HAC lends expertise to profile of rural housing affordability challenges in Joshua Tree

Lance George, HAC’s Director of Research and Information, provided his rural housing expertise to Short-Term Rentals and High-End Buyers Wipe Out Affordable Housing in Joshua Tree, Say Residents, a recent article from The Daily Yonder. The piece profiles residents and housing advocates in Joshua Tree, California as they struggle to find affordable housing options in their community.

Michel Cicero has hardly taken a day off work since July 7, 2020. On that day she was paddleboarding at Big Bear Lake with friends but had to leave early because her phone was ringing off the hook, she said. “It hasn’t stopped since.”

Cicero is a real estate agent in Landers, California, which borders the community of Joshua Tree, adjacent to the national park. She has seen firsthand the disruption the pandemic has created in the real estate market. The length of her selling season doubled. In an area where single-offer home sales were the norm, multiple buyers started making offers—often of the all-cash variety—on each sale, raising prices and severely depleting housing stock…

 

 

“You add all of those dynamics together and you could get a really accelerated housing crisis among low- and moderate-income households that don’t have the money to buy homes.”

 

 

 

The State of The Nation’s Housing – 2021

Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University
Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies - 2021 Cover

Even as the US economy continues to recover, the inequalities amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic remain front and center. Households that weathered the crisis without financial distress are snapping up the limited supply of homes for sale, pushing up prices and further excluding less affluent buyers from homeownership. At the same time, millions of households that lost income during the shutdowns are behind on their housing payments and on the brink of eviction or foreclosure. A disproportionately large share of these at-risk households are renters with low incomes and people of color. While policymakers have taken bold steps to prop up consumers and the economy, additional government support will be necessary to ensure that all households benefit from the expanding economy.

HAC is a proud sponsor of Harvard’s State of the Nation’s Housing report.

HAC and rural CDFIs receive “massive” $353 million investment

The US Treasury announced it is investing $1.25 billion of COVID-19 relief funds in Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). We are excited to announce that the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) has received the maximum award: $1,826,265.

HAC will invest our $1.8 million award through our Loan Fund to support affordable housing organizations across rural America. As Eileen Neely, director of HAC’s Loan Fund explains, “$1.8 million means we can invest in more rural communities and help more low-income Americans get housed.”

Overall, the US Treasury is awarding $353 million to rural CDFIs. “This massive investment in rural CDFIs will help unlock the potential of rural communities,” said David Lipsetz, President & CEO of the Housing Assistance Council. “We are thrilled for the opportunity to expand our work for disinvested rural communities.”

Everyone deserves a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home. This award strengthens HAC’s work to make that vision a reality for rural America.

RURAL RESEARCH BRIEF: Housing Insecurity During COVID-19

COVID-19 has disrupted nearly every aspect of life and culture in rural America, and the economic fallout is most acutely felt through job losses. If rural unemployment rates remain high the collateral impacts to almost all sectors of the housing market could be substantial – notably the ability of unemployed households to make rent and mortgage payments. This Brief presents time series housing trends from the U.S. Census Bureau’s PULSE Survey. The Pulse Survey provides data to help understand the experiences of American households during the coronavirus pandemic.

Policy News from the Administration

HAC Urges Treasury Department to Provide Guidance on Emergency Rental Assistance Funds

In December, Congress came together to pass a pandemic relief bill, which included $25 billion in emergency rental assistance. This emergency rental assistance (ERA) funding will run through the Coronavirus Relief Fund at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. To ensure that rural areas are equitably served, the Housing Assistance Council submitted comments to the Treasury Department calling for ERA guidance to include the needs of rural communities. HAC’s comments focused on highlighting several key areas:

  • The lack of rural-targeted housing assistance provided thus far in the pandemic, and the outsized impact COVID-19 has had in rural communities.
  • The importance of Treasury encouraging states to use their ERA funding proportionally in rural areas.
  • The need for Treasury to make clear in guidance that currently unassisted families living in USDA multifamily properties are eligible for ERA funds.
  • The need for Treasury to clarify that local governments do not have to incur costs up front before being able to use ERA funds.

Read the full comment letter to the Treasury Department here.

Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies Releases State of the Nation’s Housing 2020

For most of 2020, the country has been beset by the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest sparked by longstanding racial injustice, and the devastating impacts of climate change. Although low interest rates and continued growth in some sectors have bolstered homebuying and the broader economy, conditions have worsened for many households. Indeed, the nation’s failure to live up to its long-stated goal of a decent home in a suitable environment for all has never been clearer— particularly in the lack of affordable rental housing and unequal access to homeownership. Today’s crisis conditions call for a comprehensive re-envisioning of national housing policy.

Read the Report

Attend the release event on Nov. 19 at 4:00 pm EST

Age and Aging in Rural America

Age and Aging in Rural America

Age and Aging in Rural America

We live in a multi-generational world which increasingly impacts every facet of society from healthcare to employment and housing. With the continued transition of Baby Boomers into older age, the United States is now squarely in one of the largest demographic shifts in our nation’s history. In rural America, the impacts of an older and aging population are even more pronounced. But, as is the case with other social elements, rural America is not a monolith and there are important dynamics in all rural age strata.

Rural Voices: Housing an Aging Rural America

Rural Voices: Housing an Aging Rural America

Download a pdf version of Rural Voices
rv-summer-2020 cover

All members of our communities, particularly older residents, should have access to safe and affordable housing, quality healthcare, and a nurturing support system, regardless of where they live. With the transition of baby boomers into older age, the United States is now squarely in one of the largest demographics shifts in our nation’s history that will impact every facet of our society – especially housing. Quality and affordable housing for seniors lies at the intersection of healthcare, social well-being, and intergenerational living. Addressing this comprehensive issue requires collaboration in each of these areas.

Housing for rural seniors presents unique challenges – and opportunities. In rural America, the impacts of an aging population are already being felt. Nearly one-fifth of the nation’s population calls rural and small towns home, yet our rural communities house almost a quarter of the country’s elderly, and this trend will only grow. The recent world-wide health pandemic has also heightened the concern and care for our older and potentially more vulnerable residents who disproportionally reside in rural America and makes this conversation more immediate.

HAC thanks AARP Foundation for their generous support of this edition of Rural Voices.

Manufactured Housing in Rural America

 

Manufactured homes are an often overlooked and maligned component of our nation’s housing stock, but these homes are an important source of housing for millions of Americans, especially those with low incomes and in rural areas. Although the physical quality of manufactured housing continues to progress, the basic delivery system of how these homes are sold, financed, and managed is still in need of improvement to ensure that they are a viable and quality source of affordable housing.

Ground Truth from Rural Practitioners Cover

Ground Truth from Rural Practitioners

Ground Truth from Rural Practitioners Cover

Local and regional rural-serving organizations shape and strengthen the fabric of their communities. But what kinds of organizations are these? What is of the range of topics they work on? What expertise do they have—and what expertise do they need? Based on the findings from a survey of over 350 different rural-serving organizations in 45 states, this research brief strives to provide policy makers, funders and other well-meaning folks who want to do right by rural with information on the inner workings of rural-serving organizations. The survey results highlight policy, investments and partnerships that are better tuned to rural realities and the self-identified strengths, expertise and needs of rural-serving organizations. It also demonstrates the resilience and strength of rural organizations despite great odds, while guiding national partners and philanthropy to build on and invest in their success.