Since 1996, HAC has produced a report on the housing activity (monthly loan and grant obligations) of the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA). So, what is HAC’s presentation of USDA obligations? And why have we been making it for the last three decades?
In short, HAC’s report tracks how much of each program’s allocation USDA Rural Development is actually using. These “obligations” are funds which have been committed to specific purposes within a program[efn_note] While “obligations” are committed funds, spent funds are referred to as “outlays.” Funds are considered spent when the loan or grant is closed. For example, a new low-interest mortgage made under the Section 502 Direct program would count as obligated when the funds are committed to that mortgage. Once the mortgage closes, the funds would then be considered an outlay. Data on outlays are not readily available.[/efn_note].
By tracking these obligations, HAC provides a picture of which USDA programs are being used to their fullest. HAC also tracks which states the funds are being obligated in, letting us see where the money is going. These reports help on-the-ground partners keep track of resources USDA is investing in their states.
HAC’s obligation report is the only one of its kind. We tabulate, format, and publish the information as a service to our partners, peers, and everyone interested in how USDA’s rural development programs are coming along. Every month, we calculate the total obligations made year to date through that month. At the end of each fiscal year, HAC also produces a detailed report for the entire year, including charts, maps, income levels of program recipients, and historical trends.
In the last seven decades, USDA Rural Development has invested over $300 billion in communities around the country. Understanding how these funds are used and which communities receive them is vital to being able to leverage those programs to their fullest effect.
For more information about HAC’s USDA data and reports please visit our web page for USDA data: USDA Information and Data – Housing Assistance Council (ruralhome.org)