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HAC News: December 20, 2019

News Formats. pdf

November 20, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 25

Agreement reached on FY20 government fundingRegulators release Community Reinvestment Act proposalFair housing funds available from HUDFunding offered for housing aid to victims of human traffickingAfrican American Cultural Heritage grants availableHAC seeks Senior Portfolio ManagerFinal Opportunity Zones regulations postedHouse passes farmworker and rental preservation billGAO review of ERS/NIFA relocation requestedEmployees’ morale holds steady at USDA RD, plummets at ERS and NIFAUSDA RD launches new websiteApplications invited for Rural Youth Summit scheduled in April 2020 Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Affordable Rentals in Indian Country Why Millennials are Moving Away from Large Urban CentersHappy Holidays! SAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!HAC offers Section 512 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 20, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 25

Agreement reached on FY20 government funding.

Two lengthy spending bills to fund the entire federal government for the rest of fiscal year 2020 were passed by the House on December 17 and the Senate on December 19. President Trump is expected to sign them into law before the most recent continuing resolution expires on December 20. H.R. 1865, which includes both USDA and HUD, keeps most USDA rural housing programs at FY19 levels. It increases funding for preserving rural rental housing and includes other pro-preservation provisions as well. It also contains a provision inserted on the Senate floor that allows USDA to renew Section 521 Rental Assistance agreements for 20 years, when requested by property owners, and subject to annual appropriations. Many HUD programs, including HOME and CDBG, receive funding increases in the final measure. It also directs more than $1 billion in Low Income Housing Tax Credits to fire-damaged parts of California and pressures HUD to release disaster funding for Puerto Rico. H.R. 1158, the second of the two final bills, includes the full funding needed to undertake the 2020 Census. It also renews the National Flood Insurance Program.

Regulators release Community Reinvestment Act proposal.

A long-awaited proposal to revise Community Reinvestment Act regulations has been announced by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The changes are intended to quantify the CRA scoring system that rates banks’ service to their communities, and to broaden their responsibilities to include locations where they receive deposits, rather than only where their branches are located. Public comments will be due in mid-February, 60 days after the proposal is officially published in the Federal Register.

Fair housing funds available from HUD.

HUD is offering funds from three components of the Fair Housing Initiative Program. The application deadline for all three programs is February 6.

  • The Education and Outreach Initiative will fund fair housing organizations, nonprofits, state or local governments and Fair Housing Assistance Program agencies to conduct education and outreach informing people of their fair housing rights and responsibilities.
  • The Private Enforcement Initiative will fund experienced Qualified Fair Housing Enforcement Organizations and Fair Housing Enforcement Organizations to take complaints, conduct investigations, offer education and other activities.
  • The Fair Housing Organization Initiative will fund nonprofits or fair housing groups to build the capacity of other organizations to undertake fair housing enforcement activities.

Funding offered for housing aid to victims of human trafficking.

Nonprofits, tribes, units of local government, and states and territories are eligible for grants to provide transitional or short-term housing assistance and support services to victims of human trafficking. The deadline is February 3. For more information, contact the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, 800-851-3420, grants@ncjrs.gov. (This funding announcement, released by the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime, replaces one that was announced by HUD earlier in 2019, then postponed.)

African American Cultural Heritage grants available.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation will make grants to public agencies and nonprofits for planning, capital projects and capacity building that will advance ongoing preservation activities for historic places representing African American heritage. Letters of intent are due January 15. For more information, contact the Trust, grants@savingplaces.org.

HAC seeks Senior Portfolio Manager.

The Senior Portfolio Manager provides leadership and oversight to a team that performs a range of lending activities – closing, disbursement, monitoring, servicing and asset management of single-family and multifamily housing development loans – in HAC’s Loan Fund Division, based in Washington, DC. Email a resume and brief cover letter to jobs@ruralhome.org with “Senior Portfolio Manager” in the subject line. Applications will be considered as received.

Final Opportunity Zones regulations posted.

A final rule governing the Opportunity Zones program was issued December 19 by the Treasury Department and IRS. It will take effect 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

House passes farmworker and rental preservation bill.

On December 11 the full House approved the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038), which includes provisions relating to farmworkers and rural rental housing preservation. It is not clear whether the Senate will take any action on the measure.

GAO review of ERS/NIFA relocation requested.

Five Democratic members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee have asked the Government Accountability Office to review the Administration’s decision to move the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to Kansas City. As the letter to GAO notes, hundreds of employees declined to move, and USDA’s latest figures show 64% of ERS positions and 75% of NIFA positions are empty. The House appropriations bill for FY20 would have blocked the relocation but, since the shift has now been completed, this week’s final funding bill does not.

Employees’ morale holds steady at USDA RD, plummets at ERS and NIFA.

The annual “Best Places to Work Agency Ratings,” based on surveys of federal workers, show Rural Development is number 364 among 420 sub-agencies, scoring 52.7 out of 100, essentially the same as its 52.8 score in 2018. After the Administration relocated their offices, the Economic Research Service’s score fell 30 points from 2018 to 2019, putting it at number 415, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture dropped 24 points to number 419. RD’s highest score since 2013 – the earliest year shown with this year’s data – was 67.7 in 2017, when ERS scored 74.6 and NIFA 53.4.

USDA RD launches new website.

The new version of rd.usda.gov reorganizes the former “Regulations and Guidelines” section into a “Resources” category. Resources are divided between “Regulations” and “Directives,” with the latter category including Administrative Notices, Unnumbered Letters, Handbooks and more. Some URLs have changed and some remain the same.

Applications invited for Rural Youth Summit scheduled in April 2020.

