The report, which uses September 2018 data, shows the average annual income of Section 515 tenant households is $13,112 with the average income of Section 515 residents who receive USDA Section 521 Rental Assistance at $10,911.

White non-Hispanics make up 67.8 percent of tenant households in Section 515 developments, while 79.8 percent of Section 514/516 farmworker households are Hispanic. Female-headed households (71.0 percent) and elderly/disabled households (62.8 percent in all properties and 64.4 percent in Section 515) also comprise large majorities of the tenant population.

Almost seven in ten households receive USDA Rental Assistance (68.4 percent), with an additional 13.1 percent getting some other form of rent aid. Just under 12 percent of tenant households are cost-burdened, paying more than 30 percent of their incomes for their housing. More than a third of the cost-burdened tenants pay over half their incomes for housing.

The report says the number of properties in USDA’s rental portfolio fell by 1.79 percent over the past year. The portfolio lost 227 Section 515 properties and 24 farmworker housing properties, with a total of 4,820 units. No additional information about these developments is provided.

Altogether, the report offers more than 40 pages of national and state-level data for tenants living in Section 515 rental housing, living in Section 514/516 farm labor housing, or receiving Section 521 Rental Assistance. Reports from past years are available on HAC’s website.

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HAC News: August 25, 2016

HAC News Formats. pdf

August 25, 2016

Vol. 45, No. 16

•RD likely to spend all 502 direct funds in FY16 • Resource guides offered for Louisiana flood survivors • Rural places included in HUD Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program • Civil monetary penalties implemented for USDA multifamily housing • RD updates letter on reconciling Section 538 and Section 515 for preservation • FY17 Fair Market Rents to be released August 26 • Section 502 guarantee fees to decrease • Federal Interagency Reentry Council plans work on housing and other challenges • Online tool demonstrates affordable housing finance challenges • NLIHC offers updated congressional district and state rental housing profiles • SAVE THE DATES FOR THE HAC RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE 2016!

HAC News Formats. pdf

August 25, 2016
Vol. 45, No. 16

RD likely to spend all 502 direct funds in FY16. USDA RD has told HAC and other stakeholders that it expects to be able to use all of this year’s available Section 502 direct loan monies and to meet the 40% requirement for very low-income borrowers. Last year it used all the funds, though 31.8% of the total went to very low-income borrowers rather than 40% (see HAC News, 9/30/15). Also, Section 504 loans are being obligated at a higher rate this year than last year. Anticipating exhaustion of Section 502 low-income funds before October 1, an Unnumbered Letter dated July 22, 2016 provides a form for field staff to notify eligible applicants with identified properties that funds are temporarily unavailable. The agency does not know yet the extent to which its income banding pilot (see HAC News, 6/15/16) has improved its ability to make loans to very low-income homebuyers.

Resource guides offered for Louisiana flood survivors. Federal agencies including FEMA, USDA, and HUD have information available online, and HAC has issued a special update to its natural disaster guide, Picking Up the Pieces. To apply for federal assistance, survivors can visit, call 800-621-3362 (toll free), or visit a Disaster Recovery Center. For aid with damaged USDA-funded housing (single-family or multifamily), call the Louisiana state RD office, 866-481-9571 (toll free).

Rural places included in HUD Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program. HUD will select up to 10 communities, four of them rural, to participate in the YHDP to develop and execute coordinated community approaches to preventing and ending youth homelessness. Nonprofits and government entities designated as Collaborative Applicants by CoCs in their FY16 registrations are eligible and must apply by November 30. Contact Ebony Rankin, HUD.

Civil monetary penalties implemented for USDA multifamily housing. A new regulation, to be implemented December 21, gives USDA the option to charge monetary penalties for owner defaults, rather than accelerating or foreclosing on mortgages. (See HAC News, 1/10/13.) Since most owners comply with statutes, regulations, and loan documents, USDA estimates that less than 5% of the multifamily portfolio will be affected by this rule. Contact Stephanie White, RD, 202-720-1615.

RD updates letter on reconciling Section 538 and Section 515 for preservation. An Unnumbered Letter dated July 29, 2016 revises one dated July 14, 2015 addressing the procedural differences between the two programs when a Section 538 guaranteed loan is being used to preserve a property with a Section 515 loan. Contact Tammy S. Daniels, RD, 202-720-0021.

FY17 Fair Market Rents to be released August 26. FMRs will be posted at and will take effect in 30 days unless “interested parties” request reevaluations and then provide data. This notice also requests feedback on what “material changes” in methodology would require future opportunities for comment. Contact local HUD program staff with questions.

