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Request for Applications for the Creative Placemaking for Rural (CPR) Initiative

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC), under Cooperative Agreement with USDA Rural Development as part of its Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge Initiative (RPIC), is excited to announce the Request for Applications (RFA) to the HAC 2022 Creative Placemaking for Rural (CPR) Initiative. Rural communities are invited to submit applications to receive support and technical assistance to host a virtual and on-site local Placemaking Workshop (if local public health guidelines allow) or participate in the Placemaking Learning Cohort. Specifically, the CRP Initiative will focus on improving rural prosperity and building the capacity of rural organizations to create and implement innovative placemaking strategies into their larger community development planning goals and activities.

Application Deadline - August 5, 2022

WHAT IS RURAL PLACEMAKING?

Under USDA, Rural Development, Placemaking is defined as a collaborative process among public, private, philanthropic and community partners to strategically improve the social, cultural, and economic structure of a community. This work is based on a sense of place with qualitative and quantitative outcomes.

Objective: Improve rural prosperity and build the capacity of rural organizations and communities to create and implement innovative placemaking strategies into their larger community development planning goals and activities.

APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS

We recommend that applicants prepare their answers prior to starting the application process, as you do not have the ability to save your progress while submitting. Your responses can be copied and pasted into the application form. Please contact CPR@ruralhome.org if you have any questions about the application submission process

How HAC’s Training and Technical Assistance Supports Homebuyer Education

Homeownership isn’t just part of the American Dream—it is a pathway to decent, affordable housing and one of the best opportunities families have to build wealth. For over fifty years, the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) has empowered rural nonprofits to better meet the housing needs of their communities. From self-help housing to sustainable design, HAC’s training and technical assistance supports a variety of homeownership programs. Because June is National Homeownership Month, join us as we explore one way HAC supports rural homeownership: helping our nonprofit partners provide homebuyer education.  

For many families, navigating the homebuying process can be a challenge. Homebuyer education prepares buyers by helping them understand the homebuying process, building their financial skills like budgeting, and teaching how to maintain their new home. In addition, many first-time homebuyer programs (including most government-funded homeownership initiatives) require that prospective buyers complete homebuyer education to qualify for assistance.  

HAC’s one-on-one technical assistance supports organizations at every stage of providing homebuyer education. “Many of the groups I work with want to offer homebuyer education because nobody else in their community is doing it,” says HAC Housing Specialist Kelly Cooney. We assist organizations with deciding which homebuyer education courses to offer, navigating of the process of becoming a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved housing counseling agency, and even refining existing courses to better meet the needs of their clients. HAC’s Technical Assistance program also promotes peer-learning and resource-sharing by connecting our partner organizations with other like-missioned groups in their area and around the country.  

Unfortunately, many rural families travel long distances to reach the nearest class.  During the fall of 2020, HAC provided training to 14 local housing organizations, helping them convert their in-person homebuyer education courses to a virtual format. Over the course of three sessions, attendees learned best practices for online teaching, success stories from peers, and how to keep their clients engaged.  

As Elizabeth Mooney, a Housing Counselor at Community Action Commission of Fayette County, explains, “HAC has been so helpful in the transition of our homebuyer education classes during COVID. They scheduled calls to check in on the transition, offered solutions that other agencies were using, and connected me with even more resources. They even offered me a scholarship for some of the virtual trainings I attended.”  

You can request technical assistance and explore HAC’s calendar of training events. 

Discussion Paper, Outreach and TA

OUTREACH AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE DELIVERY TO RURAL AND TRIBAL COMMUNITIES

Continue the Discussion on LinkedInContinue the Discussionby Stan Keasling, Rural Community Assistance Corporation, CA, and Blair Sebastian, New York State Rural Housing Coalition

Background

Nonprofits, local governments, and tribal governments are working individually and collectively to improve the quality of housing and community infrastructure in rural areas. The technical assistance (TA) needs of rural groups vary widely and often require very different approaches. Rural communities’ TA needs may also differ substantially from the TA needs found in more urbanized places. What are the needs, and where are opportunities and methods, or approaches, to improve the outreach to these entities and the effectiveness of TA delivery in rural America?

Issues, Challenges, and Opportunities

Over the past few years there have been significant changes to the resources available for the rural technical assistance delivery system. HUD has introduced the Community Compass (formerly OneCPD) system of technical assistance, and Congress has required new competitions for Rural Capacity Building and NAHASDA TA funding. In addition, USDA is still considering the utility of the intermediaries in the Section 502 packaging demonstration, and planning for a community facilities support system. These changes have meant that the intermediaries and other TA providers are often trying to suggest new strategies to the funding agencies in order to enhance their competitiveness, rather than pursuing outreach and TA practices that have been successful in the past.

While some federal initiatives have focused on providing technical assistance to rural and tribal communities, the approach has not been well synchronized. Rural and tribal communities generally must find and request TA themselves. Much of the available TA is provided through programs that are ‘siloed’, not coordinated. In addition – aside from the former Rural Housing and Economic Development and Rural Innovation Fund, Rural Capacity Building TA, and NAHASDA TA – HUD-funded TA is most often delivered to formula grantees. Assistance from USDA is also requested through specific programs such as Self-Help Technical and Management Assistance, and not all USDA programs have a TA component.

Given the vast number of rural and tribal entities and the lack of direct federal department/agency contact with many smaller communities, mechanisms are needed to allow them to identify and secure technical resources in the most appropriate manner for them. TA providers are interested in prioritizing the greatest needs of rural and tribal communities and identifying the best methods of delivering that assistance to ensure that the array of federal technical resources are directly available to the local jurisdictions, organizations, businesses, and families.

Discussion Questions
  • What technical assistance services do rural housing and community development organizations need to be more productive?
  • What are the best ways to inform local rural organizations about available TA?
  • What are the challenges facing local and tribal governments in trying to manage federal funds and design effective strategies for community development?
  • What support do the state grantees, including PJs, need to be more effective at administering federal pass through funds and coordinating with federal agencies to maximize impact?
  • What processes should be used to identify needs at the local level in rural America?
  • Are there changes federal departments/agencies should consider making to their system of identifying TA needs and allocating resources to local rural and tribal efforts?
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Technical Assistance

HAC’s Training and Technical Assistance assist rural organizations to improve housing conditions for the rural poor, with an emphasis on the poorest of the poor in the most rural places. The division focuses on developing the capacity of local leaders in nonprofit organizations to help their own communities. This is done by providing formal trainings, one-on-one technical assistance and connecting local organizations to resources which can build their capacity and strengthen their community.

board-retreat-mwHAC leads a board governance training for Community Housing Ministries in St. Joseph, MO

Technical Assistance

HAC offers a range of capacity building technical assistance services for organizations in rural areas. Unlike many national organizations, HAC is not a membership organization and has an “open-door” policy with regard to technical assistance. If your organization is looking for guidance on a housing project, organizational development or compliance issues, fill out our TA request and HAC will get back to you as soon as possible.

“But for” HAC our organization would not have been able to develop the housing that it has over the past 28 years. HAC has lent pre-development funds to “all but” every one of our developments in New York State. -Comment from HAC’s Stakeholder Survey

Contact HAC in your Area

Midwest Regional Office

Southeast Regional Office

Southwest Regional Office