The Rural Assembly will select 50 people aged 16-24 from rural communities and Native Nations to attend the Rural Youth Summit, to be held April 2-5 in McAllen, TX. The summit’s goals are “to further explore the unique challenges facing rural youth, identify creative solutions, and provide a context for how these issues fit into national rural policy.” Local organizations and schools can serve as sponsoring organizations. Applications are due January 31. For more information, contact Mary Sketch, 919-402-7241.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Affordable Rentals in Indian Country discusses “how the complex relationship between economic incentives and policy objectives creates a unique challenge for LIHTC development in tribal areas.”

Happy holidays!

SAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!

The conference will be held in Washington, DC on December 2-4, 2020 with pre-conference meetings on December 1. The HAC News will announce more details, including registration, as they become available.

HAC’s board and staff wish peace, happiness and affordable housing to all!

HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia.

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 Glen Allen, VA on March 10-12. 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: December 11, 2019

News Formats. pdf

November 11, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 24

Federal funding extended to December 20Community Development Block Grant offered for Indian Tribes and Alaska Native VillagesUSDA proposes changes for direct homeownership loans and grantsCRA reform proposal expected this weekProposed new director of homelessness council has criticized “housing first” and food programsHouse advances bill to help tribes combat homelessnessDisaster recovery bill passes HouseHouse committee approves farmworker and rental preservation billHUD requrests comments on regulatory barriersFCC to establish fund for 5G service in rural areasPop Quiz with David LipsetzBroadband USDA FundingFood Security Starts with Affordable Housing for farmworkersIncreasing Access to Affordable Housing for FarmworkersIncreasing access to Affordable Housing in Indian CountryPerspectives from Main Street: Bank Branch Access in Rural CommunitiesSAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

December 11, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 24

Federal funding extended to December 20.
The second short-term continuing resolution for fiscal year 2020 keeps the federal government open with FY19 funding levels through December 20. Congress may pass the 12 appropriations measures for FY20 by then. If members cannot agree, however, another CR is likely.

Community Development Block Grants offered for Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages.
Tribes, Alaska Native villages and tribal organizations are eligible to apply by February 3 for the Indian CDBG program. Funds from fiscal years 2019 and 2020 will be awarded in this grant cycle. For more information, contact ONAP-ICDBG@hud.gov.

USDA proposes changes for direct homeownership loans and grants.
Comments are due January 24 on a proposed rule intended to increase the flexibility of the Section 502 direct and Section 504 programs and improve borrower access. The proposal would remove various program restrictions and increase alignment with provisions in the Section 502 guaranteed loan program. Some of the more significant changes remove limitations in the Section 504 program, increasing the program loan and grant limits. For more information, contact Andrea Birmingham, RD, 202-720-1489.

CRA reform proposal expected this week.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are expected to release possible changes to their Community Reinvestment Act rules on December 12 and 13. The third federal bank regulator, the Federal Reserve Board, will make a separate proposal in the future. The regulators are likely to suggest ways to make banks’ CRA tests more quantifiable and to provide CRA credit for activities beyond the physical locations of their branches. Public comments on the FDIC/OCC proposed rule will probably be due in mid-February.

Proposed new director of homelessness council has criticized “housing first” and food programs.
News outlets including Politico are reporting that Robert Marbut will become executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness if confirmed by the council at a December 10 meeting. Obama appointee Matthew Doherty left the position in November. Marbut has not supported provision of housing as the first step in addressing homelessness and has recommended “24/7 programming” rather than feeding homeless people.

House advances bill to help tribes combat homelessness.
Legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives would make tribes and tribally designated housing authorities eligible to access homeless assistance grants through state or local Continuums of Care. The Tribal Access to Homeless Assistance Act (H.R. 4029) must next advance through the Senate.

Disaster recovery bill passes House.
H.R. 3702, the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act, was approved by the House on November 18. The bill’s provisions would help target Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery grants to survivors with the greatest needs, ensure greater data transparency and oversight, protect civil rights and fair housing, and encourage mitigation and resiliency. A companion measure, S. 2301, has been introduced in the Senate.

House committee approves farmworker and rental preservation bill.
On November 21 the House Judiciary Committee passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038), which includes provisions relating to farmworkers and rural rental housing preservation. The bill is scheduled for consideration by the full House of Representatives on December 11 or 12.

HUD requests comments on regulatory barriers.
As required by President Trump’s June Executive Order establishing a White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing, HUD seeks public comment by January 21 on federal, state, local and tribal laws, regulations, land use requirements and administrative practices that artificially raise the costs of affordable housing development and contribute to shortages in housing supply. For more information, contact Pamela Blumenthal, HUD, 202-402-7012.

FCC to establish fund for 5G service in rural areas.
The Federal Communications Commission will create a 5G Fund to make up to $9 billion available to carriers to deploy advanced 5G mobile wireless services in rural America, targeting hard-to-serve areas with sparse populations or rugged terrain. The FCC’s announcement did not say when the funds will be available.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • Pop Quiz with David Lipsetz, an interview with Affordable Housing Finance, features HAC’s CEO discussing his career in affordable housing and what he wishes people knew about rural people and places. “It’s inspiring to me that people are finally recognizing the truth that many of us having been telling for years,” said Lipsetz. “Addressing affordable housing solves many of the root causes of inequality and poverty.”
  • Broadband USDA Funding is a searchable database for federal funding related to broadband provision, posted by the Commerce Department but covering all federal agencies. The search can be tailored in several ways, including to identify rural-specific programs.
  • Food Security Starts with Affordable Housing for Farmworkers describes housing as “a critical tool for recruitment and retention of both domestic and immigrant [farm]workers.” This Urban Land Institute article describes several examples of successful farmworker housing developments.
  • Increasing Access to Affordable Housing in Indian Country, an article for Shelterforce by Patrice Kunesh at the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, highlights the unique challenges of homeownership on Native lands and offers some solutions.
  • Perspectives from Main Street: Bank Branch Access in Rural Communities reports that when bank branches close, rural consumers and small businesses are left with generally more costly and less convenient alternatives. Published by the Federal Reserve Board, the study includes information gathered at listening sessions across the country.
  • Rural Development Hubs: Strengthening Rural America’s Innovation Infrastructure, a new report released November 18 by the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, examines intermediaries’ role in building wealth, increasing capacity and creating opportunity in regions. The research describes what sets rural development hubs apart, obstacles that regional developers may face and strategies of effective prosperity-building.