Section 502 guarantee fees to decrease. On October 1, the first day of FY17, USDA’s fees for Section 502 guaranteed purchase and refinance loans will drop. The upfront fee will fall from 2.75% to 1%, and the annual fee from 0.5% to 0.35%. The conditional commitment date of issuance (not the loan closing date) determines the fee schedule for loan requests. Contact a guaranteed loan coordinator or

Federal Interagency Reentry Council plans work on housing and other challenges. The Council, comprised of over 20 federal agencies including USDA and HUD, works to ensure that individuals returning to the community from prison or jail have a meaningful chance to rebuild their lives and reclaim their futures. A recent report reviewing its work since 2011 says next steps related to housing include providing training and technical assistance to HUD field staff, providing housing assessment and discharge planning guidance to correctional institutions, and distributing information.

Online tool demonstrates affordable housing finance challenges.The Cost of Affordable Housing: Does It Pencil Out?” was developed by the National Housing Conference and the Urban Institute. As the tool’s website explains, “there is a huge gap between what [affordable rental] buildings cost to construct and maintain and the rents most people can pay. Without the help of too-scarce government subsidies for creating, preserving, and operating affordable apartments, building these homes is often impossible. This tool helps explain why.”

NLIHC offers updated congressional district and state rental housing profiles. The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s one-page profiles for each congressional district and state provide snapshots of housing affordability for renters, emphasizing those with extremely low incomes.

SAVE THE DATES FOR THE HAC RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE 2016! This year’s national conference will be held November 29-December 2 in Washington, DC. The HAC News will announce when registration opens.

HAC News: September 3, 2014

HAC News Formats. pdf

September 3, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 18

• RD suspends rural in character eligibility changes • National Office agreement required for some RD prepayment incentives • New guidelines apply to extensions and deobligations of unused Section 515, 514, and 516 funds • Online homeownership education provider approved for Section 502 borrowers • RD addresses thermal standards for manufactured housing • Guidance provided for rural multifamily design/build and construction management proposals • Reminder issued about Section 515 borrowers who received litigation damages • FHFA proposes new housing goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac • Changes to HMDA regulations suggested • New report covers challenges of housing seniors • Drop in homeless veterans estimated • Shortage of affordable rentals remains • CONFERENCE REGISTRATION IS OPEN!

September 3, 2014
Vol. 43, No. 18

RD SUSPENDS RURAL IN CHARACTER ELIGIBILITY CHANGES. In response to public concerns about changes in eligibility for rural housing programs based on determinations that some places are no longer “rural in character,” USDA has suspended use of this factor to alter a community’s rural status. No changes will be made until October 2015 at the earliest, and a new procedure will provide a 90-day public comment period on proposed modifications. This issue is not related to eligibility changes based on population growth (see HAC News, 2/5/14).

NATIONAL OFFICE AGREEMENT REQUIRED FOR SOME RD PREPAYMENT INCENTIVES. An Unnumbered Letter dated July 11, 2014 requires RD state offices to obtain advance approval before offering additional Rental Assistance or equity loans to Section 515 borrowers who want to prepay their loans. The UL says it is “an interim step” while regulatory changes are developed. Contact Tiffany Tietz, RD, 616-942-4111 ext. 126.

NEW GUIDELINES APPLY TO EXTENSIONS AND DEOBLIGATIONS OF UNUSED SECTION 515, 514, AND 516 FUNDS. An Unnumbered Letter dated July 30, 2014 provides timeframes and processes for USDA staff. Limited extensions may be permitted. Contact Mirna Reyes-Bible, 202-720-1753 (Section 514/516) or Melinda Price, 614-255-2403 (Section 515).

ONLINE HOMEOWNERSHIP EDUCATION PROVIDER APPROVED FOR SECTION 502 BORROWERS. An Unnumbered Letter dated August 22, 2014 announces the agency has approved Framework to provide online education, which can be used only when other formats are not available. Contact Shantelle Gordon, RD.

RD ADDRESSES THERMAL STANDARDS FOR MANUFACTURED HOUSING. The HUD Code specifies minimum thermal standards for each state, while RD applies them by county. Administrative Notice (AN) 4772 (Aug. 4, 2014) lists the standards for specified counties. Contact William Downs, RD, 202-720-1499.

GUIDANCE PROVIDED FOR RURAL MULTIFAMILY DESIGN/BUILD AND CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT PROPOSALS. AN 4770 (July 11, 2014) requires National Office approval to use Section 514 or 515 loans for design/build or construction management arrangements. Contact Sherry Engel, RD, 715-345-7677, or William Downs, RD, 202-720-1499.

