USDA Rural Development Obligations Cover

USDA Rural Development Obligations FY 22- September

HAC presents the FY 22 September USDA Rural Housing Service (RHS) monthly obligations report.*

Download the Spreadsheet.

* The Rural Housing Service (RHS) monthly obligation reports are produced by the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) 1025 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 606, Washington, DC 20005. The monthly figures derive from HAC tabulations of USDA –RHS 205c, d, and f report data. For questions or comments about the obligation reports, please contact Lance George at 202-842-8600 or lance@ruralhome.org.

Policy News town

HAC Concerned about Buy America Requirements

HAC Comments to USDA, July 2022

On July 29, the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which proposed to establish waivers from Buy America requirements for purchases of de minimis, small grants, and minor components of infrastructure projects.

Key Takeaways

  • Housing and community facilities should not be considered public infrastructure under the Build America, Buy America Act.
  • If housing and community facilities are considered public infrastructure, it would be in the public interest to waive the Buy America preference for USDA’s programs to finance these construction projects so that scarce funds and staff resources can be devoted to addressing the current housing crisis.
  • Waivers for purchases of de minimis, small grants, and minor components of infrastructure projects would also be in the public interest.

HAC Comments to HUD, July 2022

HAC expressed concern about the impact of “Buy America” requirements on affordable housing in comments it submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on July 15, 2022.

Key Takeaways

  • Buy America preferences should not apply to assisted housing. HUD’s priority should be to address the affordable housing crisis. Furthermore, the law defines infrastructure as projects that benefit the general public, while assisted housing is available to only a subset of the general population.
  • HUD should not apply Buy America preferences to owner-occupied housing because the Office of Management and Budget has specifically stated that private homes are not considered to be infrastructure.
  • HUD should not apply Buy America preferences when HUD assistance is used for infrastructure that is built solely to support affordable housing, as is the case with the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP).
  • HUD should not apply Buy America preferences to housing that receives less than $250,000 in federal funding, to developments with fewer than eight units, or to situations when HUD funding covers only a small portion of the per unit development cost.
  • HUD should issue expedited waivers for materials that experience price spikes.
  • HUD should provide guidance to help reduce administrative burdens on entities that receive HUD funding.

Build America, Buy America

HUD, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other federal agencies are subject to a “Build America, Buy America” (BABA) requirement in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, which mandates that iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials used in infrastructure projects be American made. The provision applies to most federally funded infrastructure projects; it is not limited to projects funded through the 2021 Act.

Any preferences for American-made products that were in effect before the Infrastructure Act passed remain in place.

Federal agencies were required to publish initial lists showing which of their programs could be subject to the Buy America preference. The Office of Management and Budget issued guidance for federal agencies regarding compliance and set up a website to track agency requests for waivers.

HUD Implementation

On June 1, HUD requested public comment to help implement BABA for its programs. It asked questions such as what HUD-financed projects might fall under exemptions from the preference, how materials are currently sourced, and more. It also asked what HUD programs might be considered to fund infrastructure in addition to those on its initial list, which includes HOME, the Community Development Block Grant program, and SHOP.

The deadline for comments was later extended to July 15.

HUD has moved to waive the buy America requirement while the department works on implementing it. HUD announced it was providing two waivers, both effective on May 14 (the statutory deadline for implementation) unless it issued a later announcement changing the date. HUD’s general waiver is effective for six months. Its waiver for Tribal recipients of HUD funds lasts for one year.

USDA Implementation

USDA did not include any of its Rural Development agency’s housing or community facilities programs on its initial list of infrastructure programs, which focuses instead on utilities and broadband programs. In a recent request to OMB, however, RD did include housing and CF along with others on a list of programs it intends to evaluate under the new law.

USDA Rural Development, like HUD, hopes to delay the requirements’ effectiveness temporarily. It asked OMB to approve a waiver that would last six months after the date of approval.

Treasury Implementation

The Treasury Department’s list of programs that may be subject to BABA’s requirements does not include any Community Development Financial Institution Fund programs. It does include the Homeowner Assistance Fund, a program intended to help homeowners impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds programs, which help state, local, and Tribal governments and can be used for housing.

 

Policy News from Congress

HAC’s Stakeholder Comments on Rural Housing Service Programs

HAC submitted comments to Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Mike Rounds (R-SD), the Chair and Ranking Member of the Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Subcommittee of the Senate Banking Committee, in response to their call for recommendations on how to improve the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Housing Service (RHS) programs. RHS programs are a critical source of housing for our nation’s small towns and rural places. HAC hopes that Senators Smith and Rounds will use these stakeholder comments to help improve the efficiency and impact of RHS programs, especially as more multifamily properties leave the USDA portfolio.