SAVE THE DATE FOR HAC’S 2020 RURAL HOUSING CONFERENCE!

The conference will be held in Washington, DC on December 2-4, 2020 with pre-conference meetings on December 1. The HAC News will announce more details, including registration, as they become available.

HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, March 10-12 in Virginia.
This three-day advanced coursetrains 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 Glen Allen, VA on March 10-12, 2020.For more information, contactHAC 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: October 31, 2019

News Formats. pdf

October 31, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 22

Senate passes USDA and HUD funding bill for FY20Comments sought on changes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve plans, and new documents releasedCIRD hosts 2019 learning cohort summit in Thomas, WVSenate’s USDA funding bill includes money to address black land lossBill to legalize farmworkers and revise H-2A program would also raise rural housing fundingFamily Unification Program vouchers availableImproving CRA for Rural AmericaThe Older Population in Rural America: 2012-2016Adversity and Assets: Identifying Rural OpportunitiesEvaluation of HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD): Final ReportLenders: To Preserve Affordable Housing, Manage Climate RiskRural Minnesota’s Lack of Shelters Make Homeless an “Invisible” PopulationUrban and Rural Homeless ComparisonsApply by Nov. 15 for HAC grants to support housing to rural veteransREGISTER BY NOV. 1 FOR 502 OR HOUSING COUNSELOR TRAINING! • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 31, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 22

November is Native American Heritage Month.

Senate passes USDA and HUD funding bill for FY20.

The Senate’s first FY20 appropriations bill passed on October 31, a “minibus” package that includes funding for HUD and USDA, along with other agencies. Amendments adopted on the Senate floor included two rural housing provisions. One, sponsored by Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Mike Rounds (R-ND), would allow owners of USDA-financed rental properties to request Rental Assistance agreements with terms of 20 years rather than one year; the funding for longer contracts would still be subject to annual appropriations. The other, from Sens. Smith and Marco Rubio (R-FL), tells USDA to prioritize rental properties’ maintenance needs. Differences between the Senate and House bills will need to be resolved, so these agencies may still be included in a second continuing resolution that is expected to fund the government after the current CR ends on November 21.

Comments sought on changes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve plans, and new documents released.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, requests input by November 15 on modifications to the enterprises’ plans for achieving their Duty to Serve obligations for manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation and rural housing. FHFA also released a strategic plan that sets out a framework for preparing to end the entities’ conservatorships, a 2020 scorecard explaining how their activities will be assessed, and a report covering their 2018 affordable housing activities. The report concludes that in 2018 both exceeded the benchmarks for all their housing goals and complied with their Duty to Serve requirements.

CIRD hosts 2019 learning cohort summit in Thomas, WV.

Working with local host partners and regional community lenders, Woodlands Development Group welcomed 34 participants from 17 states to the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design Cohort Learning Summit. CIRD is a collaboration among HAC, the National Endowment for the Arts and buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. The two-and-a-half-day event included workshops on different design and creative placemaking concepts, site visits to ongoing economic development projects in the town of Thomas, WV, and peer exchange activities that provided participants an opportunity to advance their own rural design challenges.

Senate’s USDA funding bill includes money to address black land loss.

The Senate’s FY20 USDA appropriations bill includes $5 million to launch a program authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill that will make loans to intermediaries to help resolve ownership issues for farmers with “heirs property” – land that has multiple legal owners after ownership passed through several generations without wills or clear titles. African-American farmers in the South have been deemed ineligible for USDA loans when they could not prove title to their land, and in some cases have lost the land. The issue, along with other causes of black land loss, has been covered in recent articles by the Atlantic, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the New Food Economy, the Pew Trusts and others.

Bill to legalize farmworkers and revise H-2A program would also raise rural housing funding.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, introduced on October 30 by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA), would create a process for farmworkers and their families to obtain legal status in the U.S., tweak the H-2A visa program for temporary farmworkers, increase the number of green cards available for farmworkers and establish a mandatory E-Verify system for farm employers to check their workers’ legal status. Its housing provisions include the text of the Strategy and Investment in Rural Housing Preservation Act, H.R. 3620, which passed the House on September 10, with some additions including the 20-year Rental Assistance contract provision that is also in the Senate’s FY20 USDA appropriations bill. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would also allow Rental Assistance to cover up to half the operating costs of Section 514/516 housing that is occupied by H-2A workers if the units were previously unoccupied or underutilized by other workers. Finally, it would authorize up to $200 million for Section 514 loans and $30 million for Section 516 grants, as well as $2.7 billion for Section 521 Rental Assistance, each year through fiscal year 2029.

Family Unification Program vouchers available.

