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HAC Joins Summit on Addressing the Needs of Aging Veterans

On Friday, October 20, 2017, the Housing Assistance Council joined The Home Depot Foundation and the National League of Cities to support Purple Heart Homes in their 1st Annual Veterans Aging Summit. Held at the University of North Carolina, the summit convened nonprofit practitioners, Veterans’ service organizations, researchers, educators, public policy makers, community leaders, government representatives, and other interested stakeholders to collaborate on identifying and meeting the needs of aging Veterans and their caregivers.

HAC's Shonterria Charleston, Karen Boyce (The Veteran's Place) and Retha Patton (Eastern Eight CDC) discuss housing rural veteransHAC’s Shonterria Charleston, Karen Boyce (The Veteran’s Place) and Retha Patton (Eastern Eight CDC) discuss housing rural veterans.

HAC coordinated the Aging Veterans and Housing Panel, which featured two of its Home Depot Foundation-funded grantee organizations, The Veteran’s Place (Karen Boyce) and Eastern Eight Community Development Corporation (Retha Patton). Moderated by HAC’s Shonterria Charleston, the panel focused on housing (single and multifamily) and service provisions to aging veterans and provided context to rural challenges, best practices and opportunities for successful projects.

Funding support provided by The Home Depot Foundation

HAC's Joe Belden speaking at the Aging Veterans SummitHAC’s Joe Belden speaking at the Aging Veterans Summit.

HAC News: October 14, 2015

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 14, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 21

• Deadline approaches for rural veteran housing projects • Celebration of Service supports rural veterans through November 11 • Hensarling request for suggestions includes USDA housing programs • FY15 USDA housing spending went mostly to guarantees, rental assistance • USDA implements integrated mortgage disclosure for direct Section 502 and 504 loans • Bill would authorize preservation program, allow some lenders to approve Section 502 guarantees • Section 8 OCAFs set • HUD issues guidance on determining homeless status of youth • Child poverty fell in 2014 but remains higher than in 2009 • Profiles show housing affordability for renters by state and locality

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 14, 2015
Vol. 44, No. 21

Deadline approaches for rural veteran housing projects. The Home Depot Foundation will make grants to nonprofits, tribally designated housing entities, and housing authorities serving veterans at or below 80% of area median income in rural areas. Projects may be new construction or rehab, temporary or permanent housing, in progress or beginning within 12 months. Concept papers are due October 30. Contact Shonterria Charleston, HAC, 404-892-4824.

Celebration of Service supports rural veterans through November 11. Each Monday until November 11, the Home Depot Foundation’s Team Depot Facebook page will highlight one of its nonprofit partners (HAC was featured September 21). For each like, comment, and share of these spotlight posts the foundation will donate $1 (up to $1 million total), which will be split between HAC and eight other nonprofits serving veterans. Dollars will also be donated for #ServiceSelfie posts on Twitter or Instagram.

Hensarling request for suggestions includes USDA housing programs. The September 30, 2015 HAC News reported that House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) seeks proposals for improvements to HUD and its programs. HAC has learned that the committee is also interested in ideas on USDA rural housing. The request includes specific topics for comment. Contact transformhousing@mail.house.gov.

FY15 USDA housing spending went mostly to guarantees, rental assistance. HAC’s analysis of USDA data shows that as of the end of September – the end of FY15 – USDA obligated 149,108 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling about $19.9 billion. This is $312 million less and 4,743 fewer (in number) obligations than at the same time last year. About 94% of the total loan and grant dollars obligated represent Section 502 guaranteed loans. USDA also obligated 249,468 units of tenant assistance representing over $1.1 billion through the Section 521 Rental Assistance and Section 542 Rural Housing Voucher programs. This represents about $19.96 million or 7,051 fewer units than this time last year. Watch the HAC News and ruralhome.org for a more detailed analysis of FY15 spending. Contact Michael Feinberg, HAC, 202-842-8600.

USDA implements integrated mortgage disclosure for direct Section 502 and 504 loans. A Section 502 or 504 loan is now subject to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new Truth in Lending Act and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act Integrated Mortgage Disclosures (TRID) rule if a security interest will be taken on the property. In an email to stakeholders, USDA RD explains this regulation is expected to impact almost every aspect of mortgage transactions. RD has developed training materials and conducted webinars for its staff, and will issue an Unnumbered Letter. Sign up online to receive emails with information about RD’s single-family housing programs.

Bill would authorize preservation program, allow some lenders to approve Section 502 guarantees. The Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act, H.R. 3700, was recently introduced by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO). It includes two provisions for USDA rural housing programs: it would authorize the Multifamily Preservation and Revitalization demonstration that has been funded for several years, and would allow USDA to delegate its Section 502 loan guarantee authority to preferred lenders. It would make a number of changes to HUD programs, some relating to income calculations and limits; it would also allow public housing agencies to create replacement reserves, extend the Family Unification Program, create inspection policies for PHAs’ units, and change utility reimbursements.

Section 8 OCAFs set. HUD’s new operating cost adjustment factors will apply to Section 8 project-based assistance contracts with anniversary dates on or after February 11, 2016. Contact Stan Houle, HUD, 202-402-2572.

HUD issues guidance on determining homeless status of youth. The document uses hypothetical scenarios to help providers understand how youth meet HUD’s definition of homelessness to receive Continuum of Care or Emergency Solutions Grants housing and services. An October 28 webinar will review the guidance and provide over-views of resources available to serve youth who meet and do not meet HUD’s definition of homeless.

Child poverty fell in 2014 but remains higher than in 2009. Research from the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire analyzing American Community Survey data found that child poverty declined in rural places, suburbs, and cities, with the largest declines in rural America. Overall poverty rates are 38.4% for African-American children, 13.0% for non-Hispanic white children, and 32.1% for Hispanic children. Half (51.1%) of all rural African-American children live in poverty.

Profiles show housing affordability for renters by state and locality. The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Housing Profiles, updated with Out of Reach 2015 data (see HAC News, 5/27/15), give one-page snapshots of affordable rental housing stock and affordability in each state and congressional district.

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.