Topline Takeaways  

  • Multifamily

    HAC strongly recommends that the Senators authorize important multifamily preservation programs and simplify the process for transferring properties to non-profit owners in order to help more properties remain in RHS programs and maintain their affordability. HAC also recommends that the Senators investigate the rental assistance programs available in rural areas and extend these to more rural renters.  

  • Single family

    HAC recommends that the Senators improve the Section 504 program which provides grants for single family home repair. Simplifying and making this program’s funds more accessible would help more families stay in their homes and preserve single family homeownership. 

  • Capacity building

    Many communities have the willingness and desire to help improve their housing opportunities but lack the technical skill or capacity to accomplish their goals. HAC recommends authorizing capacity building programs that would help communities develop the tools they need to thrive. 

  • RHS staffing and operations

    HAC recommends improving the workflow within RHS and updating the technology the RHS staff uses to increase efficiency and help RHS better serve rural communities.  

Read HAC’s Comments

HAC Comments on RHS Reforms
Introduction to USDA's Mutual Self-Help Housing

Self-Help Housing Trainings from HAC’s Conference

Self-Help Housing

There are many potential homeowners who fall short financially but are able to contribute time and labor toward the construction or rehabilitation of their homes.

The self-help housing model helps bridge the gap in housing affordability by having participant families work together to build their homes. Instead of requiring a down payment, the prospective homeowners contribute their own labor to the project. When these families work together, they learn valuable construction skills and build a sense of community with their neighbors.

These five workshops, first recorded at HAC’s Virtual National Rural Housing Conference, provide an overview of the self-help housing process, how it works, and information on how local organizations can incorporate it into their efforts.

This session provides an overview of USDA’s Mutual Self-Help Housing program. It covers funding possibilities, regulation requirements, and the grant application process, as well as eligible grant uses, program development, staffing needs, and feasibility.

USDA-supported self-help housing rehab activities (acquisition/rehab and owner-occupied rehab) can be viable additions to affordable housing work. This session is designed for organizations currently active in the program as well, as those considering it. Workshop leaders share the latest instructions and guidance governing rehab activities and show before-and-after pictures of self-help projects. The discussion focuses on challenges, successes, and best practices in delivering the program. The audience was able to ask questions about the impacts of COVID. One of the presenters shares the key to the self-help method with a quote.

“Helping people help themselves benefits the participants and the community while making better use of scarce resources.”

In this session, experts present information on recent improvements to SHARES for group coordinators. Workshop leaders also provide an overview of how to use e-Forms for submitting Section 502 and 504 applications. A nonprofit marketing specialist provides strategies for how to use social media, email marketing, and design to share about your work with self-help programs. Self-help grantees are encouraged to share their updates on https://www.selfhelphousingspotlight.org/.

Learn what’s new in Section 502 loan packaging and how to avoid common errors and omissions that cause delays in processing 502 loan applications. This session will help packagers improve the quality and completeness of applications to get faster loan closings for families.

5 challenges in 502 Packaging

  1. Significant Delinquencies, how credit worthiness impacts application processing and what can be done to streamline this step.
  2. How to account for full-time student income and student loan debt.
  3. COVID’s impact on calculating income and how to account for variations.
  4. What forms of verification are acceptable and what can a packager use to verify application details?
  5. What has COVID’s impact been on budgets and materials and how to best incorporate them into the loan process?

The coronavirus pandemic’s cost overages, material delays, and numerous other challenges have intensified the need for leveraged funds in self-help housing programs. Learn how leveraged funds can not only increase affordability and resources for applicants, but also build an organization’s capacity and control. Leveraging can also better position an organization for program diversification to address community needs.

USDA Rural Development Obligations Cover

USDA Rural Development Obligations FY 22- February

USDA Rural Development Obligations Report Cover - FY 2021

As of the end of February, USDA obligated 39,285 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling about $7.0 billion. This is $3.3 billion less than obligation levels from this time last year. At that time, there were 60,232 loans, loan guarantees, and grants obligated totaling $10.3 billion.

The agency has been operating under a series of continuing resolutions since the beginning of the fiscal year.

Single Family Housing Program Highlights

The Section 502 Guaranteed loan program, the largest of the Single Family Housing programs, obligated $6.6 billion (35,862 loan guarantees) compared to $9.9 billion (56,221 loan guarantees) last year.

For the Section 502 Direct program, loan obligations totaled $324.5 million (1,678 loans), compared to last year’s obligation level of $356.8 million (1,965 loans.) About 27 percent of the loan dollars went to Very Low-income (VLI) applicants. VLI loans represented nearly 32 percent of the total number of Section 502 Direct loans.