HUD will award new FUP vouchers to PHAs that partner with public child welfare agencies and Continuums of Care to administer assistance on behalf of families for whom the lack of adequate housing is a primary factor in a potential loss of custody or on behalf of young people between 18 and 24 at risk of homelessness upon discharge from foster care. Applications are due December 17. For more information, contact HUD staff.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • Improving CRA for Rural America, written by HAC researcher Keith Wiley for Shelterforce, argues that Community Reinvestment Act regulations should be recrafted to incentivize investments in underserved and economically distressed communities, many of which are rural.
  • The Older Population in Rural America: 2012–2016, a recent Census Bureau report, discusses “new and important ways” that aging populations could impact rural America including housing and public transportation options. Research shows that while seniors want to remain in their own homes, those in rural areas frequently face challenges related to having few housing options and the limited availability of nearby social services.
  • Adversity and Assets: Identifying Rural Opportunities, part of a series by the Center for American Progress, examines economic trends and indicators in counties across the rural-urban continuum.
  • Evaluation of HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD): Final Report concludes that initial implementation of HUD’s RAD program for conversion of public housing to project-based Section 8 housing accomplished its principal goals of leveraging capital, preserving affordable housing and mitigating relocation effects on tenants.
  • Lenders: To Preserve Affordable Housing, Manage Climate Risk, a National Resources Defense Council blog post, argues that disaster recovery funding favors financially better-off homeowners and needs to change to equally prioritize recovery funding for renters and homeowners.

Apply by Nov. 15 for HAC grants to support housing aid to rural veterans.

HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans initiative supports local nonprofit housing development organizations that meet or help meet the affordable housing needs of veterans in rural areas. Grants typically range up to $30,000 per organization and must support bricks-and-mortar projects that assist low-income, elderly and/or disabled veterans with home repair and rehab needs, support homeless veterans, help veterans become homeowners and/or secure affordable rental housing. This initiative is funded through the generous support of the Home Depot Foundation. Applications are due November 15 by 5:00 pm Eastern time. For more information, contact HAC staff, ahrv@ruralhome.org.

*REGISTER BY NOV. 1 FOR 502 PACKAGING OR HOUSING COUNSELOR TRAINING!*

Only a few spaces remain. Both courses will be held in Tampa, FL on November 12-14.The Section 502 packaging advanced coursetrains experienced participants to assist potential borrowers and work with RD staff, other nonprofits and regional intermediaries to deliver successful Section 502 loan packages. The housing counseling course sets you up for success in meeting HUD’s new certification requirements for housing counselors. For more information, contactHAC 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: October 21, 2019

News Formats. pdf

October 21, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 21

Senate may begin considering FY20 spending bills the week of October 21 • Apply by November 15 for grants to support housing aid to rural veterans • HUD offers funds for new Section 811 housing and rental aid for persons with disabilities • USDA obligated all Section 502 direct funds for FY19, but not Section 504 • USDA to begin accepting Section 538 rental guarantee applications continuously • Lawsuit charges Texas’s Hurricane Harvey recovery discriminates against low-income renters of color • Executive Orders increase scrutiny of agency guidance • Administration tells agencies to pay as they go • Senate committee considers homeownership in Indian Country • USDA names Deputy Administrator for rental housing office • Threshold raised for single-family appraisal requirements • HUD sets expediated process for PHAs in disaster countries • NEW! HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, Nov. 12-14 in Tampa • HAC training for housing counselors set for November in Tampa • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 21, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 21

Senate may begin considering FY20 spending bills the week of October 21.

The first FY20 appropriations bill to be debated on the Senate floor may be a package that includes funding for HUD and USDA, along with other agencies. Even after the Senate passes its measures, differences between its bills and the House’s will need to be resolved, as will differences with White House priorities.

Apply by November 15 for grants to support housing aid to rural veterans.

HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans initiative supports local nonprofit housing development organizations that meet or help meet the affordable housing needs of veterans in rural areas. Grants typically range up to $30,000 per organization and must support bricks-and-mortar projects that assist low-income, elderly and/or disabled veterans with home repair and rehab needs, support homeless veterans, help veterans become homeowners and/or secure affordable rental housing. This initiative is funded through the generous support of the Home Depot Foundation. Applications are due November 15 by 5:00 pm Eastern time. For more information, contact HAC staff, ahrv@ruralhome.org.

HUD offers funds for new Section 811 housing and rental aid for persons with disabilities.

For the first time since 2010, capital advances and rental assistance contracts are available for nonprofits to develop permanent supportive rental housing for very low-income adults with disabilities. For the first time since 2013, project-based rental subsidies are also offered to state agencies, to be used for existing, rehabilitated or new permanent supportive housing units that do not have capital advances from HUD’s Section 811 or 202 programs. Applications for both funding pools are due February 10, 2020. For more information, contact HUD staff at FY18811NOFA@hud.gov.

USDA obligated all Section 502 direct funds for FY19, but not Section 504.

Despite the federal government shutdown early in the fiscal year, USDA obligated all available funds for Section 502 direct loans this year, using just over $1 billion for a total of 6,194 mortgage loans to new low-income homebuyers. About 37% of the loans and 42% of the dollars went to very low-income applicants. HAC appreciates RHS Administrator Bruce Lammers’s approval of overtime for field staff and other special authorizations, which made this possible.

There was, however, a significant shortfall in the agency’s use of Section 504 loans and grants for repairs to homes owned by very low-income people. USDA obligated 2,735 Section 504 loans, representing $17.4 million of the $28 million available, and 3,908 grants, using $24.8 million of the $30 million appropriated. The remaining grant funds can be used in FY20, but the loan monies cannot.

Use of resources for rental housing preservation exceeded last year’s performance, with 85 loans from Section 515 and 205 loans and three grants from the MPR program.

More information is provided in HAC’s obligation report, and HAC will also publish a more detailed FY19 performance report.

