Policy News from the Administration

HAC CEO Statement on Biden-Harris Housing Supply Action Plan

by David Lipsetz

The Biden-Harris Administration released a Housing Supply Action Plan on May 16 that can bring the cost of housing back in line with families’ incomes. This is particularly important in small towns where incomes remain stubbornly low, while the cost of buying or renting a place to live is soaring. The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) applauds the Administration for designing and including several provisions specifically with rural markets in mind.

The Plan includes administrative and legislative proposals to improve existing housing finance mechanisms. It establishes new housing production programs. It calls for changes to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit that will attract private investment in affordable rental housing. It provides grants—such as the HOME Investment Partnerships Program—to states, cities and towns to do what locals know will be best for their local housing market.  It calls on Congress to establish a Housing Supply Fund and incentivize zoning reform to accelerate the building of more housing across the Nation.

Critically, the Administration proposes reforms that prioritize homeowners living in the homes that they own. This is a welcome change for rural Americans who need high-quality affordable homes in which to live far more than they need high-priced vacation homes. For rental housing, the Administration focuses investment on small-scale 2–4-unit buildings instead of high-rise apartment complexes. It calls for new rentals where few are being built and recognizes the urgency of preserving affordable rentals that already exist. And for the first time in decades, an Administration released a housing plan that calls for improved financing for manufactured housing, an important resource in rural places.

The shortage of affordable housing in rural America is a serious issue. Rental units are being lost at an alarming rate. Single-family homes are significantly older than elsewhere in the Nation. The Administration’s framework recognizes the unique need for affordable housing and proposes solutions built to work in small town and rural America.

Many of the Administration’s actions just announced reflect HAC’s policy priorities. But it remains critical that these actions be complemented by initiatives to address another essential factor in improving housing for rural Americans—building the capacity of local organizations to improve their own communities. Because rural places often have small and part-time local governments, they often find it particularly difficult to navigate the complexities of federal programs and modern housing finance, and to compete for government resources. Philanthropy has not stepped in to address this inequity built into our systems, instead concentrating its resources in already-prosperous high-cost regions. Targeted capacity building through federal investments in training and technical assistance is how most local organizations build skills, tap information, and gain the wherewithal to do what they know needs to be done.

Rural communities hold vast potential to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life for all Americans. Access to quality, affordable housing is key to jumpstarting that potential. Building and preserving homes creates jobs, improves education and health outcomes, and provides much-needed financial and physical stability to families in need. We look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress to ensure that these initiatives move us closer to the day when every American has access to a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home.

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.

An Update on Maturing Mortgages in USDA’s Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Program

Rural America is Losing Affordable Rental Housing at an Alarming Rate

USDA’s Section 515 Rural Rental Housing properties are an important resource for many rural households and communities. But the availability of these homes is declining. In 2016, USDA presented estimates of the date when properties would leave their portfolio and potentially lose affordability and some renter protections. HAC examined changes in USDA’s Section 515 portfolio during the past five-year period. The analysis identified 921 Section 515 properties that left the portfolio between 2016 and July 2021 – nearly three times the original USDA projection for maturing mortgages during the five-year period. The ramifications of this accelerated loss of affordable rural rental housing are important as the number of properties expected to leave USDA’s portfolio will grow exponentially in the coming decades.

Download Research Brief (PDF)

Appendix 1: List of properties that have left the program.

 

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.

HAC in the News

HAC’s Lance George Discusses Housing Affordability and Tourism with NPR Washington

In an interview on the Soundside podcast, Lance George, HAC’s Director of Research and Information, speaks about the importance of affordable housing not only in high amenity rural communities, but in rural communities throughout the U.S. He stresses that housing affordability has been an ongoing problem that is only getting worse and argues that comprehensive community-based solutions are needed to address the issue.

“It’s a misperception that rural communities should be more affordable or shouldn’t have affordability challenges and pressures that you’re know seeing. In fact, housing affordability has always been the challenge in rural communities, as well as urban communities.”

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.

Coronavirus news

COVID in Rural America in 5 Charts

The pandemic continues to impact rural America. The slides below provide data on the progression of the pandemic since February 2020  and offer an overview of cases and death rates.