The Section 504 Repair and Rehabilitation programs obligated 638 loans representing $4.1 million. Loan volume was up from this time last year (750 loans representing $4.3 million.) There were also about $7.0 million (1,052 grants) obligated in the Section 504 grant program compared to $7.9 million (1,245 grants) last year.

USDA’s Section 523 Self Help Housing Grant program funded 8 grants totaling $10.8 million compared to last year’s 6 grants totaling $3.7 million.

Multi-Family Housing Program Highlights

USDA’s Section 538 Multifamily Housing obligated 29 loan guarantees totaling $76.7 million compared to last year’s 35 loan guarantees ($68.4 million.) The Farm Labor Housing programs funded 4 loans and 1 grant totaling $5,120,000 and $4,000,000 respectively. There were no Farm Labor Housing loans or grants at this time last year. There have been no other loan or grant obligations so far this year

USDA obligated funds for 40,063 rental assistance units under the Section 521 Rental Assistance program totaling $238.7 million. This compares to about 38,592 units ($219.6 million) obligated same time last year. There were also 2,898 Rural Housing Vouchers totaling $14.1 million compared to 1,939 vouchers representing $9.6 million this time last year.

Download the combined document.

* The Rural Housing Service (RHS) monthly obligation reports are produced by the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) 1025 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 606, Washington, DC 20005. The monthly figures derive from HAC tabulations of USDA –RHS 205c, d, and f report data. For questions or comments about the obligation reports, please contact Michael Feinberg at 202-842-8600 or michael@ruralhome.org.

USDA Rural Development Obligations Cover

USDA Rural Development Obligations FY 22- January

USDA Rural Development Obligations Report Cover - FY 2021

As of the end of January, USDA obligated 33,374 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling about $5.9 billion. This is $2.2 billion more than obligation levels from this time last year. At that time, there were 47,476 loans, loan guarantees, and grants obligated totaling $8.1 billion.

The agency has been operating under a series of continuing resolutions since the beginning of the fiscal year.

Single Family Housing Program Highlights

The Section 502 Guaranteed loan program, the largest of the Single Family Housing programs, obligated $5.6 billion (30,597 loan guarantees) up from $7.8 billion (44,318 loan guarantees) last year.

For the Section 502 Direct program, loan obligations totaled $264.5 million (1,374 loans), a bit less than last year’s obligation level of $292.3 million (1,623 loans.) About 29 percent of the loan dollars went to Very Low-income (VLI) applicants. VLI loans represented nearly 34 percent of the total number of Section 502 Direct loans.

The Section 504 Repair and Rehabilitation programs obligated 516 loans representing $3.4 million. This compares to 587 loans representing $3.4 million this time last year. There were also about $5.5 million (848 grants) obligated in the Section 504 grant program compared to $5.7 million (916 grants) last year.

USDA’s Section 523 Self Help Housing Grant program funded 7 grants totaling $3.9 million up from last year’s 5 grants totaling nearly $3.5 million.

Multi-Family Housing Program Highlights

USDA’s Section 538 Multifamily Housing obligated 19 loan guarantees totaling about $47.0 million, higher than last year’s 20 loan guarantees ($64.7 million.) The Farm Labor Housing programs funded 3 loans and 1 grant totaling $4.8 million and $4.0 million respectively. There have been no other loan or grant obligations so far this year.

USDA obligated funds for 40,064 rental assistance units under the Section 521 Rental Assistance program totaling $238.2 million compared to 38,592 units ($219.5 million) obligated same time last year. There were also 2,064 Rural Housing Vouchers totaling $9,.9 million compared to 1,675 vouchers representing nearly $8.4 million this time last year.

Download the combined document.

* The Rural Housing Service (RHS) monthly obligation reports are produced by the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) 1025 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 606, Washington, DC 20005. The monthly figures derive from HAC tabulations of USDA –RHS 205c, d, and f report data. For questions or comments about the obligation reports, please contact Michael Feinberg at 202-842-8600 or michael@ruralhome.org.

Loan Fund FY 21 Impact Report

HAC Loan Fund FY 2021 Impact Report

HAC is proud to present our 2021 Loan Fund Impact Report. In fiscal year 2021 (October 2020-September 2021), we financed the construction, preservation, or rehab of 775 affordable homes. By closing 33 loans, we invested $15.9 million in rural communities and leveraged $177.6 million in additional investments. Our lending has helped hundreds of rural families find safe, healthy, and affordable places to call home. Over 40% of these families live in persistent poverty counties, where the poverty rate has been at least 20% for the last 30 years.