USDA to begin accepting Section 538 rental guarantee applications continuously.

As proposed in December, USDA will no longer publish annual NOFAs for the Section 538 rental housing guarantee program. It will publish an announcement when funds are available and will then accept applications at any time. For more information, contact Monica Cole, RD, 202-720-1251.

Lawsuit charges Texas’s Hurricane Harvey recovery discriminates against low-income renters of color.

Low-income Hispanic and African-American renters have sued HUD and the state of Texas alleging discrimination in the distribution of CDBG Disaster Recovery funds after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The suit claims that the state’s decision to target aid to homeowners, landlords and developers while excluding renters is discriminatory because low-income renters are more likely to be African-American or Hispanic.

Executive Orders increase scrutiny of agency guidance.

On October 9 President Trump signed two Executive Orders, one requiring federal executive agencies such as USDA and HUD to increase transparency around their use of guidance documents and the other limiting agency reliance on past enforcement activities to establish standards of compliance with laws or regulations. The Office of Management and Budget is given authority to implement the provisions on guidance documents, including to require OMB review of “significant” guidance documents. The Executive Order does not refer to OMB review authorities announced in an April 11, 2019 memo from OMB’s Acting Director Russell Vought, though the two seem to overlap.

Administration tells agencies to pay as they go.

An Executive Order issued on October 10 intends to “reinvigorate administrative PAYGO,” requiring federal departments and agencies to reduce spending in one area when they propose a spending increase in another area unless a law requires the increase. OMB is given authority to waive the requirements and to issue instructions for implementing the order.

Senate committee considers homeownership in Indian Country.

On October 16, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a hearing entitled “Lending Opportunities: Opening the Door to Homeownership in Indian Country.” Witnesses included HUD Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing Hunter Kurtz, Governor Max Zuni of the Pueblo of Isleta, Council Member Nate Mount of the Ft. Belknap Indian Community, BIA Director Darryl LaCounte and Patrice Kunesh from the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Discussions focused on the need for capital in Indian Country, the role Native CDFIs can play in bringing lending capacity to tribal areas and potential modernizations to the HUD Section 184 program. For more on challenges and opportunities for mortgage finance in Indian Country, review HAC’s recent report here.

USDA names Deputy Administrator for rental housing office.

Nancie-Ann Bodell, who became Acting Deputy Administrator for Multi-Family Housing several months ago, has been selected to fill the position on a permanent basis. She oversees USDA’s programs for the production and preservation of rental housing as well as the existing portfolio of affordable rental housing and farm labor housing.

Threshold raised for single-family appraisal requirements.

The agencies that regulate banks and thrifts are raising the threshold level at which appraisals are not required for single-family (one to four units) real estate transactions from $250,000 to $400,000. Some rural properties are exempt from the appraisal requirement altogether. When appraisals are not required, lenders must obtain evaluations, consistent with safe and sound banking practices. For more information, contact G. Kevin Lawton, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, 202-649-7152.

HUD sets expedited process for PHAs in disaster counties.

HUD has established an expedited process to review requests for relief from HUD regulatory and/or administrative requirements for public housing agencies in counties that are included in major disaster declarations in calendar year 2019. For more information, contact HUD staff, PIH_Disaster_Relief@hud.gov.

*NEW!* HAC offers Section 502 packaging training for nonprofits, Nov. 12-14 in Tampa.

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 Tampa, FL on November 12-14. For more information, contact HAC staff, 404-892-4824.

HAC training for housing counselors set for November in Tampa.

HUD’s final rule on new certification requirements for housing counselors requires that by August 1, 2020 counseling for or in connection with any HUD programs must be provided by HUD Certified Housing Counselors. Get ready! Elevate your knowledge in the six essential competency areas, including financial management, housing affordability, homeownership, avoiding foreclosure, tenancy and fair housing. Set yourself up for success in meeting HUDs counselor certification requirements by starting your prep with this three-day course scheduled for Tampa, FL on November 12-14. The registration fee is $500. 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: October 7, 2019

News Formats. pdf

October 7, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 20

President signs continuing resolution to keep government open • Rural rental preservation bill re-introduced along with others • HUD announces DDAs and QCTs for FY20 • USDA updates environmental policies and procedures • Newspaper ads for domestic farmworkers replaced by online job registry • Duty to Serve listening sessions scheduled • Factsheets on disaster housing recovery • Iowa Free Land Giveaways Can be Imperfect Fix for Rural Housing Shortage • Measuring and Understanding Home Repair Costs: A National Typology of Households • New Financing Options for Affordable and Attractive Factory-Built Homes • Silicon Valley in Iowa: Congressman’s Fight for Tech Jobs in Rural America • The Value of HMDA Coverage of Home Lending in Rural Areas and Indian Country • HAC training for housing counselors set for November in Tampa • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

October 7, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 20

President signs continuing resolution to keep government open.

On September 23 President Trump signed into law a continuing resolution, H.R. 4378, to fund the federal government through November 21. A disagreement over funding for the border wall – the issue that led to last year’s lengthy shutdown – is expected to arise again as Congress and the Administration try to resolve differences on full-year appropriations. Congress is in recess October 1-14.

Rural rental preservation bill re-introduced along with others.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has introduced S. 2567, the Rural Housing Preservation Act, which would expand availability of vouchers for USDA tenants in properties leaving the Section 515 or 514/516 portfolios, allow Section 521 Rental Assistance to continue for tenants in properties whose mortgages have matured, establish uniform standards for transfers involving Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and authorize the MPR program. The measure has been introduced in previous Congresses in both the House and Senate, although it has not yet been taken up by either house. Sen. Shaheen also introduced a bill encouraging manufactured home park owners who are interested in selling their property to sell to their residents, and another that would terminate FHA mortgage insurance payments when the loan balance reaches 78% of the home’s value.