REMINDER ISSUED ABOUT SECTION 515 BORROWERS WHO RECEIVED LITIGATION DAMAGES. An Unnumbered Letter dated June 24, 2014 instructs RD staff about servicing the accounts of borrowers who received damages payments pursuant to the May 21, 2007 agreement that settled a lawsuit against USDA regarding prepayments. Those owners cannot prepay their loans (unless USDA determines a property is no longer needed) and cannot receive incentives to discourage prepayment. Contact Tiffany Tietz, RD, 616-942-4111 ext. 126.

FHFA PROPOSES NEW HOUSING GOALS FOR FANNIE MAE AND FREDDIE MAC. Comments are due October 28 on possible changes to be in effect from 2015 through 2017, including a new subgoal for financing small multifamily rental properties (5-50 units). No rural subgoal is proposed. Contact Dr. Nayantara Hensel, FHFA, 202-649-3122.

CHANGES TO HMDA REGULATIONS SUGGESTED. Comment by October 29 on a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposal to implement a portion of the Dodd-Frank Act. Lenders subject to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act would have several new reporting requirements, some existing requirements would be clarified, and some institutional and transactional coverage would be changed. Contact CFPB’s Office of Regulations, 202-435-7700.

NEW REPORT COVERS CHALLENGES OF HOUSING SENIORS. Housing America’s Older Adults – Meeting the Needs of an Aging Population, published by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, analyzes the ability of the existing U.S. housing stock to meet growing needs for affordability, accessibility, social connectivity, and supportive services.

DROP IN HOMELESS VETERANS ESTIMATED. HUD, VA, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) estimate that as of January 2014 veterans’ homelessness nationwide had declined by 33% since 2010.

SHORTAGE OF AFFORDABLE RENTALS REMAINS. A new Housing Spotlight report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows that nationwide there are only 31 affordable and available units for every 100 extremely low-income renters (with incomes at or below 30% of area median) and only 16 for every 100 deeply low-income renters (below 15% of area median). The report provides data for states and for 50 large metro areas.

CONFERENCE REGISTRATION IS OPEN! Register online for the National Rural Housing Conference 2014: Retool, Rebuild, Renew, in Washington, DC, December 3-5 with pre-conference activities December 2. Until October 31, the rate is $350 for nonprofits and government, $400 for for-profits. Contact HAC staff,

USDA to Use FY12 Section 515 Funds for Prepayment Incentives, No New Construction

HAC has learned that the following message was sent by USDA’s Office of Congressional Relations to members of Congress on August 20.

. . . RHS will forego the release of the NOFA for Sec. 515 new construction projects. This decision not to fund new construction was due to the need to conform with the law as interpreted by the Supreme Court (Salazar v. Ramah), which stated that if agencies had outstanding contracts and sufficient appropriations, they must fund any of those contracts. OGC determined that the decision was relevant to the contracts, known as Rental Assistance Incentive contracts, entered into by the Rural Housing Service to avert prepayment of Section 515 rental housing through offers of prepayment incentives to the project owners.

We understand our stakeholders’ disappointment in RD’s decision not to fund 515 new construction. RD had intended to issue a NOFA; the notice was in clearance at the time of the Salazar decision. The delay led to insufficient time for Federal Register notice of a NOFA, application process and ultimate obligation prior to the end of the fiscal year. The Supreme Court’s decision has forced RD to change its priorities and use 515 appropriations to fund prepayment incentives (equity loans and RA). However, the limited funding left in the 515 program will be used to rehabilitate existing 515 housing, or facilitate the sale of RD inventory properties to owners adept at finding additional resources to revitalize the properties. There is an urgent need for RD to revitalize its existing portfolio of aging rental housing. Since the cost to rehabilitate our existing housing is less than the cost of new construction, the limited funding left in the 515 program will go further and in the time required, prior to fiscal year end.

HAC News: August 22, 2012

HAC News Formats. pdf

August 22, 2012
Vol. 41, No. 17

• USDA to use FY12 Section 515 funds for prepayment incentives • CBS News airs story on Section 502 guarantee foreclosures • Grants offered for senior volunteers in specific places • HUD releases general section for FY13 NOFAs • Funds exhausted for Section 502 guarantee program refinances • FHFA requests comments about eminent domain for foreclosures • Public Housing Assessment System scoring process explained • CFPB proposes regulations on high cost mortgages and homeownership counseling • Some mortgage disclosures to be combined • Blueprint for better farmworker housing published • HAC Seeks Nominations for Rural Housing Awards • Register Now for the National Rural Housing Conference!