HAC in the News

HAC’s Research featured on Marketplace Morning Report

Lance George, HAC’s Director of Research and Information, contributed his expertise to a segment on the Marketplace Morning ReportFor unincorporated communities, limited ways to regulate housing examines the challenges high amenity communities like Joshua Tree, California have with rental housing affordability. Lance offered a national perspective on factors that contribute to these challenges.

USDA Rural Development Obligations Cover

USDA Rural Development Obligations FY 22 – November

USDA Rural Development Obligations Report Cover - FY 2021

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents this month’s report on Fiscal Year 2022 USDA Rural Housing program obligations.

As of the end of November, USDA obligated 18,236 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling about $3.2 billion. This is $721 million less than obligation levels from this time last year. At that time, there were 23,321 loans, loan guarantees, and grants obligated totaling nearly $4 million.

Funding has been provided through a continuing resolution until December 3, 2021.

Single Family Housing Program Highlights

The Section 502 Guaranteed loan program, the largest of the Single Family Housing programs, obligated about $3 million (16,781 loan guarantees) less than last year’s $3.8 billion (21,758 loan guarantees.)

For the Section 502 Direct program, loan obligations totaled nearly $155 million (769 loans), a bit higher than last year’s obligation level of $142 million (756 loans.) About 32 percent of the loan dollars went to Very Low-income (VLI) applicants. VLI loans represented nearly 38 percent of the total number of Section 502 Direct loans.

The Section 504 Repair and Rehabilitation programs obligated 252 loans representing nearly $1.9 million. The number of loans was a bit lower than last year but the dollar obligations was higher (317 loans representing nearly $1.8 million.) There were also about $2.8 million (419 grants) obligated in the Section 504 grant program compared to nearly $3 million (478 grants) last year.

USDA’s Section 523 Self Help Housing Grant program funded 1 grant totaling $105,650 up from last year’s 5 grants and contracts totaling almost $3.5 million.

There were also 3 grants in the Section 306 C, Water and Waste Disposal program.

Multi-Family Housing Program Highlights

USDA’s Section 538 Multifamily Housing obligated 11 loan guarantees totaling over $27 million, higher than last year’s 7 loan guarantees (about $21.5 million.) In the Section 515 Rural Rental Housing program, there were 0 loans totaling $0 (including disaster assistance) obligated compared to 0 loans totaling $0 last year. No other Multifamily housing loans or grants have been obligated so far this 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 – October

USDA Rural Development Obligations Report Cover - FY 2021

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents this month’s report on Fiscal Year 2022 USDA Rural Housing program obligations.

As of the end of October, USDA obligated 9,056 loans, loan guarantees, and grants totaling about $1.6 billion. This is nearly $311 million higher than obligation levels from this time last year. At that time, there were 11,071 loans, loan guarantees, and grants obligated totaling over $1.9 billion.

Funding has been provided through a continuing resolution until December 3, 2021.

Single Family Housing Program Highlights

The Section 502 Guaranteed loan program, the largest of the Single Family Housing programs, obligated $1.5 billion (8,436 loan guarantees), about $326 million (2,230 loan guarantees) less than last year’s $1.85 billion (10,666 loan guarantees.)

For the Section 502 Direct program, loan obligations totaled about $81.4 million (400 loans), nearly $11 million more than last year’s obligation level of $70.6 million (366 loans.) About 32 percent of the loan dollars went to Very Low-income (VLI) applicants. VLI loans represented over 39 percent of the total number of Section 502 Direct loans.

The Section 504 Repair and Rehabilitation programs obligated 80 loans representing $640 million. Loan volume was up from this time last year (36 loans representing $306 million.) There were also about $929 million (136 grants) obligated in the Section 504 grant program. No grants were obligated as of this time last year.

There were no other Single Family housing obligations in October.

Multi-Family Housing Program Highlights

USDA’s Section 538 Multifamily Housing obligated 4 loan guarantees totaling nearly $12 million, higher than last year’s 3 loan guarantees ($8.9 million.)

No other Multifamily funds obligated in October.

 

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.