HUD announces DDAs and QCTs for FY20.

Difficult Development Areas and Qualified Census Tracts, calculated every year, are used to target Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

USDA updates environmental policies and procedures.

USDA Rural Development published a direct final rule on November 23, 2018 to update its environmental policies and procedures, but did not put it into effect because some adverse comments were submitted. A September 23, 2019 notice makes the rule effective as of that date, giving the RHS, RBS and RUS administrators some flexibility to obligate funds for infrastructure projects – including broadband, electric, water and sewer – before environmental review is completed, conditioned on the full and satisfactory completion of environmental review. For more information, contact Edna Primrose, USDA RD, 202-720-0986.

Newspaper ads for domestic farmworkers replaced by online job registry.

The Labor Department is eliminating the existing requirement for most employers who want to hire H-2A farmworkers to first advertise their job opportunities in print newspapers. Instead of requiring them to run ads online, as it first proposed, DOL will instead post these jobs on its electronic job registry, seasonaljobs.dol.gov, effective October 21, 2019. For more information, contact Thomas M. Dowd, DOL, 202-513-7350.

Duty to Serve listening sessions scheduled.

As Fannie Mae and Freddie Mae develop plans to carry out their 2021-23 duty to serve underserved markets such as rural America, the Federal Housing Finance Agency has scheduled listening sessions between Nov. 19 and Dec. 11 in St. Louis, Los Angeles, Washington, DC and online in order to get public input. Details and registration are online.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • Factsheets on disaster housing recovery from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition describe the housing impact of the largest disasters from 2017 and 2018 as well as major failures and deficiencies in disaster recovery efforts afterward.
  • In Iowa Free Land Giveaways Can be Imperfect Fix for Rural Housing Shortage describes the challenges involved as, in an effort to overcome an aging housing stock and encourage new housing construction, at least four rural Iowa communities are experimenting with land giveaways to spur development.
  • Measuring and Understanding Home Repair Costs: A National Typology of Households, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and PolicyMap, calculates housing quality problems taking into account the cost of the repairs needed. The authors estimate that extremely low-income households in single-family units typically have the costliest repair needs, totaling $50.8 billion in 2018.
  • New Financing Options for Affordable and Attractive Factory-Built Homes suggests modular and manufactured housing can help solve the affordable housing shortage in rural areas. As opposed to stick-built housing built on-site, manufactured and modular housing is factory-built and delivered to the site, saving time and money.
  • Silicon Valley in Iowa: Congressman’s Fight for Tech Jobs in Rural America describes an effort involving several large tech companies to bring jobs and job training to Jefferson County, Iowa. Spearheaded by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), the program would create software development education and training opportunities through local community colleges and also involve the commitment to local job creation from large tech firms.
  • The Value of HMDA Coverage of Home Lending in Rural Areas and Indian Country, a working paper from the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, notes that the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act applies to a wide range of financial institutions involved in home lending, but many small and nonmetropolitan lenders are exempt from reporting. The research analyzes data coverage and identifies some limitations but concludes HMDA data is a useful and important source of information about lending in Indian Country and rural areas.

HAC training for housing counselors set for November in Tampa.

HUD’s final rule on new certification requirements for housing counselors requires that by August 1, 2020 counseling for or in connection with any HUD programs, must be provided by HUD Certified Housing Counselors. Get ready! Elevate your knowledge in the six essential competency areas, including financial management, housing affordability, homeownership, avoiding foreclosure, tenancy and fair housing. Set yourself up for success in meeting HUD’s counselor certification requirements by starting your prep with this three-day course scheduled for Tampa, FL on November 12-14. The registration fee is $500. 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: September 23, 2019

News Formats. pdf

September 23, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 19

Senate committee approves FY20 funding for USDA and HUD, continuing resolution moves forward • HUD offers technical assistance for disaster-impacted cities under 40,000 • House passes rural rental preservation bill • HUD proposes regulations on income and assets for public housing and Section 8 • Community design awards announced • DJ LaVoy sworn in as Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development • Low-cost rental units show long-term decline in every state • White House homelessness recommendations include deregulation and policing • September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic American Heritage Month “Colonias Investment Areas – Texas” webinar set for September 26 • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

September 23, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 19

Senate committee approves FY20 funding for USDA and HUD, continuing resolution moves forward.

  • On September 19 the Senate Appropriations Committee passed FY20 funding bills for several departments, including USDA and HUD. After the full Senate approves the bills, differences between the Senate measures and those previously passed by the House will need to be resolved by conference committees. Because there is not enough time to complete the appropriations for all federal agencies before the new fiscal year begins on October 1, a continuing resolution is expected to fund the government through November 21 and avoid a shutdown. The House approved a CR, H.R. 4378, on September 19 and the Senate should vote on it the week of September 23. It includes a provision allowing maintenance of HUD Section 202 rental assistance, even if the necessary funds exceed the FY19 amount.
  • The Senate’s FY20 USDA bill would keep most rural housing programs at FY19 levels with increases to Section 521 Rental Assistance and Section 542 rural housing vouchers. The version approved by the House in June, on the other hand, increased several programs above FY19 levels, including Sections 514 and 515 as well as self-help housing and the MPR rental preservation program. Details are on HAC’s website. The Senate bill also includes $25 million for relocating ERS and NIFA to Kansas City, while the House bill would block the move.
  • The Senate’s HUD bill increases the department’s overall funding above its FY19 level, but rejects a number of increases included in the House’s bill. The Appropriations Committee voted 15-16 against inclusion of an amendment that would have reauthorized NAHASDA; the bill does fund the Native American housing programs for FY20.