Loan Fund Impact Report FY 2021 by Mackenzie Webb

Policy News from the Administration

HAC’s Recommendations to the CFPB on HMDA Rule Assessment

HAC submitted comments in response to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Request for Information regarding the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) Rule Assessment. HAC and our rural stakeholders have relied on HMDA data for decades to improve our understanding of rural mortgage markets. The CFPB will use these stakeholder comments to help better evaluate the effectiveness of these changes in meeting the purposes and objectives of Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Key takeaways:

  • Reporting Threshold

    HAC strongly urges the CFPB to return to the 25-origination reporting threshold, for closed-end loans, as opposed to the new 100-origination threshold, in order to more accurately capture rural markets that are disproportionately served by small financial institutions.

  • Reliability Index

    HAC Recommends that the CFPB resource and publish a HMDA “Reliability Index.” While not a fix for overly limited reporting thresholds, the development of an indicator would be helpful for the CFPB, data users, and consumers.

  • Additional Data

    HAC applauds increased HMDA data reporting, but additional data and reporting are still needed. While the new housing data points – specifically those on manufactured housing – enhance the HMDA data usefulness, more data could improve an understanding of certain underserved markets. This is particularly true when it comes to tribal lands and specific loan programs.

  • Data Browser

    HAC applauds CFPB’s HMDA data browser, which offers improved access to HMDA data over previous interfaces.

USDA Rural Development Obligations Cover

USDA Rural Development Obligations FY 22 – December

USDA Rural Development Obligations Report Cover - FY 2021

As of the end of December, USDA obligated 26,861 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling nearly $4.8 billion, over $830 million above this time last year.

The agency is currently operating under a second continuing resolution which provides funding through February 18, 2022.

Single Family Housing Program Highlights

The Section 502 Guaranteed loan program, the largest of the Single Family Housing programs, obligated over $4.5 billion (24,760 loan guarantees) up from nearly $3.8 billion (21,758 loan guarantees) last year.

For the Section 502 Direct program, loan obligations totaled nearly $206 million (1,050 loans), compared to last year’s obligation level of $142.4 million (756 loans.) About 30 percent of the loan dollars went to Very Low-income (VLI) applicants. VLI loans represented nearly 35 percent of the total number of Section 502 Direct loans.

The Section 504 Repair and Rehabilitation programs obligated 384 loans and 640 grants representing about $2.6 million and 4.2 million. Loan volume was up from this time last year (317 loans representing almost $1.8 million.) For Section 504 grants, almost $3 million (478 grants) were obligated this time last year.

USDA’s Section 523 Self Help Housing Grant program funded 5 grants and contracts totaling $3.6 million similar to last year’s 5 grants and contracts totaling $3.5 million.

Multi-Family Housing Program Highlights

USDA’s Section 538 Multifamily Housing obligated 13 loan guarantees totaling $39 million, higher than last year’s 7 loan guarantees representing $21.4 million.

The Farm Labor Housing programs funded 1 loans and 1 grants totaling $1,000,000 and $4,000,000 respectively. There were no loans or grants at this time last year.

USDA obligated funds for 37,904 units under the Section 521 Rental Assistance program totaling $225 million compared to 30 units ($150,564) obligated same time last year. There were also 1,102 Rural Housing Vouchers totaling $5.4 million compared to 945 vouchers representing $4.8 million this time last year.

Download the combined document.

* The Rural Housing Service (RHS) monthly obligation reports are produced by the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) 1025 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 606, Washington, DC 20005. The monthly figures derive from HAC tabulations of USDA –RHS 205c, d, and f report data. For questions or comments about the obligation reports, please contact Michael Feinberg at 202-842-8600 or michael@ruralhome.org.

The Castro Family's Self-Help Housing Story

Self-Help Homeownership: What it means to Families

We are proud of the families we’ve helped achieve the dream of homeownership. This series highlights the incredible impact we’ve made thanks to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program. Homeownership changes lives—it can be a gateway to financial stability and better quality of life. The four families featured here all know the difference a home can make. Congratulations to all of them for the extraordinary achievement of building a home!

The Castro Family

With the help of People’s Self-Help Housing, the Castro family built their own home in King City, California. This is their new home:

Ben Phelps

Ben Phelps built his new home in Heber, Utah, thanks to support from Self-Help Homes of Utah. Here’s how his new home has made a difference in his life:

The Root Family

Self-Help Homes of Utah also helped the Root family build their own home in Heber, Utah. Here’s what their home means to them:

The Smith Family

With the help of People’s Self-Help Housing, the Smith family built their own home in Boone County, Arkansas. This is their new home:

 

Over the last 25 years, the Housing Assistance Council has financed the construction of over 10,000 new self-help homes. Under the self-help model, homeowners help build their homes, contributing “sweat equity” instead of a traditional down payment.