August 22,2012
Vol. 41, No. 17

USDA TO USE FY12 SECTION 515 FUNDS FOR PREPAYMENT INCENTIVES. An email message from USDA to congressional offices explains that the department has canceled its NOFA for new construction funding. A Supreme Court ruling in a different context (Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter) required the government to pay amounts to fulfill contractual obligations even if Congress did not appropriate enough funds. Owners of over 100 Section 515 properties have been on a waiting list for incentives (equity loans and/or Rental Assistance) from USDA to keep these properties in the program, so the FY12 funds will be used for those incentives.

CBS NEWS AIRS STORY ON SECTION 502 GUARANTEE FORECLOSURES. Like a May 25 Wall Street Journal article, the August 16 CBS story criticizes USDA’s collection tactics when a borrower with high medical bills fell behind on mortgage payments.

GRANTS OFFERED FOR SENIOR VOLUNTEERS IN SPECIFIC PLACES. The Corporation for National and Community Service requests letters of intent by September 10 from public agencies, tribes, nonprofits, and institutions of higher education interested in Retired and Senior Volunteer Program funding. RSVP grants can be used to cover expenses such as volunteer recruitment, training, and travel for purposes including low-income housing. Partial matching funds are required. Applications are due October 11. A draft NOFA, list of program areas, information about technical assistance calls, and more are posted on CNCS’s site.

HUD RELEASES GENERAL SECTION FOR FY13 NOFAS. The general section’s information applies to next year’s NOFAs and does not itself offer funding. Contact HUD’s grants management office, 202-402-4802.

FUNDS EXHAUSTED FOR SECTION 502 GUARANTEE PROGRAM REFINANCES. USDA has used all its FY12 money for this program. Lenders can submit loan applications reflecting FY13 fees (upfront guarantee fee of 2% and annual fee of 0.4%) to USDA, which will hold them until FY13 funding becomes available. Contact an RD office.

FHFA REQUESTS COMMENTS ABOUT EMINENT DOMAIN FOR FORECLOSURES. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Bank system, is considering taking action on its “significant concerns” about the impact on lenders when local governments use eminent domain powers to seize properties before foreclosure in order to provide affordable housing. Comments are due September 7. See Federal Register, 8/9/12. Contact FHFA,

PUBLIC HOUSING ASSESSMENT SYSTEM SCORING PROCESS EXPLAINED. HUD provides additional information about the process for issuing scores under the Physical Condition Indicator of the PHAS under a February 23, 2011 notice, applicable to HUD-assisted multifamily and public housing properties. See Federal Register, 8/9/12 or HUD’s site. Contact Claudia J. Yarus, HUD, 202-475-8830.

CFPB PROPOSES REGULATIONS ON HIGH COST MORTGAGES AND HOMEOWNERSHIP COUNSELING.Comments are due September 7 on Consumer Financial Protection Bureau changes to implement provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act that expand the types of mortgage loans subject to the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act of 1994, revise triggers for HOEPA coverage, impose other restrictions on HOEPA mortgages, including a counseling re-quirement, and impose homeownership counseling requirements in connection with the Truth in Lending Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. See CFPB’s site or Contact Paul Seja, CFPB, 202-435-7700.

SOME MORTGAGE DISCLOSURES TO BE COMBINED. To implement another Dodd-Frank provision, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposes to combine some of the disclosures and forms required by the Truth in Lending Act and RESPA. Comments are due November 6. See CFPB’s site or Contact David Friend, CFPB, 202-435-7700.

BLUEPRINT FOR BETTER FARMWORKER HOUSING PUBLISHED. The report summarizes policy and research changes identified at a California Rural Legal Assistance forum, and a working group on health and housing will continue the effort. Contact

HAC SEEKS NOMINATIONS FOR RURAL HOUSING AWARDS. Nominations are due September 28 for the Cochran/Collings Award for national rural housing service and the Skip Jason Community Service Award. The honors will be presented at the National Rural Housing Conference in December. Complete the online form to submit a nomination or contact Lilla Sutton, HAC, 202-842-8600, to request a paper form.

HAC has opened registration for the 2012 National Rural Housing Conference, which will take place 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, or 202-842-8600.


Rental Housing for a 21stCentury Rural America

Rental Housing for a 21st Century Rural America: A Platform for Production

In their new report, Rental Housing for a 21st Century Rural America: A Platform for Production, The Urban Institute examines the issue of maturing mortgages in USDA’s Section 515 rental housing portfolio. This report is a companion piece to HAC’s Platform for Preservation report, the report analyzes the demand for new affordable rental housing in rural places and suggests ways to increase funding and capacity to deliver new units.