HUD offers technical assistance for disaster-impacted cities under 40,000.

HUD’s Distressed Cities Technical Assistance program is designed to assist local governments of communities with populations under 40,000 that experienced a presidentially declared disaster in or after 2015. The program focuses on financial management, economic development (including affordable housing) and disaster recovery planning. Instructions for requesting TA are posted online.

House passes rural rental preservation bill.

On September 10 the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3620, the Strategy and Investment in Rural Housing Preservation Act. The Senate seems unlikely to consider the bill, which would strengthen USDA’s rental preservation efforts.

HUD proposes regulations on income and assets for public housing and Section 8.

Comments are due November 18 on a proposed rule to implement provisions of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 that relate to income calculations and reviews for public housing and Section 8, with corresponding changes to the regs for HOME, the Housing Trust Fund, and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program. Information contacts vary by program and are listed in the notice.

Community design awards announced.

Twenty-three communities from across the country were selected to join the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, a collaboration among HAC, the National Endowment for the Arts and buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. The partner towns, tribes, nonprofits and other organizations were selected in a national competition to receive assistance in addressing design and creative placemaking goals. Three communities – Millinocket, Maine; Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico; and Athens, Ohio – will host multi-day design workshops that bring experts and locals together.

DJ LaVoy sworn in as Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development.

Donald “DJ” LaVoy, most recently the head of HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center, was sworn in September 17 as Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development at USDA. The Under Secretary position, eliminated by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and reinstated by the 2018 Farm Bill, remains vacant.

Low-cost rental units show long-term decline in every state.

Documenting the Long-Run Decline in Low-Cost Rental Units in the U.S. by State, a working paper from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, looks at the reduction in low-cost rentals from 1990 to 2017. These homes were a declining share of the housing stock in every state, and all but a few states also had declines in the absolute number of low-cost units. The steepest drop occurred from 2012 to 2017. The paper reports a strong correlation at the state level between the extent of losses of low-cost rentals and rising housing cost burdens for low-income households.

White House homelessness recommendations include deregulation and policing.

A new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers, The State of Homelessness in America, focuses on homelessness in major metro areas on the East and West coasts. It identifies the major causes of homelessness as high housing costs due to overregulation of housing markets, “tolerable conditions” including warm weather and policing policies, right-to-shelter policies offering “substitutes to permanent housing” and individual factors such as severe mental illness and low incomes. It criticizes past federal policies and expresses doubt whether homelessness has actually decreased since 2007 (as HUD has reported). Solutions offered include removal of regulatory barriers, expanded drug treatment, “an increased emphasis on serious mental illness,” support for police in promoting safe cities, and stronger encouragement for self-sufficiency.

Recent publications and media of interest

  • Income and Poverty in the United States: 2018 is an annual data report from the Census Bureau. The national median household income remained essentially the same in 2018 as in 2017, while the poverty rate fell by 0.5 percentage points to 11.8%. The drop in poverty was statistically significant for urban residents, but there was no statistically significant change for nonmetro or suburban residents.
  • New Partnership Addresses Affordable Housing in Rural Areas details how the South Dakota economy is benefitting from a $10 million partnership between Avery Health and the Rural Electric Economic Development Fund. These funds will go toward building quality workforce housing to help attract and retain skilled staff in all business sectors.
  • Rural References Bounce in and out of Democratic Debate, a Daily Yonder article, looks at the various ways contenders in the September 12 presidential debate touched on issues affecting rural America.
  • Small, Rural Markets Left Behind as Large Metros Struggle to Match Housing to Job Gains explains some results of rural housing markets’ and rural economies’ inability to rebound at the same rates as large metropolitan areas since the Great Recession (2007-2009). Before the recession housing and economic growth in rural areas were generally similar to those in large metropolitan areas, but now they are lagging in job creation and home value gains.
  • Something Special is Happening in Rural America, by writer Sarah Smarsh, argues that recent shift in public sentiment and increasing affordability challenges for large urban areas are indicators of a coming “brain gain” for rural areas. Smarsh, author of Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, recently launched a new podcast, The Homecomers, focused on providing “a more accurate story of those ill-understood spaces [rural communities.]”

September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic American Heritage Month.

Colonias Investment AreasTexas” webinar set for September 26.
HAC, in partnership with Fannie Mae, will hold a webinar presenting data and research on Colonias Investment Areas, a geographic concept developed to target strategies and opportunities for mortgage finance and resource investment in colonia communities along the southwest U.S. border. The September 26 session will focus on colonias in Texas. Recent webinars on colonias in New Mexico and Arizona are available on HAC’s YouTube channel. 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: 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).

Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 USDA Rural Housing Program Funding Activity Year End Report

FY 2018 USDA Annual Obligation Report CoverThe Housing Assistance Council tabulated data using the USDA Finance Office obligation reports (USDA/Rural Development report code 205c, d and f) and data from the USDA Single Family Housing and Multifamily Housing Divisions in the National Office. The comprehensive report includes tables and maps showing obligation data by program and by State. The report also includes data by fiscal year for each of the programs since program inception.

2019, 173 pages

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.

Father and son

HAC News: January 25, 2019

News Formats. pdf

January 25, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 2

Deal reached to reopen federal government • HAC calls for shutdown to end, citing severe impact on rural towns and families, suggests ways to help • USDA working to resolve rental assistance shortfalls and inform landlords • USDA rural housing programs remain closed • USDA Secretary reopens Farm Service Administration, leaves Rural Development closed • Indian Country substantially impacted by shutdown • Shutdown delays Puerto Rico disaster funds • Legal impacts of shutdown on HUD and USDA tenants summarized • Tribal housing survey finds focus on HUD, new units and rehab • Unsheltered homelessness increasing • New infographic explains rapid re-housing • Federal Reserve examines link between millennial migration and student loan debt • Holistic Housing Podcast focuses on rural housing issues • Need capital for your affordable housing project?

HAC News Formats. pdf

January 25, 2019
Vol. 48, No. 2

Deal reached to reopen federal government. As HAC staff prepared to send this issue of the HAC News to subscribers, President Trump announced he had reached agreement with congressional leaders to reopen the government for three weeks. HAC will post updates on its website as information becomes available about the shutdown’s aftermath.
Note that the articles in this issue were written before the deal to reopen the government was announced.

HAC calls for shutdown to end, citing severe impact on rural towns and families, suggests ways to help.
“Every day,” HAC’s statement points out, “Americans are losing out on billions of dollars’ worth of affordable housing, clean drinking water, and community facilities, like town halls, fire stations and hospitals.” HAC has posted links to news articles covering rural housing impacts, and will keep updating the list. As the shutdown continues, HAC will be reaching out to stakeholders to help spread the word on the damage it is causing to communities across the country, pressure lawmakers to come to a resolution and share your own stories of hardship. Visit HAC’s website to sign up for information and resources.

USDA working to resolve rental assistance shortfalls and inform landlords.
USDA reports that all 521 Rental Assistance contracts that are expiring in January will be renewed. The Department acknowledges that there is no money left to renew further RA contracts, including the approximately 700 RA contracts expiring in February and 1,000 in March. USDA is considering short-term measures, such as allowing owners to use project reserves to cover costs, but has yet to finalize any plans or notify property owners. The need for such notification became clear when managers of USDA-financed properties in Arkansas and in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Mississippi sent notices to tenants telling them their RA was ending in January and they would be responsible for paying their full rent, then backpedaled when informed by USDA the RA will be paid.

USDA rural housing programs remain closed.
No new direct or guaranteed loans or grants have been made in over 30 days. When open and operating, USDA’s Rural Housing Service obligates an average of 28,927* transactions (loans, grants, assistance payments) per month. January 25 is the 35th day of the government shutdown. For more information on USDA’s rural housing activity, visit HAC’s website.
* HAC estimate from monthly USDA obligation data.

USDA Secretary reopens Farm Service Agency, leaves Rural Development closed.
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has ordered 9,700 field staff in local Farm Service Agency offices across the country to return to work without pay, although not all FSA services are available. FSA has reopened programs such as the Tree Assistance Program and Marketing Assistance Loans.

Indian Country substantially impacted by shutdown.
Calculating a dollar amount is not possible, reports the Center for Indian Country Development, but the effect is “substantial and unique” because government employment is disproportionately high in Indian Country, tribal staff such as those who plow reservation roads are furloughed, and education funds may be cut. Because of the unique relationship between the U.S. and tribes, tribal services are often closely tied to federal funding.

Shutdown delays Puerto Rico disaster funds.
In response to Hurricane Maria, which tore through Puerto Rico in 2017, Congress appropriated $20 billion in CDBG disaster relief funding. Only $1.5 billion of that money was approved before the shutdown, and HUD will not disburse it until the shutdown ends. HUD approval of disaster spending plans or amendments from California, Florida, Georgia, Missouri and the U.S. Virgin Islands is also on hold. Even before this delay, an analysis by scholars from the University of Michigan and University of Utah found the federal response in funding and staff was larger and faster after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida than after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Legal impacts of shutdown on HUD and USDA tenants summarized.
A memo from the National Housing Law Project explains the rights of federally assisted tenants during the government shutdown.

Tribal housing survey finds focus on HUD, new units and rehab.
HUD is the primary source of housing development funding for tribes, according to results of a 2018 survey of Tribally Designated Housing Entities by the National American Indian Housing Council and the Center for Indian Country Development. Respondents expressed interest in other financing sources as well, including Low Income Housing Tax Credits and USDA RD housing programs. Although the low response means this survey may not represent Indian Country overall, a large majority of respondents were developing new rental and homeownership units, and all were maintaining and rehabilitating existing units.

Unsheltered homelessness increasing.
In its annual homeless assessment report to congress, HUD states homelessness has increased for the second year in a row. Rural Continuums of Care had the highest rates of unsheltered homeless persons (40%). Homeless individuals in largely rural areas were more likely to be women than those in other areas. Predominantly rural areas also had the highest rates of unsheltered homelessness among people in families with children.

New infographic explains rapid re-housing.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness has released an infographic based on data from the Urban Institute explaining what rapid re-housing is – an approach that ends people’s homelessness quickly by helping them to find and move into a home in their community, then to address other challenges – as well as who it helps and what effect it has.

Federal Reserve examines link between millennial migration and student loan debt.
“Rural Brain Drain”: Examining Millennial Migration Patterns and Student Loan Debt, an analysis by the Federal Reserve Board Division of Consumer and Community Affairs, shows that student loan borrowers are more likely to leave rural areas than non-borrowers. The study notes this does not show that loan balances cause borrowers to leave. It analyzes credit outcomes, economic conditions and migration patterns of rural student loan borrowers. The writers recommend further study to create community development models that could address the outmigration issue.

Holistic Housing Podcast focuses on rural housing issues.
HAC CEO David Lipsetz appeared on “Rock on, Rural America,” the 18th episode of NACCED’s Holistic Housing Podcast, discussing HAC’s work in rural areas, the inspiration he gets from working with local organizations across the country, why rural and urban America need not be at odds and how public policy could change to embrace more rural-focused development. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn.

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).